Mexican at Mamasita

My last domestic trip in Australia was last week (how has the end of my time here crept up so fast?!) so of course I had to have one more dinner out in Melbourne.  I’ve been to a fair number of places in the city centre there but hadn’t been to Mamasita yet because honestly I’m not that into Mexican food.  Like Indian food, I like it a lot but I always feel kind of gross after having a meal (probably because I have no self control and eat way too much tortilla chips / naan respectively).  I’m so glad I went to this little Melbourne institution though because it was hands down the best experience I’ve had with Mexican food in Australia and in general over the past several years.  I am a convert!

We went on a Monday night and there was still a half hour wait.  I’ve found that the vast majority of Melbourne city restaurants are crazy popular and take no reservations, which can be annoying, but that the food is almost always worth the wait.  The restaurant itself is pretty small and in general has a very lively vibe.  The focus is Mexican food of course but much more upscale than what you might normally associate with Mexican.  There’s a lengthy list of ceviches, innovative tacos, and mains and sides.  We went all out of course and ordered a lot since the plates are delightfully small (I really only like restaurants now that have small sharing plates – mains are such a 1990s thing).

IMG_7478Jicama sticks with lime and tajin, a slightly spicy Mexican seasoning.  I could have eaten about 50 of these.  I love jicama so much and didn’t realise it could even be found in Australia, so this was a pleasant surprise.  Vastly preferable starter to tortilla chips! (If you didn’t know, jicama is kind of a like a cousin to pear…it’s crunchy and amazing)

IMG_7479Ceviche – lime-cured fish with green tomato, chilli, mint & coconut milk.  You really can’t go wrong with anything flavoured with coconut milk and lime – yum

IMG_7480More ceviche!  This one is kingfish crudo with a habanero and lime dressing and cucumber.  I actually liked this one even better as I love kingfish.  I love raw fish in general so incorporating ceviche into the start of any meal is always a good idea

IMG_7481Amazing quesadilla with braised lamb and a mint and jalapeno herb sauce on the top.  Not pictured are the little tacos we got with it because we dug into them so fast – pork with a spicy apple and white cabbage slaw and grilled flank steak with guacamole and tomatillo salsa.  In general their filling combinations were genius.  Braised lamb in a quesadilla? Yes please.

IMG_7482In the front, hickory smoked salmon with an ancho glaze, and in the back, sauteed green beans and a quinoa salad with spinach, corn, coriander, and chili.  The salmon was cooked perfectly, and the green beans still retained a nice amount of crunch and weren’t too oily which I find often happens in restaurants.  And this quinoa salad was a revelation (not exaggerating I swear) – I’ve made many quinoa salads myself but never have I thought to actually toast some quinoa grains and put it in with the rest.  There were toasted crunchy bits of quinoa throughout the salad which made it doubly amazing.  Next time I make quinoa I am definitely trying that technique!

IMG_7483Sweet corn ice cream with salted caramel and popcorn on top.  I had to go for it because of the salted caramel and the innovative ice cream flavour, but actually I didn’t really get any corn flavouring in the ice cream at all, which made me think I probably should have gotten the chocolate cake…oh well

In conclusion, if you are in Melbourne, definitely make it to this bustling little place.  I absolutely loved it and it really changed my opinion of Mexican food and how you can make it more innovative and interesting.  It’s also relatively cheap as Australian places go…you can get out for about $40 a head, or less if you eat less food. (We obviously had to order all of the things.)  I’m going to miss Melbourne’s lovely restaurants, but now I’m just focusing on hitting a few more places off my Sydney bucket list before my big move!

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