Tag Archives: guacamole

Jonesing for burritos? Hit up Tomatillo Taco Joint, now in Stamford

9 Dec

Tomatillo Taco Joint Stamford Logo

Where does OmNomCT pick up some great Mexican grub when we’re jonesing for a burrito fix?  That would be Tomatillo in Greenwich, right on Route 1.  In fact, we might have just ordered some burritos with a side of guac for delivery last night.  We might have, that’s just hearsay.  Our fondness towards Tomatillo (we did have a few points of contention, though) lead us to write a review of them back in January of 2013, and now we’ve got some great news to share with you.  Tomatillo Taco Joint is now in Stamford.

Burrito at Tomatillo GreenwichTheir restaurant is located at 114 Broad Street, where Morelli’s Pizza/Morelli’s Double Burger used to be, right by Zaza.  This is now their third location (they are also in New Haven) and here’s why you should checking them out for lunch or dinner:

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Bartaco: They got half their name right and it’s not the taco part. – Stamford, CT + Port Chester, NY

5 Nov

Tacos at the Port Chester location...better than Stamford's?

Most people in Connecticut have been through the doors of a Barcelona restaurant, have sipped on sangria, and have fallen in love with their tapas.  So, when the same owners expanded with Bartaco in Port Chester, we were psyched but also wondered if they’d be able to keep the quality up while expanding so much.  Just months before we were disappointed with Barcelona Stamford as compared to the others – seemed like the sangria was weaker and the food just wasn’t up to par with their other spots.

Bartaco in Port Chester, NY

So, we decided to travel out to Port Chester and see what all the buzz was about.    It was a beautiful summer day so of course we sat outside in their really nice patio area.  In fact, the decor overall was really nice and cozy…when it’s not jammed to the walls with people, that is. Yeah, this place is always busy, so just be ready to do some waiting.  When we sat down we were given the DL on how things work.  Mark off what you want on the menu card, put it up on the metal arm, or if you have a question or need help, put up the dragonfly logo of Bartaco. Cool concept!

Not Tacos

We started with some guac that was not too bad, but maybe oversimplified with very little more than just some avocado, salt and a teeny squirt of lime. We also ordered a spicy cucumber salad that definitely had a kick, but didn’t have much else going on with it.  Again, boring and oversimplified. The cactus dish was fun, spicy, had a vinegary kick, and was just sweet enough to add a nice complexity to this dish. And lastly the grilled corn with lime and cotija cheese was nice in theory but the corn was mushy. Definitely not nearly as good as the same dish at Bodega in Fairfield.

Tacos

For our meals we went crazy with a mix of Baja fish, pork al pastor, tamarind beef, and spicy chorizo tacos.  The Baja fish had a nice crispness to it but was pretty bland and devoid of a real kick or flavor.  The pork al pastor was good with a nice amount of spice in it, but we’ve both had WAAAAY better al pastor tacos before, I mean WAAAAY better.  The tamarind beef taco, also had good flavor, but nothing mind blowing.  I ended with the spicy chorizo taco which had chorizo all crumbled up, kicked up with some nice bold smoky flavor. This was definitely my favorite.

Overall, we thought the food was decent, but not great or amazing as the buzz made it seem.  We both agreed that the tacos at Casa Villa blew these out of the water and were not as good as Tacos Mexico in Norwalk.

Bartaco in Stamford, CT

We waited to review Bartaco here to coincide with the September opening of its new spot in Stamford. We waited for about half an hour because the place was packed just like the Port Chester one.  We got our seats and saw they had the same kind of vibe going on in here, even with the little metal stands to place your menu orders on.  Now we like a rockin’ musical ambiance as much as the next 30 something couple, but DAMN is it incredibly loud in there! Seriously don’t plan to hear what the hell your friends say, or your waiter even.  Just pretend and nod your head, they’ll never know.

Not Tacos

We got the guacamole that was just like it was in Port Chester.  We do like the crispy tortillas that come with the guac though. They’re nice and crispy and salty.  We also had the snapper ceviche that also came with lots of cilantro, fresh snapper, peppers, and just the right amount of spicy kick.  It was pretty good overall. I saw a Foursquare tip about how awesome the blood orange margarita was, so I decided to go with that.  It came out waaaaaay too strong with an overpowering liquor taste.  I asked the waitress to add more mix to it and that helped a tiny bit, though it was just way too strong to be enjoyable.

Tacos

Porkslap Ale (it's boss) with tacos at the Stamford locale

We wanted to see if our original conclusion was correct, that Bartaco tacos were just okay.  Well, we had our answer by the end of our meal.  I had red snapper a la plancha.  The fish and flavors were bland.  Unfortunately, the only thing that stood out and gave flavor were the vegetables.  Yeah, bummer.  I loved the spicy chorizo last time and decided to get more of it this time.  Well, this time it was tough and overcooked.  The flavor was still there, but I was left disappointed once again.  Sadly, this wasn’t the worst of the night.  I decided to try the lamb barbacoa taco.  The flavor combos with the lamb just didn’t work and seemed awkward and not appealing.  There were chunks of lamb fat throughout the taco, but the killer was the chunk of fat that had lamb bone attached to it.  Quality control?  Meh. Kristien agreed, this might have been the worst taco we’ve ever eaten, and she loves lamb.  Worst lamb dish that I’ve ever had, hands down.

Postres

We are churros addicts and were excited at the prospect of some bad boys that came with chocolate sauce.  We were especially excited because only the day before we met our friends Darryl, Melissa, Renato, and Alicia at Barcelona in Norwalk and shared amazing churros.  They came out looking very good, but they were raw in the middle.  We were just going to leave and not bother, but we really wanted churros, so we asked for another batch.  The churros came out but, once again, they were raw on the inside.  We paid and left.

Overall Thoughts

There are so many FANTASTIC taco places in Stamford, Norwalk, and all over Fairfield County, but unfortunately, Bartaco isn’t one of them. It’s not even close. If you care more about the vibe and the cool factor, then you should come to Bartaco.  But, if you want the authentic Mexican experience and want to pay helluva less try these options that are nearby:

Casa Villa, Stamford

Tacos Guadalajara, Stamford

Los Molcajetes, Norwalk

El Charrito, Stamford

Bodega Taco Bar, Fairfield

Noms: 2.75
Cost:  $$$
Bartaco                                                                                        Bartaco
222 Summer Street (next to Barcelona)                              1 Willett Avenue
Stamford, CT 06901                                                                Port Chester, NY 10573
Phone:  (203) 323-TACO                                                       (914) 937-TACO
Site:  http://bartaco.com

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Get drunk for cheap and eat some decent tacos too. Tacos Mexico- Norwalk, CT

24 Jun

Peppered rim? Sounds dirty.

We’re in a recession here and the experts say it ain’t gettin’ much better.  But, you know what?  Liquor sales remain steady and people are still going out, wining and dining.  Enter Tacos Mexico.  Good Mexican food, good margaritas, crazy ass good prices.  Let’s list all we got for 40 pesos. Ok not really pesos because I don’t know the conversion rate, but you get the point:

1) Tortilla chips with salsa verde, salsa, and pico de gallo (free)
 

Pico de Gallo nomworthy

Starting off, we got a plate of tortilla chips that were served with an amazing pico de gallo that boomed with cilantro.  It was fresh and just cried, “Summer.”  There was a nice spicy kick to it, also.  The salsa verde was good, but was maybe just a little too watery.  The salsa tasted similar to the pico de gallo, but was just not as chunky.
 
2) Humongo glob of guacamole
 
We got some guac with that and were surprised to see how much they gave.  Normally, you pay 6 bucks for a tiny cup, but you pay 4 for a giant ass cup.  The guac was definitely freshly made, but needed more bite from lime and salt.
 
3) Two margaritas, on the rocks, with Patron.  Yeah, Patron. 
 
Rim salted, and pepper flaked, the margaritas were good too, but could have been stronger.  They taste like they came from a mix rather than freshly squeezed.   Then again, at $8 a pop, we’re talking value.  Most places will charge ya at least $13 for a Patron margarita.
 
 
4) Three tacos with rice
 
Because we’re at Tacos Mexico, we figure, duh, try the tacos. All tacos were served with grilled onions on top and pickled veggies on the side. First was the carnitas taco.  Good deep flavor with lots of spice, but was a bit overcooked.  The chorizo taco was next and this was pretty tasty.  The meat was all crumbly and had a really fun kick of clove to it.  I saved that bite for last-loved it!  Last up was the al pastor taco.  This was great at Riviera Maya, and it’s great here too.  The flavors are all there, making the chicken dance, bold and beautiful.  
 
5) Enchiladas with a salad
 
 Kristien had these and they were ok. She agreed there was a nice balance of sauce, cheese, and chicken which lots of places tend to mess up, usually with way too much cheese and not enough sauce.  But, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, the chicken was dry and the whole thing just lacked any real flavor. 
 
6) Side of rice and beans
 
The rice here was actually pretty good, but then again that’s because it was drenched in 20 pounds of butter. Which some people may hate, but we have a special place in our hearts for butter. Add some carrots, peas, and corn and you have a nice little side dish. 

Yeah, we feasted on the food here for cheap.  Granted, it was no Casa Villa and wasn’t amazing or excellent Mexican, but it’s good enough and the liquor ain’t expensive.  Worth it, yes, but you can’t go in expecting the world from this place.

Tacos Mexico

Noms: 3.25

Cost: $$

Address:  82 Fort Point St
Norwalk, CT 06855

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Attain taco nirvana with the help of a culinary god. Bodega Taco Bar -Fairfield, CT.

19 Jun

It’s official, Chef Michael Young is seriously a culinary god. Yep, I said it. It’s impossible for anyone to deny it when he owns a restaurant as awesome as Valencia Luncheria, was Executive Chef at Habana when it was awesome back in the SoNo days, and Ocean Drive, when it, too, was awesome. And now (of course) the recently opened Bodega Taco Bar in Fairfield.  Oh yes, Bodega Taco Bar was every bit as amazing as one would think if they’ve ever experienced Chef Michael Young’s food.

In true Chef Michael fashion, Bodega Taco Bar is no ordinary taco bar. Sure there are tacos… and they’re amazing. Sure there’s tequila… over 30 of them in fact. But there’s also a plethora of creative and unique platos (principal plates), tortas (sandwiches), antojitos (little cravings), and sides with a sexy Latin twist to keep you from getting bored with the same old Mexican standbys (not that we don’t love ’em).  In fact, the selections were so amazing we (as usual) labored over what to get for way too long. But then again, so did our dinner mates, long time Valencia fans, Dave and Jo Plain.

Well, let’s start with the ambiance. If you’ve ever been to Valencia Luncheria, you’re probably expecting that “hole in the wall” vibe at Bodega Taco Bar, but you couldn’t be more wrong. The spot is fairly small with about 4 or so 4-person tables, a handful of tallboys, and a nice sized dine-at bar. But they sure did pack a lot of coolness into that small space. Wow, I haven’t said coolness since the early 90s. Anyway, it had a very sleek and clean design with a beautiful repurposed wood bar, tables and walls, to a brushed steel bar base, to a dark metal rafter ceiling with amber-ish glass light fixtures hanging down. Really, just the perfect combination of materials to give it that sleek-finished feeling, but still feel relaxed and down-to-earth.

After a bit of a wait, which is probably going to be the norm for quite some time, we dove into the menu. No questions asked, we all agreed on some guacamole to start. The guacamole was freshly made to order with chunks of tomato, cilantro, a hint of lime and jalapeno for a nice kick. Danny and I both swore we tasted some sort of hot sauce, but our waitress didn’t think it had any. Whatever, we’re sticking to it. Either way, this guac was a great start to our meal. We also accompanied this, and the rest of our meal, with some margaritas which were tasty too!

Next up we all shared the Bodega Grilled Corn, the Blistered Brussel Sprouts, and the Yucca Fritas. S0, OMG we are going to have dreams about the Bodega Grilled Corn for months, years even. What could be so awesome about corn you ask? Oh, my friend, one bite and you’ll be in corny heaven. Err, yeah. Just picture perfectly grilled sweet corn loaded with butter, lime juice, cotija cheese and ancho chili dust for a little kick. RE-DONK-U-LOUS. Words can’t even describe. Then, next best by a very close second was the Blistered Brussel Sprouts. Cooked perfectly to give them that nice crispiness, almost caramelized with what we believe was agave syrup for just the right amount of sweetness to balance the bitterness inherent to the those yummy little sprouts! And last, but still pretty tasty were the Yucca Fritas, cut thin like potato sticks with just the right amount of oil and salt to flavor them up.

And just when you thought we were done with the appetizers (do you even know us at all?), Danny and I also shared our must-have appetizer, the Ceviche de Mariscos. We are pretty picky about our ceviche and this bad-boy did not disappoint. Not only were the shrimp and scallops incredibly fresh tasting, but they were also bathed, along with avocado, in just the perfect amount of citrus and tomato juices. And for the perfect final touch, it was served with a delicious tostone, or a twice-fried plantain that looks like a potato cake.

Onto the main course. Danny and Dave ordered the same thing, three tacos: an Americano, Argentino and Cochinita Pibil, a tender pulled pork taco with refried beans, cilantro and pickled red onion. They unanimously loved all three tacos, but the Americano was a stand out in their minds. The only crispy taco on the menu, the Americano was full of flavor with perfectly seasoned ground beef, manchego cheese and salsa rusa. The Argentino was also a terrific, juicy, flavorful combination of perfectly cooked hangar steak asada, charred onion, cilantro and salsa de chili de arbol. Then, because three tacos are never enough, Dave ordered another Americano and Danny got the Baja based on the waitresses recommendation. Danny was blown away by the Baja which was packed with panko crusted mahi mahi, fresh pico de gallo and just a nice touch of lemon aioli.

Jo ordered the Seared Scallops platos with roasted corn and fresh tomatoes, which while pretty small, she said was delicious. And I ordered the Pollo Rico tortas because it had goat cheese, and you know I have never been one to pass up anything with goat cheese. Ever. Goat cheese wasn’t the only thing awesome about this sandwich. Add a juicy chicken breast, slap on some refried beans, some deliciously caramelized fried plantains and tangy pickled red onions in between what seemed to be freshly baked, thick and hearty bread. It was an absolutely fantastic flavor combination that I will have a hard time forgetting.

So if after reading this post you’re not already en route to Bodega Taco Bar, get there pronto, and go back mucho times because there are so many amazingly creative dishes to try there from their tacos and beyond. This spot is sure to become not only a Fairfield fave, but likely a destination people travel for much like Valencia Luncheria, because that’s just how Chef Michael Young rolls.

Noms:  4.25

Cost:  $$$

Bodega Taco Bar
Address: 1700 Post Road
Fairfield, CT
Phone:  (203) 292-9590
Site: http://www.bodegatacobar.com/

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A favorite authentic Mexican spot gets a bigger casa on East Main St. Casa Villa–Stamford, CT

22 Apr

Ceviche...so fresh!

So, we were jonesin’ for some no frills Latino last week and Kristien asked where to go.  So, there’s Ole Mole, Sierra Grille, Mi Ranchito, Mi Terruno, and more, but we felt like something new.  Just so happens that we got one of those annoying coupon books in the mail, pimping out a brand spankin’ new Casa Villa.  We’ve ordered from their other location, but this new spot is where Myrna’s used to be right on East Main Street in Stamford.  Hush hush, it’s okay…Myrna’s just moved to 980 Post Road in Darien and changed names to Cafe D’Azur.

The good, the guac, the hungry

As we walked in, we saw the differences pretty instantly.  A back room was opened up where we were seated.   Bright orange walls lit up the room and really made the atmosphere festive and lively.  We sat down at a nice and comfy table and were quickly brought a warm basket of tortilla chips (hell yes to warm tortillas) with some salsa.  The salsa here is pretty standard, but good.  Not watery, a bit chunky.  Fresh, too, with the nice and summery taste of cilantro poking through and just a hint of lime.

So, what would a nice Mexican meal be without some margaritas?  You’re right…it’d be lame.  Carlos mixed us a Patron silver margarita with freshly squeezed lime juice.  “You can’t just use a mix with good, quality tequila,” said Carlos. A wise man and quite a good barkeep.  As our margaritas arrived, so did our guacamole.  The kick of lime shot through the guac and brought a bright, fresh taste to it.  We still love Riviera Maya’s guac best, but this was good.

I gotta have Patron, I gotta have the beat

Up next?  Ceviche.  The fish was very fresh and was mixed in with peppers, red onion, and cilantro.  This was more of a Hondoruan style ceviche with a ketchup based sauce, rather than a citrus based.  We can’t say the dish was bad at all, but it’s just not the kind of ceviche that we’re used to.  We typically have the more citrus, Peruvian style. I did enjoy it, but Kristien will definitely stick with only citrus based ceviche from now on.

Finally, we were onto the main course:  I had the mole and Kristien had the chile rellenos.  The chicken was spiced nicely, sprinkled with cheese, and was smothered in a light, chocolately mole sauce.  The great thing about this mole?  For once, I was able to get the chocolate taste from the sauce, but it wasn’t overpowering, nor too sweet.  Both Kristien and I agreed that this was, by far, the best mole we’ve ever tasted.  Served with rice and beans, I didn’t want this dish to end and made sure to limit Kristien’s pilfering of my dish.

Mole mole mole moleee, moleee

She had her hands full, though, with her chile rellenos.  This was the perfect size, had the perfect amount of breading, and just the right amount of cheese to stuffing ratio inside that pepper bad boy.  Many places overdo it on both these fronts. The chicken inside was moist and full of flavor, while the sour cream’s freshness played off the incredible flavors from the stuffed pepper.  Kristien confidently said this was the best chile rellenos she’s had in CT.

With an abundance of choices for Mexican and Latino in the Stamford area, you’ve got to be great to survive.  Casa Villa worked its way up from a small, tiny little take-out and delivery shop, to an additional, new, bright spot.  We’re not saying Ole Mole and Riviera Maya aren’t good, we’re just saying that Casa Villa is really freaking good, and cheaper too!  So good that we went back on Thursday.  We ordered some tacos this time.  We loved the chorizo and al pastor tacos helluva’ lot.  With delivery as an option too, we’ll probably try more of the menu pretty soon. ;)  Also, check out Food + Beer‘s review.

An exquisite, perfectly balanced fried poblano

Noms:  4

Cost:  $$$ (Pay Day Treat)

Casa Villa

Address: 866 East Main Street

Stamford, CT 06902

Phone (Dine-in): (203) 348-0622

Phone (For take-out and delivery): (203) 323-1721

Site:  http://www.casavillarestaurant.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/casavillarestaurant

Casa Villa on Urbanspoon

It’s all about the margaritas baby – Riviera Maya, Stamford

31 Oct

Let’s lay it all out on the table right now–I consider myself to be somewhat of a Mexican food snob. I’m not sure where in my life I earned that right, considering the closest to Mexico I’ve ever lived is Atlanta, but nonetheless, here I am. In fact, when I moved to CT, I thought there couldn’t possibly be any GOOD Mexican food around here. Clearly, I was mistaken.

Riviera Maya is one of those restaurants I’d categorize under GOOD Mexican. Not fantastic, but definitely good and reliable. On our recent visit I ordered the Atlixo (which I clumsily flubbed the pronunciation of 3 times): two crispy fried tortillas topped with refried beans, lettuce, tomato, onions, avocado, sour cream, and best of all, strip steak. While the steak was cooked medium rare, just as I like it, and very nicely seasoned with a little salt, garlic, and perhaps some cumin, I don’t think I’d order it again. Overall it was a bit bland compared to other items they have on the menu (like the Taquitos Pastor de Pollo Danny’s going to tell you about).

Ok, now here’s where Riviera Maya goes from just good to GOOD: FRESH GUACAMOLE and JALEPENO MARGARITAS. Yep, both take the award home for best I’ve ever had!

The guacamole is made fresh at your table, exactly as you like it. Choose from any or all of the typical ingredients: onions, cilantro, tomato, salt, pepper, fresh-squeeze lime juice, and jalapenos to go as spicy (more please) or as mild (lame) as you want. The finished masterpiece is served up in a heavy stone bowl placed in the center of the table (or right in front of my face if you’re dining with me).

To wash it all down is the most fantastic margarita that both cools the senses and burns the tongue at the same time: the jalapeno margarita. Not too weak, not to strong, get it frozen or on the rocks, you really can’t go wrong with this ying and yang cocktail, which is just spicy enough to give you that tingle, but refreshing enough to wash down the spiciest meal.

And, to round out our score of 3.5 noms, the wait staff is friendly and accommodating, service is fast, but unhurried, and the prices are reasonable.

Noms: 3.5
Cost:  $$
 
Riviera Maya
Address:  20 Summer Street
Stamford, CT 06901
Phone: (203) 588-9400
Site:  http://www.rivieramayact.com
 
 

Riviera Maya on Urbanspoon

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