Maria Bonita Taco Shop & Grill Image Credit: Facebook

Abu Dhabi: As Mexico’s diverse culinary array is attracting people of other nationalities to its culture, 40 Mexican restaurants in the UAE act as ‘permanent cultural ambassadors of Mexico’, a top diplomat told Gulf News.

They are a meeting point of Mexicans and their friends, said Francisca Mendez, the Mexican Ambassador to the UAE.

Mexican food is as diverse as its regions and its popularity made the first Mexican gastronomy week last year a great success [held at Emirates Palace as part of the last year’s Mexican Independence Day celebrations]. “It not only attracted Latin Americans, other Spanish speaking people and Emiratis but people of all nationalities in the UAE also. We expect more visitors to this year’s event [from September 16 to 21 at Emirates Palace],” Mendez said.

The Unesco has recognised Mexican cuisine as an Intangible Cultural World Heritage, she pointed out.

The Mexican restaurants in the UAE carry that cultural heritage. El Sombrero restaurant at Sheraton Corniche in Abu Dhabi and María Bonita in Dubai are the oldest ones among them, the ambassador said.

The spokespersons of these two restaurants told Gulf News that their customer base among people of other nationalities is growing day by day.

More than 20-year old El Sombrero in Abu Dhabi has only a part of its clientele from Mexico and Latin America. A varied mix of people of all nationalities visit the restaurant to discover South American cuisine, a spokesperson said.

“Mexican food is very appealing in general and appreciated by all cultures,” she said.

The restaurant is celebrating the Independence Day by offering Mexican cocktails and brews. “The resident band will keep you on your toes all night long with salsa, mambo and merengue rhythms,” she said.

María Bonita in Dubai is celebrating 16 years this October, said Chef Ernesto Cab Vera, CEO of Maria Bonita Group.

“Established in Dubai in October 2002 in Umm Suqeim Area near Jumeirah Beach Road, we saw and lived the awesome transformation and growth of Dubai city,” he said.

Many clients of other nationalities said their visit to Mexico inspired them to come to the restaurant, Cab Vera said.

Once a young Mexican couple had a wedding ceremony at the restaurant in traditional Mexican style. “They said they wanted not only Mexican cuisine but a complete Mexican environment, [which we offer],” he said.

Many Emiratis, some of them with their Mexican wives, regularly visit the restaurant. Many Indians are also coming these days, Cab Vera said.

A special menu has been on offer from September 14 to celebrate the Independence Day. The dishes representing all regions of Mexico are accompanied by Mariachi music in the evenings from 8pm, he said.