(You will excuse my terrible title).
Over the weekend, Hubs and I made a trip to Bluewaters – this time to check out Puerto 99, a recently opened Mexican restaurant. While the timing on my beloved Google Maps wasn’t entirely accurate, the team were friendly enough to let us in and show us to a seat. As Dubai tipped towards summer, we decided to sit inside, as there was plenty of natural light, and views across to a bustling Dubai Marina. With a modern take on Mexican, the fit out is similar to the now-closed Peyote (which is a shame, because from a disappointing start, they got better and it was a reliable brunch spot… I digress).
As we reviewed the menu, to begin, we’re served a small plate of tostadas with two kinds of salsa (one milder, but both delicious). We then jumped straight in with a large serving of Guacamole, AED75, made with Mexican Haas avocados. It’s made fresh and was a generous portion, easily enough for four people (although we do our best to make a dent in mass of avocados). We also were served up the slightly chewy Queso Fundido, AED80, with freshly made corn tortillas. Of the two, I think I would only order the guacamole again, and wished the queso was a bit creamier. Perhaps it’s my U.S. upbringing, but I like my queso super melty. I’m also not sure if the soft tortilla is the best match for the dish. To go with our starters, we ordered cocktails, and the housemade Margaritas were truly phenomenal. The Tommy’s Margaritas, AED55, was made with agave instead of triple sec, and imported Mexican tequila. This drink was everything I was looking for, and the margaritas were my favorite thing off the menu during our visit. As part of our starters, to split, we try on the many Ceviches offered — this one made with octopus, and was wonderfully tender and bright. All the marks, and a large portion for AED100. Hubs happily finished most of the dish for us.
For our mains, I decide on Tuna tacos, AED80, while Hubs opted for Barbacoa, AED80. The tuna turned out not to be my favorite flavoring, but I think I’m losing something in the marinade or the cook of the protein, and if returning, would most likely place an order for another dish instead. Hubs was happy with his Barbacoa, but we’re both reminded of how different the pricing would be in our home town. In case it’s not offered, besides the basket of bottled hot sauces, Puerto 99 makes their own delicious varieties, which are well worth asking for. My favorite hot sauce isn’t too spicy, with heavy garlic undertones (that goes on pretty much everything), while Hubs sweats through the mighty Red Baron. As we’re running out of room, we don’t get to order the Coconut Shrimp that I have my eye on (and would make a return trip to try).
Of course, we are incapable of leaving a Mexican restaurant without ordering Churros, AED55. As with some of the other dishes in the afternoon, I find the pricing a tad high, but the team delivers the deep-fried dough and sauces we’re expecting. With our dessert, we also order a last round of drinks. It’s the Mai Tai, AED60 for me, and the signature Honey Fashion, AED50 for Hubs (which comes with a bit of a show).
I’ll be honest, on this little man-made island, Alici is still far and away my favorite restaurant (The London Project and Hell’s Kitchen were both average places, at best). I’ll also reiterate that Meeras has some real issues around signage at Bluewaters. Guests should never have to search for outlets, which I constantly find myself doing. I realize this is not the fault of the venues, but if I were a restauranteur, I would be a bit motivated to ensure my potential guests could easily find my outlet. On a side note for Puerto 99, I’d also love to see local water available instead of expensive Voss.
Would I go back to Puerto 99? I would definitely go back for the margaritas. I also found the service personable and the soundtrack an upbeat addition to the restaurant. As much as we enjoyed the dishes at Puerto 99, La Tablita remains firmly at the top of our Mexican food list in Dubai.
Who is Puerto 99 best for? Those in need of authentic Mexican food. A great afternoon spot for a few drinks when the weather’s nice.
A to Za’atar was a guest of Puerto 99. Opinions are my own, just ask my husband.