It’s all right here

It's all right here

Tiffany Lau

 Aqui Cal-Mex Grill brings new flavors to classic dishes


Need flavor from south of the border? Forget Taco Bell and get ready to scramble for your seat.
The California Enchiladas are laced in Roma tomato sauce with a side of pesto green beans. Photo taken from
Aqui Cal-Mex Grill brings the flavors of the Southwest United States, Asia and Latin America and creates a fusion that makes Californian cuisine. Founded in 1994, the chain expanded to Cupertino on March 4.

Aqui is a self-serve, self-seat restaurant, which can be either simple or chaotic. When there is a full house, you cannot order until you find seats, and you’re left scanning the restaurant for an empty seat like vultures. Although the ordering method follows a fast-food restaurant’s, Aqui serves fine dining with a family style atmosphere. The interior resembles a rustic adobe village, completed with expressive paintings and old memorabilia. No matter what part of the restaurant you’re in, chatter is an ambient background noise.  

While the seating’s a hassle, the food makes up for it all. Portions are generally big, and everything on the menu is under $10 — perfect for students on a budget. 

Start out the meal with the Aqui Sampler ($5.59) — warm tortilla chips served with avocado, hummus and black bean dip. All three dips are filled to the brim with flavor, and you can have them all instead of ordering them separately.

Moving into the main courses, the Grilled Salmon on Organic Polenta ($7.79) is a light but satisfying dish. The salmon is perfectly cooked, juicy and tender and the polenta, a kind of cornmeal bread, is moist and flavorful with an extra zing from the tomato sauce.

The Grilled Salmon on Organic Polenta is served with a delicious tomato sauce, along side with green beans. Photo by Tiffany Lau.The Potato and Cheese Enchiladas ($8.19) are the classic enchiladas; the twist comes in the filling.Instead of just having a cheese filling, potatoes are added, making the enchiladas heartier and more satisfying. Still think it needs more flavor? No problem — just splash some of that mango and habanero salsa on top for an extra kick.

If you want the perfect end to a great meal, try Mango and Guava Cheesecake ($5.25) served with mango and guava sauce. The tangy flavors in the cheesecake perfectly complement the spice and seasoning in any main dish.

Providing a new way to look at "fast food" and California cuisine, Aqui is known for it’s quick fine dining of authentic Mexican and fusion food. Don’t worry, it’s all right here. 

Aqui Cal-Mex Grill is located on 10630 S. De Anza Boulevard in Cupertino. The restaurant is open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends. Breakfast is served from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on weekends. For more information, visit