The beauty of blogs is that you find out about great places which the traditional media may not have reviewed. I first read about Los Amates at Where's The Beef. Michael and cindy have gone on multiple visits, so check out all their posts. Even though they were describing the vegetarian food at the restaurant, I was still intrigued enough to give it a try.
I was meeting my good friend for dinner, and seeing as he lived in Rathdowne street, this restaurant on Johnston street was the perfect choice. We both also like spicy food as well.
As we enter the restaurant, we were instantly assaulted by all these smells. It was a fairly cold night so we were sniffing up the smells and warmth of the restaurant. We were seated to a table near the door. Despite the tables being quite close to each other, the low level buzz in the restaurant meant that we had our own conversation without having to overhear what the next table was saying.
For drinks, we couldn't go past all the cocktails that we were seeing at all the tables around us. We got Mojitos and they were fantastically tangy and minty. I loved it. I also got a Pacifico (I think that was the brand) Mexican beer on the recommendation of the waitress. As she said, it was indeed a lighter tasting beer and I enjoyed it.
For entrees, we got Ham and Cheese Quesadillas. The quesadillas were served with two sauces, and as much as I love salsa, I actually thought they went better with the sour cream. A delicious start to the meal.
For mains, I got the Chilli Beef, served with some stewed beans, rice and salad. The beef was quite hot, which I liked. But it was possibly a bit too hot such that the chilli drowned out the flavour of the rest of the sauce and meat. The beans were soft and surprisingly I liked it. The salad with it's tangy dressing was really good, as it broke up all the other flavours.
My friend got the Tacos, which was fantastic. The mince mixture was crammed with flavour and you get these flour pancakes to wrap it all in. Dipped into the sauce, this dish was really tasty. If we go back, I'm definitely trying the other tacos available for sure.
For dessert, I got the Flan de la Casa, which is a Spanish creme caramel basically. It was ultra smooth and a small slice was enough to satisfy my dessert habit. Overall, the food was both new, interesting and delicious. I'd only ever eaten Taco Bill mexican food and that stuff isn't very good. But this mexican food was much more to my liking (at least hot means hot rather than some watered down version for Australian palettes) and I will revisit this place for my Mexican food.
The night was very enjoyable and the ambience in the restaurant was just right. The restaurant actually stretched a lot further back, with the middle section more subdued and the back section totally boisterous. I think I would rather sit in the front of the back as I like a bit of a buzz in a restaurant. The service was friendly and efficient most of the night. Only when I ordered dessert from a different waiter than the waitress serving us through the night was there a bit of confusion. But a simple enquiry about dessert got it brought out immediately.
Overall Rating: 15/20, Delicious Mexican food with a great ambience in the restaurant.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20:Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.