Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mexico Chiquito

Growing up in central Arkansas, most of us were weaned on “Tex-Mex” style Mexican food. Brownings, Casa Bonita, Pancho’s Villa and of course Mexico Chiquito all served the ubiquitous cheddar cheese and hamburger meat style Mexican food that I’m certain cannot be found in any part of Mexico.

And, these days, it’s getting hard to find around here. Sometime around twenty years ago, the so-called “authentic” Mexican restaurants started coming in. I’ll admit, I found it a refreshing change, being my nature to embrace change, especially in couisine.

But, with the possible exception of La Hacienda on Cantrell Road, all of the Mexican restaurants in this area serve white cheese, runny beans, margarita style food that tastes the same no matter which one you go to.

And I find myself longing for the old fashioned Tex-Mex of my youth. Comfort food of sorts. Trouble is, there are very few of those places left. Brownings is way over in Little Rock, and you know how us Dog Town denizens loathe to go there unless it’s to work.

And that leaves Mexico Chiquito. The old dame of Tex-Mex in this area. But the problem is, ever since a guy named Haney bought it off of the family, it has had the worst service of any restaurant (dare I say?) in the world. Well, actually the KFC and Taco Bell franchises he owns suffer from the same malaise.

I have dealt with these establishments for enough years to recognize that he obviously doesn’t waste any time or money on training. I’ll give them one thing – they are all rude. All of them. And since there are KFC’s and Taco Bells all over the world, I don’t go to the ones he owns. It’s not worth the aggravation.

But every once in a while, I just have that comfort food craving for Mexico Chiquito food. Yes, that has gone downhill quite a bit too, but it’s still a decent representation of the genre. I’d go a lot more if not for the sheer piss-you-off factor. Let’s face it, all of Haney’s restaurants suck. Hell, the nicest one he owned, the one in Lakewood Village, was closed down for health code violations that were so blatant and bad they ended up tearing the entire structure down (did they haul it to a toxic waste dump?) and building an entirely different restaurant on the site. One that Haney doesn’t own, I suspect.

I succumbed, once again tonight, and went to the drive through in Levy. They do a volume business, I’ll grant them that, and after a fifteen minute wait in line, I placed my order at the sign. The voice on the speaker staticked out an unintelligible dollar amount.

Having been through the aggravation of getting to the window and finding my order incomplete and being told I didn’t order certain things, I asked the clerk to read me back my order. Sigh, unintelligible remark in a sarcastic tone of voice, a lightening quick recitation (also unintelligible) of my order and I pulled forward.

The girl at the window scowled at me and demanded an unintelligible sum of money which I asked her to repeat. She shouted it out to me with a glare and I handed her the money. I could see her staring at the cash register through the closed glass window and she seemed puzzled. Window slides open and she demands, “how much did I tell you?”

“Seventeen dollars and seventy three cents,” I replied. “Well, it’s 17.83,” she snapped back. I handed her another dime.

She never said thank you when she handed me the sack of food and closed the window. I checked it over quickly and found everything in order for a change.


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