Calexico- Melding California & Mexican Flavors Right Off The F Train
Normally the Lower East Side hasn’t been on my radar lately regards to being the foodie that I am, however I was tipped off by a friend who said I had to try this incredible new hot spot called Calexico. After doing some research on Calexico, I noticed a lot of yummy and unique things on the menu and decided to bring a friend and try the place out. I was delightfully surprised and happy with the variety of flavors and options that Calexico’s menu brought, from their delicious wings and Carne Fries (chile-cilantro fries with braised beef brisket, caramelized onions, black beans, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream and guacamole), to tasty tacos, salads, quesadillas and more. Overall it was a great experience that made me want to know more. Cue to my interview with owner of the Lower East Side Calexico Anthony Fauci about the history of Calexico, what is popular on the menu and where he sees it going in the future. Take a look.
How did Calexico start?
Began with Anthony Fauci’s partner, Jesse Vendley, who was from Calexico, CA. He moved to New York and longed for his grandfather’s cooking and fresh ingredients.
Calexico isn’t just a brand, it’s a real place, a border town in the middle of the California desert that is locally known for its delicious take on Mexican food. Calexico the company began when three brothers from the town of Calexico set out for the East Coast with a simple mission: to recreate their family’s legendary cookouts on the streets of New York City. That was in June of 2006, and we’ve been at it ever since.
Calexico made its first appearance as street cart on a sidewalk in SoHo. The concept caught on and pretty soon there were people lined up around the block to try our Carne Asada tacos and pulled pork burritos. More street carts followed, and eventually restaurants.
We’ve kept growing all along, and recently we accelerated our growth by partnering with select franchisees to take the brand into markets beyond New York.
How would you best describe the cuisine at your locations?
Our menu features fresh, original interpretations of classic Mexican fare, a hybrid cuisine best described as “Cal-Mex.” Or as we call it, “Calexican.”
I like to say ‘scratch kitchen,’ meaning everything is fresh & never frozen! We are high style and fast casual.
What are your favorite dishes in each category (Tacos, Burritos, Appetizers)?
My favorite dishes include: the Baja fish taco because we spent a lot of time on the recipe and ingredients from the fresh mango to the spicy slaw! The Baja taco is one of our more popular items. Off the starters portion of the menu I would say the chicken wings; they are unique and not the typical deep fried wing. They are covered in special toppings that make them delectable. Lastly, I would say the burrito bowl because it is the option to have a burrito without the shell!
I noticed there are no dessert options available yet. Will those be added?
We have been contemplating having dessert but in order to add it onto the menu we would have to come up with the perfect dessert to compliment our menu. The item(s) would need to be special.
What are you hopeful for in Calexico’s future?
We hope for a healthy expansion of the brand. We are opening two Philly locations, by 2015 one to two Chicago locations, and the hopes of more stores in the horizon!
153 Rivington Street