Fastest Restaurant Service in the World/Karne Garibaldi


México, the land of mañana, a place where ahorita (“right now”) means “I am aware of it; we will get to it, eventually…” So imagine our shock this afternoon when we walked into a restaurant across the street from our hotel in Guadalajara, and before we could even sit down onto our table appears FRESH food: limes, chopped cilantro and onion, chips and salsa, and hot corn tortillas! A waiter showed up with pen and notepad in hand, smiling, asking us for our order, before we had barely sat down!

“What do you have?” I naïvely asked. “Beef cooked in its juice, small, medium or large.” Easy enough. (They do have quesadillas if you don’t want meat, but not much else.) Our small orders showed up in about 20 seconds. We had been sitting for all of 30 seconds, maybe, and we were eating fresh hot food! The slowest part of the process was us. Had we been experienced diners, it would have been a seamless, fluid transaction.

For us it was quite disconcerting. The place, Karne Garibaldi, is evidently pretty famous in Guadalajara, founded in the 1970s and currently with five different locations throughout the city. Since August 31, 1996, they have held the Guinness World Record for fastest service: 13.5 seconds from kitchen to table! This is not a taco stand; it is huge, comprising what are basically three large dining rooms. We didn’t count, but would guess there are sixty tables and seating for a few hundred people. We normally clocked people getting served their main courses and drinks between 30 and 50 seconds, but that’s still pretty darned amazingly speedy!

Remarkably to me, the staff all worked together like a well-oiled machine and, they were happy doing it! The hostesses seat groups of people and stand at the table with their hands in the air as the guests sit down. The side dishes all show up, and a waiter shows up. The waiter runs (literally) the order ticket to the kitchen, and the food and drinks are served lickety split. Other waiters wander around with fresh guacamole or other side dishes you might want to add to the standard-issue salsa, grilled cebollitas, limes, and their famous frijoles con elote (beans with corn). Waiters who are not busy taking orders or serving clear plates from tables. And boy, can they carry the weight! These are heavy pottery dishes! The entire time we were there, we only small smiles and great examples of team work, so often missing in restaurants today. Someone has done a great job instilling a culture of team work and customer service. Even the manager or crew supervisor was pitching in non-stop. Lots of nonverbal communication and staff member helping staff member; it was really fun and beautiful to watch.

Outside the restaurant in Plaza del Sol a line of cars waited a long way down the street for valets to park them, such is the demand on this place. We personally found the meat in its juice a bit bland, but there was plenty of salsa, lime, cilantro and onion to spice it up. And, thankfully, it was meat, not tripe or ears or eyes or…

The menu includes a large variety of drinks (including Greg’s beloved Coke Zero in a BOTTLE!) as well as Mexican desserts (jericalla, pastel mil hojas, flan, mousse de guayaba). Prices are reasonable (see menu at left). The small orders were enough for us as we went home very satisfied. It is only a few pesos more for the next sizes up, so a hungry diner won’t go broke. This is a great place to eat and probably a great place to work.

Just remember, next time someone tells you that Mexicans like to take their time… there are exceptions to every tendency!


Travelogue Spring Break 2011, Day 1: MZT-GDL-Guanajuato


Off we go, onto the cuota highway…

We departed Mazatlán about 7 am Saturday after picking up our beautiful niece Mara. The car was pretty full, with a cooler full of food and drinks, 4 people and all our baggage.

Daniel had the brilliant brainstorm as we were entering Guadalajara about 1 pm that we should have Indian food for lunch. So Little India it was! It seems our friend the chef is gone, and the current owner, Deepak, was his partner and is now the sole owner. It was Mara’s first time ever to eat Indian food and I think she loved it, especially the lamb tikka masala. Deepak’s wife, a Tapatía, has a little shop around the corner from the restaurant, where she sells spices, some clothing, jewelry and incense.

The drive was long, approximately a nine hour ride to Guanajuato. The kids listened to music, played some games, and Danny read a book for a while. Fortunately things were very uneventful.

About 6 pm we were soooo happy to finally arrive in Guanajuato! Not the main purpose of our trip, but a place I’ve been wanting Greg and Danny to see, and I’ve been wanting to visit again, for a long time. We plan to spend two nights here.

We found a charming hotel that has three beds and a terrace, with this view. Not bad, I’d say.

After unpacking and resting a bit, we took a walk. The architecture here, as I remembered from my first visit, is incredible. I had not remembered the candy or snack shops, however!

We walked past the central market (Mercado Hidalgo) and the Plaza Mayor (Jardín) with its gorgeous church.

In the main garden/plaza is the Teatro Juarez, which in any light is absolutely gorgeous, but lit up at night it was truly incredible.

The students dressed in the cervantino garb, ready to take people on a musical “callejoneada” stroll, were gathered in front of the theater.

The kids were hungry, so we stepped into a restaurant a cenar. They make beautiful “sangrias españolas” here, layering the soda or juice with the wine much like a cappuccino.

After dinner we took a long walk through several of Guanajuato’s 18 tunnels, and miraculously came up for air nearly in front of our hotel, exhausted.


El Bicentenario de México, en Guadalajara Jalisco

Celebrating 200 Years of Mexican Independence, and 100 Years since the Revolution, 15 September, 2010. We traveled to Guadalajara, Jalisco, in order to pick up my computer from the repair shop. Our trip fortunately coincided with the Bicentennial festivities. Be sure to click this link to see the video, as I can’t get it to load to Blogger directly.
Read an alternative history of the Mexican Independence movement.