We’re all familiar with Tex-Mex cuisine: a divergence from truly authentic Mexican food, Texan-Mexican dishes combine the flavors of the Southern U.S. with the ingredients of Mexico. Featuring yummy menu items like enchiladas smothered in cheeses and sauces, Tex-Mex cuisine is all too familiar to Americans… but what about Cal-Mex?
Cal-Mex cuisine follows a similar pattern: by utilizing the basics of Mexican dishes and combining them with Californian-style cuisines, Cal-Mex stands independent of legitimate Mexican food. Californians and Texans will both vehemently argue that the two cuisines are different, yet the variations are extremely subtle — Californians prefer crunchy shells while Texans like theirs soft; Texans like a lot of cheese while Californians try to eat a bit healthier (choosing white and black beans instead of refried, for example).
Regardless of their differences, they’re both delicious — especially if one considers the popularity of both kinds of restaurants.
An extremely popular Cal-Mex joint in Oakland, California just celebrated a huge milestone in the restaurant business: 25 years of success. Having branched out from one location into 12 (soon to be 13), Mad Mex was originally established in 1993 by Tom Baron and Juno Yoon — both, ironically, from the Bronx.
Their hometown apparently had little impact on their ability to craft a place that was “moodily lit, decidedly loud and visually striking, the place for good beer, big margaritas, and handcrafted Cal-Mex cuisine.” Now, they’re as late-night popular as they are family friendly. Big Burrito president Bill Fuller proudly states in their monthly newsletter:
“There is so much going on — music, crazy art, crazy people and general chaos — that NOBODY NOTICES YOUR KIDS SCREAMING!”
Mad Mex truly captures that Mexican-American feeling; just one look at their menu shows the artful (and hilarious) blend of two cultures. For example, every fall people go wild for their Gobblerito: a “Thanksgiving-is-coming burrito with turkey and all the fixings wrapped in a tortilla.”
The most recent addition to the cuisine highlights their two-and-a-half decade achievement; stuffed with grilled chicken and flank steak, roasted corn, fries, and cheese, dressed in spicy house sauce, topped with pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream and iceberg lettuce comes to the Plataversary Burrito. Anyone with a small amount of the Spanish language under their belt (or the most basic of Google skills) understands that ‘plata’ means ‘silver’ — the theme for 25th wedding anniversaries.
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