Tag Archives: Happy Hour

{ Tapas y Patatas – Barcelona, Spain Pt. I }

Wandering the streets of Barcelona is absolutely amazing. You can stroll up and down the ever-crowded Las Ramblas (guarding your side bag for dear life, of course), or you can people watch in the artsy Barri Gotic, as you hop from café to café. Ariana and I enjoyed the street life so much that we ended up postponing the bulk of our “touristy” sightseeing for the last day. This became a problem when we realized that there were only 30 days in June though. You see, we had planned our time in Barcelona with the assumption that there were 31 days in the month. Needless to say, we never saw Parc Guell, or the magic fountain, or Casa Mila. We did, however, get to try some absolutely amazing restaurants:

Taller de Tapas (http://www.tallerdetapas.com/)

Placa de Sant Josep Oriol, 9 
08002 Barcelona
{In Barri Gotic} 
 

Grilled Prawns on Skewer with Garlic Mayonnaise

Assorted Tapas on the Bar

Chorizos

Red Sangria

Slow Roasted Pryenees Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme

Pan con Tomate

Taller de Tapas is a small plate restaurant with a pronounced Argentinian influence, and after trying just a few of their dishes I have concluded that although the Spanish may have invented the tapas concept, the Argentinians have perfected it! Ariana and I got started with a pitcher of Red Sangria, which was undeniably the best that I have ever tried. Finally, a sangria that tasted like alcohol and not straight fruit juice! We had a buzz after just one glass. Next they brought out the signature Spanish tapa, Pan con Tomate. This is made by rubbing a ripened tomato on baguette and then drizzling a little but of olive oil and kosher salt. The Chorizos were nice and spicy, and the left over oil was great for dipping our bread in. But the highlight of the meal was really the Pyrenees Lamb with Rosemary and Thyme. The meat was fall off the bone and melt in your mouth tender, and the seasoning was spot on. Ariana orders lamb just about everywhere we go, and even she said this was the best lamb that she has ever had. It was served with a couple of crunchy roasted potatoes and some green chilies…perfection, a must try!

Siete Portes (http://www.7portes.com/)

Passeig d’Isabel II, 14
o8003 Barcelona, Spain
{Subway: Barceloneta Stop}
 

"Rich Man's Paella"

Mussels Marinera

Red Sangria

"Rich Man's Paella"

When I googled the “best Paella in Barcelona,” Siete Portes returned the most hits. I was still a little leery after the whole Les Coloniales incident in Seville though, so I stopped to poll a few people on the streets (I take my food seriously). Everyone agreed that Siete Portes’ Rich Man’s Paella was in fact the best–one man even said that the President frequents the restaurant for it–and so Ariana and I headed there for a seafood feast. It’s a good thing that we got there early because we didn’t have a reservation and we got the last table (the only table) without a reserved sign on it. We got our usual pitcher of Sangria, which was good (but not nearly as delicious or strong as Taller de Tapas) and I had an order of Mussels Marinera as an appetizer. The mussels were very fresh and meaty and the sauce had great flavor, although it was a little sweet. Then the paella came out. The server presents the dish to the table in the large cast iron pan and then he serves each individual person their plate. Ariana and I got the Rich Man’s Paella, which means that everything is cleaned and de-boned so you don’t have to get messy while you eat. It’s so nice to have someone do all the work for you! The paella had just about everything but the kitchen sink in it. There was chicken, pork, chorizo, prawns, calamari, mussels, cuttlefish, and small shrimp all mixed into a tomato and saffron flavored rice. We cleaned every scrap of food off of our plates, and then walked back home in the silence of our food-coma.

Bo de B

At the Corner of Fusteria 14 and Merce 35
{right by the post office, Subway: Barceloneta Stop}

 My friends Sam and Carly both studied abroad in Barcelona and told us that we had to check out the Bo de B Sandwich shop while we were there. We had a hard time finding the little place, until we noticed a long line of people wrapped around a building corner. Sure enough, they were waiting for their custom crafted sandwiches at Bo de B. The sandwiches take quite some time to make because the meat (choice of chicken, steak, or seasoned tofu) is cooked to order. Once the meat is ready, you then choose from an exhaustive selection of sauces and toppings to create your own unique sandwich, which will only set you back about 3 euro (a steal as far as Europe is concerned!). I made a Greek styled sandwich (first one pictured) with chicken, feta cheese, cucumber, tomato, red onion, hot sauce, and tzatziki. Ariana’s sandwich (second one pictured) had chicken, avocado, tomato, mayo, and italian dressing. The best part of the sandwich was definitely the crusty bread though. I normally eat my sandwiches open-face to save myself the carbs, but I made an exception for this delicious roll. Just make sure that you have a good supply of napkins on hand because they are not shy with the sauces! I thought this was a fabulous and filling lunch at a budget price point. Thanks Carly and Sam!

Rosa Negra (http://www.rosanegrabcn.com/rn/es/index.html)

Via Laietana, 46
Barcelona, Spain
 
 
 
Rosa Negra is a very modern and trendy Mexican restaurant located on one of the side streets off of Las Ramblas. Ariana and I ate here for our very first meal in Barcelona, again by the suggestion of Carly and Sam. We didn’t feel like playing the restaurant game so we just played it safe and stuck to the list of recommendations. Our flight got in at a weird time and happened to be adjusting to a time change still, so we were eating at the early hour 5 O’Clock, but the place was packed because it was Happy Hour for everyone else! Rosa Negra is definitely a popular happy hour spot with 3.50 euro margaritas and mojitos. The only thing that I didn’t like was that the margaritas had to be the frozen kind in order to be sold at the happy hour price, and so it was a lot more sugar than alcohol. I bit the bullet and paid the price to have my margarita on the rocks, and it was good and strong. For dinner we ordered the Chicken Flautas with sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and salsa verde. They were pretty average, but the salsa had a nice flavor. We also split an order of the Chicken Nachos with refried beans, jalapenos, sour cream, and guacamole. The cheese was a weird white pump cheese that I have never seen before and it freaked me out a little, but we was starving and so we ate them all. The best thing we had was the Chicken Fajita Salad with sliced avocado, tomato, and balsamic dressing. The salad was really beautiful with all the fresh produce and the dressing was a nice dijon balsamic with lots of garlic flavor. I probably wouldn’t recommend Rosa Negra for food, but the place has a very cool interior design and the scene at Happy Hour is a good time, if frozen margaritas are your thing!
 

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George’s in Sunset ****

Angus Center Cut Beef Filet “Au Poivre” with Truffle Mashed Potatoes and French Green Beans

305.284.9989
1549 Sunset Dr
Miami, Fl 33143

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I recently wrote a rave review on George’s restaurant located in the Grove, making specific mention that his location in Sunset did not have the same quality of service. However, I feel that I need to revise this criticism after most my recent experience there for my graduation dinner. The place was obviously packed for graduation weekend (although it is packed almost every night of the week), and I was struggling to find the hostess amidst the large crowd waiting outside—as they don’t take reservations for parties less than 8 persons…a.k.a get there early! Suddenly, a rather stout bald man approaches me and assures me (in a charming French accent) that he will personally see to it that my family is seated within 15 minutes. Pleased to meet you, George!

We headed to the bar, grabbed a round of cocktails, and sure enough he had us a table outside before we finished the drinks. This kind of attentive personal service is seriously lacking in Miami, so to be taken care of and treated in this way is infrequent and enjoyable. We were then each brought a complimentary glass of champagne before receiving our menus. Again, a nice personal touch that scores major brownie points with customers. Who doesn’t love getting free stuff? Especially, free alcohol!!

To start, I ordered the Steamed Mussels with shallots and garlic in white wine sauce. This is the must try menu item. They come in a large le crusset pot, piping hot, with a decadent side of Truffle French Fries. I would estimate that about 50% of the tables you see will have an order of these mussels on them, because everyone loves them. The mussels themselves are large and plump and the sauce is just outrageously good and flavorful.

Mussels with Shallots and Garlic in a White Wine Sauce with Truffle Fries

Next, I got an order of the French Onion Soup, which is prepared in the traditional way and served in a crock with baked gruyere and provolone cheeses atop sliced French baguette. Although it is tasty, onion soup is onion soup in my opinion, and I would recommend trying some of the more unique menu items.

French Onion Soup with Melted Gruyere and Provolone Cheeses

For my “celebration entrée,” I thought that a nice steak was the most appropriate! I ordered the Angus Center Cut Beef Filet “Au Poivre” with Truffle Mashed Potatoes and French Green Beans (photographed at top). The steak was incredibly lean and buttery…each bite just melted in my mouth. And the sauce, although rich, was delicious. The cognac added a nice sweetness to the dish complimenting the pungent peppercorn crust on the steak. I was a little disappointed with the mashed potatoes however, which lacked in truffle flavor. I would get the potatoes au gratin instead next time.

For dessert, we ordered the Raspberry Custard Tart with homemade Raspberry Sorbet. I really enjoyed the dessert, although my family thought the sorbet was a little too tart and sour. Guess it is a sheer matter of preference.

Raspberry Custard Tart with homemade Raspberry Sorbet

Overall, I believe that George’s in the Grove is a more appropriate place for a dinner date and family dinner because it is a lot less noisey. But I take back my former harsh criticisms on Georges in Sunset, and recommend it as a great place for celebration dinners and drinks. The bar scene is much larger at the Sunset location, and on Wednesday nights you can watch the local Miami divorcee scene get smashed and mingle. Ohhh, and Wednesday night is ladies night, which means free champagne for women all night long!!

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Mercadito ***

Tacos Pescados, which were tilapia, chile poblano, and tomatillo-garlic mojo

786.369.0430
3252 NE 1st Ave
Miami, Fl 33137

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My roommate, Ariana, and I are always looking to get a deal—we call it finagling. We finagle our way into clubs and shows without paying, we finagle lower prices at clothing stores, and we love to finagle free food (this may be the reason that Whole Foods in Sunset stopped offering samples, our apologies!). However, when we can’t finagle food for free, we at least try to get it at a better price. So this week Ariana spent some time researching (a.k.a googling) weeknight food specials at local restaurants. She knew he found a winner when she came across Mercadito’s Taco Tuesdays! Mercadito is a very popular and trendy restaurant located in midtown, directly next to Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. They are known for their wide variety and changing seasonal menu of tacos, guacamoles, and salsas. The prices are fairly steep for Mexican fair—with pre-fix dinner costing $35 per person and lunch tacos costing 3 for $10.50—but on Tuesday nights you can get tacos for just $2.50 (minimum 2) and margaritas for $5. This was in our budget and so we tried it out for our first time this past Tuesday.

We started off with an order of Traditional Margaritas and an Auntie Ox, which is green tea infused vodka, passion fruit, agave, orange, and guajillo. The margaritas were stronger when ordered from the table than the bar, and Ariana claimed that the Auntie Ox was the best drink that she has ever tried yet.

Mercadito Traditional Margarita

Auntie Ox

Next we ordered a Traditional Guacamole, made with avocado, garlic, key lime, cilantro, and tomatillo pico de gallo and a Habanero Salsa made with grilled tomato, garlic, chile habanero, and lemon. The guacamole was very good and a good portion, but I thought that it was kind of ridiculous to have to pay $3 per little dish of salsa. We went through two dishes among three people, and we didn’t even get to use it on our tacos. Despite our waiter’s warning about the heat of the habanero salsa (which does sounds intimidating), we all agreed that the salsa was not spicy! It had a great flavor, but I still needed tobasco sauce to get my spice.

Traditional Guacamole made with avocado, garlic, key lime, cilantro, and tomatillo pico de gallo

Habanero Salsa made with grilled tomato, garlic, chile habanero, and lemon

As far as tacos go, we pretty much ordered every kind on the menu. First we got the Chicken Tacos, with grilled chicken, cactus salad, tomatillo salsa, and avocado. This was my favorite taco because I felt like it had the most toppings and flavor. Each bite was juicy and flavorful.

Chicken Tacos, with grilled chicken, cactus salad, tomatillo salsa, and avocado

Next were the Carnitas Tacos, with Michoacan style braised pork, chile de arbol coleslaw, and toasted peanuts. The flavor was almost Asian inspired on this taco, with the crushed peanuts reminding me of pad thai. The pulled pork was very tender and flavorful but the coleslaw was lacking.

Carnitas Tacos, with Michoacan style braised pork, chile de arbol coleslaw, and toasted peanuts

Then came the Tacos al Pastor, with chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, and chile de arbol salsa. There weren’t a lot of components to this taco but it was yummy in its simplicity. The spice of the salsa was a nice contrast with the pineapple and the meat was very good.

Tacos al Pastor, with chile ancho rubbed pork, grilled pineapple, and chile de arbol salsa

As I loosened up my belt a notch, the next order of tacos were brought to the table—Carne Tacos, with skirt steak, grilled pear, shaved brussel sprouts, chile de arbol vinaigrette, and crispy leeks. I was the most excited for this particular taco because of how many components the menu described, but I found it very disappointing, because I felt like a lot of those items were missing or undetectable when served.

Carne Tacos, with skirt steak, grilled pear, shaved brussel sprouts, chile de arbol vinaigrette, and crispy leeks

And last but not least, we got an order of the Tacos Pescados, which were tilapia, chile poblano, and tomatillo-garlic mojo. I am not that big into fish tacos, but these were tasty…still not my thing though (pictured at top).

Overall, I thought that the portions were very small and that although the tacos were good, they were not mind blowing or sensational. I would have been just as happy (and a little better off financially) if I had just eaten a burrito from Chipotle. Also had the prices not been happy hour specials, I would have been dumbfounded when the bill arrived, because even with the happy hour menu, we ended up paying $35 per person! I think that the food is good and that the atmosphere is very pleasant, but I do not think it deserves the price it commands. I would definitely suggest trying the Mercadito experience, but only on a Taco Tuesday night.

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Pazza Notte **

Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare – shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta

212.765.6288
1375 6th Ave
New York, NY

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After lunch at Brasserie 360, Jen and I continued to shop for a few more hours until our tipsy bubbly feeling turned into a headache/hangover. We had one of two options: (1) find advil and get on the next train home, or (2) keep on drinking. Obviously, being 21-year-olds we chose the latter option and posted up at the bar at Rue 57. I wanted a fun drink, but nothing on the drink menu was enticing me so I asked the bar tender to make me her specialty. She whipped up one of the greatest and freshest Pims Cups that I have ever tasted. The citrus from the fruit and the earthiness of the herbs was incredible. I would go back to Rue 57 for this drink alone. After 3 of these, Jen and I were ready to eat….again! Alcohol is just a vicious cycle of eating and drinking.

Pims Cup at Rue 57

 

So we walked, or stumbled shall I say, out of Rue 57 until we came across an Italian restaurant called Pazza Notte. To start, we ordered an appetizer of Fried Calamari with Marinara Sauce. It was delicious, as you expect any fried food to be! The marinara sauce was exceptionally good and a little spicy! They also brought out another sauce that was cream or mayo-based, which had a nice spice to it as well. We also ordered a side of Truffle Herb Parmesan Fries, which were out of this world good! They were served with ketchup and another mayo-based Cajun flavored dipping sauce.

Fried Calamari

Truffle Fries

For my main dish, I ordered the Risotto Di Funghi, which is wild mushroom risotto with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese. This dish is noted as the “owner’s favorite” and it sounds divine, but I was very disappointed. I found that the risotto was too mushy and entirely too oily. It actually made my mouth feel dirty after the first bite, and so I sent it back and continued snacking on the truffle fries instead!

Jennifer ordered her usual Linguini Al Frutti Di Mare, which is shrimp, mussels, calamari, scallops, and clams in a white sauce served over freshly-made pasta (photographed at top). She thought it was amazing and had no complaints, although I did not try the dish myself.

The one redeeming factor for Pazza Notte was the drink special—two for one martinis! Jen and I chose to sip on the Blood Orange Maritinis for the remainder of the evening and they were delicious! However, I am a foodie and not an alcoholic, so I probably won’t be going back to Pazza Notte anytime soon. I can get drinks at a bar—I expect good food at a restaurant.

2 for 1 Blood Orange Martinis

 

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