My dream is to someday review every restaurant along Summer Avenue here on DWM. Thanks to Stephanie for this latest installment.
Taqueria La Guadalupana
4818 Summer Ave.
Guadalupana is hands-down our favorite place to eat Mexican food in the city of Memphis. The service is fine, the food is authentic and amazing, and it’s cheap. (The only real drawback is that they don’t serve beer or margaritas, but we choose to overlook that.)
There was a period of probably four years where we went to Guadalupana for lunch every Sunday--even during football season! Connor was a part of this tradition. My pregnancy was filled with cravings for horchata, then when he started on solid foods, he loved the beans and cheese quesadilla. Then somewhere during Connor’s third year, things started to change. He would no longer eat the beans. Then his interest in cheese quesadillas waned. And then one day, something happened that would change our Guadalupana experiences forever: Mimi bought Connor a ball out of the heretofore unnoticed vending machines.
Since then, each visit to Guadalupana has been filled with “Can I get a ball? Can I get a ball? Can I get a ball?” combined with frantic parental attempts to keep Connor in his chair and away from the vending machines. If they weren’t located at the front door, perhaps I would let him sit and gaze dreamily at them while we eat. Unfortunately they are a little too close to the sweet, sweet freedom of the outdoors, so I have to keep close tabs on any activity in that area.
On top of the vending machine stress, other factors conspired to make our visits to Guadalupana less frequent. One was my most recent pregnancy. For whatever reason, my pregnant self did not want anything to do with authentic Mexican food. I wanted the pretend Mexican food served at places like Swanky’s and El Porton. Then after the pregnancy, I discovered I couldn’t lose the baby weight if I ate at Guadalupana on a regular basis. So eventually our visits just stopped. What a mistake!
Fortunately Chip had the gumption to right this ship by requesting Guadalupana on his recent birthday. So we loaded up the kids and headed out to meet Brandon over on Summer Avenue. During the drive over, Connor spent a lot of time complaining about having to eat a quesadilla, and reminding us that he enjoys eating at Wendy’s. I was struck with a brilliant idea.
“Connor, if you are good and eat your food, I’ll buy you a ball!”
What can I say? It was Chip’s birthday, and I was in a giving mood. Plus, by preemptively mentioning it, it wouldn’t appear that I was caving in later.
It wasn’t too busy on a Wednesday night. Even though we knew what we wanted already, we were still excited to peruse the fancy new menus that contained pictures of the food. Suddenly Chip gasped and pointed to a new entry at the bottom of the a la carte section: Chicken Nuggets $3.50.
“Let’s do it!” I exclaimed, happy that we wouldn’t have to have that fight on this celebratory occasion.
Our waitress came over to get our drink order and we went ahead and ordered some guacamole, the chicken nuggets and some beans for Chloe. Connor didn’t put up too much of a fight about being forced to drink water, which was brought in a cup with a lid without my having to ask. Our guac came out first. It was very fresh and not chunky, which appeals to me. It also appealed to our daughter, so we grabbed a spoon and started shoveling it in. Meanwhile, Connor started salting the basket of chips. Once we convinced him there was enough on them, he tried to salt individual chips before putting them in his mouth. When that was nixed he started digging through the chips, trying to find those with the most salt.
“Connor, you can’t touch all the chips! Only the one you are about to eat!”
By this time Brandon had joined us, and was seriously contemplating asking for his own basket.
The kids’ food arrived quickly, and they were very pleased. The chicken nuggets were remarkably good, actually, and came with fries. It was a big portion (that we were able to stretch into two meals) so it was a bargain at $3.50. Our food came soon after. Chip and Brandon each had the taco dinner- two tacos, rice and beans. The tacos are on fresh corn tortillas with meat, red onion, and cilantro. Very simple, very fresh. I got my old favorite, the steak quesadilla with rice and beans. The steak is good (and greasy) and I really have trouble ordering anything else. It was fantastic, as always. Chloe tried some of everything, and she and Connor were satisfied with their meals.
And here’s where things went in the crapper. (If you came to this site for a review of the restaurant and its food, you can stop reading now.) The problem with getting the kids’ food out first is that they are then done first, which leads to total chaos. It started for us when we ran out of chips, and I offered to go get some. I went to the counter, staying in sight of the table and its occupants, but Chloe still panicked. She didn’t just cry- she screamed and cried. Chip kept right on talking to Brandon, absently patting Chloe on the arm.
Everyone in the restaurant was looking at me, then at Chloe, then back at me (some sympathetically and some accusingly), as I silently willed the tortilla chips and the adult Chip to hurry up. Finally Chip picked Chloe up while I ran back to the table with the (finally full) basket of chips, throwing apologetic glances at everyone around us. I got her calmed down (quickly, as she shuts up as soon as I touch her) and then tried to eat a bit more. But that ship had sailed.
“What about my ball!?” Connor asked, as Chloe intercepted every bite I tried to take with her grubby little hands. Soon I gave up and Connor, Chloe and I went back to the counter so I could get change for the machines. (Note: I let Chip and Brandon enjoy their food and adult conversation because of the birthday and the fact that Brandon has been helping us do some work on our house.) I allowed Chloe to walk around a bit, and she started heading back toward our table. I wasn’t worried, because there was a clear path and I could see her fine, but Connor thought Chip should be warned of the incoming toddler.
“HEY DAD! DAADDDYYYYY! HERE COMES CHLOE!”
This time the other patrons fixed strong stares my way as I hid my eyes, grabbed the money and ran toward the front of the store. I bought each child a bouncy ball, and let them bounce them in an area with empty tables. Only one ball got away from us, picked up by a man sitting with his wife and baby. (They didn’t seem too bothered by us, but probably because we made them and their quiet baby feel so superior.) Finally the kids settled in at the door, pressing their noses against it and dreaming of life on the other side.
After stopping them from leaving for the 84th time, I said, “Hey Brandon, can you take Chip home if the kids and I go ahead and leave?"
This snapped the guys out of their adult conversation, and prompted the response I was really looking for, which was that it was indeed time for us all to leave. I had brilliantly paid already, so all we had to do was head (back) towards the door, leaving behind any hopes I had of returning here on a regular basis, but carrying with us two brand new bouncy balls.