Tag Archives: Mamasita

hipster free tacos

Full disclosure: while Gem had very recently eaten as a guest of Mad Mex’s, this review is based upon my experience and at my own cost.

Corona as art.

A phrase not often uttered I suspect. Especially not by this (beer) snob.

That is, however, a rather apt description of Mad Mex’s light fittings in their Melbourne Central shop – perhaps the most beautiful and tasteful (ha, a pun) take on Corona yet – made from Coronas consumed by customers.

Aside from the lost-found-garbage art stuck to the ceiling thing they’ve got going on, Mad Mex looks pretty fast foody. One could be forgiven for walking past in sheer ignorance and derisive judgement, especially in a food court of a big arse shopping centre. However as the cliche goes, looks can be deceiving. Mad Mex fills the new but old and rapidly expanding fast casual segment. Think Nando’s, Grill’d and other similar restaurants where it kind of feels a bit fast food but served on a ceramic plate, using a lettuce other than Iceberg.

Yeah, one of those places.

If the marketing copy of Mad Mex’s corporate website is to believed, the chain was conceived to fill a gap in the quality Mexican food niche within Australia. After the run-away success of restaurants like Mamasita with their fresh and light menus (unlike the bastardised stodgy sour-cream-and-cheese Tex-Mex most Australians are familiar with as ‘Mexican’) I’d have to agree with them. I’m surprised it’s taken this long to see some quality Mexican food in Australia — apparently our collective repulsion at having to eat at Taco Bill wasn’t loud enough (though don’t knock their margaritas, bitch!).

Very much like a Subway or similar franchise, customers are herded cattle-style from one side of the counter to the other, to pick and choose their toppings. At its simplest it’s a three-step process: first, you must choose your Mad Mex style (i.e. what you’re having). I chose the burrito — I was hungry and it was the most expensive option on the menu at $10.90. Being the simple creature that I am I equated the most expensive item with also being the largest. Second, the meaty or (if you’re that way inclined) vegetably innards are picked — I went the Carnitas, a slow-cooked shredded pork. Then the last step: the ‘piece of resistance’:the salsa.

I chose Picante, a habanero based salsa which is the hottest in the line-up, but for my palate not particularly so. Fear not. More chilli sauce can be acquired. In the midst of the mêlée, I secured a serving of guacamole too. All in all, it came up looking a treat, I think you’ll agree. Other than looking great, it tasted pretty rad too.

While I haven’t yet tried the their tacos (though I will be back), I suspect they may rival the famed Taco Truck. Best of all, no hipsters.

Mad Mex - Fresh Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

drive-by Mexican

At the very last minute last week, I was invited out to Mamasita which has newly opened in the Paris end of Collins St in the city. Thanks very much fellow foodie @praxxis for thinking of me. If I recall correctly, it only opened last week, on Tuesday. Melbourne Gastronome has posted comprehensively about it, and I’d heard tidbits about it from fellow foodie @jeroxie, and @nedwin.

You’ll have to excuse my photos as the place was pretty dark and these are courtesy of my mobile phone. Real professional-like, eh?

I’ll keep my report brief, and please do note that because of the time I dined there, choices were largely restricted to tapas offerings – they do have a larger lunch and dinner menu that I hope to investigate later on.

My supreme favourite for the evening, the octopus and prawn ceviche.

ceviche 'leche de tigre'

Tart, refreshing, and wonderfully fresh seafood make this fairly simple dish a gustatory treat! Definite pick-me-up for the palate. My mouth waters just to recall it. I like to think of it as an extremely sophisticated seafood salad of sorts.

Next up, mushroom and truffle quesadillas.

quesadilla de huitlacoche

A much more subtle dish, palate-wise. It’s great that it’s shareable too. It will take all your politeness to make sure you don’t sneak an extra slice that wasn’t really meant for you…ooh yeah.

The next photo shows what was actually on the table just as I arrived a tostada share plate. I also witnessed poor @coliwilso and @tristankenney somewhat overcome by chilli sauce overload. T bore it better than C who at one stage looked like he was going to hurl. Poor lad looked far too unwell for the episode to be funny. @praxxis, who sat there with his arms crossed somewhat smugly, implored that this chilli misdemeanour make it into this post, and I have happily obliged. I did remark on the evening that I had never seen either fellow so quiet in a social situation. I entered to practically no greeting!

Moral of the story is, the red chilli sauce is much hotter than the green one – so folks, no matter how hard-arse you are, please use them sparingly!

tostada serving plate of four

My favourites out of this lot are the: the one on the very left – “de Pescado” with market fish with lime, guacamole, nasturtiums & serrano chilli, and then “de Pulpo”: pickled octopus with green chilli, lime and coriander.

Of course, while there, I tried two of the Mexican beers on offer – the Tecate, and the Dos Equis. I much preferred the Tecate, as the Dos Equis is a little too light and watery for my tastes. I don’t really know much about Mexican beer, but I’m always game to try ones I’ve never had. Thankfully, not a Corona in sight! Yes, you did just witness some beer snobbery from me: on a more serious note, if you enjoy Corona, then by all means, drink it!

I wish there were more places that served late-night nibbles of such a high calibre – Melbourne is pretty food-obsessed, so why aren’t there more such places? I know once I start drinking at bars I get insanely peckish. In any case, I’m glad Mamasita has popped up and can’t wait to go again and order some of the lunch/dinner items. Barring the tostada, everything I had when I was there was actually off the tapas menu.

You bet I’ll be going again.

Mamasita on Urbanspoon