I completed AP Spanish during my sophomore year of high school. It gave me joy to see my hard work pay off by completing an all senior student class. Only problem was, since I was not a senior, I could not attend the annual trip to Spain. Forreal?!? Young 15 year old Onion himself could speak, write, and understand all aspects of the Spanish language better than anyone else in the class and I had to stay home because of my age?!? I’m allowed to take the class and advance myself as a human, but when it comes to taking in the motherland, my age makes me a liability? This was bullshit. I knew it. My teacher Señor Ecklin knew it. Even the principal of the high school knew it. He said there was nothing he could do because they have "rules." Well here's a rule for you, pendejos: Premiar a los estudiantes que sobresalen en sus estudios. ¡Me cago en tus muertos, putos! After all these years, I am still bothered by this fiasco and my Spanish speaking has dwindled as such. I'd still like to visit Spain. I want to bathe in the wine, enjoy the cuisine, and dance to the music late into the night. Unfortunately for me, tapas right on the cusp of Capitol Hill is all I have.
My lady loves tapas and claims they are the smart way to drink. A little food here, a little drink there, a little more food, another drink. Repeat. Repeat. Enjoy. This sounded like fun and I figured I'd give it a try. We arrive on a Tuesday evening and immediately head toward the bar for the all night happy hour. The hostess had completely ignored us so we took it upon ourselves to find a spot. I find an empty dirty booth which appeared was no longer occupied. I asked the hostess, "Can we sit there?" She looks up with her darkly rimmed cloud smoked eyes and snarls "No." I stand there for exactly 46 seconds looking at her looking down and then say, "Why not?" Her response, "We have to clean it." Listen, I can tell you hate your life but please do not ruin my mine. I know you are here going through the motions. The stacking of menus, opening and closing of the reservation book, and staring down scraping the black polish off of your fingernails is really a trying job. I hate to inconvenience you with sitting at a table that you don't even have to seat me at. If you're not going to clean the table, tell someone else to. Do something! Put down the fourth book of The Twilight Saga, throw a smile on your face, and welcome me to this little part of the world known as Spain.
Upon perusing the menu, little did I know Tango didn't just embrace Spain. There are hints of Cuba, Argentina, and other parts of South America occupying my menu with little hints of Latin fusion. Latin fusion! Ugh! Gross! Where am I?? Something about Americanized Latin restaurants really bugs me. Can't we just pick one fucking country and go with it?! Do we need to integrate eight countries into one brand new type of cuisine? Nothing seemed to make sense as I looked around. I felt like I was deep inside the Mall Of America. The giant roman numeral clock and brightly colored paintings look plum picked right out of an Ikea catalog. The cheesy fluorescent light bulbs glared into my pupils forcing me to look down at my menu. RJD2's Ghostwriter seemed to play on repeat for the entire evening. The constant cackling of nearby downtown co-workers had taken my focus away from the menu. I'm sure you guys are having a good time, but it cannot be that damn funny every single 20 seconds. Shove a napkin in that hyena pie-hole of yours so I can enjoy this upcoming comida auténtica. Luckily, my server arrived and we could get this show on the road. ¡Vamos!
Our waiter was a nice Asian white guy with spiky frat boy hair who was way too excited about everything. He was polite but just a little too over the top for me. I really just wanted him to stop winking and shooting his finger gun at me every time I spoke. I could tell his TGI Fridays training and flair had completely taken over any real chance of seeing his true personality. He was definitely happy to be where he was which made me believe this place couldn't be all bad, can it? At the very least I knew I could get an adderall and Red Bull.
Plates then started to assemble in front of me one at a time every few minutes. It first started with an adorable wooden plate holding warm Spanish corn bread accompanied by a sweet jelly butter. I didn't ask for it, they just brought it. I like that. The butternut squash soup shortly arrived after. I've never had something be spicy and bland at the same time. How can you make something with such a kick, and then it finishes into tasting like the liquid Holy Eucharist? It's like they blended up cotton balls, a habañero pepper, and a few drops of E160b orange food coloring dye. My lady somehow enjoyed this pulpy mediocrity while I was ready for my Carnitas Del Puerco. The plate had just arrived with a bowl of shredded pork and four warm tortillas. These self made tacos were delicious. The multiple flavors were enticing. I closed my eyes and imagined myself walking through Valencia with this in one hand and my beautiful woman in the other. Mi vida era perfecta. I then continued to eat another tiny taco burrito and grease started exploding onto the table. My tortillas were oozing out of control, dripping and dropping pork juice all over. I think that first bite really had me fooled into thinking this was something that it wasn't. It basically was just a glorified taco that I had to put together myself. I was over it. This dish was getting cold now, and it had immediately lost every sense of nostalgia.
The vampire hostess then arrives with my Penn Cove Mejillones and bulls them onto the table. Her mean mugging emo goth face makes me want to stab her right through the heart. She grunts as I say thank you, walks away, and steps back into her coffin of doing nothing. I can't believe she actually lifted a finger in this joint, someone must have promised her a Marlboro Red cigarette for her sixth borrowed smoke break of the evening. It's really hard for me to not like mussels, but this place succeeded in destroying everything else that comes with them. The broth was filled with peppers, onions, and little chunks of nothing as I ate one shellfish after the next. The onions were stringy and chewy. They drowned in the broth as lifeless as the door gal. My broth lacked any type of real desire to be something. At least my soup earlier had spice! This was just a bowl of hot water with a bunch of shit and mussels thrown into it. I ate some and had Captain Sugar Rush take it away.
The Spanish Coca Flatbread and Quest Azul Souffle had arrived immediately after disposing of the crap I was just eating, and I was enthralled with trying yet another tiny plate of food. It seemed like the flatbread was there just to piss me off though. It was one giant bagel bite. Did they microwave this from a frozen box? I could have just put some bread in the toaster oven, cut up a pepper, and then call it something fancy in Spanglish. This was so stupid, I had no idea Mama Celeste had started doing delivery. Luckily we had this blue cheese soufflé to occupy us. It was so rich in flavor. Oh so airy in texture. Finally!! All of these countries have made something together that actually tastes good. The blueberry compote was a perfect compliment to the pungency of the queso. The dish was no bigger than the size of a JFK fifty-cent piece, but man, each minuscule bite was to die for.
I kept wondering when the ordering of drinks would come in to compliment my tapas, but never had a chance. I was never asked, "How is everything?" or "Would you like a nice red to pair with this dish?" To me, a little hospitality goes a long way. Granted, the food was expedited quickly and everyone besides The Blood Countess was pretty nice to me, but I'd like to know that you are concerned with how I'm feeling at your place. At that exact moment our waiter returns and pre busses our table asking me how everything was. This guy was good, too good. He made me feel like everything was okay even if my meal wasn't. We asked about the famed El Diablo dessert, and he gave me immediate jazz hands ranting and raving about it. I told him we were pretty full and couldn't handle such a big dish. He gladly obliged to make us a smaller version of the Food Network featured dessert. God, I'm actually starting to love this guy! He is taking care of me and my needs. I want to go back to his dorm room at Seattle University and do keg stands with him. I want to be his partner in beer pong. Yes, I will watch Community with you. This dessert came and it was insane. The burnt meringue was covered in lumpy chocolate goodness and then dusted with dark cocoa and chili powder. The tequila caramel on the plate was scraped up for every deliberate bite. The race was on! Neither my lady nor I wanted to lose a bite to the other and we plowed through this treat.
We decided to slow down towards the last few bites and embrace this final dish until the evil one walked by again. She was so furiously rolling her eyes and shrugging her shoulders at everyone. I prayed for the sun to come up at once so she could shrivel down into a ball of Hot Topic black denim and purple smoke. I wanted every emotion that she exuded to come back and haunt her like her ugly face does me. I wanted her to feel the true pain of this world. Times are so tough with your Eastside father paying your rent and buying you more black lipstick. I know you can't wait to go drink a tallboy with your boyfriend's shitty emo punk band, but at least acknowledge that I am leaving. I must get out of here! Adios, muchacha!
Mr. Onions Rating (on a 1-10 scale):
Food: 6 Service: 6 Atmosphere: 4 Spanish Professor: 0