What started as a promising taco cart in the streets of New York City has quickly blossomed into well-known restaurant franchise. Calexico is born of three brothers who hail from a place actually called Calexico…bordering between California and Mexico. The area is a mishmash of people, culture and food, and the brothers behind Calexico sought to bring the cuisine they loved to the big city.
While they have quite a few restaurant locations, they also still have food truck and carts around the city. We visited their restaurant in the Lower East Side and dug in to their authentic Mexican cuisine. No visit to a place that serves tacos is complete without at least one margarita. They have quite a few to choose from, including the Jalapeño Mint Margarita, which had just the right amount of kick to it, and the King’s Crown, which was milder and more refreshing with muddled cucumber.
To start off, we suggest digging in to the Nachos ($10), which are topped with guacamole, roasted corn, black beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, pickled jalapeños and sour cream, with the option of adding chicken or steak. Other appetizers options include the popular Carne Fries ($12), which are chile-cilantro fries with braised beef brisket, caramelized onions, black beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole, Chicken Wings ($9) and more.
Choosing your entree here can be a tough decision…and with big portions, it’s not wise to order more than one. Of course, we obviously ordered more than one since our eyes are bigger than our stomachs, but it did allow us to try more than one item and go home with plenty of leftovers! The tacos are some of the best I’ve had in the city, with the Baja Fish ($4.50) with beer battered fish, spicy slaw, mango salsa and chipotle ‘crack’ sauce and the Chipotle Pork ($3.50) with slow-cooked chipotle pork, pickled red onions, pico de gallo and sour cream tacos as the real standouts.
If tacos aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other options to choose from. The Carne Asada Quesadilla ($9) was killer and included marinated hanger steak and caramelized onions. The burritos at Calexico are larger than life and customers have the option of making it a ‘wet burrito,’ meaning that you can top it with red chile sauce or green tomatillo sauce, along with pepper jack cheese and sour cream for an additional $3. Other entrees include burrito bowls, salads, enchiladas and sandwiches.
Calexico’s minimalist design and low prices make it a great destination any night of the week…bearing in mind you come hungry, of course. Make sure to come early as the place fills up quick! Okay Calexico, you had us at tacos and tequila.
Twisted Talk: Have you ever dined at Calexico before? What’s your favorite taco spot in the city? Discuss below!