leave your inhibitions at the door
While Boom Boom was chatting away and schmoozing at her conference, I had to venture out and have dinner by myself at various Naples, FL restaurants. Not only that, I had to fight the elements armed with nothing else but a set of rental clubs and golf balls. #roughlife.
I was pleasantly surprised to find a couple truly authentic Mexican restaurants there in the land where Benzes and BMWs are considered “slumming it”. It makes sense as there’s a lot of hired help down there so, of course, there are going to be restaurants that cater to those workers. Taqueria San Julian was one such place. It’s a complete dive where neither the menu or the woman working the counter had a lick of English in it. Unfortunately, they were so authentic that they didn’t serve burritos. But the tacos kicked major f*cking ass. More on these in a later post.
The second place I went to was Salsa Brava, a tiny restaurante at the end of a tiny strip mall. The furniture was new and it was definitely a step or two up from San Julian, but it was still very authentic and a little bit of a dump. Best part was this huge painting of a Mexican rodeo –
After two really authentic, really good Mexican places I had high hopes for Flaco’s Mexican Specialties. They received pretty high ratings on Yelp! and the staff had really thick accents. Crash. It was awful.
Update – I drove by Pacific Beach Burritos a few weeks ago and saw that it’s closed. I’m not sure when it happened, but I’m surprised that it took that long. It was one of the first I reviewed in the Burrito Guide, and it still ranked as one of the worst. Looking back, I think I was a little generous with the score of 8.
Salsa Brava (Naples, FL)
Restaurant Description: Tiny authentic restaurant. The light and crispy chips were very good. Several beers on the menu.
Atmosphere = 4. Homey with Ranchero music playing.
Taste = 5. Great use of spice and the meat was nice and firm. Only complaint was that there wasn’t enough of the terrific refried beans.
Heft = 5. It was served “deconstructed” with the beans rice,, cheese, lettuce all outside. The only things inside were beef and a little cheese. Many places serve burritos this way, but nowhere near the size of this.
Messiness = 3.
Intangibles = 4. Probably being generous here because of the Naples surprise factor. High marks for the two salsas – a spicy green and a smoky red. The red had strong heat that creeps up to you.
Total Score = 21
Flaco’s Mexican Specialties (Naples, FL)
Restaurant Description: Fairly large casual restaurant. I had high hopes due to the ratings I saw on Yelp! and it seemed pretty authentic. The wheels immediately fell off when the chips and guacamole came out. The chips were both yellow and red, so I’m guessing they weren’t made in-house. Same with really bland guacamole. It took a really bad turn for the worse when the waiter informed me there’s no way to get burritos with steak on it – even though they have carne asada on the menu. I offered to pay for the steak dinner price, but he wouldn’t budge. WTF?!?
Atmosphere = 3
Taste = 1. Ground beef wasn’t very spicy, either.
Heft = 0. I don’t think I’ve had smaller. Look at the pic above, it’s smaller than the freakin’ taco! And it still beans, meet and cheese inside.
Messiness = 1. At this point, I’m just pissed.
Intangibles = 2. The only saving grace was the couple 2 tables away with the matching mullets who kept on engaging us in friendly conversation.
Total Score = 7