I did more yard work than a pack a mules working a goldmine in Namibia on Saturday and then again on Sunday. It was time for a tacos and a large margarita.
Lunchtime started at La Bamba. The sign says ‘Burritos as Big as Your Head.’ The parking lot was empty except for two strange cars (employees?). The parking lot is always empty. I don’t get this place. It does not matter when you drive by La Bamba – no one is ever there. I sat in my truck and thought about life and the meaning of no cars at a Mexican place at noon on Saturday. It creeped me out. I left.
Next up is Habanero’s Mexican Grill off of Stoughton Road, between Wendy’s and Bachman Pool. It’s kind of hidden, but well worth it. Because, baby, Habanero’s is awesome. Great food. Fast. Nice staff. Cheap. It is configured like a Qdoba or Chipotle. But the food is much better. You select tacos or burritos or quesadillas or tortas. You then have your choice of several meats: spicy pork, steak, chicken and carnitas. You pick your toppings. I got three tacos for $6.00. The portions are large – two would have been fine. I could not eat the third. As noted, the service is quick so no one at home knew I had left. Life is Good.
After three and a half more hours of chasing leaves around the backyard it was dinner time. The wife and girls were watching a Glee Marathon. Or was it a Project Runway? I don’t remember. But I said, “I am going to Cuckoos.” Cuckoos is a new Mexican restaurant on Buckeye next to PDQ. The family all tagged along since they were hungry after watching eight hours of Glee.
Cuckoos is a sit down restaurant that is nothing fancy. First, I ordered a margarita and it worked super for the ache in my left shoulder. As I slipped into a wonderful numbness, the girls told me about the Glee Marathon. I quickly ordered a second drink. The wife could drive. Cuckoo’s offers straightforward Mexican food that we are all familiar with at this point. I had the shrimp quesadilla off the appetizer menu since I ate too many of those damn nacho chips. It was very good. I don’t recall what they ordered. I’m ready for the couch. But I recommend Cuckoo’s.
I was back in the yard on Sunday morning and at about 11:30 I headed to Home Depot for a new leaf blower and a visit to Taco Bell. I ordered one Locos Taco at the drive-through. Locos Taco is “made with premium seasoned beef, crisp lettuce, diced juicy red ripe tomatoes, real cheddar cheese and topped with cool reduced-fat sour cream, in a shell made from Nacho Cheese Doritos® Chips.” This should not be good. It’s fast food Mexican. The beef is not “premium seasoned beef.” It’s bland looking. So how was it? Locos Taco is strangely good. I suggest you give it a try.
At 5:45 p.m. I came inside from leaf patrol. No one was home except the dog. There was a note on the fridge: ‘You are on your own for dinner. We went to a movie. We yelled at you in the yard, but you ignored us.’ Huh, the ignoring part might have something to do with me running my new Echo Leaf Blower. Whatever. They did put some cute XOXOXO notations on the bottom of the page, which I’m told means Hugs and Kisses. I don’t know if that’s true, but I’ll take the girls’ word for it.
Dinner with the dog at home. She always eats off my plate when I am not looking and then I hit her in the head. I am tired and hungry. This is not my idea of fun.
I left the dog at home and went to Monona’s newest Mexican place: Las Islas del Mar on Monona Drive – where the old Burger King used sit. The parking lot was crowded, which is encouraging. I want new places to succeed. The brick is painted an ocean blue. The sign outside read ‘Grand Opening.’ Score.
To my amusement (or maybe confusion), as I enter there was a full scale mariachi band playing. It had trombones, a tuba, trumpets, percussionists and a singer – all of them dressed like a characters from Super Mario games. No Lie. Luigi, Mario and the rest of the gang all playing Mexican tunes. Welcome to the Twilight Zone.
It was loud and raucous. I got the only seat directly in front of the band and my server brought out tostadas and ceviche. I have no idea what ceviche is, but it appears to be some type of Mexican fish appetizer. It hit the spot after a day of working outside. I sat there sipping on lemonade and enjoying the band. The music stopped and I realize the whole place is looking at me. The band is motioning to me. They wanted me to dance. At least, that’s what I think they wanted. I don’t speak Spanish, so I’m just guessing. But their looks were friendly, so I figure they are not running me out. I held my ground, not moving, only smiling. I shook my head politely. No, I will not be dancing today. Then they wanted me to request a song. What the hell? I don’t know any Mexican songs. I smiled and yelled: “No thanks!”
The menu is nearly all seafood inspired and not your typical Mexican-American fair. It is a slightly hard to sort out. The waitstaff was very helpful. I ordered Kora Shrimp and listened to the band and waited for my food. At this point, someone from the audience is chugging two beers at the same time while trying to sing with the band. This is much better than the Stupid Project Runway the girls make me watch at home from time-to-time. Now the band wants me to chug. I point to my lemonade. Suddenly, the waitress bring me a Corona and the band claps. I nod my head and say thanks and take two big drinks and the party rolls on.
What is Kora Shrimp? I don’t know. I just asked the waitress to order me what was good. The place was loud and I was tired. I figure her suggestion was probably better than my guess. I do know it was homemade – as it seems all dishes are at this joint. It was good. I will go back and hope the band is there ready to buy me another Corona. Maybe I’ll bring the wife and get her to dance. She’d like that.
No one knew I even left home and came back except the dog.
And thus ended my epic weekend Mexican restaurant tour.