New to Abu Dhabi’s dining scene, Mexican restaurant, Loca, is located at The Galleria, hidden just beneath the Four Seasons Hotel. Loca’s décor is a blend of edgy urban meets industrial warehouse, exposed brick walls and large piping feature heavily. Guests can choose to sit inside or dine al fresco on the outdoor terrace.
This high-end restaurant cum sports bar offers something for everyone. Sports fanatics will enjoy the TV screens showing all the sports, foodies will love experiencing authentic Mexican cuisine and nightlife seekers will enjoy the traditional frozen Mexican beverages and a lively atmosphere.
To start, we order Loca’s popular Guacamole. Prepared tableside and served with warm corn chips and salsa. Some of the avocados are imported from Mexico, depending on the seasonality, with others coming from Peru and Australia. Australia tends to have the best avocados as the texture, color and taste are more prominent. From the first bite, it’s clear that Loca only uses the best avocados for its Guacamole. The technic used, mashing, not blending, contributes to thick chunky delicious mouthfuls. Guacamole will never be the same again, Loca has raised the bar.
Also from the appetizers we sample the De Pescado and the Quesadillas. The De Pescado ceviche, is made with salmon, mango, papaya, tomatoes, red onion and cilantro, the dish is light, fresh and zesty. The Quesadillas come in three options, we select the oyster mushrooms and Oaxaca cheese Quesadilla. A generous portion, the oyster mushrooms offer a deep flavor whilst the Oaxaca cheese, originally from Mexico, tastes similarly like Monterey Jack. The Quesadilla does come with a side of Guacamole but it’s nowhere near as impressive as the freshly made tableside version we experienced at the start of our meal.
Moving onto the mains, we select the Loca Ribs and the El Rancho Tamales. The ribs are succulent, slow roasted shortribs served in Loca’s chipotle guajillo bbq sauce, offering a multitude of flavors and textures. The Tamales are the real star of the show, this is the first time we have seen this traditional Mexican dish on the menu anywhere in Abu Dhabi. Tamales are made from a homemade corn masa and steamed in a corn husk. The El Rancho Tamales is stuffed with slow marinated adobo beef tenderloin and served with a side of de la olla beans and rice. This dish is warm comfort food at its best. The only issue is that the portion is so large we only manage to eat half of it.
As we ponder over which dessert to select Chef Salvador Gomez passes by and asks if we need any assistance. Who better than the man himself to help us with this big decision. After some consideration chef kindly puts together a sample of all five desserts. Note to self always be very nice to chefs, they feed you nice things. From the five desserts, we narrowed our favorites down to two, the Bedel Tres Leches and the Banana Empanada. The Banana Empanada, banana turnover is served piping hot, drizzled in sweet cream, cinnamon sugar and a scoop of vanilla ice-cream. If you like warm desserts this is the one to go for. The Bedel Tres Leches is the traditional Mexican three-milk cake served with chocolate ice-cream. Forget the chocolate ice-cream, the cake itself is amazing, moist and full of flavor this is one dessert you will not want to share.
Loca offers a relaxed Mexican dining experience in a casual yet vibrant atmosphere. Loca’s authentic cuisine is a refreshing change from the norm and something everyone should experience. For those that are feeling less adventurous the menu does feature dishes like the ribs we tried, so you don’t have to venture to far from your comfort zone.
Loca, The Galleria on Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, 02 582 3639