Fun Where You Least Expect It

Today, I was forced to venture into the gaping maw of hell that the North
Ave, Sheffield and Clybourn area has become. Normally, I try to avoid that
area like I avoid Gap khakis and polo shirts, as I tend to get a little
nervous around so much conspicuous consumption. It seems like every time I
blink a new chain has added a store, kind of like Lincoln Park’s
not-so-Magnificent Mile.
Rather than running into Sam’s and buying a fifth of Belvedere to kill the
pain, I decided that we should find an establishment that would feed us as
well as getting us intoxicated. Unfortunately, that area is as bereft of
decent restaurants as it is of personality. What to do? I suddenly had a
In my bag, I had a coupon book that had been delivered in the mail the day
before. Now I’m not normally a coupon person. As a matter of fact, when it
comes to using coupons in restaurants, I am horribly embarrassed. You see,
I know what the waiters really think of the people who use those coupons. I
used to be one of those waiters. Now that I am no longer earning my living
in that manner, my income has been cut in half and I am forced to consider
using coupons if I want to eat out as often. Poetic justice, nes pas? In
this coupon book was an offer from Sangria on Weed St. You buy two tapas,
you get two free. Since the mention of sangria is enough to start my
husband drooling, we were decided. Sangria it was. It wasn’t Cafe Iberico
(our usual tapas joint), but hell, it sure beat going to Uncle Julio’s.
The restaurant turned out to be in the old Bub City space, right next to
Zentra. The decor was surprising, very late 50s/early 60s modern, with tile
mosaics and mirrored strings strung from the ceiling. There were only three
tables in the restaurant, and one of them had a very overactive two year
old. As we were sitting down, he decided that it was time to start crying.
That bottle of Belvedere was looking better by the minute.
Fortunately, we were served our pitcher of sangria right away. It was
overly sweet, but at that point, I really didn’t care. The crying child
then decided that he felt much better and started running around the
restaurant. By that time, the sangria was doing its job and we felt that he
was precocious and adorable. We had sangria, free tapas and all was right
with the world. Watching the little boy try to tear apart the restaurant
was like having live entertainment provided with our lunch at no extra
By the end of our lunch, we had chatted with the parents of the hyperactive
two year old, provided the waitstaff with the answer to a difficult question
(palindrome), an example of one (racecar), were dubbed the “most intelligent
table” by the waitstaff and were given free drinks. We found out that our
waitress was leaving soon for L.A. to pursue a career in comedy and that the
other server was an actor who is currently “acting like a waiter”. They
didn’t even seem to mind that I had a coupon!
So even though I may never go back to Sangria, and didn’t necessarily want
to be there in the first place, the truth is I had a blast while I was
there. It was one of those totally unexpected moments where everything that
can go wrong, for once just doesn’t. Not too bad for what had started off
as an exasperating afternoon.

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