Koh Chang's favorite Mexican joint lands in Thonglor.
The winner of BK’s “Best Carnitas Taco” taste test, this Mexican joint doles out full-flavored tacos, burritos, ceviche and other antojitos (appetizers) in a fun, communal setting. The best-selling tacos de barbacoa feature seven-hour slow-cooked lamb marinated in ancho chili paste with fresh coriander and onion, but we suggest the lip-smacking tacos placeros, in which corn tortillas are filled with beans, salsa fresca, crumbled cheese and crispy pork rinds, and served with a side of avocado mousse.
This review took place in November 2016 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.
Established almost a decade ago on Koh Chang, Barrio Bonito is recognized as one of the top restaurants on the island, as evidenced by countless gushing tributes on Tripadvisor. Fair to say, many were excited to see the Mexican restaurant open in Bangkok at the turn of the year. Good news is it mostly delivers on the hype.
Unlike at other new-wave Mexican openings like Mejico and Touche Hombre, you won’t find too much talk of fancy twists or high-falutin ingredients; just full-flavored Mexican tacos, burritos, ceviche and other antojitos (appetizers). The guacamole (B220), served in crispy corn tortilla cones inside a cardboard egg carton, transcends gimmickry with a blend of avocado, cheese and pomegranate that’s smooth and tasty.
Here, it’s all about small plates, and we mean small. Even with sensible ordering, you can get through most of the menu. The mini burritos (B140/1 piece) burst with well-seasoned beef but are gone before you know it. Better yet is the chalupitas de chorizo (B240/3 pieces), a mouthwateringly salty morsel of homemade chorizo and beans atop a flaky corn tortilla—better make that a double order.
The relatively hearty cold shrimp salad (B320) benefits from plump shrimp and a tamarind- and habanero-laced tomato dressing. Unfortunately, the overly dry lamb barbacoa tacos (B140/piece), with their daubs of non-descript peanut sauce, do not pack the same kick (though there’s little the scorching salsa verde can’t fix).
Dominated by a painting of the iconic Day of the Dead female figure with a skeleton mask, this is one of the more characterful kiosks in The Commons’ mess hall-like “market zone.” However, a bar counter and handful of awkwardly high tables can’t stop dining here from feeling like an upscale food court experience, for better or worse.
Our last visit on a Friday night saw the place heaving as an acoustic duo whipped up the raucous sense of occasion you find at Seenspace down the road. What the mall’s open-plan setup won’t give you is the intimacy of a standalone like Tacos & Salsa—though the Mexican-French owners make their presence felt with warm greetings and helpful explanations of the menu.
On the plus side, you can top up your meal with, say, a tiramisu from Peppina (Barrio Bonito doesn’t do dessert) or an esoteric imported beer from Beer Cap (if the excellent mezcal and tequila cocktails, from B250, don’t do it for you). Barrio Bonito serves down-to-earth Mexican fare in a communal setting that’s fun, if perhaps a bit full-on. Corkage charge B300.
|Address:||Barrio Bonito, The Commons, Thong Lor 17 Soi 17, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Open since:||December, 2015|
|Opening hours:||daily noon-11pm|
|Live music, Parking available|
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