The Worst Mexican Restaurant

“Why do they have those strange ride things outside?” Mark gestured to the claw machine and tiny rockets that were painted a muddy blue.

We were in Koreatown somewhere on 3rd Street and it was almost 3am. I had sworn there had to be a late-night place somewhere near by. But no one wanted pho (the Vietnamese noodle soup) and nothing else was open, or appetizing.

The thing about the best Mexican places, I reminded them, was that they often were literally holes in the wall. Those tiny places where they barely spoke English and you could get an assortment of tacos for under $5. I didn’t know this place, but how bad could it be?

Our first warning sign should have been the pictures on the wall. But the nachos looked oh-so-tasty, the gleaming beans covered in shredded cheese, guacamole and salsa. The handwritten advertisement for both Mexican and Guatemalan tamales provided enticement to come back.

We ordered, no one noticing blond Matt’s fluent, Venezuelan inflected Spanish, and sat at the veneer-peeling tables. The light was an eerie fluorescent, reflecting off the orange and brown accents in the room. A guy sat across from us, his eyes tired, looking ready to go home, as a pack of Korean teenagers exclaimed over some friend who narrowly had avoided a DUI that night.

Our food was called. Instead of a holy grail of nachos, we stared at the lukewarm plate of stale chips and cheese sauce. The kind most at home to baseball stadiums. The quesadilla looked cold too.We tried not to be disappointed.

The nachos were nothing short of terrible and the quesadilla was pretty unoffensive. It was terrible. We ate our food quietly, hoping that each of us maybe was just having a bad night. But it became pretty obvious it was the food.

We left by the side door, the little vending machines looking sad, and as I reversed the car out, we decided we would never go back there again. It wouldn’t be hard to miss. It didn’t have a sign.

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