Mexicali is a casual California style Mexican restaurant on Dunbar in Vancouver. No liquor license.
Recent dinner here was more of necessity, exacerbated with hunger rather than cravings for Westcoast tex-mex. I had heard good things through the grapevine but was left somewhat lukewarm with the experience.
Menu is simple, but the appetizer/snack section offers seemingly better value than the dinner/combo meals. Our friend ordered off the former section with a quesadilla and mexi-fries and a supersize "blatino" burrito while my gf and I went with dinner combos. The dinners were proportionate in quantity and price, but mostly looked like reheated refried beans and rice. My beef burrito came with shredded beef which was a dry, though ample filling. Our friend's order was the victor and made me wish I ordered the same.
Service is inadequate. A what appeared to be a 1 man staff manned the cash, order, cleanup and possibly even the duties of the cook. Surprisingly it didn't feel too slow but clearly an extra body or two would help. The lone fellow was friendly but obviously pressed.
Decor consisted of mash of mural paintings and a corner between the entrance and cash already prepared with Christmas decorations. Even with the music and tv going, the space felt cold and timid.
Though the food is probably more akin to a 2.5 grade, the appetizer/snack (or is it lunch) section is what you're here for, as per reviewer. I'd coming again...(for lunch).
Food: The best. Guacamole dip was insane! Really really really good.
Service: Friendly waiter/cook, memorized our orders without righting it down, everything was correct.
Ambiance: A little tacky. Could be improved.
With a name like Mexicali, I was hoping to see some slack ass California dudes working here. As it turns out, it is Asian run which killed any hopes of authenticity for that SoCal flavour I was looking for. The food ended up being quite tasty though. I had a enchillada that was a decent sized portion and was value priced for lunch. They had a bunch of lunch specials to choose from which were all around 7 dollars. The service is relaxed and the ambiance is very casual and simple.
Mexi Cali is a no-frills, mini mall, hole-in-the-wall type restaurant that we didn't expect much from when we sat down. A Vietnamese guy (the owner) came and took our orders, then went back to the kitchen to prepare our meals.
The food was quite good. The freshly-prepared guacamole was outstanding and our main meals were great also. A steak taco was delicious, my sonora enchiladas were good, and the quesadilla was good. Although we have only been there twice, it remains our current favorite for Mexican food in Vancouver. I can't wait to try the other things on their menu.
At half the price of fancier restaurants such as Pepitas or the incredibly overhyped Las Margaritas, it's easy to like eating here. The only downside is that they don't sell alchohol. They serve virgin margaritas however.
I can't profess to being an expert on Mexican cuisine, so I'm not qualified to say whether the food is authentic or not. That being said, lunch here was delicious and filling, and perhaps even more important...affordable! The tacos and redondo were generously filled with tasty spiced beef. Lunch specials ($4.99) come with your choice of drink (pop or limonada - a limey slushee that was quite nice). Service was okay; there was only one waitress taking orders (both sit in and takeout) and delivering food to tables, but food arrived quickly. Looking forward to trying some of their other menu items in the future!
Went there for lunch with my kids and spouse - my son loved the food and he's a picky eater! Quesadillas were made just to his liking. The food is good and very well priced (it's cheap!). Have to try the limeonada...refreshing slushy on a hot day.
Only minus to this restaurant was the washroom: the men and women share the same one and it was dirty. So, if you could go without having to use the washroom, I would highly recommend this place.
This is one of my favourite restaurants. Although I've only given it a 3, it's because it's really a no-frills cheap place to get decent Mexican food. If you go there, don't expect anything authentic or a warm welcoming atmosphere.
What you will get is fresh, good, and cheap food. I always get the chicken quesadilla combo with the lime slush. Their rice is also quite good. My boyfriend usually gets the bigger meals with beans and rice, which are also good.
The only beef I have with it is that the staff aren't very welcoming. You don't get asked how everything is, and they don't always even come to your table to ask what you want.
I'm going to keep going though, to satisfy my cravings for cheap Mexican.
I understand that getting a huge platter of decent mexican food for 5 bucks is a good thing - but I would gladly pay a few bucks more to eat it in a clean restaurant. Went in a few days ago for a quick lunch and quite frankly, I was grossed out. There was food all over the floor, tables even on my chair. The place was on the tail end of the lunch rush, but still, they need to invest in a lunch staffer to maintain the seating area. The hot sauce container was a greasy mess and looked as if the lid hasn't been cleaned in a decade - layers of dried sauce that has clearly accumulated over the years. On other another occasion, there was actually a bucket and mop beside the seating area and the smell of industrial cleaner was strong enough to affect my eating experience. I think that restaurant owners often confuse the use of cheap stinky cleaners with the actual concept of detailed cleaning. So yeah - Mexicali has cheap mexican food, but could you spare us the authentic mexican hygiene experience and give the place a scrub? Cheers
We gave Mexicali a shot after reading some of the rave reviews on here, and we didn't think it was all that great. It's *not* cheap unless you know to order the lunch specials (which aren't on the menu - you have to go up to the till and see them taped to the counter), with dinner items at about the $10 - $14 mark.
As other reviewers have said, the ambiance is a joke - homemade murals on the walls, tons of neon signs, fake plants and a giant wooden cactus - but if you don't mind tacky, then who cares? It's actually fun playing a little game with your dinner companions to see who can spot the most spelling errors and typos on the menus.
We've been a couple of times because there's simply no alternative in the area...the food's been okay (with the exception of the chicken molé - disgusting), but nothing to write home about.
If we're in the mood for outstanding Mexican, and don't mind a bit of a drive, we'll head across the border to Bellingham to a joint across the street from Bellis Fair - it's worth the trip.
Mexicali is a fast food Mexican restaurant, so it offers what you would expect from such a place: affordable prices, basic yet quick service (no waiters), and a simple ambiance. The crowd is usually a mix of young people and families, which can be a bit noisy. I ordered a regular quesadilla, chips with salsa, and a slushy mexican limonada as a drink. It was all good, especially for the prices I paid (almost everything on the menu is less than $10). The quesadilla was awesome, especially with the sour cream and the slushy Mexican Limonada was very refreshing for the day.
The menu on the window lists their combos for $4.99, but my combo was rung up at $6.75. When I asked why, the clerk became angry at me and yelling, told me the menu on the window is old and the prices have been changed for three years and that if I don't want to pay I can leave. I'm disgusted at such awful service not to mention false advertising.
Nevertheless, I was hungry and the Californian-style Mecican redondo I had was good. Too bad the experience was tainted by an indignant server. Shame on you, Mexicali.
While finding authentic mexican food in Vancouver, let alone Canada is impossible, MexiCali does a good job at trying to replicate it. The portions and value are well worth the trip to Dunbar. Not much else comes close to this, not even fast food! They have a good lunch special menu with a good variety and a quite good lime slushy, the "Mexi Fries" are nothing special. Heck, they don't even have those outside of Canada. The ambiance is dark and seating is limited to party's of 4, or you can cram some tables together. Bathroom...wow...tiny(literally). Bang for buck is what its all about and this restaurant is up there.
This is a great place for UBC students who are looking for a cheap meal and have a bit of time between classes. They have solid lunch specials, which includes a side ("mexifries" or refried beans and rice) and a drink, for under $7. If you're not picky and your money isn't exactly burning a hole through your wallet, this is a great place to go.
Have been going to Mexicali for almost 15 years. The best food value anywhere. The chicken and rice and vegtables for under 10 bucks is the best restaurant meal I have ever had. Lee, the owner is a great guy. Some of the other reviewers of Mexicali need their head examined. Spelling mistakes! Please, only someone incredibly arrogant would include that. Give your head a shake loser.
Try them a couple of times, I did not like the burrito but enjoy the Mexi fries, (potato bites) guess from Mccain.
Nicely set up and affrodable prices/
I will prefer not microwaved food but acceptable.
Mexicali is a great place to for a quick meal. the food is great and it comes very quickly after you order it. although Mexicali might not be the place for a romantic date it is a great place for a quick and very good meal.
I suggest the Beef Rodondo
We were not expecting much after being to the various mexican restaurants in Vancouver, but were very happy with our meal and the service. Perfect portions, very flavourful, and diverse menu which is of comparable quality to places in the States. We both had the enchilada verde plate and will try the tamales next time although they get sold out fast. The prices were very reasonable as well.
Upon first walking in to Mexicali one may be a bit put off as the restaurant is usually empty and the interior is absolutely ridiculous. But do not be mislead; this restaurant is a Dunbar community gem. I often come here to get a super cheap meal consisting of 2 tacos, a generous helping of mexifries with outstanding salsa, and a large cup of yummy slushy limonada which I then take to Dunbar park to enjoy. Did I mention that I get all of this for less than 6 dollars !?!?!
I go there sometimes with my friends that live in Dunbar, and it's great. The food is just awesome, and the service is pretty quick. The lime slush is SO good, and the guy that works there is pretty friendly.
Was there couple nights ago. The lime slush was great thirst quencher. Food was hot when it arrived. Better than expected! Decor of the restraunt was tackey but the food made up for it. Ingredients were fresh. I would recommand it.