[UPDATED: Further Refining] Announcing Another Mexican Food Genre: Bro-Mex

Categories: Mexi Meals
chronictacos.jpg
Photo by Todd Barnes
The ne plus ultra of Bro-Mex

UPDATE: Many commentators are bringing up great points that deserve expansion and highlight...after the jump, of course!

Original post: I'm doing a review next week on...somewhere, and I asked around Weekly world headquarters for the names of Mexican restaurants similar to Mario's in Huntington Beach or Chronic Tacos: places not so much defined by its food but rather clientele. Where the music is loud, the people young, the ambiance relaxed, the customers familiar with what's on the menu but who would be lost at El Fortín or Chago's.

Someone suggested "white Mexican," but that wasn't good: gabachos, after all, have historically been the primary acolytes for Mexican food in this country. Someone thought "surfer-Mex" was what I was thinking about, but I nixed that as well: that category is already existing under Fresh-Mex.

It had aspects of Cal-Mex, Mexican-American, but definitely not Tex-Mex. New Mexican? Do people here still even know what that is?

Finally, someone said the magic words: Bro-Mex. Bro-Mex. GENIUS.

Bro-Mex is between fast-casual and sit-down, but is rougher than Chipotle and more casual than El Torito. It's better than fast-food, and serves a demographic that grew up on Mexican food in Southern California but moved beyond the hard-shell tacos of their parent's generation. The aesthetic of Bro-Mex restaurants centers around the world of energy drinks, surf culture, and MMA. Their clientele think lucha libre masks are hilarious, have Mexican-American friends or--if they're Mexican-American--don't speak much Spanish, and think Gringo Bandito is the greatest creation since Ed Hardy lighters. The question of authenticity doesn't register in the Bro-Mex universe--guac or sour cream is the existential question.

Bro-Mex is Mario's, Chronic Tacos, Pink Taco, Taco Surf, Don Jose's. Bro-Mex is not taco asylum, Malo, or other hipster places--hipsters would never be caught at Bro-Mex joints, not even as an ironic statement ala PBR. Wahoo's slips in as Bro-Mex, but Chipotle definitely isn't Bro-Mex (although Bro-Mex eaters will eat those burritos). Bro-Mex's birthplace is somewhere between Huntington Beach, San Diego, and Manhattan Beach, but we're more than happy to claim it as our own. The food isn't always abominable, but the crowd skews young--the only families here are young families. The center of the Bro-Mex world is HB, although it's also strong in the Inland Empire, San Diego, and Manhattan Beach--and its reach is growing. I don't think badly of Bro-Mex, but probably wouldn't patronize any of those places--just not my scene, you know? It is not an abomination, but rather something organic, something OC.

I can go on, but I think ustedes can all tell a Bro-Mex restaurant when you see it. Now, let's all try to popularize it ala clustertruck and see how far it goes...

UPDATE: Broseidon below thinks Alberto's and its many clones qualify as Bro-Mex. I personally would classify it under Cal-Mex; however, those places and their California burritos are the preferred "authentic" Mexican restaurants of Bro-Mex lovers. Alerto's is their Kogi--and Bro-Mex fans would NEVER take part in the luxe lonchera craze.

MayhemintheHood, meanwhile, asks if the genre was created in "MexiBro." YES. The ancestors of Bro-Mex are places like Señor Frog's and Papas and Beer--these tourist traps were the ur-Bro-Mex. Keep the conversation flowing, people!

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45 comments
LuisA
LuisA

Frida's Tacos on Melrose is kinda Bro Mex but the food is definitely more Mexican than Bro. 

DanGarion
DanGarion

 Wahoo's isn't part of the Fresh-Mex?  And wouldn't Don Jose's be more in the El Torito area?

Also where is the Bra-Mex?  Not bra as the article of clothing but bra' as in the other pronunciation of bro.

Achyfakey
Achyfakey

Stop trying to make "Fetch" happen...

Tom
Tom

I use these places for different events, like if I’m on my lunch break and want some cheap beer and food I might go to Wahoos and get a few beers of the month and the 2 taco plate for lunch. Marios in HB is more of a night meal for me. I got to pay a tip so that might be for first time date. Then there are the coupon places, buy one meal and get the second ½ off or free, then I just get drunk in the parking lot and bring in a small bottle of vodka and order a sprite and just add the cheap vodka when I get my free refills

ForkNknives
ForkNknives

Don Jose's has been around way longer thatn the whole bro thing how'd did that get throuwn in the mix?

Amybeelasered
Amybeelasered

Holy crap! You have got to try Lolita's in Chula Vista.(Or Chula Juana as we call it) The Carne Asada Nachos are awesome. It's been there since I was a kid....so like a trillion years!

Josh
Josh

Bro-Mex may be one of the greatest sub-genre names of all time. But including Mario's and Don Jose in that group doesn't work. I agree with the previous poster, they're in that "haven't been updated since the 70's" group.

Go into Mario's on any weeknight and hit the bar. Not a lot of "bros". More like a bunch of blown out local drunks who are enjoying the stiffest, and best, margaritas in OC. Their food leaves a lot to be desired, but the bar is a great spot to get a drink or ten on a budget.

Chronic, Taco Surf, Sharkeez, and Fred's are the leaders of this genre...

JD
JD

I love this new category. Its not the food that keeps me away from some of these places, but rather the clientel. That being said, Bro-Mex places usually offer pretty good burritos. I have to agree with the audience about Don Jose's though. Its outdated 70's decor and easy for families, but definitely not a hangout for bros.

Hrjenness
Hrjenness

Gotta LOVE taco surf!!!! Who else celebrates not only taco tuesday, but taco thursday as well! Fantastic!!!!!

The Fatlamb
The Fatlamb

Wait a minute here Mr. Gustavo, not too long ago I wrote a harsh comment about Gringo Bandito and you returned with a comment uplifting the glory of the Gringo Bandito the bro sauce...hmmmmm interesting...

Mo_abdullajd
Mo_abdullajd

douche-mex works for me.

don't like to go anywhere with "cantina" or "baja" in the name and within a couple blocks of the ocean generally.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Wahoo's is Beach-Mex with a healthy dose of Bro-Mex mixed in. They also come right out and say that their Mexican food is mixed with Brazilian and Asian flavors.

Khojem
Khojem

I would consider Bro-Mex to be Fred's in Huntington Beach. NOT Don Jose.

JasonB92869
JasonB92869

But did you know that The Bonilla Family (Long time owners of El Toro Meat Market) helped launch Chronic Tacos with recipes. True story.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

"Bro-Mex" is a good term and Chronic Tacos is the best example; if I remember correctly the white boys who started it did go to a Mexican family for the recipes. Mario's and Don Jose though? Both those places are what I might call "Early 70's Sit-down Mex." Taco Surf is a better example of Bro-Mex. But it's always good to see people that realize there's way more categorizations than just "authentic" and "Tex-Mex."

Novak
Novak

You forgot to mention the pinnacle of Bro-Mex - Fred's

1000Steps
1000Steps

Love Bro-Mex. Dead on. Actually Taco Asylum is No-Mex.

Baked Bro Tato
Baked Bro Tato

Albert-Bro's

and

El Matador come to mind as other Bro Mex spots

Brosideon King of the Brocean

Anita
Anita

Wait, has Don Jose's changed a lot since the 1970/80s or is this a new place with the same name? When I was growing up, it was solidly in the non-hipster cheesy combo plate sit-down Mexican Family Restaurant genre, complete with a lady singing Crystal Gayle covers in the lounge.

Claudia Koerner
Claudia Koerner

Ahahahaha YES. I feel distinctly out of place at Taco Surf, but it's my surfer bro friend's favorite restaurant.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

TK Burgers and Daimon Sushi are also Bro-X restaurants, minus the Mex.

Bill T.
Bill T.

LOL, my first reading of the sentence was "...  try Lolita's in Chula Juana ...", automatic substitution.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

There is no such thing as Poseur-Mex. Everything and nothing is authentic when it comes to the galaxy of Mexican food.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Fresca's and Del Taco both do. Taco Surf has pretty good shrimp tacos. I most recently ate at the Seal beach location.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

See "El Matador" above for further reference. Restaurants evolve, and I'd say those two are the El Toritos of Bro-Mex.

I got nothin
I got nothin

Bros love Bro-Mex food, just as much as Bros love America, chanting, and talking about how wasted they got.

How can you talk about Bro-Mex restaurants without including Fred's and Sharkeez?

I know that they are predominantly bars, but they also serve a whole bunch of terrible and overpriced mexican food.

I'm going to have to disagree with Don Jose's being a Bro-Mex spot. I think it falls into the same category as El Torito, given your qualifier that only young families go to Bro-Mex spots.

As any Bro knows, hipsters can't set foot in a Bro-Mex restaurant due to the fact that hipsters are universally despised by Bros, and vice-versa

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Alberto's and its many clones isn't technically Bro-Mex, but they are the regional Mexican joints of the Bro-Mex galaxy. El Matador used to be Cal-Mexi, but now it's Bro Mex GALORE!

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

You nailed Don Jose's and Mario's is the same.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

TK is the official bro-gur joint, and Daimon...Bro-penese?

DanGarion
DanGarion

 Yes! Brah!  Sorry I don't use that in my day to day life, I forgot the correct spelling.

Christian Z.
Christian Z.

Probably a good way to put it. "Bro-Mex" with a sit-down/table service factor.

gustavoarellano
gustavoarellano

Sharkeez—DUH. Blacked it out, if you know what I mean...but definitely there.

Shuji Sakai
Shuji Sakai

Maybe a little too much corporate polish to draw the monster- truck-with-testicles crowd?

Edit: I'm thinking the Tustin location. Different scene than the HB one, I suspect.

I got nothin
I got nothin

Gonna have to add Cabo Cantina and Baja Willies in there as well.

At some point, did Taco Mesa cross over into the Bro-Mex realm? Maybe at the least the Ladera Ranch location.

If I had to guess, it sounds like you will be reviewing that Burrito Bandito place

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