One of the most common questions I get asked since moving to Arizona is how much amazing Mexican food I’ve eaten. And the answer, to my own discredit, is almost none. Between insisting on getting sushi every time I go out and home cooking so many meals (thank the gods for food delivery service Hello Fresh), I haven’t actually eaten very much Mexican food at all. I have become a huge fan of Southwestern food, but that’s as close as I’ve gotten.
So today Ithaca and I moseyed on down to Filiberto’s. It’s a five minute walk, right next to the Taco Bell. She met someone at a party who told her they couldn’t even believe Taco Bell was still in business with a Filiberto’s next to it, because it’s the best drunk Mexican food ever.
I found this a bold claim. I have had a large number of people tell me that if I was a Disney princess I would be Taco Belle. My love for Taco Bell is boundless, and some of you may remember I once drunkenly bullied a large black male bus driver into taking my drunk, barefoot ass to Taco Bell against the express wishes of the people paying for his evening bus shuttling.
And I have to say, it was a DISAPPPOINTMENT. (Lower case letters were not enough to express my disdain.) At 9pm on a Saturday night, my sister and I were the only two people in the entire restaurant. It was not a small restaurant either — it had a bar and two whole sides. We sat at the bar when no one came to seat us. A girl who looked fifteen, maybe, asked if we were twenty one. I laughed and said yes. This was apparently enough, because she did not card us. Then I ordered the special off the huge poster off the wall (carnitas taco and a Negra Modelo). She stared at me as if she had never seen the enormous poster, and just quietly poured my beer. She brought my sister a bottle of Corona.
We stared at each other helplessly after she left. “She didn’t know what you were talking about,” Ithaca said quietly. “I know. But more importantly, why is there no one here?” I whispered, afraid someone would leap out of the shadows and kill us. “I’ve never been in an empty bar before. This feels like the apocalypse.”
After about five minutes of silence I was convinced that we were the last people on the planet. I get why everyone’s so crazy in the Walking Dead. Empty bars can make a person lose it.
I was served carne asada, which was I guess more or less what I ordered. It was delicious, but not memorable. I would never have a hankering for it, even when drunk. But the NACHOS. (Sorry, it’s just all that disdain again.) I asked for nachos and cheese. The waitress (or fifteen year old daughter of the owner, or zombie, not really sure at this point) said “Chips?” And I said “Sure.”
Turns out they were unsalted, super bland tortilla chips. And there was no delicious melty white cheese dipping sauce. There was just shredded cheddar cheese (NOT EVEN MELTED EITHER) thrown on top of the chips.
I was horrified. “I AM HORRIFIED,” I whisper-shouted to Ithaca. “THEY COULD HAVE AT LEAST MICROWAVED THE CHEESE.” I love cheese. This would have honestly been an acceptable compromise. Unmelted cheese on nachos is never acceptable, even as a compromise.
She ate them in stunned silence. I took a healthy swig of my beer. I ate like a person who is 30% hungry and 70% frightened of the rapture, which I consider pretty good since I was only 10% hungry and 90% terrified of how empty the bar was at 9 on a Saturday night.
Against all odds, we survived and fled out the door. We both agreed we didn’t see any need to go back.
I think I’ll stick with Taco Bell.