I’d been anticipating a trip to Mamasita’s for weeks so the two and a half hour wait for a table at Melbourne’s most talked about taquidero was childs play. After a few wines at nearby Terrarosa we were back on Collin’s Street and passing patient patrons spilling onto the street from Mama’s queue. We ventured up Mama’s stairs through an impressively boisterous wednesday night crowd to a timber table two back from the kitchen and foodpass and If there’s one dining-out indulgence I relish more than people-watching it’s a cheeky perve on their food. But It doesn’t entertain for long. The western palate is bleak and afraid. As consequence, a few dishes on any menu make up the majority of orders, especially in the case of foreign cuisine (Think Butter Chicken, Beef Blackbean, Pad Thai, etc.). Mamasita’s is no exception and after the fourth terracotta plate of callejeros - smoky chargrilled corn on the cob served with chipotle mayo and topped with tasty queso and lime juice - and a few servings of crab tostada’s, I was back to sussing the subtle signals between the two lads at the bar. Beyond these simple starters, Jason Jones’ menu erupts with up-market, authentic twists on our old Tex-Mex favourites. Quesadilla’s are filled with braised lamb and ‘hultilacoche mushroom’, which I’m told is Mexico’s equivalent to truffle. S-inch soft taco’s offer braised ox tongue and cheek with pickled veg and ghost chilli mayo and rubbed pork fillet is accompanied by walnut sauce and raisins soaked in pomegranate and tequila. The favourites are also accounted for but they’re the grown-up, more sophisticated versions of their suburban siblings. There’s the fish taco with lime juice, achiote paste, red onion salsa and chipotle mayo, the tostada de pollo, and an array of familiar acompanamiento’s including frijoles (baked black beans and queso fresco), steamed rice, and several styles of salsa which we shared with house-made tortilla chips while we tackled the menu. Eventually we decided and tostada’s came first. Between the five of us we shared three servings, the best being the de Cangrejo. The de Cangrejo is a bite sized tostada topped with crab meat and cucumber, tamarind mayo, avocado and habanero; the heat of the habanero complimenting the cool crab meat and refreshing cucumber.
Waiting for my braised lamb quesidilla, I couldn’t resist ordering callajero’s for all. Eating the juicy sweetcorn it became obvious why these and the crab tostada’s were served in such an abundance. My quesadilla came and the braised-lamb filling was tender with a lovely flavour. The tortilla’s were crisp but by no means dry. The jalapeno sauce, a little short on piquancy and flavour, but the toasty tortilla’s required some soaking up. The only element of our evening open to fault was the waitress’ lack of knowledge on the drinks list, but her honesty was refreshing and we declined her offer of help from another waiter, instead choosing a surprise assortment of five beers. We were pleased with the result. The service was casual and friendly, the busy atmosphere fun, and the bill reasonable. Still, it wasn’t the bill but the sweetcorn ice-cream with caramel popcorn that was the perfect end to an evening of la comida delicious and sangria to match.