Thursday, December 22, 2005

El Porton

El Porton
65 S Highland St.

I used to frequent El Porton when I was a child-free woman. I spent many evenings smoking cigarettes, drinking large margaritas, and shouting at the top of my lungs on the patio. My favorite memory is of me and Warren vs. Marlinee and Eric on the topic of Homebirth vs. Hospital Birth. I was probably on my fourth margarita and my 100th cigarette when I tearfully raged at Eric, who was decidedly pro-hospital for safety reasons, “Are you trying to say I don’t care about my baby?” I, of course, had no baby at the time, but the 20 surrounding people didn’t know that. They just thought I was some drunk lady with a babysitter.

After Satchel was born, we were still regulars at El Porton. Although I no longer gave in to my craving for margaritas, I still had a healthy cheese dip habit. (Mmmmmmm…cheese dip.) We were a part of the 5:00 p.m. “Early Bird” crowd which consisted mostly of young families. (There were a few college folks who were getting an early start on the margaritas.) It took me a while to figure out why El Porton was so popular with the baby bucket/stroller crowd because I wouldn’t say that El Porton is particularly catering to children. (There’s no tell-tale padded play area, changing table in the bathroom, or even a cooing hostess.)

I figured it out after a few visits in which Satchel slept soundly in his bucket. It’s the noise. The acoustics are pretty bad and the volume is fairly loud, but it is somehow soothing. It completely lulled our little six-month-old to sleep in no time. Now that we have a three-and-a-half-year-old and a one-and-a-half-year-old, I appreciate the fact that the noise level easily masks all shrieks, mild temper tantrums, and stern parental directives.

The other thing that El Porton has going for it is the speed at which they deliver food to your table. This is really one of the most crucial elements in successfully completing a meal with children. Yummy spicy salsa and chips appear on the table moments after you are seated, and the water and waiter are never far away. If you know what you want (I alternate between the Cheese steak burrito, the fajitas, and the Quesadilla Mexicana; Warren always orders something new), you can have your food within five to 10 minutes. It really is astounding.

El Porton does offer a special children’s menu of Mexican and American (i.e. the almighty chicken nugget) favorites. I have succeeded in getting Satchel to eat rice and beans, a spinach quesadilla, and bites of whatever I am eating. Jiro is all about the chips and cheese dip.

So if you have a wee baby or some rowdy toddlers, a hankering for cheese dip and fast service, El Porton is the place for you.

El Porton Mexican (East Memphis) on Urbanspoon

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