Ause Abdelhaq reviews 777, a Mexican restaurant located in the heart of Dublin city centre.
AESTHETICALLY speaking, there are very few things a restaurant owner can do to immediately turn me off their establishment. In my long and storied history with food, I’ve eaten in tiny pizzerias and filthy diners which have served gloriously delicious meals, and similarly I’ve eaten in extravagant chophouses and fanciful restaurants which have ended up being disappointing. I learned a lesson very early on: that the quality of decoration does not equate with the quality of food.
I never intended on eating at 777, or even reviewing it for that matter. In fact, the only reason I ended up there is because my friend booked it without consulting me. If he had, he would have quickly realised that I was avoiding the restaurant, purposely not eating there as a silent protest over the ridiculousness of its décor – externally, at least.
Unless you’ve eaten at 777, I don’t expect you to be familiar with it, even though it’s situated in the heart of Dublin, at the bottom of George’s Street. Most people have walked past it dozens of times without even realising it’s there – this is because from the outside, 777 appears to be, for all intents and purposes, a closed down building. Aside from one sign and a small menu, there is absolutely no indication that a restaurant exists at all: no windows, no decoration, no colour. Just a black building with a door which looks locked.
As it turns out, despite its blank exterior, 777 is actually a pretty lively Mexican joint on the inside. Every Sunday, they serve a brunch where every dish on the menu costs €7.77, so last weekend I went along to check it out.
When I arrived, the waitress recommended that I order two dishes to fill me up. I ordered the Taco Laguna, a variation on the traditional taco where the shell is replaced with a lettuce cup, and the Taco Heaven, a hard-shell taco filled with spiced beef, Pico de Gallo, salsa, cream, lettuce and cheese.
The food surprised me. I had heard that 777 serves some of the best tacos in Dublin, but I really didn’t expect it to be as nice as it was. Both dishes were delicious, especially the Taco Heaven – it was so good that I actually requested another. I also tasted a lime soda, manufactured in Mexico, which was delicious. My friend ordered a seared tuna dish called Finding Nemo (a distressing name), which was overcooked and a little disappointing.
On the inside, the décor is as pretentious as it is on the outside. Generally, I possess an inherent distrust of any restaurant which tries to distract me with a bizarre design, but the food was clearly a testament to a lesson I had ignorantly forgotten: don’t judge a book by its cover.
Overall 777 was a pleasant surprise. Aside from the food, the service was a delight and the food came out remarkably quickly. Regarding its location, it’s easy to get to once you figure out that it’s actually a functioning restaurant and not an old, closed-down laundrette. Finally, it seems to cater for everyone, with multiple options on the menu for both vegetarians and vegans alike.
Restaurants which are “hidden”, as 777 is, often demand a derivative standard of knowledge from their clientele – it’s ostentatious and exasperating. There are those who would argue that secrecy and exclusivity are wondrous marketing tools which are incredibly effective, but in my opinion a reputation for genuinely gorgeous food is worth more than any marketing ever could be.
Luckily for me, 777 seems to be the kind of place which has created a marketable atmosphere without compromising the quality of the food and for that, it earns a stamp of approval.