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Bonita Senorita

From our archives, Compass Magazine, May. 2002:

By C. Donovan Smith Translated by Sharon Yang

When ex-Compass restaurant writer, veteran manager/chef and San Diego native John Chislett announced the opening of his own restaurant, we knew we were in for a treat. Naturally, Bonita Senorita does not disappoint.

John opened his eatery on the previously-dead Soho pedestrian street (half a block down from the corner of DaYe Rd. & JingCheng St.) and helped bring the entire area back to life. The street is now a happening location in it’s own right, with PJ’s Cafe at one end, the newly-opened Murray’s Tavern Irish pub and, of course, Bonita Senorita at the far end.

Serving up his trademark Mexican cuisine, Bonita is now a regular on many dining itineraries. The quality starts from the ground up, with almost everything made from scratch, including the refried beans, the nacho chips and even the chili powder used as seasoning. Although John has been a professional cook since he was 15, he hasn’t stopped improving his craft. The California-style Mexican food that made his reputation in Taichung has been further improved recently by the introduction of American Southwestern techniques and the creative input of fellow chef extraordinaire Fred of fM restaurant.

My favorites include the Ultimate Nachos (NT$160), Carne Asada Burrito (NT$250) and the Chicken Fajitas (NT$250). Other favorites include the Vegetarian Enchiladas (NT$180) and, of course, the Tacos (NT$180). For those of us who like our food spicy and those who don’t like it spicy at all, Bonita offers the diner a choice on how spicy their salsa is. Also popular are Bonita’s Thai dishes and the NT$250 weekend brunches, featuring blueberry pancakes, huevos rancheros, omelets and more.

Many, however, come (or stay after dinner) for the atmosphere. With tables outside and a friendly bar area, it is a nice place to spend the evening hanging out. Some like to sit in the pagoda-shaped pavilion out front, and others like sitting inside to peruse the mural of a traditional Chinese market on the wall–the decor is fun; though not particularly Mexican.

Singha Beer from Thailand, priced at a reasonable NT$100, is another draw for the evening crowd. Mixed drinks are available, including real margaritas, for NT$150.
Whether you come for the food or simply pass through while enjoying the newly revived Soho street, it is a good bet you’ll enjoy Bonita Senorita.

25-9, DaYe Rd. (On Soho pedestrian street)

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Written by 石東文 Courtney Donovan Smith

Courtney Donovan Smith is co-publisher of Compass Magazine and editor-in-chief of


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