Pueblo Viejo

I love Mexican food! When I find a new place I can check out, I will. And what’s ironic is that I’m posting all these blogs about restaurants and I don’t eat out all that much. I cook the majority of my meals at home. I was away for awhile and I’m also catching up on a bunch of long-overdue blogs.

So, another place in Ft. Collins that I checked out was Pueblo Viejo.

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When they bring you the chips and salsa they also provide a unique bean dip. It’s made with pinto beans (not black beans). Nice to have something a bit different and just had some nice spices in it. Some guac was definitely ordered, too. Very good stuff!

Went for lunch and ordered some chicken tortilla soup. This stuff was amazing! They add tons of veggies to it — cauliflower, carrots and more. Not something very common and I loved it. It gives you a nice hearty meal. If you check this place out, definitely worth ordering.

El Pueblito

Dined at a new Mexican restaurant when I was in Ft. Collins last time — El Pueblito. They also have locations in Loveland & Greeley.

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They had some unique items on their menu that you don’t see in many places. We had to take advantage of them when ordering.

I decided to go with the FAJITAS DEL MAR — Octopus, shrimp and catfish, grilled with tomatoes, onions and bell green pepper , served with rice, beans, guacamole salad and your choice of tortillas.

The other at the table went with TACOS DE LENGUA — Corn tortillas or flour tortillas stuffed with grilled tongue, cilantro, and onions. Served with beans and tomatillo sauce on the side.

I love octopus and it was delicious on the fajita plate. The catfish, I wasn’t a fan of (I don’t know that I’d ever even had catfish). It was just super chewy and almost bland. I was also lucky enough to ask if it was served with cheese for my dairy issues and they mentioned they use butter. I thought that was interesting for a Mexican place. They said they would absolutely just use the oil because of my lactose issues.

You don’t often see beef tongue in restaurants, so this was a good find.

The gaucamole we had at the start was nothing to write home about and the margaritas were marginal, but it was cool having the unique main courses.

 

Blue Agave Grill

I recently dined at a delicious ‘Contemporary Southwestern Grill’ while visiting Colorado — Blue Agave Grill. Was in Denver and stopped in before going to the Avalanche game. There is a location in Fort Collins, but this one has recently opened.

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Arrive in the 5 o’clock hour and this is a great restaurant off the top because you don’t have to be at the bar/in the bar section to get happy hour specials. So few restaurants do that (at least in DC where I’m used to going out)! So, right away, margaritas, on the rocks, no salt, please — for $5.

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Then, we get the chips and salsa which are the normal addition to the table.

Next, a staple at this type of restaurant, guacamole! We got the basic one — Blue Agave Choice/ Garlic / Green Chilies / Red Onion / Tomato / Lime. It was on happy hour for $4 of $5 — I can’t remember the exact price. Really, that’s awesome! Came out super fast, huge portion and was amazing. The presentation was also nice and super effective. There is the brown ‘stuff’ below the tortilla shell bowl. It’s pureed black beans. That is done so the shell doesn’t move. Smart!

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After that, we just wanted one other simple bite to eat. Opted for the Tuna Tartare / Gingered Soy Sauce / Blistered Shishito Peppers. It was around $7 or $8, I think. Good size portion. Now, I just snapped a small shot of it, but there were probably about 4 times as many pepper around it as tuna. And they were hot! I didn’t touch them, the other eater did. From far away they could look like okra. Dang, fiesty! Nice presentation, but the restaurant could save a lot of peppers. The tuna was amazing, though.

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I wish there was one of these near me in DC. Absolutely amazing. Great service, too. Now, it was also quiet at that hour, but nonetheless, could not have asked for more. Will definitely have to go back next time I’m there.

 

Cacique

This year I visited Frederick, MD a couple times and on one occasion had dinner at Cacique, which serves fine Spanish and Mexican cuisine. Fortunately on a Friday night it wasn’t too packed when we arrived, but I could tell we just beat the rush!

We ordered the required of guac and margaritas, both of which were very good.

For dinner, my friend ordered the Paella de Marisco — a rice dish consisting of shrimp, scallops, fish, mussels, calamari, and garnished with a clam. Cooked in a seafood broth and Spanish herbs (made to order). Made to order in the sense that they warn you it takes 20-30 minutes to prepare. Now jumping forward it did take quite awhile (30-45)…but come the end it was quite good.

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I went for my favorite of ceviche and found one with calamari, which isn’t all that common. The whole dish was Ceviche Mixto — fresh tilapia, shrimp, scallops and squid marinated in fresh lime juice with red onions, cilantro, celery, garlic, ginger, and jalapenos. Very good! The ginger was also a unique ingredient in the dish.

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The food and atmosphere overall were very good. Service got a bit slow mid-meal, though it was a Friday night. But, I would definitely check this place out again. Salud!

 

Fish Taco

I had heard so much about Fish Taco that I eventually had to try it. Also did it by taking a friend there as a thank you for picking me up from the airport. Good excuse, right?

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Their background is ‘Our food is rooted in traditional flavors inspired by various regions including Baja California, Mexico and the Southwest. We embrace local, seasonal and authentic ingredients presented simply, yet prepared with passion and precision.’

It’s one of the restaurants where you go up and order and they call your number when it’s ready, the new fast-casual, or something along those lines. I had sort of wondered about that, or how exactly they worked. They have three locations in the DC-area, and I visited the one on Old Georgetown Rd.

Was torn on what to order. I was assuming that based on their background (and name) they’d have ceviche (or some sort at least), but no.

I ended up getting the Blackened Fish Salad; mixed greens, romaine hearts, baby kale, avocado, grilled mango, cherry tomatoes, red onions, cotija cheese, blackened fish, and our house made Lemon Cilantro Vinaigrette (minus the cheese) — $11.95. The seasoning was nice, but the fish was pretty greasy.

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My friend went with the Adobo Barbacoa (Brisket) Tacos; fresh white corn tortilla, adobo marinated barbacoa, pickled jalapeno/carrots/onions, guajillo sauce — $8.95. This was apparently darn good, but not a very big portion.

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To kill time we also ordered chips and salsa. It’s always a strike against when at a mexican restaurant (generic term) you have to pay for chips and salsa. And, it was $4! (and not that ample of a size).

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I can see why this place gets hype. It was relatively quick and easy. But, I personally wasn’t all the impressed. I would rather cook at home. And it was overpriced for what’s offered/delivered. But, it is Bethesda/DC so you come to expect it. Glad I was able to pass the opinion myself.

Flor de Luna

I don’t love trying out new restaurants right after they open all that often. But when it’s a family-owned restaurant that serves Latin-American cuisine, I’m there. It’s also great when it’s very close to where I live.

So, my friend and I checked out Flor de Luna in North Bethesda/Rockville, MD recently. If you know that area, it’s 1/2 block from Whole Foods. So, we called to make a reservation and we could only get in at 6:30pm (I think vs 6:00). Basically I say that because they made it sound like they were packed and it was empty in there (and it wasn’t getting busier). I think there were 2 other tables filled.

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The menu said that Happy Hour went until 7 so we ordered some margaritas and mentioned that it was great that HH was on Sundays. He said, well, oh no, it’s not on weekends. We mentioned that nowhere did it mention that, either on the menu, signs, or website. He just sort of shook his head. Not good advertising and way to mention things. The waiter also said with all this they don’t serve margaritas on Sundays because as of right now the bartender isn’t there (just opened) so they can’t make the drink. He said he could try, we mentioned we would really appreciate that, happy hour price didn’t matter.

Note, when it did eventually come, service was slow, it was an awesome margarita! Nice work non-bartender!

We started looking over the menu, this was while enjoying a very unique opaque dip (no picture). It looked like a cheese dip but I was guaranteed there was no cheese/dairy in it. It was just so emulsified, but it was all good.

While skimming the menu we noticed several mistakes for the new venue…lots of typos, such as a staple for this type of restaurant, you could get ‘guacamole deep.’

Moving on, it was a cold night and I decided to get the Seafood Soup — Fish, mussels, squid, shrimp, and scallops in fish broth. I was about $16 or so, and was sure hoping it was going to have a good amount of seafood in it. That was an understatement when I got the bowl. This picture does it no justice at all. So much good stuff in here. Absolutely amazing.

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My friend opted for the Carne Asada — New York stake (*another typo, I copied and pasted) served with rice, beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo. My friend quite enjoyed it, all tasted very good.

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During the meal, the owner of the restaurant came out to meet us, very nice. I unfortunately can’t remember where she is originally from but it was great to see who cooked our delicious food. We eventually finished everything and asked for our check. Our waiter delivered it and did make the margaritas the happy hour price as he mentioned they should be based on what was advertised/mentioned. Thanks and nice work for ‘saving’ yourself.

Very nice dinner and will definitely go back and try several other choices from the menu. I also hope their business starts to pick up. I think I went in the first week or two from when they opened so it’s very likely this will be the case.

La Fiesta Grill & Cantina

Awhile back I checked out a great Mexican place in Steamboat Springs, CO — La Fiesta Grill & Cantina. What drove me there? The coupon that was on the back of the receipt from the grocery store. I guess those things actually work!

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Some of the required drinks were ordered, margaritas. But, after some discussion with the waitress I changed from my normal, or I guess just what is normally served, and got one with white tequila. Ok, that’s my new favorite.

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Had some simple stuff for lunch between the two of us there.  I had one of my staples — ceviche, and the other had chicken tortilla soup.

The ceviche was good, but not quite the normal. It was almost like a gazpacho. There was tomato juice in there. Not saying I didn’t like it, but totally not what I was expecting. The tortilla soup was just perfect!

With the coupon, we got one of the margaritas free, too. Heck yeah! Worth checking out if you’re in that town.

Los Tios Grill, Del Ray

Hot weather equals cool food.  Checked out Los Tios Grill in Del Ray/Alexandria, VA (just outside of DC) recently.

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The first thought of cool when walking into a Mexican restaurant is a margarita.  There were a few of us at dinner so we figured why not get a pitcher.  This is probably the first place I’ve been to that doesn’t have pitchers of margaritas.  Ok.  Decided to get the large one, and large it was.  The picture doesn’t quite do the size justice.

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Of course had to order some guac.  It was very nicely presented as it is served in the avocado. Good taste, too.

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Now, when looking over the menu I was pretty disappointed.  It was hot out, so I wanted something cool.  And a staple of mine at Mexican restaurants is ceviche. It’s not on their menu.  I was trying to figure out what else to get.  Very fortunately the waiter came over and told us the specials.  One of them was ceviche.  The night was saved!  It was a combo of shrimp and whitefish.  It tasted a bit like the shrimp had been cooked a bit, which some restaurants tend to do for safety reasons.  Still nice to get the ceviche.

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All the others at the table ordered Tacos los Tios, which are beef or chicken tacos, served with rice, beans, lettuce, pico de gallo, guac and sour cream.

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Overall, good meal. The restaurant is pretty big, so easy enough to get a table.  Will check it out again, too, when it’s less sweltering hot and can sit outside.

 

Coyote Grill, Queenstown, NZ

Next place to check in a NZ town if of course a Mexican restaurant, right?  After getting back fairly late from a tour it was close to the hotel and looked pretty good, so why not?  So we checked out Coyote Grill.

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One of two mandatory orders was right (and done right away) – chips & guac.  The other that wasn’t (margarita) was simply replaced with sangria.

The guac had a perfect texture and spice to it.

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Two appetizers were ordered after that for dinner.

Prawns (that’s what they call shrimp) Veracruz– sautéed with mild guajillo chili and slow cooked garlic IMG_5406

Duck Tostada – shredded roast duck served on a crispy corn tortilla with salsa

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The shrimp had a nice kick to them and whatever seasoning they used on the duck was amazing.  And for appetizers, these were big dishes.  Perfect end to a long day.

Agua 301

Yards Park, DC.  Visited what is labeled as a ‘modern Mexican’ restaurant.  Don’t know if that’s the middle ground between tex-mex and authentic Mexican, but of course had to give it a try.  So, the place is Agua 301.

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The time of the visit was oh-so-fortunately in the evening which meant happy hour was at hand…margarita, on the rocks, no salt.  I took a sip and sort of jumped back.  Waited, took another.  Took a sip of my friend’s as a comparison.  Then truly confirmed…they don’t skimp on alcohol.  I guess that’s good?  While I appreciate tequila in my drink I very much appreciate the lime in a margarita.  I had to send it back.  I could not drink this. It was straight alcohol.  Some people might love this…anyway.

Of course came to this place for dinner to also check out the food.

Guac was also on happy hour.  Ordered that ASAP.  For $6 you got probably a softball size serving of great guacamole.  Some nice chunks of avocados were in there, too.  Tasty!  Paired nicely with their unique salsa.

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For dinner, I had to get their Ceviche Pescado Blanco.  It was extremely unique.  It was mixed with some salsa and other unknown, good flavors.

 

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My friend went for the Camarones en Crema de Chipotle, which are pan seared shrimp in a chipotle cream sauce over Spanish rice.  Good flavor and nicely cooked.

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Overall, dinner was good.  But, service was marginal.  We were there around 6pm on a Friday and the place wasn’t too busy.  It was tough to attract or find the waiter and it took a long time to get drinks and food.  Considering they don’t take much time to cook, it was odd.