In this Mexican food throw down, who will win: Zoco or Tortilla?
Check out these two very different Latin American spots that have recently opened their doors in Dubai…
Will these Californian burritos up the food court game?
Among the ruckus of Festival City Mall food court, there’s one calm corner that’s now home to the first international Tortilla. The Mexican spot started out in Islington when a Californian couple made it their mission, almost a decade ago, to bring West Coast-style burritos to hungry Londoners.
With their UK empire built, they’ve set their sights on the Middle East with this open plan café-restaurant, with shelves of hot sauce, private booths and a glowing neon Mission Street sign – a nod to San Francisco’s burrito-filled Mission District. This is upmarket Tex Mex with a healthy edge – fresh grilled veg, decent marinated meats, all in fluffy flour tortillas.
The signature burritos (Dhs26) are big with a wide array of fillings so go with a game plan. Choose from two types of rice – lime and coriander or tomato and garlic – and either chargrilled chicken or beef, pulled beef or marinated shrimps. Then go heavy with the extras: black beans, fresh salsa, cheese, sweet corn and sour cream.
The tacos come as a tempting trio (Dhs27), but sadly fell apart in our hands. So if you’re a determined taco fan, opt for hard shells and move fast.
Tortilla is fast food at its best; filling and delicious but not at all greasy. Watch out Taqado, there might be a new food court favourite in town.
Atmosphere: Family friendly / casual
Price: Up t0 Dhs249
Festival City Mall, Dubai, Sun to Wed 10am to midnight, Thur to Sat 10am to 1am. Tel: (04) 4376062. Taxi: Festival City Mall. tortilla.co.uk
Is there room for another fine-dining Mexican in Dubai?
Any restaurant that can leave a lasting impression with a dish of guacamole is doing something right. But with Jimmy Rojas at the helm, who’s worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Europe, this is hardly surprising.
The tomatillo and pumpkin seeds in the verde guacamole (Dhs65) gave it a fresh and crunchy edge. Served with a handful of crispy nachos, it’s a good start for this Mexican and Latin American spot. The cashew nut macha salsa (Dhs15) tastes like Mexico’s answer to an Asian satay sauce – thick, nutty and with a real kick. It’s weird but pairs well with the perfectly fried fish in the baja tacos (Dhs65).
Fajita fans will love the melted cheese queso fundido (Dhs70). The four-cheese combo has a halloumi-like texture which, when packed into soft flour tortillas with crispy fried mushrooms, makes for tasty comfort food.
Skip the salads – the quinoa option (Dhs55) in particular was easily forgettable and 80 per cent green leaves. Instead choose the street corn (Dhs45) with its moreish coating of creamy mayo, chilli and crumbly cotija cheese.
Zoco is a cool restaurant in Dubai’s trendiest new eating area. But with many Latin American options – Muchachas, Ceviche and La Tablita have all opened in recent months – has it got enough star power to beat the competition? Time will tell.
Atmosphere: Smart / Romantic
Price: Dhs250 to Dhs749
The Atrium, Al Habtoor City, Dubai, daily 5pm to 2am. Tel: (04) 4370044. Taxi: W Dubai. zocodubai.com