"Ahora" in Spanish means "now", and true to its name, the service at Ahora Comida Mexicana is pretty darn quick. It's a small, subterranean space painted in bright yellow with accents of blue and red. There are seats for about 35 people, and when we arrived at 6:45 on a suddenly rainy Saturday evening it was fairly packed, but the friendly waitresses found us a table for two within five minutes of our arrival. They give you menus to read while you wait, too, so that once you obtain your table you can head straight to the counter to place your order.
That's right, I said counter. Ahora is an odd hybrid of restaurant and cafeteria. You order and pay for your food at the counter in the back, and then you go and sit down and one of the two aforementioned friendly girls brings your food and drink to you when it's ready. It's casual and can get a little crowded, but it works. They apparently have this thing down to a science, and people love it.
The menu is short and not terribly varied, with four major groups of dishes: tacos, burritos, enchildas and quesadillas done with chicken, steak, or beans and cheese for the veg-heads. You can also get tortilla soup, chips and guacamole, or a refried bean and cheese dip called anafres that comes in an eaerthenware pot above a candle to keep it warm while you eat it. We'll be trying that next time, I think.
Both of us ordered the two-taco plate with salad on the side; I opted for steak while Chris chose chicken. The chunks of tender meat, diced tomato and onion, and a slice of avocado came wrapped in two layers of soft corn tortilla with melted cheese sandwiched between them. I added extra guac and some of the mild house salsa from the free salsa bar in the corner; Chris ate his straight up and raved about them. Mine were very good as well, though a couple of pieces of the steak were a little dry (the salsa helped). The accompanying salads were fresh and crunchy, with chopped romaine, sliced tomato and bell pepper strips. Not a huge portion, but for eight bucks very reasonable.
Chris had a Dos Equis beer; I enjoyed one of the Mexican sodas called Jarritos, in the tamarind flavour, because I adore tamarind and where else can you get it in a soda? We split an Argentinian cookie called an alfajor for dessert. It was a touch drier than I remember them being (but the last time I had one was in Sao Paulo, thirteen years ago, so my memory may be lacking) but drizzled with caramel sauce, it was yummy. For all of this, plus tax and tip, we paid the princely sum of thirty-three dollars.
Needless to say. we'll be going back to try the burritos.