Calli Restaurante Mexicano

by KimHo on December 14, 2009 · 11 comments under: British Columbia,Food,Restaurant

Calli Restaurante Mexicano
1102 Davie Street
Vancouver, BC
CALLI Restaurante Mexicano on Urbanspoon

Sometimes I have to wonder myself… If I have a bias against a “cuisine”, why do I choose to go to such restaurant type over and over? I guess I do have a hope that I will hit jackpot and find something I would like and change my mind. But, in the case of Mexican, given that most of the restaurants here offer basically the same dishes, my expectation for that has been really low. With that in mind, I went to Calli Restaurante Mexicano, a new restaurant in Davie Street.

While the location is prime in terms of Davie Street, somehow, a lot of restaurants have opened – and closed – something that does not bode that well, if you ask me. But, still, I was there for the food and was about to find out what these new place had to offer.

The restaurant itself isn’t that big; at least they were able to accommodate about 10 tables. Provided there was a fast turnaround or a lot of take out customers, that shouldn’t be a problem. Since I arrived first, I could choose any table. Since it was a sunny day (as a reminder, the time between my restaurant visit and blog post is about a week or so; this week the weather will be… crappy), I obviously chose the window one.

After getting the menu, the first couple of dishes were… Stereotypical at best. However, going through the list, I noticed one that would have worked. So, I made my order and waited…

I received things a little out of order. In this case, here is the drink I ordered, “Jamaica” or “agua de Jamaica”. If you recall my post on El Centro, Jamaica does not refer to the country, it refers to the drink made with Hibiscus/Roselle/sorrel. Not much to comment in this case. As for the basket with the blue cloth, it had flour tortillas. Not much to mention; it was pretty much the same flour tortillas you can find anywhere.

Here is what I ordered, pollo con mole. As mentioned above, most of the dishes were the stereotypical ones, here is the one that you usually won’t find/order. True, I did have it in La Taqueria but it was in a taco. I was ordering this in a dish. Along with the pollo con mole, the same order had some rice and beans.

The rice was almost your basic rice; except it wasn’t the parboiled rice you usually see in Greek restaurants. The beans wasn’t that much different from the beans you can find in other Mexican restaurants, with one minor exception: See the cheese on top? It looks like mozzarella but isn’t; instead, it is Oaxaca cheese, which is quite similar but different at the same time. It didn’t add much in terms of taste but texture. Still, I found it was interesting to eat.

Because I haven’t had mole that many times in the past, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have heard it contains chili peppers and chocolate, among other ingredients. While that would have indicated something bitter and spicy, the end result didn’t really tasted like that. Instead, it was a thick slightly sweet sauce. This might sound like the teriyaki sauce found in Japanese restaurants but it wasn’t. Along with the shredded chicken, which gave some savouriness, it was a different experience to the usual Mexican fare. I know this does not really explain what mole is. It is a you must try it by yourself type dish so you can find out. Even then, depending on where you get it, it might still be different as everybody has their own recipe (based on the chili used).

Now, the meal wasn’t a perfect one. As you can see, the portion size leans towards the small size. Granted, though, the meal was ~$9. Also, service was somewhat slow despite there were only that many customers in the restaurant. I will give it some allowance as it was manned by an elder couple during lunch. Would I come back? For the mole only, I might. However, I might end up ordering two servings rather than one.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 raidar December 14, 2009 at 2:22 pm

That is the fanciest plating I’ve ever come across at a Mexican restaurant Kim. I keep seeing the mole poblano with shredded meat, but in Mexico I remember whole pieces (leg/thigh). I found this always a little more control over the amount of sauce you need (depending on the sweetness or heat).

I’m with you on the portion size..order two, or maybe treat as an appetizer. Although I suppose many may fill up on the tortillas de harina.

2 Sherman December 14, 2009 at 5:45 pm

That’s all you got? I’d be very hungry if I were you. But I’d end up eating 2nd and 3rd lunch too.

3 raidar December 14, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Haha ;) How very Lord of the Rings Sherman. 2nd and 3rd breakfasts..Classic.

4 KimHo December 14, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Sherman, yeah, I had to grab a snack later that day… :(

Raidar, how about dinner/supper as well? :)

5 Follow Me Foodie December 15, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Ok now THAT looks like a “McDonald’s meal”… It’s like an appetizer! The fancy plating is interesting though. I just had Mexican for lunch today and for some reason after you eat Mexican you really don’t want it for a while… Or is that just me? I find most of it almost the same… A taco/burrito/enchilada/taquito/chimichanga….tortilla + beans + cheese + rice + meat + salsa + guacamole + sour cream…. Yours looks like a deconstructed burrito without the tortilla.

6 KimHo December 15, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Mijune, in my case, with most, if not all Mexican offerings so far, I am simply *not* interested. I think you are right, for the most part, it is the same couple of ingredients mixed differently. There were flour tortillas in this meal, though; they were beneath the blue cloth.

7 Brad B March 30, 2010 at 4:55 pm

Calli is a new cute little family-run Mexican restaurant on Davie Street deserving of your appetite. I’ve been here maybe ten times now, and though much of the seating is often open, the food is consistently excellent and reasonably priced. They made a regular out of me in a neighborhood where I have many, many choices. The service is maybe not fast-paced, so if you’re looking for a quick burrito joint, this isn’t it. But what it is, it does SO WELL that it’s worth coming back.

Among their standouts, the guacamole is made to order, which is a rare treat, and the mole… OK, I judge Mexican restaurants by their mole sauce (chocolate and chili peppers — if you haven’t had this, you’re not living yet), and the mole enchiladas are obnoxiously good.

You know, I just had lunch there, and I’m thinking about going back for dinner. DEFINETELY! Brad B. Boulder

8 Andy May 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm

The food here is very good. Not greasy – home made Mexican food – I go at least once a week :-)

9 grayelf August 11, 2010 at 11:15 am

Hi Kim:

I was looking around online for comments about Calli and came across yours and Mijune’s about the Mexican food that is available in Vancouver being the same few ingredients repeated. Though I fear you are both correct, I must say that idea makes me so sad. The different cuisines (and there are many) and types of dishes in Mexico are so rich and varied. We just don’t get any of them up here. I’ve long pondered why this is so and have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer.

Calli is the only Mexican restaurant I can recommend at all at the moment, and even it has some clunkers on the menu (avoid the flautas at all costs). Their pozole, available on weekends only, is really worth trying, as it is not something you get here too often.

I understand they are in the process of changing the menu so I will have to check it out again soon.

10 KimHo August 11, 2010 at 4:17 pm

grayelf, similar to a lot of other cuisines, a lot of times it falls into perception and demand. Same with what happened to Chinese food years ago, when people thought Chinese Canadian cuisine was real Chinese, then, with the influx of Cantonese, perception is that Cantonese encompass all Chinese. Of course, it took years and now we know better that there are a lot of other offerings. So, same with Mexican, unless the perception is somehow broken and demand increase, I do not see change much. The fact that El Calli was offering these different dishes would have been enticement enough for me to go back.

11 T Reyes September 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm

To KimHo, grayelf and the rest of the readers of this blog:

The “Pollo con Mole” (Chicken with Mole sauce) has changed from what is depicted here to a more traditional presentation of the two pieces of chicken, covered with plenty mole sauce and sesame seeds, with the rice and beans as sides in larger portions. It looks (and fills) now like a dinner plate (as it is served in Mexico!!!) Mole BTW has become (almost without planning it) our specialty thanks to customers’ requests.

We have made a couple of other changes as a transition to other major ones (and additions) coming soon. What I can say (and this is me as a true mexican living in Vancouver,) the food we offer at Calli, given the limitations of the ingredients (among others) is true mexican homemade-style food.

You can try our tortas, or our traditional quesadillas. Even the Burritos (which I have to confess are more the american style due to the acceptance they have among locals) are offered with the true mexican flavour thanks to our “homemade style salsa wich can be as spicy as you want.)

Grayelf, I don’t know when you tried the order of taquitos but we have improved them a lot!!! I encourage you to try them again.

BTW, Pozole is not longer only weekends. You can get it every day (chicken pozole that is, because the pork -real ingredient in the pozole- is not really accepted locally either.)

Cheers to all, and we wil lbe very glad to have you at Calli.

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