Much has been written about the explosion of Mexican eateries in Melbourne, and some are definitely better than others.
I travelled across town recently to try Radio Mexico and all I’ll say is that I’m jealous of the locals. JEALOUS.
Located just next to The Galleon in Carlisle St, this little taqueria is bound to charm you – casual, colourful and inviting.
I arrived early because we all know well enough by now that trying to get a table anywhere that doesn’t take bookings after about 6pm in Melbourne is about as pleasant as stabbing yourself in the eye with a cactus.
I was early enough in fact to have a good chat with the very friendly staff, who mentioned that despite being open just a short time, it feels like they have always been in the neighbourhood. Their prediction was that within the hour, the place would be jam-packed. Inside was quiet (ish) but outside, with a fireplace on the deck, which overlooks the taco-truck styled kitchen, it was already over half-full with punters enjoying a cerveza with their tortillas. In any case they were spot on. As my dining companion and I chowed down on spectacularly good tacos, oblivious to the building crowd behind us, when we turned around, the place was overflowing.
That brings me to the staff, who could not have been more pleasant, enthusiastic, and attentive. Despite people waiting for tables, there was no pressure at all, and we were encouraged to keep ordering tacos as long as we felt able to fit them in. They recommend you order your tacos one at a time, since they come out super-fast, and whilst you could be forgiven for thinking with a crowd this big you may be forgotten about when time came to order your next one, you would be dead wrong. We couldn’t fault it.
The tacos themselves were just bursting with fresh, crisp ingredients, and between us we sampled free range pork with jalapenos/black beans with avocado /bbq bugmeat with habanero slaw as well as street-style corn on the cob and a wonderful ceviche of rockling, ruby grapefruit and avocado.
We finished with the most DIVINE coconut icecream sundae with cajeta caramel and roasted coconut. Ariba! Which may or may not be Mexican for ‘do it’.
We recently died and went to authentic Mexican food heaven, and the pearly gates are located at the top of the staircase at 11 Collins St, Melbourne. Mamasita has been open for a while now, and knowing how popular it is (even mid-week), we’ve arrived each time at 5.30pm to ensure we get a table, as they don’t take bookings.
The sangria to start with is delightful, unfussy, chilled, with a hint of spices, and very easy to drink, the guacamole and salsa are suberb, all fresh coriander and zinging with lime.
You have to start your Mexican onslaught with the street-style chargrilled corn with queso, chipotle mayo and lime. Ai ai ai! You’ve never tasted corn like this, all song and dance, and god bless that mayo!
When you get to the ceviche, you really know you’re in serious Mexican business – I joked at the time that I wished I could get a bucket-sized serve of this, but seriously, what’s not to love about market fish with green tomato, chilli, mint, lime and coconut milk? Apart from the other ceviche of course, which is prawns, scallops, cherry tomatoes, lime and coriander. Win-win.
The tostaditas are fantastic 2.5″ fried tortillas with various toppings, you order a mixture and they come presented beautifully on a wooden board. We have worked our way through the combinations including fish with lime, coriander, guacamole and nasturtiums, crabmeat with avocado, tamarind mayo and habanero, chargrilled chicken, avocado, queso fresco and chipotle mayo, and slow braised pork shoulder with jalapenos.
The tacos are also a delight, favourites there include the braised beef with chorizo, coriander and onion. The quesadillas offer some interesting combinations, at our last visit we decided to go with the Mexican truffle, mushrooms, roasted corn, epazote and queso fresco, which was sensational.
Despite the bustling atmosphere, always-full tables, and the queue of anticipatory diners staring you down from the stairwell, willing you to finish, the service at Mamasita is unfailingly excellent, the staff are smiling, friendly, helpful and genuinely care that you are enjoying your meal. Apparently Australians have a reputation for being stingy tippers, but in my opinion if someone makes your dining experience more enjoyable, acts like they actually want to be there, and smile alot, that’s when they deserve a tip. Needless to say we tip the staff at Mamasita.
Even if you have to queue (and if you arrive after 5.45pm it’s pretty much a given), the meals come out so quickly that you won’t have to wait too long, and trust me when I say it will be worth it.