College Dining On A Dime: Mexicali Blue

Mexicali Blue in New Paltz makes me feel anything but blue. According to their website, Mexicali Blue “serves up delicious Southwestern & Californian style cuisine, featuring ultra fresh tacos and burritos. Our philosophy is based on the California healthy way of thinking, fresh and natural ingredients, prepared quickly.”

I have been eating at Mexicali Blue longer than I can remember. Being a Hudson Valley native, Mexicali Blue is a staple in my diet. Whenever people from out of the area come to visit me, Mexicali Blue is where I take them for fresh and delicious tacos and burritos.

But who is one of the masterminds behind this popular local food establishment?

Chris Nicolosi, one of the owners/managers/chefs at Mexicali, is driven by his passion for food and that is definitely reflected in the vast menu. The most popular item on the menu is the chicken burrito, but Nicolosi wants people to expand their palettes to explore other items on the menu.

“I try to push our salmon, catfish or tuna based items because nothing is frozen, everything is fresh,” Nicolosi said.

Mexicali also brings being personal to the next level when it comes to serving their customers.

“The people who come here aren’t just a number, they’re actually a person to me,” he said.

Mexicali Blue has opened up another location in Wappingers Falls, New York. The location is much larger than the New Paltz location and also has a tequila bar. The new restaurant also has music events as well as happy hour and ladies night.

When it comes to Mexican cuisine, I’m much more of a taco fan. As Nicolosi described to me, many people get into a niche of ordering the same items every time they come in. And I won’t lie, I’m the same way. There is something about just knowing what flavors await you that is comforting. But Nicolosi told me to take the leap. I took his suggestion to get the pulled pork taco, but I couldn’t let go of the comfort of normalcy just yet. I also got my favorite: a portabello taco.

To start, the portabello taco ($4.50) is also put on a beautiful blue tortilla. The blue aesthetic makes the entire taco pop. These mushrooms have that delicious grilled flavor and are paired with their always vibrant and well seasoned guacamole and their red onion marmalade. With all of this, I was in vegetable heaven (which in my book, is a good place to be.)

Since Nicolosi has the passion and knowledge of the restaurant’s flavors, I let him choose which taco I should try that wasn’t in my usual fold: the pulled pork taco.  The pulled pork taco ($6.50), according to their daily specials, is “pork butt marinated for 24 hours in achiote spice, orange juice, and a homemade spice mix. Slowly baked for eight hours with a homemade cole slaw and cilantro.” The coolness of the slaw was a perfect partner for the slight hotness that came from the pork.

Mexicali Blue can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and on their website,