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“Nickeled-and-dimed: a delicious lunch, ruined”

Charley Brown's Mexicana
Ranked #258 of 13,694 Restaurants in Bangkok
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: US$15 - US$20
Cuisines: American, Mexican
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Special occasions, Families with children
Dining options: Late Night, Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Delivery, Reservations, Takeout
Neighborhood: Khlong Toei Nuea
Description: Covid-19 survivor... We're back open at our usual times with no curfew and no alcohol ban. We're Bangkok's oldest and best loved Mexican restaurant. For 25 years, we've been providing top quality food and drinks to locals and tourists alike. Great for parties or dates. We recently moved to a newer, bigger location close to the Asoke junction on Sukhumvit Soi 19. We have a Kids' Curfew after 8.30pm. The restaurant becomes more like a bar and it's not suitable for young children. Last orders for food is 11pm
Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

I tired Charley Browns’ all-you-can-eat weekend brunch on a recent Sunday, and give the food high marks. I’m a taco lover, and accordingly I ate only tacos—28 of them. While that might sound like a lot of food, I ordered them without cheese, and that made them significantly less filling.

I’m glad that the restaurant offers homemade soft corn tortillas. It’s doing so sets it apart from Mexicano, the Rembrandt Hotel’s Mexican restaurant: Mexicano buys its soft corn tortillas from a distributor, and they are loaded with preservatives. So I give full marks to Charley Browns for getting its tortillas right.

The shrimp in my tacos were large, flavorful, and plentiful. The chicken was good too, but the shrimp stole the show. The music and décor were fitting, and the memes in the bathroom were a riot.

I was pleased to see Chef Primo Rivera on the premises. He looked to be off duty (he wasn't wearing an apron), but he spent a few seconds chatting with each of the three occupied tables, mine included.

The promotion includes soft drinks and local bottled water. I had two small bottles of the latter.

My only complaint—and it is a significant one—is that the restaurant charged me for jalapeño slices: 50 baht per cup. I didn’t realize I’d been charged until I asked for my check. The brunch price is 900 baht net, so I planned to give the waiter 1,000 baht and tell him to keep the extra 100 as a tip. Alas, I was presented with a bill for 1,000 baht: 900 for the brunch and 100 for two cups of jalapeño slices. Given that I had only the brunch menu on my table (I gave back the regular menu almost as soon as I sat down), I did not see that the regular menu lists jalapeños as an extra that cost 50 baht per cup. Plus, jalapeños are an ingredient on the Nachos Supreme, which is one of the brunch offerings, so I’m surprised that I was charged extra for the sides of jalapeños, though I could have ordered as many plates of nachos as I could eat, for no extra charge. I’d like to think that I saved the restaurant a lot of money on cheese, too, since I asked for tacos without it. In any case, when a customer avails himself of an all-you-can-eat menu, a well-managed restaurant should have its waiters inform him immediately if any items he orders will cost extra.

Having noted that Charley Browns has far better soft corn tortillas than Mexicano, it’s only fair to note that Mexicano’s all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch does not charge extra for side orders of jalapeños. For that matter, neither does Sunrise Tacos, ever; jalapeños are part of Sunrise’s free salsa bar. Now, I’m not demanding that Charley Browns make jalapeños free when ordering from the a la carte menu. I would, however, like to see them included with the all-you-can-eat Sunday Brunch. At the very least, the staff should make clear upfront to any brunch customers who order jalapeños that they cost extra.

My disappointment upon receiving my check was compounded by Chef Primo’s apparent lack of concern for my case. He was sitting alone at a corner table, and was to the best of my knowledge within clear earshot of me as I told my waiter that I was surprised by the jalapeño charge. If for some reason Chef Primo couldn’t hear our conversation, I’m almost certain he could clearly see the unhappy look on my face as I paid my bill. Alas, he left his table and went to the kitchen; I didn’t see him again before I left.

In short, the food was delicious, but the experience was marred by an ill-conceived charge, miscommunication, and a feeling that I’d been had. It was a check with a nasty surprise. I know times are tough for restaurants, but alienating a customer in this way for such a petty amount of money is not good for the bottom line.

Date of visit: April 2021
2  Thank LingBKK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charley B, Owner at Charley Brown's Mexicana, responded to this reviewResponded 2 weeks ago

I usually answer reviewers.

But this response is addressed to potential future guests and our thousands of fantastic regular guests.

I doubt anyone read all of Ling's review, so here's a summary.

Ling came here and ate TWENTY EIGHT tacos on an all-you-can-eat deal.
These aren't those little finger food tacos.
These are 6 inch handmade tortillas.
Each one weighs 150gm (without cheese)

These aren't street tacos (although each one cost him less than $1)
They're served to the table in a comfortable, air-conditioned restaurant a stone's throw from the BTS

To put that in some kind of perspective, he ate 4.2 kilograms of food - that's almost TWENTY Big Macs - in one sitting.

Then Ling made a mistake. Although he was given a menu that detailed exactly what was included in the offer, he decided that he could order extra items without paying for them.

The pickled jalapenos that we use are Costeña jalapenos, imported from Texas.
They're expensive. They're not the sort of ingredient we can just hand out.

After being asked to pay for his extra side orders, he accuses us of 'Nickel-and-Dime-ing' him.
However, the only person 'Nickel and Dimed' was Ling's server. Instead of leaving her the tip as he intended, he used that 100 baht to pay for his jalapenos and didn't tip the staff at all.

Ling considers paying 100 baht for the side orders a 'significant' complaint.
I disagree... I think he had more than his money's worth.
I think, if 'such a petty amount of money' is enough to trigger 'significant complaint', he should have checked with the staff before he decided to go off-menu.

We're in our third Covid lockdown.
We're working with a skeleton staff and trying to stay in business so we can celebrate our 30 year anniversary next year.

It's been the toughest 14 months for us all on the restaurant industry. So, answering Ling and his 28 tacos / 100 baht jalapenos is frankly an annoyance that I could do without at this time.

I look forward to welcoming future guests.

Best Regards


Charley

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2 - 6 of 870 reviews

Reviewed 3 April 2021 via mobile

We were so impressed with our meal at Charley Brown’s. We split the nachos and had a few tacos (and a few margaritas). Everything was fresh and delicious, even better than a lot of Mexican restaurants on the US/Mexico border. We can’t wait to return!

Date of visit: April 2021
Thank Heather G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charley B, Owner at Charley Brown's Mexicana, responded to this reviewResponded 5 April 2021

Dear Heddieg

Thank you for your fantastic review.

We were beginning to think Tripadvisor had gone into hibernation.

It's great to hear that you enjoyed your visit and we look forward to welcoming you back again in future.

Best regards


Charley

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 9 January 2021

One of my favorite restaurants in Bangkok, nice atmosphere, friendly staff and great food.
My favorites are Tacos de la Baja, Ceviche Tropical, Quesadillas and the Chicken Fajita Salad! Yummy!!!

Date of visit: December 2020
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank Polderart
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charley B, Owner at Charley Brown's Mexicana, responded to this reviewResponded 12 January 2021

Dear Polderart

Thanks a lot - We're proud to be the subject of your first review.

We've been around for 28 years now. Hoping to continue for many more (Covid-19 permitting).

Great choices for your favourites.

Looking forward to seeing you down here again soon.

Best Regards

Charley

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Reviewed 28 December 2020 via mobile

Visited here several times. Mexican food is OK. Margharitas are excellent. Some seating outside, plenty of seating inside.

Date of visit: December 2020
1  Thank OzBee
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charley B, Owner at Charley Brown's Mexicana, responded to this reviewResponded 3 January 2021

Dear OzBee

Thanks for the review. It's been a trying year and things are getting worse.

We appreciate hearing from guests who enjoyed their visit.

Best Regards


Charley

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 11 December 2020

Ever since Charley Browns moved from Soi 11/1 to Soi 19 it hasn't been the same. The space is much nicer, interior is well done. But the food just doesn't cut it.

The homemade tortilla chips, way too salty. My chicken burrito was very bland, as were the refried beans. Hardly any taste. Was dumping hot sauce on it to give it any flavor at all.

The spinach quesadillas were a little more tasty but nothing to write home about.

Was disappointed tonight...

Date of visit: December 2020
    • Value
    • Service
    • Food
1  Thank topcat0206
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Charley B, Owner at Charley Brown's Mexicana, responded to this reviewResponded 14 December 2020

It's always disappointing to hear that a guest isn't completely satisfied.

The recipes for the burritos and the corn chips haven't changed since we moved to Soi 19.

Fortunately, your view seems to be the exception rather than the rule. Guest numbers have increased. Our food and service ratings have increased. And we've risen 160 places on the Tripadvisor ratings.

I wish you'd mentioned something to the staff while you were in the restaurant, we would have been happy to rectify any problems you had.

I'm glad that you enjoyed visiting us at our old location on Sukhumvit Soi 11. Although I couldn't find your positive review written about any of the good experiences you'd enjoyed there.

I hope if you return and find something less than satisfactory, you'll let us know so we can assist you.


Best regards


Charley.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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