Does it ever amaze you how quickly time moves? I swear I just posted my last blog a few days ago, but yeesh! it’s been so long!
In my last blog, my mom had come to Boston to visit me. This time around, my little brother Joshua joins me in my next restaurant destination. He recently turned 18 years old, and as a birthday surprise, we flew him out to Boston from St. Louis.
So on Saturday night, we decide to go to Latino Restaurant. Okay. I have to stop there for a second. A well known, though perhaps little pondered, truth is that names are important. We put a great deal of stock in names. Every name has a story behind it; some of those stories are bland and disappointing, while others are fascinating and compelling. The act of meeting someone new always has affixed to it that all-important inquiry: “What’s your name?” We feel valued when people we respect remember our names. We feel ashamed when we cannot for the life of us remember the name of that girl who works in the cubicle adjacent to us. Some names sound naturally famous, whereas others sound almost too ridiculous to be believed (looking at you, Mr. Benedict Cucumbersplash). Some people find their own names odious, and so opt for nicknames or even legal name changes. But we all have a name. Without in any way taking away from the physical suffering, I press to remind us of an often overlooked tragedy of the Holocaust—the replacement of names with numbers.
And then we have Latino Restaurant. A name, indeed. Imagine if my mom had named me Boy, or Male, or Human. I’ll give you one guess for what type of food is served at Latino Restaurant.
Truth be told, I have not been particularly ecstatic about this restaurant. I have, upon walking to my apartment from the subway station, occasionally endeavored to peer through the tinted windows into the establishment. It is often very full of people, which might perhaps lead one to think it’s menu is impressive. Perhaps. I just don’t have a great feeling about it. I’m excited to include my brother in my adventure, but I am simply not looking forward to this dinner.
We step inside and try to gain our bearings. We are either supposed to seat ourselves or approach the counter to order. Seems that all the tables are taken, so we walk uncertainly up to the front. A waitress notices us hovering awkwardly and motions us over to an empty corner table previously obscured from view. It is located directly beneath a speaker. The restaurant is loud anyway. Now, I can hardly hear my brother speak to me.
We peruse the menu. It is confusing. I see different food items organized by day. I’m still not sure about this, but I gather that each day offers a specific, and relatively small, selection of foods. I don’t know if there are any menu items that remain every day. On the front is written, in Spanish, “We specialize in Hispanic food and seafood.”
The waitress comes to our table to ask us what we want. I ask, or rather yell, “What is your favorite food here?” She can’t hear me. She bends her ear rather close to my face. I repeat the question to her ear. She then speaks into my ear, listing off various menu items like rice and beans and beef. I think she is listing today’s menu items. I try again, asking what her favorite is.
She doesn’t tell me, but instead asks, “Do you want rice?”
“What kind of meat?”
“Which do you prefer?”
“I’ll have that. And water, please.” My brother follows suit. The waitress notifies me that it will be $7 for a medium plate. Not bad.
Waiting on the food, I notice on the wall behind Joshua: “Be your own kind of beautiful.” I will, thank you.
I have barely enough time to read this because almost immediately the food arrives. The benefit of having a daily menu. You always know what people will order.
Here before us, we each have a plate of white rice and marinated beef, a small cup of beans, and a bottle of water. We tuck in. I let my brother do the critique:
“It reminds me of the food in Costa Rica; it was kind of bland.” I’m sure you were able to put two and two together, but just for the sake of clarity, the family took a vacation to Costa Rica a few years back. We had a lot of rice and a lot of beans for those two weeks.
Joshua continues, “The rice is really moist—”
“Too moist?” I interject.
“No.” He continues about the beef, “I like it; it was just plain. I like the seasoning they put in the beef.” Regarding the restaurant as a whole, he adds, “It’s loud. It’s a very Hispanic place with good food, but nothing really stands out.”
Honestly, there’s not much more to be said. The food is very average. I will say that the beans are pretty good, and that’s saying something, as I don’t generally like beans. The food is filling, but we finish our plates. The total for each of us ends up being $8; $7 for the food and $1 for the water. All around not bad in terms of price. But I don’t plan on going back any time soon. Of course, maybe I just went on the wrong day of the week. So if you don’t think the beef sounds truly mouthwatering (a justified opinion), but you still want to try out Latino Restaurant, I recommend not going on Saturday.