At a time when we cannot travel to the beaches of Tulum or Cancun, Señor Pico makes for a worthy substitute.
Our first trip to Palm West Beach finds us on the hunt for Mexican cuisine at the new beachfront development. Spanning 1.6km along the west trunk of Palm Jumeirah, West Palm Beach is a haven for those in search of sun, sand and sea, offering a vast swathe of shoreline with impressive views over the Dubai Marina skyline.
Despite the pleasant temperatures, our destination on this occasion was not the beach but Señor Pico, Dubai’s first restaurant serving Mexican-Californian cuisine. The original Señor Pico restaurant opened in San Francisco in 1964 and was created by Victor Bergeron of Trader Vic’s fame, so the expectation was set for fun times, good food and beguiling beverages.
We enter into a restaurant bursting with vibrant colours, from the rainbow-coloured wooden slats that clad the walls to the fish that dangle from the ceiling. Señor Pico’s interiors capture the feeling of a vibrant Mexican cantina whilst also embracing the beachfront location. As much as we’d like to sit close to the animated bar area or the lively open kitchen, we find ourselves drawn to the terrace, where we dine on a deck just inches from the golden sand. The al fresco terrace also makes for the ideal location for sipping on one of Señor Pico’s classic libations while taking in the picturesque beachfront views.
Staff are friendly and genuinely excited by the menu, which features reimagined classics with a spicy streak. From hearty torta sandwiches and tacos to crispy cheese quesadillas and signature dishes such as the Pico Chicken, Señor Pico is a treat for all of the senses.
We begin with a refreshing horchata (AED 20), a drink of creamy sweetened rice milk and cinnamon that complements the crisp tortilla chips that we ceremoniously dunk into Señor Pico’s creamy guacamole (AED 39). The guac is made in house every day using Hass avocado, jalapeño, onion, coriander, lime juice and tomato and the quality is evident. When it comes to flavours, the culinary team at Señor Pico takes things very seriously, with aromatic spices and critical ingredients such as chilis and avocados sourced from the Jalisco and Michoacan states of Mexico.
This strive for authenticity certainly comes through in the varied menu of salads, ceviche, tacos, quesadillas, burritos and tazónes (bowls). We’re immediately enamoured by the freshness of the Pico’s Shrimp Ceviche (AED 55), which presents chilled shrimp tossed with cucumber, coriander, tomato and fresh lime juice and is served with a gloriously crisp tortilla. It’s a light dish that is perfect for the beach.
Tacos are available with various fillings and spice levels, from the fiery Taco’s Pacifico (AED 48) stuffed with Nile Perch, jicama slaw and habanero mayo to the more restrained Beef Chorizo (AED 53), where blended spices give the ground meat a lot of heat! We opt for the signature Pico Chicken (AED 53) which sits somewhere in the middle when it comes to spiciness and offers three generously stuffed tacos, laden with tomatillo sauce, radish, onion, coriander and chicken that has been marinated with Señor Pico’s blend of secret ingredients!
For the purpose of ‘research’, we also delve into the crisp Chicken Pastor Quesadillas (AED 53), seasoned with red Mexican adobo, Mexican dry chillies, pineapple and oregano that are beautifully flavoured. The Beef Barbacoa Burrito (AED 61) is another winner, marinated in 15 spices for 48 hours and then cooked in its juices to ensure the utmost tenderness.
When it comes to desserts, only three choices are offered, Popsicles (AED 20), Mango Rice Pudding (AED 30) and Churro Bites (AED 30). We opt for the latter and are impressed by the warm pockets of deep-fried dough that are crisp on the outside and remarkably light and fluffy within. The churro bites are made to order, meaning they arrive at the table piping hot, sprinkled with sugar and cinnamon. Accompanied by a dark chocolate dipping sauce, the churro bites are more than a little moreish, and we have to strongly resist the urge to order a second portion.
Señor Pico is casual and fun while offering a toes in the sand al fresco dining experience. The proximity to the beach makes it an ideal lunch spot for families (pets are also welcome on the outdoor terrace) or for sundowners with friends. At a time when we cannot travel to the beaches of Tulum or Cancun, Señor Pico at West Palm Beach makes for a great substitute.