A true strength of 'Tex-Mex' dining
Finsbury Park, London
Operated by a Spanish peaking workforce, Café Mexicali puts a remix on the ‘Tex-Mex’ blend, reemphasizing the commonly forgotten ‘Mexican’ half of that duo and re-inserting the colours, ingredients and flavours of Mexican dining and infuses them into the types of items we have come to expect from your average ‘American Diner’ menu.
It means that whilst the menu may draw from two separate inspirations, the choices on offer are largely concise, with the majority of the menu drawing experience from other items on the menu such as the Nachos Grande having a similar number of ingredients to the Chicken and Chorizo Salad.
These similarities play into Café Mexicali’s hand, as orders are processed quickly but to a standard that says the kitchen staff are familiar with the dishes, rather than rushed.
The décor or Café Mexicali is firmly ‘Mexican’ influenced and one of the first things you will see are the colourful hats you may see members of a Mariachi band wear, with accents on the mirror and other furniture pieces seemingly influenced by the Mexican festival; Dia de los Muertos- albeit without the skulls and symbolisms of death.
The bar is firmly Latin too, with the drinks on offer being either predominantly South American or completely South American in Origin. For example, you can expect your traditional selection of Alcoholic cocktails; your Long Island Iced Teas, Mai Tai, Martini & Cosmopolitan’s being on offer, though your beers are limited to Sol, Desperados, Peroni, San Miguel and Corona- so if you can’t resist the urge to pretend that you are Vin Diesel, or you hate that your date suddenly does when they have a Corona in hand- you may be best to stick with the soft drinks.
The food however is a huge strong point for Café Mexicali. A quick Google search reveals that almost everyone rates this place at four stars or higher and eating here you quickly see why.
For my trip I panic ordered the Cheese and Bacon Burger and whilst I dreaded having to eat what I expected to be the most boring thing on the menu, the option to have the patty cooked to my taste instilled confidence that I was not expecting.
Having the food delivered to my table, I quickly realised that even something as basic as a burger was done well here and whilst the rest of the GOAD team enjoyed the Lamb Fajitas, Chimichanga and Chargrilled Lamb Cutlets till their bellies were full and for all of us, it quickly became apparent as to why so many people warned us to book before we arrived.
Because whilst Café Mexicali may dwell in the shadow of the former Football club, this area is jammed full of young and social people looking to use Finsbury Park for their social outings.
It also means that whilst a number of people will come in in the odd couple or pair, a lot of traffic coming into Café Mexicali is from small groups looking to spend the night out; so get in early to avoid disappointment.
To conclude then, Café Mexicali makes pleasant changes to the ‘Tex-Mex’ formula that many have grown to loathe. With a confident and fast working kitchen, the Café turns hallmark street food into well-presented restaurant food at a price you are pleased to pay. However, if you do find yourself trying to walk into the door, be prepared to wait if you didn’t arrive before the dinner time rush.
Competitively priced for similar Tex-Mex dining experiences.
- Fun decor.
- If you want to flex your Spanish speaking skills, you can- the waiters can understand you.
- Definitely a welcome sight to see the 'Mexican' in 'Tex-Mex' being shown off with pride, rather than a decorative gimmick.
- Familiar looking menu.
- Great portion sizes.
- Friendly staff.
Parking around the area is difficult and controlled, so you may be better off taking public transport.
- The area around the Restaurant is occupied by a lot of young people, so quiet moments with your date can quickly get a little nosier.
- And getting in before the rush is important or you won't find a seat.
- Whilst the dishes are fairly priced, expect your bill to be heavily inflated by the drinks.
- Limited dessert variety may leave some feeling short changed.