Wednesday, July 14, 2010

El Amigo

Tuesday July 13th 2010
El Amigo, 3901 Nolensville Pike, Nashville, TN

Chosen purely on appearance, El Amigo is a gas station that became possessed and slowly completely taken over by a Mexican restaurant. It’s very eye catching with the fueling station pillars acting as a carport and the mini mart cash register area now the restaurant. A brilliant transformation if I do say so myself. It was the look and the look alone that drew us to El Amigo out of the dozens of other taco trucks and restaurants on Nolensville, so many of which must be great places to eat and hang out, making this trip quite disappointing.
My hopes were set high, because for some reason I was really impressed with how they didn’t alter the typical gas station architecture of the building, decorating it to fit with the restaurant instead. After eating there and now that I’m actually writing it out, I realize that it isn’t actually that impressive.
It wasn’t until a couple minutes after we’d taken a seat and placed our orders that we couldn’t help but be bothered by a continuous tone being emitted, at a volume that couldn’t easily be ignored, from a surveillance camera positioned above our booth. We moved across the room, distancing the tone a bit, but introducing the colliding chatter of the dueling televisions into the mix. They were playing some type of Spanish soap opera in which one of the female characters was whining incessantly, awful nerve grating full grown adult whining. The televisions could not be tuned out, they were set perfectly at conversation inhibiting volume, and with two of them at opposite ends of the room the sound was doubled up in a thick layer, making the squeal of bad foreign acting impossible to ignore. Unpleasant right? Shortly after being served our food, someone, somewhere, decided they wanted to hear “House of the Rising Sun”, so of course they put it on. The stereo was quieter than the televisions, so in between heated arguments and throws of soap opera passion, when one character would be looking intently into the others eyes about to say something meaningful, the moment of possible silence was instead punctuated by the wailing and crooning of The Animals off in the distance, the video cameras high tone still audible over it all.

The arrival of the food symbolized the fact that we were one step closer to leaving, which at this point seemed to be more of the goal at hand than actually eating. I got a spicy pork gordita, and a roasted pork taco that ended up just being chicken. Normally I could put back these two items without any setbacks, I could even do it somewhat quickly. On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being dangerously hungry, I would have put myself at a 7 on the drive over to El Amigo, maybe an 8 when we pulled up into the parking lot, but with the plates of hot food right in front of my face, fork in hand, light: green, I had somehow dropped to a 4 at best. This sensory assault, after filling my brain to capacity, must have moved on to my stomach.
Sluggishly I shoveled pieces of gordita into my mouth, chewing and swallowing lazily, without motivation. Also the food wasn’t particularly good, the gordita shell was wet with grease, it’s contents blended together into one bland mealy taste. All the dishes were served with a side of caramelized onions, which I thought was odd, and was hesitant to try after a third of a gordita, but actually they were good, the second best thing I had next to the horchata.
Uncertain of where to eat previous to all this, we wrote ‘Mexican’ and ‘Thai’ on two pieces of paper and I chose one, the Mexican one, which didn’t end up working out so well. Looks like we might have to discontinue that method of restaurant selection. If for some reason I ended up back at El Amigo, I would insist on getting it to go, and I would order a large horchata and a side of onions.

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