Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Mexican Food in Athens Experience

     So, there we were, my good friend Frosso and I, having a romantic long walk on the beach (ok it was at the marina but same difference) when hunger hit us- we were famished (ok not quite but the word creates a bit of drama, don't it?!). We *almost* made the tragic mistake of eating at Friday's (which apparently is a big deal here in Greece. Oh, you silly Greeks.). Yes ladies and gentlemen, I actually considered it...I must have been struck with a case of stupid for a minute there. Anyway, as I'm browsing over their menu like I've never seen it before in my life, Frosso says "Well, we can have Mexican if you want!". Mexican!? Well paint me orange and call me Garfield! Hellz yeah I want Mexican! It was settled, to Amigo's we went! (No really, the place is called Amigos...original, I know).

  Now, let me just throw a little disclaimer out there that I didn't really have any truly high expectations for this place. I knew better than to expect any kind of comparison to what I have come to know as Mexican food and I certainly didn't sniff enough glue to think I was gonna get anything remotely close to traditional. It was at a moment of weakness and the fact that I haven't had mexican food in almost a year that made me have a ray of hope for this place. I figured I'd get another Americanized version of Mexican food. I could live with that. And I did. Only problem is, I got a sad imitation of an an already poor reindition. Like a rap song that sampled some amazing classical music piece and failed. Miserably.

The strawberry maragarita that never was.
   Also, I'm not claiming to be some kind of walking encyclopedia of Mexican food or that I'm an expert at it. Zues knows I have a long way before I get my PHd in Mexican cuisine but I will say I have had my share of authentic and homemade pozoles, flautas and tamales made from some equally aunthentic Mexican moms (love them!). I've roamed the streets (and very questionable areas) of Vegas and have been introduced to the little taquerias that make those delicious tripas tacos and sopes (among other great things) and I have been given confirmation from my Mexican compadres that they were pretty damn close to the real thing. In other words, I have an idea of what's up.

    Well, needless to say, there wasn't any of the above mentioned goodness on the Amigo's menu. Instead, the menu was a weird hybrid of Americanized Mexican food (e.g. Fajitas) aka Tex-Mex and American food (the guy next to me had a burger and fries...along with 10 other dishes him and his broad shared). I will say the actual restaurant was beautiful. Tastefully painted in the traditional colors you would see in a Mexican eatery, mexican music playing in the background (well, more like blasting) and subtle hints of what represents Mexico to the rest of the world (sombreros, fake cactii outside the entrance, etc.).

   Anywho, we started off with some chips and salsa. Nothing to really say about that. They were pretty much chips and salsa (and the tastiest thing I had that night). I figured since Frosso decided to get a margarita, I'd go crazy and have one too. I was gonna get me hammered! (Yeah, that didn't happen). We decided on what we wanted, we ordered and I shit you not, not even 5 minutes later (no exageration), they brought us our food. I almost told the runner he made a mistake but he hadn't.

The "street" tacos. Right.
   Now, some people might get a kick out of getting their food so fast (especially since it was pretty packed in there) but working in professional kitchens for so many years has taught me a thing or two. All that meant was that everything was pretty much pre-made and just assembled right then and the cooks are working off a conveyor belt or something! All they seriously had to do which required any kind of on the spot "cooking" was to melt the cheese over the enchiladas. I am hoping that was done in a salamander at least but Frosso and I have our suspicions it was in a microwave. *cringes* So yeah, my point being...there was no love (or time really) put into preparing our food! Just stuff some meat in the tortillas, scoop some more meat into little cups and throw them on a plate. Sad. Just sad. They could have at least humored us and waited 10 minutes before slinging the food out to us.

  So anyway, I had the "street tacos" that came with 6 flour (I'll let that slide) tortillas and an assortment of little side ramekins of sour cream, cheddar cheese, something that posed as pico de gallo and 3 different kinds of meat: ground beef, chicken and some saucy mystery meat. All bland. All flavorless. By the time you got to the 2nd tortilla, they were already cold....don't they know you're supposed to put them in those little baskets to keep them warm!? Dios mio!

Enchiladas de mierdas
   My dear Frosso had the Enchiladas (we shared both entrees, by the way) which were slightly better because there was a melted cheese party going on all over those suckers (at least they got that part right). They were served with some sort of seasoned rice (which was still relatively bland) and a small sample of some corn/carrot/lettuce salad (which also came with the tacos, and it sucked).

h, but that fun doesn't stop there my friends. There were far bigger violations than just the food being flavorless. That can happen anywhere. Anyplace. With any type of cuisine. With no warning. The following really put this restaurant to shame in my eyes.

    Uno) There were no limes to be found. Anywhere. I ate tacos with no limes. Mexican folk around the world feel my pain right about now. Pure tragedy, I know. And ok, fine, there's no limes to be found in Greece (lies!), how bout some damn lemons!? It's the same difference! But nope, no limes or lemons served with my tacos.

Mi amiga. :-)
  Dos)  No plethora of hot sauces!!! What the funk!? I mean, I didn't think they'd bust out with any Cholula or Tapatio but at LEAST some Tabasco! To be fair, I didn't ask for any (or limes) so maybe they had some in the back hidden somewhere but that's just crazy talk. No tableside hot sauces!? That's just unacceptable. I mean, you don't have to ask for the damn lei when you visit Hawaii, do you!? It's expected! (Although that doesn't hold true anymore...but that's a whole other rant.) Adding insult to injury, none of these dishes were remotely spicy in any way shape or form which made the hot sauces that much more neccesary. I'm pretty certain cheesecake is spicier than what we ate over there.

   Tres) I mentioned before that the enchiladas were served only with rice. Now call me loca but isn't there something missing here!? You bet your sweet ferret ass there is! The god damn beans!


       I mean come on! How do you open up a mexican restaurant and not serve rice AND beans with the majority of your entrees?! I don't know why but this fact really pissed me off. It was all too much to handle really. The absence of hot sauces, limes and beans offended me in behalf of the whole Mexican population worldwide.

Margarita was too strong for this little ferret.
    Now, as I mentioned earlier, I knew better than to expect anything spectacular from the joint but I cannot help but dock mucho ferret points for this places' obvious cluelessness about certain simple things that make Mexican cuisine as awesome as it is. What really grinded my gears was when I visited their website and read that they "are commited to serving our guests authentic Mexican cuisine...". Seriously? Don't believe me, check out their site: . (You can switch the language to English.). You might say "Well, you're in Greece. Cut them some slack". Screw that! YOU'RE the one telling me you're serving "authentic" Mexican gotta at least cover the basics, "amigo".

   Would I ever go back? No way, Jose. Unless I was with a group of friends that just have to go there (I'd hate to be the only douche opposing about going to some place everyone else seems to want to go. I never want to be "that guy" ). However next time (and I'm praying there isn't), I'll play it safe and get a burger. They can't mess up a burger too bad. Or can they?

    In conclusion, the only thing that saved this place was the atmosphere, chips and salsa and my great company (2 of which are not edible). More bluntly put, any worse and it would have been Taco Bell (at least they give you hot sauces over there and it tastes great when you're wasted...).


  1. the had guacamole but we didn't order it cause as you know, avocados make me puke. :-/