My buddy Bill Kauffmann and I had not had time to just sit and chat for ages. He had sent me a referral four weeks or so back about a website that was not showing up well in Google searches. I had successfully helped the website owner and I owed Bill for the business lead. A pay-back-thank-you lunch seemed in order.
I was in the mood for something new and suggested the Funky Iguana (3802 South Cedar). He knew the restaurant, but had never eaten there.
The restaurant has just moved a little further south on Cedar from where it used to be. From the outside I expected a small place, but upon entering the dining room I was surprised to see that it opens into a very large dining space.
I ordered the lunch special which featured three tacos, rice, and beans for $6.95 (about two bucks more than a taco truck). I would have them again. I ordered corn tortillas and pork. The waitress said something about traditional, so I didn't know what to expect. I was hoping for some pickled carrots like I get at my favorite taco truck. On my plate were small "traditional" double corn tortillas with plenty of cilantro and onions. They went down well with the red sauce supplied to the table with chips. Add a Corona and it could have been dinner. Great indoor price. My only complaint, well, two actually, was that I only had one little segment of lime to squeeze onto my tacos and no one ever came back and gave me more soda. I could have asked of course, but Bill and I were talking so much, extra requests fell by the wayside. The servers should have taken care of us. It wasn't that busy.
Bill ordered the Arroz con Pollo (Chicken and Rice). It looked like it had lots of onions and mushrooms, but Bill said he had eaten better Arroz con Pollo at other places around town. He enjoyed the salad, however. It looked colorful and crunchy.
The website states: "The Funky Iguana in Tacoma, WA serves (the) best Mexican food in the entire South Sound area, with all menu items made from scratch." That is some boasting. When you state you have the "best Mexican food in the entire South Sound area," you should be able to back it up a little bit. Bill usually eats at El Toro (26th and Pearl). Chicken and rice is pretty basic, but then basics are sometimes hard to deliver.
In addition to the Tacos I also ordered Chile Relleno. You can't review on simply one dish. All I wanted was a bite. A take-home box would deliver lunch for Peg.
The plate of Relleno was absolutely beautiful. The combination of reds, greens, and golds was very appealing. I had one bite . . . and then a second . . . and then before I knew it half the chile was gone. Right then I should have ordered another one for Peg. When I got home she asked what I had brought her. Her eyebrow raised when I began, "Half a Chile Relleno . . ." "Half," she questioned. I hate conversations that start off with me backpedaling. "And three-quarters of a tamale," I quickly added. "Three quarters of a tamale?" This conversation had nowhere to go. I felt like Jack trying to defend his livestock sale for a handful of magic beans.
The tamale added nothing to the meal nor the conversation. I always hope they will be better. This one was served in a light brown sauce. If I hadn't been so involved in talking with Bill, I would have asked about the sauce. It looked like a runny chicken gravy.
The tamale itself was hard. I love hand-made tamales that show off the recipes of different countries of middle and south America. They are usually tender and tasty. The tamale from the Funky Iguana would probably stand up well in a bowl of chile con carne, but then so do the canned tamales and for a lot less. The tamale was okay, but . . . so what. It's just like when I order biscuits in a restaurant. I hope they will be wonderful, but I know the odds are against it. I keep hoping for great biscuits . . . and great tamales.
Based on my taco lunch special and the beautiful Chile Relleno I will return, possibly with friends, and most likely with Peg. The Funky Iguana has a pretty basic menu and may well have other items that really stand out. I'll try out a few other selections . . . and next time have a beer. Maybe the beer will help the service.