Driving into Port Macquarie by road you could be excused for thinking it is Byron Bay on some really heavy steroids. If you arrive at Port Macquarie by sea you may be excused for not really giving a fuck what it looks like and get your ass to the nearest reputable house of the ladies of the night… it’s been a long time between drinks, I’m sure.
I expected the place to be quite small. I had preconceived visions of a seaside town with a few resorts and possibly a nice little café where we could sit a have a coffee and maybe read the paper while our children invaded (yes, invaded) the park opposite. In fact Port Macquarie is more like Byron Bay on performance enhancing drugs; hotels, resorts, caravan parks, cafes, restaurants and also hotels that moonlight as resorts and caravan parks and also house a small restaurant and café strip.
The road layout seem to have been penned in the sixties by a town planner who was clearly taking a lot of acid, or possibly someone who thought it would be funny to make a life sized maze and secretly film all of the tourists trying to make the way into/out of town but always ending their journey at the same cul-de-sac – home to three cafes, a restaurant, a caravan park/resort/massage parlor and a beagle named Colin. Unless of course (humour me here), all of the cafe fronts and hotel foyers are painted on, merely a façade, and we missed the sign on the way in that informed us that the town is actually a giant crazy maze… and we didn’t even pay our entry fee. Damn, I like to entertain some pretty damn preposterous conspiracy theories.
The best I can figure is this place has got it’s steroids from the city crew, with Northern Sydney being less than four hours drive to the south, shipping in loads of steroids in the form of their tourist dollars so this town/city may grow wider and taller, and they have transplanted the means to appease their seaside holiday addiction in the form of the big resorts and café strips… a little city chic, but this place still maintains a sense of coastal country with it’s magic beaches, breathtaking scenery and thongs and board shorts vibe.
There is a plethora of trendy, paleo-friendly, local produce using breakfast joints in this town, but for us the shining light of the local a.m. food scene was Carlos and Co. South American street food.
We ventured into the hip little joint and I ordered a coffee. A long black be precise. The first was a blend, followed by another, followed by a single origin number at the request of the barista, each as marvelous as the last. Perfectly poured Peak coffee tickled the back of my throat with a hint of chocolatey goodness and just enough coffee kick with out being bitter or burnt. Carlos and Co. was so close to getting 10/10 in the start-to-the-day stakes, but I thought it inappropriate to ask for the reach around needed to achieve this perfect score… and besides, we hadn’t even received our food yet…
The menu was concise and to the point, much like what you would expect of street food vendors South America even with your exactly nil first hand knowledge, so I treated the menu with the same lust and revere I would treat any South American street vendor’s menu with (again, with nil first hand experience) and ordered as much of this tasty soundy meaty goodness as I thought we would be able to eat. The Breaky Burrito (9.5), French Toast with Maple Bacon (9.5), Shredded Beef and Huevos Arepas (12.5) and Breakfast Carne (13.5). I kid you not, everything was delicious. The fried tortilla with the shredded beef was a little chewy, but still delicious. This breakfast had me almost convulsing in my chair, like I was on an imaginary boat on the high seas or possibly suffering a mild stroke. But it was the former that best describes the fit of unrestrained gratification I was experiencing right now.
It was everything I hoped and dreamed it would be. Even the boys loved every chilli-spiked morsel (they have a great range of chilli condiments to perk up your taste buds if the coffee isn’t enough… and we all know I am a huge fan of condiments) and their mango frappes, wandering into the kitchen at the end of the meal to personally thank the chef.
Great work Carlos and Co. Great work indeed.