Mexican food lovers, listen up - this is your madre speaking. Liverpool might be home to one of the most decorated chippies in Blighty but did you know it also houses some of the tastiest tacos this side of the Atlantic Ocean? You don’t even have to go searching far and wide for it either. Find your way to the Royal Albert Dock, scan the city-facing waterfront and look out for the pink neon sign sandwiched between two brick walls. That’s when you’ll know you’ve found Madre.
The space itself here is cool, colourful and chilled out to the max. Bare brick interior and original pillars pay homage to the location’s maritime heritage, while technicolour furniture, strings of festoon lights and charmingly mismatched crockery give that authentic Oaxacan vibe. This is the kind of restaurant where you can wear a hat and trainers without feeling like a delinquent but still enjoy food and drinks that have clearly been thoughtfully curated.
I’m going to expose myself here: this was my 857th trip to Madre, so I can hardly pretend that this is a first impressions piece because I’m already a fully-fledged mega-fan. However, I did volunteer to go and double-check that it does indeed still slap. For quality control - you know? Well, I can confirm that Madre is still very much one of the best restaurants in Liverpool and we really need to taco ‘bout it (sorry). Before we get onto that though - a moment, please, for the cocktail menu laced with an entire array of mezcal and tequila...
After much deliberation, I went for the fruity and herbal Señor Sling (£10), a concoction of tequila blanco, chartreuse, maraschino cherry, lime, coconut, pineapple and triple sec. Potent indeed but sweet too, and delicious - dangerously so; I could drink them all night long. My plus one (blasphemously) went for a German grapefruit beer by the name of Schofferhoffer (£4.50) but let it be known that there are plenty of Mexican brews on the menu. The line up includes Pacifico, Modelo and Corona, all of which can be turned into a Chelada (beer-based cocktail) for an extra quid. A nice touch.
For food, we chose to get a little bit of this and a little bit of that, sharing the lot - arguably the best way to dine here. First up was the guacamole with homemade corn chips (£7), which was fresh, zingy, and that perfect marriage of crunchy and creamy. Next was the sashimi-grade tuna tostada (£9) alongside sesame, salsa and avocado - well-seasoned and generously portioned. Then was the elote (£7.50) corn with chipotle mayo and queso fresco - finger-lickingly fabulous - and the chorizo verde quesadilla (£9) that included gruyere, mozzarella and salsa verde (YUM).
Though the stars of the show were the tacos, which come served in pairs ‘con todo’ (translation: ‘with everything’, i.e. all the toppings). We went for the carnitas (£9) - confit pork shoulder, salsa verde, coriander and white onion; the Birria (£9.50) - slow-cooked beef shin, Oaxaca cheese, and tatemada salsa; and the Baja fish (£9.50) - tempura Atlantic pollock with jalapeño aioli and salsa Mexicana. Each one was flavour-packed and expertly garnished with complimentary ingredients; no squeezy sour cream or grated cheddar to be found around here.
Everything comes as and when it’s ready, so it’s easy to over-order. I’d recommend starting with four to five plates between two and seeing how you get on. Oh, and make sure to leave some space for an ice cream sandwich off the dessert menu (we didn’t, sob). Word to the wise: keep your napkins close too because messy eating is the only way at Madre.
The DesignMyNight Digest
All in all, it was a total fiesta for each and every one of the senses at Madre. Gorge technicolour decor? On point. Flavours? F*ck yeah. Aromas of garlic and spices wafting around the gaff? Tick, tick, tick. Well, they do say mother always knows best. I’m certainly looking forward to my 858th visit.
💰 The damage: £75 for two (hungry) people, plus service charge.
📍 The location: 6 Atlantic Pavilion Albert Dock, L3 4AE.
👌 Perfect for: Laid-back get-togethers with mates, dates or family.
⭐ Need to know: Can’t decide? Go for the Madre’s Table option - a selection of plates chosen for you for £28 each.