I should have known the Mendoza brothers, Isaac and Josue, were behind El Mostacho in JLT. Invariably, whenever I see skyrocketing ratings and reviews which constantly include the words amazing and authentic Mexican food, I find one or both of these cool dudes are involved, e.g. the set-up of Taqado Mexican Kitchen and their own La Taqueria DXB. If anything, El Mostacho is an evolution of La Taqueria, of which I remember writing at the time: “honest, believable, unpretentious; one of these places where you know the food is going to be amazing. A hidden gem in the making”. That could easily be this little outlet in the lobby of the Silver Tower in Cluster I of JLT.
Whatever you order, start with some guacamole; it’s in-house made, always fresh and, particularly at this time of year, hugely refreshing. You’ve heard of burrito bowls? Well, these guys have what they call a Taco Bowl, which incorporates traditional Mexican pinto beans, queso fresco; a soft, moist Mexican cheese, cactus salad (usually it’s a classic ensalada de nopal but I don’t know if they get prickly pear cactus paddles or nopalitos here) and a main. I had mine with some beautifully seared Carne Asada, a prime cut of grilled, sliced and diced beef. It’s also offered with slow cooked, shredded Barbacoa (which I had with my Taco), Tinga de Pollo, shredded chicken in a tangy chipotle tomato sauce, or for the vegetarian, half an avocado. This taco bowl thing is superb.
The good news is that, the tacos which made La Taqueria so famous, are mostly available at El Mostacho (not the duck though). Do not leave this place without trying them, they’re insane. I usually prefer fish tacos, especially if the fish is made in the Baja style theirs is, but Josue made mine with their delicious pulled Barbacoa – yum. I loved the food at El Mostacho finding it earthy and rustic, and not so overpowered with cilantro and lime that you can’t taste the other ingredients, as so many other Mexican restaurants tend to do with their food. If there’s one criticism I have it’s that there’s not enough chilli burn but that’s something which can be easily rectified with one of the several sauces they offer. Look out for Taco Tuesdays where you get three tacos free with every three tacos you order.
One of the main attractions of their now closed, family owned La Taqueria was that you got to interact with the entire family when dining there. El Mostacho is the same. In fact, it’s Isaac who will most likely take your order. Don’t be surprised if he comes over and joins you while you eat. Irrespective of who you are, you are treated like a returning regular. And in today’s culinary world of corporate indifference, this personal touch makes all the difference. You just feel immediately at home and comfortable from the minute you walk into this tiny eatery. I’m totally smitten. Congratulations to Isaac and Josue, you’ve done it again. Bravo! Highly recommended.
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Xerxes physically dines at, or orders from, each and every venue he reviews. He pays in full for whatever he and his companions eat, drink, take away or occasionally throw at each other. Xerxes accepts no money, gifts, discounts or free meals in return for reviews or favouritism. What you have read was NOT influenced in any way by the venue. Join me on Instagram @ravenousxerxes or email me on email@example.com.