Round up your compadres for more tacos, tequila and technicoloured fiestas that you can shake a sombrero at!
When we’re not torching our tastebuds with Bali’s spiciest sambals, we’re getting our chilli fix at our favourite Mexican cantinas in Seminyak, Canggu & Ubud: Lacalaca Cantina Mexicana, Lacalita Bar y Cocina & Lacasita Fonda Mexicana. You see, until Lacalaca opened in Seminyak back in 2012, finding good Mexican food on the island was harder than taking a siesta at a Cinco de Mayo fiesta – not gunna happen.
So when Lacalaca gave Seminyak’s dining scene the first taste of truly authentic Mexican food, naturally, the island went loco for their straight-from-Tijuana tacos and cooler-than-Colonia-Roma vibe – and they wanted more. Enter: Lacalita in Canggu and Lacasita in Ubud – the little sisters to the Lacalaca flagship.
Here’s a taster of these three Mexican trailblazers, and why they’ll have you screaming for more. Arriba!
Lacalaca Cantina Mexicana
The place: Like the salt to your tequila, the beans to your burrito, Lacalaca is the heart and soul of Bali’s Mexican scene. Located in the centre of Seminyak, this buzzing joint comes with kick-ass and unpretentious modern Mexican food with a twist – generous servings of locally sourced, fresh ingredients, flavourful imported spices direct from Mexico and top-notch hearty comfort fare. The kicker? Awesome and friendly staff who’ll get your Mexican juices flowing, like maître d’, Putu Carlos with his contagious smile and rocking outfits!
The food: Round up the squad for a serious Mexican feast, because you’ll want to stuff your faces with mouthfuls of sopa de tortilla (smoky spiced chicken tomato broth with chunks of avocado and crispy fried tortillas), mochomos quesadilla (shredded beef and pico de gallo), and a sizzling plate of grilled chicken fajitas served with fresh flour tortillas, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream… Muy caliente!
The drinks: There’s nothing quite like an icy-cold beer with Lacalaca’s spicy Habenero sauce, but we’d rather get sloshed on the bar’s tongue-in-cheek interpretations of cocktail classics and extensive list of tequilas. Load up on their signature margaritas (watch out for jalapeno-infused signature), or sample one of their new frozen favourites such as the pineapple mojito. Drinks are available by the jug too, so there’s no better excuse for one tequila, two tequila, three tequila, four!
The verdict: Lacalaca comes with rave reviews under its sombrero (we regularly hear fellow foodies say it’s the best they’ve ever had) but it’s not just dinner time you’ll want to pop by for. Stick around until late because Lacalaca has become known for its margarita-filled Mexican fiestas that you might not remember the next day, but you’ll struggle to forget!
Lacalaca Cantina Mexicana, Jl Drupadi No1, Seminyak, Bali, p. +62 822 4731 2218. Open daily 9am – midnight.
Lacalita Bar y Cocina
The place: Lacalaca’s little sister is no less swish, decked out in a clashing colour palette, bold murals and fun, breezy furniture. With just as much technicoloured pizzazz, full bodied flavour and well-earned hype, Lacalita has given Canggu’s surfers and local foodies exactly what they’ve always wanted – awesome Mexican bites with a modern twist, wrapped up with an ever-evolving vibe and menu, raucous happy hours every other day of the week, and rock n’ roll beats that’ll have you on your feet!
The food: Menu-wise, everyone’s favourites from Lacalaca make a reappearance here (hello, fish tacos!), but it’s a more curated selection with dishes exclusive to the Canggu branch, like the slow braised beef short rib in red mole sauce, and the Oaxacan ceviche made with ocean fresh snapper and juicy chunks of mango, avocado and chile d’arabo – yum!
The drinks: Those familiar with the Lacalaca legends will know that their margaritas mean serious business, and it’s no different at Lacalita. Try the new Chipotle Chihuahua with smoky chipotle chilli, tamarind, tangerine, lime and gluten free tequila, or if you’re just thirsty for a simple glass of vino, they’ve got that covered, too!
The verdict: Take everything you love about Lacalaca and put it in the swanky heart of the Canggu hood. Add in some exclusive dishes, a more tropical vibe from the nearby beach and an oh-so cool crowd who regularly sit in the open air space from 7am – 7pm on a Sunday for 2-4-1 Bloody Mary’s (us included) and like us, you’ll find yourself there until closing.
Lacalita Bar y Cocina, Jl Raya Batu Bolong 68, Canggu, Bali, p. +62 822 4731 2217. Open daily 9am – midnight.
Lacasita Fonda Mexicana
The place: Lacasita spices up Ubud’s food scene with its fresh, modern and muy picante contemporary Mexican cuisine, blurring the lines between lunch and late night cocktails. And, for the first time in Laca history, Lacasita is taking a slightly different approach to its predecessors. Unlike the two other Lacas, Lacasita has rolled out a brand new menu that’s heavily focussed around vegan, vegetarian and gluten-friendly items. It is Ubud, after all…
The food: Not only tacos, quesadillas and tostaditas (though you’ll find those on the menu too) the best way to get a taste of everything here is to try it all. Luckily, there’s a sharing menu to help you do exactly that. Start with the Tortitas de Elote (Mexican style corn & jalapeño fritters with chipotle mayo) then move onto the adobo & lime spiced duck leg croquette with slaw, avocado and a fig mole sauce. Finish up with the spicy pork chorizo tostaditas, and whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the traditional Mexican platos, like the tempura cauliflower with sweet potatoes, grilled fennel and a papaya & peanut pipian sauce.
The drinks: It wouldn’t be a true Laca experience without the cocktails – lots and lots of cocktails – so Lacasita doesn’t disappoint there either. The ever-famous Jalapeño Margarita sits alongside some of the best libations we’ve found in Bali’s hippie heart. Our fave? The frozen Guava Colada – a zesty twist on the classic graced with a giant and juicy pineapple slice. And to help keep those cocktails coming, Laca’s too-bueno-to-be-true happy hours are in full swing here too: two for one Mojitos, classic Margaritas, Caipiroskas and Sangrías, Monday to Friday from 5-7pm.
The verdict: Lacasita takes things to the next level with a more modern, refined approach that uses the freshest locally sourced ingredients around. Think broths, spices and charred veggies, instead of just queso, cream and guac. But don’t get your tortillas in a twist just yet. Just because Lacasita is less about Mexican cliches and more about contemporary classics, you won’t be disappointed with Laca’s new look. And psst! To really knock Laca lovers out of the park, Lacasita has also launched a tapas-style Mexican Sunday brunch too. Rest assured, Bloody Marys will be flowing like there’s no manana… Arriba!
Lacasita Fonda Mexicana, Jl Sri Wedari No. 4, Ubud, p. +62 822 4784 7216, e. [email protected].
Hungry now? You betcha! We can’t get enough of these cantinas, and it’s not hard to figure out why: the man of the hour, chef-owner Will Lovejoy, and his infectious passion for turning traditional Mexican cuisine on its head has made Lacalaca, Lacalita and Lacasita three of the island’s most popular Mexicana destinations, bringing real flavours from Mexico’s streets, markets and fondas to Bali.
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