The Justice building is heading into a two week slowdown. No trials, and no ability to schedule anything. Call any chambers and you get a "we are only doing arraignments and the backup judge won't let us put anything on calendar."
"But the prosecutor and I have agreed to dismiss the case and the client is in custody."
"I can give you Friday January 8, 2016."
"How would you like to spend an additional nineteen days in jail for nothing?" Click.
Anyway, We thought we'd post some restaurant reviews we wrote during the year, mostly for ourselves, but with the possibility we would put them on the blog.
Wapo Taco is a new entry into the Miami Mexican market. It's on Ponce in the Gables, a few blocks off of Miracle Mile and a few doors down from Anthony's Coal fired pizza (the best in Miami) and the legendary Cantons.
We ate there twice. Once was enough. The first unsettling thing that occurs is there is a manager at the door. Call him senior Friendly. He wants to shake your hand. We refused. Both times. He was offended. We explained to him that if he shakes the hands of every patron that walks in, and they serve chips and salsa that you eat with your hands, then he was doing a disservice to all of his customers. It only takes one customer with a cold to infect the entire place. Even washing our hands, which we do before sitting down, wouldn't erase the thought of some sneezy dofus wandering in and rubbing his hand across his dripping nose before shaking Senior Friendly's hand.
We sit down. The first time we ate alone. The second time we went with two colleagues from out of town who had young associates with them. The decor is plastic orange and green. Something out of a Stanley Kubrick movie about a Midwestern dinner circa 2040. It was vaguely unsettling. And then we tried to eat.
"No chicken" one of the associates noted. And indeed, the menu is devoid of pollo but for an appetizer of fried taquitos. This is strictly a steak and pork taco joint. No enchiladas. One quesadilla. No salad. Just tacos. Corn tacos. Filled to the brim with gut busting gluten.
One appetizer we tried was the Chicarron de queso. A side of guacamole was promised. What arrived was a monstrous yellow cone, allegedly fried Gouda cheese, and a small dollop of guacamole. Salty beyond edible. And that was the guacamole. The cone, which breaks or rather crumbles into small pieces was also inedible. At Rosa Mexicana at Mary Brickell Village or Lincoln Road they make the guacamole table side. At Wapo Taco, they run it through a salt mine before bringing a sad small dollop out in a dented metal cup. Unlike Rosa Mexicana, the guacamole is not the star of the meal. It's an afterthought. And that should get Wapo taco thinking, when an authentic Mexican dish is so poorly and cavalierly treated.
Our companions had the most expensive item on the menu- the fifteen dollar premium rib-eye tacos, an order of the carnitas tacos, and the cochinita. Salty, more salty, and saltiest.
The waiter brought the rib-eye tacos, and said something like "key lime pie?" That's what we heard thrice, because the ambient noise level is best described as "Miami-airport runway-ish." We couldn't accept the dish right away because far from being a rib-eye, or anything approximating a rib-eye, it was a mound of meat slices on a greyish looking taco, with cubes of avocado unhappily thrown on top. The meat was poor quality, and every third or fourth slice had a fatty vein in it.
The carnitas tacos, which are advertised as pork belly and shoulder are similarly disappointing. The pork shoulder is just an excuse for poor tough meat. Pork belly, far from the crispy, flavorful slices of meat that can be found in high-scale Asian eateries and gastro-pubs, were just chunks of fatty meat.
Cochinita tacos- do we really have to at this point? Bad. Salty. Inedible. The side dishes of rice (sticky, salty, mushy) and Cowboy beans (like their name sake, the Dallas Cowboys, they disappoint) are best skipped.
Senior Friendly came by twice more to introduce himself as the manager and attempt to shake our hands. He assured us earnestly that he was available to do anything necessary to make our meal pleasurable. Except cook it without a mound of salt.
At the end of the meal a different manager came by and asked about the meal and the food.
We looked at the yellow cone sitting on the plate, looking for all the world like it was an oil funnel misplaced from the local garage. We saw the mounds of uneaten meat, guacamole pushed about, and perhaps eight out of ten uneaten tacos on our companions plates. What could we say?
"In all honestly it was awful" we said.
"Really? How so?"
"It was salty to the point of being inedible and the cuts of meat were all poor quality."
"You mean you didn't like it?"
"No. And we are not asking you to adjust the bill. Just give us the check and some more cold water to deal with the salt and we will be on our way."
He skulked away, and glared at us from across the room.
In the great movie Stand and Deliver, Edward James Olmos plays a math teacher who inspires inner city kids in LA to take and pass the Calculus advanced placement test. In one scene he visits the restaurant that one of his student's works in that her parents own. He gets into a dispute with his student's father, and as her father leaves, he whispers to his wife "he puts too much salt into the salsa to sell more beer."
Wapo Taco really wants to welcome you to their restaurant. They really want it to be a pleasurable experience. They train their staff to be friendly to the point of obsequiousness, which is bothersome. They do everything they can, except cook edible meat, which they over salt, and stuff into salty tacos, with salty salsa, salty guacamole, and just extra salt. Stand and Deliver? Sit and drink the salt away.
In Miami you can have great Mexican food (including chicken tacos or burritos or quesadillas) at Taco Rico. You can go a bit upscale at Rosa Mexicano. You can get authentic Mexican dishes like tongue and beef cheeks at Jacalito Taqueria Mexicana on West Flagler.
Or you can waste your time and money at Wapo Taco.
Zero stars. Don't go.
Coming next: our favorite Miami Restaurant where the food is always great.
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