The restaurant itself bears no formal numeric address. It sits snugly against the back wall of a weathered brick building leased to a tattoo parlor. I was fortunate to stumble upon it quite by accident, but for those of you who don’t have time for a scavenger hunt, your best bet is to jot down directions to the tattoo parlor and take advantage of the street parking out front.
Upon arrival, you might be surprised to find that the brick building, though not particularly large, still manages to completely shield your view of the quaint eatery sitting behind it. If it weren’t difficult enough to find this restaurant in the first place, the task of reaching the front doors will be enough to have you cursing my name. And if it weren’t for the wonderful smells permeating the surrounding air, you might, for the only way for one to gain entry is by climbing any section of the rusty, chain-link fence surrounding it, a feature that, while beguiling in this case, would surely doom even the most beloved restaurants in the city. “Oh the nerve of these people!” you’ll think with a smile. But climb you will because if your appetite hasn’t yet reached its peak then your curiosity soon will.
The eccentric nature of the chef is reflected in every aspect of the restaurant from the décor to the food itself. The building, though a plain, dark blue on the outside is constantly seeing the addition of new decorations on the inside. There appears to be no rhyme or reason to these modifications and if there are, they certainly aren’t done so in accordance with any of the traditional American holidays. The theme of September was old diapers and empty tubes of ointment while October gave us an ode to lard-stained aprons freckled with q-tips and gum wrappers.
Much like the decorations that cover the walls, the chef’s food selection follows no discernable pattern, making it impossible to categorize this restaurant under any one genre. If a menu exists, I have yet to see it. Dinner could be swordfish served on a warped piece of plywood one night and then barbeque beef skewered on the broken shaft of a 9-iron the next.
The inner-workings of this establishment can take some getting used to. Orders are not taken, and no currency of any type is collected. After all, where would they put it? There’s no cash register to speak of! And if ever tables and chairs existed here, they were wisely sacrificed for the extra space. The process of getting your meal can be a bit of a free for all. Picture a buffet, but far less depressing as this one is entirely void of the whiny, theme park-bound vacationers that make Old Country Buffet a reasonable place to commit suicide.
The nearby neighborhood boasts a competitive air and it isn’t beyond reason to assume that a search of the surrounding square mile could uncover several of these hidden treasures. The intrusive and at times, abrasive nature of the locals will only further convince you of that. Presumably to fill the seats of their own family restaurants, it isn’t past these people to shamelessly approach rival businesses in hopes of luring hungry patrons right out of their seats.
These methods of persuasion will often times persist long after you’ve already begun dining elsewhere. In these instances, verbal advertisements of any sort quickly give way to petty insults and you will gleefully discover that you’ve become the subject of quite the game of tug-of war.
“You’re eating out of a dumpster!” they might yell.
Or “That’s a dumpster you idiot! What the hell is the matter with you?!”
Flash them a grin that promises future business and they’ll most likely leave you to eat your meal in piece, which on my most recent visit was room-temperature chicken marsala served in a soiled moccasin. All in all, I am at a loss to mention anything disparaging about my many dining experiences at this charming, unnamed establishment. The food is delicious, the prices reasonable (free remember?), and the atmosphere can’t be beat. You don’t want to miss this one!