In my experience every visit is a great visit when it comes to Mamasita's. We've found it's a perfect place to take overseas guests. It's loud, open until late, fun and the food always evokes "wow"s and "YUM"s. I think it's a great example of how Melburnian's like to eat.
We hit up Mamasita's recently on a Friday night at around 8pm. Putting your name on the list and heading off for a drink elsewhere is de rigueur and on a number of occasions we've had to wait a couple of hours so there really is no point waiting in line. The four of us trotted off to Bar Lourinha for drinks and were just about to order some nibbles when we got the call 30 minutes later. 30 minutes! That's gotta be a record! We downed our wines and sped back to Mamasita to claim our table.
We were seated, our coats taken and drink orders placed- beer for the boys and a jug of sangria for the girls. I do love Mamasita's margaritas but I find their $64 jugs a tad expensive. In any case, the sangria was lovely- fruity and boozy.
We were all starving so we threw about some ideas of what to order. We decided on Mamasita's famous Street Style corn, a couple of tacos each, ceviche, a portion of tostaditas and the braised pork belly which just sounded too delicious to pass up.
The elotes callejeros are a must have. The corn is sweet and the melting cheese, heat from the spice, chipotle mayo and tang from the lime create a flavour combination that keeps you coming back for more.
Our tostaditas (fried tortilla) were topped with slow braised pork shoulder, pickle, jalapeno and crackling- the pork was very tender and juicy. I prefer Mamasita's crab tostadita as they're very fresh and light (they had sold out that evening) but the pork was certainly tasty.
The ceviche was incredibly moreish. The rockling had been marinating in green tomato, chilli, mint, lime and coconut milk and it had absorbed all the beautiful flavours of its friends. The ceviche is a great dish to order to balance out some of the meatier offerings.
And then the tacos arrived. I absolutely rate Mamasita's tacos- I haven't found anywhere else that quite measures up. We all ordered a de Pescado (grilled fish, lime, achiote paste, red onion salsa and chipotle mayo), I ordered a de Lengua y cachet (braised ox tongue & cheek, pickled vege & ghost chilli mayo, MP ordered a de Arrachera (grilled flank steak, tomato frijole salsa and queso fresco) and CP and TBS both went for a estilo el Pastor (Al Pastor styled-pork, pineapple, white onion and coriander.
Now usually when the tacos arrive the waiter points out which is which. Unfortunately I think it was one of our waiter's first shifts as he didn't have a clue which meant I ended up having MP's steak taco and he got to sample ox tongue. Other than that slight hiccup, everyone was utterly satisfied with their choices. The de Pescado was my pick- I could have easily had two more they were so delicious. The hot sauces on the table are great to add to the tacos too although I can never work out which is hotter, the red or the green...
Our bellies were groaning but the beauty of the last dish was enough to encourage us to keep going. The pancita de cerdo (Guajillo-braised pork belly, habanero cream, fried parsley and lime) was SO tender. Every element of the dish worked together beautifully- the tender, pepper braised pork, the spicy, smooth cream, the subtle crunch of the parsley and onions and the chargrilled lime- delicious!
Mamasita's knows how to show diners a good time. I must also mention that the service was especially memorable that evening. It was friendly and genuine. Mamasita's is a reliable old favourite. What's not to love?
Good to know:
Negra Modello 355ml $10
Dos Equis Amber 355ml $8
1 litre jug of Sangria $38
Elotes Callejeros: 'Street Style' chargrilled corn, queso, chipotle mayo & lime $4.90 (each)
de Carnitas tostaditas with slow braised pork shoulder, encurtidos, pickled jalapeno & chicharron $14 (you get 4)
Ceviche de Yucatan: market fish, green tomato, chilli, mint, lime & coconut milk $8/$18
Pancita de cerdo: Guajillo- braised pork belly, habanero cream, fried parsley & lime $25
1/11 Collins Street
Melbourne CBD (next to the 7Eleven)
Monday to Wednesday noon to 12:00am
Thursday noon to 12:30am
Friday & Saturday noon to 2:00am
Sunday 1:00pm to 10:00pm
It pays to pop in and put your name down so that Mamasita can give you a call when there's a table ready, otherwise you may find yourself waiting in line for a long time!
The full menu is available Monday to Saturday until 11:00pm after which Mamasita serve their Taqueria menu. The full menu is available on Sunday with a 10% surcharge.
Images: T B Southam