The words “boring,” “okay,” and “average” don’t begin to describe the restaurant that is Hector’s in Kirkland. By my family and I, the phrases “Eh, I’ll pass,” or “Can we go somewhere else?” are now associated with said restaurant.
When I heard my family and I were meeting my aunt, uncle, cousin, and their friend for dinner at a place called Hector’s in downtown Kirkland, I instantly thought, “Cool, taco Tuesday, I’m down.” I pictured an upscale Mexican restaurant with Mexican-American fusion cuisine or maybe even authentic Spanish food.
Upon actually stepping through the huge double doors of Hector’s, I found myself not greeted by upbeat fiesta music and neon greens, reds, and yellows. Instead, I found myself in an understated bistro-like venue with forest green walls, crimson-, green-, and beige-striped booths, and a candle arrangement on every table.
While the lighting was dim and ambient, the only thing resembling Mexico was the bottle of Tabasco hot sauce next to the salt and pepper on every table.
The building was built in 1930 and, with the exposed industrial piping on the ceiling, it gives it that old vibe. Looking around at the decorations and seating, however, I find myself confused by the interior designer’s choices. On the wall behind our table, which is just a long column of little tables placed vertically in the middle of the restaurant, there are old Hollywood posters of people like Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and James Dean.
On the wall adjacent to this one, there are old antique-looking truck models placed next to each other. Okay, so now I’m really confused about what kind of vibe they were going for. Is it old Hollywood? It can’t be with their bohemian-looking hanging lamps, random playing cards on the ceiling (part of a magician who comes in every Saturday’s trick) and the playing of classic rock in the bar area.
At one point, I leaned into my mom and asked her what she thought of the décor, and she said, “It’s kind of like a weird, not-so-psychedelic acid trip.” My aunt thought it was just industrial and old fashioned. Well, whatever; it’s not very inspiring or funky and cool but, as long as the food is good, who really cares?
After browsing the menu filled with classic American dishes from burgers and fries to pork chops and steak, we ordered a slew of different dishes and couldn’t wait to taste our meals.
As a party of seven, you’d think the waitress would be aggressively writing down notes and asking questions, but she wasn’t. She asked us what we wanted and then proceeded to just stare at us and nod or ask if we wanted any substitutions and how we want it cooked. She wasn’t rude by any means, just confident, and after we all ordered, she walked away with no notes.
To our surprise, however, the waitress didn’t skip a beat and served everyone’s dishes without hesitation.
All in all, my mom’s Forest mushroom crepes with tofu, a creamy cheddar béchamel sauce and balsamic syrup fell short on flavor. My fish tacos were not as good as Taco del Mar’s, my cousin’s fish and chips were crispy but had no flavor, and the rest of the food kind of just faded into the background. It wasn’t that any of the dishes were bad; they were just bland and boring.
My final thoughts on Hector’s is, if he was a blind date, I would try and hold back the yawns and ask for his number instead of giving him mine. Don’t go to Hector’s expecting bold flavors or something new and different. While the staff is very competent and the service is great, I don’t know that this restaurant deserves a trip to Kirkland.
Maybe it’s because I watch too much of the Food Network and “Top Chef” that I’ve just become a snob and want to experience those amazing flavors and aromas they are always talking about. Or, maybe I’d just rather not spend around 20 dollars on a meal my mom could make better.