Back in 2013, while still a Brooklynite, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of moving offices from the Financial District to Times Square. Who would be? The only thing that soothed was the promise of a Señor Frog’s on the ground floor of 11 Times Square, same as my soon-to-be work address. Not that I’d ever been to a Señor Frog’s. I barely went to a real college, so spring break was never a thing, no ironic nostalgia, and I’ve yet to pass through Cancun, not even as the gateway to Williasmburg-on-the-Yucatan Tulum. I just liked the idea of a novel bar in the basement. So what if the seats were shaped like bikini-clad butts.
Except that Señor Frog’s is much more than a bar, it turns out. “Fun, Food & Clothes” are advertised prominently, and the street level space (the free-ranging restaurant is entirely below grade) is dedicated exclusively to merchandise.
If commemorative mugs and plastic yard drink vessels aren’t your thing, don’t worry. There are mix tape pillows for the basic ladies and straw hats and flip flops for the bros. License plate are a slightly strange offering in NYC and if you’re an out-of-towner do you want a licence plate frame that says New York Señor Frog’s?
On day 2, there were still service kinks to be worked out despite a staff large enough to periodically break into choreographed group song and dance. I also didn’t realize that there was going to be a Coldstone Creamery/Johnny Rockets/Texas Roadhouse entertainment factor. Bonus?
One rule of thumb. The balloon hat-maker and sign-holder (yeah, I have a photo with a “bootylicious” arrow pointing my direction even though I happen to have a very flat ass, if the truth be known) should not be allowed to approach your table until a drink has been been at least sipped. There was a solid, jarring 20 minutes between ordering a $5 happy hour margarita and its blessed arrival.
A few other things to know:
There is a taco salad, but it’s not served in a fried shell.
Señor Frog’s is a Mexican brand, part of Grupo Anderson’s (Carlos’n Charlie’s, Carlos O’Brien, El Squid Roe) portfolio, not an American company capitalizing on drunk tourists.
Melon liqueur finds its way into more cocktails than one would think possible, including the Frogasm (tequila, melon liqueur, orange liqueur, lime juice, orange juice and simple syrup). The women’s bathroom even smelled like watermelon, though it’s possible I was experiencing pre-stroke phantom scents.
Food is kind of beside the point, but that doesn’t mean it won’t make you think.
If you saw the nachos show up like ordinary nachos, though slightly soggy…
and the honey-Sriracha wings, tangy and hyper-crisp even after lazing about…
or the white-on-white cheese enchiladas, initially mistaken for tacos (not pictured)…
you might assume that food comes relatively composed on standard white plates.
But you would be wrong.
Carne asada tacos arrive in a real kitchen sink, yet you are in no way prepared for this. There is no reference anywhere, especially not on the menu where it would be warranted, to everything but the kitchen sink puns. (All of the bon mots are painted in neon signs plastered to the ceiling.) This isn’t Farrell’s. (And if you’ve been to a Farrell’s in the past 20 years–or even know what Farrell’s is–I would probably want to be your friend for life or more even if you objected.) But perhaps, even more unexpected was the little ramekin of sweet, molassy pork and beans hidden among the salsa and guacamole. The most positive thing I can say is that at least they had the decency to use corn not flour tortillas.
So, who goes to Señor Frog’s at 5pm on a Friday? Despite the woman out front handing out coupons and touting with a banner and a whistle, I would say the clientele was peppered with a good number of locals and that there is likely some crossover with the Dallas BBQ crowd across the street even though the prices are not as gentle (though not crazy either) as at the homegrown chain, especially if you’re going large format with drinks. I happened to pick one of the most expensive regular-sized cocktails, a $14 rum runner, because I wanted high-alcohol, low-fruit, and absolutely melon-free.
Am I scared? In on the joke? I’m still not sure. I would meet you for a happy hour drink, no question, though.
Señor Frog’s * 11 Times Sq., New York I would , NY