That’s the problem with the Melbourne café and restaurant scene, the new kid comes to town and people just cant get enough of it, writing articles, reviews, raving to anyone who will listen. It gets to a point where over 2,500 people have voted on if they ‘like’ Mamasita on Urbanspoon or not. But because it’s new, hip and different, everyone feels compelled to have a delicious experience.
I recently visited Mamasita, a now not-so-new restaurant on Collins Street in the CBD. Actually, the first time that I tried to visit this restaurant the queue was so long that I gave up; this was about 7:30 on a weekend. The second time, 6:30 on a weeknight, I was told that I would have to wait at least 45 minutes for a table. They would give me a call if/when one became available, if I would like to leave my name and number. Ha, fat chance! Finally I managed to work up an appetite at 5:30 on a weekday and my friend and I scored ourselves the last two seats at the bar. Ridiculous!
If you do managed to get you bottom on a seat then you are in luck, and probably in for a taste experience. As a Mexican restaurant, you can’t pass up on ordering yourself a fantastic drink from the excellent bar tenders. Personally sangria is where I would start. Those bartenders, while shaking ups a storm of cocktails, doubled as our waiters and gave us two paper menus to begin our tapas tasting.
Share food is one of the most pleasant social eating experiences, and central to Mexican and Spanish culture. From the Mamasita menu you can choose from a whole range of different sized sharing plates. The most up to date menus are available online.
Begin your journey with Primeros, almost everyone in the restaurant that night ordered Elotes Callejeros ($4.9), “Street Style” chargrilled corn, with cheese or ‘queso’, chipotle mayo and lime. It was incredible, literally bursting with deliciousness! Next you can try the Tostaditas, which are bite sized fried tortilla covered with toppings, but you only get 4 a plate and while the prospect of slow braised pork shoulder floats my boat, we chose to skip these tiny and very expensive tasters and move straight on to the Tacos. With two 6-inch tacos in 1 serving, this dish can fill you up pretty fast, so make sure you order accordingly. We chose the Tacos de Huitlacotche ($5 each), which is a soft shell taco filled with Huitlacoche (a Mexican fungus that grows on corn) mushrooms, epazote (a Mexican herb), zucchini, corn and guacamole. To be honest, cooked earthy flavored vegetables with guacamole in a taco wasn’t really a match made in heaven, perhaps they should have stuck to traditional hearty and fresh approach.
The final dish we had space for was the, ever delicious, Quesadillas. We chose a simple Quesadilla de Queso ($11) to share. Basically this entails getting two 9-inch tortillas and making a toasted sandwich with them on a grill, stuffing them with queso fresco (fresh cheese), queso criollo (more firm and bitey cheese) and jalapeños. For someone who battles with spicy foods I was breaking a sweat and couldn’t even attempt the jalapeño salsa that came with it.
If you still have room there are two Ceviche dishes (fish cooked in lime juice) that come in a small or larger size, Comida Para la Familia (larger family share plates), Ensaladas (salads), Acompanamientos (sides) and some very interesting sounding Postres (deserts).
All in all, eating at Mamasita only cost us $25 each, including one drink. So although you might be having 3 courses to your meal, this gourmet food wont put as bigger dent in your wallet as you think.
There are some seriously inventive dishes on the Mamasita menu that I would love to go back and try. Pastel de chocolate ($11), a flourless chocolate cake, tequila white chocolate sauce and PX jelly and Tacos de Lengua y Cachete ($6 each), tacos filled with braised ox tongue and cheek, pickled vegetables and ghost chili mayo, to name a few! Although not all of Mamasita’s inventions translate into deliciousness, their quirkiness is appetizing enough.
The wait staff, in our case also the bartenders, were endlessly helpful. Despite our constant bewilderment, they steered us though the world of Mexican dining.
It is such a pity about the hype. Although I had a great time at this restaurant, and some great food, the food and the experience just could not live up to the impossible standards set for it. It was good, but not “the best”. Without the hype, Mamasita could be an exciting and pretty cheap CBD dining spot but because of it the Mamasita experience is diminished.
ALLERGY TIPS: The entire menu at Mamasita is gluten free! An allergy card of all of the allergens in each dish that cannot be removed by the chefs is also available upon request.
For more info on the restaurant check out:
Level 1, 11 Collins St CBD