Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Friday, August 20, 2004 10:00 pm

The kind of night of which legends are born

Filed under: Fun — Lex @ 10:00 pm

I’ve been sorta kinda following the unfortunate tale of Deal Hudson, until Thursday the head of the Republican National Committee’s outreach to Roman Catholics — not because of his tawdry past, but because of the spot where the most salient tawdry event in that past began: Tortilla Flats, a Mexican restaurant at Washington and West 12th streets in New York’s West Village. I’ve seen a number of people on blogs describe the restaurant as “timeless,” but that’s not quite accurate.

I know because I was there at the beginning, sometime in the summer of 1983. The restaurant was opened by a friend of a friend, a woman who had, if I recall correctly, worked in some off-camera capacity at NBC. She invited my roommates and me, among others, to the grand opening.

I remember only a few things about that experience:

  • It was an incredibly hot night. (It was an incredibly hot summer, for that matter.)
  • The food, which the owner characterized as “Mexican truck-stop,” was pretty good.
  • For décor, each booth had a hubcap on the wall.
  • Most importantly: The restaurant’s liquor license had not yet arrived, so they couldn’t sell us liquor. They could only give it away. And so they did. Over. And over. Again. And again. We did regular shots. And we did body shots. I seem to recall squeezed lime hulls scattered across the bar like ladies’ undergarments in the wee hours of Prom Night, although I suspect the bartender actually threw each away as soon as we were done with it.

As a consequence of the above point, we all got hammered. My roommates and I had to kind of help one another back to the West Fourth Street subway station because we were too broke to take a cab and too full of tequila to walk by ourselves. It was the kind of night on which legends are born, mainly because no one can remember the facts.

I left New York in December 1983 and, so far, haven’t had occasion to return. So I’m just delighted to learn that Tortilla Flats is still in business after all these years. I hope it’s still under the original ownership.

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