AREAL labour of love, The Mexican is the result of 10 months hands-on supervision by its Texan owners, Bonnie and Dennis Thomack, who’ve gone the extra mile and then some to create a restaurant that brings a taste of Mexico to the heart of Bangkok with aplomb.
Their venue is literally a work of art: a vibrant blend of copper, wood, stone, Aztec-style carvings and large paintings inspired by Mexico’s annual Day of the Dead festival – including the centerpiece, a voluptuous take on the famed La Calavera Catrina (‘elegant skull’) portrait, which you’ll see the moment you enter the restaurant’s massive solid wood door (amazingly easy to open thanks to a nifty bit of handiwork by Dennis, who’s proved a dab, and very creative, hand at bringing his and Bonnie’s dream to life).
One of his proudest achievements, he says, are the illuminated ‘floating’ glass shelves which line The Mexican’s bar – not just because they look cool (which they do), and not just because creating them was akin to solving a Rubix cube for the first time (the joy!) – but also because they’re lined with some of the finest Mezcal and 100 percent agave tequilas to be found in Bangkok (read Mezcal and Tequila, what’s the difference? on page 63).
Meant to be sipped and savoured, and amazing when served straight, or mixed in the restaurant’s wonderfully smooth Mexican martini, or infused for 18 hours with habanero peppers for a notable kick, these tequilas provide a genuine taste of Mexico.
As for the food, well, Texas native Bonnie certainly has her Tex-Mex down pat, but she knew that to achieve real authenticity she’d have to enlist the services of a Mexican chef.
“We’ve done everything we can to ensure that diners have a great experience,” she said. “And that, of course, started with assembling a great team in the kitchen.”
In charge of the ovens, smokers and grills, and overseeing the culinary team is Chef Tomas Alaniz, a Mexico City native who found his passion for food while studying in America before returning to Mexico to hone his craft while travelling the length and breadth of the country. “Like Thailand, in Mexico there’s so much regional variation in recipes and ingredients,” he told us. “I wanted to learn as much as possible so that I could really maximize the flavour of my food.”
Using fine ingredients imported from Mexico, as well as Mexican chili peppers and vegetables grown on Bonnie and Dennis’ own organic farm in Saraburi, he creates a lip-smacking range of house-made salsas and sauces which add a pleasurable punch to each of the restaurant’s dishes. Ditto his handmade Mexican chorizo, which elevates the flavour of several plates.
Soups, tacos, tostados, Burritos, enchiladas, fajitas and house specialties such as Shrimp diablo (a classic Mexican shrimp dish cooked in a fiery red spicy salsa, with citrus notes. B495) and Carne guisada (slow cooked pork in a rich broth. B480++) make up the a la carte menu (all reasonably priced, too), while daily specials feature authentic Mexican dishes made using seasonal produce.
Kick-start a meal with a generous serving of Nachos grande (corn tortilla chips loaded with chili corn carne – pork, in this case – shredded cheese, tomatoes, black olives, pickled jalapeños, crema, cilantro and homemade salsa. B365++), follow up with a Fabulous wet burrito (a flour tortilla stuffed with meat or beans and smothered with homemade chili con carne and a blend of Monterey Jack and Cheddar cheese. B430++), and maybe even sink your teeth into some Chargrilled chicken fajitas (served on a sizzling skillet. B440). Sit back, enjoy the music playlist that hops from the Gypsy Kings to Carlos Santana to Latino Grooves, and while you’re at it, why not build your own top shelf margarita? Featuring a choice of base, plus one of the restaurant’s premium tequilas, it’s a great way to start, complement, or end a meal.
Check out The Mexican’s full menu at themexicanbkk.com.
“THE secret to creating good Mexican and Tex-Mex food lies in the salsa (sauce),” says Tomas Alaniz, head chef of The Mexican restaurant. “In Mexico there are hundreds of varieties of chili peppers, which means there are thousands of flavour combinations you can create when making salsa. All good Mexican restaurants will serve a different house-made salsa with each type of dish – tacos, burritos, nachos etc. – which not only means diners never get bored, but that they can always expect delicious flavours in every bite. Some diners like to eat spicy salsas, too, so they should always be given that option.”