Recently we took the chance to have our first movie outing since CJ was born. I’m a total X-Men franchise fan and really wanted to see Days of Future Past in the cinema so we made it happen. Ever the financially-conscious new parents, we headed to Sylvia Park where we can use our credit card rewards points to pay for our tickets. Casablanca Cafe is a usual favorite for us there, but we thought that this time we would try the new-ish offering of Mama Loco, a Mexican-inspired tapas-style restaurant with a wide range of small and large offerings, perfect for sharing. For those located north of the harbor bridge, you can also taste the deliciousness at Mama Loco Albany. We’re big fans of the tapas/mezze style meal and Papa M is a huge tex-mex fan so we thought this might be a winner.
Located in what used to be a magazine store, the restaurant appears to be going for a festive, industrial vibe. I liked the rawness of the materials that they used and that the place didn’t look too overdone, but a couple more little nods to comfort would have been nice. The only available booth seating was at the back of the restaurant (these tired parents weren’t up to perching themselves on the admittedly adorable stools) and the only table available was right next to a window. Probably brilliant in summer (especially to watch the sun set with a cerveza) but a little bit chilly in winter. The bathrooms at Mama Loco continue along the same theme as the restaurant and are well worth a visit while you are there.
The service was speedy – great for the cinema crowd – to the point that the food arrived almost unexpectedly. There was, however, no sign of any flaw in attention to detail. Each dish arrived on the table as the kitchen finished preparing it giving us a steady stream of food to the table – and our mouths. Papa M ordered a beer-inspired cocktail from their considerable list while I contented myself with a delicious mocktail.
Just an aside, as a breast-feeding mama who doesn’t always feel like an alcoholic beverage while out (I have trouble staying hydrated as it is), I love love LOVE restaurants that have mocktail options. Just because I’m avoiding the hard stuff doesn’t mean I don’t want a gorgeous drink in a tall glass. Anyway, back to the food…
For dinner we ordered pulled pork tostaditas, stuffed peppers, pork belly and pineapple skewers, and MFC Fried Chicken. Papa M is not a huge fan of pork belly so I had that largely to myself and he (albeit slightly grudgingly) offered me a small amount of his stuffed peppers, definitely his favorite dish of the night.I loved the taste of the tostaditas, only wishing that they weren’t quite so bite-sized as they were finished very quickly. The MFC was very crispy and snackable, I could quite easily this being a hit in some of the larger platters that they offer.
Service for dessert was a little bit slow, but I have a hard time saying no any time that there are churros on the menu. I think it’s a hangover from the epic family holiday we had in the US when I was ten. When our churro bites arrived, we weren’t disappointed. Crispy outside, spongey inside – it was one of those times when you inelegantly try to snarf down your “share” so that the other person doesn’t eat more than they are entitled to. Churros, you are my kryptonite.
All in all, it was a fun dinner experience and seemed quite popular with both large groups and couples alike. There’s a broad range of offerings that are priced reasonably for a good night out. It’s not the type of place you are going to go to for an intimate, romantic dinner but it more than acquits itself with other more established offerings in the dining lane at Sylvia Park. We will return.
Mama Loco, Sylvia Park Shopping Centre, 286 Mt Wellington Highway, Mt Wellington, Auckland