After battling Monday evening traffic on Sheikh Zayed Road, we sidestep the tourists and taxi drivers that are congregated outside the main entrance of Dubai Marine Beach Resort and make a beeline for Loca. Inside, the friendly staff whisk us straight to a table by the window, where we look out over the resort’s illuminated swimming pool.
We’ve visited Loca many times over the years, so the dimly lit space, with its exposed bricks, riveted iron girders and solid wooden tables is familiar and welcoming.
We order up some guacamole while we peruse the menu. The guac is prepared from scratch, tableside – ripe avocados are mixed with chopped onions, tomatoes and cilantro, with just a pinch of habanero chilli to add a little bit of heat – and served with warm corn chips and salsa. It’s delicious, with flavours so fresh that we could happily eat nothing else all night.
Monday is Antojitos Evening at Loca, when diners can enjoy a selection of antojitos and unlimited craft hops and grapes for only Dhs183.75 per person. Meaning ‘little cravings’, antojitos are traditional street-food dishes designed by the restaurant’s chef Juan and his team, and include creations such as tostaditas ceviche de camaron, arrachera beef with red chilaquiles and grilled achiote shrimp.
Tempting though this all sounds, an early morning flight the next day means we are forced to swerve the unlimited drinks offer. Instead we request a round of Mexican mixed drinks and order à la cart and from the list of this month’s specials.
We launch straight into the mains, a burrito with chorizo and corn-fed chicken, black beans and Oaxaca cheese, and the taco de pescado chiloro – kingfish tacos.
Wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and topped with melted cheese, the burrito is served with beans and seasoned rice. It’s spicy and saucy, stuffed with succulent grilled meat and packed with the traditional Mexican flavours you’d expect.
The tacos, meanwhile, are spread with chilorio paste, and layered with generous pieces of kingfish, fresh leaves and roast tomatillo sauce, topped with crumbled cheese. The white fish is firm and flavourful, with a slightly spicy marinade that gives a warm and pleasant kick.
We’re left stuffed, but our waiter insists we try a little something from the dessert menu. We give in and order the Pastel Patron Café cake and helado frito. The latter is a total sugar rush – fried vanilla ice cream with cinnamon sugar and chocolate sauce. The cake, meanwhile, a chocolate and coffee flavoured sponge topped with soft white icing, is like a Mexican version of tiramisu. Both desserts are beautifully presented and taste amazing, but sadly – despite a valiant effort – we barely make a dent in either. Happy and full, we roll out the door and into a waiting taxi.
INFO: Loca, Dubai Marine Beach Resort & Spa, Jumeirah Beach Road, 04 346 1111, email@example.com, locauae.com