Brisbane’s CBD (Central Business District) has changed so much since my university days. The main drag by Queen’s Street Mall is now bustling with energy and a ton of restaurants from every ethnic background imaginable.
On this particular evening, I’m meeting a friend at Comuna Cantina, a Latin American restaurant in Albert Lane (it’s a little hard to find — it’s in the pedestrian-only area off Albert Street between Dymock’s bookstore and the Kathmandu sign), it took me a little while to find, but once there, it is an energetic space with both inside and patio seating.
Since everything inside is taken, we settle into a counter spot by the entrance and proceed to order some cocktails. The J Lo (AUD$18) is a Tanqueray Gin base libation with pomegranate liqueur, and lemon juice. It is refreshingly light with floral hints of floral from the elderflower liqueur. I choose Nine Juan Juan (AUD$19) as it possesses two of my favorite spirits – Don Julio Reposado and Sailor Jerry Rum. There is OJ, lime juice and thyme syrup which adds an herbaceous touch to the cocktail. There is a vanilla salt rim, but since I’m not a huge fan of vanilla, it is just as well I am sipping through a straw, bypassing the rim all together.
I order Plantains (AUD$9) to nibble on while we sip on our delicious cocktails. Thin hand-cut plantains are crispy, slightly salted and perfect with the guacamole and pico de gallo. The guacamole is nicely seasoned, but the pico de gallo can benefit from a handful of cilantro and a little more lime.
Pinchos are small snacks typically enjoyed at tapas bars, and here, the pinchos are really grilled skewers in a choice of chicken (AUD$17) or lamb (AUD$18). We pick the latter which arrive three sticks to an order interspersed with red and orange peppers – called capsicums here. The lamb is tender and is offered with a side of “chimichurri” which is over pureed and lacks heat and acid.
I am curious about the arepas. I am a huge fan of them and want to see how they are served half way across the world. We choose Pulled Pork (AUD$9/$17) as a filling. The arepa itself is thin and crispy, not soft and pillowy like the ones I am accustomed to. Still, very tasty with the robust flavors of the pulled pork, mashed avocado, pickled onions, aioli, and coriander (cilantro) melding together rather cohesively. Slices of shaved green apple add brightness to the mix.
Because we pick meat for the arepas, we opt for Fish Tacos which come either one, two, or three (AUD$7.50/$14/$21) to an order. The chia coconut crusted fish possesses crunch, while revealing a moist flaky center. Baja-style fish tacos they’re not, but still savory and delicious.
We order another round of cocktails before heading out for the evening. Comuna Cantina is a good spot to enjoy some Latin American street food, but especially the libations.
140 Albert Lane
Tel: (+61 7) 3211-4585