You have to check out this little spot in Business Bay JLT. Here’s why…


Dubai has its proper share of flashy restaurant openings, perennial venues inside five-star hotels, and celebrity chefs. But just sometimes, a star restaurant emerges from the shadows, hidden in the deepest darkest depths of an old warehouse space, a dusty Dubai neighbourhood, or a quiet commercial building. La Taqueria DXB is one of those very spots…

If you’re not using Google Maps, you won’t find La Taqueria DXB: The restaurant is barely visible from the road, and aside from an A4 piece of paper taped to the inside of its window, there is absolutely zero signage. The upside: There is ample free parking in the basement of this desolate Business Bay building.

You’d be forgiven for thinking La Taqueria DXB is in the – overused PR term – ‘soft-opening’ phase: in other words, it looks pretty unfinished. It’s bright inside but that’s from the (almost) overbearing fluorescent office strip lights beaming from the ceiling. Take a seat at one the steel tables and as you scrape your chair across the concrete floor, and look around the cafe, you’ll see part painted mint green walls and part exposed industrial breeze block.

Best Tacos in Dubai #tacos #mydubai #mexicanfood #lataqueriadxb

A photo posted by Coach Wayne Theron (@coachwaynetheron) on

Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in DIFC anymore…

So why did La Taqueria DXB win What’s On Favourite Indie Restaurant award at the What’s On Awards 2016?

WOA Dubai 2016-4670

Simple. The food is spectacular. And it’s totally family run. 

La Taqueria DXB is as much a passion project as it is the only way of life for owner Isaac Mendoza and his family. After parting ways from Taqado, Isaac believed Dubai was ready for more than the Tex-Mex way, and that the city’s diners would be hungry for the real Mexican experience. So far, it seems like he was right.

hibiscus 2
Isaac Mendoza (left) with his brother. 

The menu is a single card with only a handful of options, ranging from breakfast dishes including huevos rancheros to the mighty taco options, with ceviches, soups and salads thrown in for good measure.

Like any street side cafe in Mexico you’ll get to scoff on some homemade nachos while you wait. These arrive accompanied by a trio of sauces – guacamole, red salsa and a dark and oily habanero sauce – be warned, the latter will put hairs on your chest.

To drink we ordered the traditional hibiscus juice called agua de jamaica, which the owner Isaac’s wife recommended. Similar in taste to blackcurrant juice, we watch as Isaac’s brother (the chef) heaved a giant cauldron of purple punch from a cabinet behind the cashier and poured a generous cup, which is then served with plenty of ice in a large tin camping mug.

Agua de jamaica (pronouced hah-MY-kah) is a Mexican drink made from an infusion of dried red hibiscus flowers.

The tacos come as a trio (Dhs45) and you can choose from The Farm, The Sea or The Mountain. La Taqueria’s tacos are influenced from the street tacos of Mexico (they are small and soft, and the tortillas are either lightly grilled or streamed) not the Americanised ones we see in most Mexican spots in town. When it comes to fillers, they are all about the flavours, sauces and cooking techniques – they don’t hide behind fancy presentations, edible flowers, or how good the food looks in a 1,200 x 1,200 square frame.

It’s hard to choose just one taco off the menu here, but you’ll find yourself going back for their fantastic representations of fish tacos – both the shrimp and the fish are heavenly.

The fish taco (pictured above) is particularly spectacular – one huge chunk of battered fish is served over crispy slaw with salsa and yoghurt sauce on a warm taco and served with a side of sautéed onions and homemade mole. Each mouthful is a fiesta frenzy of flavours.

fish tacos
Three fish tacos with homemade mole and a side of onions. We’d order this Every. Single. Day.

It’s worth the ride to try this spot’s take on the lengua taco aka cow tongue. If you like your meat gamey you’re in for one of the beefier tacos you’ll ever bite into.

A little word of warning here: service at La Taqueria can be a touch slow. Your coffee might be forgotten about, and you might need to scavenger hunt for your own fork, but what it lacks in slick service it makes up for in honesty, charm and passion for great food. The owner and his family are the ones working the floor here, and that’s rare in Dubai (and something we love).

If Business Bay ever becomes hip, give some credit to these guys for the movement.