Not many Pattaya area restaurants have a lively crowd on a Saturday lunchtime minutes after reopening at noon. And, surely, only one place has them enjoying Mexican cuisine in all its splendor with a portrait of the Dapper Skeleton, a zinc icon etching created by Mexican printmaker Jose Posada, looking down sublimely from on-high.
This is the popular Taco House located on Siam Country Club Road, just short of the new concrete flyover which houses the Route 66 American diner. Thankfully, the everlasting road repairs in that area of town are completed at last.
Mexican cuisine, like most, is essentially a fusion of different cultures including – amongst others – the Aztec empire, the conquerors from Spain who in turn were influenced by the Moors in North Africa and, most significantly, TexMex variations from neighboring American states in the deep south.
The staples of Mexican food are corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, cocoa, vanilla and chili peppers, but dairy products, chicken, beef and goat meat are all European imports.
The Mexican general Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, who attacked the Texans of the Alamo in 1836, is dubiously credited with popularizing TexMex dishes, although his only clear eating connection was his popularizing of chewing gum made out of paraffin wax.
Taco House is favored by a very competent and English-speaking staff who can, if necessary, guide you quickly through the vocabulary of crispy or soft tacos, mammoth quesadillas, chicken fajitas, chili con carne, burritos and all the delightful rest.
The new menu encourages you to build your own “just the way you like it with the freshest and finest ingredients.” We tried the Outback Taco, three spiced-up and crispy shells containing lettuce, taco beef, jalapeno nachos cheese, served with a unique salad and a spicy black bean and corn succotash. Don’t translate. Just eat.
The Margaritas are freshly blended without powders or other mixes and come in several varieties including strawberry, lime juice, mango, lychee or peach. There’s a good selection of other alcoholic offerings and the opportunity to sip a pint of Tiger beer for a handy 100 baht. Prices overall are very reasonable. Dinner for two is easily achieved for under 1,000 baht.
There are several homemade salsas to choose from with graded spiciness and endearing names such as Baja Red, Hearty Chunky and Chipotle Chili. Ancillary attractions for some are multi-screen sports TVs, mercifully silent during our visit, on-street or rear parking areas and an effervescent family atmosphere created by an international and Thai clientele. The restaurant does not accept card payments.
No complaints about Taco House which, incidentally, is spotlessly clean. The menu, perhaps, should give greater emphasis to vegetarian options although the waiters easily comprehend what you mean and can readily oblige.
A Chinese couple from Xi’an, anxious to show us they had a 270-day Special Tourist Visa for Thailand, sat nearby and confided that the only Mexican restaurant in their city was called The Blue Frog. However, they hastened to assure that tail-less amphibians were decidedly not on the menu over there. They were strict vegans in any case.