Mamasita, Collins St Melbourne

I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole ‘foodie’ concept lately, and I must admit, I’m really not a very good one. The portfolio of restaurants that I’ve been to can’t even compare to some of my ‘non-foodie’ friends and when people ask me whether I’ve been to so-and-so, my answer is usually “no, I’ve never even heard of that restaurant”. I’m so ashamed that I actually even call myself a foodie!

Since I wrote about High Tech Burritos last night and was desperately craving for some Mexican food, I thought to myself that it was time I actually visited one of the most popular restaurants in Melbourne – Mamasita (yes I know, can’t believe I only visited for the first time last night) – which serves delicious tapas style Mexican cuisine.

I’m sure most of you who live in Melbourne and know about this restaurant would be aware of the unbelievable queues at Mamasita during peak dining hours. As they don’t take bookings period, securing a table at this increasingly popular restaurant is sometimes next to impossible. That is, unless if you’re willing to wait up to 3 hours or so on a Friday night. I have heard that they’d take your name and call you when you’re next in line but thankfully I didn’t need to test this out last night. I was smart enough to visit on a Tuesday night and we arrived nice and early at 5:45pm, just ahead of the mad rush. Roughly 10 minutes standing on the dark and narrow stairway, we were promptly seated at a counter near the windows.

I wasn’t too happy about the lighting conditions as I had planned to arrive at 5pm but was stupid enough to have spent too long writing the previous blog post. The dark winter hours meant no natural light was present at all in this already very dimly lit restaurant. So my apologies for bad photos here.

The waitress asked me if it was my first time at the restaurant and I (shamefully) replied “yes”. She then proceeded to explain the menu to us and how the dishes are encouraged to be shared. I love the idea as I always share my food anyway – best way to maximise taste on my palate.

The first dish that we shared was the Elotes Callejeros ($4.90) which is chargrilled corn with queso, chipotle mayo and lime juice. I wanted to order 2 as I knew this was going to be a highlight of the meal and that the servings were not big by any definition, but Yuye stopped me. “We want to sample more dishes” was his explanation and that’s what we did.

It was absolutely delicious though and for a moment I really wanted to order another one. The corn was grilled to the perfection, keeping it juicy and sweet. It was also topped with plenty of cheese and packed a good chilli hit. Absolutely loved it.

The second dish that took our fancy was de Pollo Taco ($6) for one soft taco filled with chargrilled chicken, poblano & tamarind chipotle salsa. The taco by itself would not have fared as well because it was a bit too bland on its own. The chicken was cooked well but it somewhat just tasted like reasonably good BBQ chicken in a wrap.

Anyway, the salsa was the hit of the night for me. I’m so glad that Mamasita was generous with the amount of salsa provided as this added flavour to all the other dishes we ordered that night. It was just the right blend of sour, chilli and other flavours but I couldn’t quite pin down exactly what were the ingredients. A usual pico de gallo salsa recipe would include a whole heap of tomatoes which I couldn’t see, but I did taste the distinct onion, chilli, coriander and lime. Yuye said there was celery in it which led us to believe that Mamasita may have used green tomatoes instead of the usual red.

The next dish was my favourite dish of the night. It wasn’t hard to pick out because of the *ahem* crackling but overall our ‘de Carnitas Tostadas’ ($14) was the perfect mix of texture, taste and appearance. If you haven’t figured it out yet, it was slow braised pork shoulder, encurtidos (pickles), pickled jalapenos and chicharron (fried pork rind or aka P.O.R.K. C.R.A.C.K.L.I.N.G). I don’t need to say anymore.

Oh they came as mini bites of 4 on top of fried tortillas which I thought was totally not enough. I needed the whole plate to myself.

It was Yuye’s executive decision to not order any mains as they might have been too big, but he did make a mistake of ordering the de Cordero quesadilla ($16) – braised lamb, queso criollo, mint & jalapeΓ±o herb sauce. For a start, it wasn’t my favourite of the night as it lacked a little bit of flavour and kick like the rest of them. I felt it was a bit overpowered by the cheese and was a tad dry. It did go ok with the salsa from earlier though. The most important thing was the size – it was too big and made me full very quickly which prevented me from trying other foods. I think for next time, I will not order quesadillas but rather more tostaditas or tacos.

The final savoury dish of the evening was the Ceviche de Veracruz ($18) – snapper, tomato, olive, green chilli, lime & coriander, served with tortilla chips. I personally love sour things but Yuye doesn’t. This dish was VERY sour so take my word for it. However, I did like it and I ate most of it, but I did find it to be a bit too watery and there definitely wasn’t enough tortilla chips. I had to finish half of the dish with no accompaniment.

We were almost going to order more dishes but decided that we were too full. But of course, dessert was a different story. I ordered the Helado de Maiz ($6) which is sweetcorn ice cream cone with caramel and popcorn. It wasn’t the biggest ice cream I’ve ever seen, but it was definitely delicious. Not overly sweet but subtly corny, it was a perfect combination with the sweet caramel popcorn on top. My only issue was how quickly the popcorn was consumed and none was left for most of the ice cream!

Not sure if it was a good idea for Yuye to order a Margarita ($21) at this stage (as this meant I had to drive home) but I couldn’t have stopped him. It was the first time we had seen a margarita served on rocks and served in this type of glass. Mamasita boasts a wide range of imported Tequilas from Mexico and the selling point is that all the Tequilas are 100% agave. A regular margarita would have cost $17 with Mamasita’s house Tequila, but Yuye ordered a special one thus the $21. The brand is called Espolon and is apparently available from Dan Murphy’s.

We were impressed with the layer of chunky salt around the glass rim. Although we didn’t lick the whole thing, it was reassuring that it was there if we had wanted some saltiness in our mouths. The cocktail was stronger than we had expected as well which was added bonus.

I felt like our night ended rather abruptly and I had wanted to stay a bit longer to soak up the atmosphere. However, being well aware of the queue in the stairwell, we felt leaving right after the meal was the appropriate manners, so our night ended at 7pm – just as it was getting busy too.

With the bill coming to just over $80 for 2, it wasn’t expensive for such a popular restaurant, however, it also wasn’t something I could afford to eat every day. With that said, I am definitely going back to Mamasita again because I’m just so curious to try out their other dishes.

Tip: Make sure to go early if you want to avoid the long queues and go with the whole party because there’s no way you’ll be let in with people still arriving.

Question time: Do you consider yourself a foodie? Do a lot of your friends/relatives ask you for restaurant/recipe advice?

Phone: (03) 9650 3821
Level 1, 11 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000

Mamasita on Urbanspoon

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45 comments… add one
  • Rocky Mountain Woman May 24, 2012, 7:05 am

    I think of myself as a low key foodie. Some of the really high end restaurants don’t seem to serve enough food for me! hah! I also love a good plate of tacos in a Mexican restaurant and a good burger from a grill….

    My friends do ask me for advice and to cook for them. I love it!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 24, 2012, 10:33 pm

      Yeah I guess I’m somewhat of a low key foodie too. πŸ˜› I don’t usually dine at high end restaurants as the prices just don’t seem to reflect value…

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 24, 2012, 7:53 am

    I do get asked for advice quite often and I’m happy to help out too πŸ™‚ I’m really interested in the sweetcorn ice cream. Is it similar to the Singaporean version?

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 24, 2012, 10:35 pm

      You’re the most foodie foodie I know Lorraine πŸ˜› I don’t think I’ve tried the Singaporean version actually, when I get my hands on one I’ll let you know. But the sweetcorn ice cream was quite nice. πŸ™‚

  • tastyfoodsnaps May 24, 2012, 8:15 pm

    the de Carnitas Tostadas does look like the best dish of the night! i wouldve wanted the whole plate to myself too πŸ˜›
    not many restaurants serve their icecream in a cone! which gives this place bonus points now πŸ™‚ looks good!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 24, 2012, 10:38 pm

      I know right! It was so delicious…the sad was, the first one I ate lost the crackling to the table and I didn’t see it!! So I ate that one without crackling. It was my first experience eating ice cream out of a cone as a restaurant as well, quite interesting. πŸ™‚

  • Maureen @ Orgasmic Chef May 24, 2012, 9:52 pm

    Oh how I agree with you. I don’t go out like Lorraine and the rest of the food crew because I really love to cook. I know I should get out more but I get busy with work or I see a recipe on a blog I’d love to try and one thing leads to another and I’m in the kitchen.

    These photos make me wonder if we’re both wrong. πŸ™‚ I’d love to eat this food.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 24, 2012, 10:40 pm

      Lorraine really is amazing. πŸ˜€ I actually don’t cook much either, I don’t know what I do normally. πŸ˜›

  • choux choux May 24, 2012, 11:22 pm

    my friends all think I have a lot of eating adventures, but they certainly dine at the classier restaurants. I really enjoyed mamasitas. The corn was so amazing! When we went we also ordered some tostadas (chicken ones, I think) and they were divine. We also ordered the cerviche you ordered (which I loved) and some more stuff I just can’t for the life of me remember. We wanted to order the ice cream dessert but we didn’t think we could split it since there was four of us at dinner so we ordered the cake (it was eh) and the pumpkin mousse flautas (spelling?) which was SO AMAZING. I definitely can’t wait to go back! Have you been to Touche Hombre before? I think they’re pretty good too, although not as amazing as mamasitas.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 25, 2012, 12:35 am

      Now you are just scaring me!!! My friend asked me that exact question ‘have you been to Touche Hombre before?’ and I said no! This was exactly the same question that got me thinking about being a foodie. LOL Ok, I’ll make sure to go there some time soon. πŸ˜›
      I really wanted to order the pumpkin mousse, but I didn’t because we were both a bit full and didn’t think we could finish it…I will definitely order that next time I go. πŸ˜€

  • Selene May 25, 2012, 12:27 am

    thank you for the lovely comment!
    i really love your blog…
    i’ve a passion for food and travel!
    new follower πŸ™‚

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:48 pm

      Hi Selene! Thanks for visiting my blog! Love your blog as well and like you, I’m also passionate about food and travel. πŸ˜€

  • Emma May 25, 2012, 12:32 am

    It’s a special day when I get to eat out, but perhaps that’s because there’s only one nice restaurant in the town I live in.

    I’m a bit mystified by the lack of accompaniment to that ceviche, especially given the cost. But that ice cream…. ooooooh! I’ve going to have to attempt to recreate that at home:)

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:53 pm

      Hi Emma, thanks for visiting my blog. πŸ™‚ It’s a shame there’s only one good restaurant where you live, you should come to Melbourne for a holiday, there’s plenty of good restaurants here πŸ™‚
      There definitely should have been more accompanying tortilla chips but it wasn’t that bad. πŸ™‚ And yes, the ice cream was beautiful πŸ˜€

  • Nava Krishnan May 25, 2012, 1:46 am

    Since I am from other country, I don’t know much on the restaurants in Melbourne. I was in Perth last month and most of the eateries I tried out was Asian restaurants.

    I am impressed with the food and drinks you had and they certainly looks splendid. I do plenty of eating out here in Malaysia, from the posh restaurant to the hawker and street stalls. I must say that sometimes the hawker and street stalls have better tasting food than posh restaurants. Our culture over here is all about food and we normally share and recommend places to eat among our friends.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:54 pm

      I’ve actually never been to Perth so you know more about restaurants there than me! πŸ˜› Melbourne also has a good food culture, although still quite different to Asian countries I must say.

  • Chef Connie May 25, 2012, 2:34 am

    That food looks amazing. You really did a good job with the limited lighting. I can identify with you about the not so good foodie point. I never eat out. I am making an attempt to go out more often.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:55 pm

      Aww thanks a lot Connie. πŸ™‚ I need to go to restaurants more often AND make more food at home…

  • Baker Street May 25, 2012, 2:54 am

    the sweetcorn ice cream sounds so interesting! Something I surely want to try! Your pictures are just stunning, Jenny.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:56 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment! It was indeed very interesting, it was good that I ordered it. πŸ™‚ I might try to make it at home πŸ˜€

  • the wicked noodle May 25, 2012, 4:00 am

    I live in the US but if I ever get to Melbourne you can be sure this restaurant will be on my list! Looks amazing!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:56 pm

      Thanks for visiting my blog! Yes if you’re ever in Melbourne do try this restaurant! There’s also heaps of other good restaurants to go to as well. πŸ™‚

  • Thyme (Sarah) May 25, 2012, 6:32 am

    What a fun Mexican restaurant all the way over there in Melbourne. Mexican food is certainly popular here in Texas but some of those dishes looked deliciously different. What a fun night out and I think for very low lit conditions, your photos came out great!

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 1:57 pm

      I’m sure this restaurant is quite different to the typical Mexican restaurants, it’s certainly quite different to all the ones I’ve been to…for one it’s a lot more intricate and modern. πŸ™‚

  • Carolyn Jung May 25, 2012, 11:03 am

    Gosh darn it, you’ve got me totally craving Mexican food now. What a feast you had. And that corn ice cream cone is the piece de resistance. πŸ˜‰

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 2:00 pm

      I’m craving for it again! Oh no…I should try out Touche Hombre some time soon so I don’t pass out from the cravings…:P

  • Tania @ A Perfect Pantry May 25, 2012, 2:32 pm

    The dishes look so yum… plus Mexican is a fav. of mine. I usually prefer to cook my own, but with sometimes it’s better to go out and experience something so delicious looking:)

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 2:01 pm

      I usually do make my own as well but I don’t think I can make food like Mamasita can πŸ˜›

  • Ames May 25, 2012, 4:59 pm

    I’m considered a foodie amongst my group of friends but I probably what you would call a bit of a low-key foodie lol I’m usually not onto the latest, trendiest places but I have a few favourites that if people asked me where to go, I’d be able to recommend :). Been meaning to try Mamasita for a while after meeting the owners in another context but admittedly it is very popular and I don’t really like waiting haha! Will try out Touche Hombre first I think…

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 2:02 pm

      I’m a low key foodie as well πŸ˜› I am able to recommend restaurants to people but a lot of my friends still recommend me restaurants too…:P Oh you had the chance to meet the owners? How exciting! It is a bit popular, but as long as you go early you’ll be able to avoid the long queues. πŸ™‚

  • greenthyme May 25, 2012, 8:51 pm

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! Happy to have found yours. You have some great looking recipes and travel stories here. Going to take some time to browse around πŸ™‚

  • Hotly Spiced May 25, 2012, 9:33 pm

    It’s a shame you have to queue for a table (especially in winter when it’s cold and dark) because that really is beautifully presented Mexican food. I would love to try it – when next in Melbourne! xx

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 26, 2012, 2:04 pm

      Mamasita does have a stairwell that people stand on while they wait and that’s indoors, although when the queue gets long, it goes all the way out the door and onto the next street! I don’t usually like to wait, I find it decreases my enjoyment of the food…but my visit to Mamasita was fine since I arrived early. πŸ™‚

  • Choc Chip Uru May 26, 2012, 8:25 am

    Queuing could not have been much fun my friend but this restaurant looks amazing πŸ˜€
    Great review! The pioctures have my mouth watering!

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 27, 2012, 9:42 pm

      Queuing’s never fun really…unless if I was entertained during the process or if I had something to nibble on while I wait…

  • Cakelaw May 27, 2012, 10:13 am

    LOL- I am fresh from a wait in line at Mamasitas in the rain last night. I was first to arrive in my party of 4 last night at 6.05 – by 6.30 I finally reached the door, but we had to put our names down for a callback. I got the call at 8.05 – exactly 2 hours after I’d joined the queue. We were going to the movies,so we’d already moved on.

    • Jenny @ Ichigo Shortcake May 28, 2012, 2:10 am

      Oh no! That must not have been fun πŸ™ Hope you have better luck next time! For a Saturday night, 2 hours seems the norm though, but it’s good to know they actually do call back. πŸ™‚ Hope your movie was a better experience than that!

  • Sophie May 28, 2012, 11:20 pm

    The corn was the highlight of the night for me. Don’t worry about not being a very good foodie – just enjoy the food πŸ™‚


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