May 5th marks the last day of classes and our favorite Mexican holiday, Cinco de Mayo. Read on to for Bwog’s suggestion on how to celebrate the day.
Don’t let the reference to Steinbeck fool you, Tortilla Flats is more Mexican cliche than Mexican culture. The menu offers a smattering of inventive, if at times bland, pseudo-Mexican treats, from the taco salad, a mix of shredded iceberg lettuce and sour cream in fried tortilla ‘bowl,’ to the New Mexican Short Stack, a casserole comprised of layers of tortilla chips, Jack cheese and refried beans. But, it is not the fine food or the fine culture that keep people coming back to Tortilla Flats, but rather the utter lack of affectation.
With Cinco de Mayo just around the corner, Tortilla Flats stands out among the city’s numerous Mexican restaurants and Mexican themed bars. The sad truth is that many of our favorite Mexican places, from Blockheads to Mama Mexico and Mary Ann’s, are profiting off lackluster burritos and water-downed margaritas. The burritos may be no better at Tortilla Flats, but you’re bound to have an embarrassingly good time, so long as you leave your ego at the door.
The interior is bit overwhelming at first. The walls are a pastiche of album covers and concert posters dating from ‘50s and ‘60s and Christmas lights hang from the bar’s low ceilings. In more ways than one, the décor and the small floor space may recall a dorm room in Carman. Indeed the entire atmosphere of the restaurant has something of the spirit of Freshman orientation. But the free-flowing alcohol and kitsch is a welcomed change after eight months spent in Lit Hum or CC.
Although there’s often a wait, once you and your group sit down it’s easy to forget all your stressful studies and lonely nights at Bulter. The margaritas are served in big plastic pitchers and you can order chips and fresh-made guacamole for seven dollars with unlimited free refills. The aptly named Quesadilla Grande and slew of other dishes equally ripe for sharing make Tortilla Flats an ideal place to catch up and let loose with friends. If you’re the competitive type, however, the restaurant wide bingo games might lessen Tortilla Flats’ otherwise leisurely atmosphere.
These games, emceed by the shameless, if at times irritating bartenders, tend to get heated – especially after a couple pitchers of margaritas. It doesn’t take too much to get belligerent with Tortilla Flats’ predominantly bridge-and-tunnel crowd. But there’s no need to worry, unless an intra-table rivalry builds between you and your BFFL. And even if you do beat out your friends, the fraternal atmosphere at still Tortilla Flats prevails. The winner not only receives the honorable title ‘Big Bingo Winner’ and tee shirt to commemorate his victory, but also a round of tequila shots to share with his table. With a lick of salt and a swig of Jose, all aggression and animosity at your table is quickly abated.
So if you want a place where you can get saucy and at the same time have some old-fashion fun, head down to Tortilla Flats. Don’t expect to find elegance or sophistication here, but really is that what anyone is any one is looking for on Drink-o de Mayo?
Tortilla Flats is located at 707 Washington Street on the Corner of West 12th.