Jason and I had sort of a ridiculous comedy of errors trying to grab lunch downtown yesterday.
First off, while I knew the library system was shut down for actual Labor Day, it didn't occur to me that the Main Library, the only one open Sundays, would give its people that day off as well. We parked over by the library, only to discover it closed. Eh, no big deal really. We found the only shady spot anywhere near the library, parked the car, dumped our books in the outside drop-box and walked over to downtown, discussing where we might eat on the way.
I was interested in trying this new salad place I kept hearing about, right on Main Street. So we headed the couple of blocks up there... only to find that they were closed for renovation. This is something I would have known had I researched on the internet beforehand, but obviously that didn't happen. Our stomachs growling and sweating already in the seriously humid heat, we decided to regroup in the delightfully air-conditioned Mast General and try to figure out where to go next.
Of course, I kinda got distracted and tried on a skirt that was on awesome sale, which I didn't buy, but that's not the point.
We walked past Tupelo Honey, but there were already twelve or fourteen people sitting outside. Any new restaurant, especially one with the reputation Tupelo Honey has, is going to be slammed after everyone gets out of church on Sunday, and we weren't willing to wait forty minutes for a table for two.
So we keep walking.
We debated walking down to another new restaurant I'd heard of recently, some snack place down by the Lazy Goat, just off the river, but didn't want to chance that one not being open either. Instead we thought, let's try that Jamaican place I keep wanting to eat at but never do!
A couple doors down is Red Fin. We've had their food at Fall for Greenville before and found it incredibly delicious, and always mean to eat there. Now seemed like a good chance! We headed inside, where we were seated promptly by a harried-looking waiter and... then never saw anyone ever again, except for one female customer with a tray of sushi that she was probably trying to give back. She wandered aimlessly, a confused and worried look on her face. She never found anyone and eventually took the tray back to her table just as Jason and I decided to take that (and our increasingly angry stomachs) as a sign that Red Fin was not going to work for us today.
A little ways back the way we had come is Yap!, this new Malaysian-type place. There was a guy waiting by the door when we went in. We looked around, to see a few people eating, a couple of bartenders, and... no wait staff. After a couple of minutes of seeing literally no one except the customers and the bartenders (who were busy looking at everything but us, pretty obviously and desperately trying to avoid eye contact), we asked the guy in front of us how long he had been waiting to be seated. He shrugged and said, "It's... been awhile."
So we left Yap!, too.
As we walked, I began to debate out loud the merits of gnawing my own arm off. It's not like downtown isn't full of restaurants; quite the opposite, there are so many it can be sort of dizzying. But we didn't want to spend an insane amount of money, and we wanted food pretty quickly. Labor Day weekend is hit or miss with restaurants; everyone calls in because they understandably want to spend time with their families, so while we don't blame the restaurants that had no one to serve us on hand, we just didn't want to spend the whole afternoon trying to get lunch.
We're service-industry veterans, we are the last ones to blame anyone for calling out whenever they have half a chance to see the people they love.
We'll try Red Fin and Yap! again when it's not a holiday.
Then, light-bulb moment; there's this Mexican place we've been to before, had good experiences with, and knew would actually acknowledge our existence.
Azteca, which used to be called Guadalajara, is by Mast General store, right in that block of downtown where we always start off. Sure enough, we were greeted when we walked in and seated right away. The difference here was that our waiter popped up a couple of minutes later to take our drink orders, and chips and salsa arrived at the table only a minute or so after that.
Jason ordered fish tacos and I grabbed goat tacos - I try to test our new or unusual combinations of foods in restaurants if at all possible, and goat meat is not something you see in a ton of restaurants these days. In fact, that's part of the reason I had wanted to try the Jamaican place... I want to see if their goat curry holds up to the stuff Jason had at a Jamaican place in the Atlanta Underground a few years ago.
I also ordered a tamale for us to split, figuring it would be tiny.
It was not tiny.
Jason's fish tacos were bright and flavorful and I loved the goat; it held up well to all the onions and cilantro. Goat meat, onions, and cilantro all have incredibly strong flavors that can overwhelm a dish, but somehow the mixture calmed all of them down. It came with a tomatillo salsa that was very spicy that I ended up stirring into my rice and beans.
We left thoroughly stuffed with food. By the time we made it home, it was naptime for Jason and reading time for me. Jason has today off for Labor Day, so we're kind of lingering around the house. I had planned to do a photo-an-hour today for a post, but forgot that within about ten minutes of the morning, so we'll see about tomorrow.
I'm sure you've always wanted to know about my exciting workdays. Tomorrow? I get to do math.
It'll blow your mind.