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Friday, September 3, 2010

The Big Donkey (now known as Senor Donkey - same owners)

(Name Update as of 2013 - same owners)

I find it strange that this close to the U.S./Mexico border, I struggle to find a good plate of Tex-Mex food.  Taquerias are plentiful but pitifully deficient in quality ingredients and my son asks to go to Taco Bell for "good" Mexican food.  Oh my!

So, when we moved here a couple of years ago, there was a Mexican restaurant on the island called Mamacita's.  I tried it three times.  Once it was good (fajitas with all the sides - tasty - fresh) but the service was so poor, in a nearly empty restaurant at 1:30 in the afternoon, we nearly missed our movie because of the delay.  Still, I'll give anything a second try unless they make me physically ill...so, we went again.  It was packed, the service was only slightly better, and the food was just so-so (stale chips always starts me off badly).  I had a combination plate of some sort and while the enchiladas were fairly good, the tacos were just "off" tasting.  My husband liked his fried shrimp, my son was okay with whatever he got...so I just shrugged.  I'd eaten so many chips and salsa that I didn't much care that one of the items was inedible, but bad service...well, I'd pretty much finished with Mamacita's.  However, my sister came to visit and after visiting Turtles, Inc. on a blustery cold day we decided to stop there for lunch.  Her nachos (with "off tasting" beef) were inedible and my son's "well done" burger was red, and whatever I had was so unmemorable I can't bring it to mind.  Anyway, 3 strikes, they were out!

Before too long, there was a new sign on the building - it was now "The Big Donkey".  I laughed at the name and thought "I don't THINK so" and didn't stop.  Then a friend said "oh, they are owned by the people who own Dirty Al's and Daddy's - so should be good".  Great, I thought, I'll give it a try!

So, I went for lunch.  The chips and salsa were good, not too spicy, fresh tasting.  It was a coolish Spring day so I got a cheese enchilada plate with beans and rice - it was surprisingly good.  I thought "whew, I can do this again" and danced a little happy dance!  So, a few weeks later, I brought my son for dinner on a week night when I didn't feel like cooking.  Very few people there, loquacious waiter, lots of chit chat.  Chips and salsa "okay" but the chips bordered on stale.  Hmmm....  So, I order beef enchiladas and my son ordered soft tacos - beef and cheese only.  They came covered in lettuce and tomatoes.  Had to send them back.  Then we both got down to eating after we were re-served.  I took a couple of bites and, again, something seemed "off" about the beef.  Not "spoiled" but like it might have been on the edge...and there was an underlying taste I could only identify as "cinnamon"???  I looked at my son and he had eaten two bites and laid his taco down.  He looked at me and said "there's something wrong Mom, it doesn't taste good".  So, I told our loquacious waiter that we both thought something tasted "off" with the ground beef, and asked if he could have someone taste it in the kitchen.  He came back in a few minutes and said "sorry, it tastes like it always tastes - I tried and the chef tried it."  Then he just shrugged.  Okayyyyy....so, I asked for our check...no offer of "sorry you didn't like it, can we get you something else?"  Basically, just a shrug.  So, that was the last time I went there for many months.

Then, I was so hungry for Mexican food, I told my son "let's go get some Mexican food - I'll go to Taco Bell if you don't want to try The Big Donkey again, but it's been a while...maybe they've improved!"  He agreed to give The Big Donkey another try.  He ordered some queso (which appeared to be unflavored melted processed cheese spread...not a pepper or onion in sight...just cheese) so we started with that.  I mixed some salsa in on a side plate and that made it palatable enough for me - my son likes melted processed cheese so he ate all of it :-p  We decided to order the same thing we'd had before because I really like beef enchiladas and my son really likes soft tacos.

It was a really crowded night.  Young server.  Same food problem.  We each took one bite - looked at each other and went "Huh?  Really? Again?"  It had that same peculiar flavor.  We both put our napkins on top of our plates.  I got out my wallet and sat there...and sat there...and sat there.  I finally asked a drink refiller to find our waiter, we wanted our bill.  I'm not sure she spoke English - she looked confused.  Young waiter never came.  I got up and asked for a manager from the woman at the hostess station.  Our young waiter came to the table and brought the bill.  He didn't ask why we hadn't eaten our food.  He wouldn't make eye contact with me. No manager appeared.  I paid.  I didn't tip (I NEVER don't tip) and I wrote a note on my credit card slip about the food tasting "off".  I'm easy to please generally - I'm very polite - so I can only limit my closing critique to... I will never, ever go to The Big Donkey again. 

I've seen reviews of other people saying how much they like The Big Donkey.  I've seen other reviews quite similar to mine.  I don't know what's up - but I've had 4 bad meals out of 5.  It simply isn't where I'll spend another penny of my eating out money!
(Photo Source Google Images)

SPI FLIP FLOP FOODIE RATING:
0 – My flip flops were not happy campers

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