Mamacitas Restaurant. Holler Hola!

Talk about going off topic. But aside from being a good writing exercise, its my moral obligation to shout the love for those who keep me supping salt rimmed margaritas while eating Mexican inspired food with a hint of a Spanish heart.
Judging by the effortless way the staff worked the floor, its hard to believe Mamacitas Restaurant has only be open for a month or so. Located in the heart of Havelock North its given locals plenty to chit chat about.
I’m glad I tuned in. It helped, as the corporate peeps love to spruik, “to manage my expectations.”
If you’re looking to tuck into a plate of belt loosening Tex Mex nacho’s, refried beans infused with artery clogging lard, or a burrito swimming in a pool of cheesy tomato goo, you’re going leave feeling less bloated, but disappointed.
Same goes for the wines. There is no “wine menu”, only a house red and white. This will plummet the spirits of many wine savvy locals who take pride in living in the heart of wine country. At the very least they’ll want, no demand to know, whether the house offering is at least good.
But wine wasn’t on my agenda. The margarita and cerveza (beer) menu was. I started at the top with a classic margarita. The recipe calls for the right balance of tequila, lime and in this case, triple sec. Topped with a rim of salt, I sighed. Damn, it was as good as the bar shelves adorned with an impressive fancy looking line up of tequilas. Next time I’ll order a Patron.
But back to the margaritas. Oh my. By the time I finished my second margarita, I teetered on the brink of ordering a lagerita….no, that’s not a spelling mistake, but a marriage made in tequila cerveza heaven. Imagine a margarita topped with beer. Next time I promised, next time.
At most Mexican restaurants, it takes a good five minutes to get through the first read of the menu. At Mamacita’s, you’ll be done in thirty seconds. It’s tiny. But, in this case size doesn’t matter, quality over quantity of dishes offered does. Tapas style, smaller plates matched with reasonable prices are packed with flavor, and surprisingly generous portions.
Excluding the couple of salad options, there wasn’t much choice for vegetarians or vegans. I hope this will change. And rumor has it, guacamole will soon make its menu debut.
Our chilli prawns were fat, juicy and sensational, spoiled only by the clashing, mayo heavy coleslaw. My boyfriend’s appetite was rendered useless after devouring lip smacking ribs and fried chicken. Even though the chicken deserved more seasoning in the coating, he declared both “really good.” High praise indeed.
It’s hard, but I’m going to forgive my sneaking suspicion that the salsa was out of a can. More like a passata – it was nothing like the fresh zing of tomato and coriander homemade salsa. Tomato season is upon us – so I live in hope.
Thank god I’d just run the Auckland Marathon. I so deserved to eat ten plates of churros. These doughy, sweet, bite sized, crunchy, sugar cinnamon coated treats are highly addictive and impossible to refuse. And, it would have been rude of me not to dunk them into the bowl of rich decadent chocolate. Bliss.
I overheard one diner remark that the chocolate chili lime cake was delish and packed just the right amount of kick.
It’s obvious the team behind Mamacitas have given a lot of thought to creative direction. The end result is lush branding wrapped in a vibrant, fun and welcoming atmosphere. The watchful eyes of Frida Kahlo, Our Lady of Lourdes, and Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)  lend a tranquil calm to the frenetic energy and the never-ending comings and goings of people.
Mamacita’s, its busy, buzzing and bloody good. I’m going to return. After all I’ve got my eye on the chicken in mole sauce, but more importantly I have to do my bit to ensure the longevity of margaritas and Mexican food.
Mamacita Restaurant, 12 Havelock Road, Havelock North, Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand. Tel: 06 877 6200 – No bookings, turn up and hope for a table. If not, wait at the bar. It’s well worth the wait.
PS – This is an unsolicited review. I paid for dinner….no sorry, my boyfriend paid for dinner.

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