My love for Mexican food cannot be understated. I grew up on the stuff–tacos, burritos and enchiladas are a staple of life in California, and besides my family, it is what I miss the most about being far from home. Living in Asia does not often afford me the taste of authentic Mexican food that I constantly crave, and most of the time I have to make do with simply dousing rice, eggs and pizza in Tapatio, the Mexican hot sauce that I brought from home.
But occasionally the stars align and my path crosses that of a Mexican restaurant where the guacamole is made from fresh avocados, the sour cream isn’t just runny yogurt and the salsa is spicy enough to bring back childhood memories. I have been fortunate in the past three months in Southeast Asia to have visited three of these treasured establishments.
Steve and I searched high and low and even suffered a traffic ticket in our (my) manic desperation to find Sala Mexicali. I had read great reviews about this little Phuket gem, and they were truly well-deserved. The ambiance here is colorful and fun, but let’s face it, I would eat a burrito in a cardboard box if it was fresh and authentic!
We ordered the chips and guacamole to start. The overflowing bowl of fresh tortilla chips came out piping hot. They were a mix of corn and flour tortilla chips which added a fun twist, as the flour chips were slightly chewy, but still made an excellent utensil with which to scoop the guacamole. Chunks of avocado and tomato mixed with a dash of garlic, salt and salsa easily made this guacamole the best I’ve had since I’ve left California.
For the main course, I ordered vegetable chimichangas and Steve had chicken and beef enchiladas (he couldn’t decide, so ordered one of each). The chimichangas were fried to perfection giving them a crispy/chewy texture. Filled with a mixture of spicy black beans, yellow bell peppers, corn and cheese, and topped with thick sour cream, I immediately voted Sala Mexicali the best Mexican food in Thailand. The enchiladas were just as amazing and were accompanied by a scoop of perfect Mexican rice. Needless to say, we gorged.
Directional tip: Sala Mexicali is tucked away behind a grove of trees, but the sign on the road is fairly visible. From the Chalong Circle roundabout, head towards Rawai Beach. Drive less than a quarter mile and Sala Mexicali will be on your right.
Located on the raucous Patong Beach, Coyote Mexican Restaurant feels like a mainstream Mexican chain, decorated with sombreros and Mexican inspired art. The food, though not spectacular, is more than adequate for a California girl craving an enchilada. Everything we ordered was scrumptious, particularly the nachos topped with black beans, gobs of cheese, jalepenos, tomatoes, sour cream, guacamole and salsa. A bit pricey at nearly $10 (more if you want meat), but that didn’t stop us from ordering them two days in a row.
Viva claims to be the “Best Mexican Food in Asia,” and I for one don’t think it’s too lofty a statement. This place was our staple restaurant in Siem Reap, and I’m only slightly embarrassed to say that we ate there every day for a week. Not really though, because it was so good we were loath to try anything else! Even Steve is now a Mexican food addict. His favorite item at Viva? The steak enchiladas. Mine? The veggie Mexican pizza topped with cheese, rice, pinto beans, lettuce, salsa and sour cream. Divinity on a plate. We had our fair share of the nachos as well, salty, cheesy and topped with pinto beans and jalepenos. Paired with the $.50 beer, we couldn’t lose.
Located downtown, near Pub Street–you can’t miss the bright orange building.
Where is your favorite Mexican restaurant? I’d love to know so I can be sure to taste it on my travels!
Photos courtesy of tripadvisor.com and Leslie Patrick