I’d done my research before picking Mamasita as our lunch location and this research had made me nervous. Every blog, review and friend I spoke with about this, no longer new but defiantly still hip restaurant, mentioned the queue. I’d been assured that it was a friendly queue, an organised queue and a worthwhile queue but I never enjoy a queue; especially not a queue for food. I don’t function well when I’m made to wait for food.
I’d taken a Friday off work to pretend that I was a tourist in Melbourne. My plan was to visit Mamasita for lunch rather than dinner and hopefully bypass this ominous queue.
I was very happy when we alighted from the tram at the top end of Collins Street and saw that there was no one waiting outside the nondescript door of Mamasita and even happier when I looked up the stairwell and saw a clear run right to the top.
When we made it to the first floor we could see that the restaurant was almost full, with only a few pairing of seats scattered around.
We were shown to 2 free seats by the window, sunlight streaming in. Despite the crisp spring air outside, the glass magnified the warmth from the sun. It was enough to encourage us to order a Mexican beer we had never tried before, Bohemia, and pretend that it was summer.
And then the feast began.
First came the chargrilled corn, as often mentioned by previous patrons as the queue but this was something I was thankful not to miss out on. Corn on the cob is difficult to eat in polite company but thankfully just about every table I looked at had golden cobs sprinkled with cheese and spices so I figured no one would think less of me for eating with my hands and possibly popping kernels filled with steaming liquid across the room.
Next out from the kitchen were the Tostaditas de Cangrejo, petite morsels of crabmeat, avocado, cucumber, tamarind mayo and habanero perched atop of crisp corn tortilla. They were fresh and light, light years away from my experience of stodgy Mexican meals laden with cheese and sour cream.
“I hate Mexican food” I told my friend, “But I love this stuff”.
Next was a quinoa salad then came the tacos. Soft tortillas, one filled with slow cooked goat, cabbage and sweet corn paste; the other with grilled fish, red onion salsa and chipotle mayo. They were served with a small bowl of refreshing cucumber salsa on the side. Not that the meal needed cooling. Despite the number of times chipotle and habanero appeared on the menu there was not an item that we ordered that even raised a sweat. Chilli sauce was placed at each setting but I didn’t use it.
All of the portions are small so we were tempted to order another two tacos. I was glad that we did. We picked the eggplant taco, perfectly reasonable for a vegetarian offering however the Taco de Camarones was for me the dish of the day. The marinated prawns coupled perfectly with the rich red chilli and chipotle almond salsa.
At the end of our meal we discussed Mexican food over a jug of Sangria. What is it, what it isn’t and how it should be. As the alcohol seeped in and the sun bolstered our moods we threw around some foodie words and discussed Tex Mex verses ‘authentic’ despite never having travelled to Mexico and so not really knowing what is ‘real’ Mexican.
But now I understand why so many people queue up on the stairs and don’t complain about it.