It’s a Matryoshka dolls (Russian dolls within dolls) situation at El Primo Sanchez.
The Mexican cocktail bar, which opened in Sydney’s Paddington earlier this year, has now opened a second bar — within it. Behind an unassuming shelf of Mexican pantry items, La Prima offers a more intimate experience, holding just 30 guests total — 10 seating and 20 standing.
While El Primo Sanchez offers a colourful atmosphere reminiscent of 80s-inspired Mexico City, complete with flowing margaritas and karaoke-room ballads, La Prima provides a more chilled experience, designed to transport guests to the Mexican region of Oaxaca.
Here, you’ll find candlelight, old-school Mexican tunes and rare mezcal drinks, crafted by a dedicated bartender. Stefano Catino, Director of Hospitality at Public, the group behind both venues, describes La Prima as a genuine representation of a bygone Mexican era. He says he was inspired to create the venue by a trip he took to Oaxaca a few years ago.
“One night, we stumbled across a hidden speakeasy with a long guitarist, a bar brimming with mezcal and the warm glow of lit candles,” he says. “There were about 20 to 30 people crammed in the room, drinking and singing along. There was just something about it – it was unlike any other bar experience I’ve had, and I knew I had to somehow inject this energy into El Primo Sanchez.”
“I love the element of surprise and delight when guests stumble across the door and enter a portal straight from Mexico City to Oaxaca,” Catino says.
While La Prima’s menu isn’t available online, expect rotating cocktails by the Mayb Sammy team and the option to order from El Primo Sanchez’s food menu by Head Chef Alejandro Huerta, which features playful twists on Mexican classics.
Catino’s picks? A cocktail called Perfume de Gardenias, made with Patron Reposado, peach and citrus cordial and jasmine soda. It’s finished with a spritz of an edible Patron perfume. Another option is the Pastel de Planto with Patron Reposado, banana and cinnamon cordial, salt and agave.
Food-wise, Catino’s pick is the Blackmore Wagyu Barbacca with salsa roja de miso, burnt onions and shiso. Other options include guacamole with fermented green tomato, chilli crunch and totopos, and pink ling with baja base, pineapple pico de gallo and coriander.
If you’re heading to La Prima, Catino suggests you start your night at El Primo Sanchez, indulging in tacos and cocktails. Then, after a few drinks, head into La Prima where a bartender can curate your mezcal experience.
“Immerse yourself in the rituals, share stories and salut to a memorable evening,” says Catino. “La Prima is more than just a bar — it’s a journey for all senses.”