Mariachi and Margaritas: How a Mexican Restaurant Saved Valentine’s Day

Ah, life before kids. Lengthy, romantic Valentine’s Day dates, planned well in advance with dinner reservations, tickets to a show or movie, and sometimes coordinated with another child-free couple to enjoy cocktails and each other’s company.

Life after kids: Earlybird dinner at our local favorite Mexican restaurant.

My husband and I learned this two years ago on our first Valentine’s day as parents. The holiday fell on a Tuesday, which, as tired and in a fog, as we were, didn’t inspire us to concoct any overly exciting plans. That afternoon, we hemmed-and-hawed about whether we should even do anything at all, and finally decided on a last-minute family dinner since grabbing a babysitter for our then 8 month-old seemed highly unlikely.

Mariachi and Mexican:
Photo by Herson Rodriguez on Unsplash

Apparently, we were not the only family with this idea. As we arrived, baby in tow, at 5 pm sharp to El Potrillo in Alpharetta, we looked around and realized we were hardly alone in our venture. Nearly every table at the restaurant was occupied by families of various sizes, but mostly with children under the age of 5. Not a romantic coupling in sight.

There was screaming, crying, chaos, tired parents smiling weakly at each other through up-tipped margaritas. Yes, we were all there in some weird form of solidarity. Too distracted and weary to make plans without kiddos, but still wanting to leave the house and enjoy an adult beverage and some queso.

My husband and I toasted each other as our daughter grabbed at our guacamole and shrieked in excitement. This was perfect.

This year, we’ll bring our almost a threenager and new 4-month-old son as we continue our new tradition of eating an early dinner out at our fave Mexican joint. Maybe someday, when a grandparent agrees to watch both children, Valentine’s Day falls on a weekend, and the stars and planets align in some rare cosmic event, we will have one of those romantic evenings again.

Until then, “Salud!”


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