it’s a bit of a bummer, really.
what started off last summer as an exciting new venture with maria bonita, an unpretentious hole-in-the-wall serving fresh & authentic cal-mex at low prices is in danger of turning into an overhyped, overcrowded, over-expanded operation.
for full disclosure – i haven’t been to their place on oranienstraße, but my visit at maria peligro, which was recently reviewed in the new york times (no, really!), was such that i’m not particularly motivated. i’d be surprised if the writer ever had a meal at maria peligro.
what the new place has is more seating for all those hungry americans streaming in, craving that elusive fresh kick this town has denied them up until recently. i wonder if they’ll be as disappointed as i was – save for the very friendly and dedicated service, this was a let-down.
things were off to a bad start with the fairly weak drinks (tequila sunrise & their very own homemade vodka lemonade, respectively), soon to be followed by two little bowls with green and red sauce. to call these concoctions ‘salsa’ would be a smack in the face of even the lowliest store-bought salsa – as there was little to no difference in taste between the two, and any flavor or spice was sorely lacking.
we chose 3 different tacos (lamb ‘barbacoa’, carne asado, and pork), but wouldn’t necessarily have been able to distinguish between them. each plate had 3-4 floppy, flavorless, room-temperature tacos with uninteresting, room-temperature meats on top. sides? well, if you count some chopped red onion and tomato bits, and some boring guac with the carne tacos. no rice, no beans… NO SOUP FOR YOU!
we had to request ‘something, anything spicy’, and got a little bowl with habanero puree. you can bet your sweet ass that puree was hot… however – i am a great believer in the old-fashioned concept of cooks preparing food to be eaten the way it is served, and not having to be tweaked and fixed and made more interesting by the customer. perhaps that’s asking too much.
maybe they were having a bad day, maybe not.
i might give that 3rd location a try, but i’m in no particular hurry.