December 15, 2021 By Michael Dorgan
It’s been a while since he’s been here, but a popular California-style Mexican restaurant has finally opened in Astoria.
Calexico opened last week at 32-07 30and Ave. and customers are finally enjoying the company’s much-loved burritos, quesadillas and tacos.
The restaurant was originally slated to open in early 2020, but its plans were turned upside down when COVID-19 hit.
The restaurant occupies the prominent corner of 30and Avenue and 32nd Street, where Salt and Bone Smokehouse was located before it closed in 2018.
The Astoria location is the company’s first in Queens and represents its fifth in New York, according to its website. Calexico’s other New York restaurants are in Manhattan and Brooklyn. It has a location outside New York, in Detroit.
The company says it creates a fun and relaxed vibe inside its restaurants with music comprised of 60s garage rock, vintage punk and old school hip hop. The chain is also known for its specialty Margaritas and happy hour.
The Astoria site will operate on a limited schedule for the next few weeks with hours of operation from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, according to the chain’s Instagram page.
The restaurant will then be open seven days a week and its hours will be extended to include lunch.
Dave Vendley, co-owner of the restaurant chain with his two brothers, told the Queens Post in 2020 that his family had always wanted to open a restaurant in Astoria.
“It was the first area we lived in when we first moved to New York,” said Vendley, who moved to the Big Apple from California with his brothers. “We love the neighborhood and have always wanted to open a restaurant in the neighborhood.”
Calexico was founded by the brothers after they arrived in New York. They hail from Calexico, California, hence the name of the restaurant.
The city is on the border of California and Mexico and much of its cuisine is a mix of Southern California and Mexican dishes.
The brothers got into the restaurant business after setting up a food cart in SoHo in 2006 to pay homage to this cuisine.