El Tapatio Cafe, 3400 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657, 773-327-5475
There’s nothing Giddy & Grumpy like more than going out for breakfast. It’s the only thing that gets Giddy out of bed before noon and relieves Grumpy of all road rage as they head towards the chosen spot. This time they picked El Tapatio, a place they have frequented but with one small twist: breakfast.
Expectations were high as El Tapatio had never disappointed them for lunch or dinner. They have some of the best chiles rellenos in the city and a truly succulent dish called “El Revoltijo”–steak, onions and poblano pepper on top of moist plantains. Breakfast here should be satisfying and uneventful, or so it seemed…
Grumpy: I ordered my favorite breakfast–chilaquiles verdes–which is usually a safe choice. How can you get this simple dish wrong? El Tapatio managed to find several ways. First, we waited at least 20 minutes to get served. Seriously? How long can it take to dip chips in salsa? Second, the waiter served me two eggs on top of a plate of dry chips sprinkled with shredded chicken. Bewildered by the absence of the main ingredient–SALSA–I armed myself with my fork and dug through the layers of chips and chicken, determined to find the spicy tomatillo sauce I had been savoring. I found a small splatter, a mere suggestion of salsa at the very bottom. I waved down the waiter and laughed in disbelief when he arrived. “There’s no salsa on this plate,” I griped. He swiftly returned with a bowl of warm salsa verde. Problem solved, I thought. Wrong. The salsa had zero flavor. It was as authentic as a packet of Taco Bell sauce. Hell, I would have chosen the Taco Bell sauce over this; at least it has salt. Then, as it does whenever I realize I’ve been swindled, it dawned on me that this salsa wasn’t made for me nor people like me. And there’s nothing that makes my teeth grind more than Americanized Mexican food.
Alas, I knew I’d be wearing my night guard that night. Even the chicken lacked flavor. It tasted like the cook boiled it in water and skipped any seasonings. The only thing worth eating was the beautifully cooked eggs. But by then I was disillusioned. I asked the waiter, “Have you ever eaten this?” It was no surprise that he said no.
Did I get an apology? Yes. A discount? No. Will I ever return to El Tapatio? For lunch, maybe. Will I ever return for breakfast? Hell no. It sucks!
Giddy: I ordered the same thing as Grumpy, but I skipped the chicken since I’m a vegetarian. I seemed to have gotten Grumpy’s sauce. I agree the food was bland, but at least it was edible.