Tonali in Durham still open?
Hi- is Tonali still open in Durham NC? Their website is down.
3642 Shannon Rd Ste 1, Durham, NC 27707
I've never tried to call them since they're less than a mile from my house. But what I can tell you is they have a really small staff (it seems like the same lady greets, seats, and serves most of the time) so I wouldn't be surprised if the phone didn't get answered regularly when its busy.
In addition, they close at 2:30 pm on Saturdays after brunch service and then open for dinner from 5:30m to 10:30pm. They're closed all day on Sundays.
When I drove by there last night the parking lot looked pretty full and the "Open" sign was beaming brightly.
I had the single worst dining experience in my life at Tonali shortly after they opened. They simply appeared unable to deliver to our table the sorts of things that we came to the restaurant for, like food, silverware, napkins, and drinks. The front of the house person was disorganized and indifferent. My friends and I ended up leaving the restaurant and ordering Chinese takeout for dinner.
So I wasn't really chomping at the bit to go back at all. Then an organization to which I belong held an event there a few weeks ago, so I sort of had to go. Based on my experience that evening, very little seems to have changed in terms of the restaurant's general level of extreme disorganization. First of all, they suddenly had no liquor license. Not even beer or wine. They said that the owner had forgotten to renew their liquor license by the deadline. If true, this a level of mismanagement that makes me really concerned about whether they are together enough to maintain basic sanitation. It was the same front-of-the-house person, and she was equally indifferent to requests made in either English or Spanish. So for example, I would say, "Could you please bring me some flour tortillas." No response. "Me pude traer unas tortillas de harina por favor." No response. No tortillas. This happened regarding several requests. As another example, you would think that if you ran a restaurant that can't serve alcohol, you would at least make sure that customers got water when they asked for it. Apparently no. And in case you think this is just part and parcel of some sort of cultural experience, um, no. I've spent a lot of time in Mexico, and I've never seen anything like this. Go to any authentic Mexican eatery in Durham (El Superior, Los Comales), and you'll see that Mexican food service generally work like a well-oiled machine.
Finally, our party of eight was composed of seven African American women and one white guy (me). When we arrived, they did not have our reservations ready (to be fair, that may have been an issue on our end, I'm not sure), but they started to set up a table for us that was in the bar, not the dining room, and that was hidden from the rest of the restaurant by a partition. I specifically asked our hostess if she could give us a table in the main dining room instead of the bar, and she said, "no." There were clearly no other reservations being set up, and the rest of the restaurant remained empty for most of the evening. Our group, however, was relegated to dine in the alcohol-free bar. Do I know for certain this had anything to do with the racial composition of our group? No, I don't. But I certainly left the restaurant feeling icky, and I can think of far better places to spend my money without feeling like I'm paying for aggravation.