In a long ago blog, I wrote that my number one missed thing about Springfield was the weekly trips to La Mex with Nick. Sad that today, with only four days, 21 hours left on my "Days until lunch at La Mex" countdown, I had to remove it because it was verified that the restaurant is no more. :(
Apparently the business was sold two weeks ago (thank you to Nick for enduring an unacceptable meal at the replacement restaurant to find this out) ... right around the same time I was eating an unacceptable burrito in New York and thinking how I would at least be at La Mex in two and a half weeks. How's that for irony??
So, what will I miss? Here are just a few of the memories:
1. Lupe. He was the server extraordinaire. Yeah, we went every week, and yeah, we got the same thing every time, so maybe we made it easy ... but Lupe was the only one that could serve it up for us before we even had to ask. They let us pick the booth, and out Lupe came with the two Diet Cokes, two red salsas and one green salsa at the same moment. It was glorious. Others tried valiantly, but only Lupe succeeded perfectly.
2. Ernie. He might have made too loud, sort of weird comments to his tables, he might have butted into our "Dream Job" conversations a few too many times, he might have been a Cardinals fan ... but no matter what, he was a damn fine server and made each meal a treat wondering what he might do or say next.
3. Nick's birthday circa 2004. The fun we had is documented in his picture section, but what can't be seen is that we're sure the other side of that sombrero had a Spanish cuss word painted on it. Why I didn't have the forethought to take a picture of THAT side of the hat, I will never know. We tried to verify the next year, but the sombrero was all new. (No, we weren't drinking at the meal in '04 ... please, it was our lunch hour.)
4. The salsa. The red by itself may have been a little too bland, but add some of the green to it, and you had a wonderfully delicious salsa with a good hint of spiciness every time. Oh, and they always gave each person at the table their own bowl. That's key.
5. The chicken monterrey burrito. It was delicious. It had chicken, beans (though I enjoyed mine without), sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes and cheese all on the inside. It was grilled on the outside for that perfectly browned, crisp tortilla texture. There was no need for it to be covered in unnecessary sauce because it was already so damn tasty. Yum.
6. The music. Where else will you hear a Spanish version of the 4 Non Blondes' "What's Up" so soon after hearing about and arguing over Nick's utter disdain for the English version?
7. The last outing. That is when Richard discovered the … interesting wall decor (below right). Yes, that is exactly what it looks like. Not sure how Nick and I missed it those 60 plus other times we ate there.
So, there you have it. I conclude with a heavy heart, but thanks to RobG for confirming that the Joliet location is so far, still in business. I'm sorry to inform whoever might be involved with my next Chicago trip that we will be forced to venture out of the city to Joliet for a monterrey burrito. Trust me, I don't want to go to Joliet either, but I also never wanted to have to go to Decatur for Texas Roadhouse because Springfield didn't have one ... you just do what you have to do.