As not to fall victim to the rubbish in the press, I rang Senoritas and made a booking for two at the bar last night. Perhaps because I had read other reviews of the place and have experienced the phenomenon of Mamasita and the enigma that is Fonda, my expectations were quite low.
|The entrance to Senoritas|
I immediately ordered a Bohemia beer and Tacos Al Pastor, which is a mixture of pork marinated in pineapple and it is classically one of my favourite parcels of Mexican food. I was very disappointed when I was at Mamasita as the earlier reviews stated that they were serving Tacos Al Pastor however when I visited they were no longer on the menu. Senoritas pretty much hits the mark with them. The meat was tender and no one flavour overpowered one another. One can easily tell someone in the kitchen knew how to prepare "authentic" Mexican recipes. As the tacos are served in approximately 5" corn tortillas that are made on-site, you are left wanting more after you stuff your face. I tried the spicy chicken tacos next which were the special of the evening and was just as impressed.
Getting into my second Bohemia beer, with great trepidation, I ordered the fish tacos. I was having such a good experience at this point, I didn't want it to end as I was scared that the fish tacos would disappoint, like they did at Mamasita and Fonda. When they were served, I tasted the fish and although a tad dry, it was not bastardised by any sauces, oils or other rubbish to distract from it. I added some salsa verde (the mild salsa) and shoved it down my gob and the end result was a smile on my face.
The great authentic food made me wanting more, so I ordered more Tacos Al Pastor, a repeat performance of the chicken taco special and followed up with another round of fish tacos. I also tried their pork and bean taco combination which was different, however worked well when paired with the habenero chilli salsa and the Tapatio tequila that I started to take an interest in. About the only thing I would pass on next time is the side of guacamole as it was too citric but not overtly offensive.
We were getting fairly prompt service from three people including the barman. After my second 40ml glass of the demon tequila, I looked around whilst sitting on my perch and noticed that the place had filled up with happy patrons in a matter of thirty minutes. I was surprised that the noise did not begin to overwhelm, which it never did, considering the restaurant is small.
There were a few skeletons and skulls about but they were all pretty whimsical and fit in with the art and colours of the place. The mood is set by not having to dine under bright lights but with candles littered throughout the place to cause an effective mood.
After retiring to the toilets, I was shocked to discover they were so clean. I suppose after eating authentic food in Mexico where you must relieve yourself on the ground out back of some places or in the sink, the petty first world conveniences are sometimes unexpected when you experience something as authentic in the kitchen that Senoritas is providing.
I thought the food, service and ambiance was great and the food did remind me of "proper" Mexican food so I will be back and I could not stop raving about the experience as I left. It is great having your expectations defied. I certainly look forward to returning.
The Showdown - Senoritas vs Mamasita vs Fonda
- I found Senoritas to be the most authentic and best value for money,
- Fonda is different especially if you are keen for a kangaroo burrito, but has a cafe feeling instead of a restaurant feeling like the other two,
- Mamasita would probably have the best "vibe" but considering the foot traffic, how smaller tables can not be reserved and the noise around the bar detracts from the overall food and beverage experience a bit.
- Most importantly after benchmarking all three places using their fish tacos as a selection criteria, I would return to Senoritas for what they have on offer in a heartbeat.
Link to review
16 Meyers Place Melbourne VIC 3000
My Rating: 15.5/20
Value For Money: 4/5
Comment: Awesome tacos al pastor
e-mail: epicureanofsouthbank (at) gmail (dot) com
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At the time of this post, only 62% of the reviewers on Urbanspoon like this place. This really shocks me. I did spot people eating tacos with a knife and fork so these are probably the ones that do not appreciate Mexican food or would be confronted by a hot salsa. Come on people, stop eating tacos and burritos with utensils. It is not proper and you also look very silly.