Open for lunch and dinner, Mad Mex is a Mexican restaurant with a difference. Located at the more quirky Windsor end of Chapel Street, the food is cheap, fast, fresh and delicious. There is actually another outlet at Melbourne Central, but the Chapel Street location offers better opportunities for people watching and/or laughing at hipsters.
Mad Mex's franchise store status is obvious by its Subway-esque production line ordering system and self-serve soft drink. Despite this, Mad Mex actually has a feeling of authenticity; tastefully decorated with not a sombrero in sight the chandelier made from empty Corona bottles and imported Jarritos soda are nice touches. The restaurant is nicely laid out with a choice of bench, low table and outdoor seating. The floor to ceiling glass windows are great for people watching, although it is easy to forget that people outside can see you just as easily as you can see them (I learnt this the hard way).
Mad Mex- delicious food AND great for people watching
A three step menu simplifies the ordering process; choose your meal, choose your filling, choose your salsa. This is actually a really good system as unlike a lot of other Mexican eateries, Mad Mex gives the consumer plenty of options for personalising their meal including spiciness.
Main meals are the standard Mexican fair of burritos, tacos, nachos and quesadillas, ranging in price from $7.90 to $10.90, no matter the filling - vegetarian, chicken, beef, steak and pork. Vegetarians are compensated with free guacamole which is otherwise an extra $2 for carnivores. Most of the main meals are gluten free, there are a couple of kids meals and takeaway is also available, meaning Mad Mex will suit most people's needs.
Mad Mex is definitely good value for money - the soft tacos especially are filled to overflowing. The food itself is delicious, the tortillas are amazingly soft, the salad mix is incredibly fresh and the meals don't at all have that processed taste commonly associated with Mexican food. The main meals are pretty filling but I always make room for the Churros with melted chocolate dipping sauce ($5.90) for dessert. I reckon Mad Mex churros are even better than the San Churro variety, which coincidentally is just across the street from Chapel Street outlet.
*Handy tip* The soft tacos are served with two tortillas each, don't eat both at once! The spare tortilla is designed to catch the guaranteed overflow from the first one.
Excellent value: Mad Mex's soft tacos are filled to overflowing
Despite being a franchise, Mad Mex's food is set apart by its authentic flavour and healthy fresh ingredients. It is certainly a much better and cheaper option than the Tex-Mex style fare served in most Mexican restaurants (I'm looking at you Taco Bill). Whether you're looking for a lunch refuge from shopping or a fuelling-up point before a night out, Chapel Street's Mad Mex is a conveniently located and highly recommended choice.