Years ago when I was spending time in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I remember walking into some restaurant that some Canadian guy named John recommended to me.
Once I stepped inside, it sure looked like a nice restaurant.
However, it took forever for anyone to come by to take me to my table when there was a sign that says “wait to be seated” by the front door.
If I had to guess looking back at it, I guess it took 10 minutes?
And that was the basic introduction to this place – very slow service but everything else was good.
The food? Not bad at all!
But the customer service was absolutely terrible.
And I get it – people from other countries like those you find in Europe might prefer a waiter that is too busy fucking his cousin in the kitchen to check up on you.
They phrase it differently though – “I don’t want someone watching over me ALL THE TIME!!!”
You want a waiter that is basically dead.
Granted, exaggerations aside, I get it.
You want to be left alone in peace without being checked up often.
Still, I believe by even European tolerance levels of shitty customer service, that this service at this specific Argentine restaurant was dogshit.
And, in my experience traveling around the world, I’ve found the Argentines to be absolutely terrible at customer service.
So far with 6 years down here, I’d say they are the worst that I’ve seen anywhere in Latin America.
In the world?
Well, in my limited experience in Europe, I found Poland and the city of London to be terrible for customer service also.
Poland for the same reasons of being very slow.
And London for the slowness mixed in with cunt attitudes amount the waiters.
Granted, maybe I just got unlucky with the waiters I got in London but that’s another story.
Anyhow, the issue with the Argentine customer service in restaurants, in my experience, is that they take an extra amount of time to get to you.
The difference between an Argentine and Mexican waiter?
Well, the Mexican one is probably within vicinity of you but not paying attention to you necessarily.
Nice personality but just not aware that you exist.
But within the room so it’s not impossible to get their attention.
Like that one time I was in a Mexican city called Pachuca and the waitress forgot about me while watching a telenovela on the TV in the same room.
All you have to do is chuck a knife and hope it hits one of their eyes so that they remember that you are in the restaurant.
With the Argentine service, you have a more “cold” demeaner among the staff and you don’t even have the option to chuck knives at them!
All because they aren’t actually in the room – as I said, they’re most likely too busy fucking their cousins in the kitchen sink.
So you’ll have to wait for the guy to finish – which isn’t long since he’s Argentine.
You know, a minute or two, you know?
Now, I have always said, in my opinion, that even the worst waiters in the US are usually better than the typical one you’ll find in about anywhere of Latin America.
Which isn’t to say that Latin America as a whole or Argentina has terrible waiters…
Though, with the Argentines, I’m more pessimistic on their customer service for sure…
Regardless, it’s usually just that the American ones – even the bad ones – usually remember you exist better than most of the ones down here
That’s been my experience anyhow.
Having spent almost all of my life in small town Midwest, that’s what I’m comparing most of Latin America to.
Of course, like I said, those from other cultures have their own preferences for how waiters should be and would naturally disagree with that.
Either way, as an American, I have my preferences well known here due to what I grew up with, and so that is one thing related to food service from America that I miss.
Among other things that I’ll go into.
And, to be fair, most of what I’m going to say afterwards is not so much a “Latin America” issue but a “anywhere but the US” issue from what I’ve noticed.
Well, anywhere else I’ve been to – a good chunk of Latin America and Europe with Turkey also.
Still, let’s get to other things briefly I miss when it comes to food and food service while living in Latin America where I am now.
When I was living in a Mexican city called Pachuca, they had a Burger King in the center of the city that I went to often enough.
Maybe once every few weeks or so?
Anyhow, one think that I liked about them was that they allowed for free refills.
Made an order?
Then you can go up to the refill machine and get another drink whenever you want free of charge!
For some reason, it seems to me that almost every country in the world doesn’t get this concept.
I rarely find an establishment that allows free refills.
Be it Latin America, Europe or wherever else.
When I was poorer while traveling, it was a little more important…
For example, when I was in an Argentine city called Posadas roughly 6 or 7 years ago, I remember sitting down enjoying my meal…
And they were, from what I remember, some “American themed” style restaurant or what not.
Or at least that’s how I remember them.
Anyhow, I remember not having much money on person but enjoying my hamburger…
And I’m almost done with my meal but I’m thirsty as fuck.
Now, I could’ve ordered another refill but I wasn’t that flooded with cash.
The extra 2 bucks for another drink?
Thought about it…
But then I thought “well, I’m almost done anyway, don’t need it.”
And so I finished the meal and that was it.
But it would’ve been nice had they allowed free refills.
After all, they are pretending to be an “American” restaurant, no?
So where’s the free refills?!
That’s like opening a “Mexican themed” restaurant in the US and not offering free chips before the meal.
Cmon now – you know the rules, don’t you?!
Free refills for the American wannabe restaurants and free chips for the Mexican wannabe restaurants.
Fortunately, I am proud to say that an extra 2 dollars for a refill isn’t so big of a purchase to me now.
But it is nice when you find a place offering it!
For those who want a free refill, I can only say that it’s usually (though not always) the American chain spots outside of the US that offer them.
For example, a Chilis near Metro Insurgentes in Rosa neighborhood of Mexico City offers “refill drinks” for an extra 2 pesos or 10 cents.
So basically a free refill.
Not sure if they still offer that but other Chilis I have been to down here offer that.
Similar to the Burger King above that let anyone take a free refill from the machine whenever they wanted.
In my experience, if you are hoping for a free refill, it usually has to be some chain American place.
Like a Burger King, Chilis, Applebees, etc.
Not all of them offer it anyhow but your chances look a little better if you want that.
Finally, what is “typical American standards” for food if there isn’t something unhealthy?!
Yeah, I get it – unhealthy is unhealthy.
But you know what?
My taste buds dig it.
So suck it.
Anyhow, I find myself sometimes inquiring about how to improve a meal with the staff for whatever extra price needed in Latin America or Mexico nowadays.
For example, here’s a photo of some gorditas I had recently.
There’s this street food place near me by Copilco area of CDMX that does Mexican food right for a wide range of foods.
Whenever I go there and order gorditas, I usually ask “how much to put some fries in the gorditas?”
Now, in my experience, they have only charged me once for the fries at an extra 5 pesos or 25 cents.
I think the owner of the spot, who has spent like 7 years in NYC, has learned the American way of “the customer is always right.”
Meaning if the customer wants something, and it’s not a big burden to satisfy, then do it.
They come back.
More money spent in the long run.
Now, if only we can teach the rest of the business folks in Latin America this interesting concept of customer service?!
Still, as I implied, he always offers a few extra fries for free to be put in the gorditas.
Personally, I feel a little bit sleezy taking the extra few fries for free.
After all, from what I can guess, an extra 25 cents is a fair price for them based on that one time he charged me?
So, whenever I ask for them, I always start with “how much to pay for them?”
Trying to imply here that I WANT to pay for them – not free, damn it!
Because, personally, I feel like a cheap skate when I get them for free.
And it’s only 25 cents apparently – so take my money!
Anyhow, for whatever reason, they want to give them to me for free.
Even though, on a few occasions, I even insisted on paying for them but his daughter replied one time “no, no, esta bien, no te preocupes.”
If they had a tip jar, I would at least contribute to it.
I’ve thought even of handing them a 100 pesos when I move again so as a way to say thanks for the fries I’ve taken.
Regardless, it’s the American in me anyhow – to want the fries.
Fries are tasty!
Tasty? Double yes.
And, to them, they initially found it confusing – “fries in the gorditas?”
For example, his daughter thought I wanted the fries to be placed outside of the gorditas as a side thing to enjoy.
She ended up giving me a shit ton of fries for free.
For free? – oh fuck off, let me pay for it!
Anyhow, I clarified that I prefer the fries in the gorditas.
To which, as I said, they found a little bit confusing.
I guess nobody else does that?
Still, as I said, it’s the American in me – I want the fries.
In the same way that I want bacon if I could get it.
And, like I said, I find myself doing that at times with random spots.
In which I’ll ask “you got bacon?”
Or whatever other ingredients that I find to be very tasty.
Remembering my college days now in which I would go to the breakfast buffet and order a large plate of bacon for breakfast…
I like bacon!
I like French fries!
And so I carry that with me down here.
If I can pay for some extra ingredients to be included that isn’t on the menu…
“You got bacon? You got fries?”
Give me a price and we good.
You get money and my taste buds are tricked into thinking I’m back in Iowa.
And, in my experience, they’re always cooperative.
Sometimes with a confused face once in a blue moon for what I want to include into the food.
But always cooperative and nice about it.
And everyone is happy.
At any rate, that’s all that comes to mind for right now when it comes to “American preferences” for the food or food service when it comes to living down here in Latin America.
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