Archive for the ‘Other City reviews’ Category

Azucarado Casa Chicago!

April 22, 2013


Azucarado Casa Chicago, or my weak sauce interpretation of Sweet Home Chicago. I’m sure there are more famous images of Chicago but the could gate above was the only one I took pics of. Here’s to being a crappy tourist!

At this point I’m sure you thought this blog was dead…Nope! Just needed a break, that and an extremely busy work schedule of travelling all over the country has seriously hampered my posting duties. Fortunately I’ve been cataloging, taking photos and making notes of all the recipes and places I’ve eaten in the last 5 months so updates will be fruitous.

Finally a business trip that dropped me in the middle of some serious good Mexican food, or a modern interpretation of it at least. The cocktails flowed, fresh herbs were chopped, and all was enjoyed! I’ll post a series of posts highlighting each place rather than one massive post like my New York trip 2 years ago.

Below was my trip to Mercadito, they also have locations in Miami and New York with similar menus. Just to say this up front, I went for dinner and lunch the following day because I liked the menu so much. There were just too many good things and not enough room in my stomach. Both trips I had tacos and a cocktail but for dinner I had a glass of dessert known as Chinaco Negro. A wonderfully “fuerte” extra anejo which deserves a spot in my liquor cabinet for special occasions. For lunch the following day I skipped the tequila and went for a appetizer of two different guacamoles.

I sampled two cocktails at Mercadito, the Dizzy Oaxacan and the Little Market Margarita. Both were fantastic. The Dizzy was sweeter than I imagined being that it used Mezcal rather than tequila. I came across a recipe online for the Little Market which is listed below. I usually don’t go for the spice in my cocktail but this was so subtle and balanced it was fantastic, and I think my new summer cocktail.


The Little Market Margarita

2 chunks pineapple, 1.5 “ by 1.5”
1 1/2 ounces house Reposado
1 ounce guajillo syrup
1 ounce lime juice

Guajillo Syrup:
1 quart simple syrup
7-8 guajillo chiles

Muddle the pineapple in a glass. In a shaker add tequila, quajillo syrup and lime juice with ice and shake. Pour into glass. It is optional to rim the glass with Tajin.

To make the Guajillo Syrup bring simple syrup to medium heat (you can also make your own Simple syrup by mixing water and sugar and boiling it). Break up chiles and add to heated syrup. Simmer for 10 minutes, check heat level and let simmer for another 10 minutes if needed. When desired heat level is achieved, strain and refrigerate.


Above is their 2 guacamoles. They were very similar in taste but the one on the left had some diced pineapple in it. A nice touch which paired very nicely with the Little Market Marg I was restraining from devouring. I quickly got home and tried my hand at making my own version which was nicely balanced and just the right change of pace over a standard guacamole.


Al Pastor Octopus? Sign me up! As any readers know, I am a bonafide sucker for good al pastor. Up until now I’ve only had chicken and pork…how boring. Octopus on the other hand was downright intriguing. Their version was called Pulpo al Pastor which featured chile ancho rubbed octopus, chile de árbol salsa, grilled pineapple, and crispy red onion. I was sold. The entire meal was flavorful, fresh and succulent. If you are up for a foodie challange, this is the meal you need to have.


Day two brought about the super secret Tacos for Strength, a limited time monthly featurette on their menu. In this case it was sake braised pork belly with daikon radish slaw. This was the taco I wanted from Mercadito. Just enough new battling with the old for an outstanding “designer” take on the taco. You can almost never go wrong with Asian BBQ and tacos.

So when you’re in the chicago area, go to mercadito, twice if you need to and be your own El Cazador de Taco!

108 W Kinzie Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Tel: 312.329.9555


Welcome to beantown

November 5, 2012




A few weeks ago business brought me to Boston and the surrounding area. It was quick, in’n’out, but I managed to get a lil pseudo-Mexican cooking in at JM Curley. I was in the mood for something a little eccentric paired with a really good cocktail. Needless to say, I received 7-7-7’s.

Now I’d never been to Beantown before. So a visit to Fenway was a must. At the time the stadium was closed down while the remainder of the playoffs were still happening. The Tigers were putting the finishing touches on the Yankees and ending my postseason excitement. I took a stroll around the stadium walking past the locked up gates while the wind whipped down the streets. Many of the areas bars were open with the warm glow spilling out onto the streets. I wasn’t hungry yet so a few pints  warmed the soul.

I decided to hit the nearby (few miles) JM Curley. The reviews online looked very promising and the menu itself was filled with eclectic items and a killer cocktail menu. This was going to be right up my alley. I started with a Manhattan and ordered a few small plates instead of a dinner. The steak frites were calling my name but a menu filled with delectable goodies such as salmon sliders, baby octopus and beef cheek gorditas, I was quickly led astray. From the pictures you cna guess I ended up with the Baby Octopus and Beef Cheek Gordita’s. They were the right perscription to cure my ails.

The baby octopus was flash fried and braised to be both tender and crispy. I believe it was dusted with onion, red pepper and celery powder and topped with a lemon crema. It was fantastic, I’d highly recommend trying it out especially if you had someone to share it with. Although it was a starter/tapas style place. There was a lot of octopus on there, almost too much.



My last dish was the Beef Cheek gorditas. If the octopus was excellent, the gorditas were the cats ass. The cheek was braised in a slightly sweet, slightly savory sauce very similar to a dark beer style bbq sauce. Topped with thinly slice tomatillo and a spicy Mexican crema made from sweet potatoes. Each one also had a few toasted squash or pumpkin seeds that really melded the whole dish together. It was perfect for a cold autumn day.

I had a glass of Fidencio Classico Joven Mezcal for dessert. While not a dessert drink, I had never had this brand of mezcal before. The good things I’ve read and heard about it rang true. For $30 or so per 750ml bottle, it’s a great entry into the smokey realm of quality mezcals. I could definitely see picking a bottle up for sipping and mixing.

The verdict? Check out JM Curley, the place had a steady crowd of young professionals sipping craft cocktails and eating a wide range of eclectic quality eats. I know I’ll be back.

JM Curley

21 Temple Place
Boston, MA 02111


The Bourbon Trail

June 28, 2012

So this last thursday we embarked on the sacred bourbon trail roadtrip from Atlanta to Loiusville, I know you’re saying “what? that’s got nothing to do with Mexico”  and I would agree but if you’re in the southeast and/or a spirits enthusiast like myself, you have to spend at least a day on the trail. I did have some taco’s to make it legit…

My brother, author of the infamous Garry Owen Dining Facilty in Iraq review came along for the ride, as did two of our old roomates, one of which who led the NYC trip reviewed back in May. We had a pretty solid plan for the 4 days of our journey but also left some breathing room for side-trips and random “stop here’s”.

Our first distillery was Prichards in Kelso, Tn. It’s a smaller craft distiller with a fairly wide range of product from rums to whiskies and liqueurs. Outside of passing right by the facility due to practically no signage Prichards turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip. We went along on a tour that was highly informative, personal and finished with a killer tasting…of everything. There were no stingy pours here, and everyone except our designated driver thoroughly enjoyed it. Highlights included their Double-Barreled Bourbon, Chocolate Bourbon, and their duo of aged rums; “Private Stock” and “Fine Aged Rum”. I see some of these bottles making it into my collection so eventually I’ll do a more in-depth review.

We stopped in Fayetteville, Tn for some lunch at Ken’s Fast Foods and got to try the local favorite; The Slawburger. Ken’s was a great “local flavor” stop that you just don’t find anywhere but small towns. Ken himself popped out to ask “I’ve never seen you boys ’round here, are you visiting?”

Our next stop brought us to Nashville, the time change to central gave us an hour to drive around and get stuck in traffic and mobs of people heading to the Country Music Award something or another. That wasn’t our bag so we headed over to our 3.30 tour at Corsair Artisan a bit early. Housed in the beautiful brick warehouse that used to hold the Marathon Motors company until 1918 we had high hopes which were dashed quickly. The tour was anemic at best and took literally 6 minutes. Our guide seemed more interested in getting back into the air-conditioned bar room than spending any time detailing their facilities. After getting the cliff-notes tour we pulled up a seat at their tasting room bar and proceeded to taste their 5 flavors; Vanilla Bean Vodka, Gin-Head style  Gin, Spiced Rum, Un-aged Rye and the Triple Smoke Whiskey. My brother is a certified Gin-aholic so they also sampled us some Barrel-aged Gin. After the sampling we had them make a few cocktails with their wares, a gin and tonic with a bit too much tonic and a grapefruit based cocktail featuring their triple smoke whiskey and agave. I found this to be an excellent cocktail similar to a paloma but with smoke and peat added to the mix. We ended up buying a bottle of Gin and getting on the road to Louisville. On the drive everyone mentioned the disappointment with the tour. This could have been that we had just finished up with Prichard’s fantastic tour but it was more than that. We felt like we were shuffled along and didn’t get any of the personality that a small craft distiller would give. I expected this out of a Jim Beam or Jack Daniels but not the little guys.

Driving through Bowling Green we stopped at Smokey Pig BBQ where we chowed a plate of pulled pork and a beer before getting back on the road to Louisville. The next stop was the Red Hot Chili Peppers concert which we almost missed due to the time change BACK to eastern time. Luckily we only missed the first song. As usual the Peppers killed the show, with Josh easily picking up where John Frusciante left off. While the big improv jam sessions weren’t as good, Josh nailed every song and added his unique style. A stop a Third Street Dive for some beers and pool rounded out the evening and we headed back to the hotel, but not before some White Castle.

Friday we decided to skip the distilleries we had planned (Jim Beam, Makers Mark, Heaven Hill) to see some non-alcoholic sights which included the beautiful Cave Hill Cemetery, Louisville Slugger Museum and betting on the ponies at Churchill Downs. I finally got my mint julep, although it was a premixed Early Times poured over ice with a sprig of mint…sucked. Before the ponies we ate lunch at the New Albanian Brewery in New Albany just across the river in Indiana. We had a killer meal that included Duck Wings (yes I said Duck wings), pork taco’s, a killer burger and some of the best fries I’ve ever had. Oh yeah the beers were pretty good too. Their Elector Imperial Red was a standout as was Hellbock and Hoptimus. Before heading back to Kentucky we stopped at a local bar, you know the kind where you get blank stares walking in the door and have a fear of siting in one of the regulars stools. A $5 pitcher later we hit the road and stopped for a Cuban (sandwich) and adult beverage at Habana Blue’s. The sandwich was fantastic but the Mojito’s and Caipirinha’s were premixed and didn’t attack your pallet with any fresh mint or lime.

That evening we happened upon a Greek festival for a few more beers and a Gyro before heading to Fourth Street Live for the Makers Mark Bar. While these overtly corporate drinking/eating venues aren’t typically our bag, we made an exception for Wet Willies which was a Savannah favorite being that we all lived there. Every one we’ve visited since has sucked so one drink later we left to start our next day.

Saturday was our distillery day. Bright and early we started at Four Roses. Their production was shut down for the summer but we still toured and tasted. It was a great tour that was indicative of the size of the distillery, not too big, not too small. Their grounds were beautiful with plenty of roses bushes and freshly manicured lawns. The Spanish architecture while somewhat out of place was equally as striking.

Just down the road was Wild Turkey, this was the largest tour we did and our first few of all the processes happening live as well as the barrel warehouses. The scale of everything going on here was worth the visit whether you enjoy WT or not. They have 30 warehouses…30 warehouses. Each fermentation batch holds 30,000 gallons of mash and yeast, did I mention they have 23 fermentation vats? They produce more in one batch than everyone I know and all the people that will read this article will drink in our entire lives. Their still is 4 stories tall, Four Roses column wasn’t half that. We journeyed into their oldest warehouse “No. 1” and the smell was intoxicating. This is one experience everyone needs to have in their lifetime. The cool breeze wafting out the hundred year old door was laced with the sweetness of aged spirits and heartiness of oak. It was almost like catching a buzz. We also nabbed a taste of a barrel that was dripping which was a unique treat. It had a yeasty sweet flavor that I’ll probably never get again.

Our last tour was Woodford Reserve. They by far had the best presentation. Everything about their facilities was made for bringing visitors through it. At first I worried that the overabundance of rules and cleanliness made it reek of corporations and HOA’s but that was quickly erased when we walked into the fermentation room. The highlight was the 3 copper pot stills and raised wooden floors allowing you to walk right up to them. The barrel room was also a sight and that’s not mentioning the aromatics seeping from the oak barrels.

Although we missed the tours, we swung by Buffalo Trace for a short walk around the buildings and a tasting. As we walked scents of yeast and barrel sweetness clung to the air so we all got one last smell of the barrel warehouses by sticking our heads through the windows on the lower floors. One day I’m building an office or house INSIDE a barrel aging room.

That evening we did some bar hopping and had dinner at Doc Crows before bar hopping some more. Earlier in the day Woodford teased us with some Double Oak Bourbon that they were out of so I finished the night off with some hefty pours. We rolled out in the morning stopping by the Corvette museum in Bowling Green and then onto Atlanta.


If you’re within a days drive of the trail you owe it to yourself to make a go of it. Louisville and the surrounding area offers a lot to do for a long weekend. Highly recommended! Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

More bites from Austin…

February 19, 2012


After getting to my hotel I took a cab into downtown and got dropped off on the corner of 4th and Colorado Streets since I wanted to try Frank, the gourmet, artisinal hot dog joint. After stuffing an antelope, rabbit and pork hot dog covered in siriachi and huckleberry compote in my piehole and washing it down with a cold beer and some of the best waffle fries I’ve ever had I made my walk to the convention center where I had to install some lighting in an exhibit. I walked past Chi-Lantro, a Korean taco truck. How could I pass this up? The dilemma was I was full from eating just 5 minutes earlier. I can always make room for tacos!

While I would have loved to try the short rib or tofu taco’s, I opted for the spicy pork belly. Shazaam this was some good eating. I was almost angry at myself for being to full. It was a pretty simple taco. Pork belly topped with cabbage and a slightly sweet spicy sauce wrapped up in a corn tortilla. It was worth every bit of the $2.50 I paid.

The guy working the truck said they usually set up around 5th and Colorado so check them out if you’re heading onto 6th st for an evening of debauchery.

Don’t mess with Texas

February 17, 2012




Work brought me to Austin, Texas for an in one day out the next trip and I was dying to get some time cruising Austin since I’ve never been. Outside of seeing a the city and getting a vibe for some of the eats, I always like to fit in a little bottle hunting. Unfortunately I was only able to get out for about an hour and a half and in that time I scarfed down The Jackalope at Frank, some Carnita’s street tacos at the sports bar in the Marriott and a spicy pork belly taco at a Korean Taco stand. I did however find these little gems. I was tempted to try a whole bottle but I really didn’t have enough room in my suitcase and I hadn’t heard much about the brand to give it a go.

A little research found this is an Austin based brand (curious how many bars stock this in Austin?) that is made in Mexico at NOM 1457 with lowlands agave’s cooked in stone ovens and distilled in stainless pots. It is one of a few Mexican distilleries that is organic. Tasting notes are below.

Blanco. Nice nose but not a ton of agave, notes of citrus and salt with some parmesan, which is a first for me. Beautiful pearls that start tight and get fat and gooey. Upon first sip you get this nice warming feeling with some alcohol which is very pleasant and it completely coats the mouth with an oily sweetness. It was a decent sipper but not too complex, given the price (around $30) I don’t think you’d feel it was money wasted. Slightly sweet but not cloying. 2 outta 5

Reposado. Mediocre nose that builds off the blanco. Twirling in the glass brings some sloppy fat pearls that don’t hold the same portrait as the blanco. This would explain why the oily nature is gone in the aged versions. Yeasty, bbqed pork, almost more like the crispy skin rather than the meat and slightly earthy on the nose. Taste has some sweetness but with some of that old tequila style flavor with more agave than the blanco. Smokey tobacco and toasted bread. 3 outta 5

Anejo. Light nose almost non existent with a touch of sweetness. There’s a definite family flavor profile going on here. The pearls develop like the blanco, slow and tightly forming proceeding into fat drippy globs. All the taste is in the finish, that typical anejo sweetness and a tingling mouth feel. A quick finish brings banana and more alcohol hotness than any of the other ages. I also got some acidic notes like pineapple in that finish as well. 2 outta 5

Overall I cant say I’d order online or pick up another bottle next time I came to town. It was good, but not great. Like so many tequila’s I enjoy other brands better in this price point. My pallet has driven me to a few brands that I’d buy over and over again and while I would order a glass at a bar next time I’m in town, a bottle is off my list.

El Patron’s pork tacos

August 9, 2011

As promised we’ve already started attacking the GSO area for great Mexican eats. This was a bit south in Salisbury but it could possible be worth the drive especially if your on the south end or out in Lexington. It’s a find too since everything about it reeks blah boring strip mall Mexican. Let’s dig in!

These are the to-go, now breakfast pork tacos, on the menu as Tacos de la Calle. You can get them with chicken, beef or pork and there’s no better way to get a vibe of good Mexican than the pork and roasted bits on menus so pork it was.

Grilled double wrapped corn tortillas, fresh cilantro and onion, succulent chunks of pork with a slice of avocado, man these were right up my alley and since i’ve have been chowing on Italian for 3 weeks this was a great ice breaker back. Unfortunately they were good enough that if I went back I’d probably order the same thing again, you know how that goes right? The flavors were fantastic albeit a little on the greasy side, well the tortilla’s at least but I don’t eat Mexican because I’m try to look good in a bikini. I think a lot of the juices from the pork mixed with griddle grease from cooking the tortilla’s up added to it. It’s not offensive and don’t let that stop you from eating here.


I also had a Chile Rellano, which was outstanding as well. Usually these can be over fried and stuff with all kinds of nasty cheese turning into a gut bomb befit of a night of raging drinking. The breading was light and thus so was the grease and the cheese and sauce that it was topped with were done with restraint and class.

I didn’t get a look at their tequila’s but it looked like they had a few, which is a great start. Maybe a couple of trips and we can see if they’ll up the ante with a few more offerings. I saw Patron (duh) and Antiguo Herradura which is promising. Next time we’ll go all out. They also had a solid beer menu, Bohemia, Modelo, and of course my baby, Negro Modelo.

Overall it was a great intro to some serious Mexican food and definitely cements my coming to the GSO area. I was worried that they wouldn’t have the culinary power that Atlanta has but so far so good. 4.5 outta 5 and I think a few more trips could see this rise. I’m still going to be eating some torta’s this week so stay tuned for that review.

1030 Freeland Drive
Salisbury, NC 28144
(704) 636-5300
Open Fri-Sat 11am-11pm

This place is dead…

August 7, 2011

That new job I posted a few weeks back? Well they sent me to Italy for 3 weeks, sucks I know. I was about an hour north of Venice (Venezia if your Italian) and I was hoping to get some material for the page but as a friend told me, there is only “food” in Italy. I soon found out what he meant. I didn’t spot the first thing even closely related to Mexican culture outside of a bar labelled “Mexican Bar Trattoria” which is Mexican in name only. Turns out Italians like to name bars, restaurants, etc after a place with no connection to the place. Its still the same food found everywhere else.

I remained dry of tequila as well, one of the first places we ate at (Porco Loco in Sacile) was amazing. Fritto Misto, grappa, risotto, incredible. They actual had 3 tequila’s on the menu but no bottles were to be found. A few bars had bottles of Cuervo and Sauza but I dont drink mixto’s and the only bottle of 100% agave I saw was a bottle of Patron repo in a liquor store for about 80 euro, roughly $115 U.S. and that definitely ain’t worth it.



The closest meal I had was at La Contrade in Sacile, easily one of the best restaurants I had eaten at. They had a Tuna dish on top of grilled eggplant and topped with a roasted Anaheim pepper. Simple but out of this world. It was here that I developed a bit of a relationship with the owners. I spoke English (barely) with very little Italian, they Italian with little English but we both tried and laughed exchanging comments and questions. Both I and they were grateful at the attempts to speak the other language. I will definitely be back.



I did get out of the area and went to Venice on two separate occasions for some shopping and obviously site-seeing. The shopping here is exquisite and vies with the sights and uniqueness of the city. I didn’t do much tourist stops other than Saint Marco’s and I just walked abound the exterior in awe of the architecture not venturing inside. On a separate day I went to the Guggenheim. While small it was a treat and a nice break from walking up and down the canals.



It was a great trip for business and pleasure but now its back to business…and thats food and drink, Mexican style. This week I’ll be posting my eats at a small Torta’s shop in Greensboro and some tequila reviews as well. We are BACK and back on track so look out.

NYC + El Cazador = Gastronomical Heaven

June 2, 2011

We’re back! and man what a gastronomically evil trip it was. This is NYC we’re talking about, food is on every corner in the form of diners, food carts, mom and pop shops serving everything from pizza, halal, Ukranian, you name it and we ate it all. You gotta wash all the grub down so we drank it all too, beer, tequila, gin, old-fashion’s, more beer. At the end of our 96 hour escapade I was done. No drinking or eating for at least a week, maybe two. The human body just isn’t fit to handle the copious amounts of food and booze we threw at it. Here’s the lowdown.

My first night brought a round of beers at my buddies place just off Union Square. That set our appetite in motion for some killer Ukrainian food at Veselka in the east village. Multiple sausages, pierogies, kraut and stuffed cabbage. It wouldn’t be a boys trip without some Ukrainian beers right? After this was a string of bars, McSorley’s, Burp Castle and Jimmy’s Corner, a classic (or generic depending on your take) boxers bar in the city complete with photo’s of Jimmy with the previous 40 years worth of boxing legends on the walls and table all lit by christmas lights, classy.

It wouldn’t warrant posting here unless we got some Mexican grub while in town. It just so happened that we walked upon a street food fair that was about 2 miles long. If there was ethnic food available in Gotham, here it was. We chowed on some empanada’s from Empanada Mama’s which were piping hot and filled with meaty goodness. Our fav was the Cuban, filled with slowly roasted pork, ham with mozzarella cheese and a touch of sofrito sauce. The Brasil, with ground beef, olives, sauteed onions, and potatoes was a damn close second. From there we found some Mexican Street corn, this stuff is legendary! Whats not to love about grilled corn spread with Cotija Cheese and cayenne pepper? It’s sweet, savory, and just the right amount of spice. We’ll be posting a recipe for this in the next week so look out. I also got my hands on some carnita’s taco’s topped with cilantro and onion just how I like it, while good it was pale in comparison to the corn and empanada’s. There was also some Greek seasoned lamb kabob’s but they were severely overshadowed by the Latino based grub. I’d also be lying if we didn’t stop into the iconic dive Rudy’s Bar to grab a pitcher of Bud, with my buds. There were even some postal workers having a 2pm cocktail. Grab some bud’s right?

After recovering from food hangover number one with a long walk through the meatpacking district on the High Line park, an elevated defunct railroad converted to greenspace/pedestrian walkway we had dinner planes at the legendary Keen’s Steakhouse. We drank single malts among photo’s of Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, General Douglas MacArthur and “Buffalo Bill” Cody before settling in at our table for a bottle of vino and a round of killer steaks. These were some killer steaks too, thick cut, aged, and cooked to perfection. After this we took our classy asses to the Campbell Apartment, the hidden but not so hidden prohibition bar tucked away in Grand Central. This was no beer bar and thus the night called for old-fashions, Manhattan’s and copious amounts of rye and bourbon. It wouldn’t be New York without grabbing a hot dog from a food cart. What better way to finish some exquisite cocktails from a fine speakeasy.

The following day we grabbed a quick cup of coffee and bagel and walked through the east village for a lunch spot. Some extended family was coming into town before the Yankee game that night and we needed some lunch…and beers. We settled on the Penny Farthing. It was a great spot for this since it wasn’t too loud or crowded so we were able to converse without yelling. It was mainly sandwiches, I had a pretty good short rib sandwich and a couple Bodington’s.

Afterwards it was time to visit Yankee stadium. We had some killer seats right behind home plate below the press box. This is how to see a ball game…damn. After the game, damn yankee’s lost to the sox…again we took the subway back into town for some more beverages. No night out would be complete without some late night pizza at the corner oven, something that would be repeated just about every night.

The following day took us to be truly cultured individuals while perusing fine works of art at MOMA. Art+3 Dudes=Ravenous appetite…again. We were right around the corner from the infamous tourist trap, Carnegie Deli so we swung in for some sammies. We indulged in the “Woody Allen” which is Pastrami and Corned beef on Rye. This thing easily weighed in at 3 lbs without the healthy dosing of deli mustard and Russian dressing. You could guess that it wasn’t enough so we ordered a turkey rueben as well. The Woody Allen, A+. The Rueben, B-. Too much cheese. Either way we were full again and back into our food coma’s which would only subside for the next few hours.

And what do you wash down 3lbs of salted meats? more beer…at the Shark Bar. Great beer selection with lots of unique brews and good prices. You know beer brings about an appetite like none other? So we hit up Cafe Habana in Soho. Ohh my god…This place is heaven in NYC. We had some more grilled corn and plantains that were out of this world. We also split a Cuban Sandwich which was fantastic as well. It’s too bad we couldn’t put anymore food down because the skirt steak, yellow rice and black beans looked amazing.

The remainder of the trip was a drunken flash through a bunch of nowhere bars with multiple pitchers of “Merican lagers and random glasses of tequila thrown in. Speaking of which I was able to try a couple flavors I hadn’t had before, Avion, El Tesoro repo and anejo, and Partida Blanco. I reviewed Avion earlier in the week so check that post out.

The trip ended as quick as it started and as you can see it was a gut bomb of a journey. There is no shortage of killer food and drink to imbibe in around Manhattan.

Veselka Restaurant
144 2nd Avenue
New York, NY 10003-8305
(212) 228-9682

Burp Castle
41 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10003

Keens Steakhouse
72 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
(212) 947-3636

Jimmy’s Corner
140 W. 44th St., near Broadway
New York, NY 10036

Carnegie Deli
854 7th Avenue
New York, NY 10019-5216
(212) 757-2245

Cafe Habana
17 Prince Street
New York, NY 10012-3507
(212) 625-2001

Spring Lounge
48 Spring St., off Mulberry
New York, NY 10012

Garry Owen Dining Facility

January 22, 2011

This review could be considered international if it wasn’t on a US military base which is considered soveriegn territory thereby making it no more foreign then the Taco Bell around the corner. Coincidentally Taco Bell may actually be of higher quality and authenticity. This plethora of Mexican cuisine is cooked in an American dining facility located on a base in Iraq by sub-contracted Indian workers. I know it seems bizarre but let us remember that this food is reminiscent of an elementary school meal that would be traded in its entirety for the option to lick a Hostess cupcake wrapper.

Seen in the picture is the full assortment; chicken and beef enchiladas, quesadillas, mexican rice, refried beans, fajita chicken and steak, and burritos all ordered off the main line. The sauces were donated by CA Johns and are by far the highest quality items in the picture and all are highly recommended. I only apologize that the sauces had to lower their expectations and be used on such subpar food. There is also cornbread which may have actually been left over from 1985 which is just a guess since carbon dating was out of our labs price range. If served next week it would probably be titled hard tack and have better usage for an exploration voyage in the galley of a Mayflower reconstruction.

All delectable foods maintain the same general flavor with overpowering and bold tastes of cheese (shredded blend) and are best used as vessels to deliver a condiment or sauce as opossed to actually being a desired taste. The aftertaste is pleasant but the body does not agree with the palate and tends to want to reject the cuisine. Ensure a restroom (fully stocked with TP and air freshener) is nearby. Over all I give the variety of foods a plus but quantity is never a substitute for quality in my eyes so I will have to give any item a generous 0.5 cachacas out of 5. Personal recommendations are to skip the mainline all together and move to the sandwich bar.

Beverages are in abbundance however the only alcoholic choice is O’douls. If margaritas were offered it might make the meal more pleasant however they would probably be a heavy sweet and sour mix concoction that would only add to the stomach pains, discomfort, and flatulence that this meal delivers.

Amanda’s Fonda Mexican in COS

November 8, 2010

For Dinner we hit up Amanda’s Fonda Mexican Restaurant. It was one of the places that had some good reviews online and my brothers wife had heard some great things about it as well. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my camera (again!!!) to snap any pics of the food and pics online are far and few. The place has that kitschy Mexican feel thats both cozy and annoying at the same time. The place has been there for a while and it shows, this is neither good nor bad. We wanted to sit outside since it was nice out  and it had a nice view of a creek that winded behind the patio so we hit the bar while we waited for a table. A round of cerveza’s (do you guys ever stop drinking?) and a house margarita later we were seated. The beer was bottled and cold so it of coarse was good. The house margarita…not so much. Too much sweet and sour and swill tequilla equals a case of hiccups. It came out of a spout  from one of those square stationary pitchers that mixes whatever is in it so I guess I should have known. It wasn’t for me but it got passed around and our army of gullets didn’t finish it.

The menu had its share of traditional and generic Mexican fare and all of us ordered a barrage of items. Most of the dishes were good not great. My brother had the chicken enchilada’s covered in mole which was very good. The chicken was moist and not dry and the mole had that home-grown really complex taste that a good mole should have. I had their Tostada’s topped with a spicy shredded beef. I dont remember what they were called on the menu but they did warn gringo’s about eating them. Usually this is a rouse to ward off amateur foodsmiths but this time they were plenty spicy. No don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t downing glass after glass of whatever liquids were in front of me but it was plenty spicy. Once again the meal was good but not great. Other orders were a Shredded beef chimichunga (OK), carnita’s (OK), and my dad ordered the Carna Asada. This easily was the best meal we ordered. It was nice and thin and had flavor to last for days. It was marinated in something with garlic and cilantro as those were the flavors that pronounced themselves the most.

I would go back, I’d order the Steak, and I’d sit outside. Unless the weather was nice out and I wanted a couple of beers as well, I dont know how often I’d frequent this place. The reviews online had both searing bad and the greatest thing since sliced bread reviews. I would place it in the middle, giving it 3 out of 5 chaka’s. Like I said, most of the food was good but not great. The prices were fair given some of the unique and complex dishes, in the $6-14 range. Since I dont live in the COS area I cant say if comparatively this is better or worse than other options since I’ve eaten at one other place there (next post) on the other side of town.