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Athens, GA: Heresy!

Thanks for the tips about 5&10.

I have to defend Sabor Latino--they really do have some wonderfully nuanced dishes. Try the Colombian and Peruvian tamales side by side - lots of nuanced differences between them. I think tamales are usually boring--the risotto of the Latin world--but SL has shown me they can have a beauty to them. Also, a lot of their less cliche dishes, like the various baked chicken entrees with different kinds of sauces, are both very flavorful and complex.

I think there may be something else going on with Sabor Latino--we have expectations about Latin food in the US as being spicy and cheap, so we don't tend to come to the Latin table with the same kinds of expectations that we bring to, say, continental food. But I think if you put one of several Sabor Latino entrees on the 5&10 menu, slapped a $25 price tag on it, and dressed up with the 5&10 ambiance, folks on Chowhound would be raving about the nuances they might ignore in SL's hole-in-the-wall setting.

Jul 30, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in General South Archive

Athens, GA: Heresy!

I agree, Suzy. It's absolutely true that some restaurants speak to some people's tastes more than others, but it is strange to phrase it as "getting it," as if someone is stupid for not *understanding* what's delicious about the food.

This is actually at the heart of my perhaps feeble criticism of 5&10's reputation - and why I compared it to the emperor with no clothes. I sometimes get the impression that there's an in-grouping thing going on. "Oh, you don't appreciate the smartness/subtleties of the restaurant? Well, *I* do." The restaurant may not be promoting that attitude, and it's clear many, many diners just really like the food. But often the praise I hear about the restaurant leans more toward stoking the diner's pride in his own good taste. (As is evident from some posts here implying that anyone who isn't crazy about the restaurant just doesn't appreciate subtlety or the finer things in life.)

Jul 30, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in General South Archive

Athens, GA: Heresy!

First, thanks, Hugh for being so gracious. As you know, you have enough admirers without courting my favor.

Charlotte, I agree that the service was fantastic and I know that everyone will henceforth disregard my opinion about everything. But for the record I didn't want Latin food when I went there, I was just making the comparison afterward.

So here's a question, nicer, maybe, than my original post. What are the great meals? My own intuitions are not paying off there, and I'm sure I'll go again sometime soon, so what are you ordering that knocks your socks off?

Jul 28, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in General South Archive

Athens, GA: Heresy!

Okay, I'm going to say it. I know that some of you will call down a curse upon me, my children, and my children's children, but I think the Five and Ten is thoroughly overrated and overpriced. I think it's the naked emperor of Athens, Georgia.

I've eaten there twice. Granted, not an impressive sampling, but I don't really want to take out a second mortgage to further confirm my opinion. The first time I ate there was about a year and a half ago, and I couldn't even tell you now what I ate. I had a delicious Chimay ale and I could detail the dinner conversation, but the food was thoroughly unmemorable, and probably cost about $25-$30.

I went again a few months ago. I ordered risotto. Again, I know, I should have known this wouldn't be a showpiece. But someone else was picking up the tab and I was getting hints that the budget had a ceiling, so I opted for a cheaper dish. It was totally bland, underseasoned, and cost as much as a lavish dinner for two at a local Latino place.

My husband thinks I should cut them some slack because I ordered something kind of lame. But in my opinion, if a place changes up their menu to reflect what they can do well, and when they have a fairly small selection, with every entree costing two days worth of groceries, ANYTHING you order should kick ass. And it just didn't. Someone else there ordered a lamb dish and I noticed she didn't finish it--generally there was little ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the table. (One exception: someone ordered a sardine appetizer that was very, very simple and also quite tasty.)

Both times I ate there I left reflecting on the fact that I could have gotten a meal at Sabor Latino or a similar place in town that would have cost the amount of my tip at the 5 & 10 but would have had way more flavor and nuance.

So, okay, I'm bracing myself! Let me have it!

Jul 26, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in General South Archive

Restaurant Gems in Enid OK?

Excuse cross-posting!

This thread is probably abandoned, but--

Port Lugano on S. Van Buren is good. They have a very good caesar salad and tomato soup. More importantly, they seriously have the best latte you'll ever drink. I don't know why--God knows Enid is not gourmet central--but Port Lugano's latte is kick-ass. They have a really high-end cool copper espresso machine and the owner is Swiss (I think), and altogether you'll be pleasantly surprised by their stuff.

Also, I haven't been to Enid in a couple years, but when I was last there I went to a Mexican place on Garriott called Playa Azul that was good--way better than the chain crap in town.

Jul 26, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in General Midwest Archive

DFW to Enid Oklahoma

This thread is probably abandoned, but--

Port Lugano on S. Van Buren is good. They have a very good caesar salad and tomato soup. More importantly, they seriously have the best latte you'll ever drink. I don't know why--God knows Enid is not gourmet central--but Port Lugano's latte is kick-ass. They have a really high-end cool copper espresso machine and the owner is Swiss (I think), and altogether you'll be pleasantly surprised by their stuff.

Also, I haven't been to Enid in a couple years, but when I was last there I went to a Mexican place on Garriott called Playa Azul that was good--way better than the chain crap in town.

Jul 26, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in Texas

Could Athens, GA, support an "indie" butcher shop?

I've never bought meat anywhere except chain groceries before. We went to Simply Meats today and got a tri-tip steak for the grill. Seriously, it was transcendental.

The prices were competitive with (if not clearly better than) grocery stores in town, and the staff was knowledgeable and very friendly. They have a "freezer pack" deal going--you get a selection of different kinds of meat to take home and freeze, and save about 1/3 off of what they would sell it for separately (which, as I mentioned, is already pretty low).

I really recommend giving this place a shot. My husband and I usually divide down the stereotypical gender lines at dinner, with him eating most of the protein and me eating most of the carbs. But I would have stabbed his hand with my fork if he tried taking more than his share of that steak!

Jun 21, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in General South Archive

Best Eats in Athens GA

I'll have to try the enchiladas in green sauce!

My theory on food digestion is that if you keep eating, eating, eating, your body will learn to cope. Maybe not the healthiest approach?

Jun 14, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in Southeast

Best Eats in Athens GA

SABOR LATINO: It's in a strip mall on West Broad. It's fantastic--definitely one of the best places in Athens. Their menu is so extensive--Peruvian, Columbian, Mexican--that I was skeptical about whether they could pull off the variety. But my husband and I have eaten there at least a dozen times and have never tried anything that wasn't fantastic. They have home-cooking style stuff, like baked chicken in a sauce that will make you cry, plus saltada dishes that are so superior to Las Conchitas it isn't funny. Their tamales are excellent. They also have a Peruvian fried rice dish (arroz chaufa) that's better than any Asian food I've had in Athens. Seriously, give this place a try. Additionally, you can easily walk out of there paying $15 for an indulgent dinner for two. But if they charged twice that I'd still go.

Also, LA ESTRELLA. Some of their meals are predictably boring--if you order a quesadilla you probably will get the ho-hum you're looking for. But their a la carte tacos are *excellent*-- really delicious. Be sure to order them Mexican style so you get the cilantro and lime instead of lettuce and cheese. Their cubanos are also great. And the staff there are really pleasant--I believe it's family operated.

Jun 14, 2008
nyom_nyom_nyom_de_plume in Southeast