One of the great things about doing this column is I get to try out a new restaurant every week. One of the bad things about doing this column is I get to try out a new restaurant every week.
This week I was unfortunate enough to be eating at Luna’s Mexican Restaurant located at 5924 Providence Rd. in Riverview (the corner of Providence and Bloomingdale Avenue).
When I first entered, I was reminded of a high school cafeteria decorated for Halloween, but who am I to question a restaurant owner’s choice in colors or décor? It just wasn’t a very warm or inviting feeling.
I stood at the doorway for a few minutes while the hostess and a server straightened up some type of seating problem. That’s a problem that a lot of restaurants encounter, but not usually with only four tables being occupied.
I stood patiently reading the menu while the front desk got its affairs in order. When I finally got my turn, I pointed to the No. 20 on the menu and asked for a soda while I waited at the bar. The No. 20 consists of a burrito, a tostada and a taco, but I asked for carne asada — steak — as a substitute, so there is no way my bill should have come to $25. After a minute or two of translation exercises, come to find out, the person at the front desk ordered me twenty dollars' worth of carne asada instead, and I can see how that mistake happens all the time — NOT.
I sat at the bar and drank my soda and watched a little college football while my meal was being prepared. The bartender came out with a basket of tortilla chips and a side of salsa. I declined but thanked her, regardless. I saw her go around the corner, open a bag and dump the chips inside along with the salsa, then put them into a plastic bag.
Soon after, I was given the plastic bag containing the chips and the rest of my meal. By this time, the chips had literally soaked right through the brown bag, but the burrito and tostada were in a good-quality to-go box, so there was no need to panic.
The taco was a small corn tortilla despite the fact I asked for flour, and it was the size of a tortilla chip and wrapped separately in foil — not very impressive.
The tostada had very little meat on it but lots of fresh lettuce and no tomatoes. The pico de gallo was fresh, and that was about the only redeeming item of value to the whole meal.
I take that back — the cheese on the burrito was toasted perfectly, full of meat and rolled very well, but the sauce was a great big disappointment. I can’t exactly say what was happening with the sauce; it’s like someone mixed enchilada sauce and marinara and, just for kicks, added lemon. It was disgusting, and I am a big Latin food fan, but I have never tasted a sauce like this. You can believe I won’t taste their sauce again. I threw most of my meal away.
I think they forgot to put rice and beans in my order but, at this point, I won’t ever go back to ask.
I have been known to drive over to Temple Terrace just to have lunch with my brothers at TacoSon or to Wimauma to Sanchez's for some real good Mexican food, but I won't cross the street for Luna's.
I’m giving these guys 1 1/2 stars — the one star is for the pico and the half for the large soda at the bar.
1 Star — Wouldn't go back on a bet
2 Star — Would have to go back, but only on a bet
3 Star — If I was in the neighborhood and hungry
4 Star — Would go out of my way even if I wasn't hungry
5 Star — Would make reservations and wait in a line