When founder Matt Lane first travelled to Oaxaca, he encountered a group of old men who sat outside the bottleshop, drinking mezcal and catcalling the word, ‘mamasita’ – pretty lady – at women walking by. The memory stuck with him when he returned home to Melbourne to open Australia’s first taqueria.
Like its namesake, Mamasita is one of Melbourne’s most attractive and ever-popular dining hotspots, the eternal ‘pretty lady’ of the CBD. Matt and co-owner, Nick Peters, are the guys accountable for its success. Their passion for the cuisine and culture of Mexico shines through every element of the dining experience. Matt’s overseas adventures included managing La Esquina in New York, as well as spending a year in Mexico. When he returned home, he realised Australia was ready for a new wave of Mexican food.
Enter through a narrow staircase and you’ll find a lively taqueria, buzzing with energy and designed with Mexican style in mind: wrought ironwork divides the dining areas, terrariums decorate the walls, and the kitchen boasts traditional Talavera tiles.
Your first order should be the exceptional Chargrilled Corn, topped with queso, chipotle mayo and lime. Pair this with the housemade corn tortilla chips and guacamole and you’ll be ready for more.
Don’t miss the Crispy Tostadas topped with luxurious amounts of crab and prawn with habanero mayo or Braised Beef with pickled onion. The tacos are also a crowd favourite, soft corn tortillas laden with juicy achiote fish, pork hock, ox tongue or lamb.
Finish your meal with a Postre. Whether you choose the unique Sweetcorn Ice Cream served with salted caramel popcorn, or the Sopapilla Cheesecake with red kiwi, quince and fraiche ice cream, you’ll experience the perfect balance of sweet and spicy for which this cuisine is renowned.
It makes a statement that Mamasita has a mezcalier rather than a sommelier, and the team certainly takes its agave spirits seriously. Nick is the only non-Mexican or American to have attained mezcalier certification, and there is a troupe of in-house trained mezcaliers who are ready to help diners discover the incredible world of tequila, raicilla, sotol and mezcal. Ask your bartender about their secret stash of rare imported spirits to try the best of the best. They’ll also be able to whip you up a fine michelada and the best margaritas in town.
She may be the iconic pin-up girl of Melbourne’s food scene, but Mamasita is loved for good reason. If you’re ready to try the new school of Mexican food, taking cues from tradition but with sights set on modern cuisine, she’ll show you the way.