Friday, March 16, 2012

El Centro D.F.

We wound up in this underground Tequileria at El Centro D.F. thanks to another 30% off deal through Savored. El Centro D.F. is a Richard Sandoval (Zengo, Masa 14) and Kaz Okochi (Kaz Sushi Bistro, Masa 14) collaboration that is heavy on the Richard Sandoval and non-existent on the Kaz. I didn't see any trace of Kaz's Japanese influence in the space or on the menu.

The restaurant is divided into 3 spaces: a main floor casual taqueria, the below-ground Tequileria, and the rooftop bar.

The server we had was just plain odd. He was an over-sharer that felt the need to tell us every detail of why something didn't go right. For example, "Oh, they brought you the wrong side dish? Well I keyed it into the computer correctly, it must be that we are out of the dish you ordered and so the kitchen made the decision to substitute it for something else and that is why they brought you the wrong thing." Well all of this chatter would have been fine ("debatable," says B) if he was right. But he wasn't. They were not out of the dish I ordered, they just screwed up.

When we saw others tables getting baskets of chips and we asked for one, he rambled on about how he should have reminded us that the restaurant does not provide chips and salsa unless the diner requests it. Ok thanks buddy, but can I have some chips?

From over-sharing to adding an extra shot of liquor to our drinks (and charging us for it) without asking us, it just was not a good service experience.

The food was better than the service. B loved El Centro D.F.'s creamy take on tortilla soup...

and was pleasantly surprised by the Jalisco shrimp and crab enchiladas.

My tacos al pastor with pork shoulder and grilled pineapple were good, but not good enough to merit the $12.95 price tag. You can go to a casual taqueria and get 3 tacos al pastor for $6. Sure, you're paying a premium at El Centro for great atmosphere and table service, but I'm not sure it is worth it. Also, at El Centro you can't mix and match your tacos (at least you can't if you're ordering from the Tequileria menu), so if you like to eat a variety of flavors, you're better off going to a regular taqueria.

The D.F. in El Centro D.F. stands for "Distrito Federal" which is the name used to refer to a capital city (and the nickname for Mexico's capital, Mexico City). While we ate, I kept thinking that we'd be better off at our other favorite Distrito Federal eating cheaper tacos and drinking horchata instead of a $16 margarita.

Second Thoughts from B

When you're getting 30% off, it is hard to be grumpy about an experience (as long as it doesn't end in food poisoning). In other words, that $20 off the bill buys a lot of good will. So while I was happy enough with our time at El Centro, the clunky service (J didn't mention the long delays in getting food followed by the too quick clearing of half eaten plates) doesn't make us want to rush back to pay full price.

The room might be the most memorable part of El Centro. It seems to be a strange fusion of fallout bunker, Temple of Doom, Aztec ruin, and secret underground dance club. Whatever it is, it is very cool (and very hard to take good pictures in). Unfortunately, I don't think it is $20 per plate cool.
El Centro D.F. on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

VC said...

I don't think I've read anything good anywhere about this place. Sad too, because it seems like it should have all the right elements for a great place!