When we contacted our model Kriss Baskevics’ mom for this dining shoot, he asked her to tell us “please not to order spicy food.” “Uh-oh,” we thought. Mexican food is known for its spicy kick and a rich variety of chili sauces, while American Tex-Mex incorporates the meatier and greasier side of Texan cuisine.
Fortunately, the new Chi-Chi’s Tex-Mex Restaurant and Bar is designed with young diners in mind, including the menu, nutrition, tableware, and restaurant facilities. Some American readers may have already heard of Chi-Chi’s; the Mexican chain opened its first location in Beijing’s Joy City Chaoyang just six months ago, making it the 50th branch worldwide.
Although located in a mall, the restaurant’s atmosphere is as exotic as its food. There’s even a fenced-in outdoor dining area with a flower garden. Seven-year-old Kriss arrived right after school with his mom and two sisters (ages 4 and 9). It didn’t take long for the kids to make themselves comfortable in one of the booths.
Chi-Chi’s has a kids’ menu with four set meals, which all three of the Baskevics children helpfully investigated for us: Hawaiian pizza, spaghetti Bolognese, grilled chicken wings (RMB 59 each), and grilled fish filet (RMB 69). All set meals are served on a wooden board with fruit salad and yogurt, cartoon-themed cookies, and nachos or fries. By the end of the shoot, the kids had polished off all four.
Set meals from the kids’ menu can also satisfy adults with small appetites. Otherwise, Chi-Chi’s has a wide selection of traditional Mexican food and classics for meat lovers, including nachos, fajitas, ten flavors of burrito, handmade tortillas, burgers, and more. The restaurant is especially proud of its 12 homemade chilli sauces without any preservatives, corn flour and chili imported from Mexico, and organic produce sourced from a local farm.
To drink, kids can enjoy a fresh juice (RMB 29-35) or low-fat milk shake (RMB 35) while grownups try out the rather intimidating-sounding Mexico Chili Milkshake (RMB 35). Take a small sip of the milky and spicy mixture topped with a red chilli, and you might find yourself gradually falling in love.
The restaurant has four highchairs available as well as plastic cups, knives, and forks for younger kids. There’s a low children’s sink in the corner so that families don’t have to go all the way to the mall bathroom to wash their hands. The public bathroom has both squat and western toilets, but no changing table. Smoking isn’t allowed at Chi-Chi’s.
When you’re done eating, walk down to the fourth floor of the mall and shop at the various children’s stores, including adidas Kids, Lego, Paw in Paw, and babyland. Joy City Chaoyang also houses the gigantic EE City, a role-playing center in which kids can try out different careers.
Chi-Chi’s Tex-Mex Restaurant and Bar
Daily 10am-10pm. 7/F, Joy City Chaoyang, 101 Chaoyang Beilu, Chaoyang District (8551 7878) 朝阳区朝阳北路101号朝阳大悦城7层
This article originally appeared on p28-29 of the beijingkids May 2014 issue. Check out the PDF version online at Issuu.com.