Melbourne really is an intoxicating city. I'm not sure I'd like to live there (Melbournites- your weather is CUhRAZY!) but there is just something so exciting about wandering up and down the alley ways discovering new places, or walking past an unassuming door,only to look up and see a queue with literally 30+ people packed into a staircase.... walking past, then realising said door is actually your destination!
Ha- This was actually my story a couple of weeks ago when I was in Melbs, searching for renowned Mexican Tacqueria, Mamasita. Might I add this line was at 6:45 p.m. on a Tuesday night. What the hell!? I waited in line for about 10 minutes when the guy eventually came down to tell me that a table for 3 (some of my colleagues were joining me) would not be ready until about 9:30 p.m. They don't accept bookings, so this was always a risk, and I decided to return another night a little earlier to try to get in! Oh - don't worry, we weren't left hungry - we manged to grab a few spots at Bar Lourinha just down the road, more on that another post.
Wednesday night arrived and I had arranged to meet up with G, one of my gorgeous friends from boarding school days. To avoid the same fate as the day before, I phoned her and changed the meeting time to about 5:45 p.m. so we could try and get into Mamasita then. She didn't mind at all. She's has been plenty of times before and loves the fare so was happy to go with.
I walked up to the door, expecting to see a line, but was surprised. Moving straight to the top of the stairs, I checked back down again, to make sure I was at the right place. Sure enough 5:45 p.m. is more than early enough to beat the rush- by about 45 minutes, so we were able to grab two of the tall stools near the back of the restaurant.
From the moment we stepped in, the service was incredibly attentive. They may be a casual styled joint, but they certainly don't act like it. The place is spacious and loud, but fills up really quickly. It has a pretty cool vibe. After ordering a mojito I settled in to take a look at the extensive, crazy tequila menu. I've never seen anything like it. They have seriously impressive selection of tequila on offer, and the staff are clued up on the info should you ask. Next time, I will make some room for a tequila or two, for sure.
The menu proudly lists authentic Mexican options. No hard shell tacos' here my friends. I actually wish one of my best pals, Irma, who is Mexican was in Australia to check it out. She'd love it. Especially the fact that it opens until 12 a.m. on weeknights and 2:00 a.m. on weekends. Late dining is true to Mexican style.
The menu is divided into sections; Primero, taco (again people- soft shelled tacos. In Mexico there are no tacos as we know them. I knew I never liked them for a reason- they aren't authentic!) quesadillas, ceviche, tostaditas, ensaladas, comia para la familia, acompanamientos, and postre and I found it seriously hard to narrow my choice down to a couple of dishes.
I knew I had to have the elotes callegeros - "street style" chargrilled corn with queso, chipolte mayonnaise and lime for $3.8 per piece. I'd read good things and seeing the girls beside me next to me made me want it even more. Maybe I should have started yelling cliched Mexican phrases like 'Arriba Arriba', from the table tops, because damn, the corn was tasty. I wanted to steal G's before she had a chance to look at it and lick the seasoning right off. Juicy and sweet and smothered in an almost buttery mayo with plenty of spicy enough chipolte. This corn was so delicious, I wanted to hop on the next flight to Mexico city and spend my days trawling, around living like a Mexican, eating corn and all their other delicious street food. Luckily for my employers, the corn is available in Collins Street, Melbourne!
Next, G and I decided to grab a couple of things to taste between us- 2 al pastor tacos for $5 each contained roasted pork with pineapple, coriander and white onion. These babies were super juicy. Literally, the red sauce coasted my fingers and was running down my arms by the time I had finished eating, but, I would have liked even more flavour. The pineapple and onion were fresh, but hit me with more flavoursome pork and I would eat possibly 300 of these. And then be 'so sleeepy.'
The beef taco ($5) was next on the list, and although this was actually G's, I snuck half, and I'm glad I did. This was delicious. The meat was tender and the seasoning was just perfect. The taco is beautifully fresh and jam packed with taste bud teasing beef. For those who have had homemade tortillas or have been lucky enough to go to Mexico and sample some authentic Mexican food, you will know what I mean when I say the tacos are soft, but with incredible texture. There is no commercial equivalent available, or not one that I have found! I really think this makes a huge difference. The only problem with this taco was, that we didn't order two (or ten!)
To finish off, G also chose the de pollo quesadilla for $14. This reminded me of the beautiful food my Mexicano friend Irma used to knock up for me when she lived in Australia. The pico de gallo was particularly moresih and a little bit of mole on the side would have completed an already wonderful dish. Simple but delightful. Somehow the cheese is sparingly used, but still manages to bring the other ingredients alive. Oh how I love you cheese (even though you don't love me back).
As it was pretty early, neither of us were really hungry, so only ordered lightly. Next time, I will go in and order with a vengence, so I can sample the full menu! I seriously loved Mamasita, and am glad it is close to where I stay when I go to Melbs for work.
It's nice to see a place that is casual and relaxed but still provides good service and great authentic Mexican food. I don't think I have actually ever been anywhere where these two elements were combined. This tacqueria has style and flair and given the queue's, I'd say Melbourne has realised. They are obviously feeding the hordes who are hungry for some more Mexican than the usual old el paso or tex mex burrito. I think Australia is ready for the Mexican revolution and it has already started at Mamasita. Actually, can I please come and be a professional taste tester for you guys or something? If not I'll settle for getting together a group of friends and go back, so I can demolish the menu!! Look out Mamasita, here I come!
When to go: Whenever you want Mexican. Seriously, never eat those weird hard shell tacos again. I'd probably try to go early, or quite late, if you don't like to wait.
Tell me readers, Have you ever lined up for a ridiculous amount of time to eat?
Level 1/11 Collins Street
03 9650 3821