When every member of staff you encounter in a hotel informs you that their Mexican restaurant is “the best in The UAE”, you’d better hope they’re right given such a bold statement. So was the case with our recent staycation at the Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights and the seemingly mythological greatness of La Tablita. Granted we’d heard wonderful things about this casual Mexican eatery from a number of friends and fellow food bloggers, we’d always considered DIFC’s Peyote as our favourite choice for all things Mexican.
Having first encountered La Tablita’s food as part of the international brunch buffet at neighbouring Sufra, our first impressions didn’t quite live up to the hype. Despite a visually appealing selection of ceviche, quesadillas and guacamole, the food transpired to be lacking the all-important (and expected) wow factor. Could everyone be wrong about La Tablita’s popularity, including the persistent staff? We ventured inside on a Friday evening to see what all the fuss was about.
Kudos must be given to the marketing team who manage to create a unique brand identity that strikes you from the moment you enter the property. Tribal designs lead the way from the valet and across the lobby, zigzagging over the marble floor like a trail of footprints. Upon arrival, these emblematic designs are entrenched in the very design of La Tablita, burnt into the wooden tabletops, keeping with the concept of a Mexican fiesta. Amongst the over-sized sombreros and endless supplies of nachos, the atmosphere is vivacious which is an impressive feat considering we dined in the downtime between ‘drunch’ (La Tablita’s all you can eat/drink brunch concept) and dinner. A lone Mariachi singer keeps things upbeat, helped along by strong tequila-based cocktails that include the Mango Chaparrito and the House Zombie which blends 6 kinds of rum with grapefruit, passionfruit and strawberry.
Service is snappy and friendly and comes to us from an authentically Mexican team who know the dishes inside out and are more than happy to provide sensible recommendations (no signs of upselling here). The primary focus of the menu is tacos and with La Tablita promoted as a ‘taco shop experience’ complemented by live cooking and an energetic vibe, these are definitely the items diners should be focusing one.
We begin with Con Pato (AED 65), served in a bowl that resembles an upturned sombrero it’s an interesting take on guacamole via the incorporation of crispy duck into the recipe. A simple dish like guacamole provides a satisfying means to gage this Mexican restaurant in comparison to their competitors, and based upon this dish we’re soon on our way to forgetting La Tablita’s contribution to the hotel’s brunch (the tequila may also have something to do with it). Our choices from the ceviche section are almost sobering, with the
Our choices from the ceviche section are almost sobering, with the Atun (AED 60) providing such an overwhelming heat from the habanero chilli that it renders the raw tuna redundant. Similarly, the intense bitterness showcased in the Tiradito De Salmon (AED 55) brings us close to giving up on La Tablita altogether, a disappointment given the fact we’re generally huge lovers of ceviche.
Thankfully the tacos are La Tablita’s redeeming feature and at AED 15 per piece they’re extremely well priced. With 17 varieties to choose from you’re going to want to mix and match. We went for a number of obscure choices such as beef tongue with macha salsa and the roasted camel with sundried chilli adobo. Both provided interesting flavour profiles in addition to the excitement of the ingredients, yet it was the more classic choices of battered shrimp and crispy chicken that really hit the mark. Blending contrasting textures and prominent flavours into the soft shelled tacos.
Having gorged ourselves on more tacos than we should’ve (#SorryNotSorry), we still managed to miss out on the chocolate chilli one (sounds interesting right?). Instead, we managed to insatiate our sweet tooth with delightfully crunchy Churros (AED 30) paired with a rich chocolate dipping sauce. We’ve often lamented the existence quality churros in the region on Out & About UAE and are pleased to note that those offered at La Tablita are very VERY good, boasting a crisp golden dough that despite being deep-fried show no signs of oil retention. Admittedly they’re pipped to the post by newcomer Toro + Ko whose churro’s are marginally better and a strong contender for best in Dubai.
Although La Tablita may not have been quite what we expected, the atmosphere and joviality of the team help to enliven and elevate the dining experience above the usual Dubai standards. While La Tablita may not be the best Mexican restaurant in Dubai, we do appreciate they may have the best tacos! Which when combined with those tequila-heavy cocktails (there’s even a certified Master Tequilier – a first for any restaurant in Dubai) and live music, makes for a fun night all round!
Location: Hyatt Regency Dubai Creek Heights, Dubai Healthcare City, Umm Hurair, Dubai
Social: Instagram / Facebook
Hours: 6pm – 1am (open from 4pm on Fridays)
Phone: 04 455 1619
We were invited to dine at La Tablita. All views are our own and all photographs are © Out & About UAE. Interior images used courtesy of La Tablita.