Meet La Carnita, the Mexican-inspired eatery that’s one-part Latin American street food and one-part LA taco culture. Located in the Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Marina, the taqueria has not wasted any time establishing a name for itself in Dubai’s food scene.
Surrounded by unique urban art and playing the latest hip-hop tracks, the restaurant has similarly become the place to be for the Dubai Marina social scene.
We arrive at 8pm for dinner, and the venue is still somewhat relaxed. However, within an hour it’s packed. Not in a crowded way, but in the sense that all the tables are full and loads of people are waiting at the bar for their turn to be seated.
In fact, we’re glad we arrived on time, because rumour has it they only wait 15 minutes after your scheduled booking before giving your table to someone else. It’s evident that the place is super popular. And we can see why. The food is as authentic as it gets.
For starts, we have the tortilla chips, which is served with a variety of dips, including guacamole, corn salsa, spicy beans and smoked queso. We also try the smoked sausage quesadillas, which consists of Mexican sausages, caramelised onions and sweet potato crema. It’s light, flavoursome and delicious, and the perfect start to our taco binge.
And when we say taco binge, we mean it, because we practically try them all. As we glance over the taco section on the menu, we’re overwhelmed by the variety, so we ask our waiter to bring us a selection of recommended dishes to share.
Highlights on the taco menu include the short rib taco – consisting of braised short rib, avocado crema, pickle salsa and coriander – and the pollo frito, with its fried chicken, peanut sauce and green cabbage.
Our favourite, however, is the In Cod We Trust, which is made using fresh-caught cod, La Carnita’s special recipe Voltron sauce, lime crema, in-house pickled red cabbage, green apple and cilantro. Pure perfection.
Veggie and vegan diners are also in for a treat. The menu features plenty of gluten-free and vegan options such as crispy cauliflower tacos and mushroom tostadas, as well as the chef’s off-menu creations on rotation.
The main menu has a variety of heavier dishes, including grilled lamb chops, short ribs and seabass, but tonight we’re all about the tacos.
However, we can’t visit a Mexican joint without ending off our meal with churros (that would just be rude). As expected, the fried-dough pastry treats at La Carnita are some best in town, served with chocolate and caramel sauces.
As we leave, the venue is filled to capacity and the vibe is electrifying. We’ve got a feeling La Carnita is going to be around for a while, but best you book if you want to see what all the fuss is about.
INFO: Open Daily 6pm-1am, 04 425 4030, Intercontinental Hotel, Dubai Marina, lacarnita.ae