Ama Always is the bricks and mortar project from the same folks behind Che Baby food truck, Sebastian Galluci and Mike Mizzi.
They’re serving the same style of Argentinian cuisine here but in an elevated package, including their two-hander chori-pan sandwiches.
You feel the love right away in here with gates taken from an old street mounted on the wall and shackled with heart-shaped padlocks with initials and messages written on them by guests.
The space balances this rustic cuteness with a club-like vibe, lots of dark tones, intense lighting, and hefty chairs.
A functioning piano doubles as a DJ booth, where someone spins every night starting at 8 p.m. and also during “brunch parties.” The occasional piano/DJ battle has even been known to take place.
Empanadas are a surefire springboard to a meal here, always in a meat ($10) and veg option ($10). Today the meat is a traditional house ground Argentinian beef (all beef here is shipped in from there), and the veg is an avocado sweet potato rapini mixture that’s equally savoury. Both are topped with brightening chimichurri and parm.
Guacamole ($10) is heaped on a crispy corn tostada for a dish that's zesty, smooth and piled with large chunks of peppers and edible flowers.
Mar del plata ceviche ($17) is essentially the same guac dish topped with market fresh fish and fruit, a blank canvas for Galluci’s imagination.
The fish in our version was a meaty rainbow trout. I’m not sure fruit and fish always go together, but it’s a juicy, colourful app or bar snack.
The epic chori-pan ($13) stuffs a puffy, charred bun with flavourful smashed sausage and diced pepper salsa for some crunch and of course their signature chimichurri for moisture and zing.
The seven-ounce entrana ($29) is even more astounding if possible, showcasing that brilliant Argentinian beef on a sharing platter with a daily selection of sides. During my visit, this included scrumptious garlic potatoes, sweet caramelized beets, rapini and a salad with queso fresco.
A homemade alfajore ($7) takes the traditional Argentinian cookie to the next level, stuffed and drizzled with dulce de leche and rolled in coconut.
Cocktails here are done in the same off-the-cuff style as the food, around $14 for a personal creation based off your tastes.
Mine is made with homemade beet syrup, muddled mango, a pinch of lime, half an ounce each of sweet peach schnapps and elderflower liqueur, and a shot of tequila topped off with a little soda and garnished with a slice of watermelon radish and a fresh cherry.
Ama means love, hence, love always. This spot takes up residence in the space where Jamaican-inspired snack bar Cadillac Jenkins used to be. It's a challenging upstairs location, but they certainly have the welcoming vibe down here.