Poor Service And Bad Food Make For an Unsatisfying Bar Experience
One overworked bartender who tries up upsell customers, a drink glass sitting empty for half an hour and food that’s as unsatisfying as sex with a fat chick. (Sure, it gets the job done, but in the end, are you really happy with it?)
Welcome, folks, to Happy Hour at El Torito in Redondo Beach, CA!
If you’re wondering why this place on the Pier is not more happening, considering its location right on the water and priced-to-drink $3 margaritas, these are the main reasons.
It was the prospect of those $3 margaritas that drew me in as a pre-party location before hearing a Beatles/Rolling Stones cover band “battle” next door at the South Bay’s cool live music venue, Brixton. Which was great, by the way.
But had I known then what I know now, I would have opted for another place for Happy Hour (say, Old Tony’s).
I arrived to a near-empty bar at about 6:30 on a Friday night. Happy Hour goes until 8, and I envisioned having a few margaritas, some cheap food, then pounding down the Stella Artois to the good British beat at Brixton.
What’s that line about the best laid plans?
The bartender waited a few minutes before finally acknowledging me and seemed rushed. Furthermore, when I turned down his “offer” for a margarita upgrade, a smoother but slightly smaller version with Cuervo Gold (okay tequila; it’s what I use in my margaritas) for $4 instead of $3, he seemed to take this as an insult. I don’t like getting the hard sell anywhere, especially in a bar! When my friends showed up, he was equally persistent with them, as well.
Then things turned really sour. We finished our drinks, and the bartender seemed not to notice. So we gently scooted them to the edge of the bar. Still, they sat empty. It wasn’t his fault, tho; he was the only bartender and was making drinks not just for the bar (which now had about a dozen people) but the entire restaurant, as well. There was a continual line of waiters and waitresses and he was pouring margaritas and draft beers as fast as he could move.
After half an hour – this is not an exaggeration – I summoned a manager, who eventually stepped behind the bar for a few moments.
If you’re going to advertise Happy Hour, then have more than one bartender making drinks for the bar and restaurant!
The manager picked up the cost one of my $3 margaritas, but it seemed more of a token gesture. He should have comped a few more, if not the entire bill. By now, Happy Hour time was running out and I was afraid we would not get served again. We did regain the bartender’s attention, and based on our past experience, asked for two drinks each. He scoffed at this suggestion, saying he would only give us one each. He also never offered us more chips and salsa, which overall is a little thing to be sure, but it’s a reflection of the overall lack of service and attention to customers.
We did, however, order from the Happy Hour menu.
The bar food is mostly abysmal. The enticing sounding Cantina Combo is nothing more than chicken wings in a sauce, more like what one would expect at a Buffalo Wild Wings than El Torito. And to call the steak in the “steak” quesadilla is like calling Andrew Bynum a role model.
To be fair about the food, two girls next to us ordered off the main menu and reported it to be good. And I’ve had the tacos before and found them more than acceptable, though at $9 for four, it’s hardly a Happy Hour deal.
The truly agonizing aspect of all this, however, is that the place has such potential. It’s in a desirable location and there are hundreds of fun singles who live within walking distance. The South Bay should be crawling all over it. But the place is dated, looks dingy and is about as welcoming as Dodger Stadium under Frank McCourt.
I walked into El Torito in Redondo Beach expecting a pleasant Happy Hour experience. And walked out unsatisfied.