Deciding to visit this place was a bit of a push-and-pull situation. Everyone’s talking about it and it’s crazy busy during peak times. With such hype, I tend to leave disappointed. Even when I caught my receptionist at work singing “mamasita mamasita!”, I was still not entirely convinced I should visit.
Fast forward eleven months and I got there eventually. This visit was clinched by Winston, who was keen to go and also knew that I was umming and aahing about it. Of course, all he had to do was ask me along and, as predicted, I did my typical fatboo auto-yes!
But we did our research. We chose to visit at lunchtime on a Tuesday, where things would be quieter. Walking up the famous flight of stairs where dinner crowds would normally queue for hours, we entered a small, unpretentious space with a comfortable vibe and a positive buzz. Seating is limited, so I now understand why the wait can sometimes be ludicrous during peak hours.
Mamasita Magarita 17
Al Jimador reposado, Cointreau, tamarind juice, on the rocks
Fakegf and Winston did not have drinks, while I just had to be “itchy fingers” and try something, since this is a drinks, chill, chat and nibble type of space yo!
The margarita was nice! Salty, tangy and strong… and quite uplifting in its piquancy.
Salsa & Sauces
I don’t know how it’s like during peak times, but there’s something very simple and comfortable about this space that made us warm to it. The setting is perfect for a bright and breezy mid-afternoon catch-up with friends.
Elotes callejeros 4.9
“Street Style” chargrilled corn, queso, chipotle mayo & lime
Winston couldn’t resist ordering the much famed corn entrée dish. I initially shuddered at the menu description of ‘cheese, corn and lime’, but when I had a small taste of it, it actually worked! On first bite, you’re first hit by the pungency of the cheese, but the juicy fragrance of chargrilled corn with lime suddenly comes through and it’s surprisingly nice.
Next, we each chose a taco each. They arrived snug and handsome.
Taco de Lengua y Cachete 6 (Braised ox tongue & cheek, pickled veg & ghost chilli mayo)
Taco de Moronga 6 (Grilled black pudding, jalapeño herb mayo & apple)
Taco de Berenjena 5 (Eggplant, zucchini, huitlacoche & guacamole)
All the tacos were good, but fakegf’s ox tongue taco was the winner of the three. The meat was unctuously delicious, with great crispness and a marvellous grilled flavour. Winston’s black pudding taco tasted nicely balanced and surprisingly good too. I liked how it wasn’t overwhelming with the taste of iron. I was less excited about my vegetarian taco because it was quite tangy, but I enjoyed its simplicity.
Ceviche de Veracruz 15
Snapper, tomato, olive, green chilli, lime & coriander
I guess this ceviche acted like a palate cleanser between our entrees and the heartier dish that will be coming next. Zesty, light, cooling and interesting. We wanted it to have more chilli kick and I thought the snapper tasted a touch fishy for me. If this is how really fresh snapper tastes like, I’d probably opt for another type of fish next time.
Mole negro con pollo 24 / Tortillas (4pc) 3
Black mole with raised right confit chicken maryland
While Winston and I were struggling to photograph this dratted dish that’s so dark brown and splatty-looking, we suddenly noticed a group of cooks and waiters by the bar looking at us with amusement. One of them quipped with a cheeky smirk “you know that’s for eating?”… Too funny!!
Anyway, this was sort of our shared ‘mains’ dish. Please pronounce it as mo-lay and not mole. Haha!
But hey, you know what? This dish was great! It actually reminded me of the gumbo that I had at My Mexican Cousin. Sweet, earthy, spicy, slightly beany and also chocolatey. Fakegf thought the sauce was interesting in a good way, and there was something Asian about its flavour, reminiscent of five spice powder.
We found out that eating Mexican food can be quite a messy affair, especially with this smeary mole. We also discovered that the green salsa sauce that came with each table helped offset the sweetness of this dish. Overall, eating this dish was a new experience, different in a nice way.
Piña a la parilla 10
Grilled pineapple, lemon chilli sorbet, orange piquin syrup & coconut
There were a couple of interesting dessert items on the menu and we shared two between us. Fakegf liked the cooked pineapple pieces here and the palpable presence of chilli in the lemon sorbet. The coconut came as a scatter of roast crisp strips. Winston and I were less keen about this dessert. Overall, I thought this dish was too sticky sweet because of the orange syrup.
Flautas dulces de calabaza 12
Bluecorn flautas, pumpkin mousse & praline
But this flautas dessert was amazing! A gentle pumpkin mousse is piped into a crunchy scroll of aromatic blue corn, then a scatter of candied nuts. It hit all the pleasure hot spots in the dessert compartment of my brain, so effortlessly good! Fakegf doesn’t like eating corn or pumpkin, yet she still loved this dish.
Here’s the famed stairway where people queue up waiting for a table.
Mamasita is currently ranked no. 4 on Urbanspoon. I’m usually quite skeptical about Urbanspoon’s top ten Melbourne restaurants (as voted by the people). I think the top 3 spots (Hardware Societe, Laksa King, Hutong Dumpling Bar) definitely don’t deserve such high praise. Harsh? Yes, I am.
But Mamasita has caught me by surprise. I can see why it’s ranked so favourably by the people. Interesting food, great vibe, unpretentious ambience and friendly staff. Overall, I think it’s a good, comfortable place for a chat, snacks and drinks during off peak hours. I’ll be back.