07 Apr 2019 AT 04:13 PM

Reviewed: La Carnita

Latin-themed, lively and leading the way
07 Apr 2019 AT 04:13 PM

Blaring hip-hop music pumping out of a restaurant’s speakers while you eat probably doesn’t constitute a fine dining experience for many, we’re sure, but at La Carnita, the Mexican-inspired restaurant located in the bowels of Dubai Marina’s Intercontinental Hotel, it seems a natural fit.

A combination of the soundtrack and décor — dark and edgy — provides La Carnita with a late-night club feel, regardless of the time you visit but, again, it works well. The restaurant started out as a pop-up stand in Canada, and while the brand has clearly progressed since its inception, some of its raw, rugged appeal from the early days is retained.

The working week has just come to an end when we visit, meaning it would be rude not to take advantage of a superb mixed drinks menu. A couple of coconut margaritas are ordered, which quickly turn into a couple more. They really are that good.

Like many modern dining establishments, the emphasis is on sharing (always a controversial subject). As ever, the best ones, such as the chorizo quesadilla from the starters menu, are difficult to let go of,  but don’t ever accuse us of not being team players.

Unsurprisingly, the selection of tacos is vast and full of variety: crispy cod and fermented chilli to name a few. We opt for the fried chicken and grilled steak. Neither disappoint, but is there such a thing as a bad taco?

The atmosphere is positively uplifting. Everybody is smiling and the staff are knowledgeable.

On their advice we order a main — sesame lamb chop — to share. It’s good. Very good. Although still not as enjoyable as dessert, churros accompanied by a thick caramel sauce, a Mexican classic. Keeping it simple is often the best way, and La Carnita does it better than most, which is why you will know where to find us next weekend. With a face full of tacos in the Marina.

Three to try
Tortilla chips with dip

Tasty tortillas enhanced by four delicious dips: Guacamole, corn salsa, spicy bean and smoked queso. All so good it’s hard to pick a favourite.

Carne asada taco
A marvellous meaty creation which is given a fresh, tangy kick courtesy of lime avocado and crispy shallots.

Basically a fried-dough pastry which you can dip into a pool of thick caramel (cajeta) sauce. Weight gain in seconds, but you won’t care.

Where: Intercontinental Hotel
Contact: +971 44 254 030
Website: lacarnita.ae