I used to host a Taco Night at my house back in the 80’s. The drink/drive laws had just changed and my friends and I wanted an excuse to stay in on a Friday night. Our group started out small. The five of us made the most of our night by cooking, eating and drinking in my house in Hancock Park, California. We were having such a good time that a few more friends started coming. After about a month we had grown to 16! It was a good thing that I had a dining room table big enough to accommodate everyone. My task was to prepare the food. Everyone else brought drinks and desserts. We carried on this tradition at different locations for the next 15 years. By then the party had grown to about 30 people from all walks of life.

Rusty Pelican Thailand 2008

Rusty Pelican 2008

When I moved to Thailand I discovered that there wasn’t any good Mexican food. The ingredients were readily available but no one had the talent to pull it all together. At the time there weren’t very Americans living in Chiang Mai. We all had one thing in common and that was our love of Mexican food. We got together when we could and made Tacos, Burritos, Carnitas, basically anything we could think of. One day a restaurant opened near my house that offered Mexican food. I tried it and I must admit it was OK but still left a void in my culinary lifestyle.

I bounced around Thailand for a few years and the more Mexican restaurants I visited the more discouraged I was. Some of them were downright awful. Most of them were just plain lousy. None of them were any good. I finally settled in Khao Lak to work as Executive Chef at a posh resort. The hours involved made it impossible to treat myself to a homemade Mexican meal. I quit the gig after a long season and decided to go into business myself.

Rusty Pelican 2010

Rusty Pelican 2010

The menu concept was a no brainer. I decided to add some Tex Mex favorites as well. My Chili Con Carne came in second place at the Texas Chili Cook Off back in the late 80’s and that is a great feat since I am from California. I had learned about making Fajitas while spending time in Oaxaca, Mexico and a dear old friend from Belize taught me about the best black bean recipe ever.

I import my chilies from California and have another fellow expat who smokes and dries his special blend of peppers just for me. The stock he brings with him just about gets me through the year. I always look forward to his visits. We use the imported tequila for our Margaritas and I make my own sweet and sour lime juice as well. We keep a well stocked bar and have plenty of soft drink choices too. Unfortunately I can’t get Mexican beer in my area and what is available in Phuket is too expensive to make it worthwhile so I substitute San Miguel in addition to the local Thai beer.

This year I added a classic All American Burger and Cajun Chicken Sandwich to the menu. Believe it or not there aren’t good burgers in Khao Lak. Quality beef is hard to come by but I have a great butcher who I met while I worked at the resort. I am also the only one making frosty milkshakes here in town. Not even the local McDonalds make them! I don’t know what else to tell you so I will finish by inviting you to come and visit us here at the world famous Rusty Pelican Mexican Cafe whenever you stop into Khao Lak.

Rusty Pelican Thailand in Bang Niang Khao Lak

Rusty Pelican Today