Perron In Illovo Hops On The Mexican Train
It's been relatively easy to see the trends in local food culture on the approach in Joburg - most of them start out as reliable mainstays of the Cape Town restaurant scene before we get them here. Some seem absurd and short-lived (frozen yoghurt must die, you guys) but others make alot more sense.
When you factor in South Africa's general love of meaty, saucy, greasy foods, Mexican food is one of those things that makes sense, and yet it's still relatively untouched ground in the Highveld.
Café Mexicho in Melville has been around for ages, delivering a reliable combination of the right caricaturist atmosphere and over the top portion sizes. Mama Mexicana in Jeppe has made its focus the flavours, reducing the Mexican atmosphere but producing food that hits the Mexican mark.
Food: The food is incredibly tasty and spot-on what you expect from Mexican, but comes in smaller portions that encourage mixing and matching meals from across the menu.
Service: These guys are new to the game and so they're still greasing the wheels. If you're willing to wait for now, the food tastes worth it.
Atmosphere: The atmosphere isn't quite what you'd call Mexican but borrows from a mix of pastel coloured chic and the classic Day of the Dead imagery (it's there in the patterning on the bar). This is the Mexican experience by way of onwards-and-upmarket Illovo.
We tried a spread of Perron's chow to get a feel for the place. The beef and fish tacos were great, as were all the associated dips and salsas they provided. A little on the hot side if you've got Anglo Tongue so maybe focus on taking it slow and feeling your way around the additional spices first. There's a real desire to provide variety here so the menu is quite comprehensive - including about a dozen different kinds of drinks that involve a variety of tequilas and the presumed Mexican classic, a Corona with a slice of lemon.
These guys are fresh to the space so for now I'd give them a little leeway with the service and focus on the meals. Portions are designed and recommended to be eaten in multiples of 2 or 3, encouraging you to mix and match your options, and if you're willing to wash it all down with the fine taste of a new kind of tequila, you're probably going to have a new favourite restaurant to park off in on week nights in Illovo.
What? Perron Mexican Appreciation Society
Where? Illovo Junction, Corner Corlett & Oxford, Illovo (right under The Griffin), Johannesbur
Why? Despite a small presence in Joburg, good Mexican food remains a rare delicacy that Perron nails.
Photographs by Daniel Gallanby Nas Who