Last Saturday night I was hoping to impress my visiting-from-Chicago date with a savory Mexican meal in a cozy restaurant. It's fun to date someone from another city because I get the opportunity to show off my city -- especially Bay View -- to him.
As we walked into Taqueria Azteca on Oklahoma Avenue just off Chase Avenue I was in mid-story. I was explaining how I had my 10-person family birthday dinner at Azteca a year ago and was raving about the food and the staff.
We walked into the familiar dining room at 7 p.m. It was fairly busy, but I immediately spotted three empty tables. After a short wait, we were seated. We perused the menu and chatted. My date had never before drank a margarita (shocking, I know) so it was immediately decided this would be his first night experiencing limey tequila-laden bliss.
Except a half hour after we ordered the drink from the busboy, we still had not received it. Nor had the waiter taken our order. When I saw a table that had been seated after us getting served before us, I began to get irritated.
The busboy noticed our distress (or perhaps saw our mouths watering over the guacamole and enchiladas being consumed all around us) and explained that, while not a waiter, he was willing to step in and take our order. After our 40-minute wait, we would have given our order to just about anyone who was willing to listen. Enchiladas verdes for me and pollo con mole for my date. And could we get that margarita we had ordered yesterday?
Our drink arrived a few minutes later and that tided us over for a bit. Then I saw my date look past me as I was chatting him up. He spotted food. And his tummy was grumbling in anticipation. The host brought what was supposed to be my entree -- except it wasn't. It was the wrong order. A few minutes later we were taunted again as another dish was brought our way. This was my date's meal. Except, again, it was the wrong dish.
We were 0 for 2 and it was well after 8 p.m. The crowd in the dining room was thinning along with our patience.
At long last my meal arrived. Proper table manners stopped me from delving in as my date was still sitting there entreeless. A few minutes later his meal arrived, by which time mine was getting cold. His was again the wrong meal, but this time it was an entree that contained mole, so he figured it was close enough. By that point he was so hungry he would have gnawed on some cardboard dipped in mole.
By this point in the evening -- nearly 8:30 p.m. -- I felt awful. My attempt at a cozy dinner for two was all but ruined and my food was cold. My mood was more sour than the margarita.
We ate our food without our usual date chatter slipping in between bites. The host stopped by to apologize and offered to buy us a drink for our patience. I stammered, "no thanks" as I was shocked at the measly offer. A $5 margarita was supposed to compensate for this ruined dining experience with my out-of-town date? No.
Ten minutes after we finished eating, I realized there was no hope of getting the check before midnight unless I threw a temper tantrum. Since I gave those up at age 10, I put enough money to cover what I calculated our tab would be on the table and we got up to leave.
As we were donning our jackets, a woman came over to apologize for the mix-up with our entrees. As politely as I could (I felt a 10-year-old temper tantrum brewing) I explained the series of mishaps that had ruined our evening. I then told her that the only appropriate thing for her to do would be to comp us for our meal, which she immediately agreed to do.
I thanked her. We left. The tantrum was avoided.
Will I eat there again? Maybe in spring when the patio opens. (It's hard to resist guacamole al fresco.) But maybe Riviera Maya will have outdoor seating by then. And there's always Botanas, La Fuente, Acapulco and Conejitos, among others. I'll take my out-of-town fella to one of those spots for his second margarita.