Browsing Tag

macaroni and cheese

Charleston Restaurant News Events

Charleston Mac Off Tickets – On Sale Now!

August 26, 2015

If you know me at all, you know that Mac and Cheese is kind of like my favorite thing in the whole world. I might even love it more than I love my family (sorry mom & dad). So that’s why I’m so excited about my favorite food festival, the Charleston Mac Off!

Seriously, this is my dream event.

Seriously, this is my dream event.

I’ve been going to the festival since 2011, so I’ve seen it grow from the bus shed to Mt Pleasant Waterfront Park, and this year is poised to be bigger and better than ever! They’ve moved it the The Grove at Patriot’s Point. It’s happening October 24th from 2 -7 pm. That’s 5 hours of cheesy noodle-y goodness.

This year’s event includes a Mac and Cheese Eating Competition, Home Grown Cooks competition, vendor village, food trucks, alcohol, and more. Tickets are available now, and you should buy them. Trust me on this.

Weekend Roundup

Weekend Roundup: Charleston Like A Tourist

June 17, 2014

I kicked off this weekend with the Florida Georgia Line and Nelly concert at the Joe in Charleston with Cullen and Taylor, and we had a great time jamming out under the stars.

I'm not even ashamed to say I enjoyed myself.

I’m not even ashamed to say I enjoyed myself.

Friday kicked off Girls Weekend, hosted by my roommate Regina, in which a bunch of her friends and family came down to tour Charleston and experience some of her favorite restaurants and attractions in honor of her 1 year anniversary of moving down here! We started the weekend off with dinner at FIG, which was kind of a disaster, as the manager was very rude to our group and the whole situation was just awkward and uncomfortable. Lily and I finished the evening at Rarebit. I’m obsessed with the macaroni and cheese at Rarebit, and the patty melt is really good as well! You should check it out if you haven’t been.

If mac & cheese was a diet food, I'd be so skinny!

If mac & cheese was a diet food, I’d be so skinny!

Saturday was a jam packed day. We got our nails done at Tips-2-Toes on George St. downtown, Regina’s favorite nail salon (mine is Luxia in West Ashley, in case you were wondering). I picked a white-pink color, which was really pretty.

I'm as surprised as you are that I didn't pink something neon and glittery.

I’m as surprised as you are that I didn’t pick something neon and glittery.

We then drove to North Charleston for lunch at Nigel’s Good Food, a delicious soul food restaurant on Ashley Phosphate. Regina had been a couple of times, but this was my first time. We split an order of the whiskey shrimp, geechie wings, and fried green tomatoes with the table, and everything was delicious. For my entree, I ordered the Lowcountry Ravioli (Grilled Chicken, Bacon, Collards Greens, Black-eye Pea & Corn Relish & Cheese stuffed Ravioli tossed in a Whiskey Cream Sauce, $11.95) and it was super yummy. I’ll definitely be back!

I want to eat all of that food right now.

I want to eat all of that food right now.

After lunch, I joined the girls at Frothy Beard, for a quick brewery tour before we headed back downtown for my first ever Carriage Tour. I was originally dreading it because I hate being the car stuck behind the horse tours downtown, but it ended up being a lot of fun and very educational!

And only about 80% as smelly as I thought it was going to be!

And only about 80% as smelly as I thought it was going to be!

After the tour, we headed to Wadmalaw Island to see the Angel Oak Tree, which was spectacular as always. We also went out to the Firefly Distillery, but arrived too late to do any of the tastings. The man working there was really rude to us when we arrived, telling us “We’re closed. Y’all need to plan better,” even though we got there 10 minutes before they closed, and just wanted to look around for a few minutes. Having worked in customer service for a long time, being rude (even at closing time) isn’t a way to treat your loyal customers.

But the Angel Oak is always polite.

But the Angel Oak is always polite.

Sunday, we had a 4-hour long brunch at Halls Chophouse. It was my first time visiting for brunch, and it was outstanding (as usual). The service we received was top notch and everyone agreed that this was the highlight of their trip. I ordered the chicken-fried bison and waffle sandwich and split some grits with Lily. She ordered the “Lowcountry Biscuits and Gravy” which was less biscuits and gravy, and more biscuits and succotash with fried oysters, but it was delicious either way. It was an amazing meal, but I immediately went into a food coma for the rest of the afternoon.

Halls is so good it shouldn't be legal.

Halls is so good it shouldn’t be legal.

What did you guys think of that Game of Thrones finale?! I can’t believe it’s already over!

Weekend Roundup

Weekend Roundup: Painting Eggs

April 21, 2014

I hope everyone had a very “hoppy” Easter weekend! Mine was really fun. On Friday my parents drove down from Greenville and I met them for a delicious meatless pizza feast at Desano Pizza Bakery. The pizza was delicious and even managed to impress my pizza-snob mother.

Seriously, it's so yummy.

Seriously, it’s so yummy.

We spent Friday night playing board games and drinking, which was really fun. Saturday morning, my mother started to prepare the traditional Easter feast, consisting of leg of lamb, rack of lamb, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, brussells sprouts with leek & bacon, corn, gravy, and strawberry pie. My dad and I drove out to Crave for a tray of their fabulous mac and cheese, which has become tradition at Gallimore family gatherings.

I'm not even exaggerating when I say it's the best mac and cheese ever.

I’m not even exaggerating when I say it’s the best mac and cheese ever.

Saturday afternoon, we were joined by Cullen and Taylor for opening Easter baskets, playing some games, and decorating Easter eggs. On Sunday, my mom made a delicious breakfast casserole that we ate while watching Despicable Me & Despicable Me 2. Everyone left around 2, and I spent the rest of the afternoon watching movies, catching up on TV shows, and playing the Scandal category on QuizUp alone before everyone came over to watch Game of Thrones. It was a pretty great day.

And this happened. #Dedication

And this happened. #Dedication

Hope everyone has a great week!

Events

Duvall Express Launch Party

February 10, 2014

A few weeks back, I was invited to attend the launch party for Duvall Express, a small event catering and event space in North Charleston, SC. The space is very multi-purpose, incorporating events, theater productions, catering kitchen, and serving as a “home base” for a number of the Lowcountry’s best food trucks. The event was in conjunction with Lowcountry Local First and consisted of many local vendors setting up tables in the space and offering samples of their products for everyone to try, in addition to the menu provided by Duvall Express.

You had me at "Mac and Cheese Buffet"

You had me at “Mac and Cheese Buffet”

Josh at Duvall Express was kind enough to give us the “Behind-The-Scenes” tour of the multiple kitchens (yes, there are more than one!) and the event spaces in their North Charleston facility. Duvall Express partnered with South Carolina vendors whose products they incorporated into their local-themed menu. It’s nice to see businesses focused on helping out local entrepreneurs. Couple that with the fact that pretty much everything that I tried from their catering menu was delicious, and you can bet I can’t wait to attend an event catered by Duvall Express!

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Duvall Express
2816 Azalea Dr
North Charleston, SC 29405
(843) 763-9222 ext. 20
Duvall Lite on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews Washington, DC

Eatonville, Washington DC [CLOSED]

April 26, 2013

When visiting Washington DC from Charleston, SC, the first thing any true Southerner starts to miss is sweet tea. Even southern transplants like Lauren find themselves craving that sweet nectar that, for some reason, is only found in the south. Asking for sweet tea and receiving a glass of unsweetened tea and a packet of Sweet’n Low, just isn’t the same. Not by a long shot. Which is why Lauren decided to we needed to eat brunch at Eatonville, because they have “homemade sweet tea” on the menu.

We love sweet tea so much we infuse it in our liquor. That's dedication.

We love sweet tea so much we infuse it in our liquor. That’s dedication.

I was worried that they were going to try to cater their sweet tea to more northern palates, but they surprised me by actually having legitimate southern-style sweet tea. It was delicious. Plus it came in mason jars with plenty of ice, which for a moment made me forget I was in DC. Our waiter had personality oozing out of the ears and was hilarious, attentive, and generally just a very fun dude. I wish more waiters were like him. The restaurant itself was also very cool. The whole restaurant is themed around Zora Neale Hurston and is in fact named after her Florida hometown. They have lots of cool murals on the walls, which I quite enjoyed looking at while eating my brunch.

Sorry for the unflattering picture, Sara, but that artwork is just so cool!

Sorry for the unflattering picture, Sara, but that artwork is just so cool!

We were joined by Lauren’s roommate Ashley and friend Sara (who’s a vegetarian. But a real one, not like Naomi). Sara got the arugula-spinach frittata (sautéed shiitake mushrooms, grape tomatoes, avocado, crumbled feta cheese, basil pesto with a buttermilk biscuit). It actually looked delicious, and I’m assuming it tasted good, too, as Sara definitely did some damage. They do a really good job of identifying vegetarian- and vegan-friendly items on the menu, so this is a good place for herbivores and carnivores alike. Sara also got a mimosa, which she said was especially yummy because they used fresh squeezed orange juice instead of that slop from a carton. The rest of us skipped out on alcohol with brunch because we were recovering from the night before.

This has Christine's name written all over it.

This has Christine’s name written all over it.

Lauren stuck with your basic breakfast fare of scrambled eggs, bacon, and a biscuit. She also ordered a side of fried okra, which came unlike I’ve ever seen fried okra before. They cut the okra into strips before breading them and frying them, almost like okra fries. I actually liked them a lot, despite how different they were. Lauren loved them and ate all of it, which is surprising because she doesn’t actually eat real food.

But you can cut basically anything up into strips and fry it and I'd think it was delicious.

But you can cut basically anything up into strips and fry it and I’d think it was delicious.

Ashley opted for scrambled eggs with cheese (which looked delicious), macaroni and cheese, a bowl of fresh fruit, and a biscuit, which she seemed to enjoy.

Mmm.... Cheeeeesy

Mmm…. Cheeeeesy

I was the only one who didn’t get eggs. I decided to get “The Callahan,” a fried chicken breast on a buttermilk biscuit, covered in jalapeno-sausage gravy, served with a side of mac and cheese. I thought the the mac and cheese was delicious (hooray cavatappi!) and I applaud any restaurant who decides to serve macaroni as a bunch side dish. My only complaint is that I would’ve liked a more detailed description of what cheeses it was made with on the menu. I thought the fried chicken biscuit was delicious; the biscuit was perfectly buttery and flaky and the chicken had just the perfect amount of breading. The jalapeno-sausage gravy was good, although I was a bit thrown off by the fact that it was brown (it’s camouflaged in that picture, blending in with the chicken), but it was still tasty. I do wish they would’ve put more on than the tablespoon I received. I like lots of gravy with my biscuit. I also thought the collard green garnish was a nice touch.

Man, that macaroni looks delicious. I have a problem.

Man, that macaroni looks delicious. I have a problem.

I couldn’t resist the temptation to try their jalapeno-gruyere grits because I’d never had grits with jalapeno before. I think part of me wanted the grits to be bad so I could hold onto some shred of superiority, but I was sorely disappointed, when they turned out to be de-freaking-licious. They came out after we’d all pretty much finished eating, and although Lauren had been complaining of being “stuffed” only moments before, she miraculously regained some of her appetite after one spoonful of grits. They were that good.

Eatonville Jalapeno and Gruyere grits

Gosh, I love grits.

I didn’t expect to get good southern food at a restaurant in DC, but Eatonville pleasantly surprised me. Whether you’re a seasoned Southern cuisine connoisseur or have no idea what “grits” are, I’m confident you’ll have a positive and memorable experience.

I love that font / logo. #Nerd

I love that font / logo. #Nerd

Eatonville
2121 14th St NW
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 332-9672

Eatonville on Urbanspoon

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 2/11/13

February 11, 2013

So how ’bout that Walking Dead premiere last night, amiright? So good. We had a fun little party at LDub’s house complete with 3 types of mac and cheese, cream cheese chicken crescent rolls, chorizo dip, buffalo chicken dip, salsa, and raspberry jam-filled “Walker Bait” mini chocolate cakes courtesy of Zach and Sara. It was delicious and awesome and I’ll never be able to watch Walking Dead the same way again. Saturday, I also attended a mini-mac off, held by my friend Sheena. She won (but I think a lot of that had to do with the fact that it was her party and her friends. Just saying #soreloser). It was a really fun weekend overall (check out my album below for all the pics).

This week’s quote comes from Alice May Brock (aka Alice of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant), and I think it’s actually a very informative guide to spices and ethnic food.

“Tomatoes and oregano make it Italian; wine and tarragon make it French. Sour cream makes it Russian; lemon and cinnamon make it Greek. Soy sauce makes it Chinese; garlic makes it good.”
–Alice May Brock

...Well, that's definitely not sanitary.

…Well, that’s definitely not sanitary.

Events

Charleston Mac Off

November 16, 2012

If you know nothing else about me, you know I love macaroni and cheese. Seriously. I would give you my kidney for a quality bowl of mac and cheese. My favorite mac and cheese IN THE WORLD was made and served by the special education class at Greenville High School every Wednesday and you had to get there early before they sold out. I’ve spent most of my adult life trying (and failing) to find a bowl of mac and cheese that measured up. Enter the Charleston Mac Off… a macaroni and cheese festival/competition where you get to sample mac and cheese from some of the best restaurants in Charleston. Imagine my delight.

In case you have a bad imagination.

Ben and I bought the VIP package, which included admission and 25 tickets a person. The website said they were going to have 25 different restaurants, but they only ended up having 22, so we had some extra tickets. After we visited about half of the restaurants, we both started getting full and instead of getting a sample each, we started splitting the samples, so we ended up with a bunch more extra tickets. Luckily, they had drink vendors there, so I could drown my sorrows about all these extra tickets. My favorite drink was the Firefly Arnold Palmer, which was dangerously delicious (yay for not being DD!). In the future, I probably would have only gotten one VIP package and just bought general admission for Ben, as I think this would have been a more cost-effective option (plus you can buy more sample tickets as needed once you were actually there).

Ah, yes. I can see that I am in the right place. Photo from Tag Your Pix

Here are the restaurants we sampled: The Roost, Graze, Coleman Public House, Duke’s, Magnolia’s, Castaways, The Tomato Shed, Crave, Angel Oak Restaurant, Sesame, Poogan’s Porch, Cherrywood BBQ & Alehouse, J Paulz, B Gourmet Catering, Smoky Oak, New Moon Pizzeria, Mad River, The Shelter, possibly more, but I can’t remember….Of all of the restaurants there, I’d say Graze, Crave, and Coleman Public House were the best.

Plus, check out that sunset!

Graze was definitely my favorite of the night. Their “Southern Supper” white cheddar mac and cheese with pulled pork and collard greens was outstanding, and it really stood out in the sea of cheesy noodles that was the Mac Off. Although many of the restaurants were doing some kind of pork-related mac and cheese (bacon, ham, pulled pork, etc), Graze was definitely the best. No contest. I obviously wasn’t the only person who thought they were outstanding, as they won the Critic’s Choice Best Mac and Cheese. When Groupon offered a dinner deal at Graze a couple days after the Mac Off, I didn’t hesitate to purchase it so I could taste that delicious mac and cheese again. I’ll let you know how the rest of their menu measures up in a future post!

Also, that was the size of all of the “samples.” Also known as a “full meal” in most parts of the world.

Coleman Public House was serving up smoked gouda mac and cheese with pecan-smoked bacon and white truffle oil. I’m usually hesitant about things with truffle oil because the flavor can be so overpowering, but this mac and cheese was awesome. All of the flavors really complemented each other, and I loved that it was super creamy. They also used those twirly cavatappi noodles, which I love. I know they didn’t win anything at the Mac Off, but they were voted “Best Coma-Inducing Skillet of Cheesy Goodness” on the City Paper’s Best of Charleston 2012 list.

(It’s the one on the left and it is straight up deloicious)

Crave’s Aged Cheddar Mac and Cheese, topped with parmesan cheese, was definitely the creamiest of the entire event. It also had the cheesiest flavors and I think this was the best traditional mac and cheese I’ve had at any restaurant in Charleston. They also won the People’s Choice Best Tasting Mac and Cheese award for the third year in a row this year, so I think it’s safe to say that they know what they’re doing. I was also really impressed that they were actually cooking their mac and cheese on-site, instead of bringing it already cooked like most of the others.

I forgot to take a picture, so I stole this one from Crave’s Facebook page. This was not the size of the sample. But almost.

There were a couple restaurants whose mac and cheese was so bad that I’ll never eat there. At the top of this list was Angel Oak Restaurant, and The Roost. Angel Oak’s tasted like it had peanut butter in it for some reason, which was strange. The Roost’s macaroni was really dried out, so that wasn’t good (especially since this was the first one I tried that night). All of the other restaurants there ranged from “Good” to “Okay,” and basically weren’t worth mentioning, in my opinion. The only other restaurant to get some kind of honor was the Tomato Shed for “Best Use of a Local Ingredient” in their “Shrimp Club Mac & Cheese” (local shrimp, tomatoes, dill, goat cheese, bacon, and something called “bloomy-rind cheese”). I thought it was ok, but was a little too fishy tasting for my liking. J Paulz was there with their truffled mac and cheese, which is really good, but I’d had it before so it wasn’t really that exciting.

The problem here is that there was a lot of macaroni, and not a lot of cheese. Except for the crispy, dried out cheese they put on top.

The most creative mac and cheese was the Mac and Cheese cupcake from B Gourmet Catering. It was a mini-muffin sized cupcake made with cheddar and breadcrumbs and topped with a pimento cheese “frosting,” and sprinkled with bacon. I thought it was good, albeit a little too greasy. They also had some pretty cool entertainment, a DJ, followed by a live band, bull riding, and a cornhole contest and “fire hula-hooper” (no actual fire that I saw). They also had one of those new VW Bugs there that they may have been raffling off, but I was too focused on eating Mac & Cheese to pay attention.

For those of you who might not be able to tell, that hula hoop is not actually on fire. Photo from Tag Your Pix

Next time I’ll probably bring my own chairs (seating was hard to come by as the night went on), and make a whole night of it. It was way better at the Mount Pleasant Park than when they held it at the bus shed downtown, so I hope they hold it there again. Overall I’d say this was the best food event I’ve ever attended and you can bet I’ll be there next year!

 

 

 

Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week 10/29/12

October 29, 2012

Happy Halloween! Hope everyone had a fun and productive Halloweekend. I know I did! Friday night, Ben and I dressed up as characters from the Disney movie, Brave (not to be confused with Braveheart which, of course, everyone has seen). I was Merida and an Ben was kind of an amalgam of the three suitors from the movie, although, most people just assumed that Ben was William Wallace and kept yelling Braveheart quotes at him. Which he was totally fine with.

And I got a $7 Bow and Arrow set from Walmart, so I’d call that a WIN.

Friday night before all of the Halloween festivities got started, we went to the Mac-Off, a giant macaroni and cheese competition featuring 20+ restaurants from around Charleston. Plus there was live music and entertainment and it was absolutely gorgeous. I’ll be posting about it later this week!

Saturday and Sunday, Ben and I ate our weight in Indian Buffet (since he’s decided he likes indian food now). Saturday we went to Taste of India and Sunday we went to Bombay Bazaar. Both were delicious. I have to say I kind of preferred Bombay, since they brought us our own little basket of Naan, like how mexican restaurants bring you chips to the table. It was awesome. I seriously could eat indian food on the daily.

This week’s quote is Halloween-themed and comes from Lewis Black. I usually don’t find him funny, but I have to say this quote gives me a chuckle. Enjoy!

“The worst thing about Halloween is, of course, candy corn. Candy corn is the only candy in the history of America that’s never been advertised. And there’s a reason — all of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911”
–Lewis Black

I probably should have put that quote in all caps, since he LITERALLY SCREAMS EVERYTHING.

Charleston, SC Restaurant Reviews

Chucktown Tavern [CLOSED]

October 18, 2012

Chucktown Tavern is my favorite bar in Charleston. Hands down. Where else in Charleston can you get a Trashcan? No where. So go order one. I’m not going to tell you what it is, this is something you need to learn for yourself. I know Chucktown Tavern’s not for everyone–it’s far from hipster, there’s karaoke every night, and they close early on Saturday nights–but it has its own special kind of charm that I hold dear to my heart. Sometimes I forget that most of the bars I frequent at night are actually restaurants during the day. I’ve been going to Chucktown Tavern for over 2 years now, and I’d never eaten there before this week. I honestly didn’t even realize they served food.

They do serve up some delicious karaoke, though.

When we arrived, we grabbed a menu clipboard and silverware from a stand at the door and seated ourselves at a booth with a nice view of the TV. The bartender came by to take our drink orders within 2 minutes of when we sat down, which was nice. The menu is very straightforward and unpretentious, nothing fancy or frou-frou about it, which is kind of refreshing for downtown Charleston. We started with an order of the black bean cakes, which were absolutely delicious. Ben was a little iffy at first, because they look like slabs of asphalt (I mean, it’s a black bean cake. It’s hard to make it look pretty), but he ended up loving them. They’re made with black beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and peppers, and a little bit of flour, pan fried, and topped with a sour cream sauce and served with a side of pico de gallo and jalapeño pepper slices. This was my favorite dish out of everything we ordered–they were soooo good.

I know it doesn’t look it, but it is damn delicious.

Ben was feeling kind of boring, so instead of trying one of their signature stuffed burgers, he opted for an old fashioned 1/3 lb burger topped with cheddar cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onions, and mayo, served with a side of house cut fries and homemade coleslaw. As soon as he took a bite, he started making those noises people make when they really like the food they’re eating. He kept mumbling “this is so good,” but with his mouth full of burger, so it sounded more like “threfsj irskds srrrr grsiodbfdl.”

This burger is straight up de-loy-cious

I’m more adventurous, so I ordered the Swamp Fox burger, a 1/2lb angus beef burger stuffed with chili, cheddar cheese, and bacon, topped with lettuce, tomato, mayo, and homemade coleslaw, served with a side of fries and even more coleslaw. It was divine. Seriously. I never end up finishing an entire burger at a restaurant, let alone a 1/2lb burger stuffed with chili and bacon, but I definitely finished this burger (even though it started to fall apart at the end and I had to finish eating it with a fork, like a barbarian). The chili definitely tasted homemade and had hints of chorizo sausage in it, which I really liked. The meat was really well seasoned and would have been tasty on its own. I think the coleslaw was a really great addition to the burger, as it was made with vinegar (rather than mayo), and gave the burger an extra level of freshness.

Burgerlicious.

The only thing we weren’t really crazy about were the fries. They were definitely hand cut and fresh, but they seemed to me to be a bit overcooked and lacked the fluffy interior one has come to expect from this national staple. In the future, I’ll probably replace the fries with something else on their delicious list of side items, like the mac and cheese….which I totally ordered. (I mean, you had to have known I was going to order it. I order mac and cheese LITERALLY every time it’s on a menu. I’m a sucker) So I ordered the side of macaroni and cheese and I absolutely loved it. It was creamy (rather than baked), and tasted like they made it fresh the second I ordered it. You can definitely tell it’s made with real cheddar cheese and fresh cream. It was basic and extraordinary all at the same time. It’s probably my favorite mac and cheese in Charleston (other than KSG’s mac and cheese eggrolls which are something of a religious experience).

Cheesy nectar of the Gods

They didn’t really have a huge dessert selection (only 3 options), so we chose to skip dessert and opt for the check (which was relatively cheap considering all the food we got). I have to say I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised with the entire experience. We had a delicious meal that made me feel like I was eating dinner at my friend’s grandmother’s house (I’d say my grandmother, but they’re both horrible cooks). Everything was fresh and delicious, and made with a certain amount of love and care, which I think is really makes a difference in the food.

Also, there’s a patio!

Chucktown Tavern [CLOSED]
159 Market Street
Charleston, SC 29401
(843) 637-3681

Chucktown Tavern on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Reviews

Tico, Boston, MA

September 21, 2012

So unless you’ve been living under a rock, or you’re new to this blog, or you just generally don’t care about the goings-on of my life, you know that a couple weeks ago I flew to Boston to help my cousin move into her dorm. While I was there I ate some delicious food at some delicious restaurants. I picked most of the restaurants we visited by cross-checking Urbanspoon and Yelp reviews with their location and menu offerings. It’s a very scientific process.

Exactly like Bill Nye

While I was up late one night on Twitter, I decided to try my luck and tweet at celebrity chef Mario Batali, asking him where to eat in Boston. I didn’t expect to get a response. BUT THEN I DID. Here’s proof.

PROOF!

We ended up eating at Tico on our final night in Boston, which might have been part of the problem. We’d had such amazing food the entire time we were there, so my expectations were really high. When we decided to go to Tico, I was really going only because Mario Batali told me to. I didn’t really know that it was a Tapas restaurant until we got there. I’ve never had Tapas before, but here’s what I discovered. You’re basically paying for a full meal, but only getting appetizers. Odds are, you’re not going to leave feeling very full.

Truer words were never spoken.

When we first walked in, it was dark. Like really dark. Like, we had to use our phones to be able to see the menus. I’m all about ambience, but that’s getting a little ridiculous. We also were sitting for about 10 minutes before I went up and asked the hostess if someone could bring us some water, since we hadn’t seen anyone who worked there since the hostess sat us. Mind you, this was a Tuesday night. It was not busy.

Like this, only pitch black.

There were four of us, and the waiter (when he finally showed up) suggested that we order 2-3 things a person. Mind you, these “little plates” ranged from $6 to $14 a plate. Or you could do a chef’s tasting for $35, $55, or $85 a person, depending on how hungry you are. Thank god they bring you free bread, or we might have starved. We started with the two-textured beef with morita chiles taco. The tacos came on 6-inch corn tortillas and there were two of them, so we cut them each in half so all four of us could try everything. I really liked it, but Tina hated it. Also, it was very, very spicy. I thought it had a good texture and a good flavor, even if it did burn the tastebuds off of my tongue.

I should have drawn some flames or something so you’d understand that it was really spicy.

We also got the lobster and avocado tacos, which everyone seemed to love. These were also a bit spicy, but not as bad as the beef ones. I liked these as well, but I’m not sure 2 6-inch tacos were worth $12.

Obviously I didn’t take this picture. I stole it from Google.

From there we ordered off of the “a la plancha” section of the menu. We got meatballs with smoky tomato and chicken with spicy pomegranate. The meatballs were served in a sweet sauce, that Tina absolutely hated. I didn’t mind them, but they tasted a lot like the meatballs you get out of the freezer section of Sam’s Club when you’re planning your Superbowl Party. They didn’t taste homemade at all.

Still not entirely convinced that these didn’t come from Costco

The chicken was good, but it really just tasted like bite-sized pieces of grilled chicken. The pomegranate sauce was delicious, and that’s what made it stand out. But without the sauce, the chicken was just… chicken.

See. Chicken.

From there we moved onto the Small Plates. We ordered the Tico’s Mac and Cheese with serrano ham and crunchy bread crumbs. I don’t usually like macaroni and cheese with anything fancy, especially ham (since I hate ham). But I actually loved this. Uncle Greg thought it was a bit watery, but that was fine because it meant more for me.

CHEESY GOODNESS

Next we ordered chorizo risotto with pasilla chiles, scallion and parmigiano. For me, chorizo is pretty hit or miss. Some places do it really well, but most places miss the mark. I liked this pretty ok. Tina hated it, but she also hates chorizo, so. I probably wouldn’t order it again, but it was pretty ok.

Mediocrity in the form of risotto

After the risotto we ordered the crispy fried Manchego cheese with spicy pomegranate honey sauce, which was pretty popular on Yelp. It was a pretty unanimous favorite of the table. Basically it was a fried cheese stick with pomegranate dipping sauce. They came out hot and crunchy, and the cheese was ooey and gooey. I would definitely recommend ordering this if you ever end up at Tico.

Stolen from Google. Mine was all blurry

Another favorite was the sweet corn with bacon, chiles and Thai Basil. It came out nice and warm and tasted like it had been cooked with the bacon, very smoky and delicious. I love any vegetable that tastes like bacon. The corn was cooked perfectly. It was crisp and delicious, and I wish I knew how to make this, because it’s amazing.

BACON CORN. Ron Swanson would approve.

Finally the roasted cauliflower with creamy chipotle and crushed, crunchy Fava Beans. Cauliflower isn’t my favorite, but this wasn’t bad. I know Uncle Greg liked it, but I can’t remember Tina’s thoughts. I think we both just thought it was just ok.

I tend to avoid fava beans, because they always make me think of Silence of the Lambs and it creeps me out.

Our waiter asked if we wanted dessert, but they really didn’t have anything special on the menu. I mean, chocolate cake is a dime a dozen. We ended up going to Ben and Jerry’s for an ice cream instead, and it was a much better value.

This picture alone made it all worth it.

Basically, Tico would be a great spot for a first date. It’s very romantic and the food is good for having conversation, since you’re just snacking. I don’t think I’ll ever go back. I’ll take a little hole-in-the-wall place that serves amazing food, over a trendy, ambience-heavy restaurant every day of the week.

Tico
222 Berkeley Street
Boston, MA 02116

Tico Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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