extramsg's Profile

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So, Wise Sons Deli is open ... who's been? Beauty's Bagels? [San Francisco]

Just wanted to correct some info here on Montreal bagels. Traditionally they are cooked in wood-fired ovens and the best of the Montreal bagel bakeries still do that, places such as St. Viateur and Fairmount. I think they taste smokier in the crust because of that than the good places in NY, which all use gas or electric ovens as far as I know. They also tend to be smaller and crisper on the outside, softer on the inside. I don't think they're any more heavily topped. There are plenty of sweet NY bagels, usually from malt in both the dough and the water.

More often, I think people just distinguish a bagel as "Montreal-style" outside Montreal to indicate that it's done more in a old school NY way, actually -- a bit more dense, hand-rolled, more flavor in the dough, etc, since pretty much every bagel in NY is now rolled by machines resulting in something bigger and softer than what people would have called a bagel 100 years ago.

The only place I've seen doing a true Montreal-style bagel outside of Montreal is Eltana in Seattle. I think they replicate what Fairmount and St-Viateur are doing EXACTLY. Personally, I prefer old school NY bagels to Montreal-style bagels, but Eltana will definitely transport anyone who has experienced true Montreal bagels and loved them.

Vancouver Hound's first trip to Portland -- help a hungry elf out?

I'm not sure what enchiladas you're talking about, but if you're talking about the alambres, stir-fries of various sorts with tons of melted cheese, those are entirely authentic, a very popular item in central Mexico, especially Mexico City, at taco stands, taquerias, fondas, and even casual restaurants.

Fruitvale is fine, but they don't have better Mexican than Portland, just more of it. And I'd say the diversity here is better than Fruitvale (and especially The Mission, though you didn't mention it) for whatever reason. Though there is a very good suadero truck open nights along International, if you're willing to eat with hookers and drug dealers (which I am). The advantage to Fruitvale is the density, but that can be found in Hillsboro, Gresham, or Woodburn here.

But you're certainly welcome to waste any meals you like at Kesone or elsewhere. :-P

Feb 17, 2012
extramsg in Metro Portland

Vancouver Hound's first trip to Portland -- help a hungry elf out?

I won't comment on Mi Mero Mole, since I'm the owner, but I will try to help improve your Mexican choices. For starters, check out this list I did for the Oregonian: http://www.oregonlive.com/dining/inde.... Most are not in Portland-proper, though. Autentica, La Calaca Comelona, Mextiza, and Nuestra Cocina are all very worthwhile with different emphases. They're midscale and primarily dinner places, though Mextiza has very good prices at lunch and Autentica has one of my favorite weekend brunches in town. Autentica and Mextiza are owned by the same person. The quality of the ingredients and carefulness of preparation at these places earns the prices they charge, imo. As you know, Vancouver has pretty awful Mexican food, so hopefully you get some.

I wouldn't make much effort looking for a good fish taco, unless you get the pescado zarandeado at Puerto Marquez and make your own. But even with that, I'd save it for a trip to LA. Better off with ceviche or shrimp preparations at Don Camaron.

btw, there is no real second choice after Podnah's for BBQ. That said, their sauces are quite good, though if it was about sauce, I'd choose Buster's, a local chain, that is much less consistent than Podnah's, but can still be very good, especially with pork ribs, and has an excellent sauce. Having had BBQ in Vancouer a couple times, you definitely should consider it. Personally, I like Wednesdays at Podnah's because they have awesome fried chicken. They also have a great brunch on weekends.

I wouldn't bother with Kesone. They're not the only place that does nam kao tod. The best is at Chiang Mai, their kao tod nam kook with the sour sausage upgrade. And as others have said, they do a good job across the menu.

Feb 15, 2012
extramsg in Metro Portland

Where to buy *flour* based tortilla chips?

Standard white corn tortilla chips. Nothing special about them. Get some white corn tortillas from the grocery store, chop them into six or eight pieces, fry them at 375 for about a minute until crisp and lightly golden brown. Toss with salt. Voila, "flour" chips.

Dec 27, 2011
extramsg in Dallas - Fort Worth

Rashnaa

Went to Rashnaa the other day. Been a while since I'd had Sri Lankan and I had a hankering for Southern Indian as well. We got: vada, masala dosa, and one of the Sri Lankan "rotty" (roti) dishes. I thought it was good, but nothing special. Certainly no better than what I'm used to for Southern Indian. The coconut chutney was quite nice, but that's the only one they supplied with the dosa or vada. The vada seemed pre-fried not fried to order and wasn't as crisp as it could have been. The caramelized onions and other bits in it were good, though. The potatoes in the dosa were quite big chunks that were mostly undercooked. The flavor of the masala was decent, but nothing special. The sambhar was kind of flat. I liked the "rotty" a decent amount (actually reminded me of matzoh brei with Indian flavors), though it seemed like it needed a sauce or chutney or something. Maybe it's normally eaten as a rice alternative.

Picked this because I've been to some of the chain Indian places in other cities that have been recommended here. Was hoping to find a really good independent/local place. If I lived in the neighborhood, I'd return, but as an out of towner, it wasn't worth it, really.

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Rashnaa
307 Wellesley St E, Toronto, ON M4X1H2, CA

Caplansky's - You have got to be kidding me!

Why haters gotta hate? ;-)

So, part of the reason I came up to Toronto is that I'm working on something about revivalist/artisan delis, the new breed of delis trying to bring back turn of the (20th) century flavors and techniques. Caplansky's is one of only a handful, the others being my own Kenhy & Zuke's, Mile End (probably the most famous because it's in NY), Wise Sons, and Stopsky's.

I guess it's necessary to give other credentials, like that I've been pretty much everywhere most people name, scores of places in NY, LA, and Montreal, plus delis wherever I travel.

I've had two meals now at Caplansky's. I'll probably have one more before I leave town. I thought the food was very good. The only weak items, I think, were a salad whose vinaigrette needed more vin and a couple of the pickles on the pickle platter that were just okay.

The smoked meat was quite good. It has a nice real smoke flavor. A lot of the revivalist places are curing and smoking their own pastrami/smoked meat. So many of even the most famous delis outsource the product, often using the same thing everyone else in town uses, so it's just a matter of who happens to heat it and serve it best that day. I thought the smoked meat had a nice balance of cure and smoke. Both days I got it at the end of the day and it wasn't dry. Slices were thick cut, but still tender enough that they fell apart with a slight tug. The fat cap was translucent and though my wife avoided it, I loved how it melted in my mouth like pastrami flavored chocolate.

The tongue was also terrific. Very luscious and tender with a nice pickled flavor. I like my chopped liver a little chunkier with hunks of egg showing, but it tasted good. I liked the salami a lot, too. Milder than the stuff we get from Empire National in Brooklyn or from Katz's. I think it'd be great in a simple cheese sandwich like at Wilensky's.

Love some of the specialty items, too, like the smoked meat poutine. The gravy was a little different from what I got at places like Banquis in Montreal, but it was still good and the smokier smoked meat works great. Very good fries, too. I think the knish is brilliant, unlike any I've had. They say it's puff pastry shell, but it reminds me more of the crust of bread, seeded with sesame, I believe, and then stuffed with mashed potatoes and smoked meat. And then they put more of that smoked meat gravy around it. Huge step up from most knishes, especially those evil hockey pucks places like Katz's sell. Ugh.

Desserts, which too often at modern delis are about size, not quality, were quite tasty, too. Had the s'more cake, which was chocolate cake, chocolate icing, graham crackers, and browned marshmallows layered was fun and tasty. Even better was the sour cherry pie we had tonight. Nice crust and very good filling. Just the right tartness vs sweetness.

I was a little worried when I got to Toronto and I was looking up other places to eat and saw this thread on Caplansky's. I was thinking maybe I came all this way and spent $1000 on our plane tickets for nothing. I'm glad the bulk of this thread, imo, was so off the mark. I think they've exceeded the hype.

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Caplansky's
356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

best delicatessen in Hamilton

I'm more a fan of the revivalist Jewish delis, like Mile End, Stopsky's, Wise Sons, and my own Kenny & Zuke's. Caplansky's is definitely along those lines. They're less homogenous, more like I imagine delis were at their inception over a century ago. Had the Caplansky's platter tonight with pickled tongue, smoked meat, smoked turkey, grilled salami, and chopped liver -- all done from scratch in-house, I believe. The smoked meat definitely tastes like it since it has actual smokiness unlike so much of the "smoked" meat in Montreal. The tongue was perfect: luscious and tender with nice rounded pickling flavor.

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Caplansky's
356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

best delicatessen in Hamilton

If you're willing to spend a half hour to hour getting to Toronto, then there's Caplansky's on College.

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Caplansky's
356 College Street, Toronto, ON M6J, CA

Such a Thing as Good New Mexican Food in ABQ?

Hit El Modelo before heading to the airport. Actually, hit Golden Crown Panaderia first. Love that place. It's so hard to find places that make pan dulce from scratch, even if it's a limited selection. Most Mexican rather than New Mexican panaderias use commercial mixes, such as Bakemark's. It was great to see them rolling out their own dough for empanadas. The Mexican wedding cookies and the biscochitos were both delicious and expertly made. Nice textures and flavors on both. Liked seeing their inside grow operation. In Portland, those wouldn't be tomatoes under those grow lights.

I also really liked El Modelo. Didn't get a lot since we were in a hurry to get to the airport, just chile rellenos and enchiladas. Even after 30 minutes in the car, the enchiladas weren't mushy. I liked the red. It had heat and intensity, but also a certain meatiness to it and balance. Maybe a little salt would help, but that's about it. The beans that came on the side seemed to also have meat chunks in it. I liked the flavor of their refritos, but they were a little pasty. Rice was bland but well-cooked. The rellenos had gone soggy, of course, by the time we got to the airport. Not sure if they would be if eaten immediately. The batter on them seemed nice. The rellenos (and sopaipillas) on this trip have been much better in Albuquerque than Santa Fe or Taos (by contrast, the adovadas I had were much better in Santa Fe than Albuquerque). I liked the green chile they put on top of the rellenos. It was atypical with a few chunks of tomato and meat mixed in with the chunks of green chile. I have no clue if the sopaipilla would have been good. 30 minutes in a paper bag is no way to measure the quality. It seemed to have some flakiness and a decent flavor, though. I also like that they seemed to be making their own nixtamal and that you could buy it, fresh masa, and masa preparada for tamales and the like. I saw a lot of tamales go out the door frozen. Probably should have tried one. Got a free bumper sticker, too, that says I <3 Chicharrones, which I do, so that was a bonus. Obviously the place churns out the food assembly-line style just like behemoths such as Sadie's or Frontier, but the food, in my very limited experience, seemed a little more homey or soulful. Maybe it's just all the extra meat. ;-) Either way, it was a nice last meal in New Mexico.

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Golden Crown Panaderia
1103 Mountain Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

El Modelo Mexican Foods
1715 2nd St SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

May 25, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

It says "Juarez-style" on the truck. Not sure what that means -- perhaps a front for drug trafficking and hit squads? (Kidding, of course.) I think they're just bacon-wrapped.

May 24, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

Where is the beacon?

I read through Fyfas's posts after this comment above and I couldn't find much besides the high end places being recommended. I remember Fyfas recommending the Shed/Choza combo, but most people seem to say Choza is better than The Shed and the meal I had at Choza was marred by bad service, higher than normal prices, and probably the worst New Mexican food of the places I tried in Santa Fe. I didn't think my meal at Tomasita's was worse overall than my meals at Los Amigos, Atrisco, or Campanario.

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Tomasita's
500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Atrisco Cafe and Bar
193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

May 23, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

A couple more classic Mexican dishes in big "D"?

I think you guys mean Mesa rather than Mangos:

http://mesadallas.com.

May 23, 2011
extramsg in Dallas - Fort Worth

Green Chili Cheese Burger

Okay, I can't remember where I've posted that I ate at GCCB, so I'm just going to list them all and give my general impressions:

Owl Cafe (ABQ): This was probably the worst of the bunch, though given the price maybe I'd choose it over Sophia's Place. It was just a weak diner burger with a bun that dissolved halfway through with steamed looking meat. Meh.

Blake's (ABQ): This was a nice fast food burger. I'd put Blake's up against In-n-Out based on this visit. All the parts were fresh tasting and a definite step or two above most fast food joints. I'd prefer this over our own Burgerville in the NW. The green chile was really prominent too.

Route 66 Malt Shop (ABQ): Maybe because it was my first good meal and first good green chile cheeseburger, but I'm giving this the silver. I thought they did a really great job with the sear, toasted bun, nicely cooked and adequately juicy, well-seasoned meat. There was plenty of green chile, even though it was a double and they had the option of grilled onions, which went great with it.

Sophia's Place (ABQ): This was probably the most disappointing burger. I was hoping for what I would end up finding in Santa Fe: an upscale, carefully prepared, really well-executed burger with quality ingredients. What I got was a bland burger lacking seasoning, with an underwhelming green chile with way too much cilantro. I asked for it medium and it was cooked well beyond that. I also hate field greens like mizuna on a burger. It has no structure. Romaine, bibb, or even iceberg are all far superior. Also, the menu said cheese and there was no cheese on mine. The line was so long I couldn't get them to correct it and I couldn't get someone's attention either. There was too much bun for the burger, too. It was really thick. (Also, when we ordered the fish tacos, my wife's meal, it said snapper, but it came out salmon. When I was trying to get my burger fixed, I noticed they had changed it on the menu, but they never warned us. If it had been me, I wouldn't have been able to eat it since I hate the taste of cooked salmon. Luckily my wife likes salmon.)

Bobcat Bite (SF): Totally earns its accolades. The burger itself is fantastic with our without green chile and cheese. In some ways, it wasn't my favorite green chile cheeseburger only because I think the meat so dominates that it should be ordered with double cheese and double green chile. But that's easily remedied and I think I can make allowances for it. The burger was so juicy it would literally run down my arm. It was perfectly cooked with a nice thin, but dark sear, and pink center. Bun was good quality. Therefore, this gets the gold. Just as a side note, I come from a very good burger town and last year ate about 75 burgers in only a couple months in route to rating the city's best. I often try burgers in other cities to calibrate Portland's burgers. So be proud. Be very, very proud.

http://wweek.com/portland/article-122...

Harry's Roadhouse (SF): A nice burger that could be a bit juicier and better seasoned, but was cooked nicely and came on a quality bun with a simple, tasty green chile and a very nice aged cheddar. This gets the honorable mention.

Cafe Pasqual's (SF): Lots of nice roasted green chile and cheese. Plenty of crust on the patty which was still left pink and adequately juicy. Very nice soft poppy seeded bun well toasted to hold up while eating. I'd give this the bronze in my survey.

Bert's Burger Bowl (SF): Quality fast food burger with a good proportion of green chile and American cheese. Appreciated the grill flavor. And it wasn't overcooked, probably mid-well. But the meat didn't have much flavor. I'd say the one from Blake's that I had was better overall.

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Bobcat Bite Restaurant
420 Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Harry's Roadhouse
96B Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Route 66 Malt Shop
1720 Central Ave SW Ste C, Albuquerque, NM 87104

Bert's Burger Bowl
235 N Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Blake's Lotaburger
1617 Indian School Rd NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104

Sophia's Place
6313 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107

Cafe Pasqual's
121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Owl Cafe
800 Eubank Blvd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87123

May 21, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

That all makes sense. I think it's the case in most places with an actual cuisine. There are probably exceptions, maybe New Orleans, eg, but it's a common problem. In truth, I had a harder time in Vermont & Montreal than I had in New Mexico finding places that a) made the traditional cuisine, and b) made an effort to do it well. I do think it's sad with the farmers markets available and with a real local cuisine, unlike my home town which doesn't have one, that the upscale restaurants in Santa Fe don't make more of an effort to make foster that and make less "southwest" cuisine that would be as at home in Scottsdale or Dallas as it is in Santa Fe. Or worse, the global stuff that looks like an effort to mimic NY. Santa Fe, unlike many places, has the ability to truly make something unique that speaks to the local traditions. I hope when I return there's more of that.

Mostly I was just being provocative to try to promote an "I'll show you" attitude and get some quick, useful discussion going rather than just a list of the usual suspects.

Went to the farmers market this morning before leaving town and it was quite good. I've been to many, and it's obviously a robust and well-patronized one with some great stuff. Got some mesquite/cactus honey, gumweed honey, anasazi beans, and chicos to bring home, plus ate a green chile croissant and some other tasty prepared eats. Some very nice spring produce, including a variety of radishes and other root veggies, greens, and the like.

Afterwards got a green chili cheeseburger, frito pie, and green chile grilled cheese at Bert's Burger Bowl. Burger was decent, but I don't know that it was made as well as the one I had at Blake's in ABQ. Better than the one I had at the Owl Cafe, though. I like that it was char-grilled. Really loved the grilled cheese and it's cheap. Highlighted the green chile really well. Also enjoyed the frito pie where it's more like a big bowl of chili that you can add fritos, cheese, and onions to.

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Bert's Burger Bowl
235 N Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

May 21, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

Went to Tomasita's tonight for second dinner. Got a decent sopaipilla to start. Loved that they served honey butter with it. It could have been crisper, but was flaky. It got tough as it cooled. Sides were mostly good. Rice, pintos, and refritos were all seasoned well and cooked properly. Enchiladas were stacked, had a nice modest proportion of cheese, and weren't soggy. Got them red. The red here was intense, creamy, and thick, though a bit harsh/bitter, but not tinny. Rellenos didn't have much cheese inside and the batter was a little burnt yet soggy. The green has lots of chunks of chile with a pretty straight-forward green chile flavor and nothing else. They only do carne adovada on Fridays, unfortunately. I've been having better luck with adovadas in Santa Fe.

First dinner was at Campanario. Sides weren't too good. Rice was much too mushy and the beans lacked flavor. Posole tasted okay, but the kernels themselves were rough and a little undercooked. The sopaipilla wasn't crisp or flaky but had a decent flavor. The carne adovada was a bit over-salted, but the flavor of the sauce was complex, meaty, and delicious. The chunks of meat were tender and juicy. I got a little red on the side, which was intense and just slightly tinny, but not bad. Flour tortilla was fat and well-browned, pretty enjoyable. The relleno tasted nice but it was soggy. One was a little burnt, too. Enchiladas were a bit heavy on cheese, but not too soft. The green had a lot of chunks of chile and a deceptive heat that built. It needed salt, though.

btw, also hit Guisos earlier in the day. Nice menu. Lady is from Mexico City where guisos/guisados are popular in fondas and street stalls. They have maybe 10 or so to choose from and make their tortillas, sopes, and gorditas by hand. Tacos were $1.50 each. All of the ones we had -- lengua en salsa verde, bistek en chile pasilla, tinga, and cerdo en adobo -- were good, but not great. You'd get better from most street stands in Mexico. But it's definitely a worthwhile stop for authentic homestyle Mexican from Central Mexico.

Lunch was at Pasqual's. Despite a wait and ridiculous prices that include $11 mimosas and $14 breakfast burritos, the food we had was definitely good. We tried to stick to classics, though some of the creative items was definitely tempting. We got the blue corn enchiladas, which were stacked, with a nice proportion of cheese. We got this Christmas. The green was creamy with chunks and was very delicious, well-seasoned, with lots of flavor. The red wasn't really like any of the others I've had so far. It was darker, like it was made with a blend of chiles that including something darker like an ancho or pasilla. It had a sweet undertone with a touch of tanginess. Much more complex than most reds. I don't know if it can actually be categorized as one. Cilantro rice was very light, more like couscous. Black beans were excellent with a terrific pot licker surround whole beans. We also got a very good green chili cheeseburger. The meat was cooked very nicely, almost over-charred. Poppy seeded bun was toasted well and held up throughout. Lots of cheese and big slices of roasted green chiles. We got the apple-fennel salad on the side and it was also delicious. They gave us a ginger cookie when we bought a t-shirt and it was also quite good.

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Cafe Pasqual's
121 Don Gaspar Ave, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Tomasita's
500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

May 21, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

I think Atrisco Cafe, the place I went tonight, is also related to Tia Sophia's and Tomasita's. Have no clue how the three differ in menu, recipes, quality, etc.

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Tia Sophia's
210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Tomasita's
500 S Guadalupe St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Atrisco Cafe and Bar
193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

Did indeed do two dinners:

First was at Atrisco. Probably the best carne adovada yet. Intense red chile but didn't ever become tinny or too harsh, more just spicy. The meat was tender and not dry at all. Relleno was interesting. It had good flavor, though the batter was a bit soggy. However, it had some breadcrumbs that gave some crunch. Green had lots of chunks of chile but needed some salt to bring out the flavor more. Salt was an issue here. Not sure if it's just tonight. Beans and posole were also under-salted. Blue corn enchilada was very cheesy (subbed cheese for chicken) but the tortilla was good. Better sopaipilla than La Choza, but still not worth eating without honey. Tasted like whole wheat maybe. Taco meat had flavor, but I hate pre-formed shells.

Other meal was at Los Amigos. Like Atrisco, sides suffered, but even worse. Beans had no flavor and rice was very mushy and needed salt badly. Adovado seemed more Mex or Tex-Mex with a lot of complex, meaty sauce with a heavy dose of cumin. I did get some red on the side just to taste it and it had a very straight ahead red flavor with just a little too much harsh aftertaste, mostly just a full mouth heat. Tamal was decent, but needed seasoning. Light and good texture, though. Enchilada was mushy. Relleno was tasty. It almost seemed like there was cream cheese inside. It was runnier and tangier than normal. Maybe cheese and sour cream or Mexican sour cream mixed? White cheese sauce? Batter was a little soggy. Very good sopaipilla -- best in Santa Fe so far. It was huge and pillowy with a nice yeasty flavor. It was served warm and flaky. I could have eaten it w/out honey and been happy.

Saw a truck called Los Dogos while driving up Cerrillos. Anyone tried it? Perhaps Sonoran hot dogs? Couldn't find anything online. Also saw a place called Guisos. Read about it and it sounds like they do tacos de guisados/guisos with handmade tortillas. Guisos/guisados, for those unfamiliar, are Mexican homestyle preapred foods, usually stews and stir fries. Carne adovada, especially when saucy, would be a guiso, eg. Anyone tried this place? Only two reviews online on Yelp that I could find.

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La Choza Restaurant
905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Atrisco Cafe and Bar
193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

btw, I saw a place across the corner from Pasqual's that from the menu appeared to be somewhat what I'm looking for. It's called Tabla de Los Santos or something like that. Anyone tried it?

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

When I say "poorly seasoned" I mean lacking salt.

Thanks for the recs.

btw, went to Bobcat Bite and Harry's Roadhouse for lunch today. Both GCCB were quite tasty, although the meat and skill in the kitchen at Bobcat Bite was phenomenal. That place has earned all its many accolades. The burger was extremely juicy, cooked perfectly, nicely seared, and just excellent. I'd eat a plain burger there and be happy. If I got the GCCB again, though, I'd probably get an extra side the green chile just because it's such a fat burger, the green chile doesn't always come through. Good service, too.

Harry's was also a quality burger, though obviously a step down, but the green chile was more prominent and I liked the aged cheddar for balance. We also got a special of a tomato, corn, and tarragon savory pie that was quite good. The mixture inside was tasty and the crust, perhaps whole wheat, had a very good texture and flavor that matched well with the stuffing. We also got strawberry rhubarb pie for dessert and it was probably the best of the things we got. The crust was very flaky and hearty and the strawberry rhubarb mixture wasn't overly sweet. We were stuffed when this came and still ate every bite.

Two dinners tonight, but not sure where yet.

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Bobcat Bite Restaurant
420 Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Harry's Roadhouse
96B Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Green Chili Cheese Burger

Owl Cafe in ABQ. Yeah I was wondering about that. Thanks for the clarification.

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

I'm not asking for traditional New Mexican in the case of fine dining.

I understand that it's nearly impossible for a restaurateur to do a traditional cuisine upscale because of the backlash from the pricing required to support a fine dining staff, rent, and buildout, plus the costs of purchasing quality ingredients. That will usually result in the need to "add value" to the dishes by removing traditional ingredients and adding more flashy ones to create things like lobster enchiladas. Instead of going back to the home cooking traditions that made a cuisine great and just doing everything really well with perhaps a more modern presentation, you get some hybrid monstrosity that may or may not work but justifies the prices.

I'm not looking for that, really. And I'm not expecting to find the upscale traditional New Mexican food either. (Although of all the places I've looked at, Pasqual's seems to be trying hardest to provide that.) I'm asking for a place that focuses on local or regional seasonal ingredients, primarily, with perhaps some nod to local traditions as well. Fine dining has taken two directions in the last decade or so: 1) towards "molecular gastronomy", pushing the envelope on form, primarily, and 2) towards the dream of people like Alice Waters, where local and seasonal concerns dominate, where chefs team up with local farmers to supply a large portion of their product. The sort of eclectic menus depending on a high FedEx budget like I see at Coyote and Geronimo are, thankfully, the past.

Ristra and Anasazi would seemingly be doing a bit of that if this was Mexico not New Mexico.

Look, I know my posts are provocative. I can be nice, but I was working 16 hours a day helping someone open a restaurant prior to this vacation, so I didn't take the time I normally do to research far in advance. Instead, I'm looking for recommendations quickly and I want to be clear about what I want and don't want.

My list currently looks like this:

NEW MEXICAN
Pasqual's, Atrisco, Los Amigos, Tia Sophia's, Campanario, Maria's

GCCB
Bobcat Bite, Bert's, Cowgirl, Parasol

UPSCALE MEXICAN
Epazote, Ristra, Anasazi

FINE DINING
???

btw, La Choza was second only to Frontier as far as worst New Mexican meals so far. Obviously, it was only one meal at any of these places, but still, that one meal was not good. The chile relleno and sopaipillas were worst of the trip so far. The chile seemed unseasoned, the batter thin and soggy. I couldn't taste anything but cheese with the enchiladas. Everything was very thinly sauced. It was hard to get a taste of the green or red chile by itself. Posole was much worse than at other places. Best item was the carne adovada, though the meat was a bit dry. But it was one of the better versions I've had. But compared to the places I've been so far in Albuquerque, plus La Cocina and Orlando's in Taos, only Frontier was a worse meal, but at least the cinnamon roll and tortillas were good there.

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Bobcat Bite Restaurant
420 Old Las Vegas Hwy, Santa Fe, NM 87505

La Choza Restaurant
905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

Tia Sophia's
210 W San Francisco St, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Atrisco Cafe and Bar
193 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM 87501

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Santa Fe Fine Dining that isn't Stuck in the '90s?

In Santa Fe for the next few days. Been reading Chowhound, Yelp, dining guides, blogs, etc, trying to decide where to eat. I generally shy away from fine dining in resort/tourist dominated areas. I've found that it's usually over-priced and can't compete with the quality of top tier dining destinations like NY, Chicago, or San Francisco, or even top restaurants in lesser food cities like Seattle, DC, or Houston. But people keep insisting that the fine dining is truly good here and my first meal in town at La Choza was so mediocre I'm a little scared of the more pedestrian eats now, too. (And I don't think I'll bother with The Shed now, which seems to be the most recommended restaurant on CH for SF.)

Looking through menus of recommended spots, such as Geronimo and Coyote Cafe, I'm becoming disheartened. It's like these chefs never left the '90s (or '80s). Ingredients flown in from all over the world put together in a chaotic fashion with fusiony this and that?

Was looking at the Ristra menu, thinking from the name and the description on the website that they might actually, "capture the simple and powerful spirit of New Mexico through its decor, ambiance and cuisine." But the menu doesn't seem New Mexican at all -- chipotles, ahi tuna, orzo, etc. And the the topper: chilean sea bass. Talk about the '90s! From the ingredient list, the menu would make more sense in the Polanco District of Mexico City. I had a harder time telling with Anasazi. Looked more modern, more of a New American fusion with Mediterranean dishes using Southwest seasonal ingredients, perhaps.

Is there a place trying harder to do some thing seasonal emphasizing local traditions and foods? Or, I'd just be happy with a place making classic New Mexican fare with top quality ingredients and a really good palate behind the scenes.

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La Choza Restaurant
905 Alarid St, Santa Fe, NM 87505

May 19, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Such a Thing as Good New Mexican Food in ABQ?

@Chimayo Joe
Could be. But it's worth noting that I've traveled a decent amount in Mexico and cook with a variety of whole dried chiles (what you guys seem to refer to as pods as opposed to powder). I don't usually have a problem with it. I'm going to do some experimenting when I get home and see if there's something that creates the tinny bitterness that reminds me of Old El Paso from a can. We leave Albuquerque today, so it's on to Santa Fe and Taos to see if we do any better.

@Ninrn
If "modern" means using untraditional food stuffs like mangos and chipotles, I'm probably not all that interested. I would be very interested, though, in a place where they charged a bit more and focused on using the best quality traditional ingredients they could get their hands on and were very careful in preparing the dishes, making everything to order where it mattered, etc.

May 17, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Green Chili Cheese Burger

Had the green chili cheeseburger at The Owl tonight. Thought it was just okay. The green chile on it is fine, but I didn't notice it being better than most. The burger was tender and didn't seem frozen, but it was poorly grilled, appearing almost steamed with no char and little seasoning. Mediocre American cheese and a bun that practically dissolved half-way through. I had a much, much better burger at the Route 66 Malt Shop. In fact, since it was my first in ABQ, I was thinking that, damn, if they get better than this I might not eat anything else. The bun was grilled very crisp and while a little soft still held up throughout the entire burger, even though I got a double. The patty was really nicely crusted and seasoned. They gave the option of grilled onions, which were delicious. I would have liked more green chile, but there was more than what The Owl gave and it was good. Cheese seemed a little better quality, too. I don't think it was any more expensive than The Owl. This is just one burger each at these places, but the one I had at the Malt Shop was light years better. (And while off-topic, the other food at the Owl was much worse than the burger.)

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Route 66 Malt Shop
1720 Central Ave SW Ste C, Albuquerque, NM 87104

May 16, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Such a Thing as Good New Mexican Food in ABQ?

Went to Padilla's for a late lunch. Not impressed. Like the sopaipillas. Very good. The green chile was very thin, though, and lacking in actual chile. The red was also thin, but had that same harshness behind the thin flavor. If not cut with whatever they're cutting it with, I suspect it would have been harsh as well. The tortillas for the enchiladas were very dry and almost tough, but still not bad. Didn't try the adovada. Beans were very bland. Worst so far. The rice was better on flavor but very mushy. Relleno was easily the best part of the meal.

May 16, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Such a Thing as Good New Mexican Food in ABQ?

Hit Mary's & Tito's today. I appreciated that the rice and beans were both carefully prepared and well-seasoned. The rice still had some tooth to the grains and the beans were creamy and luscious. The rest was a bit more mixed. Tortillas were better elsewhere, though they weren't bad. Relleno and enchilada were both pretty good, though some little details were missed, like the cheese in the enchilada not being melted. The carne adovada was pretty dry, though tender. Got green on the former and red on the latter. The red did lack the harsh bitterness of some of the other versions, but I wouldn't say it was especially enjoyable. It tasted a bit flat to me. Not sure if it was lack of seasoning or just needs something to balance out the flavor. It's certainly possible that the simplicity of the sauces in NM just seem flat to me by comparison with similarly used sauces in Mexico or California.

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Mary's & Tito's Cafe
2711 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107

May 16, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Such a Thing as Good New Mexican Food in ABQ?

Well, two of those three are consistently recommended (again, I thoroughly read recs) and the other was recommended by a friend. I'd like to hit Mary's and Tito's. I just need accurate hours. The tacos were part of combo platters.

May 16, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Such a Thing as Good New Mexican Food in ABQ?

Yes, intentionally provocative.

I've read through A LOT of threads, plus lots of reviews on other sites, blogs, Yelp, etc. There seems to be little consensus with most people having their pet fav restaurants and dishes for (New) Mexican food. This often suggests there isn't anywhere especially good. And my meals, so far, are confirming this.

So far I've hit Patio, Frontier, and Garcia's (on 4th). I tried to hit Mary's & Tito's twice, but both times it was closed. (The hours I found were wrong.) There've been elements from these places I've liked, but really the best part were the fresh tortillas and sopaipillas.

To me, most the red chile sauces taste a bit harsh (harsh as in bitter or tinny, not spicy) and flat, reminding me of Old El Paso enchilada sauce from a can. The one at Patio was better to my palate, but only because it was lighter and brighter, perhaps cut. This seemed to be the case for their green chile, too, which made it worse than the others, imo.

The tacos seemed to be uniformly bad, barely a step up from Taco Bell. In fact, I'd say the chain Taco Time makes better crisp-shell tacos. They're all a far cry from the quality I grew up with since we fried our own shells at home and the Cal-Mex places we went to fried their own, too. And the meat is just mushy, flavorless ground beef.

I've had a similar problem at Tex-Mex places in Texas. I'm starting to wonder if the nature of Mexican food in restaurants -- ie, the emphasis on fast and cheap and big -- just keeps it from being even as good as what I would expect from a merely decent home cook.

So, please prove me wrong. Can I get good quality New Mexican food made skillfully to order with good quality ingredients, well-seasoned and well-balanced in a restaurant?

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Frontier Restaurant
2400 Central Ave SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

El Patio De Albuquerque
142 Harvard Dr SE, Albuquerque, NM 87106

Mary's & Tito's Cafe
2711 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107

Garcia's Kitchen-the Original
1113 4th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87102

Taco Time
2520 Idaho St, Elko, NV 89801

May 15, 2011
extramsg in Southwest

Fresh Rice Noodles?

For Thai ingredients, you should always check Lily Thai Market out on NE Halsey first. It's the largest and best of the dedicated Thai markets, which there are only about four of in PDX. There are some photos of the place here:

http://portlandfood.org/topic/929-bes...

Apr 07, 2011
extramsg in Metro Portland

The best Burger in Portland, Oregon

Glad you enjoyed my burger reviews. The top 10 were actually printed in Willamette Week, whereas a large number of the rest were published only on Extramsg.com. The burgers I ate were actually pretty varied. While some were more upscale with a lot of meat and big buns (like me, even before eating all those burgers), I did eat at places like Burgerville and Mike's, that do fast food/drive-in burgers, and places like Mad Greek, Helvetia, and Slingshot, that do more tavern/bar burgers.

Some of these are pretty tasty and a very good value. However, excluding price as an issue, like I did, a lot of other burgers were better, imo, due to better quality mean, bread, and toppings, and often more attention to detail when seasoning and cooking the burgers.

For relatively classic style burgers that aren't too expensive and scored well, look at Violetta, Eastmoreland Kitchen, or Foster Burger. Another good option that opened after these reports is Little Big Burger. Their burgers start at only about $3 and generally are very good. Their fries are especially good.

Some classic style burgers that are more expensive, but worth it, imo, are Metrovino's burger (cheaper and smaller at happy hour) and Tasty n Son's burger.

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Burgerville
8218 NE Glisan St, Portland, OR 97220

Tasty n Sons
3808 N Williams Ave, Portland, OR 97227

Mar 21, 2011
extramsg in Metro Portland