The new Cali-Mex blends South of the Border favourites with healthy California fare and self-service beer
WITH 20 outlets opening across Hong Kong during the past three years attesting to its popularity, Cali-Mex Bar & Grill, a casual American-style Mexican food restaurant, has spread its wings and taken up residence in Bangkok with a first branch at the Holiday Inn on the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 22.
It blends the original concept of taqueria – a dining venue specialising in tacos and other Mexican food – with the Californian sports bar, making it a great venue for meet-ups with friends, after-work drinks and fun nights out.
With one brick wall painted with the word Hollywood and another wall bearing the legend Mexico, you’ll know immediately you’re in the right place. Diners can sit at bar stools and watch the bartenders or relax in other chairs and watch the sports showing on LED screens. It can accommodate some 100 customers, both indoors and out.
“We loved the staple Mexican dishes – tacos, nachos, quesadillas and burritos – but were totally sold on the Californian fresh, light and healthy take on Mexican cuisine,” writes Cali-Mex founder Jeffrey Moss in a press release, adding that the idea to open the restaurant was spawned while driving from North America to Mexico.
“The Californian food vibe added a tasty simplicity with an emphasis on quality farm produce. On the road, we decided to create the ultimate fast-food luxury experience and the Cali-Mex Bar & Grill idea was born.”
King Mega International (Thailand) is the brand’s franchisee here and aims to open 20 outlets within the next three years. The Silom and Sukhumvit Soi 11 branches will be launched next month and in September respectively and trendy Thonglor is the next stop.
“Bangkok is ideal for strategically placed Cali-Mex Bar & Grill venues. Considering the ever increasing tourist clientele plus local and expat residents who are always on the lookout for innovative, fresh new dining and bar hotspots, we tick all the boxes,” says country manager Mike Warde.
A paper menu that functions as a placemat divides the dishes into two sides. The left side offers typical American starters, burgers and grilled dishes like baked spinach and artichoke dip, double cheese burger, BBQ ribs and grilled salmon. On the right is the taqueria menu with such signature dishes as burrito, quesadilla, taco, nacho and lasagna. Many dishes are marked gluten-free and options for vegetarians and vegans are also available.
Perfect for sharing is the Snack Platter (Bt599) boasting Cajun-seasoned chicken wings, grilled chorizo, tortilla corn chips, camembert cheese bites, avocado-based dip guacamole and green salad.
Tortilla Chips with four sauces in different spicy levels
Four spice levels of sauces are provided to give the plain tortilla chips a bit more flavour. The mild level is the green sauce known as salsa verde and the medium one is made from chipotle chilli. The hot one is bravo sauce and the super hot is diablo, made from a combination of jalepeno and small Thai chillies.
Chili Corn Carne
Then there’s Chilli Con Carne (Bt299) – a stew of ground beef, black bean and salsa sauce topped with cheese and sour cream and served with tortilla chips.
Mexican favourite Quesadilla is available in half (Bt299) or full (Bt499) sizes and customers can choose their own meat stuffing of original chicken, grilled chicken or chipotle chilli-flavoured pulled pork. Pay an extra of Bt100 to get original Angus beef, barbacoa beef, Angus steak or Fisherman’s Wharf shrimp. Choices for vegetarians are mixed beans, spinach and mixed vegetables.
Grilled Chicken Quesadilla
“Our central kitchen has a machine imported from Mexico which can produce 900 pieces of tortilla flatbread an hour to meet our aim to open more outlets. Other ingredients are carefully picked from sustainable sources. There’s Norwegian salmon and Canadian lobster, cheeses come from San Francisco and France, avocado from Mexico and New Zealand, seafood from Vietnam, pork and chicken from local sources and vegetables from the Royal Projects,” says chef Pete Holmes.
Chipotle Pulled Pork Tacos
With an order of Tacos (Bt299), customers can choose between soft or crispy texture and customised fillings and top the finished article with sour cream and pico de gallo, a salsa made from chopped tomato, onion, cilantro, salt, and lime juice.
Cajun-grilled Atlantic Salmon Fillet
The grilled dishes have cajun-grilled Atlantic salmon fillet served with mango salsa, caramelised lemon and salad (Bt549) and Surf and Turf (Bt1,299 for 10 ounces or Bt1,699 for 14oz), rib eye steak and grilled Canadian lobster tail.
Surf and Turf
A special feature likely to go down a treat is the self-service, chilled beer taps available at five tables. Each is equipped with a screen that will record the quantity of beers you pour in millilitres. Draft beers of Asahi and Singha cost Bt0.298 and Bt0.26 per millilitre respectively.
Self-service table-top beer tap
Signature cocktails include Mango Margarita (Bt269 per glass or Bt1,349 per pitcher) and Mojito (Bt229) made with rum, fresh lime, mint leaves and soda water.
And Cali-Mex isn’t simply a place to hang out at night. It also provides all-day breakfast including the Big American Breakfast (Bt399) with two eggs served with crispy bacon, chorizo, avocado, black beans and salsa, and Huevos Rancheros (Bt349) offering two cooked eggs on warm tortilla served with black beans and salsa.
TACOS AND TORTILLAS
Cali-Mex Bar & Grill is on the ground floor of the Holiday Inn, the corner of Sukhumvit Soi 22 of Bangkok.
It’s open daily from 9am to 2am.
Call (02) 010 3135.