During that time, the tidy taqueria at the top of Collins Street has fought off intense competition to remain one of the city’s best Mexican restaurants.
For the most part, Mamasita has built its reputation with thoughtful menus and world-class seasonal ingredients as opposed to bold experimentation. At Mamasita, you can find everything you love about Mexican cuisine – simply executed better. If it seems strange to sing the praises of the humble tortilla chip, you likely haven’t had Mamasita’s house-made chips, which are more crunchy and flavourful than any you’ll find. The restaurant is well-known for popularising the street food style corn that is now a staple of all good Mexican eateries. Their version – smothered in chipotle mayo and lime – is still something special.
Mamasita’s commitment to the flavours of Mexico is reflected in their drinks menu, which offers a large selection of mezcals and tequilas as well as a range of Mexican beers. Those looking for a truly eye-opening experience should try a flight of tequila or mezcal, which showcases how varied and flavourful the underappreciated agave can be.
You also can’t go wrong sampling one of their many cocktails. The margaritas are a dependable choice, but those looking for something different would do well to try the Agave & Orchard made from Alipus mezcal, pear, apple and lime, which balances out the smoky mezcal with a fresh fruit hit to make the perfect summer drink.
Since taking over almost a year ago, head chef Michael Smith has only furthered Mamsita’s commitment to quality and authenticity. During a recent trip to Mexico, Smith was inspired by the traditional agricultural technique milpa, in which a range of vegetables are cultivated alongside each other to create a taco using marinated zucchini and squash. Mamasita are now the first restaurant in Australia making tortillas out of Mexico’s famed blue corn, sourced through a special agreement with a local supplier. It is used to terrific effect in the new blue corn masa – a remarkably flavourful combination of roasted spring vegetables and a smoky, creamy cauliflower puree.
Smith has also pushed the restaurant forward by placing authentic Mexican ingredients in new and interesting contexts. This plays out in the recently introduced lamb rib chop, which pairs a fried crumb made from three different types of chilli with a sweet, tamarind-based salsa inspired by a Mexican candy. The result is an innovative and delightful fusion of global flavours that Smith says represents the future of Mamsita.
If this all sounds too high-minded, fear not. Mamasita is still a great place for an after-work meal or a casual late-night snack. The cosy and wood-heavy décor, the light South American music and the laidback wait staff combine to create a relaxed, cosmopolitan vibe that feels both exotic and utterly Melbourne. Almost a decade after opening, Mamsita still represents some of the best that the city has to offer.