I wasn't trying to be rude, I was just trying to get the attention of the waitress, who had been neglecting us long before my wife found that the rolled-up tortilla she was eating tasted funny.
It worked. My display got the waitresses attention. However the look of horror on her face was not in deference to me. "Could you please keep it down!" she scolded me in a whisper as she came and grabbed the tortilla. She also scooped up the tortilla container that came with a friend's order of fajitas and headed toward the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later with another container. "So, do you want some fresh ones?" she asked.
I guess I should explain that the Cabo Grill is a new place in the long-empty storefront that used to be Kerouac Jacks, at the corner of Lincoln and Paulina, just under the Paulina Stop at the Brown Line. Anyone who frequented Kerouac Jacks won't be surprised by the decor. Other than some new art on the walls, a few more TVs and large doors that open up to the sidewalk, the place pretty much looks the same. This is a good thing. The bar is large and comfortable and the space is deceptively big. Some new large tables in the back can easily accommodate large groups.
Similarly, anyone who has frequented the Twisted Lizard also won't be surprised, since the menu is obviously a rip-off of that successful, albeit ultra-yuppified Mexican joint (one of the cooks was even wearing a Twisted Lizard t-shirt.) The prices were also similar - that is to say, highly inflated: $23 for a pitcher of margaritas; $9.50 for enchiladas, and so on.
Add to that the horrible service, and the true value of eating at the Cabo Grill becomes apparent. Our waitress obviously did not want to be there. Consequently, she spent very little time at our table, and got a wide-eyed look of panic whenever we ordered more than 3 items (she wasnt using a notepad) so we were frustrated even before the moldy tortilla incident.
I don't mean to turn this into an attack on just the waitress. When we told her we wanted to speak to the manager, she dutifully trotted off toward the bar. The person who returned, however, was another waitress, who told us the manager was busy. This really pissed-off one of our friends, who said "OK, lets go find the manager and I'll wait till he's not busy." She returned a few minutes later even more pissed off, explaining that the waitress had come clean and admitted that there was no manager in the store that night!
However, somebody must have said something to the waitresses, because they both appeared at our table with a complimentary round of drinks and apologies for everyone. My pissed-off friend, however, needed to vent. She acknowledged that mold can happen to anyone, but when it does a restaurant staff should at least attempt to act conciliatory. At this - I'm not making this up - the waitress rolled her eyes as if to say "OK lady, I apologized, do you really have to lecture me?"
By this time, nobody could really eat anymore. Some out of disgust, some because they were full (I nearly finished my enchiladas a la Twisted Lizard.) Before we left, since we were right under the el, we decided to have 1 drink a the bar. This allowed us time to note that at around 9 pm, the Cabo Grill takes a cue from yet another restaurant and cranks up the dance music Excalibur-style. We chugged our Sol's and left to escape the throbbing bass.
In conclusion, I guess what I learned by dining at Cabo Grill is that if you want high-priced, Americanized Mexican food and black-out margaritas, brave the crowds and go to Twisted Lizard who have been doing it for years. Cabo Grill is just a pale imitation. The salsa was good, though.
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