Posts Tagged Cuisine: Mexican

Aqui es Mexico 

A giant carne asada chimichanga at Aqui es Mexico in Charlottesville, VACharlottesville is home to many fine Mexican restaurants of all sizes and modes – think Baja Bean for students, Guadalajara for margaritas, the farmer’s market for tacos al pastor. But Aqui es Mexico, tucked away in a shopping center in Belmont, offers something special: a unique combination of Salvadoran and Mexican cuisines, an expansive menu, and a comfortable interior.

The restaurant itself is spotless, brightly decorated, and well-lit, with many seating options suitable for different party sizes and a rather impressive curved bar. The service was friendly yet not overly so; my server seemed interested in my enjoyment of the food… Read More

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Phil’s Fave Porko Platter at Mono Loco

I’m not sure who this Phil guy is, but I’d like to congratulate him on his excellent taste in pork platters. I’ve had his highly recommended “Phil’s Fave Porko Platter” at Mono Loco in heavy dinner rotation lately.

Even beyond the porko platter, Mono Loco has stepped it up in the past year to become one of my favorite dinner and drinks spots. Their food has been quite good (particularly any specials) during all our visits and their bar scene has become one of the most fun in town. But it’s Phil’s Platter that keeps drawing me back with its crispy pork and crispy plantains over rice and beans, topped off with pico… Read More

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Super Tacos at La Michoacana

If you ask someone in this town to direct you to the best tacos, you’ll hear one of the following:

Cinema Taco

• The tacos at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning

Aqui es Mexico

La Michoacana

In all fairness, I haven’t tried the Farmer’s Market samplings – I hear they’re the best – but among the others, my money goes to La Michoacana. They’ve been inconsistent over the years, and I don’t much enjoy their burritos or other offerings, but the tacos are tops.

Of the possible taco tortilla options – crunchy corn, soft corn, or soft flour – La… Read More

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Cinema Taco 

Delicious looking and sounding empanadas that don't quite deliver.Shortly after I fell in love with Jed, he moved to Argentina. From that point on he had to share my love with empanadas, as it was during my visits there that I discovered this semi-circle of pastry perfection, a handful of happiness with various meat, veggie, and dessert fillings. They’re cheap, delicious, and a balanced late night meal, so I was giddy when Cinema Taco opened up adjacent to the Jefferson with a giant empanada display case front and center.

Cinema Taco has a fool proof concept: cheap Mexican and South American classics served up as lunch for downtown workers and late night food for hungry Jefferson concertgoers. The setting is… Read More

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Cucumber Margarita at Ventana

Ventana's refreshing cucumber margaritaA margarita at Ventana is an entirely different and superior species than the frozen neon green concoctions in salt-crusted glasses you see in chains across America. The delicious and sophisticated flavors include tangerine, habanero, jalapeño, and seafoam, but I think the cucumber margarita is the cream of the tequila crop.

It’s the rare tequila drink that makes you feel refreshed, but this Ventana concoction is the alcoholic equivalent of a cucumber eye mask at a spa. The flavor is fresh and tangy with the breezy cucumber flavor balancing perfectly with the tequila zing. It’s topped off with Ventana’s sea foam, which should be patented and served with margaritas worldwide. The frothy foam with… Read More

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Food Find: Aqui es Mexico’s Chori-Pollo Burrito

Chori-Pollo BurritoFor our last 2009 gorge before the cold reality of New Year’s resolutions set in, we headed to an old gorge favorite: Aqui es Mexico, which competes for the best Mexican in town yet still reminds me how much I miss Mexican food from the west coast.

My recent discovery at Aqui, which makes me pine for west coast taquerias a little less, is the Chori-Pollo burrito. It’s the perfect solution for those who don’t know whether they love chicken or chorizo more. The star of the enormously stuffed burrito is the chorizo: it’s seasoned with a hint of cinnamon and contains so little fat I’m suspicious it’s actually soy meat. But there are other hidden delights… Read More

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Cantina, Revisited

Cantina's WebsiteNot long ago, we received a nice email from a manager at Cantina. She had read our initial review and said that things had come a long way since their first week of business, when we ate there last. We had wanted to like Cantina more than we did so we agreed we would pay another visit sometime soon.

After giving it another shot, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that they now grill their burrito after wrapping it, giving it a much better flavor and texture. The bad news is that everything else was still below average.

The “Southwestern Shrimp” quesadilla was flavorless except for an unappetizingly spinachy aftertaste. Is there even… Read More

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Continental Divide 

Get in Here!If you have a friend who was an undergrad at UVA anytime after the mid-90′s, he or she will speak lovingly of Continental Divide. Outside the bounds of where most first and second-year students are likely to roam, tucked away in an easy-to-miss* slot between the thriving food hubs of the Corner and the Downtown Mall, Continental Divide felt like a place you could call your own. The slightly upscale Mexican food was like a more mature Baja Bean, and the margaritas were dramatically better. Unfortunately, if you’ve been back recently, you’ll notice that the food and whole experience is kind of lacking.

The space itself is warmly lit but not especially comfortable. It’s long… Read More

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Ventana 

The now expanded bar areaIt started many moons ago, when Ventana was just a cozy little bar, with the seafoam margarita. As a devoted margarita supporter, I fell a little in love. Who knows what crazy sorcery or scientific prowess happens to mimic delicate ocean bubbles in delicious and alcoholic form, but I was sold. Add in the shockingly spicy jalapeño and cool cucumber margaritas and Ventana became one of our favorite bars in town.

When we heard the news that Ventana was expanding beyond its primary bar identity to full-fledged restaurant with a larger French-influenced Mexican menu, we were excited but apprehensive. Sometimes fusion just becomes funny, and we wondered how the cozy but swank vibe… Read More

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Food Find: Mono Loco’s Braised Pork Tostada

090813_184412Mono Loco and I had a pretty casual relationship for awhile. Friends would always sing its praises while I half-heartedly nodded in agreement. I’d tag along grudgingly, feeling so-so about the whole experience while enjoying the margaritas and chips with abandon. I suppose you could have called us friends with benefits. That is, until recently, when I discovered Mono Loco’s… Read More

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