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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mamasita

February 11, 2012
Mamasita has now been running for two years and it seems as popular as ever. Their no-bookings policy (for groups of less than eight) has had most of Melbourne at some stage lining up along their staircase, spilling out onto Collins St, retreating to a nearby bar for a few drinks or just giving up and eating elsewhere. We did our best to circumvent the wait by arriving right on their 5pm opening last Saturday and were dealt 20 minutes of queuing and one of their last tables for two - lucky.

Mamasita's menu, as you probably already know, has a modern Mexican theme. It's totally gluten free with plentiful vegetarian and vegan options marked throughout the menu - what you see here probably constitutes less than half of the meat-free dishes on offer. 

Michael tried their strong and sour Mamasita margarita (El Jimador reposado, Cointreau and fresh lime on the rocks; $17). My Pina Ahumada (Reposado mezcal, Damiana and pineapple on the rocks with a vanilla salt rim; $18) was sweeter and easy to mistake for a soft drink. The vanilla salt rim is pleasantly addling.


Our meal commenced with the near-mandatory Elotes callejeros ($4.90 each), char-grilled street-style corn topped with queso, chipotle mayo and lime. There's nothing like tasty, inelegant food on sticks to set an upbeat casual tone. A little jar of toothpicks on the table preserve some dignity.

The quesadilla de frijoles ($14) is one of the plainer looking dishes, but not lacking for flavour - toasty tortillas sandwich refried black beans and cheese, topped with fresh salsa and served with a spicy condiment for smearing all over.

To keep things fresh we elected to share the ensalada de jicama y betabel ($8), a salad of jicama, beetroot, red pepper, pepitas, sesame, orange and chipotle dressing. The white jicama cubes reminded Michael of apple in their crisp sweetness and I particularly appreciated the crunchy pepitas.

The surprise savoury highlight was the Bunuelos de garbanzos ($19): chickpea fritters with field mushrooms, sweet potato and a jalapeno herb sauce. While I'd pictured whole chickpeas deep-fried in batter, this was a seasoned chickpea flour batter, set, sliced and lightly crusted. I loved the light fluffy texture, Michael loved the mushrooms and sweet potato, we both loved mopping up the green sauce. A lovely dish all round.

While we could have happily finished up there (and I suspect our waitress would have preferred we did), I persuaded Michael that dessert was in order. I was quite desperate for a Helado de maiz ($6), sweetcorn icecream in a cone, topped with caramel popcorn. This was light and sweet and fun, and though I could see the corn I couldn't really taste it. I'm not sure whether that's Mamasita's fault; I may have been in that post-cocktail zone where the tastebuds are dulled but everything is awesome.

Michael's selection (Pastel de chocolate, $11) was nearly twice the price but looking pretty small. Once sampled, the portioning made much sense - the flourless chocolate cake was incredibly dense and rich, sitting in a pool of tequila white chocolate sauce. Michael liked the contrasting fruitiness of the PX jelly dabbled around the plate, and just barely finished the dish.

With that we sorted out the bill and made space for the evening's second sitting. I left very impressed! On a previous (unblogged) visit I didn't think the quality of the vegetarian dishes warranted the price hike over Trippy Taco but I think Mamasita have upped the ante with their diversity of ingredients, as well as some killer cocktails and desserts. Many bloggers have complained about the noise levels but we enjoyed the atmosphere and conversed comfortably. The kitchen clearly has a slick system for dealing with their near-constant full house - we weren't left waiting too long for food and received just enough attention from the floor staff.

Given the high demand for a seat at Mamasita it'll probably be a while before we're back, but any future visits will be eagerly anticipated.
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Mamasita gets the thumbs up from fellow veg*ns on In The Mood For Noodles, We Eat Better Than You and Veg Food Diaries Melbourne; less impressed are Confessions of an Eco-Food Dude and Nouveau Potato.

The restaurant's been reviewed almost continuously since it opened. Most are positive (see melbourne gastronome, I'm so hungree [twice], eat, drink, stagger, adventures of the ordinary, Melbourne Dining Experiences, Food Fable, EAT AND BE MERRY, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE(T), Gluttony Gluttony, Niche, two fat buns, Food and Loving Time, What's For Tea?, a melburnian holiday, My Food Odyssey, Gastronomy Gal, spicy icecream, Melbourne Culinary Journal, GastronoMel, porktheory, Gluten Shmooten, juganaut's foodie thoughts, Charles Whyte, Dollymic, The Chronicles of Ms I-Hua, foodcautious, Finely Chopped, Asian At My Table, Kran & Nina, foodloca, doublecooked, Out of my kitchen, Fill My Belly in Melbourne, The Burnt Fig, Life is 2 Mu(n)ch, Sweet and Sour Fork, Ray is always Hungry, the MELBOURNE FOOD FILES, Ruby Bean & The Hungry Peas, the hungry duck, Foodprints,We Dare Food, Empty Fridge, Poppet's Window, Alphie in the Kitchen, Barley Blog, Dying4desserts, May Day for Food, Friday Night, Date Night, Miss Adriennely, Köstlich, Gastronomical Ramblings, 15,000kms of Food!, extra-ordinary ordinaries, Let Me Feed You, dining nirvana, byebyemythyroid, Mai Lin Talks and Lactose Free Journey) though some have felt more 'meh' (Bear Head Soup, Sarah Cooks, angelkhong, Chyn Eats, Dave Plus Food, 6lumens, The moving beast, Travelling in Mary Janes, Petit-Miamx, The Food Complex, Absolutely Famished, Popcorn & Toast, uh-oh, polyphagia, FOOD CHEE, two munch, Edible Posts) and others are outright down on it (Totally Addicted To Taste, Cooking With Goths, jeroxie, Food Lovers Society, Dangerous Duplicity).

Mamasita's street-style corn has inspired some home cooking! There's a recipe at Blithely Unaware, and another at Palace Foods that includes making your own queso. Meanwhile The misadventures of MissC include a recipe for spice rubbed pork, walnut sauce with corn and quinoa salad.
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Mamasita
1/11 Collins St, Melbourne
9650 3821
veg items $3-21
http://www.mamasita.com.au/

Accessibility: Mamasita is located up a flight of stairs with no visible alternatives; the no-bookings policy means you're likely to be waiting in that staircase for some time. Tables are moderately spaced but the restaurant is frequently very crowded; there's a mixture of tall bar-style seating and lower tables. If you can comfortably negotiate the entry and restaurant space then we imagine the toilets will be fine. There is full table service.

12 comments:

  1. I wish I could convince Steven to share desserts... He has no sweet tooth at all and I don't want to eat cake by myself, I find it depressing. :(

    If you need a "cake date", I'm free!

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    1. Alexe - yes, let's go on a cake date sometime! Maybe we can tackle one each from the Vegie Bar and call it lunch. ;-)

      I am always disappointed when I don't have room to try a new dessert at a restaurant. Michael prefers to convince me to order lots of savoury food.

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  2. Replies
    1. Yes, Sarah! I really like it with caramel.

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  3. I have still never been! It's the queues that put me off.

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    1. steph, this is completely understandable. I can't believe they've been open 2 years and the line-up doesn't seem to have diminished.

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  4. Wow.. That actually looks fantastic. We still don't have a viable, excellent mexican/latin american etc place in Brisbane, here.
    Tequila and white chocolate sounds.... interesting though?

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    1. Hi Mattheworbit! We couldn't really taste the tequila at all, actually (or maybe there was so much in the drinks we were dulled to it...). A range of interesting, fresher versions of Mexican/Latin American food have just been popping up here in the past few years - maybe Brisbane will catch up soon!

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  5. Holy epic block of links, Batman! Must admit that the fact it has been so well covered put me off from blogging it myself (also the fact that my experience basically boiled down to "Eh, food was nice enough but in no way worth the discomfort of the wait/space." Not terribly thrilling!). But I love the fact that a new perspective nearly always brings up something new - I didn't know they had caramel popcorn ice cream! I may have to do some Mamasita-inspired recipe concocting of my own.

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    1. Hayley, that link list almost *killed* me. Yeah, with the ridiculous line-ups and all this mostly made me want to work on similar recipes at home. At the very least we need to reopen Viva Vegan.

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  6. Thanks for the link again guys. I have to agree with you on the icecream not tasting very 'corny'. But even in spite of that, I really enjoyed it! Must have been all the caramel haha

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    1. You're welcome. :-) Yeah, better to taste of just caramel than just corn I guess!

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