Authentic Mexican….or it was supposed to be!

Not professional at all...when you make changes don't use Whiteout!

Not professional at all…when you make changes don’t use Whiteout!

1900 Mexican Grill & Tequila Bar in Southpark on Park Road is hidden away in a nice shopping area. Full of other restaurants like a sub shop, Portofino’s& Harris Teeter, nice busy location.

I was first introduced to this place by a friend who absolutely loves it! And the only Mexican restaurant she’ll eat at in the area so thought it must be great.

On the first visit, it was extremely busy. In fact, we had to ask about our orders 3 times. 2nd visit, it was dead….hmmmm. When you walk in your surprised at the size of the restaurant because from the outside it looks like a hole in the wall. But I’ve learned through the years, those are the best places! The menu has a little of everything Mexican but what was nice is that it tasted authentic! You can tell when a restaurant has just warmed up some store bought food and when they’ve actually cooked it fresh. The taste of the sauces was nothing like you’d find at a fast food place. But I must say, either the chefs changed from my first or second visit or the chef was having a bad day.

Yes, it was March Madness & perhaps the chef was busy watching the games then paying attention to the quality of the food. The salsa was totally bland, even the extra hot sauce didn’t make it better. The chips were great but what to eat with! I, as always, changed up the order. Taken without hesitation but delivered with nothing but green peppers…burrito with beans/green peppers..not all that great. Rice was ok but very dry & again bland. Hot sauce needed to make it taste good. The Carne Asada looked good and plentiful. The lunch date enjoyed it without complaints.

I’m on the fence on this place but will give it one last try to see if it’s really good place!

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Eat and be merry

Eat and be merry

I’ve been craving Italian for a few days so I made sure today’s lunch meeting was at Maggiano’s at Southpark.  But of course, as usual, I was running late.  Nothing new since I’m Indian but I try to be on time without fail!  So, as I’m running late I figured let’s just Valet it.  I was outta the car fast & ready to throw my keys at the Valet except he was waiting on a woman who thought the world must wait for her.  She’s carrying on a full blown conversation in her car while she’s paid the Valet & handed over the keys but outta the car she will not come.  I had finally just had to interrupt & hand my keys and dash.  What a rude woman!

When I walked in, I was greeted by friendly staff….a few too many staff members (that should’ve been my first hint).  I was there at peak time for lunch and all these staff members were just waiting around to greet moi…..hmmm.  I was quickly taken to my table, through a very empty dining room.

The waitress was very quick to get order and was very pleasant.  We gave our orders & quickly came the appetizers & lunch.  But the poor girl had put in one of the wrong orders.  The right dish was quickly brought, literally in less than 5 minutes.  And three people must’ve come by to apologize for the mistake.  Apparently the waitress was 1 week new & entered the wrong dish…. A mistake anyone could’ve made & no one complained about it at the table.  But not only did so many staff come to apologize, they even brought us dessert on the house.  All this was not needed but we were very impressed by the customer service.  I never recall this kinda service before.

Now onto the Food!  The normal bread/oil was fine.  Bread was a little cold but of course I got there late too.  The appetizer, fried zucchini, was good as I remember it!  If you’ve never had it, must try.  Fried with a little seasoning and Japan bread crumbs makes this normal vegetable delish.  The creamy sauce wasn’t the same as I remembered but good enough.  Of course, it took everything in me Not to ask for the hot sauceJ

The entrees were great!  From the four cheese ravioli, to the baked ziti, and rigatoni D.  The sauces and pasta tasted authentic, not store bought.  And of course, I always like to add a little twist when ordering to see just how good the restaurant/chef are….so I asked for the baked ziti, that normally comes with Italian sausage, to be made without any meat.  The waitress didn’t flinch and went to speak to the kitchen and quickly brought the dish back the way I asked.  Now that tells me the food is fresh.  Many times when I change up the dish, I’m told “sorry can’t, it’s pre made like that”  I don’t want premade when I come a restaurant….I want fresh.

Ahhh & the dessert….no meal is complete without dessert!   First time I tried chocolate zuccotta cake.  And as the menu touts, its served with mousse, frosting, and cocoa powder & yum it was!  Only one thing would’ve made it perfect, a nice glass of Merlot.

Pricing is average but can be a little high based on your entrée.  Some desserts can be $8-10.  There is a new light menu that’s great for those watching their calories….certainly not me;)

 

One thing though I was surprised about was the lack of guests.  The restaurant, from the time we entered & left, was empty with only a handful of diners.  Very surprising for a restaurant that was always thriving when I’ve been here in the past.  Often, I’ve had to wait 10-20 minutes to be seated at lunch and even longer at dinner.  Guess the economy has hit them too!

BrickTop’s – Semi Fine Dining

biglinkBrickTop’s – Semi fine dining…..

BrickTop’s, off of Morrison Blvd in Charlotte, NC, is a good place for formal business meetings. It’s also what I’d call a fine dining restaurant, for lunch that is.
Located in the heart of the shopping center, you can’t miss this restaurant as you turn into the parking lot….as they say Location Location Location! With several restaurants in the Southeast, the brand is certainly growing.
With friendly staff to greet you to your table, to the well informed waiters & waitresses, this restaurant runs like a well oiled machine. And I enjoy eating at a place where the staff knows each and every dish’s ingredients and can make recommendations based on your flavor pallet.
I’ve visited BrickTop’s only at lunch and it always seems to be a little busy but not totally full, which is great for meetings. The dining area is split up between the main dining room and bar area with tables and spacious booths. In the bar area, you’ll be greeted by beautifully hanging chandeliers to light up the area & to create a great ambience. If you’re seated in the main dining room, enjoy the view from a nice large round booth in the middle of the floor. It’s a great spot to be to view of all the food coming out from the kitchen. This was the perfect seating for my first trip a few weeks ago to BrickTop’s. It was helpful for us to see the food to help us all decide what to have!
The lunch menu is small but carries the basics i.e. appetizers, salads, fish, and chicken and ribs. The appetizer to try is deviled eggs and sugar bacon. It’s touted as the restaurant’s house specialty & I agree! Served in a plate of juicy, flavorful bacon with a side of hot sauce. Now, a fan of bacon I’m not but the crispiness and taste of the bacon is just delish especially when it’s paired with the eggs and hot sauce. The spinach & artichoke dip is ok, nothing to rave about. If you order the creamy spinach as your side, it’s the same thing. The margherita flatbread is quite nice with the Italian burrata and tomatoes. Basically a pizza but with better cheese and fresh tomatoes and very fulfilling. The parmesan crusted chicken is quite nice too. The chicken is juicy and cooked just right with a little lemon drizzled over it to add to the taste. My only one comment on it would be about the dry noodles served with the dish. There is no sauce and the noodles have no taste. I ordered a side of pesto to add which was quite good. Being a starch lover, I had to order the side of fries with the chicken and they were yummy. Flavored well & cooked evenly, these shoe string french fries couldn’t be resisted by anyone on the table. The dessert menu is small as well but has the basics i.e. chocolate, cheesecake, banana pudding, bread pudding. The Chocolate Chip was served in its own hot skillet with vanilla ice cream drizzled with caramel sauce but it’s a hit and miss. The first time I had this dessert it was delish but on a second visit today, the cookie and the sauce were very sugary. The only thing I liked about it today was the ice cream. The warm bread pudding, described as “better than my mom’s pudding” is quite good. But I’m definitely going to try their hot fudge sundae next time!

Taco Mac….Beer Time

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Taco Mac….another great find! For some time now, I’ve had friends talk about Taco Mac. A place to mingle, hang out & watch the game, & have some great drinks. I didn’t quit understand all the hype until I recently took a co-worker to lunch there and now I’m hooked!

First of all, before you even hit the dining area, you are surprised by three large plaques on the wall. No these aren’t about the awards the restaurant has won or articles but the Beer Club members. And there are quite a few names on them! Once you enter, you’re immediately greeted by several friendly staff ready to show you to your table & allow you to start the “experience.” Seating includes large/roomy booths, regular tables, and high tops. The high tops are great especially if you’re in the mood to drink local beer, as they are equipped with beer taps you can pour yourself.

The menu is quite large and not set to one cuisine. You have the bar food like wings, available in varying spiciness up to the death sauce, and hummus, and then Mexican food. The chicken fajitas are good, not as plentiful as Pacos Tacos but still good and flavorful. Hummus is great, especially with the barbecue sauce which adds a little zing to the food. And I love spice! The hot boneless wings are a little dry and really not spicy. One believes if you order “hot” it would be spicy but if the “death” sauce is added, it’s much better. The boned lemon wings were better and juicy. The salsa for the chips is very bland, more sweet then Mexican. The queso is better but cools quickly and looses its taste. Fried pickles were nice and crusty & spicy. The beer battered cheese bread looked and tasted more like a donut. Doubt I’d try this one again.

Desert menu is nice but skip the s ‘mores brownie unless you love marshmallows because that’s all you can taste. The vanilla cake donuts dipped in caramel sauce were absolutely delish! Fluffy and tasteful. Now let’s turn to the beers. The bar is a marvel to look at with 140 beers on tap & lit up in the evenings. It’s a great area to mingle after work with others & the atmosphere is very fun & lively. The bartenders are educated in their beers, happy to select a few beers that meet your tastes and offer samples too.

The restaurant is full of flat screen TVs for all the sports coverage one human being could never consume! And the bar has the largest screen, 80+ TV, for your delight. Great hangout for football and basketball season. And with March Madness upon us, it’s packed full every Thursday, Friday & wknd.

Another great place to try on Piedmont Row but just remember, if you want hot & spicy food, ask for the very hot sauces! Next week, reviews for Brick Tops and a new wine place in Southpark….stay tuned and eat good.

Awesome Mexican…Pacos Tacos

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Hidden off of Morrison Blvd at Southpark, a Mexican treasure exists…Pacos Tacos!  Unfortunately, positioned in the wrong place in the shopping center, but what a find.  Those of you from the Charlotte area will recall this place formerly as Manzetti’s Tavern.  I found this place when I met up with an old friend to catch up over a good meal.  Just as the former restaurant, once you walk through the doors, you’re hit by a large bar stocked full of everything.  The dining room is large & open with a festive decor.  The menu is large, with authentic Mexican food and spirits.  And the kitchen is certainly not backed up with tickets.  Our food, ordered during rush hour lunch time with a full restaurant, was out very fast.  And sizzling hot!  TAnd plentiful…..plates are large & packed with food!  Go here with a large appetite.  Chicken fajitas are must try.  The meat is sizzling when served.  And lots of sides to fix a yummy meal.  Pick your choice of beans & go for it.  Chicken enchiladas are great too & again plentiful!  The service is fantastic too, just like the food! Definitely coming back again to enjoy maybe even dinner.

 

 

Where Not to Go for Calzones

To say I’m a cheese lover, is an understatement. I can eat almost anything with some good cheese on it. I found Lorenzos (http://www.lorenzos-pizzeria.com/) a few years ago on a girls night out at the nearby Sports Connection. We needed a little fuel before and after the fun.

Lorenzos was slammed, with chatter and the smell of good food, especially pizza. It was then that I found my fav calzone place. Being a calzone lover for years, it was hard to find a good place that knew how to make just right.

So yesterday, when I was craving cheese of course, I stopped by Lorenzos. But after having a bit of what was my fav, I was sadly disappointed. Not only did the calzone not look pleasing, bread that looked like it wasn’t even cooked, the cheese stuffed inside looked aged….in a bad way! When warmed up, it totally fell apart. The bread was almost rubbery & the cheese was just a block of cheese!

It appears that Lorenzos will no longer be my fav….for calzones. Now they still serve a decent slice of pizza but truthfully I can get that anywhere!

Bye bye Lorenzos….. 

J