You never know who you’ll meet in a bar. It may be the future king of Denmark or, in the case of Luke Johnson and Will Hudson, that person may be your future business partner! Fortunately for us, their chance encounter in a bar in Mexico would later come to fruition in MexiCali, a Cali-style bar and tacqueria in Nobby Beach.
Good street food is also good drinking food, at least it seems that way at MexiCali! Perched above a loudly displayed sushi joint, the tables and chairs on Mexicali’s verandah stand to attention like twisted hair braids. Ascend the stairway and you’ll find yourself in a funky joint filled with thirsty patrons as dry as cactus.
The gorgeous bar is the centrepiece of the restaurant. Fronted with a hand made mural by Byron bay ceramic artist Jai Visecik, each tile is a work of art in itself. At this beach bar you’re in good company, with the two queens of Mexico, artist Frida Kahlo and the Virgin of Guadeloupe, sitting beside you among the pineapples and banana fronds! You’ll see some of Jai’s crucifixes on the wall as well, overlooking yellow and pale blue seating booths. The whole place carries an air of freshness and exuberant cheerfulness. Hard to tear yourself away!
There’s plenty to be happy about! Lots of great drink choices as well, including a well-chosen range of Spanish, Mexican and Californian beer, cocktails, and plenty of tequila. Feeling brave? With a lick of salt and a bit of lime, try the Monte Alban Mezcal, the true tequila lover’s spirit, containing the worm that lives in the agave plant from which tequila is made.
Out back, Gustavo, the Mexican chef, and his staff slave away in the kitchen. The menu holds Baja-styled Mexican dishes to suit the Aussie palate: Tacos (2 for $15 or 3 for $20) with slow-cooked meats and fish with fillings of chipotle, red onion, jalapeno, guacamole, cilantro, Pico de Gallo, fresh chutney and lime; Nachos with corn chips smothered in pulled pork, black beans, tomatoes and avocado with a splash of chipotle; battered cheese-stuffed Jalapeno Poppers; Kingfish Ceviche marinated in lime with fennel and mint; Tostadas; and MexiCali quinoa salad. It’s absolutely yummy casual food – light, fresh and tangy – well suited to health-conscious beachgoers who love a good time.
For dessert, try the Churros, served as little balls with a side of delicious caramel sauce. Yum! Donuts never tasted so good! There’s a real attempt to be true to the flavours and ingredients of this Mexican-Californian fusion cuisine, and service from our waitress Ondi is pretty snappy.
Later, I take a trip to the back verandah with MexiCali’s third owner Jarrod Barnett. What was once the back deck of a 3-bedroom apartment has been transformed into an Aussie-Mexican kitchen garden, replete with cactus, various chillies, lantern-hooded tomatillos, cherry tomatoes, as well as a Hills Hoist! The Nobby skyline ain’t a Mexican beach, but life sure can be!
MexiCali is as bright and breezy as a holiday at a tropical Mexican retreat. It’s so easy to cast yourself adrift on the open verandah with a bucket of Coronas. Thank God the life raft’s not far away!
Level 1, 2223 Gold Coast Highway, Nobby Beach Ph: 07 5572 0588