Are you Loca? That's the tag line for the newly opened, Modern Mexican restaurant, Loca, just below Abu Dhabi's Four Seasons. It is one of the first of a few very nice eateries that will be opening soon on that side of the island. The high-end Mexican Restaurant/ Sports Bar hails from Dubai where there are already two other very popular locations. The ambiance is "urban-industrial" with thick wood tables and an exposed loft-like feel to the room. The focus is on the bar, and the numerous TVs built seamlessly into the walls for showing sports or, when I was there, classic black and white Mexican films. The full bar offers a wide selection of special margaritas and practically any beer that you can find on the shelf at Spinny's. The fruit based margaritas are rather easy to swill if you are not careful. By the way, Wednesday is Lady's Night and margaritas are complementary for women all night long. So there is your excuse. Sit on the waterfront patio and sip a mid-week fruity margarita.
However, chances are, once you see (or smell) some of the great dishes that Loca creates, you will be digging into one of their five signature guacamoles (all of which are made table side) before you know it. I only got as far as the Original which might need a little salt depending on your taste, but I was actually very happy to discover that neither the crispy tortilla chips nor any other dish was overly salted, which can sometimes be a problem with Mexican food, and tortilla chips especially.
The appetizers cover a range from Dips and Nachos to Ceviche and Quesadillas. We tried both the Ceviche which was excellent with lots of fresh citrus, and also some decadent Seafood Flautas which were packed with grilled fish and prawns in a rich creamy sauce. You will find it tough to choose just one entree but I can recommend the fajitas. You can get a mix of both chicken and beef, which is served sizzling hot to your table with fluffy flour tortillas and a small side of rice, beans and even guacamole. The prawn tacos are also pretty delicious with three large tender grilled prawns per taco.
While I do not usually go for dessert at a Mexican restaurant, the ice cream here is very thick and creamy, and even if you can not eat another bite of your meal, you shouldn't turn down the ice cream. The Tres Leches cake is also a perfectly light ending with such a flavorful moist cake, the frosting is unneeded. While Loca is not inexpensive (and you do have to pay the 20% surcharge for its affiliation with The Four Seasons), you are paying for the atmosphere: the waterfront views, the hip crowd and the upbeat vibe. The staff is all very helpful and the manager is especially knowledgeable, having opened the other two locations himself. So...If you love Mexican food AND are a sports fan, you just might be in heaven. Want to watch a special game? Maybe you are the only fan in Abu Dhabi, but if it is being shown on TV, they will do everything possible to put it on for you. Go for the sports, go for the margaritas and of course go for the food.
The Galleria Mall (beneath Four Seasons)
+971 02 5823639