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Omnivore - When you can't read the menu

Nelu wrote the following after a visit to El Veneno, which I reviewed briefly here Oct. 8.

I took my family yesterday at El Veneno to try the new Mexican place you wrote about. It is truly very good. hope that they will succeed with it.

However it puzzles me that their menu is exclusively in Spanish. I often dine-in at ethnic restaurants and am all for authenticity. But, at least for me, the dishes were not easily recognizable besides a couple such as ceviche, tacos, etc. Many of them looked interesting but I could not tell what they were. This leads to confusion, and it turned out to be costly for us especially since the staff knows so little English.

My wife wanted some grilled fish and the waitress mentioned that she can make one similar to a fried fish dish priced at about $12-13. Turned out that the grilled one was in fact quite different, priced at market price, which was $30!

Leaving this small inconvenience aside, the food was indeed great. But how can they make money when most dishes are over $10 and some over $20, and they have only a Spanish menu? They seem to be leaving out a good segment of potential customers who can afford their dishes. This seems naive to me. My wife was adamant that she won't return, and now I will have to convince her to try it again. Will it be so bad to have an English version of the menu?

I eat in a lot of Mexican restaurants, and I think El Veneno is a rarity in that it doesn't have an English menu translation. I speak pretty good Spanish, but I had difficulty with the menu myself and then had to interview two servers to get clear about what was what.





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