Authentic Feasts, Tequila Included, for Any Fiesta
The New York Times – By Christopher Brooks
With the border-town kitsch of its overdecorated interior and insouciant use of pastel-colored floor tiles and serving vessels, Mexicali Rose is hard not to like. Add to that reasonable pricing and generous portions, and you are likely to come away not just liking the place, but also very much smitten by it.
White walls, highlighted with lemon-yellow, papaya-orange and sky-blue highlights, are nearly obscured by a vast array of eye candy: folkloric figurines in straw, ceramic and plastic; sombreros in sundry sizes and styles; pressed-tin cacti; paper flowers; various types of bottles; vintage and stylized photos and art pictures. This ebullient abundance makes a tight space, with just seven diner-style chrome tables and fewer than 30 seats, seem even tighter.
The amiable waiters, nonetheless, maneuver through the establishment with the panache of an experienced matador: taking orders; delivering crispy, house-made chips and salsa (gratis); bussing plates back and forth. Patrons need some of that skill, too, to fetch a beer ($4 a bottle) from the self-service cooler and to pay the bill at the counter.
Many of Mexicali’s offerings are familiar staples of Mexican cuisine. The menu leads off with three types of nachos ($6 to $7); burritos, including a vegetarian option stuffed with avocado, beans, toasted pumpkin seeds, lettuce and cheese ($5.50 to $6.35); and plump, pan-fried quesadillas ($5 to $6.65). The best deal may be the hard- and soft-shell tacos ($2.25 apiece), double wrapped in superfresh corn tortillas and well filled with chicken or ground beef or shredded pork.
Be sure to check the blackboard by the cash register for daily specials. “Home-style” chili and chipotle carrot soup ($2.85 for either) were listed recently.