Feb 212007
Authors: Michelle Zilis

A sign hangs near the door with the restaurant’s motto, “As fresh as it gets. Lets put it this way, the only thing we don’t make from scratch is the sour cream.”

We wanted the public to be able to enjoy things that don’t just come out of a can,” said owner Rick Krammer. “We started the restaurant with the concept of fresh food. We make some things up to twice a day.”

As the hot spot of the month, Caf/ Mexicali, 2925 S. College Ave., creates a comfortable atmosphere inviting to all clientele – especially CSU students. This semester, any CSU student receives 25 percent off all entrees, simply because the owner remembers what it was like when he was a student.

Krammer said a big part of his employee base is CSU students as well and he praises their hard work. “College kids are goal-oriented, they work hard and like to have fun,” he said.

Krammer reiterated the fresh concept and said they make all the sauces, tortillas and chips. Everything is made from scratch and no preservatives are added to anything.

The Southwestern theme is incorporated into every nook of the Caf/ Mexicali, from the Mexican blankets hanging on the walls to the green, gold and maroon tiles on the tabletops. The sunroom is filled with hanging plants and art decorations and allows customers to look out onto College Avenue.

The restaurant’s Web site coins itself as “Fort Collin’s newest dining concept.” It appears to be a mix between a traditional Mexican restaurant and a Chipotle-style order-at-the-counter place.

One of the things I like best about it is the casual dining experience,” said Cori Hanson, a Caf/ Mexicali employee and CSU junior math major.

Krammer explained what sets the restaurant apart from both comparisons. First, Krammer said, they do not consider themselves a traditional Mexican food restaurant because the flavors can never be 100 percent authentic. Instead, the type of food served is a “Northern Mexican/Southern California target.” Krammer said many of the sauces are different – for example the red pepper sauce is not as bitter as in Mexico.

Krammer said Caf/ Mexicali is different from the Chipotle-types for many reasons. First, Caf/ Mexicali it is about the sauces – they smother everything.

“Rice and beans are not served as the main entr/e and nothing is put in a bag,” Krammer said.

The large portion sizes are also worth taking note of. Burritos are the biggest seller, served in a tin, heated and smothered. Krammer recommended his personal favorite item on the menu, the sweet pork salad.

Hanson said whatever he orders, he always likes it to include chicken and the green chili.

“We tried to create our own concept for dining taking the best of everything we saw,” Krammer said. “Our commitment to the quality of our food and happy service is what sets us apart.”

Hanson echoed this statement and said he thinks they are set apart by “the simple fact that we cook all our stuff fresh right here.”

Staff writer Michelle Zilis can be reached at verve@collegian.com.

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