El Barrio ( formerly Barrio Bonito ) has been around for over 11 years. Initially in Lonely beach and since 2013 at its current location in Kai Bae village. And over the years, not much has changed. And that’s a good thing. As you know you’re going to get good service, great Mexican food and even better cocktails when you dine there. I’m not sure if it’s the best restaurant on Koh Chang but it would be in my Top 3 for sure.
The restaurant has outdoor seating in a roadside courtyard and more tables undercover indoors. There’s no aircon, as it’s open-fronted, with fans to keep diners cool. During High Season it’s often very busy and there’s a small bar area where you can wait to be seated or just grab a drink.
We go there not just for the food but also the cocktails. It’s surprisingly difficult to find bars that use full measures of top shelf alcohol plus real fruit in their drinks. Many places save money by using the cheapest possible booze and syrup or a minuscule amount of fruit, mint, lime etc. Not here. Most here are in the 180 – 200 Baht range. Start at the top and work your way through the menu, you can thank me later. :-)
Having ordered your cocktails, it’s time to move onto the food. The dishes are made for sharing, and portions aren’t huge. It’s far better to order a few small bits and pieces and share amongst the group. All the sauces and dips are homemade. If you order simple tortilla chips they’ll be served with a selection of Pico De Gallo, Guacamole and Mexican dipping sauce.
The menu is a mix of Mexican staples, Nachos, Tacos, Burritos, Tostados, Enchiladas, Quesadillas. And vegetarian options are available
Couple of my favourites that you might like to try if you;re not sure where to start . . . Cochinita Pibil – pulled pork, marinated in orange juice, achiote, garlic and spices & served in tacos. Queso con Chorizo – a cheesy fondue with homemade chorizo. Goes great with a Michelada, a refreshing, spicy, drink made of beer plus tabasco, worcestershire sauce and probably a couple of other things.
And after you’ve finished your meal you’ll be offered a free shot of homemade digestif – there are usually a couple of types of fruit infused firewater on offer.
Reservations are usually necessary in High Season as the place often gets packed.
Price: $$$ – $$$$
Location: Roadside in Kai Bae, near the 7-eleven opposite the turning to Kai Bae Hut.
These restaurant reviews are just my thoughts on a place at the time I visited. I’ll mention if I know the owner well or get any freebies. But for the most of the time I am happy to play tourist and don’t mention this site at all. Obviously it isn’t possible to sample every dish on the menu and the type of food you have for lunch will differ to evening. In addition, owners and more importantly chefs, can change and your experience may differ from mine. If it does, post a comment below.