Dubai's newest Mexican hotspot is giving everyone something to taco 'bout! La Tablita is the brainchild of award winning chef Carlos Hannon (ex- Tortuga) and alongside him, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Hurtado, his protégé who is leading the restaurant.
The name ‘La Tablita’ means small board or table, hence, the food is served on such - It’s a rustic presentation that pulls off and compliments all the vibrant colors especially on the tacos! They have a bar, DJ booth, open kitchen, an impressive collection of latin inspired artwork (especially loved the Mexican inspired murals), and 16 variations of chilies and guacamole imported straight from Mexico all made and served up by contagiously enthusiastic Mexican staff oozing personality, with extensive knowledge about the menu (which, for Dubai, is rare!)
The menu showcases authentic Mexican, albeit street food, (unlike the majority of its counterparts), with some Tex-Mex dishes thrown in for those who aren't that experimental with their palate. After receiving an extremely warm welcome by Toneal, our hostess for the afternoon, we were seated at our table and a bowl of corn nachos arrived with three different types of salsas offering a range of spiciness - salsa verde with green tomatoes and sorano chilli; pico de gallo with red tomatoes, onions and cilantro; and a roasted habanero salsa, the spiciest of them all.
You can always tell a good Mexican restaurant by their guac can't you? And this one was the bomb.com foodies! We couldn't stop nibbling at it throughout our entire meal and it was the one dish we didn't let our server clear from the table until the very end.
For the tacos, I would definitely recommend the seafood based over the meat based, our favorites were the Camarón (battered shrimp), Pescado (battered fish), and of course the infamous Pescadillas (crispy fish taco). The ceviches had some very interesting flavour combinations as well, the consensus on the table seemed to be the Camarón again, which had fresh coconut milk added to it and when coupled with just a few spritz of lime, was so refreshing.
At this point our waiter handed us a bottle of their special hot sauce (the Sriracha of Mexico, if you will), which I definitely suggest you ask for if it's not already at your table. It complimented the tacos wonderfully. He also patiently explained to us the proper way to eat tacos, the steps are as easy as uno, dos, tres, but if you don’t follow them, you can easily end up looking like a gringo (which I'm sure we did). You MUST use your hands! Take your peace fingers and thumb to hold at the center of the taco. Bite from the side, not the top, not the middle. Optional: Pinky up. After all, they say it’s an art.
Rule of thumb while eating Mexican food: You’ll have tortillas, salsa, guac and lime with everything (good luck vegans, health nuts, and anyone who is anti-citrus!) Next we sampled the Fajitas. We couldn't chose between chicken and shrimp so we opted for a mix of both which was a winning combination. And of course... More guac.
By the time we got the beef quesadillas we were in a major food coma and still had dessert to go! Incredibly tender and flavourful braised beef and yes, everything has a side of guac. Don't judge.
And then there was dessert.
How can you leave a Mexican restaurant without trying their Churros? Perfectly crispy on the outside, rolled in just the right amount of cinnamon sugar (would have preferred them a bit more chewy on the inside though) and served with Abueleta chocolate sauce. Abueleta was originally invented and has been commercialized in Mexico since 1939. (Fun fact: The name is an affectionate Spanish word for "grandma"!)
So, yea, the churros were good and everything. But foodies, the Tres Leches was something special. Quite possibly the best I've ever tasted! I would go back just for that. It's topped with jalapeño ice cream, a few meringue peaks, pistachios, almond brittle and was completely demolished within minutes of arriving at our table.
Unfortunately by the end of it we were too stuffed to try the Mexican hot chocolate or coffee. Any excuse to go back though! Next time for dinner (I hear there's salsa dancing!)
As always thanks for reading xo