El Tajin Does Not Keep It Clean
"Why didn't you just say 'Get the fuck out of the way'?" says the man sitting on the bike rack. He's getting out of the way, and this is his friendly apology. He's stepped outside El Tajin, the new Mexican restaurant on Broadway, to smoke. With a few colleagues, he's enjoying a congenial hour or two of drinking and cursing freely at El Tajin's bar on a dark autumn evening.
It's a deeply weird scene. The group of guys, rough around the edges by a large margin, efficiently dispatches pints of pale draft beer; they know the bartender by name. Another man, possessed by a number of tics and wearing a white dress shirt a couple sizes too small, drinks a fountain Coke. He eventually eats a platter of fajitas, the twitching ceasing for the duration. A couple more tables fill up, but everyone ignores the oddest thing about El Tajin: the last two pages of the cocktail list, the "X RATED DRINKS." Starting with the Adios Motha Fucka (vodka, pineapple juice, blue Curaçao, club soda, and gin) and ending with the comparatively decorous F-U (involving rum, tequila, two kinds of whiskey, blueberry schnapps, and Goldschläger), it's a Tourette's fantasia that relies heavily on crème-de-miscellaneous and novelty liqueurs. Sex on the Beach is here, way out on the PG end of the profanity, outdone by the likes of Cum in the Bath Tub, Fuck Me Rough, Dirty Virgin, Soft Dick, Ass Smacker, Big Baller, Screw You, Mexican Asshole, The Whore, 1-900-FUCKMEUP, A Piece of Ass. The list goes on and on, literally.
El Tajin's bar has Creamsicle-colored walls with very orange trim, mismatched barstools, and decor brought to you by beer-company representatives—Modelo Especial mirrors, a Corona-branded map of Mexico, an unlit Pacifico neon sign. A fold-out from National Geographic on the wall shows some Mexican ruins, which may or may not be the ruins of El Tajin in Veracruz. XM radio plays Kenny Rogers and other neither-classic-nor-young country music. The bar itself is bifurcated, giving the floor plan a haphazard aspect; the charm here (with the glaring exception of the cocktail list) is of the not-trying-too-hard variety.
The owners, a mother-and-son team, come from Veracruz, and specialties of the region are marked on the menu with a tiny pyramid-ruin icon. The food is more standard-issue satisfying than monumentally great; both the shredded chicken and the pork al pastor are dry. The bartender, sweet-hearted, brings out a free dish of arroz con leche they just made in the kitchen. Do people order the X-rated drinks a lot? "Sometimes," he says, with a shrug and a smile.
El Tajin, 614 Broadway E, 325-6925