Monday, November 23, 2009

I (Kind'a) Dine 'N' Dashed Last Night

I never really understood the term "food porn" until yesterday evening. After watching a marathon of Top Chef on Bravo, my tastebuds were so worked up, I craved something different and unusual. I decided to be adventurous and drove 20+ miles (one-way), to dine at Los Arcos, an authentic Mexican restaurant near the Mexican border.

Okay, okay. So Mexican food in Southern California isn't quite exotic, but it was an interesting experience. For starters, I noticed that this restaurant catered primarily to well-to-do Mexican expats. (In recent years, many of the social elites from Tijuana have relocated to Chula Vista, to escape the gang violence plaguing most of Mexico.) As if to reinforce their elite status, the male patrons all had arm-candy trophy wives and girlfriends who looked like Sofia Vergara (from ABC comedy, Modern Family).

Since this was a spur-of-the-moment thing, I didn't bother to invite anyone to join me. I started my meal with a mango margarita and a to-die-for shrimp ceviche tostada. For my entree, I ordered Puerto Nuevo-style lobsters. Unlike Maine lobsters, Puerto Nuevo-style langostas are Pacific spiney lobsters that have no claws. The lobsters are pan-fried in lard and served with drawn butter, rice and beans and homemade tortillas.

Although I was really fully, I couldn't leave without trying one of my favorite desserts -- Pastel de Tres Leches.

The food and service was excellent at Los Arcos. As I reached into my purse to grab my wallet, I made the most horrific discovery. I forgot my wallet at home. *CRAAAAAAP!!*

I asked to speak to the owner/manager. I sheepishly told Cesar, the owner, that I forgot my wallet at home. I asked if I could write him a check as collateral while I went home to retrieve my wallet. Cesar told me he trusted me and that he would wait for me to get my wallet.

Although I couldn't believe how trusting Cesar was, I was immensely grateful. I drove home feverishly, found my wallet and returned to the restaurant. Cesar looked relieved to see me since it took over 40 minutes to get my wallet and back. (I don't think he realized how far I lived from the restaurant.) My total bill came out to a little over $62. I left a $40 tip (~65%) as a sign of gratitude.

I guess this is my first (and hopefully last) dine-and-dash experience. I am so relieved that the restaurant didn't call the cops on me. This is one thing I can truly be grateful for this Thanksgiving!


Ms. MoneyChat said...

i often have the same tendency after watching Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the food network. oh how i just want to have a meal at 99% of the places Guy visits.

i was having a complete foodgasm reading about your meal until i came to the part about the lobster being pan fried in lard. LOL. buzz kill. LOL.

oh, what a very gracious tip you left! i feel like a complete cheap wad because i probably would have left $25 or $30.

sbinzel said...

I once wanted to buy some expensive running shoes ($100) at a highly recommended hole-in-the-wall shoe shop staffed by runners. I went to pay by CC. They didn't take CC. I lived 2 hours away. They said 'take the shoes and mail us a check'. I did. I've bought shoes there ever since and have referred people there, too.

Miss M said...

It sounds like a scene from a movie, at least they didnt make you work off your meal washing dishes :) I've never taken off on a bill, that is just wrong. Thank goodness the manager trusted you, I'm sure the big tip was appreciated.

jpkittie said...

that's funny!!! glad you enjoyed your dinner though!

Anonymous said...

I've always lived in mortal fear of this happening! I always had it in the back of my mind that I could probably call my mother and have her charge it to her card as if it were a delivery. I also have my CC number memorized (thanks to being forced to type it in every time I post on craigslist), so that would also be worth a shot.

Once upon a time, my family went to dinner at a tavern, and everyone pulled out their plastic to pay. The waiter pointed out the "No credit cards" line on the menu. All eyes slowly turned to me - I had a reputation for always having cash on me.

Susan said...

Hi, I have been lurking here and find your posts interesting and relevant to my life.

One question that has been burning for the past days is, if you were able to write a check as collateral, why didn't you just write the check for the amount of the dinner, leave it with the waiter and sally off into the night?

Why go home to get your wallet to pay, when in fact, you already could?

Shtinkykat said...

I guess I should've made clear that I initially asked whether the restaurant would accept a check payment. But the owner said he preferred that I come back with my wallet. Odd, huh?