‘Let’s go get Mexican!”
That was the rallying cry last Sunday night here in Pattaya, Thailand, where I’m spending the month hanging out with my main man, Big Scotty the Body, a former U.S. police officer who just retired here.
Big Scotty, all 220 pounds of chiseled muscle and tattoos of him, gave his grunt of approval, so Mexican food would be the dinner choice for the evening – and the subject of today’s review.
Going out to Mexican food for a meal may not seem like a noteworthy endeavor if you’re reading this from the States, but, in fact, it can be one of the hardest cuisines to find here in Asia – even considered exotic it’s so rare. Many big cities only have one or two Mexican restaurants, and you’re lucky if they are decent. (Note: the best Mexican food I’ve found in Asia is Tequila Reef in Angeles City in the Philippines, followed by the Bantayan Burrito Company in that same country.)
Luckily, we’d spotted a bright yellow sign for Mexican food tucked down a side street while driving by a day before, so we jumped in the car and sped off in that direction. We located that big yellow sign again and walked in. We were greeted by a traditional-looking setting that you’d expect to see in California, not Thailand, with colorful but washed out walls, colorful tablecloths and settings, wrought iron sculptures depicting margarita glasses and iguanas on the walls, and a whole rack of sombreros for patrons to pose with in photos.
Noticeably absent were the other patrons in this large restaurant, as there were only two couples eating, who gave a second look when Scotty and I walked in because they thought we were there to shake down the owner for his weekly bribe or something.
But we settled into our booth and started looking over the expansive menu, which had all of the traditional Mexican fare you’d expect. One thing I will say is that Mexican food is not a cheap staple like it can be in the U.S., so prices were surprisingly high – for Thailand – which is still pretty cheap. But hard-to-get items like guacamole, for instance, were priced accordingly at $7 for one order of chips and guac – a fortune here in Thailand.
“What are you getting?” Scotty asked.
“I’ll get the combo,” I said, pointing to the three item combo of a cheese enchilada, carnitas burrito, and chicken taco, more than enough food for two of me. “And I want a margarita so bad but I’m not drinking this week.”
Scott nodded his approval, more of my much-needed fitness goal than of my order, and told the smiling young waitress that he’d have the same.
“And I’ll have a San Miguel Light beer to drink,” I lobbed at the waitress, hoping Scotty didn’t hear.
“Well, that didn’t last long,” was all he said.
When the food came, we chowed down like men possessed. The cheese enchilada was definitely the highlight for me. The chicken on the soft taco was so dry that it almost choked me, but still was good enough that I would order that again – just with some sauce on it. The burrito was good, but their carnitas definitely isn’t up to U.S. standards, although it was cooked well and really big and the sauce was great.
I’d love to try a shrimp or fish tacos or burritos when I come back since Pattaya is right on the ocean here in Thailand. And a margarita or two – if Scotty approves!