Although basically the last story from my most recent visit to San Diego, this one's more about an idea that I've wanted to write about for a while. It wasn't until I went to get dinner one night at my all-time favorite Mexican-food take-out place, Roberto's, that it finally hit me that I needed to write the story.
Imagine for a moment that you're in another country where you don't know the language. Pretty much every business that you walk by has signs in the window but you don't know what they mean. For example, if you're in a mall in the U.S. you'll see the word "Sale" in the windows of almost all of the stores. Well, what if you didn't understand what "Sale" meant? Here's a photo that I took in Barcelona of a shoe store that has signs saying "Rebaixes" (ree-buy-shazz) in the windows:
Rebaixes means "Sale" in Catalan. Like the Sale sign in the U.S., it's in almost every store window you go by. These examples lead to a story that is apparently somewhat common. A friend of a friend (who I actually know) was telling another friend about his favorite Mexican restaurant in San Diego. He described the area, the building, how to get there, all about the food, and he even gave the name: "Abierto's". "You can't miss it", he said.
(Note: If you're not from San Diego you'll need some background. Almost every fast-food Mexican place in San Diego has a name with some variation of someone's name with "-berto's" at the end. For example, Roberto's, Adalberto's, and so on. It's pretty much a running joke to use -berto at the end of every place's name. See the somewhat hard to read sign out in front of my favorite "Ro"berto's for an example.)
It turns out that our Mexican-food-loving friend was reading the sign in the window that said "Abierto", which means "Open" in Spanish. He didn't actually know the name of the place; he just knew it as "Abierto's". It'd be like calling the Barcelona shoe store "Rebaixe's" if you were describing it. The story was good for many laughs for years and years and years.
Welcome to Roberto's #13, Oceanside, California. Don't let the mild-mannered decor throw you.
So you don't think this type of mistake is limited to silly surfer dudes, the same thing happened to a good friend of mine from my grad-school days. She's super smart and works in the movie industry scouting locations and being on scene during shoots. It involves lots of traveling and getting to hang out with famous folks...it's a verrrrry cool Hollywood job and she loves it.
While shooting a movie in Moscow last summer, she had gone to a great restaurant that wasn't too far away from where the crew was working. Some friends wanted to go but she didn't have an address to give them so she told them how to get there. "Go two Metro stops, change lines, go two more stops, go around the corner, down an alley, down a smaller alley by a mural on the wall, up some stone steps, and you'll come to the place. It's called Pectopah." Unfortunately for the friends, "Pectopah" means "restaurant" in Russian. I agree with her that a map might have been easier...
Like I mentioned, my favorite Mexican fast-food pectopah is Roberto's. They're abierto 24 hours a day seven days a week and they don't need rebaixes because their food is already really inexpensive. More importantly, their food is amazing. I sometimes have dreams about their carne asada burritos, refried beans, and delish salsa. Yummmmmmy...the taste of paradise!
Goodbye California. I miss everyone very much already. See you soon! Oh, and if you get a chance, have a margarita for me.