Day: August 8th, 2006

Plan B(otanica)

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 | All Things, Eats, Events, Friends

After work, I met up with SYB, RV and LC at Café El Portal on Elizabeth Street for some self-billed “home made Mexican” before the half-birthday festivities. Cute little spot, and the Mexican food did taste authentically homemade to my palate, though New Yorkers generally are not considered experts at judging such things – versus, say, Californians, whose tastes are finely honed by the abundance of local, authentic Mexican eateries.

After perusing the menu for an inordinate amount of time, I finally opted for the chilaquiles to compare against those I had at El Paso Taqueria a couple of weeks ago. They arrived hot and piled high on the plate, and tempting enough to prompt the woman sitting at the table next to ours to order the same.

Very tasty, if not quite as tasty as the plate uptown. Much later in the evening, I was comparing notes with JK about taquerias around the city. We were raving to each other about what we thought was the same place “in the low 100’s”, but which turned out to be two entirely different places, on different sides of Manhattan. I believe he was referring to Taqueria Y Fonda La Mexicana up on Amsterdam between 107th and 108th Streets, which if memory serves, I visited with B well over a year ago after we discovered too late that our intended destination – nearby A Restaurant – was closed on Sundays.

Cafe El Portal

And speaking of Plan Bs…

We left the restaurant and made our way around the corner to Pioneer Bar where the festivities were scheduled to take place. As we approached, something seemed off. Terribly off. Two of SYB’s friends were already standing on the street outside the bar, or rather, where the bar would be… if it hadn’t closed suddenly and without explanation some time in the past few days. Whoops.

I later learned that Pioneer Bar is indeed no more, soon to be replaced by R Bar, which is scheduled to open in early September 2006.

After brief consultation with AB, the other half-birthday reveler, she and SYB decided to move the celebration to nearby Botanica on Houston. SYB began frantically calling around and texting the 60+ people on the invitation list to let them know about the change in venue.

The new locale turned out to be just fine for our purposes. We set up in the back lounge, and it was like having our own private – if very dark – living room, complete with worn, deeply squishy couches. Spent some time talking to MW, whom I hadn’t seen in ages – probably since the night of our dinner at Le Jardin Bistro.

I also met for the first time DX, SYB’s International Center of New York English conversation partner, who hails from Qingdao, China, site of the world-famous Tsingtao Brewery.

Just after 12:30AM, SYB set out to camp overnight in front of The Public Theater for tickets to Shakespeare in the Park’s production of Mother Courage (starring Meryl Streep) on Wednesday night. I got a text from him at 1:21AM, informing me that he was 6th or 7th in line, with just about 12(!) hours to go before ticket distribution. That’s dedication!

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