Salsa Kitchen & Miguel’s Café:
comparing two Mexican restaurants
During almost 30 years in California and on
occasional visits to Mexico, I ate Mexican food on many
occasions. I thought it was about time to review a
couple of the fairly few Mexican restaurants in Chiang
Mai. Both Miguel’s and Salsa Kitchen had been
recommended to me, so these seemed like good places to
Miguel’s is on the outer moat road, north of the Thapae
Gate, but closer to the corner than to the gate. It is
easy to recognise from the prominent front, featuring a
bright red chili impaled on a fork - see the photo.
There is a convenient parking lot next door. Inside, the
space is fairly utilitarian-a feature not uncommon in
Food is ordered from the counter. The menu includes all
the common Mexican standbys, such as tacos (60-90B),
burritos (110-200B), enchiladas (60-70B), fajitas
(160-290B) etc. You can also order burgers and other
sandwiches, but I did not try these. Drinks include beer
and rather watery margaritas. Servings are large.
For my taste, I found the food somewhat lacking in a
distinctive or interesting flavour - different items
seemed to taste rather similar. It is probably unfair to
expect that Mexican food here might compare to the
better among the Mexican restaurants in California, in
view of the much greater choice there. But, if you are
looking for standard Mexican fare, with large helpings
at reasonable prices then Miguel’s has it. The telephone
number is 053 874 148.
Salsa Kitchen has been open in Chiang Mai about five
years, but relocated to Huay Kaew Rd only a few months
ago. It is close to Central and directly opposite to the
Shell station, in a small row of interesting restaurants
that include the well-established Lemon Tree and the
more recently opened Sushi Corner (both of which have
been reviewed in the Chiang Mai Mail recently). There is
parking at the Shell station across the street.
The menu is extensive, including appetizers and salads
and soup, and with a wider range of Mexican dishes than
Miguel’s. There is also a separate Caribbean food menu,
although I have never tried this.
The restaurant is air conditioned, with a pleasant
atmosphere and prompt service. Most of the customers
seemed to be farang, which is not particularly
surprising, although my Thai companion, who had never
before eaten Mexican food, really enjoyed it, saying
that some items reminded him of Burmese dishes.
The first meal I ate here we started with Mexican
bruschetta (89B) - not something I have seen in a
Mexican restaurant before. It turned out to be sort of a
tangy salsa without much liquid, served with wedges of
thin and clearly home made tortillas. The next time, we
tried the crunchy sweet potato fritters (89B) as an
appetizer. I expected fried potato wedges, but in fact
these were sweet potato cakes served with cilantro
pesto. Not only was the flavour interesting and suitably
appetizing, but they were also attractively served.
Indeed, unlike in most Mexican restaurants, where food
presentation seems to be low on the list of priorities,
all the food we ate in Salsa Kitchen was well presented.
My only regret is that I was hungry and forgot to take a
photo of the fritters to include here before sampling
them. As with the bruschetta, these sweet potato
fritters are not something I have seen in a Mexican
restaurant before, but I wish they had been.
Both times I ate here I went for their special - shrimp
tacos (149B). These were full of tender shrimp wrapped
in thin tortillas which were softer than usual in a
taco. Again, not quite like those you would expect in a
Mexican restaurant, but delicious. I should also mention
the excellent refried beans which came with them.
We tried the vegetarian nachos (109B), appetizing both
in appearance and flavour. These came with three
“sauces” on the side, a mild salsa, a hot salsa and a
yoghurt/sour cream mix - this last again an item that is
not quite the usual in Mexican restaurants. The chicken
chimichangas (139B) had a fine flavour of the marinated
I cannot finish this review without mentioning the
margaritas. These were served with a plate of salt and
lime slices and at 209B for a 600ml pitcher or 309B for
a litre, excellent value. I would describe the
margaritas as good, rather than great. What is great
however is the margarita pie (59B), another item that I
have never before seen in a Mexican restaurant. This
consists of margarita frozen on a cookie crumb base,
rather like eating partly frozen cheesecake with a kick
- and wholly delicious.
Between these two places, Miguel’s offers standard
Mexican fare. Salsa Kitchen on the other hand offers a
tasty, innovative, different take on Mexican food. If
you have read this far, I am sure you are in no doubt
which I personally prefer. But what about you - what is
your favourite Mexican place in Chiang Mai? Please let
me know at: [email protected]
Bacon and Cheese Stuffed Potatoes
This is a favorite in many families and the stuffing is very
simple. The cheese topping under the griller makes this dish, in my opinion, and
vintage cheddar is my favorite, having enough flavor, not to be outdone by the
bacon. Unfortunately this is not a quick dish to prepare, as it requires some
time in the oven, so is one that you should plan for, rather than a spur of the
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees.
Wash potatoes well, rub all over with salt and bake for one
hour in the oven.
While potatoes are baking, chop up the bacon into small
pieces and quickly fry, making sure the bacon still remains
Remove potatoes from oven and cut into halves. With a spoon,
carefully scoop out the majority of the potato, leaving the
skins intact. Mash the scooped potato flesh with milk and
butter, stir in the bacon pieces, onion and pepper and
return to the potato skins.
Return the stuffed potatoes to the oven and bake for 10
minutes, then sprinkle the cheese over the top and bake on
high until cheese melts.
Bacon chopped, fried 100 gm
Onion, finely chopped 1 medium
Cheddar cheese grated 50 gm