138-B Market Street
We arrived in downtown Chattanooga after dark on a Friday night. I felt certain that we needed to drive in order to find a good restaurant for dinner, but Warren insisted that we walk. “We didn’t get a downtown hotel so we could drive everywhere!” he said. (He’s not from Memphis, you know.) The last time we wandered around downtown Memphis with the monkeys (Satchel, 4, and Jiro, 2) I was twitchy to say the least. Between the Beale Street crowd and the “Can you give me .80 cents so I can take the bus to West Memphis” crowd, I felt like it was a pretty sketchy place to parade around with my offspring. I didn’t see why Chattanooga would be any different.
We set off with firm instructions to stay close and hold hands. The monkeys loved being out and about and made sure to touch every building and pole possible. For some reason every place we passed didn’t seem right—either it was too busy, too chicken tendery, or not chicken tendery enough. But in general, things seemed very safe and there were hordes of other families with small children milling about. (There were also revelers, but I’d say they were in the minority.)
The boys would have been happy to eat ice cream and play in the fountains by the Aquarium all night, but Warren and I wanted real food. “I think they have a Sekisui here,” Warren said. Sushi sounded good and I thought it might be fun to actually see what the one in Chattanooga was like, but once we peered in the door and saw that it was full of breakable objects and childless people we got cold feet. The monkeys act crazy on a normal day, I couldn’t imagine how crazy they would be after a 6 hour road trip.
I was getting dangerously close to cranky, so we had to make a decision quick. Our options in the immediate vicinity were: Friday’s (no way), a Thai restaurant (I was outvoted), Cheeburger Cheeburger, and Mojo Burrito. Warren was leaning towards a burger, but I preferred to check out a local place rather than a chain. We let Satchel be the tie breaker. “Do you want a hamburger or a taco?” we asked.
Mojo Burrito it was.
When we walked in we saw a sign that read, “If you want to be served, sit in the bar.” Since the sign was right next to a counter with the usual display of meats, tortillas, and toppings, we correctly assumed that we could order at the counter and seat ourselves. The décor was very vibrant and funky and I liked it right away. There was no line and we quickly ordered a huge burrito to share, a soft taco meal for Satchel and a cheese quesadilla for Jiro. While the guys got everything together, I went to the drink/napkin stand to load up. They had crayons and menus to color, but neither monkey was interested.
I took Jiro for a pre-emptive potty run and ended up in one of the coolest bathrooms I’ve ever seen. (Sorry, I felt dumb taking a picture.) I don’t remember much about it now other than the fact that the counter was covered with tile mosaics.
Back at the table, Satchel was eating chips and cheese dip like they were the most delicious things he’d ever tasted. Warren seemed to be enjoying our burrito. Jiro plopped down and set about eating his quesadilla. I noticed that the motto at Mojo's was, "We Roll 'Em for You." I pointed this out to Warren and we had a good laugh, since we had just checked into room 420 at our hotel.
There was peace and harmony for about 3 bites. Apparently that’s all it took for Jiro to get full. He then set about tossing the rest of his burrito over the wall of our booth and laughing his head off.
When I got up to retrieve his dinner off the floor, he took off and ran straight for the front door. I had to do a full sprint to catch him before get got out. I noticed the people behind the counter giving me disapproving looks and the few people who had wandered in after us joined in. I glared back and screamed in my head You try keeping up with him!
Back at the table, threats ensued and Jiro managed to stay put long enough for me to talk Satchel into eating a few bites of his taco. “It's yucky,” he said.
Warren’s ears perked up and he took a bite. As he chewed, he handed the taco to me and I took a bite. As Warren swallowed, my eyes started to water and I spit my bite into a napkin. “Gross,” I said.
Warren looked at me and said, “It did taste kind of funny.”
Naturally (Jiro and) I got up to return the taco. I walked to the counter and said very pleasantly, “The meat in this taco tastes kind of weird. We all tried it. Can we exchange it for a chicken one?”
The woman behind the counter said, “I have to ask the manager,” and then went back to what she was doing.
“Okay so where is the manager?” I asked.
“I don’t know,” she said.
The other guy behind the counter looked over with a deer in the headlights face. I took a deep breath and said, “As you can tell, my children have a very short attention span. I would appreciate it if you would find the manager or just give me my money back.” This was enough to get him moving and a few moments later the manager appeared. He quickly replaced the beef tacos for chicken tacos and was very nice about it. I decided I didn’t have the energy to launch a full scale attack on him about his employees not being empowered to provide good customer service.
Back at the table, Satchel was still experiencing cheese zen and could care less about the new tacos. Jiro had remained calm long enough and set about crawling under the table to plan his next escape to the lounge area. I made Warren chase him and sat there staring at the young people drinking and smoking and getting waited on in the bar area until I heard a yelp and a crash in the lounge area.
"Come on, honey," I said to Satchel. "It's time to go."
Stay tuned for the most dramatic Dining with Monkeys experience I've ever had...