3.09.2013

The Skinny on the Jackson Heights Gorditas Cart

My wife and I have been venturing out more often on our free weekends in an attempt to explore the more unique dishes of our neighborhood, which is home to numerous food trucks, food carts, and restaurants that allow us to travel the world within footsteps of our own front door. For the most part, the places we have tried have been a positive and enriching experience for us. However, today was an experience that was unnecessarily unfortunate, simply due to poor service and the negative attitudes of the people running the establishment.

We had been wanting Mexican gorditas for a while, and finally had an opportunity to have some at the small cart on Roosevelt Ave. and 85th Street. The food was mediocre at best. Although the gorditas were crispy, they were very thin (possibly due to being pressed too thin in a tortilla press?) and on the bland side, with not much chicharrĂ³n, plenty of lettuce, and not quite enough cheese and crema.

What made this place stand out, albeit not in a positive way, was the service and attitude of the people working there. I’m a photographer – I have my camera with me almost wherever I go. As we were waiting for our food, I stepped a few feet away to take a picture of the green sign on the side of the cart that read “GORDITAS” in yellow lettering. I then came back to the cart and took a picture of the flattened masa being put on the griddle. The lady taking orders (the one with the baseball cap and brown hair) was quick to raise her voice, yelling at me in Spanish, ordering me not to take pictures of them. I explained to her that I had just taken a picture of the food, not of the people, but she didn’t seem to care. She immediately pasted a nasty look on her face and grabbed the $20 bill out of my hand. “¡Dame quince!” she yelled at the man working next to her, who had come to stand deliberately in front of me, trying – unsuccessfully – to completely block my view of the three Mexican ladies handling the food. Trust me, they were not what I wanted pictures of…no offense.

The fact that this lady yelled at me, the customer, telling me that I wasn’t able to take pictures of them, really bothered me. I legally do have a right to take pictures in public places, especially being that no identifiable people were in either of the shots. Had she asked nicely, or been remotely polite about it, I would have been happy to oblige. Bottom line: it was a waste of money, a waste of time, and represented the epitome of poor customer service, leaving a bad taste in our mouths. If you don’t want pictures of your food cart taken, then maybe you shouldn’t have one on Roosevelt Avenue in New York City, where plenty of people come to try new foods. And judging from the fact that your once-large cart with professionally lettered menus has now shrunken to a cart half its original size, with the “menu” now handwritten on a scrap piece of paper, maybe we’re not the only ones you’ve treated poorly in the past few years.

Oh, and by the way, below are the two pictures I snapped that were apparently “against their rules”: