By Colette Fitzpatrick
As is often the case, I saw pals of mine eating in a place on Insta, the relatively new taqueria in town, Masa, and decided I needed to try it out for myself. Not least because tacos are, by far, my favourite type of dish in Mexican cuisine. Located in the former premises of Super Miss Sue, it is a slick operation in pastel tones with a pretty edited menu and excellent service.
Masa is a casual taqueria that serves small plates including tortillas, elotes, bravas, quesadillas and tacos. Food comes as it is made, pretty quickly, meaning different dishes arrive at different times. Booths, tables and counters are laid with tins holding cutlery and napkins, hot sauce and salt and pepper and the food is served in tin dishes. Everything is unpretentious and the food can get messy so bear that in mind if you are planning a hot date. I had the elotes and was covered in so much sauce while eating the cobs of corn that I went through about five napkins – not exactly sexy.
43 Stephen Street Lower, Dublin 2, D02 H520
Mon-Wed 12am to 9.30pm
Thursday 12am to 10pm
Friday 12am to 10.30pm
Saturday 1pm to 10.30pm
Sunday 1pm to 9pm
The restaurant, with its iconic blue tiled counter in one corner, neon cactus on the way to the loo, greenery throughout and pastel shades is very visually appealing but simple. The food, as I noted, is served relatively unceremoniously but with a smile. The staff, in my experience, were wonderfully helpful in explaining items to other patrons near me and were very kind when I had any requests. I didn’t even mind one of the (very hip-looking) waiters calling me “pet”, something I normally am not a fan of in strangers. The vibe is warm and everyone is the right amount of attentive.
A buzz is still about the place and they don’t take bookings so also keep this in mind when planning a visit. I strolled in at five on a Saturday and there was a decent amount of people but the place was almost entirely full an hour later. If you have a big party, you may struggle to get seated but if you are randomly grabbing a bite alone, as I was, or eating with just one other person, and are okay with sitting at a counter, you’ll likely find a table whenever.
The food is very tasty but there isn’t a lot of it in any given dish as, as I’ve said, it’s small plates. I got a portion of tacos (two in each serving), elotes and a beer and my bill came out to just over fifteen quid. It was satisfying and hit the spot but big eaters may find that they have to spend a bit to fill up. However, people sharing will likely win out as it would be easy to share almost everything on the menu and try a bit of it all if you were eating with one or two others.
My only real gripe with the place is that there is only one bathroom and, for anyone like me, this could potentially be an issue if you were there during a very busy period. But, then, there are plenty of people who don’t have to worry about restrooms when they’re out and about.
I was really impressed with the kindly staff and flavourful food and could totally see myself becoming a regular as my old favourite taco place is long since dead. Most of the time I have to check if a Mexican restaurant serves them and they often seem like an afterthought, so it’s good to have a go-to spot. I also like how the place is set up for solo diners as I regularly eat between meeting people or events or what-have-you and, while I’m not someone who feels embarrassed to eat alone, it is nice not to have staff members look at you sadly or make you feel like a reject (I’m not looking at a certain Italian restaurant where the male waiters could not handle the fact that I wanted to eat dinner and read alone).