Sunday, June 07, 2009

Non-Tourism: Tequila Land

After having head a successful non-tourist minimalist shopping day on the Tiakong Road I decided to make Sunday simple. I wanted a burrito. That was my goal, indeed that was pretty much my only goal I figured out where to get Mexican via my little book hoped into a cab, and was off.

When I excited the cab I recognized the area as one I had been in the day before somewhere in the French Concession area of Shanghai. This area is rather large and mostly known for the tree lined streets and quiet you can find in the city of 17 million. A happiness to be sure. The cab dropped me off near the restaurant and it took me only a few minutes to figure out exactly where it was after that. I walked into a quiet looking patio lined with trees and was immediately impressed by the number of foreigners. I felt more out of place around foreigner in Shanghai then I had expected. I think perhaps it is becuase there are so many of them. And so many of them are not from anywhere near the US. They are so very different from the special brand of foreigners we get in Korea.

I realized in the middle of the patio and the people eating all over that the restaurant I was looking for was not there. Or at least that I was not in the right place. I had accidentally stumbled upon someplace that did brunch. Sadly I'm allergic to brunch. No really, I'm allergic to milk and eggs and I can't eat anything white (insulin intolerant). So brunch is mostly out. I was about to give up in despair without the Mexican I so desperately wanted. I stood surrounded by all the people and sighed when a very nice gentlemen to my right who was helping his kid into a high chair asked me what I was looking for. I explained and prepared to go when his wife joined us and suggested a place I could go for Mexican.

She grabbed me and pulled me into the restaurant, gave me an ex-pat magazine, circled a place and said to give it to a cab driver. I thanked her and walked out preparing myself for a nice burrito.

I hit a cab, got to the restaurant, and stepped into a place calling itself Cantina Agave. The name immediately made me perk up. It was a little quiet which was fine by me, I pulled up a seat at the end of the bar and looked over the brunch menu while the waiter gave me directions on how to order. It was then that I noticed the massive selection of alcohol. But not just any alcohol. Tequila. Miles and miles of tequila. Granted it was only about one on a Sunday afternoon but what else did I have to accomplish? So I was getting ready to order when the waiter mentioned the Sunday brunch happy hour special. All the margaritas you could drink for 98RMB (about 18 bucks).


He set me up with my first glass and I ordered a mountain of vegetarian Mexican food. I happily settled into my mountain of food knowing full well that more than half of it would go home with me, which was also fine by me. I finished the first margarita in a short time and tried to get attention of the bar tender. He seemed a bit busy, but the nice foreigner at the end of the bar who had been paying a mild amount of attention to me picked up the pitcher and started to refill my glass. I thanked him and chatted him up, and guessed correctly that he was in the owner.

We chatted for a while and I learned that I had stumbled into a bar that had the largest tequila selection this side of the Pacific. Not only that the food seriously rocked. He was so impressed with my tequila knowledge and love of Mexican food that he asked the kitchen to make me a custom burrito free of charge. I commented on my undying love for a man who flies to Hong Kong to get cheese and cilantro!

Eventually he had to get back to work, and being that it was only one in the afternoon, I had to get back to the drinking I had signed myself up for. For better or for worse I stayed till three and when I left I was warm, fuzzy, and pretty close to falling over from my margarita consumption. Before leaving I promised to return again prior to exiting Shanghai. And this was a promise I kept. When I showed up again three nights later the lovely owner poured me not one, not two, but close to six shots of tequila, each a different brand, two from his special stock, and at least one that was over twenty dollars a shot. A great find and happiness during my working trip.

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