Calexico Restaurants and Food Carts- Tasty Cal-Mex Cuisine in Manhattan & Brooklyn

It’s not Mexican cuisine – it’s “Calexican.”

At least that’s how Anthony Fauci describes the food at Calexico restaurant. Fauci, who owns the restaurant’s Lower East Side location, was looking for new, up-and-coming brands when he found Calexico. He became a partner and in April 2013, opened the popular restaurant in lower Manhattan.

Calexico began in 2006 after three brothers – David, Brian and Jesse Vendley – moved from California to New York City and decided to open a taco food truck reminiscent of the cuisine in Calexico, a town in California next to Mexico’s border. Before Manhattan’s food truck craze, the brothers opened a Calexico food cart and just after two years, won the Vendy Award for Best Street Food in NYC after two years. Today, Calexico has three food carts and four restaurants throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.

The “Calexican” or Cal-Mex cuisine is made up of bold flavors and ingredients that stand out. The menu is very affordable and includes everything from salads, tacos, and sandwiches, to enchiladas, burrito bowls, and quesadillas. The most popular dishes are the baja fish taco, mushroom quesadilla, pork taco, burrito bowls and of course, the guacamole with chips.

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“The food here is street food taken to another level” says Fauci. “All of the ingredients are fresh and we still continue the simplicity of the food that you’d find at the food carts.”

The Lower East Side restaurant is located in a hip neighborhood with a cool street vibe, and was designed to look like the opening of a garage. It has an outdoor seating area and a fun-laid back environment that makes you want to relax outside with tacos and margaritas.

Calexico’s tacos range from just $3 to $4.50 each, so you might want to try all of them if you’re really hungry. Pictured below is the baja fish taco, made with beer battered fish, spicy coleslaw, mango salsa, and chipotle “crack” sauce served on warm corn tortillas. It only takes one bite of this delicious, colorful dish to experience the freshness and quality of the ingredients.

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Try the pulled pork sandwich made with slowly braised chipotle pork, which results in tender, juicy and flavorful meat. It’s topped with avocado, pickled red onions, bean spread, and chipotle sauce, and served with chili-cilantro fries that add a spicy kick to the meal.

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What’s Calexican food without a quesadilla? Below is the polloasado quesadilla – a toasted flour tortilla with grilled chicken that’s been marinated for 12 hours, melted cheddar and Monterey jack cheese. Between the size of the meal, the juicy meat and flavorful cheese, you’ll compare every other quesadilla you have to Calexico’s.

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Finally, you can’t dine at Calexico without trying one of their special margaritas. Below is a picture of two of their margaritas – the spicy jalapeno mint margarita (left) and the watermelon-flavored tequila mockingbird. (right).

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Address: 153 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002 Ph: (646) 590-4172 Website:

Click here for a list of other Calexico restaurant and food cart locations.

Veena Bissram

Veena's two biggest passions are writing and traveling, but after living in Strasbourg, France, she acquired a third passion – food.Veena combined her three passions to create, her own food website where she now writes about the meals that make an impression on her. She is also a freelance writer who previously wrote for Mashable. Follow Veena @FoodAvecFlair.