Posted by: Tommy | October 25, 2010

Conchita Bonita, or how to say Enchiladas in Russian

Today’s post was supposed to be about the Hermitage. We went earlier in the week, and planned to go back on Sunday to look in more detail at some pieces. But we never made it back. I blame the clowns.

Last night around 5, we peacefully set out with our laptop to a bar with wifi, to make some arrangements for Israel and to write the “Hostel Life” post and also to upload some more pictures to Flickr. On the way there, we spotted a little Mexican restaurant called Conchita Bonita. I decided it would be a kick to have a margarita at the Russian Mexican restaurant on our way home. Maybe it could be the first of a running feature of Mexican restaurant reviews around the world.

Conchita Bonita!

When we arrived at Conchita Bonita, we were seated at a table for 6 that had a reserved sign on it.  It was the only remaining table in the place (it was tiny – only 8 or so tables).  They manager explained that we could sit there and if the reserved party showed up they could move us.  We sat down, ordered our margaritas and settled in.  The atmosphere was quite festive.  There were several birthday parties going on.  People were wearing strange hats (one guy had a pair of panties on his head) and it was very loud, but a lot of fun.  After about 10 minutes, the party that had the table reserved showed up.  There still weren’t any tables, so the manager asked them if we could stay (it was a table for 6, but there were only 3 of them).  They said sure and we were good to go.

The manager asked us where we were from and when the chef, Hannibal, heard there were Texans in his restaurant, he decided to come talk to us.  He couldn’t have been nicer.  He asked what we wanted to eat – we looked at the menu and said we couldn’t find any enchiladas.  He said “no problem, I make you some enchiladas.  Do you want them like Russians or spicy?”  “Spicy!”  and preferably with shrimp.

Us with Hannibal

The Russians at our table had ordered a bottle of vodka, a pitcher of orange juice and a plate of what looked like raw meat.  Unsure why they came to a Mexican restaurant for that particular set of things, I asked what the raw meat stuff was.  They let me try a piece…it was almost like jerky, but better.

When our enchiladas came out (Hannibal brought them himself and made us taste them- delicious) the Russian group asked us what we were having.  When we explained they weren’t on the menu, we offered them a taste.  They each took a bite and exclaimed that they were too spicy.  It was pretty funny.

After we had shared our meals, the Russians decided to toast with us, so they ordered 2 more shot glasses and poured from the bottle of vodka.  One of the things we had felt like we missed out on was drinking vodka at a bar in Russia – we’d bought a bottle and drank it at the hostel, but hadn’t ordered any at a bar.  So we accepted and it was explained that the first toast is always “For the women” and we did.

A few minutes later, they wanted to toast again.  Anna tells me that she started drinking only half of her shot at this point.  But I wasn’t going to let the Russians show up America that badly – I’m a patriot!  So I ordered a round of tequila shots for the table – it was a Mexican restaurant; even in Russia, tequila is more appropriate than vodka.  We toasted again with tequila.

Shortly after that, I realized that, American pride or not, I could never keep up with the Russians.  The manager stood up on a chair and yelled something to the assembled crowd.  She had a stopwatch in one hand.  We’d been talking and her English was pretty good, so I asked her what she said.  She explained that she’d said “Someone will now drink a liter of tequila in 1 minute”.  What????  That’s crazy.

But sure enough, she had brought out a tray of 10 tequila shots and stood by with a stopwatch while the entire place went crazy, cheering and clapping.  Another girl held up her iPhone timer to show the other tables the elapsed time.  And I’ll be damned if the Russian guy didn’t finish all 10 shots in 35 seconds.  Not only that, but his friends were collecting the small amount left at the bottom of each shot and poured them all back into one glass, which he drank as well.  And the craziest part was – he was still standing 3 hours later.

The Conchita Bonita Challenge

We saw 2 more people complete this ridiculous feat during that night.  The Russians we were with bought 3 more bottles of vodka and finished them off before we finally had to leave.  Dima and Cima and their cosmonaut friend showed us a very good time that night, but we weren’t having such a good time the next morning.  Anna and I both agreed that it was a lot more fun than a second visit to the Hermitage, no matter how impressive the Impressionist collection there is.

Cutting a rug with Cima



  1. Tom —

    THE HAT!!!

    Mom 🙂

  2. Tommy, where in the world did that hat come from?

  3. The hat was provided by Conchita Bonita. There were lots of people wearing strange hats.

  4. i love it ❤

  5. You forgot the part about the midnight birthday party in honor of Conchita Bonita with the clowns. Hilarious too. I think I just bought that orange straw cowboy hat at Luckenbach two weeks ago. At least it looks similar.

  6. Also you forgot to tell about the queso soup and the name tags. It is all so so cute! I have to call you out though for being light weights and not going to the Hermitage hung over. I think the perfect way to recover from a hang over is to walk through the Hermitage with head phones on your head explaining all the art.

  7. Tommy…..!
    get me THAT hat!
    I DO expect some kinda trinket from your travels afterall
    (thought about you two while i watched “amazing race” last night!
    Love yo you both…stay safe!

  8. I know the chef Anibal, and he is really good. If you are in Rusia, is a must go taste his dishes.

  9. I don’t think you would have worn that red “cowboy” hat unless you had been drinking vodka & “to-kill-ya”! Looks like you r having a most wonderful adventure. I’ll look forward to our skype visit! XOXOXO kita

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