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Ethnic.City: El Chisme

posted on March 18, 2011 at 8:28 am

El Pastor was a sketchy-looking, albeit beloved, Buford Highway restaurant and one of the only spots in Atlanta with a trompo, the revolving spit normally used for al pastor or shawarma. My father, who’s from Mexico City (the epicenter of tacos al pastor), loved it. I was never a fan, mostly because local health regulations required that they cook the meat after slicing it off the trompo. After much time as a fixture, El Pastor closed and a new restaurant, El Chisme Mexican Grill (5091 Buford Highway, Doraville), was born in its place. Much of the same ambiance-free décor remains, but there’s a fresh coat of garish neon paint in the hallway leading to the bathrooms. As one of my friends said, all they need to really induce an acid flashback is a black light. A disco ball hangs from the ceiling and it’s easy to imagine the tables being cleared out for a late-night dance party fueled by Mexican beer and a jukebox loaded with old-school Latin standards and, of course, Enrique Iglesias.

Non-Spanish speakers be forewarned: The staff speaks little English. However, our waitress — a friendly Mexican girl in her mid-20s — reminded me how enthusiastic service can enliven even the slowest of meals. Really, though, a long wait can be a reassuring sign. And how can you possibly fault a lone cook making everything from scratch?

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