Monday, February 1, 2010

Lupe's Taqueria

Lupe's has turned out to be the first successful result of my current way of seeking out new restaurants - look for the nice cars. This is something I started doing without even realizing. I would see a restaurant and think, "Oooh, that looks good!" but it dawned on me that I didn't know why my brain, or my eyes, had selected it. You might be thinking that somehow my brain is telling me nice cars = rich people = good food. But, you would be wrong. My brain is telling me nice cars = rich people = people with tourist visas = people who have been to New York or Miami = people who know what good food tastes like.

I have developed a rather unfortunate piece of judgment that, having lived abroad before, I know is completely consistent with my current stage of cultural adjustment. It's the period where I start to think, "These people are crazy!" "That's (whatever) is disgusting!" "That would never happen in the US." Of course, these things are almost always not 100% true. But, one of the things I am saying a lot right now is, "Dominican food is not that great." The truth is that probably some Dominican food is okay. In fact, some may be actually quite tasty. However, the major problem I am having with Dominican food at the moment is that it is (1) usually too salty, (2) frequently over-cooked, and (3) rarely ventures beyond the four staples of beans, meat, fried plantains and tiny salad.

Truthfully, I do like all of the individual things in the Dominican diet, just not all of them all the time. But, I don't have to eat all of them all the time so, really, what am I complaining about?

But, back to Lupe's. So Jeremy and I have a new date night system that we are loving. Thursday nights are ours and after the boys are down we head out for an evening alone. Last Thursday we tried Lupe's - a Mexican restaurant near Gustavo Mejia Ricart and Winston Churchill in the Piantini neighborhood. We were happy with what we found. The atmosphere reminded us of an upscale taqueria in Austin - the ambiance was a lot like Miguel's. The service was overall good - the hostess, who may have also been a manager or assistant manager, was great. She checked in on us and was very welcoming. Our waiter was kind of hit or miss. We realized later that it was an important night in the Dominican baseball season finale so once they turned the TV on near the bar, he was much more responsive because he could watch the game and us. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can pull a Dominican away from his baseball.

Our appetizer of queso fundido, while not Austin quality, was good. We think the cheese may have been some sort of mozzarella, but we just tried not to think about it and ate it anyway. Our dinner was nice - I can't remember the name of the dish. It was some sort of fajita thing. We didn't realize we were getting a meat dish - clearly there was a miscommunication about the menu. Although, you would have thought when he asked me how I wanted the meat cooked I would have taken that as a definite sign. I took it more as a, "Hmmm, I guess there's meat on this." While the meat was only so-so (and Jeremy didn't eat any of it), the guacamole, the tortillas and the other fixins' were quite nice. One strange thing was the tiny enchilada on the plate. It was a chicken enchilada with mole sauce. However, they had clearly used the wrong kind of chocolate - the mole was way too sweet. Our desert was a yummy tortilla wrapped around cinnamon and sugar apples and baked and topped with vanilla ice cream. It, along with the café con leche, was perfect.

All in all, an enjoyable evening with some perfectly passable Mexican. I think this week we'll do Italian and keep on searching for that mouth-watering Dominican that is surely lurking somewhere on these crazy streets of our Caribbean capital.

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