Dinner Review: Puerto 99, Bluewaters Island
Our enduring memory of Puerto 99 is unquestionably the restaurant’s eight-piece mariachi band belting out Mexican folk tunes to rapturous applause.
Their sunny demeanours and enthusiastic vocals draw the attention of those strolling along the Bluewaters Island promenade, attracting them towards Puerto 99’s terrace like ships to a (moustachioed) mermaid.
That terrace is an idyllic spot, with spectacular views of JBR and the Dubai Marina skyline. But be warned that when the mariachi band heads inside, there is no music playing and a lot of passing pedestrians.
More than once our conversation is interrupted by Bluewaters’ ‘Kiddie Karts’ loudly playing ‘It’s A Small World After All’. A bit of a mood killer.
On to the food and pleasingly, Puerto 99 is a firmly anti-Tex Mex destination. It promises to deliver authentic cuisine so we focus our attention on their many variations of the humble taco – the culinary criteria on which any good Mexican restaurant should be judged.
The shrimp tacos are assembled at the table by a smiling waiter which is a novel approach and the toppings are well-balanced. A fresh flour tortilla is stuffed with battered shrimp and smothered in tangy chipotle-lime mayo, cabbage slaw and chunky pico de gallo.
Slightly less inspiring are the crispy lamb barbacoa tacos as the sauce seeps through the corn tortillas during baking. But the filling itself is faultless - just give us a bowl of that sweet, shredded, slow-cooked lamb.
A more indulgent alternative is to turn one of the grilled offerings - big ticket seafood and meat items - into tacos. Like the ribeye. Oh, the ribeye! The huge slab of black angus prime beef is a thing of rugged beauty, its tender slices the ideal size to slide into a tortilla.
Beyond the traditional taco, spicy crab tostadas are packed generously with fleshy crabmeat, sharp pickled onions, avocado and a mayonnaise spiked with chilli - the creamy filling and crunchy shell providing both a great contrast in texture and an unavoidably messy plate.
For those with room, the pastel de tres leches is a great way to finish things off. A large piece of moist sponge cake is gift-wrapped in perfectly piped toasted meringue and drizzled with passion fruit glaze. Muy bien.
INFO: Open daily. Puerto 99, Bluewaters Island, Dubai, 04 557 6627, puerto99.ae