Sunday, February 19, 2012

Secret Restaurant

This weekend, I went with Francisco and some of his friends to a secret Mexican restaurant in Columbia Heights. It is a restaurant where you find the phone number from one of your friends (who has scrawled it on a piece of scrap paper that he shoved in his pocket). You show up outside the door to that apartment building and call the number if no one is coming out to let you in; they throw the keys down from a second floor apartment just beside the door ("Maria, la llave!"--gosh, I love that movie).

You go up a stairwell to the hall, which is blue on the bottom and green on the top, and then walk in a door with a prayer card with a picture of Mary on the outside (there's also a statue of Mary just inside the door). The restaurant is literally in a family's apartment--the woman sells Avon stuff, which lines three shelves on the left wall. There are cacti and other plants in the window in the back. There are family pictures on the walls (the waiter is on the wall in a green military uniform that didn't look like the American military). There is a huge flat screen tv that was playing some old black and white horror film (the little boy who was part of the group we joined at the big, communal rectangular table in the middle of the living room/dining room was glued to the tv--couldn't look away--it reminded me of #1tomatolover when he was little).

An older man and woman were cooking in the kitchen, which was open to the dining room. They were making the tortillas fresh, right in front of you. A younger man was serving. Francisco's friend encouraged me to go daring (it really never takes too much encouragement), so I had the lengua (beef tongue) taco and a taco with beef and cactus strips (which reminded me of green peppers). The beef tongue was good in the taco, but it looked exactly like tongue--you could see the taste buds on the little pieces of meat. Which is to say, I ate the whole taco, but didn't bother with the pieces that fell out of it. It reminded me of the time when I was a little girl and I walked into my great-grandmother's kitchen to find a cow tongue boiling in a little saucepan on the stove. The sauces on the table were amazing--there were some that were very hot and one that was green and made out of guacamole--they were spicy and interesting and wonderful.

Us, having ice cream in the square after lunch. 


Apoorva said...

Hey Emily,
Can you send the number, if you can't post here?
My email is


Emily Hale said...

Sadly--I never had the number--our friend had it. The restaurant and number used to be on yelp, so possibly you could find it there? My apologies.