Growing up in the restaurant biz our parents made sure we knew the importance of consistency, quality, cleanliness and service. And we've done it all. As kids we were the go-to guys for every no-show dish dog - and we still are! While we've changed up the delivery to match today's fast-paced lifestyle, we've stayed true to the food. Mexicali Fresh brings something different to Auckland. Our emphasis is California-style Mexican, the stuff we grew up on.
Our food is the best you'll find anywhere. Every day we chop our salsas, grill and roast our meats and fry our chips so you will have the freshest, most flavourful meal you can get. We've got frosty margaritas, great tunes, surf videos, and an astonishing selection of tequila and Mexican cerveza.
Settle in with an ice-cold Corona and fat burrito, you are transported to Baja or San Diego. Even with a line out the door, the service at Mexicali Fresh is the fastest and friendliest around. Come on in and take a trip to California without ever leaving NZ!
I've eaten in a lot of places around the country because of my job. Roads go everywhere, and my crew and I go there first to build them. This means I have to be ready to eat whatever food is sold by whatever stores are near the work site, unless we end up cooking it ourselves and trust me when I say none of us are brave enough to risk that. So during some time spent working near Hamilton last night I got the chance to leave the site and head into the city for a feed. I opted for a food court so I had some choices, and recognising this brand from these reviews I chose a Mexicali Fresh feed.
It took ages for me to fight my way through the serving woman's bad English to understand what she was asking me, and place my order. When I finally got my order it was wrong, and incomplete. I had asked for the Barbacao Beef and got Beef Mince instead, I wanted refried beans and got black beans, I said no guac, so of course it had a big blob of guac. I was not impressed, and didn't really enjoy this food at all because it wasn't the way I requested it. On top of that I was charged for a drink, and the server didn't put it in the bag. My fault for not noticing it until I was too far away to make it worth going back, but it was a $5 fancy drink so I am pissed about her being sloppy.
I won't be going back there, and I will be advising the rest of the crew to choose another option if they want tog et what they want, at an affordable price.
Finding healthy vegetarian food for myself & my fussy 12yo daughter while out has always been a hard task, until we discovered Mexicali Fresh! With choices so flexible, my daughter can design her own meal to her exacting tastes & is eating more than a bun with cheese & chips, which is what she ends up with at many other places. I get to fulfil my Mexican craving with fresh, gorgeous food, so we are both happy. I love the taco salad, & daughter has a quesidilla every time. The bottomless soft drink is great, no arguments over whether she can have that extra drink or not. It's an added bonus that their restaurants are fun & clean, staff are lovely & the loyalty card is well worth signing up for. I really hope it stays this good & word spreads about their wonderful food.
Locating the store turned out to be far more difficult than ordering the food, despite the huge menu. When the stunned look started to form on my face, the store manager was quick to step in and give me clear descriptions, good advise and some suggestions that turned out to be bang-on for my tastebuds. They were even quite comfortable complying with some strange and rather vague requests.
In the end, after much 'hum'ing and 'hah'ing, I ended up getting a Pork Carnitas burrito with all the trimmings, and an additional extra dose of the fruit salsa - on the advice of the chap preparing it for me. I have to agree with him, the fruit salsa was an inspired touch with the pork, though I found myself a little disappointed by the Carnitas flavour... I won't give away the 'secret' to Carnitas, but despite finding it still quite edible, I will be trying something like the Spicy Barbacoa Beef or Chargrilled Chicken next time I think.
Going on a Tuesday was a smart move, as it meant an extra Taco for free under the "Two-for-One Taco Tuesday" promotion... because my co-reviewer is a vegetarian, I got one of the Mince and one Refried beans taco... naturally, being the utter carnivore I am, I fair inhaled the small, but very tasty beef taco. At $6.00, getting two is a great deal, but I regret to say I doubt I would pay that for just one. $4.00 each tops, even in today's very-expensive world.
And what does the discerning Mexicali diner have to wash down their delightful repast? Why, one of the excellent range of cervesas (beers) or ciders, of course. A fridge full of options to choose from, but I was a little disappointed by the very 'short' range of non-alcoholic beverage choices. Basically the 'premium' coke range... small glass bottles that cost more than a 2.25L plastic bottle does... Sorry, but someone at Coke HQ should be shot for introducing those poncey things... just gimme a regular 440ml coke and I'll be happy.
Overall, taking into account that nothing in this world is ever perfect, and you can satisfy some of the people all of the time, or all of the people some of the time, but never everyone forever... this place is a diamond! Great staff is by far the biggest and best attraction point as far as I am concerned, with great food coming in a close second. These guys pretty much aced them both. However, what REALLY did cheese me off... After browsing through their website, I signed up to their "Cabana Club" under a nom de plume, since by that stage they knew my name and email address... and eagerly awaited my card (to arrive within a few days by regular post) and voucher for a free taco (to be sent via email)... nearly a month later and I sit here still without either! A reward programme offered should be adhered to, so be sure to give them a nag if they forget to send yours. ;)
I am no stranger to Mexicali in Botany. For one, it is close to home and work, secondly, the food is good (No, make that great), thirdly, they not only offer vegetarian options, they actually understand vegetarian food - and this is a rare thing in NZ. Alongside the vegetarian food, they also understand about gluten free and dairy free options; opening up a huge variety of food to people with dietary restriction (a very rare thing to find in NZ). For this alone, many NZ fast-food stores and restaurants could take a big leaf out of Mexicali's books and follow suite.
The location is conveniently situated in Botany Town Centre with plenty of parking on hand. There are, at present, two other locations in Auckland, however having never been there (yet), I will leave this out of this review. The restaurant is well decorated in Californian/Mexican style and provides a holiday from everyday New Zealand.
The food is fantastic, and portion size is fantastic value for money. You will not go hungry after a visit there. There is a wide range of options to suit every palate - from meats, beans, refried beans to salads and vegetables to salsas to suit every taste bud from mild tingle on the tongue to a roaring fire burning your mouth should you choose it.
The Guacamole is the best I've found in NZ in any takeaway or restaurant. Kiwis have a nasty habit of adding sour cream to everything (even things that don't need it - like guacamole) and this Guacamole is dairy-free and doubly tasty from being free from dairy.
If you are stuck for choice, do feel free to ask the helpful staff for suggestions. I was offered a Taco salad (having tried a burrito and a taco previously), I wish I had room for the cinnamon pancakes (I've forgotten the correct name) so I had to get these as a take-away. Every option I have tried has been both very filling and exceedingly tasty.
The beer is well worth a mention. Mexicali stocks a range of genuine Mexican beers. I have only tried the chillie beer thus far and can highly recommend it. I should try the other beers and I will get around to them.... one day!
The cinnamon pancakes (once I got around to having them) were quickly snapped from my hands by my daughter and wife... and it didn't take long before other people were asking where I got them from - and I was glad to oblige them by pointing them in the right direction. After a few more purchases, I did eventually manage to try one... and they were worth the wait even if I didn't manage to eat as many as I bought!
The staff are extremely helpful and willing to make suggestions as to menu and flavours, and answer any questions you have about the food. They couldn't be more cheerful than if they taking happy pills. It must be the effect of the chillies in the food (it does it for me every time). If you are lucky enough to be served by the owner, he is happy to tell you about the history of Mexicali.
To sum up. The ambience, the food, the location, the staff and the value for money makes this store a must in the places to visit. Now I know there are other stores in Auckland, I know I am assured of a good feed and somewhere I know my family will be happy to go. The food I tried was vegetarian only so I can't comment on the meats for the carnivores, but it is the store attitude to vegetarians that stands out a shiny mile for me and at the risk of repeating myself, there are many aspects of Mexicali that can be emulated by many other food providers.
Random listing from 'Food'...
What makes our tuna pockets taste so good? It's the fusion of real ingredients. So you get to savour the spices of North Africa with tuna, smoked paprika, cumin and chilli. All gently slow cooked to lock in the flavour.
High in protein, low in sugar, and a good source of omega-3.
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