El Parador: Mucho Bueno Mexican Food - Just Remove Your Sunglasses!

I like that there are some pretty good places to get something to eat in my neighborhood. Believe me when I say they are few and far between in the Midtown East area. I live in a culinary desert by comparison to other parts of the City.
Aaaaaanyway, the fact that we have El Parador nearby is a God-send. The menu is solid and I'm a big fan of their Barbacoa ribs. I probably misspelled that, but work with me here...
I've sampled most everything on that menu because my husband is more adventurous than I am and he always insist that I try things that would normally make me wince. He's usually right when he says, "Try it! I promise you'll like it." I have to learn to trust the man... And I should trust them in the kitchen at El Parador, too.
My husband told me a long time ago, "The chef doesn't want to put sh!t on the menu." Makes sense. A chef - a real, authentic, knows-what-the-hell-they-are-doing chef - would put dishes that are tasty, flavorful, and hopefully guarantee another visit back to their restaurant on the list.
This restaurant really has some good dishes, even if the names seem a tad daunting.
Is there a bad side to the place? Not really....but....
El Parador is just like walking in a dark cave -no matter what time of day you arrive. It's dark and to me, seems a bit medieval in its decor. So if that means it has to be a dark night in the middle of a sunny afternoon, fine. It's ok. Just remove your sunglasses before you walk in the door or you will think you have gone temporarily blind. I actually prefer its darkness over pinatas hanging from the ceiling and tacky statues of Mayan gods littered about an establishment.
Back to the good things about El Parador... Service is really good, but make a reservation because this place fills up! And I know you're probably thinking, but it's on 34th Street - between 1st and 2nd... WTH? I'm telling you, after 6pm, it's like the flood gates open. The bar is quite lively and the tables are very busy with people gathering after work or just having a romantic table for two.
If you're an Open Table fan, you find that many of the day/time slots are worth 1,000 points. It's just a huge incentive for some, so I thought I'd mention it.
It's also the oldest Mexican restaurant in New York City... and definitely one of the best. It's been favorably reviewed by many. I'm just adding my two cents because I hope they remain here for many future generations to come.

Bad Service + Bad Experience = Less Likely to Return

After yesterday's experience, I'm still so upset about it -I wanted to make note of it here. After all, that is why I started blogging in the first place: to just tell my own thoughts and opinions in a public space.
I'm certain that the people can make or break a business.
Case in point: Last night, I went to our favorite gelato place (you'll see it listed here, if you want to read more). This place has been consistent in the past. Fantastic ice cream with unique flavors, terrific java and the customer service was simply friendly and helpful.
NOT so last night.
The place was very quiet. We walked in and the guy behind the counter didn't even acknowledge our existence. So WE said hello first. He was so dismissive about having customers. He was playing on his phone. (Probably texting his mom.)
I still took a look at the various gelatos behind the glass, noticing immediately that they looked a tad melted. Well, not a tad - quite a bit. I mentioned this to my husband and ONLY then, did Mr. No-Congeniality say that it was his co-worker's fault. My husband didn't seem too bothered, as he still thought it would be ok. He still asked the zombie-like ice cream dude about the flavors and received a very icy response (no pun intended). Begrudgingly, he gave my husband a couple of samples to try. (In past visits, the service would have the spoons ready for customers to try right away -without having to ask. AND with a smile!)
I tried asking about the pastry that they normally have available because the melty-gelato wasn't doing it for me. With a very disinterested tone that has been his schtick since we walked in the door, I was informed that, "Yeah, that didn't sell very well. We have muffins now."
No pastry, no melted ice cream. No service.
I was so completely uninspired by this zombie behind the counter, that I didn't even want to have the coffee that I've raved about in the past.
So - business owners with a service-base: no matter WHAT you sell, if you have hired mediocre people to work for you, you can kiss your reputations goodbye. Your products won't sell and people WON'T go back.

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