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Showing posts from 2009

Airport Cuisine

Andale Mexican Restaurant
San Francisco International Airport, California
Terminal 3

As we are in the midst of the Holiday season and my travels back and forth from school to vacation and home, I have become extremely airport savvy. I know how to find a good wireless signal, which bathrooms will be the least crowded, how to get through airport security in record time etc. The one thing that I am still working on mastering is airport dining. The gluten-free options are scarce and there tends to be a lack of healthfulness in airport cuisine. Until now.

After a brief trip to San Francisco to see The Bob Hill Band return home and play an extraordinary show at Slim's, I was en route to New York and hungry in the airport. The food court was bustling with Christmas Eve-day travelers, but I managed to make my way in and secure a spot in line for Andale Mexican Restaurant. I ordered the "Tacos Mexicanos" -- 3 soft corn tortillas with carneasada (grilled beef), chopped onion, c…

"Special" ?

Lime
Winter Park, CO

After a long day of skiing in Winter Park, Colorado, I was craving tacos. There is nothing better than noshing on some salty meat-filled tacos as an apres-ski snack. Walking into Lime with a group of friends, we found out that Tuesday was their taco special! Tacos were $2 for shredded chicken, shredded beef, and ground beef and $3 for shrimp and ahi tuna. I was so excited! I ordered one of each (minus the ground beef). After waiting for approximately 25 minutes in a near-empty restaurant my tacos came. The "corn tortillas" were hard corn taco shells. Off to a bad start in my book. (And the funny thing is that the restaurant does have soft corn tortillas.) I was not crazy about the fillings, there wasn't much flavor to any of the tacos -- I could barely distinguish the differences. And they were chock full of cut up romaine lettuce, which due to lack of proper wash and dry procedure made the taco shells soggy. I was thoroughly unsatisfied.

De…

Back from a Hiatus

Barrio Cafe2814 N. 16th Street Phoenix, AZ
I have been sans taco for weeks. Evanston is not home to many taco-serving venues and I have not yet ventured beyond the town's limits.
However, as Thanksgiving rolled around, I traveled to Phoenix, AZ to celebrate the holiday with my family. Knowing that Arizona is closer to Mexico than Illinois, I expected to find some good food in the Southwest.
For dinner we headed to Barrio Cafe, a small restaurant located in a strip mall in Phoenix. The walls were adorned with modern portraits by, what I assume to be, a local artist. The feeling was authentic and the statement "Please conserve water, drink tequila" that was added to each page of the menu made me confident that the night would bring good fun and good food.
We split the QuesadilladeCamaronBorracho (drunken shrimp) as an appetizer. The 4 small corn tortilla were topped with melted Oaxacan cheese and quesodecabra (goat cheese). The flavor of the shrimp, sauteed in tequila a…

Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!

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Lincoln Park Zoo
2001 N. Clark St
Chicago, IL



For weeks now I have been planning a Chicago Taco Adventure. Realizing that there are no good tacos in Evanston, I now must venture into parts of Chicago to get my taco fix.

This adventure is still in the planning stages, so I was very excited (and surprised) when I came across tacos at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

After observing polar bears, meerkats, penguins, flamingos, lions, leopards, and monkeys enjoy their dinner my stomach was growling for some food of my own. At first I was hesitant to go into the usually over-priced tourist trap food court, but the sign pointing the direction to the entrance was very enticing. It listed the cuisines available in the food court and immediately "Mexican" caught my eye. I rushed in and jumped in line to get my tacos.

I orderd the taco platter and asked for a combination between chicken and beef. They were very official in warming up the corn tortillas and crafting the taco so that the wetter ingr…

Down with the Chains!

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Chipotle
711 Church Street
Evanston, IL

I do not like Chipotle. I never have. And that was even before eating there. My biggest gripe with the Mexican-style chain restaurant is I believe it drove Burritoville, a NY-only more authentic version of Chipotle, out of business.

Despite my feelings against Chipotle, I let me friends Samantha and Lisa convince me to try it. They are Chipotle fanatics. They crave Chipotle the way I crave Mexican food -- always.

After a disappointing Northwestern University football game, I walked with Samantha and Lisa to Chipotle to see what all the hype was about. Carnitas have become a favorite taco flavor of mine throughout this journey, so I decided to continue the tradition and perhaps add another favorite carnitas taco joint to my list.

I have decided I need to take the "only hard corn tortilla shell" sign as a warning.

The shells were flavorless and even a little stale, the meat was over-spiced, the guacamole was tasteless--boring and flat, a…

Belated tacos

Frontera Fresco
Macy's Old Orchard, Skokie, IL

Hungry from a day of apartment furniture shopping, my dad and I stopped at Frontera Fresco for a quick bite. The tacos are new to the gourmet Mexican cafe's menu, but my confidence in founder Rick Bayless' restaurants left me assured that these tacos would be good tacos.
I ordered the chicken chorizo taco and the chipotle shrimp. The chorizo was more chili-like in consistency -- ground meat in a very smoky chipotle-esque sauce. Unlike my previous disappointment with chili tacos, this chicken chorizo was very tasty. The shrimp taco was lighter than the chorizo and the Frontera taco sauce, melted chihuahua cheese, lime, and avocado that accompanies each taco made this particular shrimp taco a summery delight. I questioned the freshness of the shrimp because it did taste more fishy than my previous shrimp experiences. However, with enough salsa the fishy taste blended in with all the others. My guess is for ease of preparatio…

Secret Taco Deli

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Tehuitzingo Deli & Grocery Inc.
695 10th Avenue
New York, NY

When meeting up with Michael Melamedoff, writer and director of "Weakness", there was no question that we would go for tacos. Michael suggested the "secret taco deli" on 10th Ave at 47th street and the mystery of the place enticed me.

Entering into Tehuitzingo I was confused. It looked just like a deli, no tacos around. But if you step beyond the front counter and refrigerators filled with Jarritos sodas, you find a little secret taco deli. At the back of the narrow room you approach a small window and place your order. The menu has many pork offerings along with your typical chicken, rice and beans, and steak tacos. They even have goat tacos! I followed my heart and ordered a carnitas taco and steak taco. In my taco adventures these have been the most rewarding. And in the spirit of trying something new, I took Michael's suggestion and ordered a chorizo con papas (sausage with potatoes) …

Me encanta Los Mets

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El VeranoTaqueriaCiti Field Flushing, NY
Since I started blogging many people have recommended a number of taco joints worthy of my review and many of these places are in Queens, NY. I (unfortunately) do not make it out to Queens very often, but Saturday night was special.
To honor the World Champion 1969 Mets, the 2009 Mets had a pre-game celebration at Citi Field (the new Shea Stadium). Being a life-long Mets fan I was extremely excited to have a look at the team from way back when, but also the real perk lay in Citi Field's new dining concourse. Hot dogs, pretzels, and cotton candy are still available at Citi Field, but you can also opt for Shake Shack, Blue Smoke, Box Frites, and many more higher-end options. My favorite: El VeranoTaqueria.
Eating tacos at a baseball game.
I was in heaven.


And they were good, too! Julia, my dad, and I went for the taco trio -- chicken mole pipian, chile-marinate skirt steak, and carnitas, while my friend, Ellen, kept it simple with two chick…

Partial Redemption

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The Original California Taqueria
187 Court Street
Brooklyn, NY

My Taco House experience left me very unsatisfied in the taco world, so the following day I was in search of redemption.

The outside of The Original California Taqueria was enticing, very authentic looking. I figured anything was better than the Taco House disaster.
I ordered a fish taco (my first ever!) with sauteed tilapia and a barbacoa taco (shredded beef). Hesitant to try the fish taco, the smell of freshly sauteed tilapia and the cilantro from the picodegallo drew me right in. I enjoyed the new taste of a fish taco, but this taco was missing something. Maybe cheese? Hot sauce? I couldn't quite pin-point it. However, I did come to the realization that adding tomatoes or picodegallo ups the mess factor ten-fold. Thank God for the two soft corn tortillas holding my taco together. If you want to add the tomatoes to your taco, eat in the restaurant so you are not eating on your lap with taco filling flying about aro…

Never Again

Taco House
178 Church St.
New York, NY

The Taco House is a fast-food-Chinese-restaurant-turned-taqueria. Not a good combination. I took a chance at The Taco House. Fooled by the letter posted in the storefront window by a customer praising the service and food quality, and compelled by an intense taco craving, I settled for a Taco House lunch on Wednesday. I wish I had curbed my craving one more day.

The chicken was dry and much too salty. The hard taco shell (I should have known that having only hard taco shells was a bad sign) was stale. The tomato and lettuce did not improve the situation; they made the stale shell into a soggy mess. I could continue describing the horrendous taco, however I will spare myself the memory. My hunger pushed me through to finish the taco, but not with pleasure.

And the guacamole was far from the proper shade of green.

DO NOT eat at Taco House. I do not know if they have any loyal customers, but I will not be one of them.

Perhaps the burritos are be…

Surprisingly Disappointed

Burrito Box
885 9th Avenue
New York, NY

I frequent Burrito Box on a regular basis. It's fast, (usually) delicious, and won't leave a huge dent in your wallet. I have been looking forward to my most recent trip to Burrito Box because I could finally blog about tacos I rely on. I walked by Burrito Box at 2pm (thinking I had missed the lunch crowd) and was shocked to see a line out the door. Unwilling to wait, I wandered around to build up my appetite and returned to a much calmer Burrito Box at 2:45. To veer away from my usual I ordered the chili con carne tacos, two tacos per order. Unfortunately, Burrito Box only has hard corn tortillas for their tacos (the only soft tortillas are flour). I've learned to live with the crispy taco shells because the filling is just so good, but yesterday was a different story.

I set myself up for a mediocre taco -- ordering something new, taking a risk, not sticking with what I know best. And I got what I deserved! The taco was....eh.…

Not Quite Tacos

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Yes, I am obsessed with tacos. But I also love all Mexican food, particularly because they seem to use the same ingredients rearranged in different ways to produce entirely different flavors. Also, the abundant use of corn (i.e. corn tortillas) makes it easy for me to eat gluten-free.

Empanada Mama
763 9th Avenue
New York, New York

As a counselor for Northwestern University's Project Wildcat, a new student pre-orientation outdoor program, I must be certified in CPR and First Aid. So yesterday, during my 45-minute lunch break from the Red Cross CPR/First Aid certification class, I wandered the somewhat familiar area of 9th Ave between 49th and 53rd looking for a good taco. Scared that the more I searched the less I would find, I ducked into Empanada Mama, a place packed with both businessmen and passersby. I grabbed to 'to-go' menu and although I did not find any tacos on the menu, I was delighted to find they had corn flour empanadas. Empanadas have always been "str…

Taco Trio

Boxcar Cantina44 Old Field Point Road Greenwich, CT
Saturday night in Larchmont, NY and I'm craving Mexican food.
My mom, sister and I decide to upgrade from our local taco stand to Boxcar Cantina, an authentic Northern New Mexican restaurant, in Greenwich (20 minutes outside Larchmont).
There were only two taco options on the menu, hard and soft tacos. To maintain continuity with my taco travels, I went for the soft tacos (requesting corn tortillas to keep it gluten-free). The soft taco plate came with three tacos--chicken, pork, and shrimp.
A quick side note -- a few weeks ago I never would have ordered such a dish. I did not like shrimp and pork gave me the heebeegeebees. However, in San Francisco, with Chase and his family, I discovered I indeed DO like shrimp and pork tacos can be quite enjoyable. So this soft taco plate fulfilled my love of tacos and my new food adventures.
Back to the tacos. I was skeptical at first, the tacos arrived with only one tortilla (as oppos…

San Francisco Tacos

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GordoTaqueria 1239 9th Ave 2252 Clement St
450 Geary Blvd
San Francisco, CA

While visiting my friend, Chase, in the Bay Area, I knew it was crucial to get a taste of West coast tacos. Unwilling to settle for just any taco, we crossed the Golden Gate bridge returning from our adventure in Marin and back in the city of San Francisco we ventured to GordoTaqueria, a little taco shop nestled on a block of banks, Japanese restaurants and, of course, Starbucks.
Walking into Gordo you get the feeling of authenticity. The smell of beans, cheese, and deliciously cooked meat is overwhelming and your mouth starts watering. We waited on line for about 5 minutes observing the behind counter expertise of crafting a burrito for the patrons in front of us. Then our turn! Chase was more adventurous than I and ordered (in Spanish) un taco decarnitas tacos (pulled pork). For consistency purposes I went with pollo (chicken).
Then I learned what keeps people coming back to Gordo. On top of two warmed c…

New Paltz Tacos

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Mexi-Cali Blue
87 Main Street, New Paltz, NY

This little taco shop located in the heart of New Paltz on Main Street grabbed my attention with the catchy slogan "Fresh Fast Food. No Freezers, No Fryers, No Cans".

I had to try it.

Stopping in for an afternoon snack, my sister ordered a grilled steak taco and my mom and I settled for the traditional chicken taco. I stood at the counter watching the son of the owner (who'd attended culinary school) expertly grill juicy strips of steak and chicken. Next to the meat the BLUE corn tortillas were warming (the nomenclature of Mexi-Cali Blue thus revealed). Beyond the delicious taco, the real treat of Mexi-Cali Blue is the assortment of hot sauces available. Opt for the traditional Frank's Red Hot hot sauce, or venture into the world of mango, apricot and lime, jalepeno and black pepper, or even blackberry infused hot sauce to spice things up a little.

Great people, great food. I will definitely return.


Gaby's Cafe, Cocina…

Discovery

While traveling with my mother and sister in New Paltz, New York, I came across multiple venues that sold tacos. As a lover of all Mexican cuisine and a self-appointed taco connoisseur I felt it was my obligation to try the tacos at these new-found places. While feasting upon a delicious soft-corn tortilla chicken taco I decided to devote one of my (many) blogs to TACOS. So, now this blog, conveniently re-named BLOCHO's TACOS, will conveniently review my journey from taco to taco.

Vamos!

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