Más Mexicali Cantina has had its ups and downs since its debut a few years back. No doubt, it’s already added significant color to the former Coyote Crossing space in West Chester with its vibrant roadside Tex-Mex décor and lively rooftop bar.
But owners John and Joanne Caulfield are looking for more. They’ve parted ways with original partner Dave Magrogan (Kildare’s) and hired Mexican-born chef Kevin Ortiz to rethink menu selections and freshen things up with lighter ingredients. And while the results on our visit were mixed, things appear to be headed in the right direction.
For starters, my heaping bowl of chicken tortilla soup yielded satisfying spoonfuls of piquant, shredded meat in a tangy chili broth. Simple and tasty, the Mexican Dynamite Sticks weren’t as threatening as they sound. Corn tortillas rolled into crunchy cigars stuffed with chicken, chorizo, fire-roasted chilies and cheese, they went well with the tangy bed of dueling red and green chili sauces.
Entrées featured some promising components, hampered somewhat by spotty presentation. Traditionalists should embrace the chicken tacos—their juicy, marinated filling nestled in warm flour tortillas. But why not substitute fresh cilantro, lime and zesty pico de gallo for the exceedingly ordinary lettuce and diced tomatoes? The pork enchiladas especiale were surprisingly flavorful thanks to a red-chili rub, and the burritos are large (but not overstuffed), uncomplicated and fresh.
Service was a bit off, as our entrées arrived just as we were making our way through the appetizers. Still, the place is friendly and fun, and the menu had just enough hits to offset the misses.
102 E. Market St., West Chester; (610) 918-6280, mas-mexicali-cantina.com.