Archive for the ‘ Mexican ’ Category

Second Bite @ Belly Bites

So, apropos the forthcoming referendum (the one that few people are talking about), the young lad reminded us that Michael Collins was 30 when he was killed. Just one example to counter the exclusionists who consider that nobody under 35 has had sufficient experience of what life has to offer, to be able to do the things that Presidents are required to do. To my mind, if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to stand for President. I thoroughly dislike exclusionist politics. I’ll be voting yes. In both referendums.

For lunch, I decided to revisit a place I felt I had been a little unfair to the first time around. It’s a little place on Thomas Street, just opposite the top of Francis Street: Belly Bites.

ShopFront

I wrote about it before and gave it a lukewarm review but I did suggest then that ordering a salad at 1.45pm on a wet, cold February day, and criticising what I got was hardly just.

This time I got there at about 12.50pm. The place was humming and all the tables (there are only four) were filled with (male) lunchers …

lunchers

… munching on burritos and quesadillas, as far as I could make out. It was a happy hum, supplemented by frequent calls of ‘next please’ from the servers, summoning orders from an ever-growing queue (both genders) which, at one stage, crept outside the door.

Belly Bites specialises in Tex Mex food: burritos, quesadillas and chilli con carne especially, which makes it altogether odd that I ordered a salad the last time I was here.

The prices are reasonable and, given its proximity to NCAD (the virtues of which I have acknowledged previously), there are plenty of discounts for students on the burritos menu.

burrmenu

othermenu

I ordered a bowl of chilli con carne. A sizeable bowl was lined with rice, on top of which was spooned a good portion of chilli. I agreed to a sprinkling of grated cheese, and the bowl was whisked into a heating device under the counter. Upon its reappearance, jalapeños and soured cream were applied, again following my agreement, and the bowl was exchanged for a crisp-ish fiver.

I sat at a long counter opposite the serving area, read the graffiti wall (a hangover from Belly Bites’ previous existence as a branch of Mama’s Revenge) and tucked in.

Mybowl2

It was plentiful, filling and tasty, with a pleasant chilli heat, provided mainly by the jalapeños.

myshpoon

It could have been hotter temperature-wise, but I suspect that the pressure of orders diminished the time available for reheating.

The wall provided further evidence of customer satisfaction …

Bestburrito

10burritos

mexico

and this …

shtoned

I’m happy to revise my impression of Belly Bites. Good value for your fiver. Even better if you’ve a student card. Opening hours are 12 noon till 8pm Monday to Friday and 12 noon to 5pm on Saturdays. Belly Bites also does a full range of coffees and teas. It doesn’t seem to be anywhere on the internet (not even on Yelp), by the way, hence the absence of links.

 

 

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K Chido. OMG. The motherlode.

You know what the weather was like today? Lashing. Windy. Cold. As I approached K Chido, though, the rain stopped. The sky cleared. The sun came out. A miracle? Luck? Fate? An omen? Nah, don’t be silly. It just happened.

K Chido is a van. In an archway. I was afraid I wouldn’t find it. But I did. It’s on Chancery Street, very close to the Four Courts and near this …

KChido06 mottax

… which the older ones among you will recognise as the old motor tax office. More pleasantly, it’s near these …

KChido02

 

KChido01

… which brighten up the streetscape a little.

Just in case you missed it above, K Chido is a VAN and you’ll find it in the archway leading to Fegan’s, a wholesale specialist food merchant.

KChido07 entrance

It’s colourful …

KChido10 truck

 

KChido13 serving area

… as is the seating opposite …

KChido12 seating

Its menu is simple, and Mexican … (click makes big)

KChido09 better menu

The printed menu (again, click to embiggen much) gives more of an idea about what’s on offer for a fiver …

Menu001

… and there’s this which, according to their Twitter feed page, is new …

KChido11 soupsign

There’s a lot of love on Yelp for K Chido’s breakfast burrito, so that’s what I chose. There are some choices you can make in relation to fillings but I make enough choices at work, so I just went for the standard one with chorizo and jalapenos, following the suggestions of the helpful server.

What I got (in no time at all) was big, warm, soft and delicious. It had all the usual burrito stuff. You know, the rice, the beans, the sauce.

KChido14 burritowrapped

It had lots of chorizo. It had jalapenos. And it had a fried egg. A FRIED EGG.

KChido15 egg

This wasn’t just a breakfast burrito. It was a birthday breakfast burrito with some Christmas added for good measure. I munched and I slurped and I licked the burrito juice that dripped onto my fingers. Oh this was good. Very good. And when I’d finished, I just sat for a while and savoured the afterburritosensations. Mmmmm.

Now, I freely admit to going a little over the top here in my description. But the fact is, I love this type of food. Today, this was my ideal lunch. I loved it’s sloppy, soft warmth and its spiciness. I loved the colours on the van and the furniture. I loved the colourful bunting and the Mexican pictures on the walls. The servers were helpful, pleasant and informative, and the whole thing came together as a pleasant eating experience which I aim to repeat.

 

 

Opposite K Chido is a tiny, well-kept park, called Chancery Park, with this intriguing 1930s style building …

KChido03 park buidling

 

It’s got a fountain …

KChido03

… and, according to the sign,

KChido05 times

it should have been open. But …

KChido04 lock

… it wasn’t.

 

 

There’s something about Pablo

There is something very satisfying about a burrito. It’s hard to put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the non-breadiness of the wrap. Or the interesting mix of textures of the beans, rice, cheese and salsa. Or the tingliness of the salsa itself. Or even the mixture of hot and cold temperatures. I don’t know what it is. But I like it.

I won’t bore you with my roundabout journey today (including accidentally trying to go the wrong way up a one-way street) but anyway, eventually, I arrived at Clarendon Market, the laneway between Clarendon Row and South William Street/Johnson’s Place. Peter’s Pub is the nearest landmark I can think of.

I was heading for Pablo Picanté, a burrito place. Its webpage contains location, opening hours and menu. Its Facebook page is here. If you scroll down the Facebook page a bit you’ll find a picture of a very cute-looking chihuahua in a sombrero. The page has 5024 likes so I’m guessing Pablo Picanté is pretty well known. (It has another branch on Baggot Street.)

At first sight, the place looks a little cramped,

2013-11-08 13.35.38

… with two huge tables and four benches filling up the available space. But actually, it’s HUGE. At the opposite end to the door there’s a connected space with seating against the wall and then upstairs there’s seating for about 50 more people. Outside there are about four tables, each with four chairs. So, it and its newer cousin next door, Pablo’s Tortas, together can probably accommodate about 80-90 people at a push.

It was buzzing when I was there. Lunchers (students mainly, with a scattering of young male shoppers) were finishing up and getting ready to go and there was a steady stream of people coming in and placing orders, the majority intending to eat in but some taking food away. A lot of customers were wearing hats.

When you’ve ordered your food at the cash desk, chosen your preferred level of salsa heat from this chart,

2013-11-08 13.36.55

… (I chose Picante), and paid (in my case, €4.75, for the Bean and Cheese Burrito), you are given a receipt with an order number and you wait for your burrito to be made. Some people find a seat. Others (like me) wait and watch the fascinating, efficient and speedy process of burrito manufacture.

When your burrito is ready, they call out your number and you collect your food. If you’re already sitting down, someone will carry your food around the restaurant, shouting your number until they find you. This seems like a very time/staff consuming process. On at least three occasions while I was there, a staff member walked around the ground floor, up the stairs, down another staircase and had to go outside before she found the (hopefully) grateful recipient.

Anyway, I waited beside the counter, like a good boy. Here’s what I got …

2013-11-08 13.42.21

And here’s what it looked like, opened …

2013-11-08 13.42.57

 

and bitten in to …

2013-11-08 13.43.49

Gloriously tasty, with all the mix of textures spoken about above, lovely fresh tomato chunks and a nice burst of heat from the salsa that left my mouth and lips tingling for ages afterwards. It’s quite a size, though you wouldn’t guess that from my crappy photos. Very filling and very satisfying.

I suppose that if I hadn’t been restricted by my fiver limit, I would have ordered one with meat in it. But actually, in a creation such as this, I didn’t miss it and, as I often do when I eat a meal without meat, I felt virtuous after it. Full and virtuous. By the way, the little wooden bowl is a good idea. Burritos leak.

The Bean and Cheese burrito is the only one under a fiver on the menu. I’m a little confused about the student offer. On the website, there’s a Student offer for a fiver. In the restaurant itself, this board

2013-11-08 13.41.51

seems to suggest that it’s €6 but that it includes a drink. Whatever, it’s pretty good value anyway.

I mentioned Pablo’s Tortas next door. (Torta = This.) It definitely has a student deal for a fiver, and here’s the proof …

2013-11-08 13.33.46

I like Pablo Picanté. It’s buzzy and noisy with enthusiastic chat. It’s bright and clean. And my burrito was satisfying and only cost this …

2013-11-08 13.38.03

… and that, as they say, is what it’s all about.

 

 

 

Mama’s Revenge is sweet

I love it when I walk out of an eatery satisfied. Today was one of those days.

I followed my own suggestion in my last posting and went to Mama’s Revenge (the link leads to their Facebook page), a small(ish) ‘burrito hut’ (that’s what it says outside) on South Leinster Street. To answer the obvious question, South Leinster Street is the continuation of Nassau Street, running from the junction with Kildare Street to Lincoln Place, opposite TCD’s railings.

8612606_orig

Mama’s Revenge is on two levels: the ground floor comprises the kitchen, serving area and three two-place tables while downstairs there is a collection of different size tables in a sizeable room, seating about 25-30. It’s clean, bright and yellowy-orange.

Service at the counter is pleasant, efficient and helpful. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: being greeted with a smile and a reasonable level of attentiveness makes a big difference to the dining experience, at whatever level of expenditure. In saying this, I understand that servers are not paid huge amounts of money and that it’s not the easiest job in the world to be stuck on your feet all day, under significant amounts of pressure at certain times, trying to please people, some of whom are bound to be unpleasant/rude difficult. Still …

The menu options are laid out clearly on a board behind the serving area and there’s plenty of choice, even for a fiver.

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen. Go back to return.

If you’re a student, there’s even more choice. They do ask you to show your student card, by the way, if you order one of the student offers.

I was there at about 1.30pm and there was a steady stream of customers, mostly ordering food to take away. I had a look downstairs when I was leaving and it was about a quarter full. Anna, from behind the counter, who I spoke to told me that it had been very busy between 11.30 and 12.30.

I ordered a chili con carne. A generous portion of chili con carne was spooned over a couple of spoonfuls of rice. Grated cheese and jalapeños were offered, both of which I accepted. I grabbed a spoon, paid over my fiver and found a seat by the window.

ccc

The rice was nicely cooked and firm. The chili was tasty, tomatoey, and meaty, with kidney beans and a moderate amount of chili heat. Extra heat was supplied by the jalapeños. The food was tasty and filling and, I felt, pretty good value for my fiver. My only criticism is that it wasn’t hot (temperature-wise). That doesn’t bother me much, to be honest. I’m not a fan of high temperature food but it would bother some people. I’m sure, however, that they would have heated it up a bit more had I asked.

Anna told me that Mama’s Revenge has been open in South Leinster Street for about a year and that, more recently, another branch had opened on Thomas Street, near the National College of Art and Design. It gets mad busy at lunchtime so, if you want a more leisurely Tex-Mex experience, Anna suggests that you come after 2pm.

It has a wall on which people have written things.

artwall

Apparently the wall in the Thomas Street branch is more arty, as one might expect.

I liked Mama’s Revenge. Good atmosphere, pleasant service, nice food and plenty of choice for your fiver. I’m going to try their other branch and I’ll return to this one too, maybe with a companion. I’d say it’s definitely worth a shot.

receipt

 

By the way, eatforafiver.com has almost doubled in value in the last three months. It’s now worth $22. Yay!

 

 

Just a few for later

No eatingforafiver today. But if you’re a bit short and looking for somewhere to nibbleforthatfiver, here’s a few suggestions:

Mama’s Revenge, 12 South Leinster Street (which is what Nassau Street turns in to when it gets closer to Lincoln Place). It’s ‘Tex-Mex’ and you can get a Value Burrito (no meat) for €4, Chili Con Carne with rice or nacho chips for €5 and, if you’re a student, a Basic Burrito for the same price.

The older lad told me about the next two:

Pablo Picanté (Clarendon Market). A bean and cheese burrito will set you back €4.50 and, if you’re a student, you can have a choice of burritos for a fiver. The student offer doesn’t seem to be available in their Baggot Street branch.

The bar in the Plaza Hotel, Tallaght, just beside the Square, is called McClafferty’s. Their online menu has a range of starters for €4.50 including chicken wings or coriander and seafood broth with pan fried prawns and string noodles.

I haven’t tried any of these yet but if you have, please feel free to post a comment. (I moderate the comments just to make sure that no spam gets through, so there’ll be a bit of a delay before any contributions appear.)

 

Azteca delights

So, over two hours after my lunch today and my mouth is still tingling.

The venue today was Cafe Azteca on Lord Edward Street. Cafe Azteca has been there since 1999! That’s thirteen years. I would have thought that that’s a long time for what is a very small restaurant. It must say something for the quality of the place.

Cafe Azteca is a family run restaurant. The man behind the counter who I spoke to came originally from Mexico City and the website suggests that he’s also worked in France. It’s small (seats 18-20) and pretty unassuming from outside.

unassuming

Inside, it’s quite brown. For some reason it doesn’t look all that inviting and I can’t quite work out why. It could be the plastic cactus plants in the window or tinsel-y decorations hanging from the ceiling. I’ve walked past it dozens of times in the last few years and, until I saw the small ‘Special Offer: Beef Burrito: €5’ sign, I wouldn’t have thought about eating there.

I ordered my beef burrito (actually, on their Facebook page, the offer covers any of their regular burritos) and took a seat. I was brought a glass of water and a small ramekin of FRESH salsa.

FRESH and hot!

There were 5 other diners there at lunchtime – a couple and three men, each eating on their own.

My only other burrito experience being Burritos and Blues, where the burrito is made before your eyes and comes quickly, I wasn’t expecting much of a wait. This isn’t a fast food restaurant however, and the wait wasn’t unreasonable and, indeed, was worth it.

My burrito arrived …

It's a first for me: written-on food

Now that’s pretty good, don’t you think?

I was quite hungry and tucked in. I’ve said before that I’m not an expert on Mexican food. What I’ve eaten in the past in Mexican restaurants I’ve liked but I have no idea how authentic the food has been.

I enjoyed this burrito a lot. The tortilla wrap was substantial and inside there was a piping hot filling comprising rice, corn, beans, herbs and small strips of beef. Not mince. Real beef. The salsa was an appropriate accompaniment: its fresh tasting heat cut through the (pleasant) starchiness of the burrito and left the aforementioned tingle on the tongue. The burrito was substantial enough for a filling midday meal.

Cafe Azteca has a pretty comprehensive and varied menu and, to my eye, offers excellent value, with most main course items priced between €9.50 and €13.50. It’s not just a restaurant either. They also provide Mexican cookery courses (see their website and Facebook page for more details).

Bill (it wasn't Tuesday. It was today.)

Good value. Interesting place. I’ll go again and I’d recommend that you give it a go.

Forgot to say: Santana was on the sound system. Appropriate.

 

 

 

No blues here

Presidential election day. Cynical timing by the Government to hold it on a Thursday, effectively disenfranchising thousands of students and closing a massive number of primary schools. How is deliberately disenfranchising young voters meant to restore confidence in the efficacy of politics?

One positive consequence, however, was that the young lad was free to join me in the latest episode of the gentle eatforafiver extravaganza. As soon as I mentioned it to him, he chose the venue: Burritos and Blues on Wexford Street.

Burritos and Blues, Wexford Street

I’ve eaten here before – twice – following a suggestion by the older lad who had fed himself there several times following late nights in the nearby Palace nightclub. Having (once or twice) visited late night eating establishments myself, following evenings spent in various hostelries, I understand how late night eating can seem to be quite a different experience from normal eating. So I initially took the older lad’s initial recommendation with a pinch of salt but changed my mind after my first visit. It is indeed a good place to eat.

Burritos and Blues has three branches (I think. The website is not too clear, or up to date): one in Wexford Street, one in Stephen Street and one in the IFSC, near the National College of Ireland. The Wexford Street branch is small but brightly decorated with seats inside for about 24 or so and two tables outside. It also has a counter in the middle on which I suppose you could lean, if necessary.

There’s a big poster behind where they make up the burritos which explains the permutations and alternatives. But it’s easier just to ask. And then it’s entertaining to watch.

The menu (click to embiggen cromulently)

One of the things I’ve liked about Burritos and Blues on each visit has been the good humour and pleasantness of the staff. You’re invariably met with a smile and your questions are answered with good grace and humour.

We both chose to have burritos, the young lad getting the student option (€5) while I chose the Diet Burrito (€4.15). The burritos are made in front of you and you choose between certain options. The tortilla wrap is placed on the counter and you choose between two bean paste options. Rice goes on next and then you have a choice between minced beef and chicken. The young lad went for beef and I chose chicken. The wrap is then passed to the next server who adds a salsa. There’s a choice of 4 different strengths, from mild to ouch. The young lad went for number 2 and I, for the hell of it, opted for number 4. Grated cheese, lettuce and chopped tomato are added and the burrito is quickly and expertly rolled up and placed in foil.

We asked for glasses of water, paid and took our seats. It being the end of October, the young lad chose to sit outside.

The restaurant was pretty full at lunchtime. Mostly students, at a guess (DIT is very close) with a fair smattering of besuited blokes also. Not many women, now that I think of it.

So, the burritos –

The young lad tucking in to his student burrito

My diet burrito

I asked the young lad was he enjoying his. ‘Hell, yeah’, was the response, which I took as a positive. He couldn’t quite finish it and I had a bite of the left-overs. It was tasty with no part of it dominating any of the other parts. It kind of feels healthy too, for some reason.

Mine was hot and I don’t think I’d go for salsa number 4 again. It was quite overpowering and somewhat eye-watering. I could still taste the other components but only just. At a previous visit i opted for salsa number three which is hot enough and complementary rather than dominant. The diet burrito was filling, though, and excellent value for €4.15.

I’m not averse to a burger when I have the hunger but this is a tasty and far more interesting alternative and it feels a lot healthier. I’ve looked at the prices in some of the other burrito joints in town and Burritos and Blues is the only one that has food for a fiver or less. Fair play to them. I’ll return, probably frequently.

The damage:

Stuffed x 2 for €9.15. Result!

 

Taco insípido

The Epicurean Food Hall between Abbey Street and Liffey Street has been going since 1999 and is now looking a little shabby. I’ve been there a few times over the years, usually to grab a bagel or a filled roll. I actually don’t mind shabby, as long as it’s reasonably clean. And it is. Reasonably.

Just having a look at some reviews on the internet reminded me that the variety of food on offer in the Hall has reduced over the years. I hesitate to say that the place is in terminal decline but it’s definitely not the ‘hidden gem’ that it used to be referred to as a few years ago. The Hall’s own website domain has expired. As .com domains cost about €6.50 a year, that’s not a good sign and perhaps shows that whoever owns the Hall has either lost interest or lost their shirt.

Yesterday at lunchtime, the young lad and I paid a visit. We were heading for a place in the Hall called Taco Taco, but we had a little look at what else was on offer. Not much for a fiver, I’m afraid. On the Liffey Street side, Burdocks had fish goujons, chips and a drink for a fiver. And there was a small portion of paella available for a little less, at the Abbey Street entrance.

Most places seemed to have ‘all you can eat’ offers for about €9.50, with ‘small’ plates of food for €7. You could have your choice of Turkish/Mediterranean, Chinese/Thai, Italian and Greek. The small plates were very small but if you’re looking for a feed for a tenner, the €9.50 option in the Greek place looked like good value.

Other stalls offered Brazilian food, hand-made burgers and baked potatoes. The bagel place is gone.

Taco Taco has a pretty good selection of Mexican items, as you’ll see from the menu, with everything under €8:

Taco Taco menu

The options for a fiver are limited to tacos, vegetarian tostadas and vegetarian mollete. We went for the tacos, the young lad opting for chorizo and I for chicken.

The tacos were … meh. I mean, they were OK, but a lot blander than I expected. The taco shells were crispy, which was good. The fillings were fine. The young lad was happy with his chorizo. My chicken tasted less of chicken than the oil it had been fried in. The tacos were covered in reasonable sour cream, rather insipid guacamole and, inexplicably (to me), a sprinkling of packet parmesan cheese. The garnish comprised shredded iceberg lettuce and a slice of tomato. No sign of the tomatillo Mexican salsa mentioned on the menu.

Chorizo Taco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken Taco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(I have to day that they looked more appetising in reality than they do in these rather dull photos taken with my phone.)

Realistically, for €4.65 each these were fine and quite filling. I was just a little disappointed with the blandness. I hadn’t expected my head to be blown off but I had expected some heat. Then again, I’m no expert on Mexican food. Maybe we caught them on a bad day.

The bill:

 

Yesterday, the Epicurean Food Hall was busy, but not packed and we had no difficulty finding a vacant table. There were quite a few elderly American tourists and interestingly, not many children. I may be mistaken but I suppose many parents, in town on a Saturday, take the easy option of McDonalds or Burger King for lunch. Understandable, but a pity.

 

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