“At least 15 minutes wait, guys.”
We’re not used to queuing for restaurants in our corner of the world. But this is Melbourne and this is Mamasita. And we’re told it’s worth the wait.
We is me, Mr P, Boy Wonder and Ms K. It’s Friday night and we’ve already had a cocktail at hole-in-the-wall, up-a-laneway, smaller-than-your-kitchen, but fabulous-in-every-way Bar Americano. Now we’re in search of dinner and Mamasita is calling.
So we wait. And we’re not disappointed.
As promised, within 15 minutes we’re beckoned up the stairs and into the dining room. It’s a slick seating process: coats cloaked, menus in hand, water poured and drinks ordered (a bottle of brisa chardonnay, valle central, chile $52).
It’s dark and lively. I pretend I can see the menu but there’s not enough light for these old eyes. We let Boy Wonder order (a delicious fifty-something privilege).
Our first round of food arrives swiftly, mostly on wooden sharing paddles. There are tiny two-bite tortillas and quesadillas.
(Quesadilla de Chorizo: 4x Wheat tortillas filled w/ chorizo, potato & mexican cheese, queso fresco & jalapeño crema $15; Tostada de Pollo: Fried single tortilla topped w/ blackened chicken, achiote, avocado & lime $12; Tostaditas de Pato: 4x Fried tortilla chips topped w/ duck carnitas & pineapple, blackbean puree & habanero crema $15)
It’s fresh mex, not stodgy and cheese-laden. It’s crisp flavours and crunchy textures.
Next, it’s picklebacks, also served on wooden sharing paddles. Picklebacks? I’ve not heard of them either: a shot of Herradura tequila served with a shot of jalapeño pickle juice (the brine from the pickle jar) $11ea.
We simultaneously chink our picklebacks to a toast of “Na zdrowie!” [naz-droh-vee-ay], because it looks like vodka, one of us is Polish enough to pronounce it correctly, we can’t think of any Mexican toasts other than Ole!, and we’re saving Slainte! for a post-dinner whisky bar adventure. It works a treat and we’ve created a memory that will stick.
For food round two, we have an interesting discussion about whether we should order the goat tacos. Who knew that between us we’d know so many snippets of goat-related trivia? It’s unanimous, we’ll have the goat. Only they’re out of goat, so we have the lamb substitute instead, but none of us cares.
(Tostaditas de Cabra: 4x Fried tortilla chips topped w/ braised goat, corn puree
& pickled onion. $15)
What we really, really, really care about is the Elite callejero (Streetstyle chargrilled corn, queso, chipotle mayo & lime $4.90ea). Hands-down, it’s the best corn on the cob I have ever tasted. Ever.
So, is Mamasita worth queuing for? Absolutely. The service is superb and the food impressive. The vibe is upbeat. And, whatever you do, don’t miss the corn on the cob.
Level 1 / 11 Collins Street
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Ph: +61 3 9650 3821
Monday to Thursday: 12pm – 12am midnight
Friday: 12pm – 2am
Saturday: 12.30pm – 2am
Sunday: 12.30pm – 10pm
And a final word from Bar Americano: