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Jun 30, 2008 05:30 AM

Berlin: Joe Penas - Disappointment

I had quite a dreadful experience at Joe Penas' in Berlin last night.

(1) False advertising: outside, there is a board announcing that on Sundays, there is "Eat-as-much-as-you-can" Fajitas. The waitress tells us that this doesn't apply today, as there is a match. I would like to note that we came about three hours before the match started and went about two hours before the match started. The restaurant was half-empty. In any case, how hard is it to delete a board if this doesn't apply on a certain day?

(2) Bad food: most of the food was absolutely horrible. Now, I know that for example at Qype Joe Penas is hailed as a great Mexican, and I wonder if the food I have tried is a Germanised version of Mexican food, and that's why it was so horrible. It doesn't really matter: Enchiladas came half-cold (in places where they should have been hot) and while the Salad in the Caesar's Salad with Chicken was an exact version of Caesar's - the chicken was over-spiced and horrible.

One good point: their Guacamole was really good. That was the only good dish in a four dishes meal.

(3) No apologies (forget compensation! I am talking about politeness): the waitress sees that we ate only half of the meal - no remarks regarding our complaints; regarding a certain drink order, she begins to argue regarding the quality of our German, instead of just deciding that it could be that we're a*hole customers, but we're always right (and we were right. I check with a dictionary back home).

(4) Bill just didn't come. After 20 minutes of waiting, we went to the till and took care of it.

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  1. Ah, Joe PeƱas. There is NO GOOD Mexican food in Berlin, and probably tough to come by anywhere in Germany.

    Bummer you didn't get to have the fajitas, though, cause they're just about the only edible thing there. The Caesar, like you mentioned, isn't all that bad either.

    Service? Ha. Welcome to Germany :-D

    2 Replies
    1. re: linguafood

      The guacamole is good because it comes directly out of the giant Costco-sized industrial-guacamole tub.

      1. re: desylicious

        No, actually it was made fresh in front of us ;0)

        Was very cool but unfortunately brought hopes for the rest of the meal (we ordered it as a first course) which were soon to be shattered.

        In a way, I wish it was one of those greasy Mexican places with ready made stuff. then at least you'd had normal prices. Hubby said at the end - "we should have had Doener..." (his logic: then, if you suffer, it was only 2 EUR worth of suffering)

    2. Mexican food in Germany is, generally speaking, horrible. I even had nachos in one restaurant that didn't have any jalapenos and the so-called enchiladas were made with flour tortillas so they weren't enchiladas, but burritos (the salsa ranchera was good). The store that is to supposed to cater to the Mexican community doesn't have corn husks for tamales (I called them), so I made some and had to use baking paper (works, but is more difficult). I no longer eat Mexican food unless I make it at home. I grew up in Texas and lived in Mexico 10 years so I know Mexican food, both kinds.

      4 Replies
      1. re: RevImmigrant

        Apparently there's someone in Berlin who sells fresh made tortillas, and delivers them to your home. Sounds like some dreams may come true after all. If anyone's interested, I can post his number/information here.

        1. re: linguafood

          Yes, please do post it! Any good Mexican or Tex-Mex in Germany (even multi-culti Berlin) is a real find!
          I'll extend the "no good (Tex-)Mex in Germany" by adding that even getting a lime for a tequilla shot is difficult. Most bars offer lemons instead. Slumberland knows the difference. The night I found that out was very dangerous for me!

          1. re: saacnmama

            You can find the phone # and email address here:


            Not only do they sell corn tortillas, but they also have a dec selection of salsas. Spicy. Nice.

            Slumberland's a fun place for a "gepflegten Absturz"... too bad one can't just stay overnight and be right there for Winterfeldtmarkt on Saturday mornings....

        2. re: RevImmigrant

          Have you guys tried the flour tortillas sold at the Turkish markets yet? I was eyeing them and wonder if they are any good. They looked decent.

          I'm going to be in Santa Barbara in three days suckas, and the first thing I'm having is tortilla soup and tacos con rajas and chorizo. And Mexican beer, beer to drown my sorrows.

        3. It's useless to expect politeness in Berlin restaurants. The customer is always wrong. Berliners have a concept of service (and not just in the food business) that is mind-boggling to Americans. Your best bet is to patronize places where the owners themselves do the serving.

          I like the fajitas and freshly-made guacamole at Joe Pena's too. But I always end up drinking far too many margaritas...

          1 Reply
          1. re: Vermona

            I don't know, I had the impression that service and attitude in general had gotten better within the last couple to three years or so. But I'm admittedly always blown away when the service is superfriendly. It's still a rare commodity in this city ...

            ETA: One reason for the lack of servility in German servers might be that they are paid well enough to not having to subsist on tips. But that's a different, or rather many, many, many different threads '-)