Don’t look to “Don’t Look Back” for quality food

Chris DiLeo

The name of this Carytown
Mexican restaurant is “Don’t Look
Back.” After dining there last
week, I call it “Won’t Go Back.”
Carytown is known for being one
of the best areas of Richmond for fine
dining. It is home to respected establishments
such as Can Can Brasserie,
Ginger Thai and Xtras. Sometimes
however, you don’t want such an involved
and pricy dining experience. If
you feel this way, go to the Eatery or
Philly Steak and Gyro, but whatever
you do, don’t go to Don’t Look Back.
After I suffered humiliating harassment
and accusations of having
bad taste, my brother and dining
companion finally convinced me
to sit down and order. I chose the
shredded beef tacos, because I have
ordered similar dishes at other nontraditional
Mexican restaurants and
enjoyed them. When our food came
out after what seemed like 30 minutes
of waiting, my hopes in the restaurant
actually became higher, as the
meal was very aesthetically pleasing.
This false hope would be crushed
upon the first bite. Imagine eating a
taco filled with paper towels which
have been sitting in a steam cooker
for five hours. The taste of the
meat was beyond bland. In order to
make it edible, it took the addition
half a bottle of Valentina hot sauce.
What’s even worse is the price
tag attached to it all. Not only was
the food bad, but it was expensive.
Don’t Look Back’s tacos start at $3
apiece, and they are about the size
of any other taco you’ll find at any
other Mexican restaurant. At Chipotle,
you can get a plate of four tacos
for $6, and they don’t taste like hot
cardboard. I guess the only reason
Don’t Look Back stays in business
is the fact that it’s a primary food
source for landlocked VCU students
whose parents have deep pockets.
To be fair, other diners did seem to
enjoy their experience. Maybe I am
in the minority in feeling as I do about
this eatery. But I still feel that Don’t
Look Back is what you get when a
bunch of affluent hipsters want to
feel cultured and frequent a Mexican
restaurant (if you can call it “Mexican”).
Pretentious behavior soaks every
aspect of the wannabe taqueria.
For example, when you go to order
your tacos, you are given your choice
of two sets of dressings: gringo and
traditional. This is Don’t Look Back’s
snide way of challenging you, saying
“you can be an uneducated pleb and
buy the gringo, or you can be a cultured,
different, Neutral Milk Hotel tshirt
wearing, urban, culinary champion
and get the traditional, which is
the gringo with a ton of cilantro on it.
The food and slow service at Don’t
Look Back makes it one of the last
places you should eat at.


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