My Dinner With Alicia

A Tuesday night ritual with her old man

By Abelardo de la Pe??a Jr.
Published on LatinoLA: June 8, 2008

My Dinner With Alicia

Most every Tuesday, my 16-year-old daughter Alicia and I go out to dinner. It's been our habit, our tradition, our time together for many years. Simply, it's because Linda -- my wife, her mother -- works every Tuesday night, so it's either go out or fend for ourselves by cooking something up in our own kitchen.

It's not that I can't cook ... I've got some skills, taught to me by my mom or Linda plus a few recipes I've picked up here and there. Ask me about my three-minute chilaquiles sometime.

No, it's all about trying some new restaurant in the neighborhoods that surround us and we're still trying to get to know. But mostly it's about having time together to talk. Her downloading on what's going on at school, with friends, what's on TV, watch she's listening to, and me listening and adding a few words of my own. Sometimes I have to get serious, lecturing about grades, what's up with not helping out around the house, etc., etc., but mostly it's just fun and family stuff.

Looking for a place to eat is sometimes a challenge. We have our favorites, but like most things, repetition gets old. A general rule is that the restaurant must be relatively low-priced, informal and serves alcohol (for me). Sometimes we skip on one of those general guidelines, like today, when we took a short drive into Highland Park to eat at Antigua Bread. Sorry, no website available. The guy behind the counter said that they're working on it, along with a new menu and take out menus, too. Maybe they'll add alcohol, but I doubt it.

Since I'm not restaurant reviewer, I'll direct you Yelp and Chowhound to clue you in on the food and how it compares with others, the ambiance, etc. I had a carne asada torta, which was kind of salty but real tasty, although I've been burping it up the past half hour or so. The french fries were thin and crispy. Alicia had the chicken breast sandwich, which she says was good. She saved half for tomorrow's lunch. The lemonade was cold and refreshing. She had coke. The music was great, an eclectic mix which the guy behind the counter said was being streamed from Pandora. We picked up a few pastries to eat later. I just smelled some on Alicia's breath as she scared me with a pen shaped like a snake she picked up on a school field trip to Dreamworks.

I'll try Antigua again, maybe for breakfast or coffee and to set up shop since they seem to have WiFi.

The most memorable part of tonight's dinner with Alicia was on the way home, when she slipped in a mix CD she'd just made. The first song was "Chick Habit" from the Grind House: Death Proof soundtrack. The second song was "Heaven Have Mercy" by Edith Piaf, which she sang in such a woeful voice that it almost made me cry.

Naw, I think what almost brought the tears was the hidden fear that someday, soon, Alicia -- who not that long ago insisted on listening to Disney Radio -- won't be wanting to have Tuesday night dinner with me.

You know, when she grows up, which is happening way too soon.

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