Mexican flavours in a mall - Taqado Mexican Kitchen, Abu Dhabi

I am not sure if any of my avid blog followers recalls that on June 15 I wrote my very first post. ( )  What was interesting about it was that it was based on mall food - my one and only ever blog post about mall food. A year on, I visited The Galleria, an upscale mall on Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi with the intention of trying Taqado Mexican Kitchen, its 4th store to open in the UAE and first in the capital. Back to the mall.

On first impressions, Taqado looks like just another fast food restaurant in a mall, with the food court seating not far away - like just another Tex-Mex place selling burritos and tacos. However, spend 5 minutes with the staff and you realise that this is not your run of the mill Mexican outlet. There is an emphasis on fresh ingredients with nothing on the menu originating in a can. Organic tomatoes. Avocados from Mexico. Beef from New Zealand. Sour cream reduced by hand. Tortillas made by hand. Imagine the spirit  and freshness of California infused into the best of Mexican 'fast food' and you have Taqado. So, not Tex-Mex, but Mexi-cal.

Soft tortillas and taco in the background.
Drinks selection from Mexico. 
Feeling ravenous, I start with some freshly made soft tortillas topped with pieces of pulled beef, tomatoes, a bit of coriander and some salsa roja, to provide a bit of bite. The first thing that hits me is how soft the beef strips are. Not soft as in over cooked. On the contrary, perfectly cooked judging by the moisture, but just tender. I also have a taco filled with chili con carne, minced beef cooked with beans and tomatoes, and of course topped with sour cream. Nice. I enjoy all of this with one of the exclusively-Mexican soft drinks on offer. Made in Mexico. It is a pure fizzy grape drink called Sangria!

Sangria of all names!
The service is friendly and efficient, but a work in progress. The manager is aware of the challenges facing some of the staff, but he is determined to inspire all of them with his passion. I like his philosophy. He says that managing is not about figures and balance sheets - passion comes first.

Next up, I have a quesadilla with guacamole, tomatoes and sour cream that are all about freshness, on the side. The end result is delicious. The quesadillas are lightly crispy on the edges and soft as you move away from the edges.

Fresh, fresh, fresh.
Finally, I have something sweet and of course, it has to be churros. As my churros are prepared, I order some coffee, expecting the usual mall fare that one gets in food courts in Abu Dhabi, but I am surprised to see that they serve RAW coffee. It makes sense. Taqado is all about responsible sourcing of produce and caring for the environment - cutlery, paper bags, etc are all made from recycled material. So, it would follow that they would get RAW, a coffee producer with a conscience,  to create a unique blend consisting of Mexican and Ethiopian beans. With coffee close at hand, I bite into my churro and need to grab a napkin as I unexpectedly encounter a of caramel. Yum.

A pleasant surprise - RAW coffee. 
Eco friendly in so many ways. 
Caramel filled churros. Yum.
In that first blog I referred to in my opening to this post, I lamented the lack of quality options in food courts in Abu Dhabi. Well, I am pleased that those options just got better. At last, there is  a place that is not just about dirhams and bottom line as evidenced by the sourcing of their produce. I never get excited about mall 'fast food' food, but I am waiting for my daughter to return from Japan so that she can get a taste of Taqado.

The essentials

The Galleria,
Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi
02 677 0700
80-120 Dhs for 2 people

Brandon Stoltenkamp