Ask any cool people in Bali where to hang out in Seminyak and Motel Mexicola must come to mind. While Seminyak is the ‘it’ place to be for sleepless days and nights of parties, good food and shopping spree, there are only a handful of wefie-worthy and legit-for-the-tummy places that should make your list when you’re on the island.
For those of you who are not familiar with the place, no, it is not somewhere you can sleep in before surfing the next morning at Petitenget Beach. Motel Mexicola is a self-proclaimed antojeria (Mexican snack eatery) and tequileria, serving proper tacos, proper tostadas, aguachile, quesadillas and other legit antojitos (that’s tapas). Steven Skelly heads the kitchen like it’s the Estadio Azteca football stadium in Mexico City. The bar flashes in between crushes of pineapple and pours of limon cabrone while dancing to mariachi beats with guests. After looking at how happening the place is every day, one may conclude that the food is average at best. Well, I recently visited the motel with the very mission to find out for myself. It’s not.
#1 The Best De Cangrejo Ever
I know, I write this as if half of the world knows De Cangrejo. But even if Mexican food is not your gig, the Motel will change your mind. So when in Bali, tell the nasi campur clan to give way to these cuts of blue swimmer crab in lime mayo and avocado. The trio mix extremely well with dash of adobo (Mexican dressing) and crispy leek. The crispy corn tortilla complements every satisfying texture in a mouthful, we just had to order one more.
#2 Balinese-meets-Mexican Warm Smiles in One Place
The Balinese is known for their hospitality, inviting culture and warm smiles. It is never difficult to see a local Balinese staff smiles at you in hotels, villages and some strangers you meet on the streets. Now combine that with the wittiness of the Motel and you’ll feel like you come to the right place in the heart of Seminyak. The servers would come play with children guests whenever they can. When it gets darker, there is no dinner service without a little dance or two so don’t go out without one.
#3 You Got to Eat Bare Hands
Get down to action when in Motel Mexicola and there will be no judging here. Menus like Tostada De Cangrejo, and pretty much the other four tostada menus, Guacamole chips and the Pancita Guisada deserve no fork, let alone proper table manners. Think grabbing one of the tortilla, take a full spoon of the braised pork belly, add some peanuts, onion and the Mexican rice and eat it straight with your hands. Well, the messier the better. Since the Guisada could use more heat to my liking, I added the chili for the sake of staying true to the Indonesian in me. Oh we had a good laugh.
#4 Two Equally-Delicious Sinful
Just when I thought I’ve had enough Mexican for the day, these two postres (Spanish for ‘dessert’) came highly recommended. Arroz Con Leche is Motel Mexicola’s take on rice pudding. It’s infused with cinnamon, a personal favorite spice of all spices and topped with vanilla ice cream. It’s such a simple dessert but it gave me the sense of how a Mexican family converses, dines and laughs on the table in their kitchen. The homey feeling was strong with the other one, Pingüino, 66% chocolate cake topped with warm chocolate mousse and vanilla ice cream. The way everything melts gave the best feeling, I imagine I come here again on a tough day and casually order the two treats to go home happy.
#5 Almost Every Corner is Instagram-worthy, I Have Stocks of Selfies until 2018
OK I may have overdone myself with the sub here. But one does not simply come here only to eat. You take photos, lots of it. I spotted at least two shrine-like commemorating this guy who you can pose with. Others include religious relics and lots of Spanish words. You can pose with a hat and pretend like you just come from Oaxaca. Oh please do.
In a nutshell, Chef Skelly and his team deserve a visit when you’re on the island. The food is made for sharing, the mood is made for dancing your day in and out. The location allows you to go for lunch and then hit the pineapple-throw-away beach for some surfing before heading back to the Motel for some Mexican nightcap. And oh, don’t miss the free tequila run from 8 to 10 pm. Aquí está!
Motel Mexicola Bali
Jalan Kayu Jati 9X, Seminyak
Tel: +62 361 736688