Last Thursday was my Thursday to work. I work 6 days one week, then the next I work 5 days. My coworker and I work opposite Thursdays so we have the full week covered.
We decided that he would come pick me up Thursday after work and we would go exploring in his new Jeep and then go get some dinner out somewhere.
After driving around a few random neighborhoods and trying to get ourselves lost, we got bored. We still had a few hours to kill before the restaurant would be open so we decided to go to the mall. I had heard rumors that malls forbid “single” guys from shopping on weekends because weekends were only for families. We didn’t think that would be the case at our little mall and didn’t think that would apply to us westerners. We thought it only applied to the Indians and the Phillipinos. Just to clarify, I’m not looking down on individuals from these countries, but the culture here certainly still has a “class” system that is alive and well, but that’s for another blog post.
We arrived at the mall and made our way to the entrance, there was a small sign that said “Families Only” but we ignored it.
Oops, that was wrong. we were soon chased down by a young security guard. Guess the sign does apply to us. He escorted us out of the mall and we went on our way.
Apparently this practice of family only times is to prevent the young men from staring at or fraternizing with women. The restaurants have “family” and “single” sections. I’ve seen signs at the park and beaches that say “family only”. I guess I’ll have to wait for my family to get here so I can go exploring some of those places.
Since we couldn’t wander around the mall for a couple of hours, we decided to go to the restaurant early. The restaurant was set to open at 6pm and it was 5pm. We had an hour to kill. This particular restaurant is in the one and only “fancy” hotel here. The hotel is obviously old. Looks like a casino built in the 70’s. Pinkish marble floors, lots of polished brass or gold fixtures and handrails. Big vaulted ceilings and inset seating and dining areas. After a few minutes of exploring, we found the barber shop, the workout facility, the flower shop, and the gift shop. We still had 45 minutes to waste so we decided to get a drink in the lobby “bar”. The reason I said “bar” was because they don’t serve alcohol here. So when you order a beer you get a non-alcoholic beer. Did you know that Budweiser makes a non-alcoholic beer? I didn’t. The have entire sections of non-alcoholic beer here in the grocery stores.
I drank a couple sodas and ate a few bowls of mixed nuts while we watched people come and go in the hotel.
Finally it was time for TexMex. I had my concerns. TexMex in Saudi Arabia? I hadn’t seen any Mexicans or Latin/South Americans here yet. I have seen a few Texans, but they weren’t working at a restaurant. So how good could the food be? Guess we’ll find out.
The place was decorated kind of like a Chi-Chi’s. Do you remember them? They were a mexican restaurant chain a few years ago until they went out of business due to a food poisoning or salmonella scare. Anyway, the young waiter came out, I almost laughed out loud. A young guy from probably India, he was tall and thin, dressed in cowboy boots, jeans with a belt and big buckle, red and white striped shirt, bandana tied around his neck and a straw hat.
The menu had all the typical TexMex foods, tacos, burritos, chimichangas, taco salads, and then lots of burgers and sandwiches. We were served tortilla chips and salsa while we looked over the menu. The chips were crisp and the salsa tasted fresh, so things were off to a good start. We ordered our food, my a beef chimichanga and he a vegetarian chimichanga.
We watched football (soccer) while we waited for our food and expected the place to fill up. It usually is quite popular with all the expats. But I forgot that there was a Marine birthday party in another local city that lots of the americans were going to, it was hosted at the embassy and they had “real” drinks. 🙂
Once our food came we dug in right away. It looked like your typical TexMex, but without lots of sauces. I’m used to lots of sauce on the burrito or chimichanga and soupy beans and rice. This was all quite dry. I ended up dumping my extra salsa on the food to give it some more flavor, but all in all.
TexMex in Saudi Arabia was pretty good. I’ll go back again. I now know where I can take the family when Kelsie has a craving for a taco salad or chips and salsa. But next time I won’t eat so much because I want to save room for dessert. FRIED ICE CREAM.