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Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

El Barrio Restaurante Y Bar

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on April 30, 2012

El Barrio Restaurante Y Bar is currently a “happenin” spot, in downtown Birmingham, that serves authentic multi-regional Mexican cuisine! I recently dined there on a Friday night and the crowd spilled onto the sidewalk; fortunately, I beat the crowd and didn’t have to wait. This restaurante is not that big, but large enough. The atmosphere and food are so vibrant and authentic that it leaves people wishing the space was a bit larger. Anyway, my large party and I sat in the front of the restaurant in what I call the “lounge/appetizer” area.

We ordered appetizers and drinks first. I had the fresh tortilla chips, guacamole, and the El Barrio Margarita. All of this was delicious! The chips were crispy & hot with just the right amount of salt, the guacamole was of the perfect consistency. The signature margarita was ok, but I really enjoyed the Grapefruit Margarita with extra simple syrup, the best.

For my entree I had the Roasted Chile Relleno which consisted of a poblano pepper stuffed with black beans, cactus, monterey jack cheese & roasted garlic cream; all served over a bed of Spanish rice. Even though this dish didn’t consist of any meat, it was exceptional. I will definitely be ordering it again.

The prices were reasonable and the customer service that we received was excellent, despite the large crowd. The only issue I had was finding a parking space. Furthermore, El Barrio Restaurante Y Bar brings somewhat of a new flavor and vibe to the city of Birmingham and I definitely recommend that you give it a try!

El Barrio on Urbanspoon


Posted in Downtown Eats, Mexican, My Favorite Lunch Spots | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Quesadilla at Izzo’s!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on August 1, 2011

Sunday I met some friends, from out of town, at Izzo’s Illegal Burrito in The Summit (near Pottery Barn). Once I stood in line and looked over the menu, I decided to order a quesadilla made with a cayenne tortilla; in it I had grilled steak, grilled onions, and salsa verde. And on the side I had a small cup of the Illegal Sauce (spicy southwestern sauce, similar to ranch), to dip the quesadilla in. Overall, I thought the price was kinda expensive and the food was okay. The price of my meal was $ 12.75 and it came with complimentary nachos; I had to pay for each additional topping. I  would compare this authentic high-end fast food restaurant to Moe’s Southwest Grill, Chipotle Mexican Grill, & Qdoba. Furthermore, the only thing that made my quesadilla taste different was the cayenne tortilla because it added a little kick to it. On the other hand, I must admit that the quesadilla was a nice size and wasn’t skimpy at all; I was only able to eat two halves. Now it’s your turn to visit Izzo’s and let me know what you think!

Izzo's Illegal Burrito on Urbanspoon

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Can you say “Pinches Tacos”!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on June 17, 2011

Ok so I’m just getting in from Pinches Tacos and I couldn’t wait to write this review. Pinches has an authentic name and definitely an authentic vibe, with food that is “muy delicioso”! It is located in Homewood, AL in the Hallman Hill Condo Complex (Downtown Homewood). So if you want authentic/tasty quick Mexican cuisine, this is your place.

The reason I know that this place is authentic is because I lived and traveled throughout Mexico and the food at Pinches Tacos reminds me of the food I ate in Mexico. This is some of the real stuff ya’ll!

A friend and I visited Pinches for the first time on Tuesday of this week; I was so impressed with the quality and taste of the food that I had to go back (tonight) and bring two other friends with me so they could try it. I must admit that this experience was even better than the first because I got to meet the owner (Ty Taylor), the Executive Chef (Manuel Anaya), and add the tasty cuisine and good company, what more can I ask for!

“Our mission is simple, to provide you the best taco experience by using high quality meats and seafood, fresh garden vegetables, hand made tortillas and high quality artisan breads.”  Furthermore, I feel that the staff lives up to every aspect of this mission statement!

Thanks to Ty Taylor, we are fortunate, in Birmingham, to have this new eclectic Mexican eatery. The Anaya family started Pinches Tacos in Los Angeles, California by sharing their family recipes with the public. For your information, this is the only Pinches Tacos location outside of Los Angeles, thanks again Ty! The menu is fairly basic, it consists of tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sopes, tortas, flautas, quesadilla, and a few other food items. You can order each of these with your choice of meat, seafood, or a vegetarian option. Pinches has a Happy Hour on Monday-Friday (3pm-7pm) with a variety of Mexican & American sodas, margaritas, beer, and wine. On Saturdays and Sundays they serve “desayuno” (brunch) with various Mexican dishes, and on Friday nights they have live music.

Now more details about the food; tonight I ordered the Asada Taco (grilled angus beef taco with salsa verde) and the Guacamole/Chips/Salsa. All of this was simply “delicioso” because I could tell that it was served fresh and made from the heart. The soft shell taco was authentic because the tortilla was made from corn and not from flour; I prefer the corn tortilla.  The tacos are fairly small, so if you’re hungry you might want to order more than one.  I could tell that the salsa is made from fresh tomatoes, it was kind of watery but still good. The guacamole seemed like it was made while we waited; it had a good consistency and was also fresh. Also I kept asking for the salsa verde like it was going out of season. I poured it on my taco and I dipped my chips in it as well.

To drink, all of us ordered  the Blood Orange Margarita, and can I just say “dulce y fuerte” (sweet & strong). I really enjoyed it and would have gotten another if I wasn’t driving.

Jay ordered a variety of tacos that consisted of the Pollo Mole (chicken & mole), Asada (grilled angus beef), AlPastor (slow broiled marinated pork). With this he got rice, beans, and chips. He had no complaints and was just left wondering why I just told him about this restaurant lol!

Marcus had the Pollo Enchilada (chicken) and it comes with 3 per order, along with salsa roja, beans, & rice (he got a double order of rice). He said this food was so good that he will drive back from Tuscaloosa, just to have it again.

Lastly, the prices are so reasonable especially for the high-quality of food that you receive. I really enjoyed Pinches Tacos and I’m going back probably this weekend lol!

Pinches Tacos on Urbanspoon

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La Bamba

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on December 2, 2010

“La Bamba” is one of my favorite songs, and it’s also the name of a new restaurant in Edgewood. From the name, I’m sure you can tell that it’s a Mexican restaurant. It’s the bright orange & brick storefront next to “Saw’s BBQ” and “Dreamcakes”. (I gotta get a new pic)

It was raining the night, that mom and I visited La Bamba for the first time. We walked in and grabbed the first booth that we saw available.

The waiter brought chips & salsa to our table, and he took our drink orders. He was very friendly, and impressed with my Spanish speaking skills.

I ordered an Original Frozen Margarita, and mom had sweet tea. This was her first time going to a Mexican restaurant and wanting more sweet tea, because it was actually sweet and lemony. My margarita was poignant, a little sweet, and just tasty all around. It was so cold that it froze my straw and the plastic cup that it was in. I love a good cold margarita!

The waiter was very friendly and even sat down at our booth, in order to take our appetizer & entree orders.

For an appetizer we had a Chicken Tamale.

Tamales begin with a dough made from corn, called masa, and are generally wrapped in corn husks or plantain leaves before cooking, depending on the region from which they come. They usually have a sweet or savory filling and are typically steamed until firm. The Chicken Tamale from La Bamba was good; I’ve had better since I’ve traveled to many places in Mexico. The dish didn’t taste too fresh, it seemed like it had been made earlier that week. In order to capture the true taste, you’re gonna have to taste it for yourself, lol! It was served with a spicy dipping sauce, that had somewhat of a chipotle flavor.

By the time we finished the appetizer, our entrees came out. I ordered the Steak Fajita Quesadilla.

It consisted of grilled quesadilla bread, grilled steak, grilled red & green bell peppers, grilled onions, and melted cheese. Yum, it was muy delicioso! It’s a mixture of a fajita and a quesadilla because it has the grilled mixed veggies of a fajita, and the melted cheese of a quesadilla. Let’s just say, it’s an excellent combination! It was also served with lettuce, sour cream, guacamole, & pico de gallo. ( all on the side)

My mom had the Chicken Quesadilla. She was trying to order the same thing that I did except with chicken; she didn’t know the specific name of what I ordered; I wish she had of told me that she wanted the same thing.

Anyway, she enjoyed her dish but she got many of the vegetables from my Steak Fajita Quesadilla; I didn’t mind! Her quesdailla consisted of grilled chicken and melted cheese, all wrapped in grilled quesadilla bread. It was also served with lettuce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole.

We enjoyed all of our food and the neighborhood feel of the restaurant. La Bamba offers cheap prices and decent portions of food. The customer service is some of the best that I’ve seen in the Birmingham area. When we left, the whole staff (about six, including the cooks) waved and told us goodbye. Even when we drove off in our car, they were still waving; we felt like celebrities!

I can’t wait to go back to La Bamba!

Where The Locals Eat featured blog

La Bamba Grill on Urbanspoon

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Sol y Luna: A Tapas and Tequila Experience

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on September 18, 2010

“Sol y Luna” (Sun & Moon) serves gourmet Mexican cuisine, specializing in Mexican-style tapas and tequilas. It is located in the heart of the Lakeview District, and it was my dinner spot on Thursday night. I enjoyed the company of two friends, Chuck and Kathy. They are awesome people and we had a wonderful time together.

The ambiance of “Sol y Luna” is quaint, casual and reminds me a restaurant in Spain. In my opinion, there is nothing Mexican about this place. The theme, decorations, and the waiters all reflect the Spanish culture. Even the idea of “tapas” originated in Spain. “Tapas” are appetizers or small plates.

I didn’t discover the outdoor patio until later in the night; I thought it was just another dining room. The feel and decor, of the patio, allowed me to feel like I was inside, yet outside. It’s hard to describe, but I enjoyed the elegant and authentic Spanish feel.

I arrived at “Sol y Luna” and my friends were waiting for me at a small quaint table, which was in the front window of the restaurant. It was a nice table located near the bar, and allowed us to see everyone as they walked or drove by. While sitting here, we ordered drinks. Chuck and Kathy had Corona beers, and I had the “Tamarind Margarita”. Tamarind is a fruit that is native to Africa and Asia, but is currently grown throughout Mexico and South America; it is unlike any fruit in the United States. Most importantly, this drink was relaxing, tasty, sophisticated and had somewhat of an exotic flavor.

Eventually, we moved to a larger table, in the back, for dinner. Our waitress was a woman from Venezuela, who knew the menu well and offered her opinions on what we should order. I’m glad she did that, because I had no idea where to start! For an appetizer we had the “Sol y Luna Sampler” which was a combination of plantain chips, nachos, sweet potato fries and homemade fresh guacamole. Can I just say “delicious” and “simple”! One of the reasons I really enjoyed the guacamole was because of its consistency. All of the chips were made in-house, and each chip complimented the guacamole well.

After we finished the appetizer, we decided to order our entrees. Kathy got the “Salmon Roulage” seared with sesame seeds with julianne cucumber and poblano sauce.

However, she didn’t like the “fishy taste” of this dish. So she sent it back and got the “Shrimp Cocktail”. The presentation was the first thing we noticed, once it arrived; it was served in a tall martini glass. At the bottom of the glass was lettuce, in the middle was a homemade cocktail sauce (reminded me of cocktail sauce and salsa), and the shrimp were on top and on the side of the glass. On the plate, surrounding the martini glass was a colorful array of nachos. Kathy really enjoyed the shrimp cocktail. I sampled this dish, and couldn’t resist the taste of the homemade cocktail sauce; it was unique and had somewhat of a sweet flavor. It was unlike any cocktail sauce that I’ve ever had.

Chuck had the “Beef Tenderloin Medallions” served with Chimichurri sauce and Yucca strings. He also got a side of the refried beans. He enjoyed this entree, but he really kept talking about how good those beans were.

I had the Jumbo shrimp “diabla”, chipotle pepper and grand marniere sauteed over roasted garlic sweet mashed potatoes. My initial reaction was, “This is too spicy”; however, I got used to the taste and started to enjoy it. It tasted and seemed like everything had been prepared earlier in the night, and the cooks just put everything together when it was time for the food to go out. Furthermore, I wasn’t crazy about this particular entree; it was satisfactory. But I will commend the cooks on presentation.

For those of us who are price-conscious, the appetizers range from $8-$10; tapas range from $10-$17.

Our experience at “Sol y Luna” was festive and fun! I enjoyed the company, conversation, and most of the food. This is a wonderful place to relax and catch up with friends. Also, don’t forget to checkout “Sol y Luna’s” special menu for “Birmingham Restaurant Week”!

One more thing, check this weeks Birmingham City Scene, for a special article about “Birmingham Restaurant Week”!

Sol Y Luna on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bars, Date Night, Downtown Eats, Mexican, Upscale | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

It’s hot at “Fuego Cantina”

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on August 6, 2010

“Fuego Cantina” is a “hot” restaurant in the heart of Five Points South, which offers Tex-Mex cuisine. The bar offers daily happy hour specials, and the prices are cheap/reasonable. Also the bar has an extensive drink menu, so you have plenty of choices. I visited “Fuego Cantina”, last week, with two of my friends and we had an awesome time!

We arrived about 8:30pm, after spending a few minutes searching for parking spots. Fortunately I found a spot in front of the restaurant, but everyone else had a short walk. Next, we went inside, and waited for the host to seat us.

I really like the relaxed atmosphere of  “Fuego Cantina”. Inside, the walls are painted bright red and orange, there’s funky contemporary Mexican decor, and the theme is “Mexican Wrestling” or “Lucha Libre”.  “Lucha Libre” is the Mexican version of the United States’ “WWE” . When I went to Mexico, I was fortunate enough to have gone to one of the “Lucha Libre” matches. This theme is carried throughout the entire restaurant with paintings and graffiti, all of which reflect wrestling. The decor isn’t excessive, it’s just the right amount of stuff!

The host took us to our seats, on the patio! And can I just say that the patio is amazing. It is large and the seats are centered around a fire pit, that is used in the winter. The view overlooks “the heart” of Five Points South.

Our waiter introduced himself by saying it was his first day working there; this made us hesitate, but he ended up doing a wonderful job. We ordered drinks, and appetizers to start. I ordered “nachos & salsa”. The salsa and nachos are homemade, and the nachos were served hot with a little bit of  salt on top. Just the way I like them!

Jon ordered the ” Crab Cakes”, which consisted of  four mini crab cakes and a special remoulade sauce. This dish was very tasty, but we all agreed that the price was too expensive for the amount we received.

Since we went on a Tuesday night, which is “$2.00 Taco Night”, our entrees were very cheap. I ordered one “Crunchy Shrimp Taco” and one “Baja Fish Taco”, and my taco total was $4.00; you can’t beat that! Anyway, the “Crunchy Shrimp Taco” consisted of a soft flour tortilla, filled with hand-breaded shrimp, lettuce, and Orange Habanera Hot Sauce. The “Baja Fish Taco” consisted of a soft flour tortilla, filled with a piece of grilled Tilapia, cucumber, and Diego Sauce. Both tacos tasted phenomenal, I was very pleased!

Rebecca ordered the “Crunchy Shrimp Taco” and the “Baja Fish Taco”, as well. She thought that these two tacos tasted amazing!

Jon had the “Baja Fish Taco” and the “Buffalo Chicken Taco”. The “Buffalo Chicken Taco” was made with a soft flour tortilla, filled with pieces of  fried buffalo chicken, lettuce, a white sauce, and cheese on top. Jon enjoyed both tacos with no complaints.

The tacos tasted exceptional, and they were just the right size. They weren’t too filling and not too lite. We had great convo on the patio, great service, a great view, along with great food, what more could we ask for!

Fuego Cantina on Urbanspoon

Posted in Bars, Five Points South Finds, Mexican | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

On the boarder at “Chuy’s”!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on July 15, 2010

This entry begins my Birmingham restaurant series, again!

On Friday night, I went to “Chuy’s”. This is one of the newest restaurants in Birmingham which is located at the Summit, next to “Flip Burger”. It’s been open for almost two weeks. “Chuy’s” is a Mexican restaurant chain that started 28 years ago, and originates in Austin, Texas; they have locations throughout Texas, Tennessee, and the one location in Birmingham, Alabama. The menu offers recipes from South Texas, New Mexico, and Mexican border towns. The food from “Chuy’s” is somewhat Tex-Mex and Mexican American, it’s not really authentic Mexican dishes, in my opinion. They pride themselves on bringing you the best, the freshest, and the healthiest Mexican food on the entire planet. For example, cooks are constantly hand-rolling tortillas (you can see this being done, while you’re waiting or eating), salsa fresca is made every hour with fresh tomatoes, and the green chilies are hand picked from Hatch, New Mexico, by the kitchen managers. Even their drinks are fresh! Those famous “Chuy’s” margaritas are all made with fresh squeezed lime juice.

“Chuy’s” is known for many things, but one thing they are known for, are their “Signature Sauces”. The sauces  include Tex-Mex, Ranchero, Hatch Green Chile, Green Chile, Tomatillo, Deluxe Tomatillo, and Creamy Jalapeño. Each sauce is colorful and flavorful, and most of the time you can choose one with your meal. Lastly, “Chuy’s” also does a lot of work in the community, including collecting toys for needy children. Go “Chuy’s”!

Now let me tell you about my “Chuy’s” experience!

Me, mom, and Corey arrived at the restaurant at 8pm, and upon entering, we were completely amazed at the festive decor, festive colors, and classic memorabilia that filled the restaurant; it was fun and funky!

We put our name on the waiting list, and we were told that the wait would be approximately two hours .   Instead of getting discouraged, we decided to tough it out and wait. So we made the best of it and got a table on the patio. The patio was reserved only for those waiting on a table, you could not order food from the menu while waiting. So while we were on the patio, we ordered drinks and got nachos with a variety of dips.

My drink was awesome, I had the “Strawberry Margarita” and it came in a large glass; I basically was sipping on it for the whole two hour wait, lol!

Next, we had to get up and get the nachos from inside. The nachos are served out of the trunk of a car, literally. There is space for three bins of nachos in the trunk, along with space for two big bowls of different salsa.

We took the nachos back to the table and started talking, drinking, and eating. Our waitress was nice enough to bring us one of the signature sauces, the Creamy Jalapeno flavor, and I really enjoyed dipping my nachos in it. In my opinion, this sauce was better than the queso we ordered, and the two types of salsa from the bar.

The location of “Chuy’s” offers a prime view of the Highway 280 corridor and it is amazing. I really enjoyed seeing this view while being on the patio. There were plenty of people on the patio, but it is big enough to where you don’t feel crowded. While waiting I saw some people that I knew and they came to talk to us, so that helped to pass the time.

Before we knew it, it was 10:15 pm and our table was available, it was time to eat.  We were full off of the nachos, but we ate anyway because we just had to see what the food was like. In the room where our table was, the ceiling was filled with a variety of hub-caps.

Our waiter came to take our drink orders and our food orders, because we had plenty of time to look at the menu. While we waited on the food, the waiter insisted that we get more nachos, and we had to say no because we were “nachoed” out, lol!

I ordered the “Steak Burrito” which is a handmade,  12′ flour tortilla stuffed with sliced grilled steak & cheese. Served with green chile rice ( I didn’t get the spicy Hatch Green Chile sauce, that would’ve been served on top of the burrito; and I didn’t get the charro beans either. I’m not a big fan of either one of these items). This dish was excellent, and of course, I didn’t eat it all because I was already full and it was getting late. But I still enjoyed it because the steak had a wonderful grilled flavor. The green chile rice was really spicy, so I couldn’t really eat that much; but it was still good. My dish also came with a signature sauce, so I got the Tex-Mex; it tastes like a bowl of chili. I ended up pouring it on top of my burrito, this was an excellent choice!

My mom got the “Deluxe Chicken Enchillada” and she said that her food tasted just ok. Corey got the “Chicka-Chicka Boom-Boom Enchillada” and he had only positive things to say about this dish. Sorry, I don’t have any pictures! But check these dishes out on the website.

Finally, we finished eating and paid our bill by 11:30pm. What a fun night we had, it was filled with food, drinks, and good conversation. Even though we had to wait, it was one of the best waits ever because of the nachos, drinks, company, and the view. Ya’ll go to “Chuy’s”, the food is good and the atmosphere is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced.

“Chuy’s” you rock!!!!!!!!!

Chuy's Mexican Food on Urbanspoon

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The Dinner Club Meets “Cantina”

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on June 30, 2010

On Friday night, the dinner club met at “Cantina” in Pepper Place, which is in downtown Birmingham. The interior of the restaurant is large and festive; it seems to have an old-world, classic Spanish influence. For example, there are burned candles, lanterns, wooden seats, wooden tables, rusted wrought iron seats, and rusted wrought iron tables spread throughout the restaurant.  Where ever you look there is a large flat screen TV, and when I went they were all showing the “World Cup” soccer game. Lastly, the menu is diverse and has a Latin American flavor.

About 17 people showed up to the monthly dinner club social, and we had a wonderful time! We made one long table out of several tables, and we were all able to sit together. It seems like everyone ordered something different from the other, and I had one of my favorite dishes from here, the “Fish Taco” with “Sweet Potato Chips”. The taco came with a soft flour tortilla, egg washed tilapia filet, slaw, avocado, cilantro mayo, and chile de arbol salsa. This dish tasted well and was lite and filling. I was so busy taking pictures of the other dinner club members food, that I didn’t get to capture my own. However, below are pictures of some of what they ordered.

We definitely enjoyed “Cantina” and gave it a rating of 9.0. The members and myself gave it rave reviews and we were pleased with every aspect!

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Cantina Fun!

Posted by bhamfoodscoop on March 23, 2010

I planned on doing a little work today but one phone call and the weather, changed all of that! One of my friends called me, as I was getting ready, and asked me to go to lunch with her, and she wanted to go to a place where we could eat outside. I said “perfect, let’s go!”

She knows that I know of some of the best restaurants in Birmingham, so I met her at UAB and then we went to Pepper Place to eat at Cantina. The menu consists of  Latin American food with an American and Mexican twist. I ordered the fish taco with sweet potato chips and peach tea, and my friend had the shrimp quesadilla. We ate outside on the patio and discussed any and everything. The food was so good, the company was excellent and the sun was shining bright, what more can I ask for!

This is one of my favorite restaurants in the area, and I do think that it deserves more recognition. I met this nice lady that works there and every time that I’m at the restaurant we speak Spanish to each other. I love her because she reminds me of being in Mexico!

After lunch, I went to get my car washed; I hope it doesn’t rain anytime soon! And then I went to get birthday presents for my aunt since her birthday is today. Now, I’m preparing for dinner and a party. Today definitely goes down in the record books as an amazing day!

Posted in Downtown Eats, Mexican, My Favorite Lunch Spots | 2 Comments »