Ari's Mexican restaurant is themed after Frida Kahlo's house in Mexico City,
Themed after Frida Kahlo’s house in Mexico City, the setting is certainly lively thanks to wall paintings and other brightly colored art pieces, while the food sticks to Mexican comfort dishes, with only some little twists. From the compact menu, expect staples like nachos, burritos with fillings like smoked pork, grilled chicken and grilled veg, and quesadillas, while the chalkboard lists daily specials like tamales (Mexican steamed corn-dough wraps).
After dime-a-dozen coffee shops and cookie-cutter dessert cafes, Casa Azul brought a welcome splash of color to Ari upon opening in mid-2015. This small blue house themed after Frida Kahlo’s residence in Mexico City is casual yet lively, just as you’d hope for, thanks to vivid wall paintings, various on-point art pieces and an animated after-work crowd.
More importantly, the soft flour tacos (starting at B225/3 pieces or B50/piece on Tuesdays) do enough to convince us Casa Azul deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Sukhumvit’s La Monita or Missing Burro. We wouldn’t label the moderately-spiced grilled chicken or smoked pork fillings as mind-blowing, but they come packed with enough coriander and onion that they’re a bullseye as drinking snacks. Pair them with a pitcher of mangosteen margarita for B600 or a few too many Coronas (B200) and you’re in business.
The very generously portioned fajita set, available with juicy carne asada (grilled and seared beef), six flour tortillas and mountains of Spanish rice and refried beans at B540, makes an excellent choice for a social gathering. As do the ribs, with a gut-busting half-rack costing you B450 (the full thing, B899). Perhaps not quite reason alone to trek over to Ari, the ribs’ fatty dry-rubbed meat nonetheless peels right off the bone. Light on cumin and lime juice, the guacamole (B195 with chips), doesn’t quite hit the very high standard that La Monita’s creamy, crunchy and tart creation has set.
Service is warm if a touch prone to upselling—why, on our last visit on a Tuesday night, did we get the impression there was some seabass in the fridge that desperately needed shifting? Thanks almost in part to such overbearing antics, Casa Azul is one of Ari’s most character-packed restaurants, and it also doubles as a lively late-night haunt—all too rare in this neck of the woods.
This review took place in June 2017 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.