Those who know me well know that there are 3 things that I will always say “Yes!” to: the latest Stephen King book release, free beer, and tacos. I am certainly a fan of all three. When it comes to Stephen King’s stories I like them creepy. When it comes to free beer I like it cold. When it comes to tacos, as a Californian, I like them L.A. style from a taco truck. This is why when I learned that Cholos BKK (official Facebook page) recently opened and were specializing in L.A. style tacos from their food truck I was pretty psyched to check them out.
With a few foodie friends, we sampled through their menu which includes much more than tacos. Each dish offered flavors that were very different from the Mexican fare I’ve become accustomed to in Bangkok, which also evoked pleasant memories of living in the “Golden State” of California.
Let me show you around the menu…
More than tacos…
Unlike taco trucks in the US that specialize in one particular taco, Cholos BKK offers a few taco options plus other menu items for those guests wanting more. Bangkokians want options.
Cholos BKK menu is broken up into 4 ingredient categories: birria pork, chicken tinga, fish, and mushroom birria. Each category (except for fish) offers the option of having the ingredient in a taco, tostada, quesadilla, or burrito. Fish is only available as a taco.
First up, the pork birria!
Pork Birria Tacos
Originating from the Mexico state of Jalisco, birria is a dish that is traditionally made with goat, beef, or mutton and usually served for celebratory occasions. Cholos BKK chose to make their birria with pork to make it more acceptable to many diners in Bangkok who are averse to eating beef. By slowly stewing pork shoulder for 4-5 hours with a mix of dried chilies, spices, onions, garlic, and tomato the results are a tender, juicy, flavorful meat.
The Pork Birria Tacos (180 baht) consist of homemade corn tortillas (made fresh daily) topped with diced onions and coriander and served with lime wedges and a side of savory consommé made from the birria stock.
The consommé adds some serious flavor to these tacos so make sure you dip and double-dip!
My friends were bananas for this birria…and I was certainly digging it, too. But my personal favorite dish was this flavor bomb, the Chicken Tinga taco.
Chicken Tinga Tacos
Tinga is a traditional dish of chili seasoned pork from the Mexico state of Puebla. Cholos BKK puts its own spin on this classic by slow cooking chicken with chipotle chilies and chorizo spices. I’ve never tasted anything like it before.
But in addition to the flavorful meat, the Chicken Tinga Tacos (180 baht) is transformed into a flavor bomb by adding “cotija cheese” (made in house from crumbly salted paneer), pickled red onions, coriander, and lime wedges. One bite into this experience and I knew this would be a taco I’d be craving down the road…Hell, just writing about it I want one NOW!
One more tinga…
For a real crispy treat, try the Chicken Tinga Quesadilla (180 baht). Cholos BKK first caramelizes cheese on the grill then wraps that in a 10-inch flour tortilla with chicken tinga, pickled red onions, coriander, and cotija cheese. This is then pressed on the grill again. What you get is a crispy, cheesy, chewy tinga flavor bomb that’s suitable for dipping in their fiery homemade salsa!
The most popular dish at Cholos BKK is their Fish Tacos (180 baht). As far as tacos go, it simply doesn’t get any more L.A. style than this. Served on flour tortillas, each taco comes with 2 small crispy battered pangasius fish filets, thinly sliced cabbage, Pico de Gallo sauce, and chipotle mayo.
This is a big seller for a reason. The fish batter is cooked perfectly, and the chipotle mayo adds the perfect amount of heat and sweetness. It also makes a beautiful drool-worthy picture if your social media feed is hungry!
Cheese it up!
I’m just going to say it. Cholesterol levels be damned, you haven’t really lived until you’ve eaten a burrito that’s been wrapped in caramelized cheese. There. I said it.
As an add-on for any of the burritos on the Cholo BKK menu you can request they “CHEESE IT UP!” for an additional 70 baht. I recommend you do this.
My pal, Eddie (blogger for Stranger in Bangkok) was kind enough to hand model for this shot. Pictured is the Birria Pork Burrito (235 baht) with the cheesy upgrade. This burrito is a seriously heavy meal consisting of a 12-inch flour tortilla, filled with birria pork, cheese, Mexican rice, refried beans, onions, and coriander.
But honestly, I wouldn’t care if it were filled with dryer lint and cockroach trap prizes so long as they wrapped it all up in that crispy, chewy caramelized cheese shell! Nomnomnom…
If you or your friends are rocking a meat-free existence, Cholos BKK has got you covered. They offer tacos, tostadas, quesadillas, and burritos made with birra seasoned mushrooms (instead of pork). The refried beans are also made without lard…you’re safe!
The Mushroom Birria Tostadas (170 baht) are made with 2 crispy fried corn tortillas topped with refried beans, mushroom birria, chopped onions, and coriander.
You’ll be happy to know that Cholos BKK also offers a good selection of alcohol and non-alcoholic beverages to accompany your meal (and time with friends).
Personally, I’m a fan of an ice-cold cerveza with my tacos. They offer a reasonably priced selection of beers ranging from 100 baht for local brews to 270 baht for craft imports. But if you’re a cocktail fan, you’ll love their potent slushy margaritas.
Where can I get a margarita machine in Bangkok for my house? Seriously, I need one.
A chat with the owners…
During our visit, I had a chance to chat with co-owners and the chefs for Cholos BKK. I spoke first with Radek (pictured right), and then with Eduardo (pictured left). Radek was born in Poland but his family immigrated to Los Angeles when he was 15 years old. During his time in the City of Angels, he fell in love with the food scene, especially the taco truck scene.
After working in the F&B industry for many years, in 2015 he moved to another “City of Angels”, Bangkok. Initially, he was working at the world-renown Gaggan restaurant as a sous chef. In 2019 he started his own venture Rad Meats, a producer of fine homemade sausages and smoked meats.
Just as COVID-19 was impacting the Bangkok food scene, he was alerted to an opportunity to purchase a food truck equipped with a smoker. After looking the truck over he realized it would be better used to pursue a different passion…L.A. style tacos…something he’d been craving since arriving in Bangkok those years ago.
Radek had an idea of what the flavors should be but he was struggling with nailing down the perfect recipe for L.A. style tacos. He sought the help of his friend, Megan, a taco aficionado and no stranger to cooking Mexican cuisine. It was Megan who helped him perfect the recipes. She also suggested he bring Eduardo on board. Having worked with Eduardo during his time at Gaggan, Radek was happy to be reunited with him in this new venture.
Eduardo is originally from Mexico City but after years of working around the world in fine dining kitchens, he landed in Bangkok to work at Gaa. A taco truck is a completely different environment than a fine-dining kitchen to cook in, and slinging tacos is very different from crafting gourmet dishes. What hasn’t changed is his focus to make delicious food and present it well.
It was Eduardo that came up with the name as a joke. Unlike L.A. where “cholo” usually correlates to gang involvement, in Mexico it basically describes a person who likes to chill out a lot. Though initially a joke, they kept coming back to it and it just stuck. Cholos BKK opened in July 2020 as a great place to chill out and eat tacos!
I’m hungry. Where is it?
Tucked away from the busy Sukhumvit Road, Cholos BKK is located 450 meters down Sukhumvit Soi 12 beside the Bankapi Mansion. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the Asok BTS or Sukhumvit MRT station. The colorful Cholo Skull signage is easy to spot from the road.
There are a few tables outside in a covered courtyard (safe from rain) so that you can dine al fresco. If you’re looking for a great meet-up place that can serve as a springboard to further Bangkok evening adventures, this is an ideal spot for you and your friends. But most importantly, Cholos BKK is just an excellent place to chill and eat tacos!
I want to hear from you!
Should you decide to experience Cholos BKK I’d love to hear your feedback in the comment section below, directly to me, or via message on either the Chow Traveller Facebook page or Chow Traveller Instagram. However you choose, I’d love to hear from you!