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Go Greek in Atlanta GA

I was talking to a foodie friend about places to go to eat in Atlanta and he asked me “Ever went to Nick’s?”

He said it was a takeout place that serves Greek food. He spoke highly of the place and said that a lot of ATL chefs will grab lunch.

I was intrigued.

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When we got there, I realized why everyone just “grabs lunch to go”. The large cement building is mostly the kitchen. We walk in, there is little space to move around. We order our food and wait outside while our order is being prepared. Mainly because we needed to get out of the way of the other people who were standing in line behind us.

Sitting outside at one of the tables gives me an opportunity to look around. If this restaurant has not come highly recommended by someone who I respected their food opinion, I probably would never have stopped there. Broken signage and peeling paint do little to entice newcomers. I would call this place a dive restaurant rundown looking restaurant known by the locals for their good food and low prices.

As we all know, looks can be deceiving. I guess that the owners cannot be concerned with the outside because they are too busy throwing down in the kitchen bringing authentic Greek food to the South.

I ordered the lamb gyro with fries. The meat was tender and flavorful. I loved the house made tzatziki sauce. Up until the best gyro I eaten was from Bronx, NY. This rivaled that. Maybe one day I will get to Greece and have a gyro from its homeland. Until then, I will have to satisfy myself with Nick’s.

However, next time I go, I will forgo the fries because the gyro is enough.

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Greek take-out sandwich restaurant

Nick’s Food to Go

240 Martin Luther King Jr Drive S.E

Atlanta, GA 30312

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Miami Cuban food – Que rica!

We were in Miami and Nana wanted some good Cuban food and whole fried red snapper. Being from Belize, this is the closest thing she can get to the food that she grew up eating.
My aunts and cousins said the place to go was Laguna.

Laguna Seafood Restaurant ~~ 2800 NW 7th Ave ~~ Miami, FL 33127

This restaurant is not exactly in the good part of town. In fact, the area looks depressed. It is surrounded by abandoned buildings and empty lots. Even the building that the restaurant is in needs a new coat of paint. The parking lot behind the building is part gravel, part dirt, and part pot hole.

However, I did not come here to look at the aesthetics of the building. I came here to eat.

It was July 5th and the giant movie screen TV was playing a World Cup match. I remember the date because we were planning to go July 4thbut there was a question whether they were open. I said probably not, but my uncle said they should be open every day. When my cousin called, no one answered the phone. We were not sure if they were busy or closed for the holiday. We decided if all of us were going to make the trek from various parts of South Florida, we needed to be 100% sure they would be open. And yes they were closed on July 4th.

The small restaurant of about 10-15 tables was packed (probably because of the game). Because our group was so large, we ended up sitting at a table that was right in front of the TV. The TV was so big though, we did not block the screen. The servers were courteous but did not talk much at first. When I ordered in Spanish, they seemed to perk up and be a little friendlier. Since it was so busy, none of them were making any extended chit-chat. Everyone did stop to look at the TV when there was a particularly tense moment that would decide which team would advance to the next level.

Nana and I ordered the medium fried fish. It comes with steamed rice, ripe plantains, and black beans. This is a carb dieter’s nightmare. Thankfully, I am not counting carbs (although I probably should). I do not like beans, so I ate my rice plain. I am glad that I got the medium fish instead of large as I originally planned. As hungry as I thought I was, I would not have been able to eat it. I ate half my fish, all my plantains, and half my rice.

The flavor of the breading on the fish was amazingly delicious. The fish was fried to perfection. It was tender and flaky with a delicate crunchy skin. I have had fried fish in a lot of places, and this was one of the top. I do not eat the head (I guess I am too Americanized), but Nana raved about it.

Overall, the food was very good and I definitely recommend their Cuban food (fried fish in particular).

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Papi’s World Famous Travellin’ Tacos

Papi’s World Famous Travellin’ Tacos

Looking for something different in the downtown Greenville, I found Papi’s. This restaurant is located below Lazy Goat and I think it has the same owners. Like Taco Boy in Charleston, this is expensive Mexican food.

Tacos are $3.

I am a traditionalist. I knew I had to pass on ordering tacos when I saw that the taco al pastor had pineapple in it. I do not know what part of Mexico that is from, but that is not what I had in Mexico City or Cancun. And that is not how the local taqueria makes theirs either.

I decided on a torta al pastor. Sandwich with the chopped cubes of marinated seasoned pork, tomato. lettuce, avocado, queso fresco, jalepeno, minus beans and onions. I cannot eat Mexican street food without drinking a Jarrito (the only soda I drink since I usually ask for water).

What I like about Papi’s -the atmosphere – it is a cute place with a lot ambiance and character. The walls paintings are bold and colorful. There is Spanish music (salsa, bachata, merengue) playing that makes you want to get up and dance.

The food was okay. I did think they were stingy with the jalapenos. If you never ate real Mexican food at the house of somebody’s abuela (translated grandmother) or at an authentic restaurant (the local Mexican restaurant that serves tortilla chips before your meal does not count) where someone’s abuela is the cook (she will not think she is a chef), you might think Papi’s is awesome. If you do not want to venture into the barrio (translated ‘hood) for $1.75 tacos, Papi’s is your place for tacos and tortas.

In any other case, you will probably think like me. I thought the flavors were muted. Toned down for a different palate. Do not misunderstand me. I think that Papi’s is a nice place to eat. However, for me, there are more traditional, bolder flavors at other Mexican restaurants.

You may go for the Mexican food, but (to borrow terminology from my hubby)….

Montagues- my favorite restaurant in Greenwood SC

I have come to realize that Montague’s is my favorite restaurant in Greenwood. As much as I would like to say, I like all my local restaurants equally, when it comes to fine dining, my go to place is Montague’s.

While all of the waitstaff and crew do a fantastic job, I think that TJ’s efforts over the past few years have done a lot to change my perception of the restaurant. I used to think that Montague’s was a stuffy place with an air of pretentiousness . cave_snooty.gif

In retrospect, I was rating the restaurant, not based on my own experience, but on what I knew of type of people that frequented the restaurant. I am glad that I saw the error in my judgment. My taste buds are delighted like this. tumblr_m1rkzpHj1n1r6aoq4o1_500.gif

There is a seasonal menu as well as some restaurant favorites. There is also a weekly menu feature that the chef creates based on what ingredients are available. He uses a lot of produce from local famers. I think that is one of the reasons why the flavors are so rich and complex. While I could probably do a post a week about the different dishes I have ordered, this post highlights some of my favorite dishes over the past 6 months.

You will be able to tell from my food selections that I like trying new things. If you have not been to Montague’s, I think you owe your tastes buds the experience. Prices are comparable to chain restaurants like O’Charleys and Outback but the food is way better.
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When I go to Montague’s, I try to get there by 5:30- 5:45pm so that I can get at least one or two drinks at Happy Hour prices. Happy Hour is from 2- 6pm. House liquor drinks and cocktails are half off and there are specials for beer and wine as well. I usually do a screwdriver, pineapple+vodka, cranberry+vodka, or skittle-tini. Nothing fancy, but something to begin the evening. If it is Wednesday (Ladies’ night), then I will split a bottle of wine with a friend. Select bottles are half off all night. Rufino Pinot Grigio (pictured below) is one of my favorites because it is light, fruity and goes well with fish and chicken.

While I am sipping on my drink, I mull over the weekly menu features. So many options. If only my stomach was bigger.  tumblr_m9obwoK6VF1rcfputo1_500.gif

Hands down my favorite dish EVER at Montague’s was the BBQ salmon (BBQ sauce was more like a tomato gravy) over mashed potatoes. This is comfort food at its best. The salmon was perfectly cooked so that the meat was tender and moist. The tomato gravy was a little sweet with a hint of onion flavor. The handmade mashed potatoes were firm enough to be the proper conveyance for all the gravy. Mmm mmmm mmm. Just looking at the picture makes me reminiscent for that tomato gravy.

If you ever see the Scallop mac and cheese on the menu, you should order it. Chunks of scallops and creamy cheesy goodness. What else to you need?

If you like fried green beans (yes that is an actual dish), then you will love fried broccoli. It is the same concept. The broccoli is tossed with flour seasoned with salt and pepper and then fried (I’m guessing that is how it is done). The broccoli still has some firmness and crunch. Best way to get my daily serving of veggies.

I ordered the potato fritters on night because I was curious to taste the sweet relish. This was not the standard relish you might get for your hot dog. This was classy. It tasted freshly made with sweet peppers. The light vinegar helped to balance the fried potatoes. If you like vinegar with your fries, you would have definitely liked this. If you never tried vinegar with your fries, you are missing out.

The stuffed pork chop with green beans and mashed potatoes was good. This is a tasty dish but I do not have that much to say because I am still dreaming about the salmon with tomato gravy.

Bacon wrapped monkfish with fingerling potatoes was also quite tasty. But then again, bacon wrapped anything is good. This was my first time having monkfish. I like the texture, as it is firm white meat. The flavor is mild and paired well with the bacon. Although, I was too stuffed to eat all my fingerling potatoes, they were delicious too.

Last but not least, spinach artichoke dip is my go-to appetizer when I do not want to try anything new. A bowl of hot, creamy spinach artichoke dip is full of chunks of artichoke hearts. I love to eat marinated artichoke hearts. Having them swimming in cheese and spinach only makes it better. The tortilla chips are fried to order and lightly salted. Can you tell I am a fan? Team spinach artichoke dip.

Taco Boy- Charleston SC

Taco Boy – Charleston, SC

Taco Boy is an upscale taqueria in Charleston South Carolina. I say upscale because the tacos are about $4 each. This is far, far from the $1.75 that we are used to paying for tacos.

Prices aside, the tacos were pretty good. My usual order is a taco al Pastor (pork taco) but if I am paying four dollars, I want something special. I ordered the Baja fish taco and the grilled fish taco. The fish was flakey but firm enough to hold up to being in a taco. The cabbage was crisp and added crunch. I also got a side of Mexican street corn and tres leches (three milks) cake for dessert. Mexican street corn is cooked corn on the cob with mayo and cotija cheese (hard, crumbly Mexican cheese). This side dish is one of the few ways that I will eat mayo.

Their tres leches cake was OUT OF THIS WORLD. I felt like I was in Mexico eating at someone’s abuela’s (grandma) house. Tres leches cake is a sponge cake with has been soaked with 3 types of milk: whole milk, heavy cream, and sweeten condensed milk. And it is topped with whipped cream and cinnamon. This was worth the trip alone.

Taco boy has a lot going for them. They are serving quality ingredients. This is not mass-produced, frozen food. The flavor combinations are true to their Latin roots but with the modern, bold twist. I thoroughly enjoyed the food and the laid-back atmosphere. As you can see from the pictures, we sat outside. We went in October and the weather was nice. Not too hot or too cold.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself. On the other hand, hubby was grumpy.

  • Was there a problem with the food? No.
  • Was there a problem with the table service? No.

His complaint was that there were “too many hipsters”. Plus, he balked at the $4 per taco price tag. In his defense, our local taqueria makes tacos that are just as delicious and half the price (although they do not offer a fish taco).

In defense of Taco Boy, I will also say that I have finally found a fish taco I like this side of the East Coast. Paying four dollars beats a plane trip to California in my opinion. I have been known to travel for food.

I once went to Vegas for cake…but that is a story for another time.

It is true that hipsters have been known to mess up a good restaurant. Hipsters find a “hidden gem”. Bring all their friends and then the quality of the food begins to decline.

As long as Taco boy keeps their high standards of food preparation, they should be okay.