Hot Tamale, a modern Mexican restaurant and Tequila bar on the Darwin waterfront is raking in rave reviews from satisfied punters thanks to its match of tasty street food and selection of genuine agave Tequilas.
Since opening its doors in 2014, Hot Tamale has scooped up a number of prestigious awards including a gold plate win for Best cocktail in the Northern Territory, a Diageo Top 100 honour, the Australian Bar Awards Best Tequila Bar, Saviour’s Best Speciality Restaurant award, the Best Mexican Restaurant in Queensland and Northern Territory and the People, Produce, Place Tourism Award, It’s a pretty impressive pedigree for such a young venue.
Hot Tamale’s director David Robinson credits the bar’s success to its customer-centric focus and its push to continually innovate.
“We evolve every day. It’s a tough competitive space and we realise that every day we need to be improving,” Robinson says. “We are continuously trying to raise the standards of our food and beverage offerings, our customer service and continuously refining our processes.”
Hot Tamale’s credo is fun and relaxed hospitality.
Given the transient nature of hospitality work and the scarcity of trained bar and wait staff in the Top End, maintaining this level of service can be challenging.
“We have a skilled team of locals in the core positions, but we have to rely on backpackers to fill numerous roles,” Robinson says. “The long and the short of it is we have to invest heavily in training, induction and ongoing, to ensure we can maintain standards. Obviously, the high staff turnover isn’t great for the business as most of the backpackers aren’t here for much longer than three months, which is when they are really starting to become valuable team members.”
Nonetheless, given the numerous awards Hot Tamale has accumulated, Robinson must be doing something right.
“We try to be innovative, but always, with our customers in mind,” Robinson tells Kochie’s Business Builders. “As a basis, we are all about tequila and tacos. We want to be a relaxed venue that doesn’t take itself too seriously.”
Asked to describe Hot Tamale to the uninitiated Robinson suggests it is loud, vibrant and a lot of fun.
Did someone say tequila? Robinson says there was never any question as to Hot Tamale’s focus on the golden liqueur.
Robinson loves the unique growing features of the agave plant
We range arguably Australia’s largest range of agave spirits,” Robinson says. Whilst he acknowledges Tequila can sometimes get a bad rap he suggests if anyone has an aversion to the legendary spirit, they just haven’t tried the right Tequila yet…
“Tequila is a truly unique spirit, unlike any other spirit in the world, excluding Mezcal, tequila’s big brother. To me, there is a magic about having an agave, the plant used to make tequila, growing in the fields for 7-12 years, absorbing all the minerals from the ground and the energy from the sun. It’s not like where you have grapes, barley, wheat or corn to name a few, which have annual crops.
“Once you have had that right tequila, be it a crisp clean citrus and bright agave Blanco, a smooth spicy agave and caramel reposado or a sweet woody vanilla añejo, you will be a convert.”
Asked what he hopes the punters take away from a night out at Hot Tamale his response is simple.
“At the end of the day we’re here for a good time and that is what we want everyone to take away from Hot Tamale. If someone learns something about tequila or mezcal, then that to me is a bonus.”