The magnificent 777
mouth-tingling sensations are on the menu at this cool and authentic mexican diner
The folks that brought us the excellent Dillingers in Ranelagh have now brightened up our city centre with a stylish new south-of-the-border Mexican restaurant, quite unlike the American-style Mexican joints we have been lumbered with up until now.
You won't find chilli con carne or over-stuffed burritos on 777's menu, but you will find home-made tostadas, taquitos and gorditas.
I visited for a late Sunday lunch (though 777 is open every day for dinner, it's only open for lunch on Saturday and Sunday) with my wife and son and Theresa Hernandez of Mero Mero Mexico and her daughter. Theresa and her Mexican husband Gus have been bringing authentic Mexican food to Dublin for the past 15 years, mainly through their stall at the Temple Bar market.
Most Mexican restaurants favour the bright colours found in 'lucha libre' wrestling costumes or in the shawls of Mexico's indigenous people.
Thankfully, 777 takes a more understated approach with a largely black and white palette, mildly erotic painted tiles and an artfully distressed ceiling. The overall effect is a blend of Tijuana dive-bar chic and beatnik New York diner -- in short, this is one of the coolest interiors in the city.
The lunch menu is a selection of 12 dishes priced between €8 and €14, so we ordered six between five of us with the intention of sharing.
'Vuelve a la Vida' was a mix of citrusy ceviche with shrimp and clams in a mildly spicy cold tomato sauce and served in a cocktail glass. Spicy mussels were sweet and tangy in a warm citrus and tomato broth.
Hamburguesa callejera (street-style hamburger) was meaty and tasty with creamy onions, spicy smoked chipotle chillis and chunky sweet potato chips.
Chorizo y camote gordita was a thick corn tortilla (not unlike Venezuelan arepa) stuffed with home-made chorizo, yams and refried beans -- a filling and corn-tastically satisfying sandwich.
Torta Cubana was a nicely stuffed toasted bread sandwich filled with pork belly, ham, avocado, cheese and Habanero mustard -- a rich and mouth-tingling sandwich with a lovely contrast between the sweet pork, the fresh avocado and the tangy mustard.
Chilaquiles is the classic left-overs dish of day-old corn tortilla in a chicken and tomato sauce. While we felt this was tasty, we would have welcomed more crispy bits in the mix.
On a previous visit I should also mention I had delicious tuna ceviche; whole fish from the wood-burning grill topped with achiote and unctuous, sweet bread pudding.
Final kudos to 777 for their imaginative drinks menu -- a short, well-chosen wine list, stunningly good home-made ginger beer, Mexican lager, creative cocktails and dozens of tequilas and mezcals previously unavailable in Ireland.
My Michelada beer cocktail could have had more lime and chilli but my Turbo Peligroso was a sumptuous and dangerously tasty mix of vodka, tobacco syrup and coffee liqueur.
Theresa's El Tesoro Anejo Tequila was like liquid silk and the Sangrita chaser was good, but would have benefited from a hit of chilli.
777 is a hugely welcome addition to Dublin and we all left full and happy having found (kids included) new and interesting flavours.
Theresa and I did make use of the hot sauces provided on the table to spice up our food a little, but given how new this restaurant is (we visited on their fourth day) and how high the quality is already, I believe we have an instant classic on our hands.