I love backstreet suburban shopping strips. Like little rockpools, they foster small, unique shops. On unremarkable, semi-industrial Berkshire Road in North Sunshine, La Morenita is definitely the pearl in the oyster.
The sign on the windows still points to the old occupants, but inside La Morenita remains a hub of the Chilean and wider South American community. A range of Latin American grocery products are on offer, from yerba mate, a herbal infusion beloved in Uruguay, real paprika-rich chorizo sausages and other smallgoods, and bundles of thick dried seaweed or cochayuyo used to make very rustic Chilean dishes.
Stop in for a surprisingly decent coffee and a caramel-stuffed sweetie or loosen the belt for some homestyle Chilean sandwiches. Order at the counter and then settle down while your meal is whipped up out the back.
Empanadas can be a light meal or entree. Their edges lovingly folded up, they can be baked and filled with beef mince, olive and hardboiled egg or mildly-spiced chicken and tomato. Alternately my favourite are their fried cousins, melty with cheese, the pastry golden, crisp and bubbly.
Chorizo and cheese empanada, $3
Hello sailor! Gorgeous little morsels of rich, smoky chorizo sausage with golden stringy cheese in a crackly pastry shell.
Sandwich #9, $5 ($5!!!!)
This sandwich was unreal - great bread filled with wafer-thin, tasty steak, lightly-cooked emerald-green beans, gooey cheese, tomato, mayo and extra green chilli relish. The mayo mixed with the meaty juice, soaking into the tender bun, while the chilli gave a tangy, delicious kick.
If you can bargain with your stomach to find some room, try the fabulous house-made sweets. The alfajores are shortbread biscuits sandwiched together with deep brown caramel sauce then rolled in coconut. Or try the ones filled with more caramel and spread all over with glossy white meringue.
Viva La Morenita!
67 Berkshire Road, North Sunshine
Phone: 9311 2911
Hours: Tues-Wed 11am-5pm, Thurs-Fri 8am-5.30pm, Sat 8am-5pm, Sun 8am-3pm
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