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Mexican

Two Thumbs Down for Tacuba Cantina Mexicana

On Friday, Hailey and I decided on a little dinner and movie date night. We settled on Tacuba and, well, hindsight is 20/20. If you ever want to see what a restaurant that’s truly overwhelmed looks like, Tacuba was a perfect case study.

After grabbing a table and waiting 15 minutes for a waiter to appear, we ordered some guacamole and margaritas. An hour and a half later, we were scraping the guacamole bowl and wondering where our entrees were. In talking with our neighboring diners, they lamented that they had been waiting more than two hours for entrees. The excuse the waiter provided, the kitchen prioritizes easy dishes and harder dishes get deprioritized. Moral of the story, don’t order hard dishes to make?

We decided to cut our meal short and get out of there. Looking back at it, we paid around $50 for two margaritas and avocados. Restaurant fail. We won’t be going back.

PS – We saw Deadpool and it was awesome. Go see it. Now.

Tacuba Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Move Over Chipotle, There’s a New Game in Town – Oxido Grand Opening Today

Oxido – 18 West 23rd Street, Manhattan, New York

Watch out Chipotle! Oxido opens today in the Flatiron District and it’s the latest fast casual restaurant in New York City featuring authentic flavors of modern Mexican cuisine.

I checked it out last night during the pre-opening festivities and dare I say this place has fresher and more flavorful ingredients than Chipotle, with a few additions outside Chipotle’s wheelhouse.

Pictures of some of the delicious food are below. I highly recommend the grass-fed grilled garlic steak and queso sauce. Order off the secret menu and get the “Make it Dirty” nachos. You can’t go wrong.

If you aren’t convinced yet, during today’s grand opening 1/2 of all proceeds will benefit Food Bank For New York City! Don’t miss it!

Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City

Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City Oxido Fast Casual Mexican in New York City

Eating My Way Around the Nation’s Capital (Part 1)

Guest post by Hailey Apter.

I took a trip sans Dave to Washington, DC last weekend to visit friends. Throughout the weekend, I got a chance to sample food at some great local restaurants and hot spots.

Restaurant: Dangerously Delicious Pies – 1339 H Street N.E., Washington, DC

After a delicious home-cooked meal by my favorite Greek hostess Alyssa, we headed to Dangerously Delicious Pies for a midnight indulgence. They serve sweet pies, savory pies, and quiche.

The outside of the restaurant looks almost like a tattoo parlor, which makes sense when you look at the logo, which is written in a common tattoo font with a skull and crossbones under an image of a pie. Inside the small restaurant, the menu hangs on the wall. Each flavor is listed on a separate mini-chalkboard, and the chalkboards are removed when the flavor sells out.

Dangerously Delicious Pies Baltimore Bomb
Baltimore Bomb

Alyssa and I tried two sweet pies:

  • Baltimore Bomb with Whipped Cream: Loaded with Berger Cookies (a Baltimore specialty) that melt down and swirl into a sweet vanilla chess filling
  • Cherry Crumb with Vanilla Ice Cream: Fresh, sour cherries with a crunchy topping of oats, brown sugar and butter

When I heard that the Baltimore Bomb was the top seller, I knew I had to have it. Berger cookies are cake-like cookies with a thick, fudge icing. When baked into the warm, buttery pie crust, they became soft, rich, and fluffy. The whipped cream was a perfect complement, but I wish I had more, because it melted quickly on the warm slice of pie.

Dangerously Delicious Pies Cherry Crumb
Cherry Crumb

I also sampled Alyssa’s Cherry Crumb with vanilla ice cream. The crumble on top was a highlight, and the vanilla ice cream balanced out the sour cherries perfectly. These three ingredients made for an extremely flavorful – and dare I say dangerously delicious – slice of pie.

Verdict

At $7 a slice (if you include ice cream or whipped cream), these pies were totally worth it. I would hit up this spot again in a second next time I’m in DC, for more sweet pies, as well as savory. BBQ Pork and Steak Mushroom Onion Gruyere sound to-die-for.

Dangerously Delicious Pies on Urbanspoon

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Restaurant: Tortilla Café – 210 7th St SE, Washington, DC

Saturday afternoon we stumbled upon what appeared to be a hole-in-the-wall Mexican place, but turned out to be an extremely popular little restaurant that has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Tortilla Café Pupusa
Pupusa

The interior was tiny and looked a lot like a fast food restaurant. They were very proud of their appearance on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives as well as press they’ve received, as articles were prominently featured on the walls.

While Tortilla Café has numerous house specials, the pupusa and tamale appetizers were starred on the menu. They were the clear stand outs of this meal.

  • Pupusa: Handmade corn tortilla filled with cheese
  • Tamale: Corn dough cakes filled with seasoned chicken with pico de gallo
Tortilla Café Tamale
Tamale

The pupusa came out warm and bursting with cheese. Every bite featured the taste of the thick corn tortilla and soft, melted cheese. The tamale was perfectly cooked and included very flavorful chicken, as well as olives and chickpeas, which were a delightful surprise.

Verdict

If you’re in the Eastern Market area and want a delicious, quick, inexpensive meal, this is a great option. Main courses here come with two sides for a total of around $8.50. For the amount you get and the quality of the delicious, well-seasoned food, this was a great value!

Tortilla Cafe on Urbanspoon

Mexican Barbecue at (Appropriately Named) MexiBBQ

Restaurant: MexiBBQ – 37-11 30th Avenue, Astoria, New York

Putting a new twist on your traditional Mexican food, MexiBBQ takes barbecue and combines it with Mexican cuisine, resulting in the restaurant’s unique take on barbecue with a Mexican flare.

Atmosphere

MexiBBQ is a happening place. The atmosphere can be described as nothing short of lively – whether coming from table service or the bar. A tiled floor welcomes diners to a restaurant flanked by exposed brick walls and columns throughout. The centerpiece of the interior is actually at the back of the restaurant, in a semi-separated area for larger groups. A TV, hidden behind a waterfall, broadcasts the day’s sports and provides a unique talking piece.

Food

Smoked Beef Brisket
Smoked Beef Brisket

On this particular trip, I visited MexiBBQ for dinner. Among the various barbecue food, I settled on:

  • Smoked Beef Brisket: tequila braised beef brisket, simmered in achiote barbecue sauce and served on a skillet with jalapeno goat cheese cornbread

This dish was spicy to say the least. The beef brisket came out in a skillet covered in peppers and onions. There was a good amount of beef in this dish and the peppers and onions (which were slightly cold) nicely contrasted the spiciness of the meat and provided slight relief to my taste buds. Although it was spicy, it had a great overall flavor to it and the spice didn’t overpower the flavor of the meat.

The jalapeno cornbread was incredible. Baked with a dab of goat cheese in the middle and  diced jalapenos in the batter, this cornbread delivers in every department. The jalapenos provide a slight spice to the cornbread with the mild goat cheese contrasting it. I’d come back for this cornbread every night of the week.

Value

For dinner, the beef brisket ($16) was a moderately priced option. There was a good amount of meat in this dish and I left feeling full. Beers and margaritas were in line with average New York City prices.

The Verdict

MexiBBQ puts a unique twist on barbecue by adding a little bit of Mexican flare. With an elaborate tequila menu and 48 beers on tap, MexiBBQ has something for everyone – whether you’re looking to grab a drink, brunch, lunch or dinner. The menu provides a wide assortment of options for every palate and, from what I could tell by the people around me, the food is all around delicious. I recommend MexiBBQ and I will be back.

MexiBBQ on Urbanspoon

Las Margaritas Restaurant

Restaurant: Las Margaritas Restaurant – 38-01 Broadway, Astoria, NY

Whenever I go to a Mexican restaurant I always get the same thing – one of the combination platters that gives me a sampling of different types of Mexican food. When I went to check out Las Margaritas Restaurant in Astoria, of course I wasn’t going to differ from my usual.

On a Friday night, Las Margaritas was hopping. In addition to a small interior area, the restaurant also has outdoor seating which wraps around the corner location of the restaurant. We were guided to a seat outside and took in the surroundings. It was loud, very loud. One of the things I like about Astoria is that it’s much quieter than the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. There aren’t a million cabbies blasting their horns and everything seems a little less hectic. Apparently, on a Friday night all bets are off since at the intersection right outside the restaurant there were plenty of loud cars, horns blaring and people yelling. Not exactly what I had in mind for a relaxing dinner. Las Margaritas also has some music playing which was nice, but the volume could have been turned down a little bit. (After re-reading this paragraph I’ve come to realize that I’m clearly no longer fun. Enough complaining from me!)

We ordered some margaritas and sangria and started snacking on the complimentary chips and salsa. (Any Mexican place that doesn’t give you chips and salsa for free just isn’t worth visiting.) My margarita was very sweet and definitely had a lot of margarita mix in it. It was so sweet that I was barely able to finish my first drink. I wasn’t a fan.

Las Margaritas Restaurant
Oaxaca: enchilada, quesadilla and tamal

For food, naturally, I ordered one of the combination plates -Oaxaca: enchilada, quesadilla and tamal. What’s a tamal? I had no idea either.

This dish was your typical Mexican combo platter with one exception. The enchilada and quesadilla were good but nothing special. However, the tamal blew me away. It was masa (like cornbread) that was filled with meat and cheese. Oh my god, this was so food. I was in heaven eating the cornbread-like masa and was disappointed when there was nothing left. (I did contemplate ordering another one.)

The Verdict

Las Margaritas Restaurant was your run-of-the-mill Mexican joint. It was extremely noisy in the outdoor seating area and I found myself nearly shouting in order to carry on a conversation. Overall, the food was average and the margaritas were heavily sweetened with margarita mix. I wasn’t impressed and do not recommend this place.

PS – Tamal, also known as tamale, is a traditional Mesoamerican dish made of masa (starchy dough, usually corn-based), which is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. This wrapper is then discarded before eating. I can now say I learned something today.

Las Margaritas on Urbanspoon

Vamos!

Restaurant: Vamos! – 348 1st Avenue, Manhattan, New York

Practically everyone that lives in New York City is a fan of the Sunday brunch. Looking to add a Mexican flare to brunch? Head over to Vamos! for some Mexican brunch favorites and all-you-can-drink margaritas.

According to the Yelp reviews, the food and service at Vamos! isn’t great. In fact, while walking to the restaurant, it was one of the few brunch places that wasn’t packed – not a promising sign. We were seated outside and quickly ordered the unlimited margarita deal ($7 for as many frozen margaritas as you can drink in 90 minutes). We then proceeded to order our main meal:

Huevos con Queso, Aguacate y Tocino
Huevos con Queso, Aguacate y Tocino
  • Huevos con Queso, Aguacate y Tocino: avocado, bacon and cheddar cheese omelet
  • Huevos Rancheros: two eggs on a bed of corn tortillas, guacamole, refried beans, spicy salsa, ranchera, pico de gallo, sour cream and cheese
  • Breakfast Quesadilla: stuffed with eggs, chorizo and monterey
  • Pan a la Francesa: french toast stuffed with bananas, strawberries infused with tequila maple syrup

After waiting about 15 minutes, our margaritas still hadn’t shown up and our food was already starting to arrive! Luckily, Tim took it upon himself to hunt down our waitress who clearly had forgotten about us in the sea of emptiness that was Vamos! She quickly brought over the margaritas and to her credit, the rest of the time she was continuously coming over with a pitcher eagerly topping off our glasses. And boy, these margaritas were tasty.

While the Yelp reviews about the terrible service may have been partially right, they were completely wrong about the food. I ordered the Huevos con Queso, Aguacate y Tocino and it was delicious. There was an ample amount of melted cheese and bacon stuffed into the omelet and the avocado that topped the dish was something I’d never had before on an omelet but added to the overall flavor. The omelet also was accompanied by home fries which I thought were very tasty and had a nice consistency to them – not too hard but not too mushy (some other people I was with didn’t like them). There were some complaints about the stuffed french toast which wasn’t stuffed with anything at all but instead the fruit was just placed on the side. Maybe something was lost in translation?

The Verdict

The best part about brunch at Vamos! was of course the unlimited margaritas. The service was sub par but once the margaritas started flowing and the food came out it helped to make up for this. However, the unlimited margaritas could have just made both the food and service seem better than it actually was! The prices weren’t terrible but I most likely won’t be heading back to Vamos! unless I’m already in the area.

Vamos on Urbanspoon

Great Mexican Food at Sinigual

Restaurant: Sinigual – 640 Third Avenue at 41st Street, Manhattan, New York

Filet Mignon Enchiladas with Grilled Shrimp
Filet Mignon Enchiladas with Grilled Shrimp

Recently, on a whim, I checked out Sinigual in Murray Hill for some Mexican food. I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into this place since from the outside, it doesn’t look like much. However, once inside, the restaurant opens up into a large room with lots of tables. On a Friday night, the restaurant was very busy.

We ordered a bunch of your typical Mexican food – fajitas, enchiladas, tacos, etc., but at Sinigual, everything has a contemporary flare. We also had some margaritas and sangria which came in enormous glasses and was enough to keep us going through the entire meal.

The highlight of the meal (at least for me) was my dish, filet mignon enchiladas with grilled shrimp. This dish was one of the specials. However, from what I’ve heard, it’s on the specials menu every night.

This dish was delicious. It was much like your typical enchilada dish but the sauce that was used to top the enchilada had a great sweet taste that added to the filet mignon. Additionally, the grilled shrimp were incredible. They had a great barbeque flavor that I absolutely loved. I didn’t want the shrimp to end.

The Verdict

Sinigual exceeded my expectations. The food was delicious and had great flavors that differentiated it from the food you’ll find at a more traditional Mexican restaurant. While it’s a little on the pricey side (the filet mignon enchiladas cost $25-$30), the food is worth it and I definitely want to come back whenever I’m craving Mexican food again. Go check it out!

Sinigual Contemporary Mexican Cuisine on Urbanspoon

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