Why restos should bring back matchbooks
The night the Twitter blew up after a minion of the racist GOP nominee started warning about/promising a taco truck on every corner, I started craving good Mexican food. Even more than usual. Next morning my consort suggested we brave the Union Square Greenmarket on a mob-scene Saturday and asked where we might go for lunch afterward. As it happened, I was just striking a match to light the one recalcitrant burner on our 1950s stove and thought: Fonda!
We had eaten at the Brooklyn location way back in May, after a bourbon-soaked Derby Day party in Park Slope, and my cat-themed matchbook jar gifted by my in-law equivalent was spilling over with little orange matchbooks inscribed with “call me!” I never got around to writing about how great the food had been, but that little orange memento jogged my cranial sieve on how the queso fundido had been so sublime it even survived the kittybag for my lunch the next day. And the writing on the back of the matchbook reminded me there were two Manhattan locations.
So we braved the Chelsea brunch scene for absolutely fabulous crab croquetas (three, each laid over a different sauce), duck zarape (juicy shredded meat layered between corn tortillas in a superb creamy-spicy sauce) and, again, queso fundido with chorizo and plenty of fresh corn tortillas. The margaritas were superb enough to almost mute the din from all the surrounding tables of millennials taking advantage of the bottomless booze option (I didn’t Tweet but should have about how amusing it was to see so many husband-hunters tucking into huevos divorciados).
On our way out we snared a half-dozen more little orange mementos, which will all be put to better use than the hundreds if not thousands gathering dust in two huge glass vases in our dining room. Those we keep for sentimental reasons (a photo editor once came to oversee a shoot here and said, accurately: “I bet there’s a Windows on the World in there”). But I may cling to one Fonda as a reminder of how useful matchbooks are.
I would no sooner want a cigarette smoker than a backed-up toilet alongside me in a restaurant, but these souvenirs had real value. My dusty desk is cluttered with wannabe alternatives, like toothpicks packaged like matches, and teeny notebooks inside matchbook covers. Business cards go straight to recycling. Really: There is no substitute. Long may they flare.