Monday, March 30, 2009

Casa Que Pasa: Bellingham

i did not take this photo, stole it from their myspace

Its been far to long since my last post. No excuses. But I have been running myself all over the place the past month. And I really havent been going out to eat as much lately in an attempt to save money, you know...economy. I have found some great cheaps eats along the way and will make sure to post more this coming month. One weekend trip a few weeks back was up to Bellingham with some friends to see a show. We got into town and all realized we should eat some dinner before we hit the club. I now sort of wish we would have hit the pizza spot because I bet Saigon would have been there. Anyway, we went to Casa Que Pasa, L. had been there before and was talking about how awesome their potato burrito was, naturally I was intrigued. In my mind it had to be good for him to claim some sort of veggie burrito was worth his time.

The menu was full of burritos, quesadilla, tostadas, carnitas basic mexican food choices. We started with some drinks. The margarita was intense, I immediately knew I was in a college town in a college bar because this house tequilla was bad, I mean real bad....and I am cool with well alcohol in a mixed drink most times. Damn, just another sign I am getting old.

We also shared the chips and guac, which we all ate so fast and not because they were good, because they weren't but because we were starving. The chips were not made in house and my apologies if they were because if that is the case they were stale. The guac was okay, but we didnt even eat all of it and well, that never happens.

General report was that the food was okay. I did order the potato burrito and so did L. Apparently "world famous" this burrito has battered and fried potatos mixed with beans, cheese and a creamy red chile sauce. The first bite I knew that this was not a healthy choice. The fried potatoes were good but the huge helping of refried beans took up too much of the burrito, this thing could have been smaller and did not require all of those beans! I swear the load up on the beans to make the burrito look huge. Not necessary. I did like the spicy cream sauce, nice addition. It could have used maybe some lettuce or something because it was quite the gut bomb.

Service was okay, ambiance was chill, its an okay place to grab something cheap and fast.

1415 Railroad Avenue
Bellingham, WA
Mon-Sun 11am-1am

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

mexifest 2009

so i know it's been a minute since i've posted anything of interest, and that's because i've been eating out, saving a million photos on my phone, and then never emailing them to myself. yes. i suck. my apologies.

so in the spirit of forgiveness, please accept my mass post of various mexican spots i've patronized over the past few months.

chile pepper is a wonderful, family-owned restaurant nestled in a converted craftsman in wallingford. i've passed by this place many times, wondering if they offered chiles rellenos, my mexican food barometer. one evening when my friend, M, and i were thinking about eating after having a couple happy hour drinks at moe, we got to talking about chile rellenos. she said her absolute favorite was at chile pepper. that cemented it for me. i had to have one.

we started out with some chips and know, the usual. the chips were nice, though senor moose destroys the game on the chips front. the salsa, however, was superb. smoky. fresh. bright.

next came the complementary sopa de lentejas. i wished i could try this, but it definitely was prepared with pork or beef stock. the full, meaty aroma was enough to put this veg off. my dining companion, however, savored every last bite. meanwhile, i took in the soft yellow walls, traditional folk art adorning the walls, and the friendly, plaid table cloths dressing the 10-12 small tables inside. i liked chile pepper. it felt cozy already.

then came the pièce de résistance: los chiles rellenos! CP uses ancho chiles, so they're sweeter, smokier, more cinnamony and dark than the usual poblanos. for $12.95, we received a plate of two chiles rellenos de queso fresco, rice, beans, guacamole, and some corn tortillas. i was in heaven. they were amazingly comforting and delicious. omg. i can't wait to go back for more.

Chile Pepper on Urbanspoon

on the other end of "mexican," M and i went to el chupacabra on phinney ridge for a quick meal in the middle of running errands. i had never eaten there, but M had just a few days earlier with friends. i pretty much knew what i was getting into, yet i was still surprised by what came wrapped up in my burrito.

chupacabra is a small, neighborhood bar for young phinney ridgers or young p.r. parents. it's sort of like if you mixed faux-dirtbag chic, rock and roll (the kind that embraces flame graphics), and anywhere you could imagine that offers "screamin'(!!!) burritos. unfortunately my pictures of our apps didn't make it, but we ordered chips and guac (not too shabby!) and jalapeno poopers, err, poppers. honest mistake. i'm addicted to jack in the crack jalapeno poppers. they are so perfect. i don't know how to describe how i feel when i eat them, but it's what i would imagine nirvana is like. the j.p.'s at chupacabra were pretty good. they were hot as fuck is what they were, but tasty. the cream cheese transformed into searing napalm, and the outer crust was quite crunchy.

anyhow, my word to picture ratio is waning. i'll cut to the chase. i never order burritos, but i did that night. for my first jump into 'rrito territory in some years, this wasn't a bad one; just confusing. i got one with vegetarian "meat," pinto beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, the works. oh yeah, and wet with enchilada sauce (how can one resist, right?). it was tasty, though severely lacking salt. after salting and salsa-ing it up, it wasn't bad. the only weird thing was that the "meat" was easily identifiable as the morningstar breakfast sausage, so it tasted like jimmy dean got a hold of my screamin' burrito and put his culinary twist on it. it was also the size of my forearm, so i took it home and ate the innards out of it the next morning for breakfast. thanks, chupa, for an inexpensive, satisfying meal. i won't be back, unless for drinks, because i love el asadero too too much.

El Chupacabra on Urbanspoon

upon kathryn robinson's suggestion, M, N, A, and i drove down to huarachito's mexican taqueria just a few minutes south of our house on mlk. this is the kind of intimate, family-owned place you can feel good about supporting. as soon as you walk in, you're greeted by the open kitchen (and the cooks!), the host, and at least one server. the energy is positive and entrepreneurial. there's a back room to the right with a family table and a flat screen on the wall, and the main dining room is to the left with about 10+ small tables. two walls of windows onto mlk are softened by brightly painted window frames hung against the glass. all the art, warm lighting, brick, and chalk drawings invite pedestrians to come join in the fun.

now to the food. M ordered four tacos: al pastor, carnitas, lamb, and steak. according to the board, the carnitas was a mixture of cheek, jowl, neck, and a couple of other anatomical parts i've long forgotten. M said everything was good, but they all tasted the same (except for the steak). weird, right? he also said that el asadero is way better with the crisping of the meat.

N, like a true winner, sampled the torta de carnitas. it looked super bomb, stuffed with carnitas, shredded lettuce, tomato, mayo, and salsa. uh, delicious. she said it was the shit.

A, having previously eaten at tacos huarachito's, tried one of the entrees, the mole chicken. wow. he said it was just as good as this picture. the mole was saucy, smoky, and less paste-like than other moles he's had. the chicken fell off the bone, and by the end of it all, the plate was decimated.

i was at huarachito's, so i figured i better try their specialty, the huarache, right? it's basically a long, thin masa pancake dressed with either red or green salsa, your choice of meat, and lettuce. it really does look like a ball of masa dough flattened by someone's wayward, woven sandal. i went with pescado and salsa verde. all in all, it was tasty. the fish was a little skunky, but now i know better. the huarache itself was ginormous, filling the ovular plate from end to end. i enjoyed each bite covered with some of their housemade salsa habanero, avail upon request.

oh, and lest i forget, another great aspect of huarachito's is their salsa selection. pickled jalapenos and carrots are jarred at every table (yum!) along with a few squeeze bottles of salsa verde, salsa chipotle, and just a regular salsa rojo. they were all good, but the chips could have used about 30 more seconds in the fryer; just a touch too flimsy.

i think we all learned a valuable lesson for our next huarachito's visit: order from the entree section and save the tacos for el asadero.

Huarachitos Mexican Taquería on Urbanspoon

inspired by all this mexican food, M and i stopped by la carniceria azteca on the way home from work a couple weeks ago. for all the years we'd lived there, M had never been, so it was like a mini wonderland of tastiness. i stocked up on some of my favorite extra hot candy, and M bought a fourth of a wheel of cotija, a pack of sopes, a tub of ceviche de pescado, and a pound of carne enchilada.

i shredded some lettuce, cut tomatoes, olives, lemons, cilantro, red onion, and jalapenos, and we were off to the races. i also laid out some leftover white bean and green chiles from the day before. we assembled our own sopitas, and they were delicious as hell.

omg. valentina extra hot + sour cream = the business. although we technically didn't "cook" dinner, we assembled it like real pro eaters. unfortunately, we were too good at eating for me to take some pictures of the finished sopitas, so use your imagination.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


I was looking though my phone and laughing at the pictures from my trip with Carbo to LA and San Diego...within these hot pics I also came across a few images of places we ate. One of the nice treats was having Pink Berry for breakfast on our way out of San Diego. Pink Berry dining opportunities are only available to you if you are in Cali or NYC.

With the top down in our sweet rental we drove to the local Pink Berry.

Often imitated in bootleg frozen yogurt shops all over this city the design concept is so clean and on point at Pinkberry. Detail is given to the floor, chairs, lamps, glass and everywhere you look. It was extremely comfortable in a strange sort of mind controlling way.

The staff were nice and extremely well groomed. I am sure that is a requirement some sort of pink berry brand.

All of the toppings looked very fresh, the fruit was almost fake looking and the nuts had a gloss on them. I imagined that someone went through every piece of fruit and nut getting rid of anything that looked damaged or irregular shaped. I should also mention it was spotless in there.

I dont really like fruit as much as I adore salt. I do however love I went with the original yogurt with almonds and coconut.

We sat in the Cali sun and enjoyed our breakfast, after the night we had it was just what I needed. I love frozen yogurt and enjoy most bootleg recipes that I have tried. Pinkberry however has this extra tart kick that makes it very much superior. Then again, now that I think about it I may have been brainwashed in that store.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Order the Pink Tacos

So as White Pepper mentioned in a previous blog, our food experience in CA was not all bad. One example, Pink Taco. Once I was able to get out of bed after being poisoned at Craft, Mexican food sounded good. Mainly the chips b/c they seemed comforting--and you can't get poisoned by your run of the mill chip.

I'd heard of Pink Taco, mainly for it's notoriety in AZ (, because some concerned citizens were disapproving of the restaurant's name. We were in Century City, near a mall that housed the large chain restaurant. Upon walking in I was pleasantly surprised. It is a very kitschy, but larger-than-life, ambiance. The music was rockin', staff was friendly and food was muy they say in Mexico.

But alas, again it was bittersweet b/c I was only able to stomach about a 1/8 of my plate and white pepper not much more. We could tell it was delicious. The chips came w/ two salsas--a regular and a roasted tomatillo, we ordered a side of guacamole, didn't even put a dent in it, WP had the chicken tacos, me the famous namesake, Pink Tacos. I had a beer, she a watermelon margarita (we were able to finish the beverages). We tried to pack it up and take it home--but didn't have a fridge to keep it safe. Usually I would have said fuck it, but not this time...

The good news. I happened to find myself in the same LA neighborhood about 3 weeks later. So I made a point to return. Again, upon walking in I was pleasantly surprised. It was FAT TUESDAY, which equals party time at Pink Taco complete w/ djs, drink specials and beads. I ordered almost everything the same and we were right the first time the food is awesome!

Hope a Pink Taco opens in Seattle.

More pictures from Pink Taco

Thank you for the wonderful post Carbo. Here are some pics from when we were at Pink Taco at the end of January. I swear I meant to post, but I am glad you did.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


It was just about a month ago when I traveled down to LA and San Diego for a short vacation with CarboOverload who was there for work. I wish this was the right venue to share the highlights from the rest of the trip but it wouldnt even come close to doing it justice, it was beyond interesting. It has taken me longer than I would have liked to write this post but here we go.

If you watch Top Chef you know who Tom Colicchio is and he also happens to own Craft Restaurants. I was invited by Carbo to enjoy a dinner with her on the first night I arrived in LA, and everyone at the hotel said Craft because it was just down the street. We called to check if we needed a reservation but they had room for us regardless. The restaurant is in a non-descript office tower complex down a narrow walkway in the middle of Century City and not surrounded by much. It is definitely a destination eatery. When you walk in you are right in the bar. This bar was small and awkward, it had too much lighting and was more like a lobby. They offered us a seat in the bar but we told them we would take the dining room.

When we were seated I looked around and noticed the simple design and subtle art. The lights hanging from the celiing and the large booths made the energy very comfortable. For some reason it made me feel like I was in Las Vegas or something, but I dont know why.

We were seated and greeted with some water and a box of bread. The butter that came with it was very rich and sweet.

After the bread the server came back and dropped off some complimentary sea urchin custard. It was still a bit warm and had a very fish stick like taste. The texture was hard to enjoy, I tried my best to eat as much as possible to see if I was just missing the genius...Carbo barely had one bite.

After the custard our server returned and helped us pick out a wine. I leave that up to Carbo, I rarely have bad wine when she orders.

Carbo settled on something she has had before it was a Holus Bolus 2006 Santa Ynez Valley Syrah. I thought it was nice and rich with some deep fruit flavors, but do not know much about wine. Good choice and cool bottle.

By far the best thing that I ate at Craft was this beet salad. They were amazing pickled and roasted baby beets from local farms mixed with gorgonzola. I wish I had more words to describe them...besides awesome.

Next we shared a few gnochi which contained chestnuts and marscapone cheese. On top of the gnochi was a rich buttery red wine sauce with a touch of rosemary. They were pretty good but you couldnt eat a whole plate of those alone without getting too stuffed. They were really heavy to me.

We ordered a few sides to accompany the meal including Swiss Chard which was very well cooked and perfectly salted.

As well as some risotto, which was thin but the small bites of pork were very rich and buttery.
In the back are the diver scallops which we shared as one of our entrees. I thought they were too fishy and sort of dirty tasting. Really rustic presentation with capers and slivered almonds. I only had one...

Our other shared main was the berkshire rack of pork. The pork was light and very soft. Although you cannot see them, this dish had jalapenos which made everything pop. This pork would make a good sandwhich. Delicious.

After our meal the server showed up with another complimentary item. It was a meyer lemon soda with coconut sorbet. It was sour and sweet. I could have drank a whole glass of this if I didn't just eat a huge meal. Very good.

Although the soda was a nice touch we also decided to share a dessert. We went with the peanut cup with peanut butter brittel, caramel gelee and little caramel gelato. The peanut butter cup had a really tasty chocololate crust. This dessert was salty and rich, I loved it. The guy who makes this won LA pastry chef of the year. He knows whats up.

Now I thought we were done but arrived was another complimentary cupcakes with cinnamon frosting and a bite of what can best be described as apple and cotlets. This was a gross dessert on all levels. Dry and tasteless. Pointless as well.

Upon paying we als recived a to go pastry....nice marketing idea, but the thought of eating it even the next day was too much.

This review is bittersweet because I had the best time sharing this meal with one of my best friends, we laughed talked to the awesome servers, drank and had some really amazing food but the next day proved to change my whole attitude about the night. Now, because you cannot prove it I do not want to make harsh accusations about Craft, but the next day Carbo was bedridden from what we think was food poisoning. I had stomach issues all day but nothing half as bad as her. We think it was the scallops, I only ate one and she ate the other three. Looking back and thinking a piece of fish was too fishy and dirty that should be the heads up to pump the brakes. Im not sure if I will eat scallops again for a long time.

Let me end this on a good note, our trip was fun, lots of great memories. Thanks for taking me out to dinner Carbo. See you on our next vacation.

10100 Constellation Blvd
Los Angles, CA