Category Archives: Mexican

REVIEW: Jibarra Modern Mexican & Tequila Lounge

Eating Mexican food at an old train depot may not sound like the thing to do when celebrating the birthday of one of your best friends. It doesn’t really sound like a good way to celebrate the birthday of someone you barely know. However, the birthday celebraish for one of my best friends that took place at a Mexican restaurant in an old train depot turned out to be a great night.

Jibarra, a modern Mexican and tequila lounge located in the historic Raleigh Depot, is best places that I’ve been since I moved to Raleigh since August ’11. It offers a variety of upscale Latin American food ranging a variety of guacamoles, chef specialties, tacos and salads for dinner as well as a top shelf cocktail and tequila menu.  They also offer separate brunch and lunch menus which are lower priced.

The restaurant moved from North Raleigh to downtown Raleigh in 2008 after several nightclubs closed down and has been a huge part in revitalizing the area since its move. It is joined in a great neighborhood food scene by places like 5 Star, Humble Pie, Poole’s Diner and The Pit.

We started out the night with a pitcher of chipotle-mango margaritas for the table. It was definitely a little emasculating to be drinking such a pink drink in public but my feeling went away after the first sip. It was overly sweet but the salt & chile piquin on the rim and chipotle in the drink balanced the drink perfectly. The price tag on the pitcher is steep but it was a high quality drink. We ended up getting two but you can’t put a price tag on memories or lack thereof.

We ordered an appetizer of queso dip and added chorizo to it. It is really hard to take a picture of cheese dip. I’ve tried to do it at various places and it never turns out looking as good as it tastes. This was a great cheese dip and the addition of the jalapenos and chorizo added a lot of outside flavor. Unlike many places, the chef or line cook made the right decision to strain most of the grease out of the chorizo before putting it in the cheese. This is a simple step that is often skipped at places and can ruin the dip. It was fairly inexpensive ($5) which kind of blew my mind because it is comparable to most other run-of-the-mill Mexican places.

Brock ordered the Camarón BLT tacos which have shrimp, avocado, crisp bacon, lettuce, tomato & “michelada” sauce. The michelada sauce is based on a common Mexican cocktail made with beer, lime juice, and assorted sauces, spices, and peppers. I believe that their sauce was just a michelada that was reduced and thickened into a sauce or just used the base ingredients of the drink to make a sauce. Brock was nice enough to offer me one of his three tacos and I can’t turn down a taco. It was good. The shrimp were pretty small for an $18 dish but the flavors made up for it plus I love bacon and shrimp together. The black beans and Mexican rice were hefty portions and made three tacos and a side a pretty filling meal.

I ordered the Birria de Borrego which is lamb osso bucco comes with yucca mashed potatoes covered in a birria sauce and tomatoes. The term, “birria”, comes from a region in Mexico and is a meat stew typically made with goat, lamb or mutton (or “borrego”). Jibarra’s version of the dish is not soupy at all in presentation although it may have been cooked that way. The osso bucco is served on top of the yucca mashed potatoes and then covered in the au jus or en zumo or in its own juice depending on what language you want to go with.

The term, “osso bucco”, is Italian meaning bone with a hole. I know…too many different languages right now. The hole should contain bone marrow which is considered a rich delicacy by some but probably disgusting to everyone else. Some people will try to pull it out with a knife but the easiest and probably least polite way is to slurp it out. The meat fell right off the bone as it should and had the perfect tenderness. The meat also had substantial flavor from the birria and that char that gives meat so much more flavor.

The birthday boy ordered the tacos de arrachera which consisted of grilled skirt steak, cilantro, onions, grilled scallions, chiles toreados  and guacatillo salsa. The picture doesn’t really help sell them. The steak just doesn’t look crispy enough to me. I did split one of the tacos with Brock and it was good. I would have gone with corn tortillas which you probably already know about me if you read any other post about tacos by me on this blog.

Editor’s Note: This could actually be tacos al pastor which commonly has grilled onions and is cooked differently then the steak. Actually…I am pretty sure that it is now. I marked through the crispy reference above because it makes more sense now. However, I still would serve them with corn tortillas.

Liz ordered a salad which doesn’t seem to be on their current menu and Jo Beth ordered the fish tacos which were delicious but pretty effin’ spicy. Neither of the pictures of their dishes turned out very well.

I’m currently waiting on another special occasion excuse to be able to go back down to Jibarra and try some more of the chef’s specialties. Would I order the tacos? Probably not. I feel like a local taqueria would come close to matching the taste for almost a fifth of the price. I want to try their herb-crusted chuletas (pork chops) or their pato (duck) en fig mole or just go one more round with the osso bucco. If I am going to be spending upwards of $20 on something, I will be getting something crazy delicious.

Don’t get me wrong though. Their tacos are great but my wallet and my conscience just won’t let me do it.

Jibarra on Urbanspoon

 

Review – Carrburritos in Carrboro

Preparing the food

The counter at Carrburritos

The fiesta is always happening at Carrburrito’s in Carrboro. Located on Rosemary Street, just a half a block from the “V” in the road where Rosemary Street intersects with Main Street.  Carrburrito’s is tucked in a corner of a two story building, sharing the space with a Buddhist Center.  When you enter the establishment, the place is alive with energy. Most nights, the place is packed with students from UNC, young families with their children and other folks, like myself and my husband who just like a really good burrito.

Inside Carrburritos

This is a popular destination for many folks in Carrboro

The ingredients are fresh, mainly local and everything is made in the restaurant, including the tortillas and all the fillings. Some of the postdocs at my workplace have told me time and again that I needed to try this place, so I finally ventured out this weekend to check it out.

The ordering happens much like when you go to Mo’s. You line up, cafeteria style and order. You have a choice of three basic burritos, the plain which comes with Black or pinto beans and cheese or rice; the regular, which comes with everything in the plain, but also adds lettuce and salsa fresca;  and the mejor, which comes with everything in the regular plus guacamole and sour cream.  There is a great variety of fillings to add to the basic burrito. You can choose either one of the vegetarian options, such as tomatoes and rice, or vegetales asados, which is grilled marinated seasonal vegetables, or the pure’de papas, which are mashed sweet potatoes with caramelized onions.  I had the sweet potato mixture and it was excellent. The sweetness of the sweet potatoes married well with the earthiness of the black beans and the spiciness of the salsa. The portions are generous, so you might even get away with eating just a half of a burrito, but I liked mine so much I ate the whole thing!

There are also a variety of meat fillings including pollo asado, which is marinated grilled chicken breast, carne desebrada, which is beef roasted in chipotle peppers, onions and garlic, or my husband’s choice, which is chorizo, a spicy pork sausage that Carrburritos makes in-house.

Burrito from Carrburritos

Typical Burrito from Carrburrito's. Bring your appetite!

The plates are also accompanied by homemade tortilla chips that are a mix of corn and flour tortillas fried to a crispy golden brown. You have your choice of six salsas to dip your chips in. My husband had the salsa fresca, which  included fresh tomato, jalapenos, cilantro and lemon. It was crisp and clean tasting and not too hot.  I had the salsa frutas, which had lots of fresh pineapple, along with chilies, cilantro and just a tiny bit of tomato. It was really delicious and had just a little bite to it from the chili peppers.  We also each had a margarita. It was OK, but nothing to write home about. It’s probably better to get another beverage here and save your money to drink at one of the many bars down the street in Chapel Hill.

Nachos at Carrburritos

The Nachos at Carrburritos

Carrburritos serves more than just burritos. You can also order tacos, quesadillas, tostados and nachos. Everything we saw coming out of the kitchen looked really appetizing. I know we will be coming back to try more dishes soon.

As I said before, you will get a great deal here. The mejor was just $7.95. No wonder there were so many families with children here. You could feed your family and keep within a tight budget.

Carrburritos is located at 711 West Rosemary Street in Carrboro. They are open from 11am to 10 pm Monday through Saturday and are closed on Sundays.

 Carrburritos on Urbanspoon

Angelina’s Kitchen – Greek Food in Pittsboro, NC

outside of Angelina's Kitchen

Angelina's Kitchen in Pittsboro

 *Update on Angelina’s Kitchen: They are now open on Saturdays from 11am – 4pm and on Thursdays & Fridays until 8pm. All other hours are the same as before.

Pittsboro is a little town just west of Apex and south of Chapel Hill that is attracting lots of creative people, including some really creative chefs. One of the more recent additions to the area is Angelina’s Kitchen.  Angelina Koulizakis-Battiste believes in using local produce and that is easily accomplished in Chatham County, which has a plethora of small, organic, sustainable farms. Angelina’s Kitchen serves Greek food and is just starting to also offer some Mexican dishes.

Angelina uses ingredients that are in season, so the menu changes accordingly.  This is the way people eat in Europe – using food from local sources, everything is fresh and wholesome. Much like her friend and fellow chef, Donna Bianco, Angelina is a good friend to many of the area farmers. Chatham County is mainly rural and is full of smaller, organic farmers, so most of the ingredients Angelina needs are available within a very short drive.

ordering at Angelinas Kitchen

Friendly staff will greet you at the counter at Angelina's Kitchen

When you come to Angelina’s you will be greeted by a smile and will immediately feel the warmth of the people who work here.  Don’t expect a fancy atmosphere. There are not cloth tables and candles here, but it is a pleasant place to eat and to meet people from good ‘ole PBO.  The menu changes daily, so it’s best to check the website to see what is on special.

Some of my favorite dishes include the spanakopita, a filo pastry filled with spinach, eggs, herbs and feta cheese.  This dish is served with a side of local greens or a cup of soup. Another favorite of mine is the Greek salad. Angelina uses greens picked from local farmers, fresh, plump red tomatoes, zesty red onions, kalamata olives and feta cheese from Celebrity Dairy, located just a few miles west of her restaurant.

Falafel

Side of Falafel

The hummus has a good amount of garlic in it, but not too overpowering. It is a delicious and healthy treat. Angelina’s falafel is also a wonderful treat. The patties are moist and filled with flavor.  My husband and I had a side order of them the other night. They were served with a side of tzatziki sauce.

chicken gyro

Chicken gyro at Angelina's Kitchen

This particular night, I had the chicken gyro sandwich. You have the choice of three toppings to go on your gyro, so I chose hummus, kalamata olives and cucumbers. The chicken was cooked in a tomato sauce and was nice and juicy. I was going to get the lamb, but unfortunately the restaurant had run out of lamb. John, one of the workers, apologized and said that the farmer who supplies the lamb has not had as many lambs right now. It’s all a part of learning to eat what is in season and what is locally available. We can wait for another trip to have the lamb.

lentil soup

Lentil soup with spanakopita

My husband had the lentil soup with a side of the spanakopita. The lentils were fresh and light. The soup also had carrots, tumeric and garlic, giving it some great flavor. It is a light soup, which is perfect for a summer evening.

Angelina makes wonderful baklava for dessert,  with honey from local bee farmers. The other desserts come from  Abilicious Bakery (also located in Pittsboro), which specializes in gluten, soy and peanut-free delights.

One of the things that is so great about Pittsboro is that most of the chefs in the area are very generous, and Angelina is no exception. My husband and I can hardly think of a fund raising event that she is not donating food to, or helping out in some way. She is a great example of someone who pays it forward and people in the community really appreciate all she and her staff do.

Angelina’s used to be mainly take out, but earlier this year, she was able to raise enough money to expand into the adjacent office off of Rectory Street and Highway 64 so now there are more tables to sit and eat.  From the courthouse circle, take Highway 64 west about three blocks on the right is the Rectory Street. Unfortunately, Angelina’s is not open on the weekends, so you will have to try her creations Monday – Friday, from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Angelina's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Review – Dos Perros in Durham

exterior of Dos Perros

Dos Perros is in downtown Durham

This week has been unbearably hot so all I can think about is Mexican food again! My financial adviser, Kent Thompson, invited me to lunch, so we decided to try Dos Perros in downtown Durham. If you haven’t been to downtown Durham recently, you may not recognize it. The streets are lined with new restaurants, many which are quickly earning outstanding reputations as chefs make a name for themselves. Dos Perros  and its executive chef, Charlie Deal, certainly falls in this category. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people say that I needed to try their food.

The outside is a bright sunny yellow with the logo showing two dogs (Dos Perros) and immediately looks inviting. Another great advantage to Dos Perros even before you open the door is the convenient parking. There is a large public parking lot just across the street. Parking is certainly a premium especially at lunchtime in downtown Durham.

The bar area

The bar at Dos Perros

When you first enter the door, you are greeted by the bar, which looks like somewhere a person could enjoy a few margaritas in the evening. The interior is modern and comfortable. Big Mexican blankets  and contemporary artwork line the walls. The kitchen is open, so you can see the chefs working on the food.

Dos Perros interior

Dos Perros boasts that most of the ingredients they buy are from local farmers, so I am eager to try a sampling of their fare. Our very friendly waiter gave us fresh tortilla chips with a tomatillo and jalapeño salsa to whet our appetite. We ordered the guacamole as an appetizer and it did not disappoint. It was creamy and chunky. It had nice sized pieces of avocado, onion, cilantro and fresh tomatoes. It was thick enough that a couple of times my tortilla broke while dipping it in the guacamole.

guacamole

A thick but very tasty guacamole

Kent and I decided to do a sampler of tacos and split them, so we ordered one of the beef brisket, one with chicken, one with slow roasted pork and one with fried shrimp.

The tacos come with soft tortillas, that are homemade tortillas. The taste of roasted corn is quite prominent in the tortillas. The fillings were enough for one person, but truly was not enough for more than one taco, even though they came with two tortillas a piece. However, once you add the side ingredients which included shredded cabbage, chopped onions with cilantro and the chopped tomatoes with onion and cilantro, it was enough to get by.  The tacos came with a trio of salsas. The green salsa with jalapenos had a good kick to it. The red sauce was the most to my liking. It was fairly mild with a little spice to it. I was afraid to try the orange sauce which our waiter described as being smoking hot. It is made with habaneros. Sorry I do not go past the jalapeño phase!

tacos

Sampling of the lunch tacos at Dos Perros

Kent liked the shrimp the most. It had nice size pieces of fried shrimp. The breading was just the right amount. It also came with slices of cucumber and a chipotle flavored mayonnaise.  I’m not the biggest fan of shrimp, but I did enjoy this taco.

My favorite was the shredded chicken. It was moist and packed with flavor. It is spiced with cilantro and lime.  I also enjoyed the beef brisket, which was braised in a tomato sauce. The pork taco was good as well. It was slow roasted and cooked twice with chipotle and tomatillos.

The waiter did his best to entice us with dessert, but we did not have time to try it out. While the staff was pretty quick to get our order out, it seemed that the lunch hour flew by and we both needed to get back to work. I would most certainly like to go back to Dos Perros for dinner, especially because the menu is much bigger with really interesting descriptions, such as pan-roasted cod with a green chile, potato, chorizo, and mussel chowder or Marinated lamb carne asada with mole.

board

Mondays are taco nights at Dos Perros.

Dos Perros is located at 200 North Mangum Street and is open Monday – Friday for lunch and all days of the week for dinner.

Review: Screaming Coyote in Durham

UPDATE: After a few folks contacted us asking if the restaurant was still open, we dropped by and saw that, indeed, Screaming Coyote has bit the dust. Apparently, the owners didn’t pay their rent. Too bad, this was a great place. Here the review I wrote the beginning of July.

 

I guess summer means eating Mexican food for me, as I seem to be on a roll reviewing a lot of Mexican joints lately. I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about Screaming Coyote, another great little lunch place near RTP.

Screaming Coyote opened last year and it has quickly become a popular spot for the RTP crowd. It is owned by the same people who own Capistrano’s, a Mexican restaurant that is located in Cary near Morrisville and one in Raleigh. I actually made the mistake of trying to meet someone there after work one night recently as I had seen a table tent that mentioned margaritas and I thought it’d be nice to have a drink and catch up with this person before I went home. That’s when we found out that Screaming Coyote is only open for lunch, as are all of the restaurants in that same strip mall. We ended up having a bite at the KFC down the road. So, take note, don’t go to Screaming Coyote after work. The table tent card, by the way, was for Capistrano’s (they were cross promoting).

While RTP has many Mexican choices available these days, Screaming Coyote is the only Californian-style Mexican nearby. The dishes are made with fresh ingredients, making Mexican a little lighter than the usual fare. And just like Chubby’s, Screaming Coyote is affordable. They usually offer about three or four lunch specials for $4.50.

I decided to meet a friend for lunch there the other day and ordered the El Jefe Jr. with vegetables. This is quite a generous burrito made with caramelized onions, steamed green peppers, large slices of mushrooms and a mixture of black beans and rice. The flour tortilla was topped with a drizzle of a cumin-flavored sour cream sauce. I didn’t intend to eat the whole thing, but I just couldn’t stop! Screaming Coyote also makes its own tortilla chips, which are in paper bags that you pick up as you order. They have a variety of salsas to choose from. I tried the mild red sauce. It had a few chunks of tomato, onion and cilantro in it.

El Jefe Jr

This is the El Jefe Jr. with vegetables

My friend ordered the taco salad with shredded beef. He said it was really wonderful and he was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food. It was enough food that he couldn’t finish it all and took some home.

Mexican Salad

Mexican Salad with shredded beef

I have also tried the fish tacos which were good, and the price was again quite reasonable.  Screaming Coyote is located at 2945 South Miami Boulevard in Durham, at the intersection of T.W. Alexander Drive and Miami Boulevard. It is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Screaming Coyote Cafe on Urbanspoon

ROAD TRIP: Chick’s Oyster Bar – Virginia Beach

Chick’s Oyster Bar is a dockside seafood restaurant on the Lynnhaven Inlet (by boat) or just off of Shore Drive on Vista Circle  (by car) in Virginia Beach. This restaurant is a Virginia Beach staple that both locals and tourists have been eating at since it first opened as a seafood shack many years ago (not sure how long ago but I heard that it has been there for a while). They have increased the size of the restaurant to allow seating more people and have a great Bloody Mary bar on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

I was  up in Virginia Beach for one of my best friends’ weddings about two months ago and he had planned the groomsman’s lunch  at Chick’s that Saturday before the wedding. The groomsmen all headed up there  for lunch and had a blast. It is a great place to get together with friends especially when one of them is about to get married. Grab some cocktails and some good seafood and sit back and take it all in.

They have over a dozen picnic tables out on various patios right on the water and plus inside seating (but come on…why would you sit inside? You’re at the beach!!!). The inlet that Chick’s backs up to is a pretty busy waterway with boats constantly going up and down which is a lot of fun to watch. You will see everything from speedboats to Grady-Whites to shrimping boats so you won’t be bored as you watch them pass alongside the restaurant as you read the names on the boats and see where they hail from.

I do want to note that because you are sitting outside on the water that insects like mosquitoes and flies are prevalent. The benefits of sitting outside on a nice day far outweigh the issue of dealing with a few bugs in the air. It is so worth it when you see an old school 80’s speedboat idle by that looks like it was pulled off the set of the original Miami Vice.

When I think of Virginia Beach, I think of two things: jet noise and Orange Crushes. Jet noise is prevalent around Virginia Beach due to F-18s flying out of Oceana Naval Air Station and flying low enough around the beach area to make noise. Locals are so used to it that they seem to like it and actually even have bumper stickers reading “I (Heart) Jet Noise” but it may be a little too much for visitors who aren’t used to it. I guess it is like getting used to living with crickets in the country and bright lights in the big city.

However, I am more fond of Orange Crushes than I am of jet noise. An Orange Crush is a alcoholic drink served at many restaurants on Shore Drive in Virginia Beach that consists of a freshly squeezed orange, vodka, triple sec and Sprite over crushed ice. There are few things better than sitting out on a patio in the sun with some friends drinking Orange Crushes all afternoon. It might be the simplest beach bar drinks that you can easily make from scratch at home.

Here is the recipe for an Orange Crush that I found from Waterman’s which is considered by some as the best place to go for Orange Crushes in Virginia Beach However, Chick’s is up there with one of the best crushes on the beach:

  • 1 freshly squeezed orange
  • 1 oz orange vodka
  • 1 oz triple sec
  • splash of Sprite
  • crushed ice

Combine and then pour all ingredients over the crushed ice and enjoy. I prefer using pebble or pellet ice instead of crushed ice which I have heard that you can pick up by the bag at Sonic Drive-Thru’s but that is only what I’ve heard..

The Beach Party Combo ($17.00) is the combination appetizer consisting of four Oysters Rockefeller, four Clams Casino and four fried butterflied shrimp. If you are looking for a taste of what Chicks has to offer.  Seventeen bucks is kind of pricey for these for 12 items but they were all delicious and were off the plate almost as quick as the waiter was able to put it down.

We also ordered the North Beach Nachos ($9.50) with blackened tuna bites (+ $4.00) for the table. This was probably the least impressive of the dishes that we ordered. The blackened tuna bites were pretty good but I prefer my tuna when it is cooked Pittsburgh rare. The tuna served on the nachos were well done and kind of chewy. The kitchen could also have layered the nachos a little bit better because once the top layer was eaten, the remaining chips were almost naked and very bland.

We also ordered the Fried Oyster Basket ($12.00) which as you can see was already half-eaten by the time I was able to get a picture of them. They are served with a house dipping sauce called Lava Sauce which is a creamy and spicy. I love the way that Chicks fries their oysters because they use a light breading that has both a hint of salt and a hint of spice to it but let the oyster provide most of the taste. These were a hit and we reordered them the second time.

 

I don’t know why I ordered the She-Crab Soup ($6.00) that day because it was pretty dang hot outside but I had read on Yelp that you don’t want to miss Chick’s She-Crab Soup. It came in a large bowl with saltines and oyster crackers. Even though it was a hot outside, the She-Crab Soup was on point. It had large chunks of crab and some onions. I couldn’t tell what thickening agent they used outside of heavy cream and the crab roe. This was a great soup and would be even better if the outside temperature was a little cooler and there a nice breeze. I would recommend getting it no matter the weather.

 

I ordered the Golden Fried Flounder “B.L.T” ($10.50) on recommendation of a few of the guys who had been there before. The sandwich was a bun-sized piece of fried flounder with two pieces of bacon, tomato and lettuce on a kaiser roll. I was so impressed with the fried flounder that  I actually ordered this both days that I went to Chick’s that weekend. However, the bun was less than impressive. It fell apart, both days, as I was eating it especially if it touched any of the cocktail sauce that they serve with the sandwich. I decided not to put as much cocktail sauce on it the second day. The first day, the bacon wasn’t cooked to a crisp as I think it should be on a sandwich but they made up for it the second day with some extra crispy strips. The lettuce was great both days but the tomato was sub-par and could have been a little more ripe.

The fries for both the flounder B.L.T. and the burger were fresh cut and fried perfectly. I actually kept the Lava Sauce that came with the oysters and used it for dipping the fries in. They don’t pile on the fries but they do give you enough for a meal.

 

Someone ordered the Jimmy’s Ultimate Crab Topped Burger ($11.50) which was your average cheeseburger topped with an abundance of backfin crab meat. Both the cheese and the burger looked great but I didn’t get to try it. It seemed to be a winner. It is definitely a little pricey for a burger but anything gets expensive when you put crab meat on it. You will be spending anywhere from $8.00 to $11.50 depending on what type of burger you order.

Chick’s is considered one of the gems of Virginia Beach but it hasn’t been getting the best reviews on social media sites like Yelp and UrbanSpoon. Most of the negative comments have been about the food or wait staff. I went twice over the weekend and received great service plus the food was fantastic. I don’t know if this place is hit or miss but it hit both times that I went. You should check out this place if you are in Virginia Beach on a beautiful day and let us know what you think.

Chick’s Oyster Bar only has valet parking, which is free, so make sure that you have a couple of bucks to tip the valets. I don’t believe there is an option to self-park. This seems to be pretty common in Virginia Beach due to parking limitations in the area. You will probably see some $200,000 plus exotic cars there so take a camera if you are a car lover.

Chick's Oyster Bar on Urbanspoon

 

REVIEW: Chubby’s Tacos – Durham/Raleigh

 

Photo Credit: Tom B. on Yelp

I work at a nonprofit organization in RTP that is filled with postdocs, and grad students who are on a tight budget, and everyone has been telling me about Chubby’s Tacos. Recently, my husband bought a Groupon for Chubby’s, so I took the Groupon with me to work and decided to check it out. You can eat as cheaply as you’d like here. Tacos start at about $2 and the most expensive meal is about $10. In this day and age of recession, high gas prices and general tightening of the belt, this is a welcome surprise.

Chubby’s has several locations in Raleigh and Durham, but the one I ate at is off of Miami Boulevard near RTP, a mere 2.5 miles from where I work. When you first walk in, you see a large menu board and there’s a line you enter to order your food at the counter, much like a fast food restaurant. There are ample places to sit after you have ordered.

Actually, I had been to Chubby’s once before a few months ago and had the fish tacos. They were very inexpensive, but small, so I was left still feeling hungry. This time, I ordered the tofu and veggie burrito meal and was given a burrito that seemed like it could feed a small village! I could barely finish 1/2 of it! The wonderful surprise was that they used some decent vegetables in the burrito, including cauliflower, broccoli, lettuce and carrots along with a very generous portion of Mexican rice and nice, large pieces of tofu. The burrito was $6 with an added $2 for the meal, which included a side of Mexican rice, black beans and homemade tortilla chips. I was surprised by the great quality of the burrito and never expected to get freshly steamed vegetables in the burrito. Most of the time when you order a veggie burrito at a typical Mexican restaurant, you get refried beans, which are not at all healthy for you.  Using my $10 Groupon the meal was free and I actually had a little bit of money to spare.

tofu burrito at Chubbys

This is just half of a tofu and veggie burrito from Chubby's

My friend, Katherine, also ordered a burrito, but she got one with chicken. The burrito was filled with chicken that has been slowly cooked and very tender. It was soaked in some kind of enchilada sauce. She said it was really tasty and very filling. She only finished a third of her burrito.

chubbys burrito meal

This is my "to go" burrito meal from Chubby's. Definitely enough for two meals!

Chubby’s has a great salsa bar, with several different types of salsa. I tried two of the medium spicy ones.  One was made with guacamole and had onions and just the right about of heat to make it interesting. The other was a great chunky salsa. I like to see the bits of onion, cilantro and tomato in my salsa, but it’s all about what you like. Chubby’s choices ranged from a more mild red salsa to a very hot habanero sauce.

The menu touts many of the Mexican favorites including tacos, burritos, quesadillas,  nachos, taco salads, gorditas and tortas. Don’t expect many frills here, but the food is decent and as I’ve said, easy on the pocketbook. I look forward to going again soon to try a taco salad or a quesadilla.

Chubby's Tacos on Urbanspoon

Chubby’s is located at 2806 S Miami Blvd in Durham. They also have locations at 748 Ninth Street in Durham, 4711 Hope Valley Road in Durham, 10511 Shadowlawn Dr. in Raleigh and 2444 Wycliff Road in Raleigh. Maybe someday soon they will open a location in Chapel Hill as well? Many students and starving artists hope they will do so!

REVIEW: K38 Baja Grill – Wilmington

K38 Baja Grill is Tex-Mex restaurant that has been serving Wilmington baja-fresh style food since 1993. I went to the original K 38 Baja Grill located Oleander Drive. I was down there for an engagement party and a bunch of people going to the party met up there beforehand. This gave me the opportunity to get a better feel for the menu because most people at the table ordered something different.

The name K38 comes from a kilometer marker in north of Ensenada, Mexico near one of the most famous surf breaks in Baja Mexico. The owners, who’s motto is “Live. Eat. Surf.”, used to go down to kilometer marker 38 and found a taco shack that served some of the freshest baja fish tacos they had ever had. They decided to bring back the same style and atmosphere that they foun Along with K-38 which has two locations in Wilmington (Oleander Dr & Market St), the Live.Eat.Surf. squad also has two other restaurants, Tower 7 and Cafe del Mar, in Wrightsville Beach.

K38 Baja Grill’s original location does its best to look like somewhat like the taco shack that they used to frequent down in Mexico. There is a Mexican flag out front, a rusty tin roof awning over the front porch and a string of tacky lights illuminating the front. It is a pretty cool spot and not too close but not too far from all the beach traffic which is perfect if you want to get out of all the hubbub that is on Wrightsville Beach during the summer.

A few people in our group ordered the Santa Fe tuna roll which is char-grilled yellow fin tuna, black bean puree, roasted red pepper, spinach, Monterey Jack and a ginger-wasabi sauce rolled into a flour tortilla. It came with a dipping sauce that was some sort of soy sauce concoction. We joked at the table that it was Mexican sushi but it pretty much is. The presentation was beautiful (as you can see) and the rolls are something that you can order as an appetizer for the table or as a meal for one person. They have a couple different version of the rolls like chicken, fish, shrimp, steak or scallops. Sorry vegetarians…no tofu options on the rolls.

Two people ordered the taco salad which is actually called a bowl on the menu. They both went with the traditional which is leaf lettuce, black beans, mixed cheese, salsa fresca, guacomole, sour cream, green onions, & house picante with the choice of steak, chicken or ground beef. I didn’t try this one but both people said it was great. The ingredients all looked extremely fresh and the chicken looked fantastic. The bowls range from $8.95 (vegetarian) to $12.50 (carne asada) which seems like a great deal because of the amount of food that you get in the bowl.

I ordered a baja fish taco which is a Dos Equis beer battered cod filet with Roma tomato, mixed cheeses, shaved red cabbage and yogurt sauce  in a flour tortilla. The cod filet was massive and, that, plus the ingredients might have warranted a large tortilla to hold everything. The yogurt sauce was zesty adding to the taste of the whole taco plus it gave the taco a little more depth and kept it from tasting dry. I wasn’t blown away by this taco but I was impressed at the quality of the cod and how well it was fried. The black beans were a little bland and I might go with the Mexican rice next time.

I was impressed with the quality of the whole meal plus the service was fantastic. We had about 18 people at three different tables and we all got our food pretty close to one another. I look forward to giving the Live.Eat.Surf. crews’ other restaurants a try the next time that I visit my friend, Adam, who lives a short bike ride from Tower 7. If you are down in Wilmington, check out K38 Baja Grill at either of their locations. I don’t think you will be disappointed and everything that I hear says that it is the best Tex-Mex or baja place in town.

Click here for the K 38 Baja Grill menu

 

K-38 Baja Grill on Urbanspoon

Urban Burrito and The Hop Ice Cream: A Giant Jerk (Burrito) Should Always Be Followed By Two Scoops

The following is an excerpt from the Asheville Food and Entertainment Blog www.LushLifeToday.com

A Post By Blondesided

Photo Credit: The Hop Ice Cream Cafe

There are some nights a girl just wants to snuggle up with some take out and some ice cream.  Tonight was one of those nights. As the Twitterphile  that I have become lately (thank you Gary with G Social Media for my new addiction), I had been reading tweets all day about the Hop’s new ice cream – Cranberry Gorgonzola. It sounded like one of those flavors just crazy enough to work.

And speaking of work, I had been in the office for about 11 hours with only a tiny frozen dinner to fill me up and so my tummy was really growling for some attention. So… I headed down Merrimon Avenue in search of the obligatory dinner that I could follow with the ice cream of which I had spent the day dreaming.

A girlfriend of mine had recently started working at Urban Burrito directly above The Hop, so that seemed a logical choice for food. I could say hi to a friend, grab a burrito for the road and quench my burning ice cream desire all in one stop of the car – perfect!

I ran into The Hop first. The guy with the scoop was patient with me as always as I tried several of their new flavors. You see, Jeb thinks he is a wizard at mixing beers…well ice cream is my thing! I believe my most impressive Hop mix to date was a scoop of Lusty Monk mustard ice cream and a scoop of pumpkin. It was delish if  I do say so myself. After trying several, I decided that the perfect mix for the Cranberry Gorgonzola was going to be Salted Caramel.

I ran upstairs to the Urban Burrito and ordered a Jerk Chicken burrito at my friends suggestions. All of the staff was friendly. From Brian who helped me choose a spinach wrap to Mark who cashed me out. I was in and out quickly and ready to head home to a quiet night in.

I walked in the house, popped open a Highland Oatmeal Porter, kicked my shoes off  and sat down to my giant burrito. The chicken was seasoned perfectly and the pineapple salsa was definitely my favorite part. I even had some leftover for my housemate.

And then….ahhhh…the ice cream.  At last. The salted caramel had ended up on the bottom and the Gorgonzola on the top. After that first bite, I am quite sure I heard a chorus of angels begin to sing and bright rays of light shown through my window and landed right in my cup. Yes. It was an almost religious experience. It tasted almost like cheesecake but with a bit more tang. And the salted caramel  was similar to a graham cracker crust. Simply divine.

So if you have an adventurous palate for ice cream, I highly recommend that you get into The Hop before they run out of this batch. And if you prefer the more traditional, well I am pretty sure they don’t even know how to make ice cream that doesn’t completely rock.

Follow @hopicecream

Hardee’s/Red Burrito Restaurants Offer Buy One, Get One for a Penny on Lincoln’s Birthday

Across the state, Hardee’s/Red Burrito, a dual-branded restaurant with the North Carolina burger chain & a fast-food Mexican restaurant, are observing Lincoln’s Birthday tomorrow by offering special penny deals during breakfast (bacon, egg & cheese biscuits), lunch and dinner (Southwest chicken soft tacos). It is a basically buy one, get one free but with an added penny.

In the Greensboro area, most of the Hardee’s locations have added on Red Burrito to offer a few more menu items. I tried Red Burrito’s chicken soft tacos a few weeks back and thought they were good. The shredded cheese and lettuce were fresh and the chicken was juicy with a nice spice on it. It is definitely a step-up from anything that Taco Bell is selling these days.

Click below for a list of all the participating restaurants across the state.

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