Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

Driving from Tahoe to SF – Tortilla Flats

Friday, January 8th, 2010 by virginia

We left Tahoe around 11 in the morning and headed back to the Bay Area. We were too busy packing up the car to have breakfast so we decided to stop for lunch about an hour into our drive. We ended up at Tortilla Flats in Placerville, a Mexican restaurant on Main Street.

Our meal started off with complimentary baskets of fried tortilla chips and fresh salsa. The chips were thin and perfectly crispy, while the salsa had a fresh combination of tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and scallions. They happily brought us refills of each throughout our lunch.

Complimentary tortilla chips and salsa to start

I ordered a combination plate with two items – a ground beef burrito and a chicken enchilada. I ended up receiving a chicken burrito and a chicken enchilada instead, which I didn’t realize until I had already cut into both items. The chicken was fine, moist and shredded into tender pieces, so I didn’t bother asking for them to replace my burrito since we were kind of in a rush. Our waitress was really nice though so I’m sure that if I had said something, they would have fixed the problem graciously. Both the burrito and enchilada were covered in tangy salsa verde and melted cheese. I preferred the burrito only because it was wrapped in a flour tortilla, which I like better than corn tortillas, but otherwise they were pretty much the same so it just depends on your preference. The combination plate came with rice and refried beans, and it was just a huge platter of food. I barely finished half, but I thought it was pretty tasty.

Combination plate with refried beans, chicken enchilada, chicken burrito, rice

Josh and Sean both had fajitas with a combination of chicken and steak. The plate had a huge pile of meat mixed with assorted peppers and onions, and a side of rice and refried beans.

Chicken and steak fajitas

The slices of grilled chicken and steak were tender but the dish lacked seasoning. A sprinkling of salt and a few spoonfuls of the tasty pico de gallo fixed that problem, although it was surprising that the huge plate of food only came with three small corn tortillas on the side. I used some of the guacamole on my own dish and I thought it was fresh and tasty.

Pico de gallo, sour cream, guacamole, tortillas

Claire ordered carne asada tacos, which come with a choice of rice and beans or creamed corn on the side. Claire asked for “chips” instead, which our waitress said she would be bringing out anyway. She suggested that Claire get the mini tacos instead, since it was cheaper and didn’t come with any unwanted sides. After the waitress walked away, Claire realized that she had mistakenly said “chips” instead of fries (Claire is from Ireland) so she clarified with the waitress, who told her it wouldn’t be a problem to fix. We all had a good laugh about that, since we thought she meant tortilla chips as well, but the fries turned out to be fantastic – hot, crispy, and potato-y on the inside.

Carne asada mini tacos

Overall I really liked both the food and the service at Tortilla Flats. We only stopped there because it was right on Main Street but it turned out to be better than I expected. The atmosphere was laid back and relaxed, the music was good (Rodrigo y Gabriela were playing over the speakers), service was attentive, and the food was tasty. It wasn’t totally authentic Mexican food but it was comforting and familiar. Portions are very large and the prices were reasonable. If you’re looking for somewhere to grab a bite to eat either on your way to or from Lake Tahoe, I’d definitely recommend this place.

Tortilla Flats
564 Main St.
Placerville, CA

Heavenly Skiing

Monday, January 4th, 2010 by virginia

We had an awesome time in South Lake Tahoe, spending our days skiing at Heavenly and our evenings hanging out in the hot tub and doing lots of eating and drinking. It was my first time skiing out on the west coast and boy, were the conditions awesome. Even though there were signs warning of “early season conditions,” there was more snow on the trails than I’ve ever experienced on the east coast. In fact, there was almost too much powder for me! There were very few patches of ice, and the weather was simply gorgeous. The views from the top of the mountain were breathtaking, and we really had a great time overall. Claire and Sean enjoyed it so much that they bought season passes!

We skied at Heavenly for three straight days and had lunch at a different lodge each day. The food is pretty standard for any ski resort – average and overpriced. Inside each lodge there are sandwiches, grill options, soups, etc., typical of any cafeteria. The lodges get pretty crowded during prime lunch hours but the lines weren’t too terrible.

California Lodge

On the first day, we ate at the California Lodge, which is at the base of the mountain. We split some pulled pork sliders, which came three to an order. They were actually pretty decent, with tender porky goodness covered in a slightly sweet, mild bbq sauce. They gave us regular bbq sauce on the side as well but the sliders were tasty on their own.

Pulled pork sliders

We also shared a bowl of chili, which was chock full of beans but not a whole lot of meat that I could discern. I only had a few pieces of tri-tip, which was stringy and tough. The seasonings were also a bit off I thought, and it didn’t really satisfy my chili craving.

Beef and bean chili topped with chopped onions

We also had french fries, of course, since I needed all the carbs I could get. Skiing at Heavenly is extremely tiring due to the elevation, and the fact that I’m terribly out of shape. They were crispy but had that weird floury coating, which makes them taste a bit fake. Not my favorite kind of fries but not terrible.

Skinny, floury (or are they soapy?) fries

Lakeview Lodge

On the second day, we ate at the Lakeview Lodge, which is next to the Tram and the Gunbarrel lift. It was kind of snowy and foggy that day so we didn’t have a great view of the lake, unfortunately. I had an order of chicken fingers, which came with a biscuit on the side. The chicken fingers kind of looked like big pieces of fried fish but they were actually pretty good and surprisingly meaty. The biscuit was fine, similar to the kind that you get at any fast food restaurant.

Chicken fingers, honey mustard, biscuit, butter

Josh had a cheeseburger with swiss, which was topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, and a thousand island-like sauce. He wasn’t a fan of the sauce so he wiped it off, but the burger itself was fine. It’s not cooked to order but had decent flavor and wasn’t too dry.

Cheeseburger with swiss, california style

And of course, we also had fries.

Cups of carbs

East Peak Lodge

On our last day at Heavenly, we skied over to the Nevada side of the mountain and had lunch outdoors at the East Peak Lodge. The sun was shining and it wasn’t too cold outside so we sat at the picnic tables by the taco and burrito station.

Eating in the great outdoors

Josh and I split an order of blackened mahi mahi fish tacos. One order came with two corn tortilla tacos and a side of fried tortilla chips. The pieces of fish were crusted with seasonings and they were topped with cabbage, red onion, cilantro, and a mayo-y kind of sauce. Not the best fish tacos I’ve ever had but they were decent, and a nice change from the standard cafeteria food.

Blackened mahi mahi fish tacos

The tacos were kind of small so I thought the chicken burrito was a better value and more filling. The large flour tortilla was stuffed with chicken, rice, refried beans, red onion, and cilantro. It also came with a side of fried tortilla chips, which we dipped into salsa and pico de gallo from the sauce bar.

Chicken burrito

Overall I thought the food at Heavenly was mostly decent but way overpriced. Lunch for two averaged about $35 each day, which is pretty expensive considering what we got. Even soda costs over $4 each – ridiculous! Obviously you don’t have much choice but to pay these prices, unless you bring your own food. For people who come often, that is probably a better option. Otherwise, I would suggest trying some of the more unusual ski resort offerings, like the tacos/burritos, rather than the standard cafeteria food. Regardless, you go to Heavenly for the awesome skiing/snowboarding, not for the food.

New Taco Express

Friday, August 14th, 2009 by virginia

New Taco Express is one of those super cheap Mexican food joints that is neither authentic nor outstanding but offers quick and decent food at great prices. It’s almost identical to the Fresco Tortilla restaurants that are available all over the city. While the food isn’t spectacular, it’s reliable and you always know what to expect; it’s kind of like fast food in that regard.

I usually get the same order at these places – a combination plate with chicken, and tex-mex chili on a flour tortilla. The combination plates are huge and come with chicken, rice, beans (black or pinto, your choice), lettuce, tomato, and two flour tortillas. The flour tortillas are my favorite – they’re homemade and thicker and doughier than supermarket tortillas. They have a nice mild flavor and a pleasant chewy texture. The chicken that comes with the combination plate is an ample portion and more than enough to fill the two tortillas. I always mix the rest with the rice and beans and eat it with a fork.

Chicken combination platter

Chicken combination plate

The tex-mex chili is pretty standard but I think of it as comfort food. It’s usually a bit oily but this version was actually not that bad. And it just gives me an excuse to eat another flour tortilla.

Chili on a flour tortilla

Chili on a flour tortilla

Josh got a combination plate with steak and chicken. Again, it’s a lot of food, and the meats are decently tender and nicely seasoned. At less than $6 a plate, you really can’t go wrong.

Chicken and steak combination plate

Chicken and steak combination plate

If you accept New Taco Express for what it is, the food really isn’t terrible. It’s not gourmet, and not even really Mexican, but the food is cheap, filling, and dependable. When it’s late at night and you’re at a loss for what to have for dinner, it fits the bill. The delivery comes super quick and the food is always hot. The two of us can eat for less than $15, and I’ll still have leftovers for lunch.

New Taco Express
857 9th Ave. between 55th and 56th St.
New York, NY

Lime Jungle

Friday, May 22nd, 2009 by virginia

DSCN8149

I got out of work a bit early on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend so I met up with Josh (who had the whole day off, lucky!) for a leisurely late lunch. I pass Lime Jungle every day on my way to work and it looked like a cute place so we decided to check it out. The restaurant is long and narrow but has a bright and cheerful jungle theme painted on the wall. Since we had a long weekend ahead of us, I was in a celebratory mood and opted to have a frozen strawberry margarita ($6). Unfortunately, this version was pretty artificial tasting and watery, which was disappointing because the restaurant offers many different tequilas and several flavors of margaritas, so I thought it would be one of their specialties.

Sadly watery frozen strawberry margarita

Sadly watery frozen strawberry margarita

I was craving chili nachos so we ordered nachos with seasoned ground beef. The nachos, served on four large tostadas, are not the messy pile that you find in most restaurants. These were carefully layered with beans, jalapenos and the seasoned ground beef, and then topped off with melted jack and cheddar cheese, lettuce and pico de gallo. Containers of sour cream were offered on the side. The tostadas weren’t sturdy enough to support the weight of the toppings, however, so I ended up eating them with a knife and fork. The flavors were good but the tostadas got soggy very quickly and everything fell apart.

"Nachos" with chili and cheese

"Nachos" with chili and cheese

We also opted for “Hell’s Kitchen Jalapenos” as our other appetizer. These were jalapeno poppers stuffed with cheddar cheese, breaded and deep fried. They also came with lettuce and pico de gallo, and a sauce that is described as “creamy cilantro” but tasted more like ranch dressing.

"Hell's Kitchen Jalapenos"

"Hell's Kitchen Jalapenos"

These poppers were served hot and crispy but tasted fairly standard.

Jalapeno popper cheesy innards

Jalapeno popper cheesy innards

For our main course, we split an order of chicken fajitas ($9.99). The chicken came on a sizzling platter with grilled onions, peppers and melted cheese.

Chicken fajitas with onions, peppers and cheese

Chicken fajitas with onions, peppers and cheese

The flour tortillas were served on the side in a wooden salad bowl with lettuce and pico de gallo. We added a small container of guacamole for an extra $1.00. The chicken was tender and the grilled peppers and onions were very fresh tasting. I just wish they gave us more than three small tortillas, as we had a lot more filling left over that we ended up eating with a knife and fork.

Fixings for the chicken fajitas

Fixings for the chicken fajitas

Overall I found Lime Jungle to have a slightly watered down version of Mexican food (or at least the Americanized version of Mexican food), as I think they try to offer “healthier” options (lots of salads, whole burritos, etc.). The taste of the food was very clean and it was significantly less greasy than some other places; I left feeling full but not disgustingly bloated like I usually do after gorging on nachos and fried foods. But if you’re craving the cheesy/gooey/salty/spicy aspect of Mexican food, this isn’t that kind of place.

Lime Jungle
803 9th Ave. between 53rd and 54th St.
New York, NY