Yesterday I was invited by a good friend and his girlfriend to try out a Mexican spot on Santa Monica that’s been around since the 1970’s. I checked it out and the story was Kosher. I figured, let’s grip it and rip it.
I went to pick my girlfriend up and on the way caught a view of Pink’s. I was really surprised.
Normally the line at dinner time (all the way through the late night) is around the building. People are waiting to eat dogs in tortillas with bacon and cheese and chili, but tonight, not so much. Is this another economy-related pock mark on the city? I could give two shits if Mr. Chow or some other bougie BH elitist eat shop was hurting for business, but Pink’s? When I think Lost Angeles, I think Dodgers, Lakers, Pink’s, Rose Bowl, Hollywood Sign, Pig and Whistle, Mel’s, Apple Pan…
It’s just a bummer. Oh well, maybe it picked up later in the evening, but it was definitely ghost night in the city.
(for the record I am all for high-priced food that warrants its price tag, but Mr. Chow himself is an asshole. There’s no excuse there.)
This place was unassuming from the street, but screamed out that it was not a pretentious eatery. Combined with the fact that it was packed, I felt like we struck gold. Or at least something shiny.
Inside, it looked like a hacienda in Mexico D.F. around 1972. Basically it made me want to take my pants off, shave a mustache and let Ron Darlington come out to start flipping people off. The matchbooks were even reflective gold. There was all kinds of shit going on. This was a place where Lost Angelinos could act like savages.
That’s when I remembered that this place had no menus. I got pretty excited. Dave (who drums in Fight From Above) ordered a carafe of margaritas for the table. I am pretty sure they were mango and Quaalude flavored. Normally I am against anything other than a standard marg on the rocks, but basically if my normal eating experience was a baseball game, the Gardens of Taxco was the Ultimate Fighting Championship if they allowed brass knuckles and chainsaws in the ring.
Already on the table when our foursome sat down were some chips (pretty solid), salsa (very good) and the weirdest bowl of Mexican vegetables ever. I am pretty sure it was an ice cream sundae dish filled with little pickles, carrots, celery and hicima all in some fiery salsa explosivo that literally ripped my esophagus up in a good way. All this is going on when I notice the stained glass windows and start feeling like I am at church, which was both frightening and arousing at the same time!
With one carafe down, the waiter comes up and basically starts telling us we just need to pick between chicken, beef, seafood and vegetables and he’ll do the rest. There were lots of choices, I ended up going with a chile verde chicken dish to compare it to that of my girlfriend’s mother, who makes it with special Hatch chilies from New Mexico, literally so good I plan to marry into the family for the recipe.
I opted away from “seafood” because it is too broad a choice for me to feel comfortable about. The earth is mostly ocean and there’s a lot of food in it. Seafood isn’t specific enough. That’s like someone asking you if you wanted to eat “plant or animal” for dinner.
The waiter was amazing. He should be the neighbor on a Univision sitcom. He loved rolling his Spanish double R’s (“we have the best carrrrrrrrrrrrne asada in the ciiiiitay.”) I loved him immediately.
So we get into our second carafe and then things start showing up to eat. A little quesadilla. A little taco. The taco was clever. Rolled like a taquito, the three of us doing chicken got a beef taco, Dave got a chicken taco as he ordered the carne asada (probably because the waiter just said it so damn fancy.) There was some ablondigas soup as well.
The main event came and it was good, but it was impossible to finish. This meal was more a test of gastronomical endurance than a leisurely dinner with friends. I was almost proud of myself when the dessert, a very strange banana and whip cream concoction came. I had found a second stomach as my co-diners were hitting the wall.
That’s when shit got stupid.
The waiter comes up with an unmarked bottle and some fancy little glasses and asks if we want some Sherry. I never say no to anything ever so I figure, fuck it.
Great call, Parker. I should have known there was issues with this unmarked booze when this is what I wrote on the comment card:
Dave wrote, “Fabulous as always” and then signed the sheet with a drawing of a deformed goat head. I wrote, “the only thing better than the food… WAS THE FOOD!”
Sherry was not a good choice. Anyway, we’re walking out and the walk home everyone is uncomfortably full. Not me. I’m fine. A well oiled machine.
I stop by the magazine stand at Fairfax (the great one by Canter’s) because conveniently one of my girlfriend’s friends is there and needs tickets to House of Blues of Friday. Still, I feel fine.
I get home and drink some water. Well, a lot of water. I have a problem with water drinking. Literally I go through four glasses a dinner. I think it is all the compulsive running I do.
I go to sleep and the next thing I know I wake up sweating and end up getting sick. I won’t go into detail, but you know when you get sick, you KNOW what it was from. It was the Sherry. No doubt in my mind or mi estomago. I mean, it woke me up out of a dead sleep. I felt fine going to bed. Does it make me weird that I still recommend Taxco?
I will say though, refuse the Sherry. Refuse it will all your heart. For all I know it was motor oil infused with a salmonella reduction and filtered through raw tripe and sweetbreads. Naked.
So here is the info and the Lost Angeles restaurant review:
Gardens of Taxco
West Hollywood, CA 90046
Phone: (323) 654-1746
The decor is super tramp chic and the food is well thought out. It is incredibly affordable for a place that runs a five course meal. The waiting staff makes it a fun and borderline hilarious experience. Bring a bunch of friends, skip lunch and give it a spin. Just avoid the Sherry.