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Unsolicited Advice for you

If you ever walk into a Mexican resturant during the noon hour in Northwest Arkansas and you see that the place is crowded but you see only Gringo faces, you may want to turn around and go find someplace else to eat. If you like your Mexican food with the spice level of oatmeal, then a Mexican resturant in NW Arkansas packed exclusively with Gringos may be just what you're after. If you like your Mexican food to have a little kick to it, go find a place with a mix of white and brown faces inside.

There's a Mexican resturant right next door to my office, and I eat there at least once a week. It's pretty good stuff. The food is a little bland, but they have 4 kinds of hot sauce in bottles right there on the table. Those bottles contain the potential for Montezuma's revenge, so exercise some restraint until you get to know each one and what it can do. I especially like to eat at the place next to my office because I can take my laptop and still access our wireless network. About half the staff speak English, and about a third of the clientele choose to converse with their table-mates in the tongue of Shakespear and Twain.

Today, my laptop was running a time-consuming virus scan, so I left it in the office. I took a book and my mp3 player with the 13th instalment of the Sounds of Worldwide Weed loaded up and ready to rock, and I ventured across and down the street to a different Mexican resturant. I'd never eaten there, but I'd heard good things about it, and it offers outdoor seating. I decided to mix things up and give it a shot.

The usual basket of chips came with two little bowls of salsa. One had a few white pepper seeds floating in it, so I took it for the "hot" option. I suppose it did count as hot when compared to the contents of the other bowl. Still, I could barely taste it, so I pushed the chips aside and waited for my entre. Just before it arrived, my phone rang. I answered it, and spent the next couple of minutes trying to get the caller to hang up. It was nothing urgent and the person on the other end wasn't providing me with anything useful. She just wouldn't hang up. Somewhere in the middle of that call, my food arrived. It looked bland and boring, and my first taste confirmed that impression. By the time I got off the phone, my waitress had long since departed. I reached for a bottle of habenero sauce. I found no such bottle, nor any bottle of hot sauce on the table. I scanned nearby tables. Nothing.

I got up, went inside the resturant, found my waitress and asked for some hot sause. I returned to my table out front, and she soon brought me a second bowl of the "hot" salsa that came with the chips. I asked if they had any hot sauce in bottles. She named some brand, and I said I'd try it. She brought me a bottle of something. The label described the contents as "picante." It seemed a rough equivalent of Taco Bell's mid-grade sauce. I got up a second time and went inside and found the waitress again. I asked for a side of jalepenos, which she brought to my table along with a small bowl of a green sauce.

I loaded up my now cold meal with the jalepenos and green sauce and found some pallid approximation of the sensation I was looking for. If the food tastes bad, don't take it out on the waitress come tip time. She didn't make the food. I tipped generously, but I will not return to that resturant, and if I ever walk into another Mexican resturant in this area and see nothing but pudgy white faces, I will turn around and walk right back out again.

I rank this about the least interesting development in my life in recent days. I can't imagine why I took the time to write about this rather than my visceral encounter with an aggressive mastiff, the near death and subsequent recovery of one of our new kittens, or about the Daniel Pinchbeck book I just finished.


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 31st, 2006 11:22 pm (UTC)
A few months ago tugger and I decided to check out a restaurant near our house in Tukwila. It has ZARWA HALAL RESTAURANT marked in block letters on the unassuming front, and the parking lot was full of taxicabs. A Middle Eastern restaurant where the cab drivers eat has to be good, yes? We proved to be the only white faces inside, and the waiter seemed a bit surprised to see us. I was also the only female, and was glad I had thought to wear a headscarf. The waiter did not speak very much English, so ordering was a bit of an adventure. The decor ran to Formica and extension cords. The food was unusual and tasty, and came with abundant and fiery green hot sauce, and, for some reason, a banana each. I was very happy with it, if not entirely socially comfortable.
Sep. 2nd, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
I do miss the Seattle resturant scene.

Lara, Logan and I had a most memerable meal at an Indian resturant in Manhattan with Venusflytrap and her husband back in 2001. There are certain meals I fantasize about going back and enjoying again. That one ranks in my top ten.
Sep. 1st, 2006 03:05 am (UTC)
Korean food puts the spiciness of Mexican food to shame. Try snagging you some kimchi.

Korea has the spiciest food in the world, and the digestive problems to prove it.

Sep. 2nd, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
I do dig Korean food
I did two week-long stays in Seoul where I had nothing to do but walk around the city and eat on the streets and in little hole-in-the-wall resturants. Fond memories, though I do remember hitting Subway about every other day just for a base of gastronomic stability.

Sep. 1st, 2006 03:57 am (UTC)
Amen. I have the same problem in Oklahoma, along with going out to eat with friends in the area and everyone agreeing on Mexican food only to end up at a stupid chain "tex-mex" place like On The Border, also known as over-priced, glorified Taco Bell.
Sep. 2nd, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
Over-priced, glorified Taco Bell
I have to admit to a certain fondness and nostalgia for Taco Bell, though an over-priced version of the Bell would definitely offend my sensibilities.

It would suck to have to endure white-bread Tex Mex, when the real thing, surely available in your neck of the woods, really delivers the goodness to the taste buds.
Sep. 2nd, 2006 10:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Over-priced, glorified Taco Bell
I agree, I love the occasional 3 AM trek to Taco Bell as much as the next person, but not when I have to pay three times as much for the same quantity/quality of food. To me, paying for restaurant atmosphere when I just want some REEEEEAL FOOD!!! (in the words of Ren)

And let me tell you, we do have the real thing in OKC. If you are ever in the area, stop in at Chelino's on Walker in Oklahoma City (not the one downtown as you will be sorely dissapointed) EXCELLENT food, and the waitstaff is very acommodating to your spice needs. When my family goes out for dinner, they know my uncle loves his food as spicy as possible, so they always bring him a plate with grilled habanero peppers, without him having to ask.

Speaking of your area, every time I am in the area I can never seem to find good mexican food. I once went to this place on 62 in between Eurka Springs and Berryville and the food was horrible. I officially gave it the Ipecac Award.
Sep. 2nd, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
good food in the area
In downtown Eureka there's an Ark-Mex resturant called Oasis (or Slow-asis by the locals as it's a far far cry from fast food). It's very small. The kitchen is seperated from the dining area by a low wall. It's very fro-fro, but quite good.

The Mexican resturant on the Berryville square doesn't suck, at least not in comparison to other options in the area, but don't head to Berryville looking for good Mexican food.

BTW, I just bought a house in Gravette. I'm now a stone's throw from the OK border.
Sep. 2nd, 2006 11:27 pm (UTC)
Re: good food in the area
Oh wow, I will say there isn't much to do as far as entertainment in my neck of the woods, but there are a few quirky Oklahoma things to check out. In Ponca City there is the Marland Mansion, there is Arbuckle Wilderness, which is basically a drive thru zoo (they give you these big feed buckets so you can feed the animals from your car, and trust me, the animals are NOT shy about sticking their heads through your windows), there is an action figure museum, but I forget what town it is in. There is a creepy pet cemetery in Spencer, and there is a carnie cemetery in Hugo I believe that is supposedly very interesting. As far as theme parks go, we have White Water Bay and Frontier City, two of the shittiest theme parks ever, in my opinion.

As far as food goes, Othello's in Norman has great italian. Toto's is around the corner, and while their main dishes leave something to be desired, it is definitely worth it just for the tiramisu. Shogun's and Muashi's in Nichols Hill's are both pricy but excellent japanese steakhouses. If you ever take a trek to OKC let me know and I could give you more detailed info and directions.
Sep. 2nd, 2006 11:44 pm (UTC)
In all honesty...
I rarely venture into Oklahoma. Still, if I'm ever headed your way, I'll drop you a line and get the latest recommendations for eateries.

Stay well.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )

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