This Mexican restaurant and sports bar is a perennial favourite of many Dubaians. Its enduring popularity stems to its lively vibes in the evening, chilled vibes during the daytime, and brilliant food vibes the whole way through.
Perhaps unbefitting of its slightly quieter location, Loca is regularly busy (its five-hour Friday brunch deal is superb value) and attracts a very loyal customer base, and everyone we’ve known to visit this place has been bowled over by its brilliant range of rustic Mexican grub with an up-market twist.
Fajitas and enchiladas are order of the day here, and they’re awesome. (Vegetarians should head straight for the glorious mushroom quesadillas.) Get the guacamole, obviously, and see it being prepared at the table by the expert waiting staff. But don’t hang around before absolutely devouring this beauty, because it tastes as good as it looks.
This place also specialises in the Mexican mixed drink, with a dedicated menu where you can choose which flavour you want and how you want it.
With a gorgeous view out from the restaurant’s outdoors area, this is one you need to have on your list.
The bottom line
Super fun spot with great guacamole.
When it comes to ordering a bunch of small dishes to share it can be hard to know just how many to pick. Sure, they say you can always add more as you go, but has anyone ever actually done that? We know we haven’t.
However, as we sit in Waka, the latest venue serving Peruvian-Japanese Nikkei fusion food (and other takes on Latin American staples) we feel completely at ease, such is our confidence in our waiter.
We order three small dishes, a bowl of guacamole and one main course. It’s certainly less than the tables around us, and it doesn’t seem like a lot. But we’re assured we’ll be fine.
If we weren’t already impressed by Waka, which has the feel of a cosy underground cantina, we are when the dishes come out. They all look fantastic, the pacing from the kitchen is spot on and, on the whole, they are excellent. It’s also the perfect amount (and allows for a dessert).
We told you about the salmon tiradito a couple of weeks ago. It’s a really strong dish, with a perfect balance of flavours and textures.
The Lima maki is a riff on Peru’s classic sea bass ceviche, and it works. A crispy prawn sits in the centre, while a silky sliver of fish is draped over the top, held in place by tiger’s milk mayo. Very clever.
Guacamole (or Wakamole, groan) arrives in a plume of smoke, which enhances the taste rather than overpowering it. There’s a good hit of chilli, too.
Waka’s quinoa risotto comes alive with the aroma of truffle, and the mushrooms running through it add bite. The prawn skewers, however, are largely forgettable.
Desserts are playful and our coconut mousse is great fun, lifted by a pineapple confit.
We like Waka a lot, but don’t just trust us, trust the staff, too.
The bill (for two)
1x salmon tiradito Dhs48
1x Lima maki Dhs52
1x tiger prawn anticucho Dhs52
1x Wakamole Dhs35
1x quinoa risotto Dhs90
1x coco loco Dhs40
1x large still water Dhs25
Total (excluding service) Dhs342
The bottom line
Latin dishes with style and substance.
This Mexican, set in the beach side gardens of Le Royal Méridien, has modern décor and attentive staff. Unfortunately the food doesn't quite live up to the same standard. Flavours aren’t quite balanced, textures aren't quite right and some of the ingredients just seem bizarre when paired together. Maya was one of our favourite destinations for Mexican cuisine but on the current showing, it needs to go quite some way to get back to those previous highs.
Up high on the 25th floor of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, La Parrilla offers unspoilt views of the Arabian sea and Burj Al Arab. The atmosphere is sophisticated and a band playing lively South American music, accompanied by dancers, further enrich the experience. For starters, the grilled octopus with black olive emulsion is tender yet crispy on the outside. If you are a meat lover, choose the la piedra, which is the chef’s selection of premium steaks. Various small cuts arrive blue, alongside a hot stone to cook them to your liking, which adds some sizzle and theatre. As well as steaks, there are vegetarian and seafood options on offer too. Dishes don’t arrive with sides, so you may find your bill rising steeply if you add them on.
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