Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Is There Authentic Mexican Food In Chiang Mai, Thailand?

January 7, 2015
   A local Thai in Phichit, Pa Boon (no relation to Daniel), told me there are at least 50 different chiles used in Thai cuisine and having eaten an amazing variety of Thai dishes now for almost three weeks, I can believe it. I can describe this edible array simply: hot, hotter, hottest and even hotter still!

   Perhaps this explains why we have not seen one Taco Bell in all our travels around the country. Plenty of McDonalds, KFC, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, Subway, Swensen's, but no Taco Bell. One theory is that because Thai food is so spicey, they find Mexican food too bland, although that doesn't explain the love of the above chains.

   After eating a ton of Thai we decided on our last full day in Chiang Mai to try out the handful of "Mexican Food" joints. First up is Miguel's in the old part of Chang Mai, right next to the moat that surrounded the old kingdom:

Miguel's Cafe sign in downtown Chiang Mai

"Real Mexican Food" sign outside Miguel's: the price for a room at the Miami Hotel is 690 bots ($23 American)

Miguel's "authentic decor" includes Cassius Clay, Homer Simpson, Texas, Smiley Face and Budweiser, which is not all that Mexican, but kind of zany.

We sat outside with a wonderful view of the ancient moat: BBB, Kathy, Pattarapan and Tommy Bell.

Miguel's huevos rancheros: homemade tortilla, decent beans. The salsa was actually very authentic and much better than the other two places which each had too much vinnegar.

Miguel's carne asada taco and a pork taco. both had mozzerella cheese (minus five points for THAT), sour cream, tomato and lettuce (Tommy prefers shredded cabbage for an authentic street taco in the Arizona and Sonoran style)

Next Up On The Thai Taco Hopping Tour Is The Salsa Kitchen:

Thai Salsa Kitchen Mexican Restaurant, which had a tad better decor inside:

A very cute, custom poster inside the Salsa Kitchen

   The Salsa Kitchen did not have huevos rancheros on the menu so we tried to order a steak taco and, instead the cook sent out three chorizo tacos, which kind of looked Thai, even though they were trying to be Mexicana. As metnioned previously, all the salsas at Salsa Kitchen were too vinnegary to be authentic to our palate. However, we ordered the quesadilla and it was quite good:

The quesadillos had excellent presentation and a very authentic Mexican taste.

The Three Chorizo Tacos Looking Muy Thai: Tommy claimed they had good flavor but not a Mexican flavor and without the authentic salsa it didn't work.

   We all really enjoyed the quesadilla and thought it was the best dish we had on the tour.

The Final Stop On Our Thai Taco Hopping Tour was Sunset Mexican Food:

The Sunset Tacos Mexican Grill

Mexican Sunrise Tacos Spread, Including a Barbacoa Taco!

   The Sunrise Tacos Cafe, which was found by Pattarapan, was in a mall and seemed the weakest in terms of decor and presentation but they stunned us with a barbacoa (goat meat from the head) taco which is a specialty meat that not even many specialty Mexican food restaurants carry in the Southwest. The meat was excellent and I would rank it just below Taco Villa in Phoenix. A real find and a delight.
   Tommy tells me there are are two competing theories about the origin of Thai chiles. The first is that the Portuguese brought chiles to Thailand from the Americas and the second theory is that the Thai chiles are an offshoot of the hot chiles indigenous to Schezuan, China. Either way the Thais have made the peppers their own and have given the spice a rainbow of tastes in everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner and beyond.

"Trust no one."
—Tommy Bell's motto when it comes to finding good restaurants