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 V.20 No.11 | March 17 - 23, 2011 

Restaurant Review

Sneakerz

Volleyball, check. Hot wings, check. MMA, not so much.

volleyball
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
My companion was visibly perturbed. His “tapaqueno” steak, advertised as drenched in red or green chile (he chose red), had arrived barren. We were at one of only three occupied tables inside Sneakerz, a sports bar on San Mateo that shows MMAaka cage fightingas part of my quest to find the best spot, in terms of food and viewing experience, to watch the sport.

A pile of mashed potatoes and gravy melted into the chile.

The waitress retreated to the kitchen to get my friend his red chile and to reheat my tamales, which had arrived cold. We started to get a little puffy about the indignations we were suffering, but as the server returned to the table, wiping away tears, we realized she wasn’t the culprit.

“I’m sorry guys. This is my fourth day. I’m the only one here for the whole place. This table in the back just made me cry.”

We thought about how much space she had to patrol. The inside tables were sparsely populated, but rowdy, thirsty crowds had gathered at the front and back outdoor beach volleyball courts. Our server had to cover about 50 yards between the two courts, stopping at the bar to place orders and doing her best to service the tables scattered inside. Her best wasn’t good enough, but we didn’t blame her. The service at Sneakerz, which has been roundly berated in online forums, appears to be a management-level problem.

ping pong
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
One recent Saturday night, we went to Sneakerz to take in a UFC fight card. The room was full of MMA fans, but the large-screen TV, inexplicably, was tuned to a football game that nobody in the room was watching. By “nobody” I mean zero people. We viewed our violence on smaller screens, as did some basketball fans who showed up just in time to watch the Lobos pull out a thrilling overtime victory over NMSU. When the football game that nobody was paying attention to ended, the screen was rolled up while the fight fans continued spectating on small screens. We made several attempts to send a message to the person with the television controls. We were later told, cryptically, that it couldn’t be done. At least Sneakerz doesn’t charge a cover for UFC pay-per-views. (Neither does my favorite place to watch UFC, Doc & Eddy’s.)

What makes the poor service all the more unfortunate is that the food isn’t badcold tamales notwithstanding. On another trip, I ordered a build-your-own appetizer platter that included above-average tangy hot wings, zucchini rounds that were freshly prepared, juicy clam strips with a mild yet tasty batter, and lots of fresh guacamole.

This time I successfully ordered the tapaqueno steak (more commonly known as tampiqueña) Christmas style. The meat was very tender, with a nice proportion of fat to meat, plus chunks of decent green chile and melted orange cheese in a puddle of red. A pile of mashed potatoes and gravy melted into the chile.

sign
Eric Williams ericwphoto.com
The tamales, when properly heated, weren’t bad, although the masa was a little mealy. They came with a side of corn and calabacitas that made me think, not for the first time, that some real thought had gone into Sneakerz’ large and interesting menu somewhere down the line. But that must have been before the fish tacos were added. They contained little more than batter-fried cod, lettuce and unmelted cheese.

If you’re into beach volleyball, you probably already know about Sneakerz. The vibe around the sandy court is coastal and chill, even as cars whiz by on San Mateo. But it can’t be that chillone of those jerks made our waitress cry, after all.

View Sneakerz in Alibi Spirit Guide calendar

The Alibi Recommends

• Appetizer sampler plate
• Tapaqueno steak


At alibi.com

On Saturday, March 19, I'll be live-blogging from UFC 128 in Newark, N.J., as two UFC fighters who train at Jackson's MMA here in Albuquerque will be competing. Nate Marquardt will face Dan Miller in a middleweight bout, and Jon “Bones” Jones will face “Shogun” Rua for the light-heavyweight title. Stop by alibi.com for behind-the-scene updates.

 
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