The Truth About Fajitas

There is a dirty secret about Mexican food in the restaurant industry and I want to share it with you right now. It isn’t that the guacamole is very often frozen in big gigantic bags that get thawed out in a sink of hot water (I’m looking at you, Houlihan’s.) It isn’t that the “authentic Crema agria” that is topped on the enchiladas is the same old tired ass Sysco sour cream that goes on the baked potato. And it isn’t that the Mexican workers in the kitchen are all undocumented. It’s about fajitas.

You know that big cast iron skillet that comes to the table overflowing with carne and pollo and vegetables and it’s always screaming with sizzle and steaming with style? It’s fake. Those fajitas are not cooked on that skillet. Those skillets are stored under the burner so they get good and hot. The meat and the veggies are all cooked whenever and then just sit under the heat lamp until the rest of the order is ready to go. When it is time, they put the fajitas on the hot skillet which is then placed on some old funky woven straw basket bullshit or a piece of wood. And then right before they go out, someone picks up a squeeze bottle of oil or water and they jizz all over the skillet. Abracadabra: steam. And then when it gets to the table, it looks like the meat was actually cooked on this authentic Mexican fajita skillet. Customers are always so impressed.

customer: Oh my God, would ya look at that plate of fa-jee-tas? It looks so durn good.
waiter: Yeah, be careful, it’s hot.
customer: Ethyl, listen to that sizzle. You can tell by the sizzle that these are gonna be good.
waiter: Yeah, be careful, it’s hot.
customer: I betcha they have a little old Mexican lady back there makin’ these just like she did in her village in old Mexico. My Lordy, I cain’t wait to eat these. My glasses are all steamed up! Ethyl, did ya’ see that? My glasses got all steamed up from my authentic Mexican fa-jee-tas? That is amazin’. (He reaches towards the skillet) OUCH! Oh, Lordy, I burnt my hand on this authentic fa-jee-ta skillet. Gosh durnit that stings.
waiter: Yeah, be careful, it’s hot.
customer: Can I get some extra tor-till-as?
waiter: Yes sir, I will ask Rosarita to please make you a few more as soon as she gets back from walking the burro.
customer: Grass-i-ass. I love fa-jee-tas.

And now you know the truth.

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22 thoughts on “The Truth About Fajitas

  1. Bagel Fairy

    Not at all surprised to hear/read this. I was always embarrassed by my "ooh, ahh" fajita-orderin' fellow diners. You're probably correct in saying that the most "authentic" part of the Mexican food experience is the ethnicity of the workers making the food.

  2. Kalei's Best Friend

    Wouldn't u think people would know about that skillet? Its a bit unbelievable that fajitas would be that sizzling… when was the last time u cooked fajitas at home and had your skillet that hot??? not that believable at all. Feel sorry for the sad folks that fall for that show.. Also the small bbq's at the Asian restaurants. Let me tell u Asians do not eat that way at home.. My mother would pitch a fit if my Dad wanted to have a hibachi at the table.. That's another b.s. move or foolery for America.. a good ploy to get people into the restaurant.. Last laugh is on the one thinking Asians eat that way..

  3. Xylina Myia

    Haha, that's pretty funny. I mean you get what you pay for. If you go to a chain you just have to come to grips that most of the entrees are not made on the spot. They are nuked, luked and microwaved. I mean would really expect them to make each and every meal fresh? Do you know how long that would take? Impatient Americans do not have time to wait on unnecessary things like food. That's why they go out to eat, so they don't have to waste too much time on it. It makes me laugh every time people are shocked that their food isn't at all that authentic or fresh..

  4. SkippyMom

    This was the greatest fail to working in a Mexican restaurant [not chain] back in the early nineties. No matter how many times I told a customer NOT to touch the SIZZLING pan that I had just served them WEARING A FREAKING OVEN MITT they always did. The only thing worse is when I would place it as far away from any children at the table [because you just KNOW they are going to touch it] saying "Let's leave this right here out of reach of the kiddies, okay? That way they won't get burned." No sooner had I turned around and the parents had used napkins to pick the stupid thing up and move it right in front of the kids. Who touched it.Never once did I hear a complaint from a customer about them/their spawn being burnt. I just gave them my best "Told you so" smirk and walked off. Grrrr.I am surprised that more people don't realize that they aren't actually cooked on the skillets – that it is just a presentation tool.

  5. Shannyn

    My restaurant does the same thing with Tajines (Moroccan clay pots). Its a slow cooking method that we completely neglect to use, instead we assemble the meal in the tajine, throw it in the oven for a few to get it all good and hot and present it at the table with a flourish.

  6. SharleneT

    There isn't a trade in the world that doesn't have its own way of presenting to the public to inspire buying… we're all basically crows looking for the next sparkly thing… the item, itself, may be bad for you or poorly made, but as long as it sparkles or looks great, it's going to get bought before the solid well-made product… It's the nature of the beast…

  7. Jesse

    That was quite the laugh…It's been a while, but you never forget the sight undocumented cooks dumping overcooked meat bits and veggies that were just microwaved in a plastic bag onto the stupid sizzle tray…"Mexican food" my backside.

  8. Tonya

    People really think that their fajitas are cooked on that little skillet? I've been in the restaurant industry so long that I thought everyone knew they were cooked on the grill and then put on the tiny skillet with lime juice. They don't know that???


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