There’s so much hype about Mamasita (Mexican) I just had to check it out. Our plan was to arrive early to secure a table and avoid the long wait that I’ve heard about. We arrived at 5:30pm on a Saturday (so early for Melbourne dining!) and still waited an hour, but… it was worth it!
You always wonder when you’re sitting on the stairs of a much hyped restaurant, “is this really worth it?”. My friend had been there before and was nervously wondering if I’d decide to give up and walk away, but like I said, I’m glad I didn’t. Just to reassure me, some people walking down the stairs said, “It’s worth it” (thank you, random strangers!). Also since I’ve returned to the GC one of my friends has told me she went to the 7-11 next door to pick up a snack whilst waiting, and it was still worth it.
Mamasita is a Mexican Restaurant / Tequila Bar located upstairs at the ‘Paris End’ of Collins Street. As I’ve said before on this blog, I’m a huuge fan of Mexican food, but real Mexican food. Yes I do love the odd sour cream and refried bean laden treat (I’m talking about you Montezumas), but real Mexican cuisine is very different from what we’re used to. So it’s been great to read in food press recently that in Melbourne and Sydney there are more authentic Mexican options becoming available.
The decor of Mamasita is warm and inviting, but simply decorated. The bar is huge, and has the biggest collection of Tequila I’ve ever seen. Sooo disappointed I couldn’t have one of their margaritas (pregnant..), but my friend did and said it was delicious. The wait is almost theme park-ish, in that you wait for a table, they move you to the bar, then to a table when it becomes available. Note: if you’re booking a group of 4 or more, they will send you away and call you when your table is ready.
So, on to the food. To start, we ordered the Elotes callejeros – “Street Style” chargrilled corn, queso (= cheese), chipotle mayo & lime ($4.9). I don’t think I have ever eaten corn this good. It was spicy (and my tolerance is high), but perfectly cooked, popping in my mouth as I ate it. Covered in a buttery smoky chipotle mayo, and squeezed with fresh lime to cut through the fat. My mouth is watering right now just talking about it. Don’t expect large portions here, you get two half pieces of corn. Still, heaven!
Next my friend recommended we try some Tostaditas, which are a small piece of crispy tortilla topped with some appetizers. You receive 4 pieces on each board (they serve them on small chopping boards, nice touch). We ordered the de Carnitas – Slow braised pork shoulder, encurtidos (Spanish pickled cucumber), pickled jalapeno and chicharron (pork rinds) ($14), and the de Pollo – Chargrilled chicken, avocado, chipotle mayo & queso fresco (cheese) ($14). Both were amazing little explosions of flavour with perfectly cooked meats and delicious choices of accompaniments. I did add the spicy green sauce on the table to the chicken just to give them a little extra kick. Again, spicy but awesome!
Next we tried some Tacos made with a 6 inch soft tortilla with fillings. We decided to try the fish taco – de Pescado – Grilled fish, lime, achiote paste (a type of Mexican seasoning), red onion salsa & chipotle mayo ($6 each). Delicious fresh fish with piquant lime and salsa and some creamy smokey mayo. Spicy again, but delicious.
As a side, I just had to try the Platanos Machos – Fried plaintains, pico verde & queso fresco ($7). I tried fried plaintains with salt when I was in South America years ago and just loved it. The idea of a savoury banana might sound weird but it’s yummy, and this dish was great. Cheese, salsa and salty fried plaintain was a great combo.
By this stage I was way too full (despite aforementioned small portion sizes), but my friend decided to try a dessert. Helado de maiz – Sweetcorn ice cream cone, caramel, popcorn ($6). The ice cream itself was quite simple in flavour, with the highlight the caramel corn placed on top. We agreed it might have been nice to have the caramel corn or flavour throughout the ice cream a little more, but it was still a tasty dessert. I wish I would’ve had room to try the other dessert options as they all sounded wonderful.
So what about the service? Great – from the restaurant host who greeted us and took our details, to the manager (?) who reassured us that it wouldn’t be much longer. The barman walked out from behind the bar to take our order then brought our drinks to us, our food arrived quickly, and our waitress was great at checking on us and refilling our water (important when consuming such delightfully spicy treats).
So my plan if I go back? Try going for an early weekday lunch or dinner rather than weekend. I’ll still end up waiting but I won’t care, I’d go back just for the corn! As you can tell, I’d highly recommend a visit to Mamasita. For those who are not spice tolerant, I’d be asking advice or letting the waiters know. I did see corn coming out with non-spicy versions so it looks like they’ll cater for you. But I have to say, you’re missing out!