I had dismissed Sandia as a restaurant for me because I have so many dietary restrictions. Then my bud, Dave Hill, blogged about a marvelous dinner he had with his family there. I was at Park Meadows around lunch time, so I thought I'd try it. It was one of those experiences with so many mistakes, you just have to leave chuckling.
I sat just inside the restaurant, enjoying the view of the patios, but without the sun. The waiter eventually wandered over and asked if I would like to order a drink. I ordered an agua fresca. I've heard about them, but never tried them. I don't like watermelon very much, but the alternative was orange and my body does not like the acid of citrus. The agua fresca was delightful, fresh and refreshing. And that was a very good thing because I had a long time to enjoy it. Eventually, the waiter came back by and, interestingly, filled both the water glasses on the table. I thought it was odd, but I'd said it was a day that demanded water and a lot of it, so I thought maybe he was cutting down on the number of water refill trips. He left. I'd decided on my lunch order, so I put the menu on the other side of the table, dug out my book (Phyllis Tickle's The Great Emergence), and waited. And waited. Looking around, I noticed that all the other occupied tables had chips and I had none. And waited. Eventually, about 30 minutes after I entered the restaurant, the waiter came back. "Are you waiting for someone?" No, I responded. I asked if the vegetariana torta could be prepared without tomatoes because I can not have acidic foods. The waiter said there was no problem and he left. I settled in with my book some more and waited. The agua fresca was lovely and I was happy I had two glasses of water to drink.
My sandwich arrived. I opened the top because I have learned that ordering something without tomatoes does not guarantee one is served food without tomatoes. There, sprinkled liberally in the lettuce topping were, you guessed it, diced tomatoes. To his credit, the waiter was nearby and I did not have to hunt him down to point out the problem. He whisked away the sandwich. A bit later, he dropped by the table and said he didn't understand how, when he put in the order with no tomatoes, the kitchen could top the sandwich with tomatoes. I asked if I could have a few chips to munch on while I waited for my sandwich. He brought the chips. With salsa!!!!
A fellow who I think was the manager on duty brought my re-made sandwich and muttered something about sorry (I think) as he warned me that the plate was exceptionally hot.
Ah, the sandwich was exceptional! It was a veritable fiesta of flavor in my mouth -- mushrooms, slightly crisp grilled zucchini, tangy melted cheese (Panela, I think), refried black beans, olives and who knows what I missed dancing happily with a bit of zesty tang! I could eat this sandwich every week! It came with the ubiquitous heaping pile of ho-hum, yawn, french fries. The french fries were almost an assault. The menu warned me that tortas come with french fries, but, when I had tasted the lovely sandwich, I realized they made a huge mistake with the torta section of the menu. The sandwich cried for a luscious Mexican side dish, maybe some lovely fruit salsa or a corn salad or just a green salad. But french fries? At a place that describes itself as a Mexican Kitchen and Tequila Bar? French fries? Accompanying a marvelously creative and flavorful sandwich? I understand these are tough economic times for restaurants and french fries are cheap, but I think a small serving of fruit or salad would be no more expensive than french fries and would be a far better match to the sandwich. If some oaf wants fries with that, let 'em pay extra. Or eat at the golden arches or something.
So, assumptions about solo diners, long waits, dim-witted kitchen staff, boring french fries... Will I go back? Surprisingly, I might. The sandwich was that good!