“Drinks go in, fun comes out!”
December 31, 2015 6:40 AM   Subscribe

"I was having my second Frogasm of the night when dinner got weird." Pete Wells reviews Señor Frog’s in Times Square for The New York Times.
posted by valkane (52 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are so many good parts of this review to choose from, but this standalone sentence nearly made me spray my computer with tea:

The Reuben is good, for some reason.
posted by Kitteh at 6:46 AM on December 31, 2015 [27 favorites]


I ate at the Señor Frogs in Puerto Vallarta once. We went there totally randomly, just wanting a restaurant at the end of a long day of driving, with no idea what the place was like. It remains one of the worst dinners I have ever had, not because of the food which was no worse than mediocre, but because of the oppressive fake fun. It was like a nightmare version of being trapped on a terrible tour bus where the best you can hope for is a flat tire or an engine fire.

The reviewer had a good time and so did all of the people on the night I went -- they know their market and they hit every note with perfection. The dialed-down family friendly version described in the review seems kind of funny, but very New York, and I am sure they will make bank.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:56 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The worm has turned! We've all decided that the correct attitude is no longer the condemnation of this sort of thing. Next up will be the rehabilitation of Guy Fieri and Olive Garden, possibly together. The pendulum of fashionable opinion is swinging from "let's be serious about our food because it's 'authentically' peasanty" to "let's be fake proletarians because it's 'authentically' proletarian'".

Whether one is likely to enjoy Senor Frog's or not has very little to do with what drives this type of review. I personally prefer my meals without a lot of nudge-nudge-wink-wink about 'naughty' sexual practices, but that's just me.
posted by Frowner at 6:57 AM on December 31, 2015 [13 favorites]


the whole "food on skateboards" thing is really weirding me out in a way i can't name, like a bone-deep dread, but why
posted by palomar at 7:01 AM on December 31, 2015 [13 favorites]


the whole "food on skateboards" thing is really weirding me out in a way i can't name, like a bone-deep dread, but why

Wheels + food = food in lap
posted by mrgroweler at 7:04 AM on December 31, 2015 [12 favorites]


“What happened to our food?” we finally asked.

“That’s what I’m wondering!” our server said brightly. “Like, where is it?”


Amazing. I sort of want to go there, but I feel like it is the kind of place that necessitates pre-drinking.
posted by one of these days at 7:05 AM on December 31, 2015 [26 favorites]


Señor Frog’s is not a good restaurant by most conventional measures, including the fairly basic one of serving food.

This was a lot of fun to read, but I didn't really appreciate the frequent mention of the palm tree glasses until I googled them.
posted by Mchelly at 7:07 AM on December 31, 2015 [34 favorites]


Wheels + food = food in lap

no, that's not it, i party with small children, i'm used to having food on me
posted by palomar at 7:08 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


tl;dr:

Señor Frog’s is not a good restaurant by most conventional measures, including the fairly basic one of serving food.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 7:10 AM on December 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Uh yeah...those palm tree glasses are definitely ribbed for her pleasure.

I will be so damn disappointed if there isn't an NYC MeFi meet-up at Senor Frog's. SO DAMN DISAPPOINTED.
posted by Kitteh at 7:11 AM on December 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


It's really hard to fuck up a reuben.
posted by vespabelle at 7:12 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, no, I've seen it done in many ways.
posted by Kitteh at 7:12 AM on December 31, 2015 [11 favorites]


Both Jean-Georges and Señor Frog’s have servers who will take your order. But only the ones at Señor Frog’s will do the Cha Cha Slide.

And that is why Jean-Georges won't give me a good reference.
posted by Spatch at 7:16 AM on December 31, 2015 [7 favorites]


Those palm tree glasses look like marital aids.
posted by pxe2000 at 7:22 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm a little disappointed this didn't open at the same time as Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, so the Times could send their venerable food critic to both places in one day as some sort of hellish hazing ritual.
posted by Mayor West at 7:22 AM on December 31, 2015 [6 favorites]


See, I just imagine this place with the cast of Spring Breakers running the front of the house, Lucille and Kitty doing shots in the corner, and Sammy Hagar at the bar making Cabo Wabo margaritas in people's mouths. But I know the reality is probably just a louder version of TGIFridays with bad Tex-Mex.
posted by valkane at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


@pxe2000 I think you mean marital aides. Or maybe you don't.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 7:23 AM on December 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


Metafilter: "compulsory hilarity, scheduled spontaneity, a scripted theater of the inane with random outbreaks of mediocre Tex-Mex".
posted by Nelson at 7:28 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Wait. Is this Frog Fractions 2?
posted by schmod at 7:32 AM on December 31, 2015 [21 favorites]


I love this so much:

Another time, the starters showed up on schedule, but after nearly two hours the main courses still had not appeared.

“What happened to our food?” we finally asked.

“That’s what I’m wondering!” our server said brightly. “Like, where is it?”


And, in response to Mayor West's comment:

I'm a little disappointed this didn't open at the same time as Guy's American Kitchen and Bar, so the Times could send their venerable food critic to both places in one day as some sort of hellish hazing ritual.

Wells was there in 2012. But the appeal of the Señor Frog review is the real sense of affection, albeit rueful, it projects for this kind of place. In contrast, Wells's takedown of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant, which was just as funny, seemed to ask it to be something it wasn't trying to be, and it came off as mean and condescending.
posted by How the runs scored at 7:45 AM on December 31, 2015


Amazing. I sort of want to go there, but I feel like it is the kind of place that necessitates pre-drinking.

Pre-smoking, I think.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:59 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


I knew almost before reading it that it would be a "family friendly" version of Frog's, which is a pretty cynical maneuver -- and also commercially silly. There are plenty of Spring Break type demographic tourists in NYC and they have essentially nowhere to go to let their hair down -- everywhere is Michelin star uptight, corporate dudes after work uptight, velvet rope you ain't cool enough or to many dudes in your group unless you pay for bottle service, or "family friendly."
posted by MattD at 8:00 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


In contrast, Wells's takedown of Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant, which was just as funny, seemed to ask it to be something it wasn't trying to be

A place that serves edible food?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 8:02 AM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hell comes to Senor Frogstown starring Sammy Hagar except he mysteriously vanishes halfway through production so he is replaced by Guy Fieri.
posted by The Vice Admiral of the Narrow Seas at 8:10 AM on December 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


NY doesn't have the kind of laid-back Tex-Mex places where you gorge on very cheap chips and good queso, guacamole and salsa and get hammered on margaritas or beer with friends. Senor Frog's sounds like a weak imitation of that, crossed with a repressed 21-year-old's idea of what their first legal-drinking party would look like.

Come to Texas, Pete, we'll take you out for real Tex-Mex and there will be no skateboards or sing-alongs involved.
posted by emjaybee at 8:18 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Note: All other restaurants are more serious than Señor Frog’s.
posted by Edgewise at 8:29 AM on December 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I have vague, six-to-eight year old memories of a Señor Frog's in either Mazatlan or Puerto Vallarta, which the article informs me would have been about three to five years after they initially opened. The memories are confused and laugh-shaped. I think I must have had a good time.
posted by mwhybark at 8:36 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


The note at the bottom that drinks are "not as strong as they could be" pushed me over the line into firm conviction that this would be my personal hell, but on a sentence level I love this piece straight to death
posted by babelfish at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


> and they have essentially nowhere to go to let their hair down

You can thank Giuliani for that!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 8:37 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


No, no, We didn't order a Señor Frog, We ordered a Waffle House
posted by jonmc at 8:38 AM on December 31, 2015 [13 favorites]


I knew almost before reading it that it would be a "family friendly" version of Frog's, which is a pretty cynical maneuver -- and also commercially silly.

It is quite nearly 2016, and there is a Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Times Sq., and as best I can tell it is thriving. A family-friendly Senor Frog's may be a lot of things, but I bet they do just fine commercially.
posted by Diablevert at 9:03 AM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


It's really hard to fuck up a reuben.

No, no, I've seen it done in many ways.

Chief among them: coleslaw instead of sauerkraut. Nothing against coleslaw per se, but that ain't a reuben.
posted by tobascodagama at 9:24 AM on December 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I cannot imagine a restaurant I would like to go to less.
posted by tommasz at 9:56 AM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


In case anyone commenting isnt up on the very latest in NYC's worst chain-dining hellhole: people are gladly forking over $400 a head to eat at the Olive Garden 5 blocks away (on NYE).
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 10:22 AM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Can anyone tell me why everything in the goddamn universe has to be "family-friendly"?
posted by scratch at 11:13 AM on December 31, 2015


You own a sit-down chain restaurant. Would you rather serve:

* Two people buying full-price meals with drinks

or

* Four people, two of whom buy full-price meals (possibly with drinks) and two of whom buy half-price meals, and also they come back several times a month because where the fuck else are they gonna go for a nice-ish night out without having to arrange for a baby sitter?
posted by tobascodagama at 11:23 AM on December 31, 2015 [4 favorites]


I know this one! It's the duck-sized horses, right?
posted by Mchelly at 11:24 AM on December 31, 2015 [8 favorites]


Why you'd open a family-friendly Señor Frog's is slightly less clear, but then again Hooters is already making a ton of money on running essentially a family-friendly strip club, so yeah.
posted by tobascodagama at 11:25 AM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


The end of the review has a "I won the victory over myself, I love Big Brother" vibe.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 11:28 AM on December 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


Señor Frogs has been family friendly since the beginning, it is the USA's weird hangups with alcohol that make it seem not family friendly to Americans.

My wife started drinking there when she was 14 or so, and has countless stories of her parents showing up after dinner and drinks at 2 a.m. and buying rounds for all her high school friends.

Looks like parents in Mazatlan figured out that kids will be kids, and would rather have them learn to drink in a safe public place rather than the alternatives.

On the other hand, Mazatlan may have a drinking problem. When I started dating my wife, her two cousins drove vw beetles, modded to fit a large cooler filled with 1 liter pacificos. They would attach a pole between the coolers, and use that as a flotation aid to swim to the islands. Picture two giant coolers and a bunch of teenagers kicking like outboard motors, under the warm autumn skies at 4 in the morning.

BTW, pacifico tastes so good right out of the brewery, many fruity flavors from the yeast and biscuit tones from the malt that get lost pretty soon after bottling.
posted by Doroteo Arango II at 12:06 PM on December 31, 2015 [5 favorites]


I saw this review this morning. My first thought was "what did it replace? five brothers?" I retired 1.5 years ago, and haven't been back to NYC very often, but I try to keep track of the area.

Well, it seems frogland is a first tenant in ground-floor 11 Times Square (SE corner of 8th&42nd, about a block from Times Square, but who's counting?). This was a more-or-less accursed location, under construction for more than a decade. As such--good for them, and I wish them and their landlords all the best.

The loss of the Hello Kitty store on 42nd is ... just so sad. Hello Kitty air service Houston-Tapei is nice, but it is not the same.

That said--I really enjoyed the NYTimes review, as something that lets me know what is behind the facade and frees me from any inclination to investigate it further (I did once almost get a 5 brothers burger across the street. Ultimately didn't, but almost)(note: 5 brother's burgers are ... adequate, easily survivable, but get some ben&jerrys & wait for dinner instead)

And the Guy Fieri review--well that is a treasure.
posted by hexatron at 12:54 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's interesting to compare the Guy Fieri and the Senor Frog reviews: Both get the message across, but the Senor Frog one is sweet while delivering a clear warning to me to *never* to go near it. Still, I fondly remember this Frank Bruni review.
posted by acrasis at 1:16 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Señor Frogs in Puerto Vallarta in the off-tourist season is the saddest thing ever. A skeleton staff playing to a completely empty venue desperately begging people to come in. It is the antithesis of fun.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:26 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dip Flash you may be happy to know that the Senor Frog's in downtown Puerto Vallarta is now closed, empty and covered in graffiti. I walked by it yesterday.

I refused to go there with friends the last time I was in Puerto Vallarta. In a town filled with great places to sit on the beach or a balcony and have a drink, why go to a chain? It's like going to Italy and only eating at Pizza Hut.
posted by ITravelMontana at 1:26 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


When the Times reviews a tourist-bait restaurant in Times Square I'm not sure what I expect out of that review. I suppose I either expect that they hate the place, or that they not be asked to review it in the first place, because who the fuck is going to check a Times review before wandering into Red Lobster?

So unlike most restaurant reviews, where the person is reading it because they're considering visiting and want to know if it's any good, these reviews are read by people who wouldn't step into a Señor Frog's on a dare. I suspect that this review, paired with the scathing review of Guy Fieri's restaurant, are a long-term experiment to see which approach drives more traffic: being mean vs. being oddly contrarian.
posted by savetheclocktower at 2:04 PM on December 31, 2015 [2 favorites]


Dip Flash you may be happy to know that the Senor Frog's in downtown Puerto Vallarta is now closed, empty and covered in graffiti. I walked by it yesterday.

I refused to go there with friends the last time I was in Puerto Vallarta. In a town filled with great places to sit on the beach or a balcony and have a drink, why go to a chain? It's like going to Italy and only eating at Pizza Hut.


I'm always sorry for the staff when a place closes, but that place just didn't leave me with fond memories. I genuinely had no idea that it was a chain or what kind of place it was when I went there. I remember it as being the first place we found when we walked down from the cheap hotel to look for dinner, and it looked better than it was from the outside. In hindsight the warning signs were obvious but we were so hungry that good judgement went out the window.

Señor Frogs has been family friendly since the beginning, it is the USA's weird hangups with alcohol that make it seem not family friendly to Americans.

It's the reputation for sexual innuendo and occasional naked hijinks that make most of their locations less than family friendly, at least during spring break. My take on it (from exactly one visit) is that it was mostly PG-13 rather than NC-17 or even R, and the NY Times review suggests that they have dialed the NYC location down to PG at most.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:08 PM on December 31, 2015 [1 favorite]


Eater turned this back on Wells and a reflection of the NYC dining scene in NYC Dining Was Not Better Than Ever in 2015
New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells seems so inherently bored with his task of covering this dining scene that his most engaging — not to mention his most loudly celebrated — review was a joke visit to the dickarita-peddling Señor Frogs in a Times Square basement.
posted by asterisk at 3:18 PM on December 31, 2015 [3 favorites]


Reading these reviews, and the comments you guys make about them, about places where meals can easily cost upwards of $50, feels to me, largely stuck in Brunswick, Georgia and subsisting on poverty wages, like cultural tourism, or maybe voyeurism.
posted by JHarris at 10:39 PM on December 31, 2015


Reading these reviews, and the comments you guys make about them, about places where meals can easily cost upwards of $50, feels to me, largely stuck in Brunswick, Georgia and subsisting on poverty wages, like cultural tourism, or maybe voyeurism.

Honestly I think this insider/outsider tension is one of the main attractions of food and real estate articles in the Times. They have these "homes for $2.2 million" pieces where the pleasure for most readers lies in seeing how little taste that kind of money can buy, and both the positive and negative restaurant reviews often function similarly. Señor Frogs hits a precise location of being not very classy with exactly the right price point to be accessible on a middle class income as an occasional luxury -- a non-luxurious luxury good, perhaps.
posted by Dip Flash at 3:21 AM on January 1, 2016 [1 favorite]


I have happy memories of going to Carlos & Charlie's and Senor Frogs in Acapulco many times as a kid. I wonder what I'd think of them if I returned now.
posted by SisterHavana at 2:29 AM on January 2, 2016


The Times is really stepping up its restaurant review game, with the stinging review of Thomas Keller's Per Se including this comparison: "a lukewarm matsutake mushroom bouillon as murky and appealing as bong water."
posted by Dip Flash at 8:51 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


I knew almost before reading it that it would be a "family friendly" version of Frog's, which is a pretty cynical maneuver -- and also commercially silly.

We had one open here. They really stressed that it would be family-friendly in keeping in line with Waikiki's family-friendly image and it would be absolutely safe for families.

It was as much fun as a Southern Baptist wedding reception, the kind where the aunties think that it's a wild & crazy night but they're only serving grape juice and "crazy" meant that they played a 20-year old hip hop song. Senor Frogs at 8 pm looked like a major party had just happened, with confetti all over the floor and a dj playing to a near-empty dance floor, but then we saw the 8-year olds running around in party hats . It was all very PG-13.
posted by kanewai at 11:48 AM on January 12, 2016 [1 favorite]


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