Tag Archives: Mexican Food

{ El Vez } *****

 Chicken Chopped Salad1
 
121 S 13th Street (on corner of Sansom)
Philadelphia, PA 19107
215.928.9800

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No one enjoys Mexican food more than I do. I know it’s a bold statement, but I dare to make the claim and stand behind it. I could literally eat a taco for every meal, each day, for the rest of my entire life….and be perfectly happy about it!

Naturally, being a Philadelphia resident and a Mexican food slut, I was very anxious to try Stephen Starr’s trendy El Vez restaurant, located on the corner of 13th and Sansom. The décor is fitting for a place located in the heart of Philly’s Gay-borhood; the colors are loud, bright, and fun with retro wall hangings, and uniquely structured booths. The bar is certainly a scene, drawing quite a noteworthy crowd throughout the evening (Charles Barkley was there the last time that I visited!).

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I suggest that you grab a margarita at the bar before your meal but then head to a booth for your actual meal. Personally, I like to be out of the public eye when eating Mexican food, so I can get my grub on shamelessly. …Although sometimes I do get caught!

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#I’mNotPrettyWhenIEatMexican

My two favorite cocktails on the menu are: (1) Perfecto Margarita made with el jimador blanco, Cointreau, grand marnier, and fresh lime juice (on the rocks with salt, of course!)

Skinny Marg

(2) Guava Mojito made with Bacardi, Cruzan guava rum, pink guava puree, lime, and mint. El Vez is quite famous for their Blood Orange Margarita, but I not a fan of frozen margaritas, and it cannot be served on the rocks so I have yet to try it for myself (Yelpers rave about it though!).

Guava Mojito 

I have also tried the Pina Especiada with jalapeno-infused tequila and pineapple puree, as well as the Granada Margarita, which is their version of a pomegranate margarita. The pineapple one was too acidic and the pomegranate was very generic.

Pomegranate Marg

As far as food orders go, you MUST try the Taco Tasting Platter if you want to experience a variety of flavors in one convenient and satisfying plate ($25).

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It comes with an assortment of 5 soft-shell tacos, including: seabass, beef, chicken tinga, carnitas pork, and mahi mahi. The Mahi tacos are my absolute favorite and I usually ask for two of those, in place of the one seabass taco. The Mahi fish taco is life-changing, I kid you not!

Carnita Pork Steak Spicy Chicken

I also like their guacamole, which is an enormous portion to share for a table of 3-4 people. The Bazooka Limon with goat cheese, pistachio, chile flakes, and roasted tomatoes was recommended by my server on my first visit to El Vez, and it has remained my favorite. The creamy goat cheese offsets the acid of the roasted tomatoes and the pistachios add a lovely crunchy texture to the otherwise smooth Guacamole.

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Next on my list of suggestions are the Macho Nachos with shredded steak, black beans, smoked chili salsa, sour cream, white cheddar cheese, and monterey jack. These can be ordered in a half portion for just $6!!! It is a steal because the portion is still massive. If you are dining on a budget, this is the best bang for your buck!

Macho Nacho Upclose

If your looking to keep your figure, try the Mexican Chopped Salad with Blackened Chicken, which combines romaine, watercress, pumpkin seeds, tomatoes, chayote, corn, and black beans with queso fresco, crispy tortillas, and both chipotle ranch and cumin-lime vinaigrette. It looks pretty straightforward when it arrives at the table, but the layers of flavor are complex and delicious. I like to switch between the two dressings with each forkful!

Chicken Salad

Lastly, I recommend the Creamy Poblano Corn Rice as a side dish. It is similar to a rich and creamy risotto, and it packs a tiny bit of heat. Ultra decadent, but delicious.

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This is a great place to celebrate a birthday, or go in a large group because the atmosphere is fun and loud. There is also a great little photo booth near the stairs to bring home memories of your experience!

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Filed under Brunch, Buck's County, Cocktails, Dessert, Gluten Free, Lunch Spots, Mexican Restaurants, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Restaurants, Take-Out

{ Yerba Buena: Savory Brunch } *****


Huevos Rancheros
 
212.529.2919
23 Avenue A
New York, NY
{ Lower East Side  – between Perry and Greenwich Ave)

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Brunch is a time-honored tradition in Manhattan. And I must admit–with slight guilt–that it is also one of my favorite meals to partake in when I visit the city. My girlfriends and I usually put a “brunch plan” in place at the pre-game Saturday night, and then on Sunday morning the first person to arrive at the destination watches as the rest of the group arrives in increments, dressed like refugees from the night before. Might I suggest that you wear your over-sized sunglasses and take your Advil though, because brunch is becoming so popular amongst us yuppies, that you may find yourself waiting in line on a sidewalk for upwards of an hour before being seated (damn you, Il Bastardo...).

Now there are two different approaches that one can take when choosing a brunch spot: the first is a bottomless boozey brunch centered around socializing and possibly even dancing on table tops, the second is a food-centric brunch where the objective is obtaining a delicious and filling meal that combines the best elements of breakfast and lunch. As a foodie, I am partial to the latter and Yerba Buena (YB) is one of my favorite places to enjoy a savory (and usually spicy!) mid-day meal. If the previous night was well-oiled then a mimosa or bloody Maria is necessary, and YB does offer an unlimited cocktail cocktail hour for just $15. I am not a huge fan of their Sangria, but I do LOVE the Poquito Picante cocktail made with bulldog gin, jalapeno-infused cointreau, cilantro, cucumber, and lemon juice ($12). It is refreshing, spicy, and very unique to YB (just make sure to pull the floating red pepper out before the drink gets too spicy!!).

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Things you should definitely order include:

1. The homemade Chips and Guacamole seasoned with Chipotle and Queso Fresco ($10), It is a great starter for the table and guarantees that tense group moment when you get down to the last chip.

Guacamole and Chips

2. The Huevos Rancheros which is a thin crispy tortilla, topped with black beans, charred tomato, cascabel salsa, queso fresco, and two fried eggs ($13). Pop those yolks and soak up that runny goodness with each and every forkful. The dish is satisfying and a great value for the price. One of my all-time favorite takes on huevos rancheros.

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3. The Cachapa Eggs Benedict prepared with sweet corn cake, asadero cheese, poached eggs, serrano ham, and a Yerba Buena-aji amarillo hollandaise ($14). I am not normally a fan of eggs benedict, but this unique spin on the classic is exciting and delicious.

Cachapa Eggs Benedict

4. Finally, if you want something starchy, I recommend the Pan Dulce which combines sweet and savory flavors to create a hybrid dish between a French Croque Monsiur and French toast, with overriding South American flair. It is french brioche toast, with melted manchego cheese, dulce de leche sauce, and fresh bananas. Need I say more?

Pan Dulce

The service is also attentive and pleasant. More importantly, they aren’t rushing you from your table to turn it over for the next guest, despite the tiny dining room space!

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Filed under Bakery, Breakfast, Brunch, Cafe / Bistro, Cocktails, Lunch Spots, Mexican Restaurants, New York Restaurants

Lindo Michoacan ******

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702.735.6828
2655 East Dessert Inn Road
Las Vegas, Nevada

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It was night number two in Vegas and I wanted to get some quality Mexican food while I was somewhat close to the border. I didn’t want hoity toity, expensive Mexican food on the strip though. I wanted authentic Mexican at a reasonable price and so I turned to my dear friend, Google, to help me find a place. My search returned a restaurant by the name of Lindo Moachan and Yelp helped me to confirm that this was in fact a good, if not the best, spot to get Mexican “off the strip” in Vegas. One look at the menu and I was sold, so I hopped in a Taxi with my friend and the two of us headed out on a 15-20 minute drive outside of the city.

With only the first 5 minutes of the drive behind us, I started to get leery of our destination based on surrounding neighborhood, which was quickly turning into dingy strip malls and impoverished dessert homes. But then I noticed that all of the store signs were in Spanish and I knew we were getting the real deal—this was going to be a Mexican fiesta. Sure enough, we walk in and are just about the only gringos in the place. A mariachi band is playing to the left of the bar, a quincenera fills half of the dining room, and everyone is rolling their “r”s as they talk a very quick Spanish.

I take a seat, order a Javier Margarita on the rocks with salt and sit back in my booth with a smile. What more could one ask for?

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Margarita

Oh, yes…. homemade corn chips served with salsa and a spicy black bean dip! 100% complimentary and amazing, but I also had to order the Guacamole ($8.25), which was made to order at the table! My friend and I ate the entire serving, which included nearly 3 beautifully ripened avocados!

Chips and Salsa

Guacamole Bar

Round numero dos on margs.

For an entrée, we decided to share the Chicken Mole Poblano ($14.95) and 2 of the Carne Asada Tacos ($3.75 ea.). Mole, a traditional Mexican sauce made with dried chilies and a strong chocolate flavor, sauce can be a massive hit or miss depending where you get it. However, I was willing to take my chances at this place and I am so glad that I did, because it was the best mole that I have ever tasted. The chicken was pounded out nice and thin and the sauce, which is thick almost like a gravy, was ladled on top. The dish was accompanied by refried beans and seasoned yellow rice.

Chicken Mole Poblano

The carne asada taco was also incredible, with tender and well-seasoned beef in a soft flour tortilla—simple and good.

Carne Asado

It was time for round numero tres on margs and then it hit me that we were out in a random strip mall in the middle of the dessert and finding a cab probably wouldn’t be the easiest task in the world (especially after a third margarita!). And that is when Lindo Moichan solidified their number one ranking in my book. Upon asking my server about the likelihood of catching a cab back, he informed me that they offered a free driving service back to the strip for tourists that made the trek out to their restaurant!!! Seriously?!?!

Ohhhh and they let us take margs to go for the ride home! The driver wouldn’t even accept a tip from us when we got out of the shuttle car.

Amazing meal and service. I will definitely be back!

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Filed under Bars, Cocktails, Las Vegas Restaurants, Mexican Restaurants, Take-Out

{ 7 Layer Mexican Dip }

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I am notorious for double-dipping.

I like a high dip-to-chip ratio that can only be achieved with multiple dips, and so I double dip shamelessly for my own snacking pleasure. I just can’t help myself.

However, as you can imagine, my off-putting habit has caused a great deal of tension on several dates and social gatherings, and so I have decided to solve the problem once and for all by making individualized 7 layer Mexican dip cups.  This way I can go in for any number of dips without being ostracized. It’s a win-win for all persons involved.

I first made these appetizers for my Cinco de Mayo party last spring, but I have continued to make them on a regular basis since then. I find that they are a great item to have in the fridge for a quick meal (very high in protein with the beans and avocado) and they help enforce portion control when snacking late at night! They are also more visually appealing to serve at parties than your average 7 layer dip, which starts to look like shit after a few short minutes (especially if I’m there double dipping!!).

Its a fun, new spin on an old classic recipe but I highly recommend using my flavorful recipe for the black bean puree!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 cans refried black beans (I love the Trader Joes’ brand)
  • 1 Tbsp minced jalapeños
  • 1 Tbsp Taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso)
  • Dash of cumin, to taste
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa (I use Herdez or Spikes’)
  • Cubed avocado or guacamole
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Scallions, sliced for garnish

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{ Directions }

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the refried beans, minced jalapeño, salt, taco seasoning, and cumin. Blend until well combined, adding a few drops of water if necessary to thin out the mixture. You don’t want the mixture to be runny, but you want it soft enough to transfer onto the chip.

Spread the bean mixture in the bottom of the cup, about 1″ thick.

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Top the beans with a 1/4″ layer of sour cream, followed by a 1/2″ layer of salsa.

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Add the chopped avocado pieces, or a layer of guacamole and then sprinkle the shredded lettuce and cheese. Garnish with the black olives and some freshly chopped scallions, and watch them get gobbled up by your guests with out any double-dipping anxieties.

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{ Roasted Tomatillo Salsa Verde }

Turns out my spicy avocado dipping sauce was so good last night, that it was eaten at an unproportional rate with repect to my empanadas. I have left over empanadas, but no more sauce, providing me the perfect opportunity to experiement with cooking a new one. In keeping with the green theme, I decided to give roasted tomatillo salsa (aka salsa verde) a whirl tonight. I would love to say it is my own recipe, however, I stole it from Tyler Florence. And with this confession now out in the open, I say that it deserves two thumbs up and earns a respectiable place among my collection of favorite recipes.

This salsa combines the favors of roasted garlic, Spanish onions, sweet tomatillo tomatoes, spicy jalapeños, and lime juice to create a condiment suitable for topping any protein or corn product. You can put it over chicken, over pork, over seafood, over nachos, hell, you can even spread it on a piece of toast for a banging Mexican-inspired snack. It is flavorful, yet not overpowering, which makes it one of my new favorite condiments.

{ Ingredients }

  • 10 tomatillos, husked and rinsed
  • 1-2 jalapeños, stemmed
  • 1 spanish onion, quartered
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 1/2 lime, juiced

{ To Make the Salsa Verde } Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cut the tomatillos in half (NOTE: you should have already removed the husks and washed them). Place them cut side down on a baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves, jalapeños, and onion to the tray and roast for 12-15 minutes.

Transfer the roasted vegetables and the juices from the pan into a food processor. Add the cumin, salt, cilantro, and lime juice and pulse the mixture until well combined but still chunky.

Adjust the seasonings to desired taste. I always add a couple dashes of tobasco for more spice, as well as extra lime juice.

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Las Adelitas *****

 
(+420) 222-542-031
Amerika 8, Vinohrady
Prague, Czech. Republic

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Pop on your sombrero and pump out the tequila, because this place knows how to do Mexican grub RIGHT!

When I first arrived in Prague this summer, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. I figured that there was a famous bridge, an arc de triumph, and a few beautiful cathedrals (as this goes pretty much without saying in all European cities), but I certainly did not anticipate that I would find the most incredible and authentic Mexican food tucked away in landlocked, Central Europe.

And then I met Fernando.

Fernando is a food enthusiast from California, that decided to settle in Prague and open up Las Adelitas Cocina Mexicana with a few of his friends. My friends and I were lucky enough to meet this crew out at the bar on one of our first nights in Praha, and after a few good beers and some drunken Macarena dance moves, we got an invite to have dinner at the restaurant later in the week (while watching a couple of futbol games, of course!). Now I am always down for Mexican grub, but I was particularly excited for this meal, having consumed nothing but dumplings and goulash the previous five days.

The Macarena Dancing....I was not kidding!

When we arrived at the restaurant, there was a large table covered in assorted plates of food and I became truly beside myself. We were given a sampling of almost every style dish on the menu (my dream come true)!! We started with homemade tortilla chips accompanied by salsa verde and salsa Adelitas (red salsa), as well as Cilantro infused Guacamole. The chips were fresh and crunchy and the Guacamole was delicious, with large chunks of chopped tomato and onion.

Cue the first round of drinks–Margaritas!

Margaritas on the rocks and by the pitcher! Absolutely amazing with a spicy pepper rimmed glass!

Next we shared an order of Chicken Nachos with shredded tinge chicken, melted cheese, jalapeños, salsa verde, black beans, and sour cream. Finally, a nacho platter done right: no pump cheese in sight, a proper serving of chicken, and an even distribution of toppings. Nothing artificial on the plate. Ohh, and the homemade salsas, take this classic dish over the top!

Cue next round of drinks–Tequila shots!

Las Adelitas has a ridiculous selection of imported tequilas that will have you singing La Vida Loca as you stumble on out the door.

The next thing we ate were the Flautas–3 crispy corn tortillas stuffed with shredded chicken stew “Tinga,” topped with melted cheese, sour cream, pickled red onion, and fresh lettuce. The chicken was very tender and the juices in the stew helped to keep the meat moist, compared to regular shredded chicken. I had never had meat “Tinga-style” before Las Adelitas, but I quickly fell in love with the spicy and smokey chipotle flavors. This spice was subdued and nicely contrasted by the sour cream and cheese garnish!

After the flautas were polished off, we began noshing on an assortment of Quesadillas; (1) Quesadillas de Tinga with stewed shredded chicken, onion, and tomato, (2) Quesadillas de Cochinita with achiote marinated pork meat, and (3) Quesadillas Vegetarianas with season mushrooms. All of the quesadillas were made with homemade corn tortillas, topped with sour cream and cheese, and served with refried beans and rice!  I’d have to say that my favorite quesadilla was the pork-filled one, which was followed by the vegetarian option, as the mushrooms were a nice change-up of flavor.

The homemade tortillas were really what made this dish special though. It seems that the quality of Mexican food (especially in America) is going to shit anymore; pump cheese is taking over, meat quality is deteriorating so burritos can be made larger and for cheaper, salsas are jarred, and chips and tortillas are no longer a made on site. Las Adelitas has preserved the art of homemade corn tortillas, delivering a truly authentic cuisine to their diners.

Cue next round of Margaritas (and one foot on the floor at bedtime!)

Next we sampled some Crispy Corn Tostadas, one of which was topped with stewed chicken Tinga and the other which was topped with Achiote marinated pork meat. They were both garnished with pickled red onion, and accompanied by a serving of seasoned rice and refried beans. I am a sucker for all things pork, so I gravitated towards that one in terms of preference, but both were phenomenal. The meat was very, very tender and well-seasoned.

All in all, we had an incredible meal and an unforgettable night! If you are lucky enough to be in Prague, definitely go check out Las Adelitas (they even deliver!).

I would not hesitate to make the statement that Las Adelitas is hands down the BEST Mexican grub I have ever had the privilege of eating. Worth another trip to Prague!

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{ Cilantro Lime Fiesta Rice }

When I was younger, my sister and I would play the “soup” game, combining all sorts of random food items into one container and daring the other to eat the concoction. Too young to understand flavor combinations, these “soups” were usually volatile (although we learned that two delicious things consumed together don’t always equal one magical new thing….just like two beautiful people don’t always make a pretty baby). I haven’t given up on my childish games though, and today–at the age of 22– I revisited the game of “soup.”

The result? This cilantro lime fiesta rice.

It has all of my favorite ingredients, and now 22 years of flavor expertise. It is perfect for a Mexican side dish (fajitas perhaps), a burrito rice filling, and of course, a base for Ropa Vieja. Buen provecho!

{ Ingredients }

  • 3 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 vine tomato, small dice
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeño, small dice
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon fresh scallions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt to taste

{ To Make the Rice } Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. If the rice is dry add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some additional lime juice.

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