Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Happy Mexican

Thanks to Steph for warning us about this place! I've been to the downtown location a few times with good results, but never with monkeys.

Happy Mexican
6080 Primacy Parkway


On a recent week night in East Memphis, I needed a break from cooking and suggested a night out. The family readily agreed. "Pizza or chicken nuggets?" I asked. "Pizza!" Chloe answered, as Connor yelled, "Chicken!" "Uh, chicken!" said Chloe, as she quickly corrected herself to make sure the man in her life was happy, at her own expense. (I've got a ways to go with that one.) Chip looked at me quizzically, as we had both been counting on pizza. "El Porton?" he offered. "Happy Mexican!" I exclaimed. I've been wanting to take the kids to the East Memphis location for quite some time. "You're a genius!" Chip (really!) said, and we were off.

One reason we wanted to visit Happy Mexican was that we love Mexican food and wanted to see where this might fit into our usual Salsa/El Porton rotation. Another reason is because it is in the building that used to house Grady's Goodtimes, a restaurant where I worked for over three years. It's been a few things since Grady's closed, but nothing that has really stuck. We went in, excited to see what they'd done with the place now, taking lots of pictures to use in our review, and generally excited about margarita happy hour and cheese dip. And then we sat down, and it all went downhill from there.

I have to admit, at first I wanted to write a review that said simply, "Don't go there." Then I realized that wasn't fair, and figured it was only right that I explain myself. Here are a few reasons why I'll never be back.

There are TVs everywhere. And they are all showing real programs, not news or sports or the usual nonsense that plays in the background at restaurants. The one closest to our table had the Cartoon Network logo in the bottom corner, so I didn't pay it much mind. Connor (age 6) and I were sitting in chairs that were oriented towards that TV, but I didn't pay it much attention and neither did Connor. But soon I noticed he was watching the reflection of another TV in the window. "That's a bad show," he declared, and realized it was Cops. WTH? I told him not to look in the window, but as I craned my neck to locate the offending TV I realized it was behind a column from my seat, but directly in Chloe's line of sight. I made her switch chairs with me and thought, Hey, it's our fault for bringing kids, we'll make it work. However, as the evening dragged on (more on that later), two things happened. For one thing, the movie on CN turned out to be scary- The Witches, based on the Roald Dahl book and starring Angelica Houston as the head witch at a witch convention. Maybe with a little bit of context, it wouldn't have seemed so scary. However, there were tons of ugly, scary witches who were freaking my kids out! In fact, Connor kept trying to tell Chloe to cover her eyes. He was worried about her. (One review I read said, "VERY frightening for children preteen and below, having as its central theme normal looking, adult women turning into vicious child-killing witches with much intense, well-presented suspense throughout the movie. My kids, 9 and 5, couldn't finish it.")

While this was happening, Cops ended and the next show on TruTv began. The first thing that happened was some kind of group attack on a couple riding on a subway. I stared, mouth agape and stomach turning, until Chip covered my eyes and told me not to watch. He was worried about me. I said, "That is IT!" and marched to the front to ask that the TV channel be turned. I hate to be that woman, but come on! Not only do I not want my kids to see that, but I don't want to see that! I don't know many people who do. But the hostess said, "See, sometimes people ask if they can watch certain shows. . ." I cut her off and declared that no one should be allowed to choose shows like that in a public setting- it is unacceptable and they should consider saying no and adopting some kind of decency standard. There were plenty of kids in the restaurant, not to mention wimps like me who vomit at the first sign of fisticuffs. (Long story.) I was happy, however, that the manager came over, grabbed the remote control, and followed me to change the channel.

Unfortunately, that wasn't the only thing I was complaining to the hostess about. I began my channel-changing request with, "For one thing, we've been waiting forever for our food. . ." It's true- we waited more than a half hour for our food. At a Mexican restaurant! And the food wasn't anything earth-shattering - I can think of at least five other places I could go and get the same quality food in ten minutes. By the time our food came, we had eaten every bite of cheese dip (usually we use it for the chicken strips), two basket of chips, had switched seats, complained to the management, and Chip had finally stood up and turned off the Cartoon Network TV that the kids were unable to look away from yet were terrified by. (I mean, Chloe was literally trembling at one point. Too bad she didn't have any food to distract her.)


I couldn't help but overhear the ladies behind us say, "The food is okay, but the service is horrible! He hasn't been back to check on us (ditto) and we never got our cheese dip." This is not to mention that the person delivering their food had dropped an entire meal at their table. The ladies were gracious and agreed to share a plate until the other dish could be remade. (I couldn't help but think it would have been easier to handle if they had some cheese dip.)

When we finally saw our server, I made sure to give him our credit card so that I wouldn't have to spend another hour tracking down the bill. We spent $35 on average-tasting food that took too long to hit the table in a horrible atmosphere. We couldn't get out of there fast enough, waving a permanent good-bye to the Happy Mexican as we hastily departed.

Happy Mexican on Urbanspoon

15 comments:

Do said...

I find it funny that you think Cops and a Cartoon Network movie are both inappropriate for children, but happy hour margaritas are not. Did the kids drive Mommy and Daddy home after they had a little tequila? Get a babysitter if you want to go out drinking.

'Chef' said...

Not to be judgmental, (and I admit this comment sounds that way, no matter how I phrase it), but I have to agree with the previous poster...

neil said...

I used to like Happy Mex downtown, but a few months ago we waited an hour for lunch and then left without eating. It took 15 minutes to get someone's attention and order. We tracked down our server 45 min after placing the order, but she couldn't even estimate when our food would come out. A very bad experience, and our last. I will no longer go to the (un)Happy Mexican.

Ciara said...

Ignore the judgemental types with a burrito up their butts. Good review, and great to know it's so cruddy! You saved us a trip there later this week.

Stephanie said...

That's an interesting debate. I'd say there's a difference between "going out drinking" and "having a drink with dinner," but I can see where others might disagree.

Iron Chef Mikimoto said...

I would have been tempted to drink an entire pitcher of margaritas if I was there....then turn the monkeys loose. And seriously, WTF with the cops and cartoon network??? Most Mex restaurants I've been to with TVs show futbol or soaps en espanol, which is OK with me as it adds to the overall ambiance.

Doug said...

Good post, thanks for putting the information out there. I read you regularly. I don't have kids, but the restaurant information you post is first rate! Thanks!

Heather said...

That is so weird. My husband and I have been there three times, and we've had pretty good service each time. We've gone twice for Sunday lunch, and once for dinner on the weekend -- during dinner on the weekend we DID have to wait a bit longer than I prefer, but it wasn't terrible...and I'm usually pretty impatient when it comes to food!

Oh, and RE: having a drink with dinner with the kids. There's a difference between one margarita and eleven, guys. It's not like they hoisted the highchair up to the bar. When I was growing up and went to restaurants with adults, sometimes they did have drinks with dinner. Unless someone has a demonstrated drinking problem, ordering a drink with dinner doesn't equal a bender.

darlingnikki820 said...

This review is kinda late but I enjoy Happy Mexican but its not a place I would take my kids. I would do a smaller restaurant like Los Pilares, El Porton,etc thats more kids friendly. I think Happy Mexican is more adult friendly than kid friendly. Its so busy that it may take awhile for you to get your food!

Mr. Brame said...

I just had a terrible time at The Happy Mexican on Primacy Parkway, and I won't be going back there again. That is all.

Save This MG said...

Molly's La Casita is still the best in the city in my opinion.

holley said...

well cartoon network can offend me and i'm 20. but a new happy mexican just opened up at wolfchase galleria and it is amazing!!

Jo said...

I always find your posts interesting. I went to that Happy Mexican location last month with 3 other couples for a night out. We got there at 8pm on Friday (first mistake) and asked to sit in the patio area, they declined because someone had just vomited all over the patio floor. We sat at a table inside and it was so loud, people yelling, tv's blaring... I was horrified. We ended up just sitting there in silence since we couldn't hear each other. miserable...

Anonymous said...

Happy Mexican is a waste. Go to El Porton or else. Don't bother...

Anonymous said...

I just had a real bad experience at the wolfchase happy mexican. I ordered a crispy chicken salad that came with a piece of raw chicken. Saw the piece of raw chicken hidden underneath my salad after it was half way eaten. Management didn't offer any apoplogy or compensation and insist that i pay $4.99 for a dish they normally charge $8.99 for. Manager said i had to pay for what i ate and it is their store policy! What??? They treated me like someone who was just looking for a free meal. What a shame on them. Will never go back there again and don't plan on visting their other locations either.

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