Sunday, January 3, 2016
I had the pleasure of interviewing one of Mexi-Casa's earliest customers, my mother, Sandy. She started frequenting the restaurant back when she was still attending Anaheim High School in 1965. Both she and my aunt Kathy (my father's sister) would eat there regularly when it first opened and they loved it so much they told everyone to eat there, too. Word got around so much that before they knew it, all their friends were eating there and the restaurant became really popular. My aunt talked about it so much at home that it eventually piqued my grandparent's interest, starting a family tradition of eating there together regularly.
This tradition continued for years. As far back as I can remember my paternal grandparents, my mom, my dad, my aunts and uncles, cousin and my siblings and I ate at Mexi-Casa at least once a week together as a family....sometimes more than once a week separately, too! Other times we would sneak away to eat there and run into my aunt and uncle eating there at the same time. It seemed that we would always run into someone we knew at Mexi-Casa.
The original location of Mexi-Casa was located at 1750 W. Lincoln (which was the "El Conejo" club for many years; now Cuban Pete's). The 2nd location was where "The Clock" restaurant originally stood (this was demolished during the I-5 expansion in the 80s). The last and hopefully final location, where it stands today, is at 1778 W. Lincoln Boulevard. Once the restaurant for the Kettle Motor Motel, the 70's style lounge decor left within the structure seems to fit perfectly with Mexi-Casa's old vintage flare thus there was no need to remodel.
From the moment you step foot into this intriguing dive that I love to call a home away from home, you literally step back into the past. The heavy wooden door conceals dark paneled hideaway in the heart of Anaheim just waiting to be discovered. Kitsch light fixtures illuminate the room, while old dusty sombreros and wooden decor hang from the walls. From the red leather booths to the menu prices itself, it seems that you really do transport back to another time, when prices were cheaper and life was more laid back. Even some of the waitresses are the same ones I remember from long ago. (How is that possible?) ;-)
For that hour or so that you dine, you really feel like you are apart from the world. When all is done, you pay with cash (again, we are in a time warp where plastic cards don't exist!), hand the cashier a couple dimes for a few Andes Mints from the counter and you exit back out that heavy wooden door. Your eyes squint as you venture back out into the real world, and into the daylight. For that short time you escaped, and although it's over, the restaurant seems to beckon you back once in awhile, for that taste of a simpler time.
Mexi-Casa truly is one of Anaheim's historic treasures. Perhaps not an early Anaheim treasure, but a treasure nonetheless.
(Copyright 2016- J'aime Rubio www.jaimerubiowriter.com)