The Sierra family owns the brick building that houses El Faison. (The name translates as The Pheasant; such birds are common on the Yucatan Peninsula where padre Sierra was born.) Victor, the only brother who works in the restaurant, admits it's an unlikely location to lure passing diners for a meal. That's one of the reasons brother Tony bought a life-sized statue of Al Capone (sitting in a chair in a white suit, smoking a cigar), which his staff sets out at a tiny table in front of the restaurant six days a week.
"That's how most people have noticed the restaurant," Victor says. "They slow down to look at the statue or come into the restaurant saying that their kids insisted on stopping to see it."
Kids also love the life-sized statue that stands inside the restaurant, a blood-dripping likeness of Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator. It's a strange (and not particularly appetizing) introduction to this tidy self-service restaurant.
Stepping past Arnold, diners can order from a menu of 22 different Mexican culinary combinations -- from carnitas to quesadillas -- at a neatly outfitted counter operation. All of the food comes on plastic plates accompanied by plastic flatware, but prices are cheap. The most expensive dish on the current menu is a plate of pork ribs in green salsa with rice and beans for $6.75.
The dining-room walls are painted pumpkin-orange, and a TV mounted on a wall in the corner plays Mexican music videos nonstop. On weekends, the restaurant serves the spicy tripe soup known as menudo, but fans of that legendary hangover cure should get there early. El Faison stays open until 6 p.m. from Tuesday through Saturday (and until 2 p.m. on Monday).
Capone and Schwarzenegger aren't the only celebs on the block, by the way. Across the street, an inflatable Godzilla floats over the roof of the EZ Credit Auto Sales building.