Right - as promised, I made sure to pop into Mamasita on my day-trip to Melbourne, straight after leaving Finucane & Smith's whimsical, mystical Carnival of Mysteries (quite possibly the best show of the 2010 Melbourne Arts Festival), and just before heading off to the airport to catch the last flight back to Perth.
I make my way under the dribbling Melburnian rain, to the unobtrusive entrance on Collins Street (near the corner of Spring Street), and walk up the narrow flight of stairs, finally emerging into a beautifully appointed bar/restaurant area.
At 7.45pm, the place was already full: mainly race-goers who had enjoyed a cold and wet Derby Day, but still sporting intact fascinators (why do that call them "fascinators"?!). Fortunately there was no line (yet).
I tell the manager that I'm just after a drink, and he obligingly ushers me to the bar. I find myself a spot to lean my elbow upon, and study the drinks menu. The tequila list is certainly impressive - from your run of the mill $8 shots to a triple distilled $80 a shot monster! I opt for something middle of the road, and order the $25 Don Julio 1942. The barman nods his approval, and pours it for me in an interesting glass - akin to a brandy balloon, but half the size and considerably narrower.
This is really good tequila. I take a long sniff of the meaty agave aroma, followed by a modest sip, and let the liquid swirl around in my mouth to take in the subtle, complex flavours. A far cry indeed to the comatosis-inducing stuff I used to have to scull in my slightly misspent youth.
In between sips, I enjoy the fast-paced modern Mexican hip hop playing on the sound system. Taking Dario's advice, I try to imagine myself holding up the bar in a dusty Mexican cantina, while a moustachioed bartender behind the counter wipes a glass with a dirty rag and eyeballs me with a suspicious sidelong stare. Sadly, the first thing that comes to mind is Cheech Marin in Desperado, and that small voice in my mind screams: "don't go to the toilet!!". Quentin Tarantino - you and your mate Robert Rodriguez have a lot to answer for.
Sadly, one can only nurse 30mls of tequila for so long, and I don't have time for a burrito. As I head down the stairwell half an hour after I arrive, I note that the queue that has since formed covers two-thirds of the staircase. Like all popular Melbourne places, you need to turn up early to avoid a half-hour wait, or at least to ensure that you enjoy the wait at the bar getting drunk, rather than staring soberly at someone else's bum in the stairwell.
Hopefully, I'll get a chance to sample the cuisine the next time I come here. And there will be a next time!
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