The Great Mexican Standoff: Part 1

A Mexican tornado (that’s Spanish for “tornado”) has hit Bangkok harder than a buffet of refried beans, with options ever growing and evolving. Here’s an overview of some of the movers and shakers here in the Ciudad de Mexico of the East (even if most are rightly classified “American Southwest”). If your favorite source of salsa-soaked cabeza isn’t listed here, that’s just because there’s so much territory to cover. Keep an eye out for la parte del segundo.

Sunrise Tacos locations may soon outnumber noodle stalls. If you’ve been turned off by one, it’s worth noting they’ve done a nice job tailoring each location to a different clientele.  Most welcome to those with jobs and stuff to do during the day, the Silom Road branch is the only restaurant nearby offering a standard Western breakfast before 9am.  While the service leaves a lot to be desired, the menu is solid.  The Sunrise platter (THB140) is a fine American breakfast sin hotdog, but those looking for a little more Southwest infused into their day should go for the Huevos Rancheros (THB140) or the Breakfast tacos (THB140) with grilled chicken and scrambled eggs.
 

Sunrise is also “powering” Margarita Storm on Soi Sukhumvit 15 ‘round the clock with a very similar menu.  Whether you’ve got mad love for Sunrise or just end up at Soi 12’s New York Garden location because it’s the last reliable place to drink all night long, everyone can agree they have the nicest menus in town, not only for the beautiful illustrations but also the clearest labeling and most options for vegetarians.
 


Aussie-Mex has entered the ring with two chains opening in Central World. Inside Groove, the upscale and anti-Mexicano Mejico strays from the staples and instead goes for smaller portions with bigger prices. Upstairs, Zambrero is cut from the same poncho as U.S. megachain Chipotle, with fast and customized Tacos (THB69) and Burritos (THB189) made before your very eyes.  For the open-minded palette, the tastes deliver, but those with a strict standard of how “real” Mexican food should taste may be less impressed.  Where Zambrero really falls short is in their beans.  They may think they’re earning street cred by cooking the beans in animal lard, but all they’re really doing is clogging our arteries and alienating vegetarians.

Among the more auténtico Mexican spots, Tacos and Salsa is still chugging along on Soi Sukhumvit 18.  Having been through a few different owners, chefs, locations and menus over the years, T&S seems to have settled into its quiet digs. The Chimichangas are big and bold (THB230) but the real treat are the Tamales (THB260).

Meanwhile the former owner of T&S is now competing with his original claim to fame with a new bar called Sabroso on Soi Sukhumvit 23, which has no connection to the fast food Sabroso at Villa Aree. (Sabroso means aroi). His new creation is tiny but serves up some big promotions.  On Thursdays you can choose any six Tacos and any Margarita or other drink for only 400 baht.  Like the bar itself, the tacos are tiny, but they feed the craving.  Try the Campenchano tacos topped with flavorful seasoned beef and chorizo.

 

Speaking of Sabroso at Villa Aree, this place is a godsend for taco junkies who just want a quick fix on the go.  Like American chain Taco Bell (in the early days before it became junk) the menu is simple and sticks to the basics like Quesadillas (THB75), Nachos (THB80) and Tacos (THB55). This is also one of the few places where you can get a proper Taco Salad in a crispy tortilla bowl (THB75).

In the nightlife circuit of Sukhumvit Soi 11 another familiar name has re-emerged.  Coyote has opened at the far end of the street offering their original menu but aiming more for the bar crowd.  They kick-start the evening with a 2-for-1 happy hour promotion on beers and Margaritas from 4pm to 7pm and again from 10pm to midnight.

Standing back and watching others come and go, Charley Brown’s Mexicana, also on Soi 11, remains the king of downtown Mexican.  While all of the other places are doing something right, CB’s is doing nearly everything right.  Comfortable seating and a fun atmosphere are combined with serious entrees, like Nachos Supreme (THB231) piled high with loads of cheese and toppings, and sizzling Fajitas (THB451) served hot to your table. Those looking for simpler refreshment can choose from snack-sized options like Double Decker Tacos (THB110) and arguably the best BBQ Chicken Wings (THB187) in town, and they are happy to cater to chiliheads upon request.  The Margaritas (THB176) alone make the visit worthwhile, but be warned, Charley won’t take responsibility for what you may do or where you may end up afterwards.


Truly devoted followers of all things salsa will make the pilgrimage to Que Pasa, the holy grail of Tex-Mex in Thailand.  Located in Nonthaburi near the International School Bangkok, the self-described wetback has been slinging American comforts for over 15 years.  Favorites include the Fried Burrito Grande (THB128) stuffed with pretty much everything, and Chicken Fried Chicken Steak (THB303) served either as a burger or a platter.  The entire menu is available all day, so fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes (THB35) for dinner is no problemo; Chicken Mole Enchiladas (THB162) and Sangria (THB222) for breakfast are equally acceptable. The Fusion options like Kra Pow Tacos (THB69) and Fajita Pizza (THB175) liven up the mix, and the homemade Chips and Pico de Gallo-style Salsa are free and bottomless, as are refills on soft drinks.  ¡Vive la ‘Murica!

While business is booming for the big boys, we’ve had to say adios to two that just couldn’t hang; Que Chido, which was good but hard to get to, and Piñata, an ambitious startup that just couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. And while we appreciate what we have, we still continue to pray that Miguel’s in Chiang Mai will someday come south to play in the big leagues.

Most restaurants include the 7 percent VAT in their menu prices but some sneaky bastardos add it separately, even a few add in 10 percent for servicio; the prices listed here are the total with extras already calculated.

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CITY: BANGKOKCATEGORY: FOOD & DRINKSUB-CATEGORIES: FOOD GUIDES

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