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Mad Mex

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From a very small chain based out of Pittsburgh, Mad Mex Happy Valley has been dedicated to vegetarian and vegan options since they came to the area. It’s more difficult to find the entrance in the winter since the interior is deep within the Days Inn on S. Pugh St. but you can see and enter the outdoor seating area in the summer, just off of Highland Alley. Parking on the street can be tricky but as a patron of the restaurant in Days Inn we have, probably wrongly, used their parking spaces too. If you don’t mind walking up from the Pugh St. parking garage, that is the most reliable.

Inside Mad Mex there is a lot of twisted (literally and figuratively) Mexican inspired artwork. It gives it a kind of creepy but entertaining feeling and it is one thing that puts the mad in Mad Mex. Another mad element is the crazy specials that they have. A good example is the drink specials on Groundhog Day are dependent on whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not. Once in the summer they had corn on the cob with a chipotle sauce as a special.

Inside can get ridiculously loud especially when college is in session during happy hours. The loud music and voices just bounce off the concrete floors as the metal legged chairs add their scraping screeches to the cacophony. Seating outdoors at this time is at a premium. Either choose a different time or be forewarned – Mad Mex is a mad house at these times.

The staff say you can get the password for Wi-Fi at the Days Inn check in desk but what a pain in the butt. If you need to get online that badly while you sip your margarita you will do it. It’s just not worth the trouble for me.

Lunch at Mad Mex is hit or miss. They just don’t seem to be staffed for it during the off-season when Penn State isn’t in session. Evenings are much more reliable, the staff is always hustling and thank goodness there are more of them after 4PM.

There are plenty of vegetarian options at Mad Mex. I highly recommend reading over the vast menu before you even go so you don’t overlook what might be your personal favorite.

Jim and I frequently get the Pick-a-Dippa and a bowl of the Chickpea Chili to share. With the Pick-a-Dippa you get a bottomless basket of tri-colored corn chips and you can choose any three of the…

Pineapple-Habenaro, Avocado-Tomatillo & Original Salsa

Mad Mex® salsas:
Fire-roasted tomato-chipotle
Pico de gallo
Pineapple-habanero (HOT)

Freshly-made dips:

XX Cheese Dip
Pepita Hummus
Kaya® Yucatan Black Bean Dip

Chickpea Chili with cheese and sour cream

The chips are “meh” but the dips are pretty good. Even the Avocado-tomatillo has a little peppery heat to it. We like using the chips to also eat the Chickpea Chili.

Vegan Chickpea Chili

If you don’t ask for the tofu cheese and or sour cream, the Chickpea Chili will come with dairy products. The cup and bowl sizes are what you would expect and the flavor of the vegan chili is quite good. The chickpeas are firm and surrounded by a thick green tomatillo chili soup with gently sautéed Spanish onions. It is probably a little spicy for a lot of the mainstream locals but I think it’s a mellow chili and isn’t the only vegetarian soup at Mad Mex but it’s our favorite.

So many of the burritos and enchiladas can be made vegetarian with tofu or portobello mushroom. All you have to do is looks for the little green cactus on the menu and you can see the items worth reading about.

Pennsyltucky Tofu

With so many choices, I will let the burritos and enchiladas to your explorations and focus on the Pennsyltucky Tofu appetizer. It came out in a huge bowl and (according to their nutritional datasheet) was only 2 servings! Six of us feasted happily on it and Pick-a-Dippa as we waited for our lunches and were pretty well filled up. It was a little party of 1/2″ cubes of deep-fried tofu! They were covered in a glaze of ponzu or lightly spiced General Tso’s sauce and sprinkled with chopped peanuts, sesame seeds, whole mung bean sprouts and cilantro. Fun and tasty, everyone at the table enjoyed it. I plan on getting it sometime as an entrée.

Kids might like this place but both indoor and outdoor seating revolves around their 2 bars s I don’t think it’s for everyone, especially during happy hours September – May. Big kudos for the menu making the veggie options easy to find but stop advertising free Wi-Fi like it’s on the menu. The food is good, moderately priced and plenty to choose from for a vegan or vegetarian. The staff is fine but not always on top of things, I assume mostly due to the high turnover linked to hiring college students and always needing to retrain them. Above average for sure, vegetarians should know about Mad Mex in State College.
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About trueindigo

vegan, runner, blogger, mom, model, artist, tarot reader.

One response »

  1. It all was very good


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