Cindy and her sisters had eaten Mexican food at the Pink Taco at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino when they went out to Las Vegas a couple years ago. She proclaimed it to be "excellent" with a fun atmosphere. I tried to get us into the Pink Taco at last year's Consumer Electronics Show, but they told me that for a group of 10 or more people I had to make reservations over a week in advance.
This year, I decided to go ahead and make a reservation for us for the first night we were in town. I called the Pink Taco and talked with the reservation supervisor, a very pleasant and fun lady by the name of Katy. She told me that they no longer need a week's advance notice for larger parties, but they do have a fixed menu for groups of ten or more people. You can see the fixed menu here. I was trying to make reservations for the Saturday night we were there for a group of 12 and the fixed price ran from $40 to $51 per person - and that didn't include the optional beverage plan. Katy told me, however, that if I committed within 48 hours, she'd give us the weekday fixed prices which ran $33 to $42 per person.
On top of all that, I was going to have to sign a contract and give a deposit of $250. The contract was sort of confusing as it also said that if less than 12 people showed up I would be charged $25 per person for each person under the agreed upon number. So if only nine people showed up for a party of 12, I would be charged $75 bucks. And I had to give 24 hours notice if more than 12 people would be coming to dinner.
Well, if you know our company at trade shows, the situation with dinner reservations is always fluid. We have guys that may have to peel off and go to a dinner with an account or client. We have people that show up at the last moment and go to dinner with us. We don't know 24 minutes before we're supposed to sit down to eat how many there may be of us, let alone 24 hours in advance.
Add to this, I didn't feel comfortable choosing food for other people. Our company has a bunch of "foodies" in the group who like to try eclectic and exciting things on the menu. And the options included four courses - an appetizer, a salad, a main entree (your choice of three or four items), and a dessert.
First of all, an appetizer for me at a Mexican restaurant is usually chips and salsa with an occasional quesadilla. And I can't tell you the last time I had a dessert at a Mexican restaurant - I'm usually so full from the meal that I've never tried fried ice cream or whatever other thing they're trying to pry more money out of your wallet. And I can easily tell you the number of times I've had a salad at a Mexican restaurant before my meal - zero.
I just didn't feel overly comfortable in either signing a contract to have dinner or to pick food for my colleagues. So I deep-sixed the plan and told Katy that if we came, we'd just wait for a table like everyone else. It actually turned out for the best.
When I traveled to Las Vegas this year for CES, I took American Airlines thru Chicago, mainly because the price was about $300 bucks cheaper than the nearly direct United flight from Moline thru Denver to Las Vegas. But my flight between Chicago and Las Vegas was over two hours late because they had to take us off one plane and put us on another due to a leaky toilet. Then snowy weather further delayed us the place had to be de-iced. By the time I got to the hotel, I was tired and hungry.
It also turned out that we didn't have a full staff in Las Vegas right off the bat. We had some guys who were attending the MacWorld Exposition up in San Francisco and they wouldn't be joining us until later in the week. So it was just five of us for dinner the first evening in Las Vegas. When someone asked about dinner, I made the executive decision to head to the Pink Taco. Everyone wholeheartedly agreed.
The Pink Taco is located in the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas (see map). The restaurant was founded in 2000 by Harry Morton, the son of Peter Morton - the co-founder of the Hard Rock Cafe chain and the former owner of the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas - and the grandson of famed restaurateur Arnie Morton - the founder of the famed Morton's Steakhouse restaurants, and who also helped develop the Playboy Clubs for Hugh Hefner in the early 60's.
The name "Pink Taco" is somewhat controversial as it is vulgar slang for describing a woman's vagina. In fact, when Harry Morton tried to open a second location in Scottsdale, AZ in 2006, it was met with tremendous resistance by the locals - fueled by Scottsdale mayor Mary Manross who felt the restaurant's name was obscene. Harry Morton undoubtedly looked at the controversy as free publicity, but he claimed the restaurant's name came from a menu item also known as Panuchos, a traditional Mexican taco filled with beans, chicken, avacado and pickled pink onions. After everyone settled down and received a reality check, the second Pink Taco opened in June of that year. In addition to Las Vegas and Scottsdale, there is a location in Los Angeles with three more locations slated to open in Hollywood, San Diego and Miami.
We were able to get a table right away when we arrived around 8 p.m. Three people in our group were from Canada and it was 11 p.m. body time for them, 10 p.m. for me. Our other colleague came from Phoenix, so he was at 9 p.m. body time. In other words, we were all hungry and somewhat tired from a long day of travel.
We were given menus and we ordered a round of beers or margaritas. Homemade chips and salsa came to our table while we waited. The Pink Taco is sort of loud, helped along by the decor that featured wooden floors and high tin-metal ceilings. It was designed to be somewhat of a funky little Mexican cantina. I was actually surprised that it wasn't bigger than it really was. I was guessing they had to have a couple rooms where they'd be able to handle up to 30 people in a group.
I was starting my diet to lose a ton of weight before my planned hip surgery, so I was planning on eating light. I noticed they had fish tacos, but when I found that the fish was breaded and deep fried, I passed on that.
I ended up ordering the beef enchiladas - two shredded beef brisket tacos topped with a ranchero sauce along with cheese and sour cream. What a way to start the diet! But I had done pretty well for the first few days I was on the diet. I figured I could jump off the diet for one meal.
And I'm glad I did. The beef enchiliadas were excellent. The beef brisket was tender and flavorful, and the ranchero sauce with melted cheese was a wonderful combination. I will say, however, that I wasn't absolutely blown away by the meal as my expectations of the Pink Taco were sky high based upon Cindy's glowing review and the feedback I'd received from a couple other people who have eaten at a Pink Taco. Still, it was a very good meal.
The service was good, the atmosphere was fun - but a little loud, and the food was very good. I was sort of worried if everyone in our group shared the same sentiment about the food at the Pink Taco, but each of them said their entrees were very good. I'm glad, however, we just came in on our own and didn't jump through the hoops they wanted us to do for a big party. If we come back with a big group, I think it would be worth the time we'd have to wait to get a big table all together. Hey, they do have a bar area and we can certainly wait there for a table. It's going to be much better than pre-selecting your meal days in advance.