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‘Masitda’ for Mamasita Mex bar, grill

Mexican restaurant fires up casual lunch menu

From outside, Mexican bar and restaurant Mamasita looks like a posh, high-end establishment, located near the wealthy Cheongdam-dong shopping district in southern Seoul.

The two-story building, tucked behind Bennigans at the Hakdong Intersection, has a spacious outdoor garden and a parking lot.

Breaking with the stereotype that bistros in Cheongdam-dong are expensive, the restaurant has launched 10 different light lunches that are tasty and affordable, on top of a variety of homemade-style Mexican dishes. The lunch menu includes Mexican rice, burritos, fajitas, tacos, quesadillas and salads, and prices range from 6,000 ($5.30) won to 10,000 won.

“It’s been only three months since we opened the restaurant and we didn’t provide lunch service until recently. But with the launch of the lunch menu last week, our business hour starts from 11:30 a.m.,” said Mamasita manager Eom In-ho.

“As we have a bar as well, we don’t close until bar guests leave,” he said.

The galbi soft taco, the flagship lunch entree coming in at 6,000 won, tastes very fresh because of the fresh vegetables and not-so-greasy “galbi,” Korean barbeque beef rib, inside. A little bit of sweetness from the galbi is finely matched with cheese and mayo.

Mexican caesar salad with spicy shrimp, priced at 15,000 won, comes with a sprinkle of fried potato sticks. The shrimp could be a little bit salty but the crispy potato sticks offset the strong taste.
The lunch menu at Mamasita including the galbi soft taco, Mexican Caesar salad and Mexican rice with shrimp. (Mamasita)
The lunch menu at Mamasita including the galbi soft taco, Mexican Caesar salad and Mexican rice with shrimp. (Mamasita)

Quesadillas, with chicken or beef and a lot of cheese, are on the slightly greasy side but children in particular like them, the manager said.

Mamasita means “little mama” in Spanish. To Koreans, Mamasita may be associated with “Masitda,” which means “delicious” in Korean.

The tequila lounge on the second floor offers 11 kinds of tequila. Jose Cuervo Special is 120,000 won per bottle and 4,000 won per shot.

Among the diverse versions of margarita, the Apple Margarita and Lime Margarita, which are priced at 10,000 won and 9,000 won, respectively, are recommended for the ladies.

While the restaurant gives a feeling of family-friendly warmth with the yellow walls and wooden tables, the bar’s mood is rather hip and sophisticated with red and dark-brown decor.

Eom also offered a tip for fans of hallyu, saying they can see their favorite stars having a late lunch in the afternoon at Mamasita.

“From time to time, you can spot some Korean celebrities having a long lunch here. Actress Cho Yeo-jeong was here just before you came,” he said.

The valet parking fee is 2,000 won. For more information, call (02) 511-7088.

By Kim Yoon-mi (