When a small, sparsely decorated venue is empty, sometimes the atmosphere is so lacking that it can become uncomfortable to eat in. When you’re in that place for a brunch, and there’s only two of you, it can feel downright strange.
Thankfully, brunch at Muchachas is an experience like no other in Dubai, so despite the pretty, pastel-coloured cantina having only a few other patrons in, we never feel uneasy or unwelcome. Everything, from the warm greeting by the fabulous fedora-wearing guy on the door to the pass-around clumps of candyfloss that finish the meal, is well thought-out, well-presented and enjoyable.
It’s also extremely good value. If there has been one criticism of the restaurant since opening its that the small portions often don’t feel great value for money once the bill arrives. But brunch, at Dhs285 for the beverage package (including jugs of Spanish and Mexican mixed drinks) represents a superb return.
While we might be short of fellow brunchers, the afternoon is not short on charm. Staff are super-friendly and the music, a mix of Latin beats and guilty pleasure-style pop and dance hits, is enough to make anyone’s Friday get off to a flyer.
What we don’t have, however, is a menu. We’re told we’ll be served all of the “Fiesta Menu” but don’t see one. Blind brunching it is, then.
Plates appear at a steady pace, with a chance to take breathers between courses (we need them). First up is a bowl of nachos with a couple of dips. Nothing too spectacular, but certainly nothing to grumble about. The guacamole, on the other hand, is excellent. We order more.
Yuca fries are next up. We’re not keen on these chunky chips wherever we try them – the yuca plant is just too fibrous to the bite for us – but we can’t deny these are done well, with plenty of salt and a homemade ketchup bringing the flavour. It seems a little odd that these are a course on their own, though. And we feel the same about the course consisting of just two salads. As fresh and tasty as they are, no-one is at brunch for a salad course.
Our favourite dishes come either side of the salads. Pulled beef sopes (rich meat sitting on a delicious pastry base) and beef quesadillas on one side, and half a pineapple filled with a rich cheesy sauce, studded with plump prawns, and ceviche on the other. Some tacos arrive much later, seemingly temporarily forgotten about, but we’re too full to do them justice. Ditto the dessert of churros and chocolate sauce and candyfloss.
This seems like the ideal brunch for groups who don’t want an over-the-top blowout.
Dhs185 (soft drinks), Dhs 285 (house beverages). Fri noon-4pm. Holiday Inn Express Safa Park, Al Safa (04 327 5878).
The bottom line
Casual, fun, tasty and great value.