Ever opened your fridge late at night? If you’re like me, it usually makes you squint and promptly throw your forearm up in a measly attempt to ease your eyes. Well, that’s the kind of reaction I had to a recent meal at the Prickly Pear, a loud and proud taqueria located in the base of the Plaza in Midtown.
Given the price point, the predictably kitsch décor, and the mediocre experience, I can’t say I was really disappointed. Ultimately, we got what we asked for. Put simply, this is the usual Texicana meets Mexicana, and if you judge it against any other standard, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Walking in, you can’t help but notice that the shotgun space is awash in pinks and greens. Visually sore, sometimes, ya’ just gotta scratch your head and move on. In fact, that’s exactly what we did. We setup shop at the entrance in order to secure a space on the “patio.” With no greeters stand and the lack of any discernable system, we had to wait until we could flag someone down and then wait some more as we were passed around like a hot potato. Though it didn’t take more than 5 minutes for us to secure a table, they need to fix that “system” real quick as we weren’t the only people who had difficulty getting a spot. Despite the absence of patrons in the interior, I have a feeling that the place is audibly challenged.
For a restaurant like this, where you needn’t demand much of the food, you can turn to the service as the restaurant’s opportunity to shine. And with that … I’ll glaze over the service … since the service glazed over us. It was just that spotty. Highlights include the sour cream on top of the nachos when it was requested on the side, my order of fajitas being replaced by a quesadilla, items we didn’t order on the bill, and our server making like Houdini for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. On the positive side, he was as friendly as he was outmatched. In watching the plethora of attendees who scuttled haphazardly around the sidewalk, it seems that service is at best acceptable and at worst disastrous. Though it always came with a smile on the face.
The food … well … it was what it was. The nachos with “wood fire steak” were passable, though distinctly not good. This steak clearly died twice, once at the slaughterhouse and once in the kitchen. The included refried beans, queso blanco, leafy slices of lettuce, jalapeños, and pico de
fako gallo were some combination of boxed, canned, and/or frozen. Still, you get what you pay for. The two true offenses were the steak and the temperature. In addition to the rubbery goodness of scorched meat, we were treated to a cold plate of food. Temperature aside, the rest of the ingredients served their purpose. The toppings were generously portioned and for $8, you could do worse.
After explaining to the waiter that I had ordered the shrimp and steak fajitas, as opposed to the delivered quesadilla, I had to wait another 10 minutes for them to fire and deliver my order. Way too long! Unlike before, this steak was killed on one end and bloody on the other. I’m actually quite impressed. With a strip this thin … that’s hard to do. Meanwhile, the shrimp were disgusting. Clearly just out of the freezer, they had a nice shiny gleam to them on the inside. This my friends, is a bad thing – they were way under cooked. To add insult to injury, they were so overly spiced, I almost spit my one bite out – who the hell uses Cajun spice for shrimp fajitas?
The one saving grace for this space could be the location. With no other “mexi” for a couple of miles, they seem to sustain a half decent crowd. The patio was packed almost certainly as a result of the nice weather. We’ll see if that group moves inside when Mr. Freeze shows up.
If you have to use your vehicle to make it to the Prickly Pear, or any form of mechanized transit for that matter, then I suggest you drive elsewhere. If you have a craving for some south of the border and live within a step or two … well … have at it. Before we close the door on this one, I gotta tell you that the website landing page blows something serious and mute your speakers before making the jump. Lastly, I’m totally stumped with regards to their use of OpenTable. Who makes reservations for a taqueria?
Atlanta Foodies On Prickly Pear Taqueria
- Creative Loafing On The Prickly Pear (09.04.09)