Wednesday, July 27, 2011

DOS CAMINOS, Soho location (475 W. Broadway)

Hello Mexican Food Lovers! This time, I took along a special date: my sister, Bailey! She is also a true California Girl, and LOVES Mexican food. We decided to have some sister-time last night at Dos Caminos in Soho to celebrate her recent move to Williamsburg, Brooklyn!

Dos Caminos has 3 locations in Manhattan, so we'll have to venture to those as well, but we were instantly impressed with the ambiance. The design was very cool, and the skylight above where we were sitting gave a really nice natural light to the space.

The first thing we noticed about this restaurant was their excellent taste in music, which really added to the experience. Groups like "Band of Horses" were some of our favorites that heard while enjoying...

The Margaritas:
There was a separate menu for cocktails and tequilas. The tequila selection was the most impressive I've seen so far in the city.
Our waiter asked us if we had a tequila preference, and we asked for his suggestion (which we did throughout the night, and he was very helpful!).
Bailey ordered the House Margarita, which was called The Dos Camino, and I ordered a Prikly Pear Cactus Margarita, made with Pear and Cactus juices. Both were great, but mine had a special sweetness to it that made it a very unique flavor. Bailey said it tasted like a Jolly Rancher, haha!
For our second round, I ordered a "Calle Fresco" Margarita, which had hints of Cucumber and Mango with a chili-salt rim. I think it's the most refreshing Margarita I've ever had, we ordered a third round of those!

Chips & Salsa: The chips are good and fresh, and they presented us with a salsa "trio". One was a green mild salsa, one was a medium smokey chipotle salsa, and one was a spicy habanero salsa. Each had a very unique flavor, but my favorite was the medium chipotle. The green mild was too bland for my taste, and the spicy (although I LOVE spicy!) had an odd vinegar taste that didn't sit well with my taste buds.


We ordered their special "Guacamole Trio" which included their regular Guacamole, a Crab Guacamole, and a Fresh Mango Guacamole. All of which were exceptionally fresh and tasty!
I'm not a big fish-eater, so Bailey will tell you more about the Crab Guac (which she loved). Upon ordering, the waiter asked if we wanted Spicy, Medium, or Mild Guac, and we said spicy, of course! It was the perfect level of "spicy", you could taste the fresh jalapenos, cilantro, and red onion. It was chunky guacamole goodness! The Mango Guac was SO refreshing for the summer, it was a great idea for this time of year, and left a spicy but sweet taste in your mouth- yum!

Bailey ordered the Tuna Ceviche for dinner, and I ordered the Hanger Steak Enchilada Special.

Hanger Steak Enchilada Special:
I expected these to come out looking like Enchiladas, but of course they surprised me! The enchiladas looked more like a Mexican Pizza: two corn tortillas with all the steak goodness wrapped up inside. It was excellent. The sauce complimented the steak, and it was sprinkled with a little cheese to give it an extra flavor. Our entrees also came with rice and beans that were a great compliment to the meal!

Bailey on the Tuna Ceviche:
She loved it, and thought the presentation was nice. It tasted fresh, and she liked their Mexican touch to what is not normally a Mexican dish.

What Your Dollar Gets You: This is a nicer Mexican restaurant, so one must go in expecting to pay a fair amount since this is New York City. However, unlike other restaurants we've been to in the city, Dos Caminos gives you a fair amount of food for the price you pay. Margaritas come in smaller glasses than we'd have liked (they served the margaritas in a short, high-ball-type glass), not giving you much for the $12 Margarita, but they are great quality. Also, I didn't find anywhere online or in the restaurant, information on any type of Happy Hour or drinks specials.

We would have ordered dessert, but we just wanted that third round of Margaritas!
The service was excellent, the atmosphere was great, the music was good, we didn't have trouble having a conversation over the noise-level, and the food and drinks were presented beautifully. We really don't have much to complain about.
For these reasons, we give Dos Caminos 4 Jalapenos!

Quick Tip: You can make reservations using or through OpenTable on Yelp!
We went on a Tuesday night at 8pm and had no trouble being seated. Weekend reservations fill up fast!

Saturday, July 2, 2011


1491 2nd Ave. Upper East Side

Normally, we would not travel this far for a normal meal-out, but we want to make sure our blog covers restaurants from all areas of the city, to appeal to all New York City foodies. So this time, we ventured to the Upper East Side. Coming from midtown you take the C up to 81st then take the M79 across Central Park to 2nd Ave. It's not bad, actually. And I really suggest checking this place out if you have a chance, it is worth the commute for all you West-Siders!


House Margaritas, on the rocks, with salt (of course)
Their house margarita is made with tequila (good tequila for a house drink!), triple sec, and freshly-squeezed lime juice. We love it- NO MIX! Just goodness. Yum.

Passionfruit Patron Silver Margarita:
Kelsey says: I just don't know if I can go back to a margarita without Patron...amazing. And they didn't put Passionfruit syrup in it, it was so fresh, 100% natural juice and Patron.
Jenn says: This margarita was sublime, and I'll happily admit I'm a marg-snob.  The juice was so fresh and full of flavor.  Without a doubt the most refreshing margarita I've ever had.  You're gonna love this baby once the lovely East-Coast humidity kicks in.

Chips, Salsa and Guacamole 
Kelsey says: Finally fresh, hand-made Guac! The salsa was great for a "restaurant" salsa (you can't make them too spicy, you have to appeal to the public) had just a slight kick but was smokey, which I LOVE! And thank you, MxCo for those NOT-stale, great blue & yellow corn chips!

  Jenn says: Echoing Kels, FINALLY FRESH GUAC!  I still was sad
about the 'guacamole' at Lime Jungle, so this definitely was a happy sight. 

We give major points to them for their creative and innovative entrees! The combinations of food items, flavors, marinades, glazes, etc. was so different, so we went away from the traditional Mexican food items and branched out, so we could recommend something different and unique to our followers.
Our ONLY complaint and reason for the 4.5 Jalapeno-rating is, the portion sizes are small. We almost ordered one entree to split, since it's a restaurant versus tapas, but the portions were between the two. What we did get was exceptional and we would definitely come back, but the plate just seemed empty. There were no sides (rice, beans, etc) which could have been fine, except you got a small entry with a lime and a dipping salsa. Maybe it was psychological, but the plates should be smaller, or they should add something to the plate so it doesn't seem so empty. The prices are not cheap, so we felt that if we didn't have the Living Social coupon, we would have been paying too much for what we got.

Artichoke Quesadilla: idiazabal cheese, sweet corn, tomatillo salsa
Kelsey says: Wow! One of my favorite foods is Artichoke, so as soon as I saw this on the menu we had to get it. The salsa on top was so fresh and good. The inside was a little more pureed than I was expecting, but the flavors were great.
Jenn says: I do like artichokes, but the thought I had upon seeing it
on the menu was confirmed when I tried it.  It's an interesting flavor
for Mexican food.  It was good, but I probably wouldn't order it again.

Pomegranate Glazed Skirt Steak Tacos: guacamole, carmelized onion, pickled cabbage
Kelsey says: Again, really awesome and unique flavor-combination. The pomegranate glaze gave the steak a really nice subtle flavor, barely detected, and then the pickled cabbage gave it an extra punch of sweet, but it wasn't overwhelmingly sweet, which we appreciated. Going back to the portion size, take a look at the picture. This entree was especially lonely, since the tacos were so small.
Jenn says: Now THIS I'd order again.  These little babies were delish.  The steak was cooked perfectly, and the flavors blended nicely.  The little side salsa wasn't even needed in my opinion.  The flavors were fresh and perfect.  I loved them.

We were definitely nice and full by the end, especially since we had TWO margaritas, but we were very glad we ordered TWO entrees as well. Aside our slight complaint on portion size, it was hard not to give this place 5 Jalapenos. Overall, we appreciated the REALLY quick service (lightning-speed, really), the fresh quality of, and the innovative take on "normal" Mexican entrees, and the great ambiance.  The Cali-ente girls definitely recommend this one.

Monday, June 27, 2011

LIME JUNGLE, 741 9th Ave New York, NY 10036

I found a coupon on LivingSocial for this place and thought it sounded like fun! For $25 you got an appetizer of chips, salsa and Guacamole or Queso and a Tequila Tasting for Two! Sounds like it's worth your money, but I was unimpressed. Let me tell you why:

First and foremost it was clear from the beginning that they were completely understaffed. Our poor waitress could not handle the crowds, and it's a busy place. Usually this means it's really good food, but I think it's the prices that turn people on, I know they turned me on! $2.50 Empanadas, $2.99 Tacos, $7 Margaritas, nice atmosphere, etc. Sounds good, right?

The first thing that came to the table was chips, salsa, guacamole, and queso:
Their "salsa" is really Pico de Gallo, and we discovered through a friend who was with us, that there was a salsa bar in the back they didn't care to mention. So she went and got us a sample of each of their salsas, and I have to say, this was the best part of the meal!
Salsa Bar:
Jalapeno-Cilantro: really good! Spicy, definitely our favorite (we put some in to-go containers with lids and took them home for later!)
Plum tomato: sweet, fresh, mild
Onion slaw: super spicy! So good as a condiment though.
Roasted tomatillo chipotle: thought this would be my favorite and it was the worst. Too vinegary
Red devil: medium, more a normal salsa, nothing to scream about
Corn salsa: you can't screw this one up. Corn, red onion, black beans, tomatoes, done.

Guacamole: creamy, taste is sweet only, no spice or kick at all. Tastes chilled instead of room temperature, like it came straight out of the fridge. Clearly not handmade.
Queso: NOT true Queso, tastes like Velveeta with canned jalapenos chopped up on top. Gross.
Chips: not too greasy, taste baked, could have used a little salt.

Hells Kitchen Jalapeno Appetizer:
Fried golden brown spicy jalapenos stuffed w/ cheddar w/ side of creamy cilantro)
These were almost perfect, and the creamy cilantro sauce was very good, but they ruined it by stuffing it with that Velveeta-tasting Queso cheese! Once we scraped that out, they were good! (see Jenn's notes for more detail)

Tequila Tasting:
Milagro Tequila: sweet, not a big punch but tasty and smooth. No lime needed.
Tierra Tequila: More bitter than the first, burned a little in your throat after.
T2 Tequila: Stronger taste, tasted more like a generic tequila, brassier.
Camarena Tequila: definitely a sweeter, dessert tequila. Hints of vanilla and/or chocolate.
Margaritas on the rocks:
Lime: straight-up, good, did the job, could have been stronger
Pomegranate: Refreshing, could have been stronger
Mango: Just juice. I sent mine back for the lime, but what I got was watered-down.

Chris had: 
Short Rib Taco: Chris said that the flavor of the short ribs didn't work in a taco. He did not enjoy this one.
Chicken Taco: good and juicy
Both of the shells tasted stale and flavorless

Kelsey had:
Pulled Pork Empanada: fried, pork was juicier than the chicken, this one was my favorite.
Chicken Empanada (Baked): too dry (maybe because it was baked as opposed to fried), really needed the salsa.

Sarah had:
Veggie Taco (my friend Sarah is guest-commenting on this):
Vegetarian options are hard to find, so as far as tacos go, this one was fine - beans, guac, cheese and fajita veggies - but overall it was bland. I would have loved a little spice! I'm also a salsa fanatic - usually my chip to salsa ratio is 75% salsa, 25% chip... I was pretty disappointed, especially in the Pico de Gallo (however the green cilantro salsa ROCKED).

Jenn Nelson, my college roommate, has volunteered to help me in my Mexican Food adventures, and will be a regular guest-blogger. Here is her take on her food from Lime Jungle:

To start, my opinion on the jalapenos...  They were decent.  Normal enough.  But I've had better jalapeno poppers from the frozen food section.  Like Kelsey mentioned, the cheese ruined it.  Cream cheese would have been a better choice.  The cilantro dressing saved this one.

For my entree I got a chicken soft taco.  The chicken was nice and tender, but the taco as a whole really didn't have much flavor.  I slathered that baby with that amazing Jalapeno Cilantro dressing, which was the saving grace for the entire restaurant in my opinion. 

We gave them "Two Jalapenos" (our star-system) because their Salsa Bar was so good, it is a nice atmosphere, and the waiters were sweet, even though they were under-staffed (which was not their fault).

On our way home, we bumped into a neighbor who said that their second location at: 803 9th Ave
New York, NY 10019 (212) 586-6032, was significantly better. So if you want to try them, try them there.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

BLOCKHEADS, 322 West 50th Street, New York, NY (212) 307-7029‎ ·

I went to Blockheads last night in Hells Kitchen with friends, after 0 of the 6 of us in our group got lottery tickets for The Book of Mormon on Broadway.

There are a few locations throughout the city, so I thought I'd start here. It's cheap Mexican food and Margaritas, a very casual, low-key, paper napkins and plastic-wear sort of place.

Do Not come here for the best Mexican food or best service you've ever had, come for a home-cooked style meal, basic ingredients, nothing fancy, and come to enjoy the ambiance of sitting outside in the Theatre District where you can drink $4 Frozen Margaritas.

SPECIAL NOTE: If you come during the week, you shouldn't have to wait too long if at all, but anytime right before the theater-district shows begin 5-8pm is crazy, and on the weekends, expect to wait up to 2 hours to be seated!

Best time to visit: Lunch on Weekdays

Drinks: We started with Margaritas. I had the basic $4 Frozen Margarita they are famous for, and it definitely does the job. My only complaint was that I asked for salt ( I ALWAYS ask for salt) and it did not make it to my cup.
My husband Chris, had a very fancy (albeit, girly) drink called the Pink Bulldog, which was comprised of Frozen Pink Lemonade Vodka, White Sangria, and topped with an upside-down Coronita (a mini Corona). One of our friends got lucky, and a pigeon pooped in his margarita! haha. The manager was very nice and prompt about replacing it. Ah, the risks of eating outdoors in New York City!

Starters: We asked for their Guacamole, which was a good size for the price, and definitely yummy. It was creamier, not so hearty, but it had fresh diced tomatoes and cilantro. The salsa was weak, not much flavor and definitely came out of a "jug-o-salsa", but the chips are fair.

My friend and future blog-contributor, Jenn Nelson and I shared the Taco Plate which comes with two Tacos with your choice of filling, beans and rice, sour cream on the side. My biggest disappointment came when they told me that they don't put their shredded beef in their tacos anymore!!
That was my favorite dish! WHAT?!
Okay, phew, glad I got that out of my system.
We got chicken instead, which had been seasoned with something very good, so I was not disappointed with the Tacos after all. They pack them high with lettuce, cheese, and tomatoes, and they are delicious, and I'm so glad we shared because one taco was plenty!

Chris got the HUGE Burrito (they specialize in Burritos) and as you can see from the picture, they are enormous and LOADED with good stuff. He loved it and his tummy approved.

Basic? Definitely. Worth the money you pay? For sure.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Suggestions from Viewers Like YOU!

I need to know where you want me to go and if you have any reccommendations for where I should go to review!
If you have heard of a Mexican restaurant and just aren't brave enough to be the first to try it, let me be your guinea pig!

If you want my opinion on a restaurant you went to recently, let me know, and if you've discovered what you think is the best Mexican you've ever tasted, PLEASE let me know!

Most importantly, since I'm working on an actors budget, I want to know where the best deals are! None of this over-priced-because-it's-in-Manhattan stuff, you know? Come on!

Okay people, let me have it.