Mamacita – West Hampstead, London

West End Lane has been in need of something new and exciting for quite some time. Sure, there’s Nandos and who doesn’t love Nandos, but I’ve often felt that it could do with a few more non-chain, good quality restaurants.

When I was strolling home a few weeks ago and saw Mamacita being fit out, I was very intrigued. So when my friend suggested dinner in West Hampstead I jumped at the chance to try out Mamacita. I rung on a Wednesday night to reserve a table for three people for the following evening. We weren’t able to book for 8pm, only 7.30pm as they had a few large parties coming in. Apparently I wasn’t the only one intrigued.

Upon arrival, I instantly regretted my outfit; it was boiling inside and I was dressed for a chilly end of summer evening. I strongly advise light and layered clothing for Mamacita.

I arrived a good ten minutes before my friends so had ample opportunity to people watch, study the menu, observe the goings on, etc. Nothing of significance to note at this point, other than that this was only the fourth night it had been open.

I ordered a watermelon sangria; I wasn’t particularly impressed. It was very watery, and call me an alcoholic, but I couldn’t taste any alcohol.

We shared nachos and guacamole, cod ceviche, vegetarian and chicken fajitas and a vegetarian quesadilla. With respect to portion size, the mains were good. I was a little surprised when it came to the guacamole and fajita accompaniments (sour cream, salsa and more guacamole). No-one wants to monitor the amount of guacamole you scoop up on your nacho; you wanna take the nacho, introduce it to the guacamole and go wild! You couldn’t do that with these portion sizes. I faced the same problem when it came to the fajita assembly process.

The guacamole was flavoursome and the ceviche was very good (probably my favourite dish). The fajitas and quesadillas were fine but really nothing to write home about, very unexciting. I’ve had better fajita experiences in friends’ kitchens with Old El Paso.

We didn’t get dessert.

I’m aware this write-up isn’t a rave review, but I had a good evening at Mamacita, because even though the food isn’t incredible is it by no means bad. I’m also going to give the drinks the benefit of the doubt and say I ordered badly for my personal taste, being a whiskey girl at heart. That plus the brightly coloured, cool decor, good value (I paid £18) and buzzy atmosphere brings me to my conclusion:

Check out Mamacita but don’t expect fireworks. It’s a welcome addition to the neighbourhood.

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