Friday, December 30, 2011

Mexicali Grill--Santa Clara, CA

Our department at work went to Mexicali Grill in the Mercado Center in Santa Clara to celebrate the holidays. Being only a few minutes from my office, I've long enjoyed going to Mexicali, especially for their mole, which I get every time and I've yet to find its equal anywhere else.

For our party, we ate buffet style and the main dishes included chicken rancheros, cheese enchiladas and veggie fajitas. Though Mexicali prepared these dishes well, what really stood out was the chile verde, which was among the best pork I'd had at a Mexican restaurant. Pork is one of the most unforgiving meats--it must be fully cooked, yet it's easy to overcook. Yet, Mexicali nailed it. Overall the dishes were fairly spicy, which suited me. I was nevertheless surprised, though because for a party of about 100 or so, the safe bet is to go mild. What we got was a full notch or two above mild.

The failing of the event, however, was the long wait we endured. Even though we didn't arrive until past the lunch hour rush (our appointed time of 1:15), the restaurant looked woefully unprepared. People in our party wondered if the restaurant was expecting us (it was). Dishes arrived at the buffet table in dribs and drabs across 30 minutes with the good stuff not arriving till the end. Since it was a buffet lunch, until all the dishes arrived, all we could do was wait. We were finally able to line up at 2:00.

The service was attentive although a bit jumpy. Three times they tried to take my plate when I wasn't really done with it. They also persistently tried to take my drink ticket even though all I ordered was water. However, despite the wait and aggressive (but well meaning) servers, I'm glad we held the event there. The pork was memorable and the fruit spread was impressive. We had a large, roomy section reserved for only our party so we could talk freely and loudly. And, others in the restaurant didn't have to be burdened with hearing about our accomplishments in supply chain management.

Mexicali Grill
3149 Mission College Blvd
Santa Clara, CA 95054
(408) 588-9865