Baja Mexican food brings the noise
By Megan Reneau
One Sunday night, I was procrastinating packing for a fast approaching move. I decided now was the best time to try out Mixx Food Bar, which just so happened to be located right below my living quarters. As soon as I walked in, it was loud. There was a DJ mixing live and people were dancing—just 3 people out of about 15. I would have thought it was cute if I could hear myself think.
I approached the five-foot tall bar and tried to order. I had to repeat myself a few times for the hostess to hear me and vice versa. I eventually was able to communicate that I wanted the shrimp tacos with red sauce and a Happy Camper IPA. The hostess explained as well as she could without screaming in my ear that the sauces, rather that being chile, were Japanese mayonnaise mixed with something—the yellow was sweet, the green kinda spicy, and the red was hot. Since I always assume the hottest thing in a restaurant won’t be hot to me (and with her recommendation), I went for the red sauce.
I went to a table in the corner and waited for my meal. The server danced my drink over to me. I ordered a simple IPA and received a large, ornate drink dressed in what looked like spiced fruit in the dim lighting. He left the drink on my table and salsa-ed away. The hostess quickly noticed the mistake and brought me my drink, taking the large, fancy drink to the couple who actually ordered it. Shortly after that, I received the food in a to-go box. I assumed the kitchen misunderstood my order until I looked around at everyone else’s meals—they actually were serving food in to-go boxes for everyone.
Normally I wouldn’t have any problem with this, but considering the atmosphere of the restaurant, I expected more. The place is modern—it has casually unfinished walls, exposed pipes, wooden tables, metal chairs and extremely soft lighting By all means, this place is fashionable but they decided it was appropriate to serve their food in to-go boxes? It was preposterous. I can’t get over it.
The corn tortilla guided the shrimp concoction straight to my foodie soul. The crunch of the tortilla followed by a small bite of shrimp took me to Surf Toc heaven. The shrimp was perfect, it was juicy and plump. My teeth cut through it, and I felt every protein fiber being severed in pleasure. The heat from the spice that coated the crustacean followed by the yellow sauce was beautifully complex. Then the taco fell apart, and I was ripped from my moment in Elysium. I continued to eat the Toc, but with much strife. I finished it as quickly as I could so I could escape this mid-'90s dance club.
When I went in again with my boyfriend on a Monday afternoon, the place was empty but the music was still blasting. I ordered the Tofu Tocs and went out on the patio to wait. We received our meal quickly and dug in.
I had ordered the yellow sauce this time but received an unmixed coleslaw dressing. My boyfriend ordered the Pork Belly Toc with the green sauce but he got the unmixed coleslaw dressing as well. After expressing his disappointment, he dove into it, nodded and said, “Yeah, this is really good.”
After a bite of the Tofu Toc, I was sold. I would love to have that thing in my life every day but, despite the very affordable cost of $7-$8 per two tacos, I can’t afford that. Especially since I would prefer to have it every meal of the day.
The tofu was perfectly spiced, as was the shrimp, but the texture was (obviously) different. I’ve found in my vegetarian-ish experience that people either know how to cook tofu or they don’t. A lot of the time, tofu ends up cooked so badly that I understand why meat-eaters think it's shit. This tofu was a wonderful example of what a good cook does. The inside remained slightly creamy but firm and the outside was exquisitely crispy. The slaw added an entire other level of intricacy. The cabbage was plentiful and juicy, the carrots added a wonderful, barely-sweet flavor, and the dressing melted into everything creating a lovely unity in the meal.
Hopefully in the future the volume will be turned down so I can stand to be there for more than five minutes and enjoy one of the huge fancy drinks. For the residents of the apartments above, it’s delightfully convenient since they offer food delivery. For the rest of Albuquerque, I can say with certainty—despite the issues of noise, proper food display and utensils—it is certainly worth the trip.
Mixx Food Bar
901 Park SW, Ste. 102
Hours: Monday-Sunday 10am-10pm
Vibe: Fashionably Undone
Alibi Recommends: Tofu Tocs with Yellow Sauce
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