Sometimes even though you’re surrounded by the freshest ingredients, some very talented cooks, and one of the most interesting cuisines in the world (Thai food) you just need something that reminds you of home. Since I grew up in Texas and New Mexico my comfort foods switch back and forth from BBQ to Mexican food…. and not fancy high end stuff. Living in Asia the things I miss most are the hole in the wall taco shops selling cheap tacos packed with flavor.
In Bangkok, Sunrise is as close as things get…
I’d walked past Sunrise tacos countless times without ever taking notice. Sunrise is located on Sukhumvit just after the Times Square building. The signs I viewed from the road and original shop seemed cheesy… not cheap and chic, just poorly done. I never saw anyone in the restaurant so assumed there was a reason. Eventually I noticed the store was opening a larger space across the parking lot in the same compound. They had proper tables now and people seemed to be eating there.
I took the plunge and visited, ordering what would become my regular dish – 3 Carne Asada Tacos with cilantro, onions, cheese, and mango salsa. These aren’t the best tacos I’ve ever had, but they are the best I’ve had in Bangkok, and when you’re a 27-hour flight from home you can’t get too picky.
Sunrise Taco’s charm, originally, lied in the fact that it didn’t really have any. It was a simple place that was open 24 hours and served up cheap tacos and burritos. It was well located across the street and up a bit from the Soi 11 clubs, so become our de facto post clubbing snack.
For better or worse, depending on who you talk to, they began to get “fancier”. At first it was the addition of fajitas and quesadillas (who can complain about 200 THB fajitas?), but soon things just got odd… I remember Thanksgiving two years ago buying a freshly made Pumpkin Pie from the shop and being offered a turkey and cranberry sauce burrito
As the menu expanded so grew the prices… a common complaint with some of my Bangkok friends these days. Everything became an extra charge, guacamole, sour cream, etc. 3 Tacos went from 129 THB to 179 THB and even more for “signature tacos”. Gone too were the days of 50 THB margaritas. I don’t mind paying 50 Baht more if I’m getting something, but lately it seems like prices go up and quality of food and service slide down – the wrong way for all this to go.
The other nagging problem with the shop is the service. At times the service is almost too good – a glaring contrast to most Bangkok restaurants. Constantly approaching to ask about drink orders, the meal, etc. Then the next time you go you’ll need a flare gun and bull horn to get anyone to even acknowledge your presence in the shop. At 3 AM I don’t mind shoddy service so much, but at 1 PM on a business lunch break, the poor service is agonizing.
So where do I stand on Sunrise Tacos? Right now I’m torn. I visit every time I come back to Bangkok, and for a reason – it’s some of the best budget, rustic, whatever you want to call it Mexican food in town and possibly Southeast Asia. I’d recommend it whole-heartily for a late night snack, delivery food, and if you go with open expectations.
The only problem as I see it is they are approaching a line where they’re no longer a “good value”. For me they’re approaching a price point where I start to expect more in terms of service, preparation, consistency, etc… I was fine to let the little things slide when it was 129, but once you get up over 200 then I’m starting to consider the details more But in the end Sunrise tacos makes better food than I had at a overly pricey Dempsey Hill Singapore restaurant charging upwards of 30 SGD a plate! So the value is still there for me and I’ll return again on my next trip to Bangkok, hopefully to be pleasantly surprised again
236/3-4 Sukhumvit Rd
Bangkok Thailand 10110
Fax 662- 229-4852