by Melinda Gallo

A tapas bar with nachos?

When I see a menu with enchiladas on it, I naively believe that it's a Mexican restaurant. I knew that Salamanca was a tapas bar in via Ghibellina, but I didn't know they served Mexican food as well. Dave and I had a craving for some Mexican food and had already gone to Tijuana, which is also in via Ghibellina, the day after Christmas last year. But, we wanted to try something new tonight.

I didn't remember how busy it would be on a Saturday night until a few minutes before we left our house. The restaurant is only a few blocks from our apartment, so it was a quick walk. Tonight, it was quite mild so it was a pleasure to be outside walking.

Saturday night is when many Italians go out with their friends. It's the one night a week that they don't eat at home with their families.

"Avete prenotato?" (Did you make a reservation), the host, who was the only other person around our age, asked us. He ushered us to a table in a room where there were three other tables with six to twelve people at each one.

Dave and I could barely hear each other and many times we had to practically scream at one another to communicate. The small room was noisy not only from the twenty plus people in the room, but also the music that was playing over a few speakers on every wall.

We started off with nachos and a couple of margaritas and unfortunately, we were disappointed by both. I asked for the margaritas to be con ghiaccio (on the rocks), but they ended up frozen. There was so much tequila in them that I could only drink a few sips of mine. The nachos had two dollops of guacamole and salsa on each side with melted, grated cheese on top.

We were daring enough to order the fajitas, which I realized after the nachos wasn't a good idea since the restaurant is Spanish and not Mexican. I kept telling myself that I should've ordered the paella.

We couldn't wait to leave the restaurant mostly because we just couldn't hear anything and I felt like the noise was just unbearable. When we got up to go to the door, the host had to let us out because there was a rope closing off the dining area as if it were a night club. We had to make our way past about twenty people who were all waiting to get into the restaurant.

I realize now that Dave and I will probably never be happy with any Mexican food in Florence (we've been to three out of the three main Mexican restaurants, one of which I won't even name because it was so bad) mostly because what we miss is the Americanized version of Mexican food, called "Tex-Mex." We've been to Manzanillo in Mexico a few times and the food albeit delicious didn't curb our craving for the Mexican food we're used to in the States.

Since we've moved to Italy, Dave has learned to make amazing margaritas and didn't suffer being his own guinea pig while he perfected his recipe. We brought back some spices from the States to cook our favorite Mexican dishes and have resigned to making Mexican food ourselves. If we ever go out again for Mexican food, it'd probably be back to Tijuana on via Ghibellina because the mole enchiladas were delicious!

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