When El Caliente opened over a year ago there was a lot of excitement for the city’s first authentic Mexican restaurant. It is fair to say that at first it divided opinion. Many loved the Margarita during happy hours while others were surprised by some of the dishes. Over the past year the restaurant has won over customers, and with a new menu out, it seemed like the perfect time to check it out.
What is hard to argue is that El Caliente is a cool restaurant. The exposed bricks, graffiti covered walls and painted oil drums give the restaurant an industrial decor. You can hear eclectic mash ups of the likes of Van Morrison and Nirvana, which you wish they played on Bar Street. Despite the cool surroundings and music, the restaurant was relatively quiet on the lunch time I visited. The set menu I was presented with had all the classic Enchilada and Fajita dishes you would expect to find. I opted for Tortilla Soup and Pork Tortas, while my friend chose the El Caliente Salad and Chicken Burrito.
The spicy soup is sprinkled with tortilla, avocado and feta cheese, while the Mexican style sandwich came fully loaded with extra fries on the side. Although my friend’s salad was a generous size it was disappointing and surprising that the burrito came on its own without salad or fries. Overall the lunch was fine, but nothing that makes it a regular spot for lunch. There are other times of the week, however, when it is well worth checking out El Caliente.
For value for money, go down on a Taco Tuesdays when it is only RMB 10 per Taco. For their best menu, come down early on Sunday for brunch. You’ll be left with a tough choice between the Egg Skillet and Chorizo Eggs Benedict, both so delicious you will be tempted to order seconds.
El Caliente has become just as known for its drinks as it has for its food, and some nights more closely resembles a bar than a restaurant. You can find their signature margaritas on offer through the week and they have the largest and most potent selection of Tequila around.
Find the restaurant here.
Read the article in Chinese.