PROFILE BY BEST RESTAURANTS
Before the tacos, before the sangria and before you even make it to a table – you have to make it past the packed staircase at Mamasita.
This perpetually busy, nook of a restaurant in Melbourne's CBD says a lot about what diners are willing to do for good food – the prospect of a two hour wait does nothing to deter guests. Fortunately though, I found a way to get around this little issue by wrangling eight of my amigos into dinner with a group booking.
Sympathetic to all those diners waiting it out, Mamasita does its best to squeeze as many tables around the curved timber space as possible. It may not be the best place for a first date, but if you're really lucky, you could score a window seat overlooking Collins Street below.
Coming in on a booking is a bit of a trade-off, as your group will be at the mercy of the Chefs selection and anything you might have been eyeing on the menu may have to wait until next time. Of our banquet, the highlights were the street-style corn, covered in queso and chipotle mayo; the tostaditas – little bites of meat or beans served a small tortilla chip; and the skirt-steak taco, all great and unexpected because they weren't pre-loaded with condiments. Instead it was our job to tinker with the hot-sauces, lime and salsas on the table to alter everything to our tastes, a great touch for our chilli-shy friends.
To finish, a cone filled with corn ice cream arrived to end our night on a deliciously sweet note, piled high with caramel popcorn for a fun – but messy – crunch.
After three years in operation, Mamasita is still a favourite in this city and after my visit here I can see why. With authentic Mexican flavours and a fun, vibrant atmosphere, there's still plenty of incentive in enduring that wait on the staircase.