Long before Loca opened in Abu Dhabi, Hubs and I were over the moon that authentic Mexican (or as close as our SoCal taste buds could discern) was available in Dubai (long time residents will recall the location at Dubai Marine). Thus, when an invitation came through to check out one of the sister properties (Loca is also present at Souq Al Bahar), I was more than happy to say yes.
Although in a bit of isolated location (literally underneath the Four Seasons Al Maryah Island) and sort of in the Galleria (but not really), the interior is large and wayward guests will certainly be able to spot the large neon green signage from down the hallway (or if walking along outside). Once inside, I was happy to see many of the familiar trademarks of the Jumeirah Beach Road venue — the melodramatic Mexican films playing on the televisions and the mounted Heineken keg stands. The Loca in Abu Dhabi is bigger than the original and by 9 PM was nearly at capacity, so they must be doing something right.
Throughout my visit, the wait staff were incredibly friendly and approachable, a trait I sincerely appreciate in either the Dubai or Abu Dhabi food scene. Without much pause, I immediately ordered the Margarita de Granada (with triple sec, lime, and pomegranate), which although I did say ‘no salt’ the request only made it through on my last round. Oh well, a little salt never killed anyone. Discerning drinkers will be able for both a solid middle of the road tequila, Sauza, and for extra dizzles, Patron silver, should they choose to indulge.
Having a look at the familiar menu, really, what is a Mexican meal without tableside Guacamole (AED65)? My love for avocados knows no limits, so I was happy to order this starter along with a basket of chips and (complimentary?) salsa. To finish my starters I ordered the Agua Chile de Camerones ceviche, AED76, (shrimp, lime, cilantro and a bit of citrus), which was just on the borderline of being too spicy, but something I would order again (and comfortably generous enough to split between 2 people).
With my second margarita en route, I pretended for a moment I was going to be healthy and ordered the Tostada Salad (with Grilled Jumbo Shrimp), AED88. Bypassing the deep fried shell, I instead enjoyed the slightly spicy shrimp with fresh greens, sour cream, and guacamole (PS, the serving size is ginormous, so plan on having leftovers). I loved all of the flavors, and looking at the menu, I would be interested in trying the other options (Grilled beef tenderloin and Achiote corn fed chicken). The dish could also easily be a vegetarian option. As an ‘accompaniment’ of sorts, I also decided to try the Citrus and Chipotle Corn fed Chicken Quesadilla, AED80. While perhaps a bit on the pricey side, served with (even more) sour cream and guacamole, this would be another excellent dish to share.
To end the meal, I would’ve loved to have seen an order of churros on the menu, but without any, I was able to finish without dessert (maybe next time…with a spicy chocolate sauce?).
Would I go back? Of course! While there are approximately 1,2387,912 Peruvian restaurants in country, decent Mexican is more difficult to come by (I’m reminded of the relatively terrible experiences at Zoco and Muchachas as examples). The ladies night at Loca offers a fairly outstanding deal, so next time you’re looking for a place for you and your squad on a Wednesday, be sure to call ahead to book a table.
What’s your favorite thing to order at a Mexican restaurant?