You know a place has got to be good when you see a line outside before it’s even open.
Walking down the high-end shops and offices of Collins Street, it really didn’t look like the right place for a Mexican restaurant and bar. But maybe that was its charm? I had seen numerous blogs by other foodies, with Sydney ones in particular raving about it – and so I had set aside lunch on my last day in Melbourne to pay Mamasita a long-anticipated visit.
You open the door and go up the somewhat dark and dingy staircase, to walk into a very spacious, minimally furnished room bright with natural sunlight streaming through the large windows facing out onto Collins Street. Seating is all high bar stools – tough luck if you’ve got short legs like me!
We started off with a glass of classic Sangria each. It was refreshing and fruity, as well as not being particularly alcoholic for those who don’t like it too strong.
I decided to start with the Elote Callejero ($5.40 each), which has had rave reviews from bloggers. It’s “Street Style” chargrilled corn, with queso, chipotle mayo and lime.
It was hands-down the tastiest cob of corn I’ve ever had! Juicy and sweet corn kernels, gloriously smoky from a good charring, with the creamy, sweet chipotle mayo and the savoury tang of the queso cheese. With a generous squeeze of lime, it was the perfect starter. I could have eaten a whole meal of these. It was when I finished my cob that I greatly appreciated the little pot of toothpicks that the waiter had discreetly popped beside us; the kernels had managed to wedge themselves everywhere between my teeth! One of the hazards of eating corn off the cob – but most definitely worth it. We moved onto our tacos: the de Arrachera - grilled flank steak, guacamole, tomatillo salsa and red onion ($6.60), and the de Camarones - marinated prawns, red chilli and chipotle almond salsa ($7.70).
Both were simple but well-cooked and tender, bursting with freshness and so good with a generous squeeze of lime juice. My eye had also been on the Ceviche de Yucatan - market fish, green tomato, chilli, mint, lime and coconut milk ($8.80 for small). The market fish for the day was hapuka.
We were a little taken aback when we realised how small the “small” was – two tortilla chips only – really?? But when we picked up the chips and spooned the ceviche mixture onto the chips and bit down with a crunch, it was more than I could have ever hoped for. I never would have thought that coconut milk would pair well with fish, chilli, tomato and other savoury elements, but the ingredients complimented one another perfectly. Coconut-y smooth on the palate, a slightly sharp acidity from the lime and tomato, and then a kick of heat from the chilli, which was immediately soothed by the refreshing addition of mint. We needed more chips to make the most of the delicious ceviche, and so decided to order the other ceviche on the menu in a large, which would surely have more chips! The Ceviche de Veracruz was snapper cured in a mixture of tomato, olive, green chilli, lime and coriander ($16.50):
This was a very zesty ceviche, with maybe too much lime after the creaminess of the previous ceviche. It was a very summery ceviche – full of fresh flavours from the tomato and the snapper had a beautiful, silky texture from being just cured to perfection. I preferred the Ceviche de Yucatan, but these two were quite different on the palate and this would have suited those who enjoy sharper, more refreshing flavours. Of course, with this much food, it meant we had ridiculously overeaten and so it was time to head off down the street in search of a park to have a siesta. Mamasita is now without a doubt one of my favourite Melbourne spots and I’ll definitely be back the next time I return.
1/11 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000