I’ve never been a fan of “Mexican” food, as I always found whatever “Mexican” item I’m having to be overloaded with cheese, sour cream, and if I’m lucky: guacamole. Poco Loco was the first place to change my mind about Mexican/Latin American food, and now La Tablita has further verified that this is an amazing, amazing cuisine whose flavors have influenced the whole world in an irreversible way that we will forever be grateful for.
La Tablita is definitely a new kid on the block but the chef and servers are no novices. They aim to recreate the taco and ceviche bar concept which is very common (and inexpensive) in Mexico, and while prices are quite reasonable at La Tablita and the restaurant definitely has the Mexican charm, it feels like nothing like fast food. The servers were extremely knowledgable on the food, and clearly passionate about it, which always pleases me as a diner.
Each table has these “forms”- traditional menus in Mexican tacerias- on which you can tick and specify which tacos and ceviches you want, and how many. At 12 AED a taco, this place is a steal because they’re serving up fresh, authentic flavors made with premium produce.
This is probably a good time to mention that I was invited here for a tasting, and we gave the liberty to the chef to surprise us. We were first brought fresh Nachos with Chipotle sauce, Molcajeteada sauce, Harbanero sauce. Surprisingly, the harbanero sauce wasn’t overwhelmingly spicy and while we found it enjoyable, there is a spicier sauce available for the more daring crowd that likes more heat. We also wiped clean a traditional bowl of Guacamole, which was simple, honest to God, and as comforting as guacamole can be.
Now I don’t know if you know this, but I LOVE ceviche. I’m one of those people who believes that fish is best enjoyed uncooked. Naturally I was very excited to try the ceviche here, and it did not disappoint. We had the Robalo, which was a seabass ceviche, and a Shrimp and Coconut ceviche which was a totally new flavor profile for me. It was minty and coconutty but unlike most coconut milk dishes, it was not overpowered by the coconut, but complimented by it.
Then we dug into the Mexican version of a shawerma, called Gringa. It came with guacamole and the most perfect pineapple salsa. The sweet tartness of the salsa cut tough the rich cheesiness of the Gringa like a match made in heaven. This is the comfort food you want on a bad day.
From the tacos, we were brought the Camaron (battered shrimp tacos), which are traditionally made with Mexican beer and chipotle sauce, but here they use soda water instead. What this does is add air and volume while maintaining the light crispiness.
Then came the ooey gooey cheesy : the Queso Fundido with beef chorizo. Oh. My. God. This is the Mexican version of a cheese fondue but oh SO much better! It came with corn tortillas and a moriza sauce that’s made of green tomatillos and morito chili. This is part of their sharing menu options, but considering how delicious (and kind of small) it is, it’s only good to share between two people, and only if you’re having other things too.
And if that wasn’t comforting enough, then wait till you scoop some Championes al Ajillo into your mouth. This sizzling plate has mushrooms, garlic and guajillo chili and takes comfort food to a whole new level.
The grand finale of the night were the prime rib eye tacos: Cantina. Oh me oh my. Just thinking of those warm, tender, juicy cubes of beef in the fresh warm corn tortillas is making me weak in the knees. These are a classic in the northern parts of Mexico and were the piece des resistance of the night (for me at least. M very passionately argues in favor of the Tres Leches, but we’ll get to that later).
Just before reaching the restaurant, M and I were joking and wondering what dessert would be. We hoped with all our might that there would be something other than churros- M and I really don’t like churros. Much to our relief, we were brought what is M’s favorite dessert now. He says it reminds him of something his mom used to make when M and his siblings were kids -hence I feel he’s being biased- but everyone I know who’s been to La Tablita raves about the Tres Leches. So this is essentially a super soft vanilla sponge cake, soaked in 3 variants of milk: condensed, evaporated, and cream. It was topped with some jalapeno ice cream, which wasn’t spicy in the least- but that doesn’t have to bad thing.
While M’s eyes were still rolling to the back of his head with every bite of the Tres Leches, the chef brought out the mandatory, iconic Mexican dessert: churros! Haha! Both of us exclaimed “Churrosss!!” in unison, but I’m pretty sure the chef mistook our horror for excitement!
All in all, a great new addition to the Dubai dining scene, serving some very truly Mexican flavors. Mealtime well spent.