I saw a sign for a new place called Adobo driving by 26th Street, and decided to U-turn and find out when they were opening after I saw the words ‘Mexican Grill’ underneath.
I walked into the small space and could feel the hip, red lit vibes permeate through my very un-hip self. They have a beautiful mural that was hand painted and really added character to the place. I was unconsciously tapping my feet to the groovy Mexican music, eagerly scanning the menu.
Talking to Images, one of the owners, Asad Vayani shares, "We've always loved Mexican food, particularly Chipotle's fast casual take on it. When I saw a growing interest and excitement for Mexican food in Karachi, I thought it was a great time to introduce this concept. We import a lot of our ingredients like the spices and chilies in order to give as authentic flavours as possible."
Where to go
Adobo is located on Lane 4 in Khayaban-e-Shahbaz.
When to go
The restaurant isn't open for lunch just yet; Adobo opens its doors for dinner from 7pm till midnight.
What to order
I have a rule of thumb when it comes to a restaurant that has almost never failed me in the past: the smaller the menu, the better the food. And also gives me an excuse to try everything on the menu.
Adobo offers burritos, tacos (soft or crunchy), burrito bowls, quesadillas and a Mexican salad.
I started my fiesta off with my go-to favourite snack of all time: tacos. Now considering I once made my roommate drive 3 hours out of our way for a taco pop-up, you can imagine how seriously I take my tacos. I was ecstatic when finding out all the straws, plates and cutlery were biodegradable, a change we are seeing in the restaurant business gradually that I’m glad is here to stay.
The shell of the taco was a little bit of the thin side which added to the ‘crunch’ factor. You can choose from a filling of chicken, steak, ground beef or vegetarian. I opted for the ground beef, with all the trimmings. The sour cream was house-whipped to perfection.
The guacamole, which they charge Rs250 extra for, was the star of the show with the tomatoes, onions, chillies and cilantro chopped in and integrated well. Notoriously hard to source here, I understand the supply problems associated with the beloved avocado, but not enough of it can really take away from the dish.
That was not the case with Abodo, and I sighed a sigh of relief when I saw the heaping green goodness atop my taco.
The cheesy queso sauce, also an additional Rs150 charge, is a mild cheddar that was delicious but I would opt for the shredded cheddar next time as not to drown out the delicate balance of the rest of the flavours. The mince was thinly ground thankfully, spiced well without being too oily, a common and easy mistake to make when our own Pakistani qeema is so similar.
Although the prices are clocked at the same as their competitors, I found they are generous to a fault with their fillings. Maybe to the point where the taco was a little too overstuffed, combined with the thin shell got to be a bit messy, but hey, that’s what Mexican food is about!
Do not be afraid to tie your hair up and get your hands dirty with it cause that’s exactly what I did! I personally prefer a slightly thicker shell for added stability.
Since the burrito bowl is basically the fillings of a burrito in a bowl, I thought it would be overkill to try both that as well as the burrito, so I opted for the latter. I choose the steak filling this time around.
A great element about Abodo is the live prep station. You can pick and choose what you want as they build your dish along with you. So picky eaters like me can stop an overload of veggies from tainting their burrito! It also enforces a strict compulsion for each filling they are serving to be fresh as you can see with your own eyes what is going into your meal.
An added bonus is a virtually zero wait time in the build your own food, Chipotle style line up. Along with the tender, thick cut steak pieces, my burrito was filled with the house gauc, queso cheese sauce, boiled to perfection black beans, corn, salsa and lettuce. They have a cilantro lime rice that ties the wrap together with a nice tangy overtone.
They have three salsa choices range from pico de gallo which is mild, salsa roja for that medium sizzle and Chipotle salsa for those of you who like it hot. If your a die hard chilli fan like me, the house made habanero hot sauce is deadly, so use with caution.
It all came together to be wrapped in a blanket of tortilla goodness, resulting in a monster sized burrito. I mean, I’ve eaten full pizzas meant to serve six, but I could barely make it halfway through. This is a post wood-chopping, 10 mile swim, putting out the house that’s on fire kinda meal that could satisfy a small horse. Priced at a reasonable Rs700 (excluding the additional toppings), I see Adobo's burrito being tough competition for the emerging Mexican market in Karachi.
My only issue was fitting the whole thing in my mouth so I could get all the elements in one giant chomp, but when I did manage to get it, all in the flavours came through and complimented each other. Remember kids, bigger bites are better bites.
The quesadilla was another large and in charge serving size. I opted for the chicken filling, sceptical about choosing white meat over the delicious mince I had in my taco. I was glad I did, because the chicken turned out to be my favourite of all four of the filling options.
Juicy and soft, the premarinated chicken enveloped in the pulltastic cheddar cheese all covered in a warm flour wrap was like the hug version of a bite. Pro-tip add salsa or gauc for that extra bang or it can get it a little bland. Traditionally Quesadilla is meant to be had with guacamole, salsa AND sour cream.
I chose to keep mine simple with chicken, cheese and a sprinkling of crunchy tart jalapeños. All three sauces combined made for a real smorgasbord of flavours.
The Lime Margarita, priced at Rs200, was a huge hit on the table and a much needed change from done to death ice teas.
Damage on the pocket? And was it worth it?
Our order of a burrito, quesadilla, tacos and drink came up to about Rs3000 excluding tax.
Adobo is a funky little spot that’s a stellar addition of the Karachi food scene. With its Chipotle-esque vibes, generous portions and delicious fillings, I only hope Adobo continues to maintain this quality and quantity consistently, in the tough, competitive market.