I had dinner at the interior Mexican spot Sazon last Friday night, and admittedly, I should have written this post when the food descriptions were a little fresher in my mind. I arrived just after 8pm to meet a friend. There was a guitarist playing music near the front door. As it was a Friday night, it was packed. And loud. And the musician. Great.
There's no formal host(ess) stand, so patrons just kind of wait inside the door. There didn't seem to be one person in charge of hosting, because at least three of the waitstaff came by and said there was seating available on the front patio, but as it was colder out, I said I'd like to wait for an indoor table. Other people came in, most of whom did go out to the patio which apparently has space heaters. Again, there's no one in charge of the seating, so to someone who does not frequent Sazon, it seemed completely disorganized. I had probably only been there 5 minutes (though it seemed much longer) when my friend arrived. We waited probably another 5 - 10, before getting seated, though the man who was clearing the table went first to a group that came in after us. (They politely said we had been there first, though I would have politely told the man that we had been there first if they had not... again, no one in charge...)
The physical space inside is not huge, and there is a bar that takes up about a quarter of the interior space along the back wall. There were maybe 15 - 18 four-top tables; didn't go out on the patio, so not sure how big it is out there. There's papel picado and sombreros lining the walls, and I think a neon beer sign on or near the bar. Casual atmosphere, appropriate decorations. The food is decidedly interior (as in authentic) Mexican, as opposed to Tex Mex. Looking on the back of their menu, they actually have a mission statement and a bit about their food, something that you usually don't see, and I find a nice & educational touch.
Turned out my friend had eaten a huge late lunch, and wasn't hungry. I had an early lunch and was starving. Chips (tasty, not greasy) & salsa (basic red, fresh, but otherwise fairly non-descript) arrived as we sipped on Mexican beers. I ordered one of their house specialties, the Cochinita Pibil, which is pork mixed with achiote and spices, and baked in banana leaves; it was served with grilled red onions, rice, black beans, and what they refer to as plantain chips. When the waiter asked what kind of tortillas (flour or corn) I wanted, I asked his preference, and he quickly responded that they make their corn tortillas there. If you can tell from my (ooops!) blurry picture, it's an attractive looking plate. There's no real complaints about it, but I think the pork was lacking in major flavor. Their plantain chips were thicker cut (half-inch in diameter) than what I would consider a normal "chip" in terms of bagged potato or even plantain chips, and to me it wasn't mashed and fried enough, at least how I like them! The tortillas were made with white corn, and were extremely tender, almost like flour tortillas. No real problems with the dish, but I am not sure that I would order it again.
I've been to Sazon maybe 2 or 3 other times, and I've always enjoyed it. I was glad to see they were packed on a Friday night in January (though it made parking more difficult), and hope that they will survive a slow economic period, though there were no indications that anyone in there was concerned about the local economy. It's a place I would gladly go back to, and explore other regional dishes. (And if you look at the contacts page on their website, you can see a much more focused picture of the cochinita pibil.)