Every once in a while a restaurant comes along that exceeds your expectations, and La Monita absolutely falls into that category. La Monita is conveniently located at Mahatun Plaza right next to the Ploenchit BTS station. This understated taqueria has taken the city by storm and firmly established itself as one of the best Mexican restaurants in Bangkok. While reservations are not required, they are highly recommended as this popular eatery is often filled to capacity. Call ahead at 02 650 9581.
The secret to the success of La Monita is the powerhouse husband and wife team of Kasama Laopanich and William Baustia. Acting as chefs, waitstaff, owners, designers and everything else in between; they are the heart and soul of this fantastic restaurant. Self described as “hard core foodies” the couple met and married in the San Francisco Bay area of California. When they moved to Bangkok in 2004 to be closer to Kalama’s family, they longed for the Latin flavors of California. It was this desire to “eat the kind of food that we love” that fueled their passion and led them to open La Monita in 2010. La Monita, which means “Little Monkey”, is the nickname lovingly bestowed on Kasama by her husband William. Their passion for each other and for food is reflected on the menu and in the way that they run their restaurant.
La Monita is nothing fancy, and there is no gimmicky entertainment or décor. This place is all about the food. It is understated and rather small with seating for about 60 patrons. “The vibe we were going for is beach town coastal, like you would find in Puerto Vallarta or Cancun” said William. The décor is unpretentious, and is dominated by painted wooden picnic tables set in an orange, yellow and blue color scheme. The casual theme is maintained throughout, as dishes and plates are kept at a minimum and most of the food is served in colorful plastic baskets on white parchment paper in the classic diner style.
The music is upbeat and Latin in nature and the bar is fully stocked with Tequila. But don’t go looking for a gin and tonic or a banana daiquiri here. “We only sell cocktails from Latin America “stated William. You can enjoy an ever popular Margarita, relax with a refreshing Mojito, or try a sweet and sour Caipirinha which is the national drink of Brazil. La Monita is gaining a reputation for serving one of the most unique Latin drinks out there, the little known Mexican favorite the “Michelada”. The Michelada starts off with a salt rimmed glass like in a Margarita, but the similarities stop there. Corona beer, Tabasco sauce, a touch of Maggi soy sauce and fresh squeezed lime are all combined for a mind blowing taste sensation. Love it or hate it, it’s a genuine “taste of Mexico” in a glass and is guaranteed to put a few “hairs on your chest”.
According to William, all the recipes are interpretations of food they love from their favorite eateries in California, and of family recipes passed down to William from his mother and father. While there are standards that will always be on the menu, don’t be surprised to find specials available such as Tongue Tacos, Beef Cheek Burritos, or Mexico’s national dish of Menudo made from tripe. William and Kasama work very closely with local suppliers to grow the Mexican produce they need and even make local versions of traditional Latin cheese such as their Queso Blanco and Manchego. They also make their very own version of chorizo which is far superior to what you can find in the local grocery store. The Queso Fundido (290Baht) is an excellent starter and is perfect for sharing. This is a hearty cheese dip that is incorporated with sautéed chorizo. It is comes with 2 flour tortillas , 2 corn tortillas, a basket of crunchy fried corn chips and a trio of freshly made salsas. It is rich and spicy with a smokey depth of flavor that goes to a whole new level when the fresh lime is added. The Guacamole is another well executed classic that shouldn’t be missed and it works well with the Queso Fundido. La Monita is famous for their tacos and burritos and it really is all about the fillings. Burritos are priced between 190-210Baht and the Mexi-Tacos are 3 for 220Baht. There are about 10 fillings to choose from, but the real show stopper is the pork filling. The Al Pastor (spicy roasted pork) and Carnitas (crispy roasted pork) are insanely good. This is a bit of “porky heaven” that is so good it leaves you feeling as if you’ve just had an “out of body” experience. It was truly “love at first bite”. No one, absolutely no one is slow cooking pork this way and imparting such a depth of flavor and perfect texture. The Shrimp Tacos are also other-worldly. Although the shrimp appeared to have been previously frozen, the taste was complex and uncompromisingly good. They were creamy and luxurious, with smokey and spicy flavor notes. The Carne Asada (Steak) Quesadilla (200-320Baht) was also a real stand out. La Monita’s version of a Quesadilla is crunchy on the outside with all the topping on the inside, and served piping hot. The quesadilla contained fork tender beef, well seasoned pinto beans, fresh tomatoes,onions, creamy melted cheese and guacamole. Every element is individually seasoned for maximum flavor and it truly is a one of a kind. Other recommended dished include their Tortas (190-210Baht) which are scrumptious sandwiches made of crusty bread and grilled meats.
With more and more Mexican restaurants popping up in Bangkok every day, it is easy to get lost in the crowd. What sets La Monita apart is the taste of the food. The flavors are authentic, this is not Mexican American food, but real Mexican food like you find south of the border. This is a fantastic addition to the culinary food scene in Bangkok and there are not words to describe how awesome their pork is. The sooner you get there, the sooner you’ll realize just what you’ve been missing all these years!
See La Monita Restaurant Page