2/23 Phanon Yothin 7 (Soi Ari)
Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai
Opening hours: Daily 5pm-12am
Mexican cuisine has been one of the more popular food trends to emerge on the Bangkok dining scene in recent years, from long-established favourites to newer eateries springing up around town. With some core ingredients and characteristics shared with Thai food through the use of chillis, lime, and coriander along with communal-style dishes packed with layers of flavours and textures, it readily appeals to both locals and expats alike. The act of eating Mexican food in itself can be a messy ordeal but is also part of its fun, unpretentious charm that goes hand-in-hand with drinks and company for a laid-back and stomach-satisfying night out.
Casa Azul brings this enjoyable eating experience to the northern part of the city where Mexican fare was lacking amongst the hip, upscale restaurants, cafes, and bars across a range of international cuisines that populate the Ari area. Most Mexican places in Bangkok are concentrated along the stretch of Sukhumvit Road so the opportunity was there to open up a similar establishment in one of the most up-and-coming areas of the city. Co-owners Tom, Alex, and Jack wanted to provide a more relaxed yet vibrant setting for food and drinks as a social hotspot that distinguishes itself from the abundance of industrial-rustic chic venues that typifies the local scene.
Situated towards the end of Soi Ari (Phahon Yothin Soi 7) itself and thereby conveniently located within walking distance from the BTS station, Casa Azul – or “Blue House” – draws its inspiration from the family home of the renowned Mexican artist Frida Kahlo. As the name suggests, the two-storied space is predominantly decked out in a striking shade of cobalt, with red and yellow accents for a bold aesthetic that not only stands out from the neighbourhood alone but is a welcoming change of decor amongst many of the newer venues around Bangkok with look-alike vintage stylings. Handpainted designs of decorative sugar skulls and bookcases combined with framed artwork including one of Señora Kahlo herself adorn the walls for an ‘at home’ feel along with cactuses and candles adding to the cozy ambiance that quickly becomes busier as patrons fill up the downstairs bar area as the night goes on.
The concise menu, which looks to be expanded in the near future, is designed to introduce those who are new to Mexican food as well as satisfying more seasoned connoisseurs. Classic favourites such as burritos, nachos, quesadillas, and tacos are given a ‘healthy’ twist with the hearty homemade recipes being full of flavour without feeling greasy or stodgy and has just the right amount of ingredients. A choice of condiments ranging in hotness levels with the fiery Hellfire sauce at the top end of the scale are also on hand. Beverage options include a selection of international bottled beers, cocktails, and spirits including Patrón and Jose Cuervo premium tequilas. Margaritas naturally are a staple here with the Bulldog – featuring an upside-down Coronita in a glass – being their signature tipple that packs a punch.