There's a fiesta in Melbourne and everyone wants to be invited.
It's not uncommon to see the line for the weekend dinner service at Mamasita stretch down the stairs and onto Collins Street. When moving into the forty-fifth minute waiting for a table of two, you can be forgiven for grumpily wondering if this is really worth it. Luckily, it is. Mamasita delivers exceptional and revamped Mexican food to the hungry masses for minuscule prices.
Contemplating the tapas-style menu and the ridiculously low prices (soft-shell tortillas are about $6 each, tostaditas max out at $15 a plate), my tall glass of house Sangria is placed beside me. Without looking, I pick it up and take a sip and place it back on the table. The taste causes me to drop my menu. It is unlike any other Sangria I have tried before. Sangria is a favourite of mine and Mamasita will convert even the most punch-phobic. The balance of wine, cinnamon, sugar and citrus is perfectly blended, leaving a sparkle of sweetness on the otherwise cleansed palate.
The following dishes held up the bar set by the Sangria. The four-piece mini tostaditas arrive lined up on a little wooden plank. The braised pork shoulder topping is as delicate as the pickled jalapeno and chicharron it rests on. There is no one particular flavour that stands out, rather it is a medley between all the ingredients.
Next I opt for a dish thrice recommended to me - the fish taco. A six-inch soft tortilla is gently wrapped around a filling of grilled fish, lime, red onion and chipolte mayo. It arrives with a little lime wedge and from the moment you squeeze the life out of the lime, the messy affair begins. Trying to scoop the ingredients into the shell and then into your mouth results in sweet lime-mayo juices dripping from your hands, mouth and chin. But it tastes so good so you soon learn to not care. The lime acts as a trigger, marrying all the ingredients together to create a creamy, delicious union. The initial embarrassment from constantly having to wipe you chin soon wears off when you look around the restaurant and realise that everyone else is doing the same thing.
The final test of the Mamasita menu comes from a little regular-looking ice-cream cone, arriving in its own stand. The ice cream cone, I am told, is made from sweetcorn. As I pull the piece of caramelised popcorn from the top of the ice cream and pop it into my mouth, I wait for my tastebuds final verdict. And it's perfect: salty, sweet with the satisfying crunch from the caramelised corn. Fans of chocolate, however, should definitely opt for the flourless chocolate cake. Amateurs beware: this cake can leave you powerless, slumping against the table in defeat. Served warm, the tequila white chocolate sauce creates a small moat around the turret of cake. I grab my spoon and begin to attack at the walls. It is a battle, but I am victorious, placing my streaked spoon on the now empty plate. Victory is sweet.
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