Is there anything worse than realizing you’ve forgotten your wallet when it’s time to pay your bill? Well, there are probably thousands of things. Watching your house burn down probably sucks. I’m sure the Holocaust was pretty bad. Then there’s lupus. Still, coming up empty at a restaurant when it’s time to pony up is a sinking, helpless feeling. At least my tale of relative woe has a happy ending.
Over the weekend, I was puttering around the Mid Cities visiting relatives with my spousal unit and 10-month-old spawn when I became overcome by a petulant, nagging hunger that couldn’t wait two more hours for our dinner plans. I broke my rule about eating at chains (which really should apply only in Fort Worth proper, since the ’burbs are teeming with so many brand-name eateries) and parked my brood at Lupe’s Tex-Mex & Grill (2200 Airport Fwy, Ste 505, Bedford, 817-545-5004). The little eatery is set in one of HEB’s signature strip malls positioned oh-so conveniently near a freeway on-ramp.
Don’t judge me. Sometimes I just crave the most basic of basic Tex-Mex and don’t want to have to worry about taking notes as I eat. As far as chain Tex-Mex goes, Lupe’s is a solid, nay, superior landing spot for tacos-nachos-enchiladas. The kitchen’s spinach quesadillas ($10.99), with their gooey, stretchy ropes of cheese and well-seasoned spinach, were the perfect specimen of this type of cuisine.
Before I get to how bad and then good things got, allow me to vent a little on the subject of strangers touching my baby. Some human mud-flap ambled over to my table to gawk at my admittedly adorable offspring. First, he asked if my son was going to be a preacher when he grows up. As a secular sort of person, I fought the urge to say, “I hope not.” Instead, I told the strange man with poor boundaries that my son could be whatever he wants. Then the guy proceeded to rub my kid’s head like a raver on ecstasy groping a fabric wall. Before I could smack away his hand, he said he hoped my kid is the next Donald Trump. Luckily, I already had the line, “I hope not,” loaded and finally got to use it. The stranger looked angry and confused and scuttled away like a sewer rat.
That’s a long way of saying, please, don’t touch a stranger’s baby and keep your politics and religion away from mine.
Our server, a polite, older man named Bardo, was a picture of effortless grace –– polite, attentive, and especially considerate of my extremely well behaved kiddo. It was after I had just ordered my second margarita when I noticed that I was sans wallet. My better half was also without plastic or greenbacks. I rushed over to the bar to cancel my order, but the barkeep was too fast.
Embarrassed, I pulled Bardo aside and told him the situation. I promised to return later to pay up. His response hit me like a 60-minute Swedish massage.
“It’s OK,” he said. “It was a pleasure to serve you. Please, just come back and dine with us again.”
Damn. I could have teared up.
As luck would have it, my spouse’s card was wedged somewhere in the little one’s diaper bag, although we didn’t find it until later that night. As soon as we did, we trucked it to an ATM and headed back to Lupe’s, where Bardo tried to refuse a tip. He tried, anyway.
That experience will stick with me. Back when I waited tables, that sort of thing happened all of the time. You never knew if the people were going come back or not, and I always wrote off those quirky occasions as the cost of doing business. But I was never as classy as Bardo. I never made the poor people who couldn’t pay feel like it wasn’t a problem, let alone urge them to come back. I wish I had been more like Bardo, but I fear people like that are in short supply these days.
So if you want to see a unicorn, head down to Lupe’s in Bedford. The food is pretty good, too.