134 Nepperhan Ave
Named after what is supposed to be a picturesque square in Mexico City where mariachis gather to perform, the Plaza Garibaldi where we were directed to by Gerry was far from picturesque. Located at the bottom of a dark hill lit only by the very bright neon of the next door Kentucky Fried Chicken, Plaza Garibaldi was Gerry’s choice, so we, of course, were in unfamiliar terrain. The destination was alien to most of us with the possible exception of Mike from Yonkers whose home turf we were now on. And despite the unfamiliarity, none of us got Lost in Yonkers except Mike from Yonkers, who, without any worthwhile excuse, arrived almost a half hour later than our designated meeting time. His tardiness did not stop him from devouring the slightly rancid, though highly addictive bowl of chips along with an accompanying lifeless salsa. Even Zio’s proclamation that he “killed a lot of cockroaches” on the street where Plaza Garibaldi was located did not stop us from stuffing our faces with the slowly sickening complimentary chips and salsa.
The large, garish restaurant was already decorated in anticipation of Valentine’s Day with cupids and hearts everywhere. Even the front cover of the colorful menu with a mariachi on horseback serenading a swooning senorita implied romance. But the mariachi stage was bare on this day and, along with the constant presence of the Yonkers’ police force, radios on alert while waiting for take out, put a damper on romance. So much so that the lone seller of roses was having a difficult time making a sale to the few customers in the restaurant. And all it took was one glance at our group and he moved on, taking his roses with him to try his luck at KFC.
Plaza Garibaldi was a tip from Gerry’s client and contractor and I think we’ve learned that it can be dangerous to rely on tips from outsiders—the track record has not been good. But the bad chips and salsa aside, the selection of tacos we started with was encouraging. We had pork meat tacos, goat meat tacos, Mexican sausage tacos, beef steak tacos and aged beef tacos—though what made aged beef different from the traditional beef steak was lost on us.
Despite the promising beginning, problems soon began to arise. Rick’s shrimp cocktail came in a tall sundae glass and was almost as sweet as that dessert, while the chicken in mole poblano Gerry ordered, coated thickly in a chocolate brown mole sauce, was like Rick’s shrimp sundae, just too sweet. Eugene did his best with the beef enchilada in green sauce but much of the concoction smothered in cheese and tomatillo salsa remained on his plate as did the “quezidilla” I ordered from the list of specials; this one stuffed with cheese and a mysterious pickled green vegetable. But the absolute proof that Gerry’s client had led us astray was the shock of seeing half of Zio’s chicken burrito untouched. Only Mike from Yonkers, maybe out of loyalty to the town of his moniker, seemed satisfied, deliberately but completely finishing off the enormous plate of “spicy seafood” he ordered. The final insult to injury was the tab—we exceeded our $20 limit though the beers we ordered and Zio’s regular over consumption of diet Cokes could have accounted somewhat for the overflow.
After our leaden meal, only Rick, possibly because of the ice cream sundae promise that was his shrimp cocktail, entertained the idea of ordering an ice cream or Popsicle advertised from the bright illustrations displayed above one of the restaurant’s counters. But in the end, even he declined.