Q Mex was, in my mind, the classic business in China story where investors open a restaurant, bring in a good foreign chef to consult and after great first impressions, the foreign chef departs and then begins its slow descent into oblivion, only drawing crowds for their 1/2 off food specials and extended happy hour drink deals.
Q Mex seemingly has defied this trend and resurrected itself and in the process, opened up a new branch: Q Mex Taqueria: Taco & Tequila Bar.
Focused on tacos and tequila (as their signage says), it is located just north of International S.O.S. aka Raffles Medical Center, next to Bottega’s massive new relocation.
I am not sure who is responsible for this enlightened restoration, but I have to admit, Q Mex have gotten a lot right with Taqueria! The interior is a great mix of dive bar and colourful hispanic melange. It treads a thin line between cliche and sensory overload, but the designer seems to have navigated the difficult path well.
Exterior of Q Mex Taqueria next to Bottega
We were fortunate and decided to go check out Q Mex Taqueria on a Tuesday night which happens to be the night of their 1/2 price tacos! In the spirit of doing as broad a review as possible, we went for it.
There are 7 different tacos available and we initially ordered a combo A and B to taste our way through 6 out of the 7 different taco fillings (only missing the Sour Cream Mushroom Tacos), and followed up this initial order with a second round of a set of fish tacos and shrimp tacos.
We also tacked on a roasted vegetable salad as it looked enticing.
Couple of negative points here: while the servers were all very friendly and helpful, they were inconsistent (which is to be expected as Taqueria has only just opened). They didn’t ask whether we wanted corn or flour tacos and were not overly sure of the menu in general when we asked about their DIY Tacos. When asked how it works, they said this option wasn’t available yet and they weren’t sure how it works or when it will become available. This was a pretty minor thing in the grand scheme of things so just make sure that you do specify if you do have a preference between corn or flour tortillas (ours all came out flour).
Roasted Vegetable Salad (RMB 50)
Tacos Combo A & B
Taco Combo B with Barbacoa Beef, Jalapeño Butter Shrimp & Chorizo Con Papas
Close-Up Combo A: Guajillo Chicken Topped with Sour Cream, Red Pickled Onions & Cilantro
Close-Up Combo A: Grilled and Chopped Beef Steak Topped with Pico de Gallo, Chopped Red Onions & Cilantro
Close-Up Combo A: Battered Fried Fish on Marinated Red Cabbage topped with Jalapeño Tartar Sauce, Shredded Radish Pickle and Cilantro
Close-Up Combo B: Slow Roasted Pulled Beef Topped with Tomatillo Salsa, Chopped Red Onions & Cilantro
Close-Up Combo B: Homemade Air Dried Beef Chorizo on Roasted Sliced Potatoes, Topped with Garlic Sour Cream, Tapatío Sauce & Cilantro
Close-Up Combo B: Jalapeño Butter Shrimp on Pico Fried Rice, Pico de Gallo, Chopped Red Onions & Cilantro
Second Round of Tacos
Trio of Jalapeño Butter Shrimp (RMB 72)
Trio of Fried Fish with Upgraded Cheese Crust Tortillas (RMB 65 + RMB 20 for Cheese Crust)
So how were they? Well, as you may have guessed from our re-order, the fish and shrimp tacos were our favourites. The roasted vegetable salad was good but a little overdressed. If you go, maybe ask for the dressing on the side.
Overall, the tacos were surprisingly good. Toasted on the outside and with the option of adding a grilled cheese base, I was quite impressed. I have had some bad experiences in Q Mex in the past and fully expected this to be mediocre or worse. Whilst a couple of the tacos were a little dry – the chicken and the chorizo in particular- the flavours combos worked and I liked the housemade pickles and the surprisingly juicy limes that accompany the sets.
At around RMB 65-70 for 3 tacos without the discount, it’s more expensive than the competition, but on Tuesdays, I’d definitely think about coming again. I should mention that the portions are also smaller than the competition. Normally, a trio of tacos is more than enough if we also order a salad and other sides, but we ate our way through 12 tacos between the two of us!
I’m also tempted to try their half price steak and chicken deal on Thursday which boasts Uruguayan sirloin steak. In case you’re wondering their weekday discount rundown (starting from 17:00), here it goes:
- Mondays are half price burritos (normally RMB 65-88 each)
- Tuesdays are half price tacos (normally RMB 60-72 per taco trio)
- Wednesdays are half price nachos (normally RMB 68-75)
- Thursdays are half price steak & chicken mains (normally RMB 88 for chicken and 158 for the Uruguayan sirloin steak)
On And in similar “Q Mex Style”, their Happy Hour is not just one hour, it is 10 hours! From 11AM-9PM, you can get discounts on their entire drink menu of margaritas, mojitos, bulldogs, micheladas, cocktails, and Mexican beers.
Alas, there is only so much that one can fit into ones stomach on one night.
Aside from a few small kinks in the service, this was a surprisingly good showing from a restaurant that I thought would disappoint. My heart will still belong to The Taco Bar, but Q Mex Taqueria makes a decent alternative with its party vibes, huge frozen margaritas and bulldogs (bottom-up beer over a margarita) and half-price weekday deals.
Q Mex Taqueria Contact Details:
- Address: 106, Jingshang, 20, Xinyuanlixi, Chaoyang district
- Tel: 010-84353601
- Opening Hours: 11am-1am daily
Kristen Lum has an accomplished background in PR, communications and events in China. Born and raised in California, Kristen has been based in Beijing since 2006 and is founder of the lifestyle blog called LumDimSum, covering mostly restaurant news and reviews alongside upcoming events around town that relate to Beijing’s muti-faceted, quickly-developing creative industries like art, music, film, health and fitness, fashion, nightlife, charity events, and travel tips.