The following review is being posted here because the Yelp interface only allows up to 5,000 characters in a review, and this one turned into a 6,500+ character review (I am not calling it a monster… I just write until I get what I want down.)
For the month of August, another Yelp special event! This time around we are spending the evening at Tijuana Flats, a Florida-grown chain of restaurants started by a guy out of Orlando who really loved Tex-Mex and wanted to share that love with the rest of the world. A bit of warning… I am told that I can be a bit brutal with my reviews. Honest, but brutal. This review will not be an exception. You have been warned.
We all arrived at the location on Archer Rd. around 6:30pm, and were processed through the registration fo rhte event (i.e. picking up the sticky labels from a table and saying “Yep, that’s me!”) We were also given two tickets for free drinks inside, but since I was limiting myself to the lemonade that has free refills, I only used one of the tickets… some lucky soul got my other one.
Drink orders made and in hand, I worked my way into a seat at a table reserved for our group. Lots of party prizes from Yelp on-hand, but I think I made my mark on party prizes the last time I was at one of these events by attaching the bicycle bell to my motorcycle. Lots of conversation about various things, getting to know our neighbors or catching up on things that have happened over the past couple of months.
The first appetizer then came out… chips with three kinds of dipping sauce: salsa, guacamole, and queso. All three of the dipping sauces were fine, but the chips were on the salty side. As these were being served, some introductions of our hosts were made. A bit of history concerning Tijuana Flats, starting with its incarnation way back in 1995 (I remember 1995… I was in the Navy sailing across the Pacific Ocean at the time) and going through some of the highlights of its history, with expansion and alliances with various people in order to make it the food chain that it is today. The South Florida marketing coordinator was there to host things, and she was quite cordial.
Second appetizer comes out, which turns out to be french fries and queso. The fries were good, with an appropriate amount of salt on them. How do I know it was an appropriate amount? Because they were salty, but not so salty that my lips started to wrinkle like I had been in the ocean after some had been eaten. Yes, I have been at places (that were not Tijuana Flats locations) where this has happened. The queso was decent, though I found it a bit watery. A little thicker and it would stick to the fries better.
While this was coming out, a couple of trivia questions were asked of us, based on the history lesson we had received earlier concerning Tijuana Flats. The questions were relatively easy, and for those that were paying attention to their surrounds, about three quarters of the answers were actually printed out on information placards on all of the tables.
A bit of a warning now… if you do decide to get the fries and queso, be sure to get extra fries, and consume that queso while it is still relatively fresh. If you let it sit out too long, it tends to develop a skin on top that is not appetizing. We saw this. We laughed, we cried, we made fun of it.
Next was the main course… the cheeseburger taco. Remember that warning I gave at the beginning? You have seen a bit of that with my thoughts on the queso, but now we get to the real food travesty I saw last night. The cheeseburger taco is just what it says it is… a soft taco shell with the makings of a cheeseburger thrown in it. The burger patty is basically course ground beef with no taco flavoring, so you get the flavor of the beef. Lettuce and tomato are in there, as well as cheese. However, they also have the condiments on the burger… ketchup (catsup? Tomato sauce? Take your pick… depends on where you grew up), yellow mustard (blech!), and a couple of pickles. I am sure that this is how it normally comes, and if you were to order it from the counter you could ask for any of those items to not be added, but we were in a “here you go” situation, so that is what we got, and I consider this to be an evaluation of how their menu designers see the product. And frankly, I was not enthralled with this at all. By the reactions of those around me, it seems like there was a general feeling of agreement with my feelings about this particular dish. Seconds did come around, but I passed.
Next up was some dessert. First were churros, which I am sort of embarrassed to say I have never really tasted. I held an annual pass to Disney for five years straight, and I have never had a churro. Go figure, right? Frankly, they are decent. The couple of bites that I had were a perfect amount for me, but I have never been a huge sweets person in the first place. After that was a sampling of their cookie dough flautas. They were alright, but I preferred the churros. The flautas are a bit too rich for me, I guess. They weren’t bad, mind you… they just weren’t my thing, and I am sure that other folks around me loved them since they were going back for seconds/thirds/JUST HAND ME THE WHOLE TRAY!
During this the results of the trivia contest were announced… apparently just about every team had answered every question correctly (well, what do you expect when the answers are on a card right in front of us?) so instead the winner was drawn out of a hat… which again drew up some contention since the team name chosen was “Team Awesome”… and there were two different “Team Awesome”‘s… Hilarity ensued. It was a good time.
Now, you have gotten this far through my logorrhea (yes, it’s a word… look it up) so you might be wondering why I have given this five stars. The answer is that this is an event, and the food once again is only a part of the main purpose of the whole. Yeah, some of the food wasn’t too my or others’ liking, but that is just a part of what is going on. The food is just a catalyst for getting Elite Yelpers (Yeliters?) together in a social gathering to trade war stories, get to know each other, build relationships, and just have a good time in order to thank us for our hard work in writing about various locations in our area. By bringing us together, the hope is that we will become better writers and photographers and make their website that much better for all users. In this regard, I think the event is a total success… I mean, yeah, some of the food wasn’t that great for some of us, but that just creates a platform to discuss it.
Thank you Matthew and Tijuana Flats for bringing us together to make Tijuana Flats, Yelp, and all of us better at what we do while enjoying each other’s company!