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Once Upon a Time at El Gallito

Eating is an integral component to every working day. My grandfather used to take a manly metal lunchbox that my grandmother packed with last night’s dinner to his job sites as a plumber. In my imagination, Jack polished off his cold pot roast and canned peas before 9 am and joined his buddies for a liquid lunch at the gin mill when the whistle blew for the workingman’s official midday meal. For most of my generation lunch is eaten in front of our respective monitors, often and unfortunately some kind of ethnic food. You watch the latest Funny or Die video and blow curry out your nose while being eyed by your boss suspiciously. It’s you time. Dig in and wallow in it.

During those solitary repasts I often thought with longing of the elegance of earlier eras when men in suits and ladies in hats enjoyed the leisurely two martini lunch. Masters of the universe and their wives and mistresses seemed to do lunch better than whatever other business they chose to occupy themselves with. Obviously the key is making a proactive decision to participate in a distinct event, much more than mere proletariat consumption. Lunch is the thing itself. It was more than a sandwich eaten one handed, better than a plain cheese go slice folded lengthwise and shoved into the gaping maw of everyman in one fluid movement while walking back uptown.

Lunch breaks up the monotony. It arrives just a few short hours after your morning bagel debacle and leaving you time to digest before the 3 o’clock coffee and Danish crash intervention collection. When you’re in a company of two, Americans adrift in a Mexican port town, lunch can become something of a crisis. It means different things to different people; you remember how foreign you are when confronted with 7 plastic baggies of goo for $32.00 pesos. The hot chicken thighs, rice, cheese, lettuce, beans, salsa, spaghetti, and crema had time to work up a heavy condensation, rendering it inedible when we arrived (what’s the opposite of triumphant?) back at the office space. We knew we were in trouble. The Cuban sandwiches comprised of ham, eggs, chicken and tang were no better. There were other, inexpensive comestible trials that ended up in the waste bin next to our desks. We were unsatisfied. We were reduced to eating pizza flavored Pringles and butter cookies all afternoon in the vein attempt to sate our desperate hunger. That was yesterday. Today everything has changed.

Today we finally ventured inside the hallowed halls of La Loncheria El Gallito, located on the corner of 29 and Bar la Selva in downtown Progreso. This little restaurant was curiously appealing but never exactly approachable. It always seemed busy and smelled incredible as we passed by. Fed up with not being properly fed we marched in and placed an order for chicken flautas, quesadillas and guacamole. Not a bold order by any standards, but basic enough yet varied to be a good test for quality and deliciousness. The place is small and quaint with yellow oilcloth covered tables and one man at the grill. While we waited we sipped cokes from glass bottles and watched as families came in and out to grab a little comida. It was so pleasant, simple, dark and cool. I was reminded of the lunch counters of 20th century America (not the racist kind, just the nice ones) that I actually even remember a little from when my grandmother would take me to Woolworth’s for new Mary Jane’s. No gimmicks, no low fat dressing, no ordering Nazis, no tip jar, no sneeze guard, no chutney on the side, no baby spinach, no nonsense. Just good food. Food that you unpack and set up in front of your machine so that you can watch James Franco and Mila Kunis reenact a scene from The Hills in savory, satisfying silence.

There Are 3 Responses So Far. »

  1. Thanks for your feedback, we are committed to improve our service every day to please and be your meal instead of something pleasant.

    We soon hope to be able to serve again as they deserve.

  2. ??????????

  3. I´ll be wait for us. i have a magazine and need your comments
    thanks. ask for JUAN CAAMAL

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