Charley Brown’s Mexicana

Posted: May 06 2014

Charley Brown’s is located on soi 11/1, right across main Sukhumvit from our soi. It’s a great destination for delicious Mexican soul food and refreshing drinks. It’s a busy place, in a quiet spot of the city center. We went to sit down with manager/co-owner Dave Bell.

Interview with Dave Bell of Charley Brown’s Mexicana

Where are you from and how long have you been in Thailand?
I’m from Manchester, UK, been here almost 13 years now. I was doing karate in England, but I didn’t want my black belt from, like, Birmingham, I wanted it from a cool place. Like Okinawa. Living in Japan seemed expensive though, so I figured I’d pick a cheaper country to ‘practice living in Asia’. So I ended up in Thailand. I had a good time, so decided to stay another year. Then another and another. 13 years on, I still haven’t been to Japan and I still don’t have my black belt. But with every year it just gets better!

What’s the story behind Charley Brown’s?
It was originally started in Kansas by Dan Loveland, who co-wrote the 1974 hit ‘Billy Don’t Be a Hero’. When Dan came to Thailand, he decided to start one here and opened in Town-in-Town. When he decided to go back to the States, one of the regulars, Gordon Ellard, said, ‘Don’t close. Sell it to me.’  And he did. Gordon moved the restaurant to this location 11 years ago. He took quite a chance, as there was nothing here at the time. Qbar and Bed Supperclub had just opened, but otherwise it was a couple of seedy bars and massage places. It worked because the manager at the time, Chris, was one of the nicest, funniest guys. Even though he’s left now, we still have five of the original staff! I came on after Chris and since then a lot has happened. We got the soi pedestrianized, with outside seating. Without the noise and the bikes whizzing past, it almost doesn’t feel like being in the city. I left for a while to work in Phuket, but things didn’t work out well. I came back to Charley as a business partner and we renovated the place. Now we’re doing really well.

What would you recommend from the menu?
The chicken wings are amazing. We’ve actually got a secret dish that’s not on the menu, the Cherry wings. My ex-girlfriend loved spicy food, so she used to come in and order wings, but ‘extra fucking spicy’. We decided that we couldn’t write that on the bill, so we named them after her, Cherry. They are ridiculous. They’re so spicy that the staff has to carry them behind their backs to avoid the chili fumes burning their eyes. The most popular dishes are tacos and quesadillas. My favorite is the sizzling fajitas with Aussie beef. They’re just fantastic. Even if I’m full, if I smell them, I feel like ordering a portion. And we’re especially famous for our margaritas and we have many great flavors. The sangria is also amazing.

What do you think of the soi and your neighbors?
I eat at all of the places, I love them. We help each other out if there are events, and by all being here, we attract more people. I find the soi has become a culinary destination, it has an identity of its own.

What’s your favorite thing about Bangkok - other than Tailor On Ten, of course?
There’s a such variety of everything. You’ve got food from around the world. You’ve got fancy wine bars and sleazy hole-in-the-wall places. You can buy 50 baht shorts up to Armani and bespoke. There’s a wide scope of everything.

What’s the best night to go out in Bangkok?
Personally, I have my day off on Wednesday, so always go out Tuesday to give me time to get over my hangovers. Tuesday is also Margarita Madness here, with half price margaritas all night! I finish at 11 and normally get a few drinks here, maybe play some pool and then go anywhere. I love random nights. That’s what’s cool about Bangkok, you go out for coffee and end up coming home at 8am, having played pool with the local mafia – or police!

Do you wear TOT to work?
Yes, but only at the end of the night, before I go out to events. I usually change half an hour before the shift ends and work in my suit, just to show off…

What piece of clothing can no man live without?
Every guy should have an awesome black suit. Just like girls have their little black dresses. Guys have the advantage that it can be worn in so many ways. Work, nights out, stand in for black tie etc. It’s just classic and has become iconic though movies like The Blues Brothers, Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction.

What do you think distinguishes a well-dressed man?
Attention to detail. Matching cufflinks, a properly folded pocket square, shoes and a complementing belt. You can tell if it’s not right. Cheap shoes with a nice suit are a big mistake. Wearing the right suit makes a guy feel confident and at-ease. Fashions come and go, but a good quality suit is always in style.

Luckily all the above is our specialty. You could say Tailor On Ten is to bespoke suits what Charley Brown’s is to Mexican food: the best in the business in Bangkok!

TOT Recommends:
The burritos and tacos are top class and the passion fruit margarita is delicious. Don’t miss the great value lunch deals.

Charley Brown’s Mexicana
1/23 Sukhumvit Soi 11, Bangkok
Telephone: +66 (0) 2 651 221

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