Tesla 369

Jackie McMillan
24th Mar 2024

Older Eastern European men hold court in one corner of Tesla 369’s popular outdoor dining area. In the centre of the space, groups of younger men engage in enthusiastic conversation while smoking imported cigarettes. Eastern European hard rock blares from the speakers. A top-end Mercedes roars from the carpark at a volume the manufacturer did not intend. Tall, willowy waitresses, each with long, shiny, straight hair, circulate wearing branded t-shorts and powder-blue, high-waisted jeans. When we ask for a menu, they point to where we can collect one for ourselves. The name and logo on their t-shirts celebrates, not a sports star or celebrity but Serbia’s brightest mind, Nikola Tesla (369 was his key to the universe). Nikola is also depicted on a feature wall by Migs x Eze. 

Ćevapi are your Balkan must-eat. Here the house-made beef and lamb sausages can be had on a bun ($16.50) or as part of mixed grill ($32). The grill allows you to build your own mini bun (lepinja) with ćevapi, cabbage salad, roasted red capsicum sauce (ajvar) and—if you’re smart enough to also order the savoury pancakes—a dab of kajmak (seasoned cream sauce): bliss! Do the same with the smoked sausage and the large patty of beef and lamb mince called pljeskavica. Thin slices of grilled pork neck warrant being eaten on their own. There are also small hunks of chicken thigh and plenty of well-seasoned French fries to tackle in this mountain of Balkan food. Crumbed and folded around ham and cheese, the slane palačinke ($11) turns a savoury crepe into a neat little parcel. Drag it through the kajmak and contrast it with forkfuls of well-dressed rocket and cherry tomato salad heavily dusted with cheese. 

While it was a journey to get to Mount Pritchard, once we got to Tesla 369 we certainly felt like we’d arrived! You’ll find the restaurant in Hamel Road Marketplace, a tiny grouping of shops that includes a butcher, a grocer, a barber shop where you can touch up your fade, and Tesla 369’s own catering business. While I was there they had their mobile outpost, Burek on Wheels, turning out desserts. They’re pretty creative in that department, inventing their own baklava cheesecake ($7/slice) where chalky Basque-style cheesecake is baked, with an interior of chopped nuts sweetened with syrup, into a long filo pastry log. While it wasn’t quite my bag, I do credit their Tesla-like innovation.