Tortuga Mexican Kitchen and Bar

Dubai has a fond history with Latin American-themed nightspots, with the likes of Cactus Cantina (in its original, and now no longer Rydges Plaza location) one of the best-loved bars of the nineties. Divided into a large restaurant and modest bar, Tortuga is muscling in on the scene, while further diversifying the huge international sprawl of Madinat Jumeirah’s bar and restaurant options. Housed at the site of what was once The Wharf (which itself underwent numerous transformations), the waterside setting makes Tortuga an inviting proposition and the location is particularly apt given the small reserve of in-patient turtles nearby (tortuga being the Spanish word for these reptiles). White-washed interiors and light wood floors lend a cool, airy feel — something we’ll be welcoming come summer, but while you can, grab a perch outside and enjoy the sunset to the rambunctious clatter of lively Mexican tunes. A quick glance at the astonishingly long menu is as varied as it is extensive, so prepare to agonise for a while over the exotic choice. If you’re in need of recommendations, however, look no further than the infectiously smiley waiters, who will happily suggest options based on your preference. Like your Mexican short drinks? The waiter we spoke to claimed Tortuga has the largest selection in the city, with prices going up to Dhs999 for a single measure. A little beyond the means of most, but the good news for savvy savers is that the bar offers a range of daily deals, from 10 percent off selected short measures in the last ten minutes of every hour to daily happy hour from noon to 5pm. There are free drinks for ladies who order a bar snack or starter from noon to midnight on Tuesdays and 25 percent off mixed drinks on Saturdays — the raft of discounts is such that the chance of visiting and paying full price is fairly minimal. What’s not to love about that? Given its location slightly off the main Madinat bar route, the chance of patrons dropping by is lessened, and the venue’s less-than-stellar history in previous lives may be a lingering deterrent. But it shouldn’t be, because for a relaxed, Saturday sundowner away from the Madinat masses, Tortuga is by no means a bad shout.

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