Condado Tacos

{by: alicia} If we’ve learned anything from the Columbus Food Adventures’ Taco Truck Tour, it’s that we are surrounded by delicious Mexican cuisine. Whether it’s the al pastor from Los Guachos or ANYTHING off the menu at Tacos Hass, I’ve been hard-pressed to find bad Mexican food in the capital city.

Tacos are hotter than ever, and it seems there’s a new spot opening every month. Condado is the latest to catch my eye. Originating in Cleveland under the name Barrio Tacos, its make-your-own concept proved so successful that it expanded right into our neck of the woods.

Also, it’s batshit in the best way possible.

Condado Tacos Columbus

Every inch of wall is decked in art, and there are little touches everywhere you look. Think black and white with pops of color, a Día de los Muertos theme, and a sprinkling of style throughout. The layout is well executed with seating along the walls, counters along the windows, high tops here and there, and two long community tables.

Condado Tacos Columbus

Remember when I said make-your-own concept? It’s as simple as filling out the menu sheet, or selecting one of Condado’s suggested combinations. There’s also an extensive drink menu, so you are totally covered if you’re feeling a marg or cerveza. Also, peep the heads up about the fresh toppings potentially cooling your tacos:

Condado Tacos Columbus

Order them on the side if you aren’t into that jazz!

In case you missed it:

ATTN: TACO LOVERS
Welcome to Condado! When you are here, expect some crunch–even if you order a soft taco…Our vegetables are chopped fresh. We have a strict No Wilted Lettuce or Mushy Tomatoes Policy here at Condado. Our fresh toppings include house made salsa and guacamoles and sometimes those items cool the warm taco fillings. If this is not your thing, just ask your server for the protein on the side.

I appreciate the notion of “building your own” anything, but for nutjobs like me, this can be an intense process. My eating companion, Thom, deftly made his selections while I agonized. Years later, I decided on two different tacos: brisket on a flour tortilla with queso, cilantro + onions, lettuce, and tomatoes; and chicken on a “Goody-Goody” (soft flour tortilla + guac + sour cream with crunch for a $1 up charge) and the same toppings as the brisket plus salsa verde. Exhaustion.

Once that ordeal was over, I commenced with the usual photo snapping. Maybe it’s a blogger thing, but I no longer feel weird when I stroll up to the bar or middle of the room to take pictures. What am I supposed to do when everything in the restaurant is so cray?

Exhibit A:

Condado Tacos Columbus

I was drawn to the bright, shiny lights.

And B:

Condado Tacos Columbus

Our food was out in a flash, so I scurried back to inhale everything in sight.

Condado Tacos Columbus

Thom had also ordered chicken and brisket tacos (copycat) and tacked on a side of black beans and rice. I sampled both and found them to be divisive. Sometimes Mexican restaurants go overboard on seasoning. Maybe that’s what the people want, but I’m not into a heavy-handed salting (ahem, place-that-will-remain-nameless, I’m looking at you). These were a tasty foil to our wonderfully loaded tacos. The toppings were as fresh as promised, and while I enjoyed both of mine, the brisket was so melt-in-your-mouth that I wanted ten more. What followed was a tremendous food coma, but what are Saturdays for if not hours of napping?

Condado is located at 1227 North High Street, Columbus, OH 43201, and open Mon-Fri 4pm -2am and Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. They recently added brunch to the lineup, so check that out on the weekend between noon-3pm.

Alexis’ Latest Adventures in Eating

{by alexis} We all get busy, right? Sometimes, when life is especially hectic, I forgot to do things, like the dishes, sort the mail, make dinner, take the dog for forty walks a day. Guess what I don’t forget to do? Eat. I’m pretty much always eating. If I’m not eating, odds are I’m planning my next outing, poring over menus, and sending links to Alicia. What follows is a collection of the things that have been tickling my fancy in the food department these last several weeks. Grab a cup and scroll on down!

A few weekends ago, we tricked some friends of ours into having brunch with us. “Dutch babies!” I insisted. Joe was pretty sure I was suggesting a geographically specific adoption, but no! I had my eye on The Table.

The Table | Wander & Whine

This tasty infant came with warm pears folded into the center. Delish! We had cocktails, coffee, and the most beautiful roast beef sandwich I’ve ever seen.

The Table | Wander & Whine The Table | Wander & Whine The Table | Wander & Whine

You didn’t believe me, did you? That a roast beef sandwich could be so…attractive. Well, The Table just proved you wrong! That bun looks pillowy and soft and I want to make it into a sleeping bag.

On a Friday night a few weeks later, I found myself tucked away in a dim booth at Curio with Alicia and Miche, from Buttons & Birdcages. After a clumsily choreographed pizza order, we sat back with our cocktails. And I have to tell you about this amazing thing I ordered: A BOURBON MILKSHAKE.

curio | Wander & Whine

But please promise me you won’t go in and order the bourbon milkshake — that’s not what it’s called. I gave it this delightful nickname after it’s deliciousness knocked me out of my booth and I sent several frenzied, all caps text messages to folks announcing that such a cocktail exists. I can’t tell you what it’s really called because they keep their menu under wraps. What I CAN tell you is that it contains bourbon (shocker, right?) almond, cream, and soda. It is so, so good.

Late last week, one of my coworkers decided we needed a pick-me-up, and HE DELIVERED. Look at these beauties!

wander & whine

They are chocolates! Each is about the size of an egg, and they have unique flavors. I happened to sample the chocolate AND the strawberry (why stop at one!), and they were delightful! He said he grabbed them at Costco so keep your eyes peeled!

This past weekend found Joe and I both of work and without plans, so after bullying him into buying me a new pair of running shoes (I’d had my old ones since 2008!), we took ourselves out to our perennial favorite 16-Bit Bar + Arcade. I finally gave into the siren song of the Hulk Hogan, with its popsicle stirrer. NO REALLY.wander & whine

It was the bomb. And I loved how the flavored changed as the pop melted. And yes, I ate the leftovers.

We live in a beautiful city with so much crazy food to sample. Get out there and eat!

Dinner at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing

{by alexis} I love when my parents come to town. There’s always a lot of toasting, hugs, laughter, and more than anything else, a ridiculous amount of food. Joe and I have enjoyed showing the spectacular Columbus food scene to my folks during each of their visits, and I don’t believe we disappoint too often. For their latest trip, I had booked a table at Wolf’s Ridge Brewing weeks in advance. It’s possible that this was their favorite restaurant to date.

Alicia has paid Wolf’s Ridge a visit for brunch, and had only good things to say — which, in Alicia’s native tongue, is a lot of nodding and emphatic one-word affirmatives. I hoped dinner would hold up.

If you haven’t been yet, you should go. The space has high-ceilings and an minimalist feel. And of course, they offer beer flights. You get five tasters for $8, and we were sold. Everyone picked their own and we went from there. We had an embarrassing amount of glasses on the table, but it was such fun. We had a great time reading the detailed descriptions and seeing if we could pick out the flavors.

 

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

Once we were nice and toasty (or as my mother would say, half in the bag), our food arrived. Joe went with the special of the evening, the lamb. I went with our other farmhouse favorites in the lamb and beef burger. My mother ordered root vegetable risotto, which doesn’t SOUND like the most interesting thing, but it was the BOMB, and my father ordered his beloved grits with shrimp. BEHOLD.

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

wolf's ridge brewing | wander & whine

The risotto (not pictured) had SO MUCH flavor. Sometimes, I feel like risotto is a success only because people love the texture, especially in the winter, but this dish outdid itself with each bite. Joe would hardly share his lamb. He said it was cooked to perfection, and the seasoning was stellar. My father’s grits were technically a small plate, but more than enough (especially when paired with a beer flight)! And my burger was beyond. I used to think I didn’t even like burgers, but I know now that I only like fancy ones made with bison or lamb, and this one fit the bill. Smooth, juicy and flavorful, it was a success. And let’s discuss the garlic fries, shall we? GARLIC FRIES. Stop reading. Go here now.

Actually, if you do, you’ll find they’ve recently put out a different menu. So if you go, call me. The new escargot and head cheese on the menu are CALLING MY NAME.

Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is located at 215 N 4th Street. Tu-Thu 10:30am-11pm; F 10:30am-12am; Sat 10am-12am; Sun 10am-10p; Mon closed.

Birthday Celebration at the Chintz Room

{by: alicia} I’ve always had an affinity for the Lazarus department store. My great grandmother Esther was an employee, and loved the company, even long after retirement. It was where she selected our birthday and Christmas gifts, and where she obtained many of the items that decorated her house. So, it was bittersweet day when the brand was absorbed into Macy’s.

Since my father was in the military, and we bopped around so much, I never got a chance to eat at the original Chintz Room. I had heard about it, as a place where ladies lunched and families went for special occasions, and maybe because of the Lazarus connection, I felt a nostalgic connection to it.

When I heard the Columbus Food League was bringing it back (in the Lazarus building, no less!), I was excited to finally try it. They had a soft open in November, and the timing was perfect because my birthday was in December. So, I pulled rank with Alexis and (blog fave) Megan to have my birthday lunch there.

The picture-taking started the moment I approached that revolving door–a nod to the old department store. There were a lot of little details like that, which I appreciated.

The Chintz Room

This entrance is so clever. I can’t take it.

Once we got inside and settled in, we got started on the difficult process of selecting what to eat. Although we were given a brunch menu, we were feeling more “lunchy” (wow, I am so eloquent), and elected to pick from the regular menu.

Everything sounded so good that it was tough to make a decision. What wasn’t difficult was Alexis’ suggestion of toasting with a bottle of prosecco. Okay, twist our arms.

The Chintz Room Menu

While we waited for our bubbles, I took a moment to soak in my surroundings. Remember those little details I mentioned earlier? The restaurant was chock full of Lazarus memorabilia and nice touches:

The Chintz Room

The Chintz Room

Our drinks were out before we knew it, and we wasted no time in clinking glasses and yelling all sorts of cheers.

Toasting at The Chintz Room

It was lovely to sip drinks, open gifts, and linger. Since we no longer work together, there was much to catch up on, and all sorts of excellent gifts to exchange–LIKE DUVET SLIPPERS. WHAT?!

I have to thank our server for dealing with our shenanigans. There was wrapping paper and boxes everywhere, and once our food arrived, the table got even more chaotic.

The Chintz Room

Chaotic in the best way possible.

We ended up ordering the Midwest Poutine to share, twin chicken salad sandwiches for Alexis and Megan (house specialties), and a turkey club for the birthday girl. All of us felt obligated to get a side of the dressing (another famous dish from the hey day). I don’t know how this stacks up against the original, but I enjoyed my food, the space, and the company. I think it’s safe to say we had a great experience.

On our way out, I took a snapshot of the other dining room and bar area. Do you see the mannequin in the the corner with the jaunty Santa hat? So random. So excellent.

The Chintz Room

Ignore my box of presents in the foreground.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you about the dessert. I wanted to try the bourbon bread pudding (bookmarked for next time!), but I had a dessert of another kind waiting for me at home. Enter Golden Delight’s Fresh Strawberry Cake–the stuff of dreams, and my annual birthday cake.

Golden Light Fresh Strawberry Cake

Though my birthday isn’t an ideal date (the day after Christmas! How can I compete!), I feel blessed to have so many great people in my life who make the effort to separate the two occasions. As I mentioned before, I associated Lazarus with the holidays, and this birthday lunch brought things full circle for me. We can never go back in time, but for an afternoon, it was nice to pretend.

The Chintz Room is located at 121 S. High Street, Columbus, OH. Open from 11a-11p seven days a week. Parking is on street.

Working Out with ClassPass + A Bite at Alchemy Juice Cafe

{by alexis} We have been so busy over here at Wander & Whine over the past few weeks! In addition to our usual hectic work and social schedules, we’ve been cramming all kinds of exercise classes in whenever we can, thanks to our shiny new ClassPass! After beating ourselves up for an hour on Sunday, we headed to Alchemy Juice Cafe for a pick-me-up.

With locations in over 20 other cities, ClassPass launched in Columbus at the end of December, and we’re putting them to work! With a membership, you can attend as many classes as you desire at various participating fitness studios across the city, and you can visit each studio up to three times a month. For example, that’s three Pure Barre classes in Grandview, three in Dublin, and three in New Albany, if you don’t mind taking a scenic drive on 270.

So far, we’ve been to a few yoga classes (at Nurture Yoga in Dublin), and even our first hot yoga class at Pai Yoga & Fitness in Dublin (verdict: LOVE). We did some plies at Pure Barre in Grandview, and then last Sunday we took a spinning class at the Fitness Loft in German Village. You guys, that was tough. Spinning is SUCH a challenge. What do you MEAN I’m supposed to up my resistance! I think the bike is resisting me pretty successfully as it is!

I’ll say a few words about the Fitness Loft: It is a beautiful facility with wide open spaces (something LA Fitness severely lacks), and the huge windows bathe the tall rooms with light. It’s a lovely place to spend some time. Their fitness weight machines are upgraded and automatic — no pin jamming here. I’m hoping to attend at least one more class here before the month is out.

In any case, after a punishing hour on the bikes, we headed downstairs to Alchemy. We have been looking to try this place forever, and nothing gives you an excuse to eat like a good workout!

alchemy juice bar | wander & whine

alchemy juice bar | wander & whine

Can you blame me? Juice is so satisfying to the eye isn’t it? And it’s a genius route for someone (LIKE ME) who hates fruit in general. I much prefer this pureed and strained version to the off-the-vine option.

We ordered some delicious avocado toast and cashew milk and made ourselves comfortable.

alchemy juice bar | wander & whine

alchemy juice bar | wander & whine

alchemy juice bar | wander & whine

I also ordered a pumpkin pie smoothie, which was a like a tricksy Harry Potter jelly bean, so similar was it to its namesake. HIGHLY RECOMMEND. The toast was also a delight. Alicia wouldn’t stop yapping about the sprouts, while my focus tended toward the red pepper flakes. It was fresh and wholesome tasting, and I have to applaud their salt application — just enough!

I’m not sure we’ll be back for spinning because OW, but we’ll almost certainly be back for more toast and smoothies. In terms of classes, this week we’re taking a cardio dancing class at Brickhouse and I’m attempting yoga at the Art of Yoga. I’m also taking a barre class back at Pai toward the end of the week.

Interested in ClassPass? There may be a waitlist happening at the moment, but since you so smartly read Wander & Whine, you can go ahead to the front of the line with this link! We have been having such fun getting around the city to try new classes, and I have to say, the booking experience has been a total breeze! Four thumbs up!

Bruegger’s Gift Card Giveaway!

Screen Shot 2015-01-07 at 9.33.48 AM

To help kick off its “Behind the Taste” campaign, Wander & Whine is partnering with Bruegger’s to give two lucky people a $25 gift card to spend on bagels, bomb cream cheeses, or whatever their hearts desire!

You know we’re fans of stuffing our faces, so let us help you stuff yours!

We only endorse things we actually like, and we both put our stamp of approval on this one. When Alicia doesn’t have time to make breakfast (which is often), she swings by for an asiago parm bagel with a generous schmear of jalapeño cream cheese. Alexis also recommends said bomb cream cheese flavor (they should probably copyright that) which is also sold in convenient containers by the register!

To  enter the contest visit our Facebook giveaway page. We will announce the winner on January 15 on the blog/social media. Good luck!

Cravings Carryout

{by: alicia} Every weekend, I try to find an excuse to go to Italian Village. I can’t help it. It’s where my favorite coffee shop lives, and it’s the only place in town you can find a bronut.

No, it’s not some douchey pastry. It’s brioche + donut, and the geniuses at Cravings Carryout serve them up the second Saturday of each month.

Cravings Carryout Bronut

A glazed bronut with gingerbread coffee. To live for. Also, that polar bear. I can’t.

Cravings Carryout is about the size of a shoebox, but if you’re lucky, you can snag one of the few seats indoors. Otherwise, do as the name suggests and take your food to go.

Cravings Carryout

Though it’s small inside, it’s big on personality.

Cravings Carryout

Cravings Carryout

Did Ron Swanson build this table? GIVE.

I went to the last Bronut Takeover with a friend, which is always a bonus because that means I can sample multiple flavors. Maria got the blackberry, which was so delicious, that I forced her to trade me. Sorry friend. I didn’t even KNOW I liked blackberry that much until this happened.

Blackberry Bronut from Cravings Carryout Columbus, Ohio

At this point, you’re probably wondering what a bronut tastes like–it’s more about the consistency, really. I’m not a baker, but from what I can tell, the brioche dough lends a rich and tender crumb. I like airier donuts as opposed to dense/cakey, but this was something in between. Just try one.

Since my motto is “eat all the things,” we ordered breakfast to round things out. I am a sucker for burritos, which is fortunate because this was one of the tastiest breakfast burritos to ever hit my palette. It’s so ridiculously simple: scrambled eggs, cheese, peppers, scallions, salsa, potatoes, and avocado, but it’s executed so well.

Breakfast burrito from Cravings Carryout

Maria was beyond happy with her choice of a breakfast roll. I mean, there’s bacon, so it’s already going to be good, and it positively oozed cheddar cheese all over the place. Since I’m a good friend, I allowed her to eat this without my cries of “tradesies!” (It’s okay, she has a child, she’s use to it.)

Breakfast sandwich from Cravings Carryout

STOP TAUNTING ME.

So, you see what I’m dealing with here? Since you’re obviously amped on going, I must insist you plan your first visit around Bronut Takeover. If you’re already an aficionado, let’s have a moment and stare at these photos together. Oh, and I’ll see you in January.

Cravings Carryout is located at 227 East 3rd Avenue, Columbus, OH 43201. Hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10a-5p, Saturday and Sunday 9a-3p, and closed on Mondays. Bronuts are only available the second Saturday of the month–put it on your calendar.