Dishin’: C’mon, Taste the Noise (La Carta de Oaxaca)

A long line before a restaurant’s opening time often speaks volumes to the quality of the ensuing dining experience.

At the beloved, ballyhooed and boisterous La Carta de Oaxaca, you and your dining companions may have to speak at volumes – large and loud volumes – to enjoy any semblance of a conversation.

Our “communion” was chaotic from the start. You have to arrive early (4:45 should work) to get seating at the start of a Saturday night. But be sure your whole party is there; even though the rest of our group was parking around the corner, we couldn’t claim a table until they were in sight of the gatekeeper. We stalled him from giving away the last seats. Perhaps it was punishment, but all the tables around us had first plates of food before anyone bothered to take our drink order. We then had to physically flag down a server to bring us chips so we could sample the salsa bar. And when we finally did get our food, the workers made repeated attempts to clear the plates before we’d even finished them. Turning tables seemed a priority.

And the food? We came with a list of recommendations and ordered them all: mole negro Oaxaqueno, entomatadas, guacamole, halibut tacos, tamales, and empanadas. Everything looked great. But the place is so noisy that it took several screams across the table to convey our comment, “It’s too loud to taste the food.” Really. One sense crushed another. Unfortunately, for us, Saturday night’s alright for fighting… almost anything but the crowds at La Carta de Oaxaca.

Originally posted at Seattlest (where “we” = me) on April 27, 2007.

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