A shopping mall is not the first place we would normally associate with an engaging dining experience, but the newly opened Paco’s Tacos in Eastland Shopping Centre may well be the much-needed exception to the rule. 

Designed in 1967 by Tomkins, Shaw and Evans in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs, the sprawling complex has, in recent years, been spruced up at a cost of several hundred million dollars and includes an al fresco town square development modelled after an European piazza. 

A perfect setting, in other words, for the MoVida group’s second outpost of its CBD taqueria. Melbourne-based Techne Architecture and Interior Design have avoided expected tropes in favour of touches of Luis Barragán. Blocks of bold yellows and egg-shell blues outline stylized timber and reo mesh arches that evoke the facades of Spanish-Mexican architecture, while landscape architects Ayus Botanical drip greenery from wall nooks and planters. 

The cheerful vibe is kicked up a notch with chef Frank Camorra’s muscular menu based on Mexican street food including sweet corn and pickled jalapeño croquettes. Corn tortillas are baked fresh, the perfect base for 14-hour slow cooked pork shoulders piled with kohlrabi, peanut mole and pineapple, all washed down with a tipsy pick of craft beers, virgin margarita and tamarind jarrito.