Ethnic cheap eats are not here to stay
A few days ago we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Pilsen. It was more a tequila bar and restaurant. The bar had more tequila in one place than I’ve ever seen.
I ordered a burrito. It was a chicken and steak version. It was more expensive than I was used to paying, but not over costly.
I was pleasantly surprised. Aside from the size, the burrito had caramelized onions in it. Definitely a step up from the usual.
The nachos were not chips piled with stuff and neon orange melted cheese. These were more like a pizza. Wedges of tortilla with cheese on the bottom, steak and other ingredients on top.
The bill was about ten dollars more for two than I usually pay for Mexican food. It was well worth it.
There was a time when diner food was cheap eats. A sandwich with fries or the Blue Plate Special, were good inexpensive food to fill your belly.
Chinese food was always a good cheap ethnic meal.
Mexican food was the least expensive food you could get.
Right now Middle Eastern food is the inexpensive food of choice, except for the corporate chains popping up.
Times are changing.
Ethnic cheap eats are getting more expensive. There are good reasons for this.
The restarant business is changing. Commodity prices are higher. What were once cheap and profitable ingredients, are fast disappearing.
Gentrification in and around many ethnic neighborhoods are driving rents and real estate prices higher. Property taxes are rising too. These affect the cost of doing business. When costs rise so do prices.
The days of family run restaurants, where every member worked for slave wages, are over. Like other ethnic groups that came before, the second or third generations are not raising their children to be in the business. They are sending them to college to become professionals.
Last, cooks and chefs are upping their game, providing sophistication to even the simplest foods like tacos, burgers, hot dogs, and other cheap staples. Even diners are scaling up, offering a higher level of cuisine.
All these factors and more are contributing to higher prices for what was cheap food.
One Mexican restaurant was castigated on Yelp, the bathroom wall of the internet, because they charged for chips and salsa. Imagine the entitled whiners complaining about paying for food.
There are still places where you can get cheap ethnic eats. There are and will not be many of them in the future.
Get used to it. Eating out is not supposed to be an adventure in seeking out cheap food or freebies. It is supposed to be a pleasurable experience. Savor what is put before you. Stop whining and eat the damn food. Enjoy it.
Nothing lasts forever, including cheap eats.