Tag Archives: mexican

Boston Crawl – 04.09.2011

Corner Grille
806 Pleasant Street
Worcester MA 01602

Formaggio Kitchen
244 Huron Avenue
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Saturday BBQ

Red Hook Brewery
1 Redhook Way
Portsmouth, NH 03801

The Clam Box
246 High Street
Ipswich, MA 01938

China Pearl
9 Tyler Street
Boston, MA 02111

The Bell in Hand Tavern
45 Union Street
Boston, MA 02108

Eagle’s Deli
1918 Beacon Street
Brighton, MA

Saturday Morning BBQ Breakfast

Saturday Morning BBQ Breakfast #2

The Clam Box

Bonus Vid:  Anna’s Taqueria

Bonus Vid:  Chinatown Roast Pork


East Harlem Crawl – 02.18.2011

Patsy’s Pizzeria
2287 1st Ave
(between 117th St & 118th St)

El Aguila
137 E 116th St.
(between Park Ave & Lexington Ave)

It was the warmest February day yet  and I decided to do a tour of the ol’ neighborhood with huge Spiderman fan Ethan.  The crawl actually started 12 hours earlier at midnight.  Recognize the food below?  Hint:  midtown.

Gyro, chicken, rice, pita, lettuce, white sauce, and atomic hot sauce.  A NYC classic.

Natural b-boy pose cannot be forced.

Fresh and delicious Patsy’s slice for just $1.50!

Nothing is hidden from view at the Aguila counter

What’s in the giant copper cauldron?

Comida made to order.  Me gusto.

Putting on the finishing touches.

Tacos carnitas and al pastor (L-R).

Patsy’s and El Aguila were the real deal.  Inexpensive and authentic.  Walk up and get 2 quick slices at Patsy’s.  Scarf them down while still hot and stroll over to Aguila for two pork tacos washed down with a cool horchata; all for about $6.  Huzzah!

Cafe Silvestre – 01.24.2011

Cafe Silvestre
282 West 7200 South
Midvale, UT

Like many places where the passion for outdoor recreation is only matched by sheer ruggedness of the terrain, Salt Lake City and its surrounding ‘burbs has a love affair with Mexican food.  Inexpensive, spicy, filling and loaded with carbs:  Mexican is the ideal fuel for the lazy couch potato as well as the extreme snow athlete.  Cafe Silvestre stands out to be the BEST mexican in SLC without the glitz and glam of its competitors.

The tried and true favorite among Salt Lake locals seems to be the humble smothered burrito.   This dish is rather unassuming with a burrito shell (usually flour) filled with either chicken or pork and smothered with a mexican style gravy topped with shredded cheese and diced onions.  Ordered by itself or in multiples, smothered burritos are on every menu and deliver a solid meal.  Cafe Silvestre’s smothered chicken burrito looks like everyone else’s:  a flattened flour log covered in a pool of gruel-like brownish red sauce.  Not very enticing I know.  After the first bite however, time slows down, your pupils widen and a fiesta erupts in your mouth when you swallow that morsel.  Silvestre somehow makes a knockout smothered burrito that is so far unmatched in all my travels.  I suspect the secret lies in their salivating smothering sauce.  Trust me when I write this:  if ever in SLC, you MUST find a Cafe Silvestre and order their smothered chicken burrito with cheese and onions.

Having experienced and loved the smothered burritos at CS before, I opted to try the Large Combo.  You get a choice of meat and immediately chose the shredded beef.

Large combo plate – hard shell taco, tostada, enchilada, smothered burrito, chile verde, and rice & beans.

If you are hungry and love mexican, order this combo.  Each of the above included items tastes distinct and different.  Mexican is often unfortunately the same 5 basic ingredients rearranged in different shapes but tastes exactly the same.  Not so here, the chicken smothered burrito taste is discernible from the chile verde (though in the picture it’s not).  The shredded beef taco is moist and pull apart tender and is really really good.  The rice and beans are out of this world good, no small feat considering these are  humble and basic dishes.  Silvestre also gets bonus points for omitting sour cream.  Though tasty (and I do enjoy it), it makes a mexican dish taste better than it really is, masking the flavor of chilies and spices.  Comprende?

Shredded beef taco filling

The best mexican in Salt Lake City, with 3 locations.
Of course the free chips and salsa are good.
Large combo plate satisfies your tastes, hunger, and your frugalness ($12)

Cafe  Silvestre is only in Salk Lake City.

A large satisfying meal rich in protein, rice, beans, and cheese forces you to quickly “break the silence” with your  friends in about 1 hour.

– BRU-ito

Dos Toros and Hide Chan Ramen – 10.28.10

Dos Toros
137 4th Ave
(between 13th St & 14th St.)
New York, NY

Rustic store front complete with wooden counter

Inside is reminiscent of Chipotle

Carnitas soft taco

Grilled Chicken burrito before

Grilled chicken burrito after

The search for decent Mexican food in the city is one step closer to over; Dos Toros offers delicious (and so far the best) Mexi-Cali style burritos and tacos in New York.  The basic menu offers burritos, tacos, quesadillas, and plates with choice of meat filling.  Surprisingly, tortilla chips and dip are nowhere to be found.  Located a block from Union Square, Dos Toros has superb burritos and will always be a stop whenever I’m in the area.

The carnitas taco had a generous helping of slow roasted pork shoulder served on a soft corn tortilla.  A thin slice of mild white cheddar (I think) is laid on right before steaming the tortilla with toppings that are simple but tasty:  pico de gallo and choice of medium or hot salsa.  I skipped the guac (92 cents) and hot sauce as I wanted the pure pork experience. And what an experience it was:  the meat was shredded juiciness, with just the right amount of porkiness and spice.  The generous helping of pork in the taco included oh-so-good pockets of melted fat/cartilage that elevated this carnitas above all others.  You MUST order this taco.

The burrito was just as good if not better; it was too close to decide.  I am partial to chicken burritos and try them as often as I can but this one is definitely in my top 3 of all time.   You can taste real grilled char in the chicken chunks and I am guessing they used dark meat such as thighs instead of the bland and flavorless breast that is usually used.  Again, the meat was cooked to perfection and was moist and chunky.  The rice was definitely a contributing factor to the awesome burrito.  It was flavorful, light, and spiced to complement the other ingredients exactly.  A very tasty and more importantly, well-balanced burrito indeed.

Judging by the carnitas and chicken burrito, everything is good!
The meat fillings rocked, best mexi-cali in Manhattan

The wait, lines can form out the front entrance

The carnitas craving.  Make sure to order enough for yourself and others who may be salivating.

– Bru-ito

Hide Chan Ramen Factory
248 E 52nd St.
(between 3rd Ave & 2nd Ave.)
New York, NY

Unassuming entrance to 2nd floor.  Note requisite red ramen latern.

Hakata Kuro Ramen with “mayu”, $11

The varying surface in a bowl of ramen looks back at you.

Black garlic oil can be ordered separately

Hide Chan is an authentically run Japanese ramen house in the Midtown East area of Manhattan.   There is cramped table and bar seating in this narrow venue but all appearances aside, the star is the ramen.  More specifically, Hide Chan offers a pork based broth, tonkotsu, which is richer and my personal favorite.  They also offer an addition I have never heard of before:  “mayu” or roasted garlic oil which is dark black almost like used motor oil in color and consistency.

Overall the ramen was delicious; above average but not spectacular.   The broth was rich and not oily, very balanced.  The mayu topping does add to the unique appearance of a black yet edible and tasty crude oil slick in your bowl but with a surprisingly mild flavor of roasted garlic.  The mayu itself has the mouthfeel of very fine powder suspended in oil with a pleasant roasted aroma; a fine addition to any hearty ramen broth.  The noodles were cooked to perfection however I prefer the springy wavy noodle rather than the straight.  The pork charsui was a letdown however as you only get 2 thin slices of swirled pork.  As was the size of the entire dish, the portion of noodles and soup was unsatisfying.  Now if you doubled the quantities, you would have a fine contender for a top bowl of ramen.

Hakata Kuro Ramen with mayu, a solid bowl of ramen with perfect pork broth and al dente noodles.
Sapporo on tap (sugoi!)

The pork topping is sparse and overall portions small for what you pay.
The pork buns, DO NOT order.

When the craving for ramen rears its head, make sure you have a ramenya like Hide Chan nearby.

– Chief Ramen Officer

Boston 2010

Boston mega-review

Annas Taqueria

Sound Bites

Barking Crab

Cafe Luna

Ah Boston, the big city with a plethora of bars but no food, or shall I say no food when you need it, say midnight.  Doesn’t late night drinking and late night binging go hand-in-hand?

Anyhow, there are gems in bean town; the easiest to find and most consistent being Anna’s Taqueria.  It is the burrito from this simple mexican shop that I miss the most every time I leave Boston.  Cheap, quick, and TASTY.  Not secret-guilty-pleasure-taco-bell tasty but mexi-cali tasty.  Yes, Anna’s delivers with authentic taste without any commercial compromise.  The chicken and al pastor burrito are rockin’ as well as the guac’.  They even fearlessly offer lengua as a filling.  Filling food that costs just pesos.  Anna, te amo.

Chips and guacamole

Grilled chicken taco (left) and taco al pastor (right)

A restaurant with a line out the door is one of two things:  over-hyped or truly worth it.  If the restaurant is a breakfast/brunch shop, then it is definitely the latter.  Sound bites patrons were anxiously waiting to get in the door because of hunger and also because of the chilly morning.  Still it did not deter us nor those standing in line.  I have to give Sound Bites a second chance and try them again.  It has a great vibe, efficient albeit rushed staff, and great food.  It is this last point I am confident is true even though my breakfast that morning was below average.  On a recommendation by corned beef connoisseur Kevin, I ordered the poached eggs over corned beef and toast.  Unfortunately, it tasted like camp fire corned beef out of can.  The food did not reflect the quality of everything else in the restaurant and they must have ran out of the good stuff.  Someone in the kitchen made the bonehead decision to substitute with the easily identifiable canned counterfeit.  Insider tip:  if you find yourself waiting in line in the cold, go inside and grab a hot drink from the self service beverage station to help your wait in the cold line.

Tasty challah french toast

Close-up of faux corned beef hash at Sound Bites

The lowly crab dwells on the dark seafloor and looks rather dangerous to eat.  The Barking Crab restaurant is also difficult to find and from the outside looks like a rundown shack.  However, the inside is warm and has a fun sea shanty-like decor reminiscent of a Spongebob episode.  Seafood allergists beware, the scent of shellfish hangs heavy in the air when you enter.  We ordered fried calamari, steamed mussels and the 4lb. mixed crab bowl.  No small amount even for 4 hungry eaters.  Overall the crab was good but not great, with the standout being the snow crab.  We were in New England; we should have ordered lobster.  What were we thinking?

Like celebrating Christmas in a tug boat

Mixed crab platter looks like a crab when served

Have a brunch date?  Then bring your gal-pal to Cafe Luna.  The food will unfortunately not impress but this breakfast/lunch spot is quaint and nicely decorated.  The space is small which will force a more personable expereince for you and said date, for better or worse.  Unbeknownst to me, my buddy brought me here on a man-date but I did not protest.  Eatclub requires, at times, sacrifice.  I ordered an omelette and blueberry pancakes, standard stuff but I was disappointed.  The omelette order was wrong and the pancakes were merely plain pancakes with a blueberry topping.  I didn’t have the heart to complain as I was starving and did not want to see food go wasted, even if it’s overly salty.  My friend ordered eggs benedict with corned beef which looked and tasted very delicious.  Clearly I ordered wrong but I was having bad luck with Boston corned beef and but a breakfast joint with bad pancakes?  omelettes?  The only way I would come back would be if it was another date, just not a man-date.

Brunch at Cafe Luna

At least Boston has good beer…

La Cumbre Taqueria – 09.04.2009

515 Valencia St
(between 16th St & 17th St)
San Francisco, CA

The best place to go for real Mexi-Cali food is, you guessed it, Cali.  SF has too many taco joints to name and this review is not to find the best one.  La Cumbre, however, does put up a good fight and is a perfect example of what a mexican restaurnt should be:  tasty, fresh, and cheap!

The menu is huge and the combinations endless.  Combine that with low prices and you will want to order everything twice.  Taking much thought and restraint, I decided to order just 2 tacos:  pollo asada (grilled chicken) and al pastor(grilled marinated pork).  After you order, the assembly line starts and fresh grilled meat is pulled out of a tray and chopped up before your eyes and then toppings are added to your liking.  Stop by the surprisingly ample salsa bar for peppers and sauces and chow down.

I could tell right away these tacos were the real deal from the refried beans alone.  The grilled pork and chicken were juicy and tender.  The pastor was flavorful but not too salty or overpowering with a touch of sweetness.  For less than $6, you get 2 tacos with plenty of meat and all the fixin’s.

Tacos al pastor y pollo asada ($2.85 each)

South of the border vibe

Super Taco – 04.29.09

Super Taco
truck parked on 96th and Broadway
(6pm-late night)

Possible Swine flu pandemic grips nation with fingers pointed at Mexico and New York City with the most reported cases in US.  I know, let’s go to the city to grab some real Mexican food prepared by Mexicans.  Great idea!  Only 2 brave souls accepted this grave task, bravely putting their lives in danger by dutifully heeding Eatclub’s call to eat authentic.  We survived but caught an incurable infection:  Mexican food fever!

Fast and friendly staff

Super Taco is street food at its most evolved.  It is indeed a truck parked on a corner with a full kitchen busily preparing fresh food as it is ordered.  There is an expansive menu (though some knowledge of Mexican is required), a makeshift salsa bar with lime wedges, and even a counter for eating standing up.  Somehow, this truck even manages to have a phone number for takeout orders.  For cart comparison’s sake, 53rd & 6th Halal cart makes Super Taco look like white table cloth fine dining.

Three carnitas tacos

Steak, chicken, and al pastor tacos

We ate tacos.  Real tacos at $2 each:  chicken, carnitas, al pastor, and steak.  You get a double corn tortilla piled with your meat of choice, and a mountain of onions and cilantro.  Slather on some red and green salsa, squeeze the lime wedge and savor this super taco.  The fillings were all fresh but some definitely stood out.  Carnitas were very cartilage-y and were an acquired taste.  I am sure its authentic but it wasn’t for us.  The steak was just average tasting but you can’t expect quality beef from a truck.  The chicken was outstanding, clear tasting flavor and juicy enough to quench your thirst after crawling out of the Baja desert.  Al pastor was the meatier and heavier alternative but just as good.  Perfectly cooked marinated pork strips cooked up with a touch of pineapple.  Drool.  This truck is the real deal.

The TACOS!  @$2 a piece, why not try them all, especially the chicken and al pastor.
Large menu and open late.  You can even call ahead for pickup.

Carnitas was like eating a taco filled with gristle.

You may not get swine flu from the food but perhaps from the cook.


For dessert, we stopped by Koronets near Columbia University for their infamous pizza slice.  It was big.  Quarter shown for reference.

1 large cheese slice for $3.50