Mad Mex

By | February 1, 2006

Mad Mex
See link for location and hours:

A staple of students and suburbanites alike, Mad Mex provides fairly priced, tasty chow, stays open late, and generates the best margaritas north of the Mason-Dixon line. They have all kinds of happy hours and times of day where food and drinks are half off, all of which are good deals. But probably the biggest draw of Mad Mex is that the establishment has such a good sense of humor that you just know you are going to have a good time, and you know it every time you go.

First things first, the margaritas are reallllly good *hiccup* and everyone should try shome becaushe I’m plashtered and I want you to. But seriously – one big-azz is all I need for an entire night of merriment. Add another one, of any size, and I’ll probably be so bibulous that you’ll need to lead me around cuz I’m in a state of such glee that I can’t keep track of where we’re going. They come in all kinds of frou-frou flavors like kiwi and strawberry, but I’m all hardcore so I get lime. Of course, to add a feminine touch to hardcore, I get it frozen … but with salt! You can get it however you like, even with a little floating lime cup of a tequila shot!

They have all kinds of salsa and dips, all of which are pretty good, especially the guacamole. For years I thought I didn’t like guacamole (see comment at the end), but I got over that real quick at Mad Mex. It is very fresh and bright tasting, and is a mandatory addition to all my mex-y burritos. Sometimes I don’t even want a burrito especially, but I get one anyway because I can’t bear the thought of NOT having guacamole. I am insane.

Another good ‘starter’ is the Super Mad Mex Nachos. Yum!! Some might say that I am picky about nachos. I will not stand for a plate, one nacho deep, with dry chips, rubbery cheese, and an overdose of jalapeños, a la Fuel & Fuddle. Or for the kind where the chips are all sogged up into little limpy triangles because of a salsa that is too wet. Or with any kind having a disproportionate amount of toppings to chips, so that you have all these dry, sad, left over bits. Or with chips so salty and hard they burn your lips and cut your gums – with nothing but a thimble-sized cheese cup to dip into. And no way in hell do I want nachos that only function as a beef-grease-to-gullet-mobile. With all those requirements, can you believe I found some nachos that I DO like? Slathered in black beans, cheese, jalapeños (the right amount), sour cream, salsa, and guacamole, they cannot be beat.

As for entrees: burritos, enchiladas, tacos, chimichangas, quesadillas…everything is pretty much good, and there are so many varieties it is really up to you to choose. My most frequent orders are Super Mad Mex Enchiladas (featuring their chickpea chili, which is delicious on its own as well), Amazon Tacos, and any manner of burrito. My favorite burrito of all time, the “Do ya Need a Duhnita Burrita”, is no longer offered, but it was like my dream burrito. It had MASHED POTATOES in it, and CORN and THREE KINDS OF MUSHROOMS – mmmmmmmmm! I wish they’d bring it back! None of the other burritos have ever jazzed me up like that one did (and it still does when I daydream about it). In fact, I think the rest of them are all sort of variations on a theme of one flavor, which is basically a good flavor, but can get a little boring. Fortunately, there are a couple ‘out there’ burritos that make Mad Mex unique, but a little less ‘authentically’ Mexican (although I don’t know many people who would claim Mad Mex is authentic Mexican anyway). I dig the Thai Curry Burrito, the Wing-O-Rito, the Great Ta See Ya Rito, and the Carnitas Burrito, which is really like a BBQ pulled pork burrito.

For vegetarians and vegans, Mad Mex is a great choice. There are lots of completely veggie options, and you can get tofu, tofu cheese, tofu sour cream, and whole wheat tortillas. This is also good for dieters, depending on what else you put in your burrito ;)

Right now, Mad Mex has a special Vegan Burrito. It has brown rice, chickpea chili, tofu cheese, and spinach, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla, topped with tofu sour cream. It is obviously not as tasty as the queso bean dip and deep-fried chimichanga winking at you from the next table, but they do a very good job of constructing a burrito that could otherwise taste like cardboard. I like it a lot, and I get it almost every time I go (and I am not vegan).

So there you have it: Mad Mex all wrapped up in a flour tortilla. Chances are, you’ve already been there – how can you avoid it really! You probably have your own totally different opinion, but even if you don’t love the food, you probably keep going back because it is just fun. No one can argue with their margarita (and if they do, they are really too drunk). And you have the satisfaction of watching the fools outside the Oakland location shaking their heads back and forth, trying to catch a glimpse of the cactus they thought they just saw. At Mad Mex, everyone can find something they love, and that’s just what makes it so good.

Super Mad Mex Nachos
Super Mad Mex Enchiladas
Any Burrito that appeals

If you are going to the Mad Mex location in Oakland, save a few dollars by arriving between 10 and 11 to get the ½ price big azz margaritas at the bar, and then work it so that you get seated after 11pm to get the half price food (lasts till 1am).

If you don’t like the loud music, or would rather talk at a normal volume than yell at your MexMates, try one of the four non-Oakland locations in the Pittsburgh area. My favorite is the one on McKnight Road because in summer they open up the huge windows on one side. It feels a little more like a cantina. The other two are fine as well, but none of them stay open as late as the one in Oakland (or have that amazing, well-timed, half-price deal).

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