Mushy Is the New Crispy at Tapatio's

Tapatio_Chile Relleno_WEB.jpg
Siiri Sampson 2011
Underneath the mess of beans, cheese, and red sauce is, allegedly, a chile relleno. One bite reveals why it's hiding.
When someone mentions Mexican food but you don't get to actually have any, a certain set of symptoms take over until the hole is filled. It's not as bad as, say, the bubonic plague, but it's definitely worse than a sinus infection. So maybe it's in the middle, right around chicken pox. The desperation to scratch each individual pox is very similar to the burrito, enchilada, or churro "itch" that needs to be scratched with just the right dish. The longer this need goes unfulfilled, the longer and more specific the list of items needed to squelch the hunger pangs gets.

What's worse than going a week without feeding the beast? Getting mediocre versions of classics like chile rellenos--and spotty service to boot--as I did last week at Tapatio's in Factoria (3720 Factoria Blvd. S.E.).

Tapatio's gets slammed at lunch hour, and packs up again right after quitting time. Sitting at the foot of the T-Mobile campus like a Himalayan base camp for the burrito-deprived, it's a go-to for big groups of co-workers looking for a quick fajita fix or a margarita to dull the sting of a bad day. After a recent visit, however, a trip was almost in order to any other Mexican restaurant to wash down the disappointment with a shot of tequila.

Siiri Sampson 2011
If this behemoth is a chalupa, then what the hell have they been serving at Taco Bell for the past 20 years?
The portions are definitely large enough to kick off a binge-eating marathon. A lunch combo of one chicken chalupa and one chile relleno could easily be split by two adults. The chalupa was OK, but that's the only word to describe it. A huge tortilla deep-fried into a taco shape is laid on its side and stuffed with unremarkable salad toppings. The whole thing ends up dry on top and wet in all the wrong places. By the time it hits the table, it's too soggy to pick up.The only silver lining is that less calories will be consumed, since half the tortilla is limp, disintegrating in a bath of chicken juice. Its partner in crime, the chile relleno, joins the soggy mess of a party, hiding under a slurry of red sauce and cheese. One bite and it's no longer a mystery why--the batter was deep-fried beyond recognition, making the entire thing burnt-tasting and swollen in puddles of its own grease. The shell was completely inedible, and tainted the entire pepper and filling. Usually, letting a server know there's an issue can get things resolved rather quickly . . . if you can find one.

When a waiter has to jump among five different tables during a lunch rush, especially when at least one of them is a 10-top, the result is an understandable wait. But at 1:15, when only 20% of the place is full, pulling the old vanishing act on a table is more than a little annoying. From a customer's perspective, not being able to get a single person to come to the table for more than 10 minutes is just plain bad service. After waving, saying "Excuse me?", and stacking all the plates at the edge of the table, the last options are sending a smoke signal or getting up and walking into the kitchen. If not for karma, there's a chance that table would have been left empty, bill unpaid, if and when the server ever did return. If the food was better, it may have warranted a service note to the manager, but honestly, why bother?

Follow Voracious on Twitter and Facebook.

comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow