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.

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When Bloggers Bounce

{by: alicia} We don’t pretend to be fitness queens. In fact, we openly abhor exercise, but as Alexis mentioned in a previous post, it’s a necessary evil. I tend to shy away from anything high impact. I prefer light movement in the way of yoga or doing a handful of crunches in front of the TV–sorry, not sorry. Exercise in general just bores me, so I’ve never looked into anything beyond what I already know. Bad move, me. Apparently, I’ve been missing out.

Thanks to Classpass, I’ve been able to explore different types of workouts and learn about my preferences. So maybe things like spinning and barre aren’t my jam, but I actually like hot yoga (which used to scare me) and FIT JUMP. Until recently, I didn’t know such a thing existed. But after seeing the class added to the Classpass rotation and realizing we’d be JUMPING ON A TRAMPOLINE, I quickly signed up. Alexis and our blogger friend Miche followed suit, and we had the happy coincidence of running into fellow Cbus blogger Morgan for some shenanigans.

The Bounce Club Powell Ohio

We showed up early to sign all of the usual waivers and swap our street shoes for appropriate footwear. Since we were the first arrivals, we had a chance to walk around, take pictures, and get acclimated to the trampolines. Our instructor for the night was also the owner, Trisha Rich, a former Ohio State cheerleader who parlayed her love of fitness into this multi-faceted studio. We were there for a workout, but they also offer everything from private parties to dodgeball (YES) to sports conditioning and Mommy and Me.

The Bounce Club Powell Ohio

Once inside, you’ll see two separate areas. One with the foam pit and mats, and the main attraction.

The Bounce Club Powell Ohio

This was awesome. I want one.

The Bounce Club Powell Ohio

Alexis doing her thing.

We spent time on both, which was nice, because jumping is actually quite tiring. At first, I was like, how hard can this be? Then Trisha put us through our paces, and holy crap. We got a total body workout which included planks, donkey kicks, sprints (where Alexis and I promptly wiped out, luckily we were on the trampoline), weights, medicine balls, and floorwork. Yikes, and here I thought we’d just be casually jumping around for an hour. This is how delusional I am.

By the end of it, we were all sweaty wrecks, but felt a sense of accomplishment–especially after Trisha told us we had done the advanced version. Spend an hour at Fit Jump, and you’ll burn 700-1000 calories (women) with men burning even more. Though this was a tough class, there were plenty of switch ups to keep things fresh, the soundtrack was upbeat, and I liked the sense of community. There were a lot of repeat customers, many of them with relationships with Trisha and each other. Everyone was also very encouraging, which was kind, because the Wander & Whine team was pretty much the worst in the room. Don’t let the workout scare you. And if you’re thinking an indoor trampoline facility is just for kids, you are wrong, my friend. This class was no joke (though I did feel like a kid again at points).

The Bounce Club Powell Ohio

The party room.

If a class environment isn’t your thing, there’s Open Jump and you can make reservations for a private party. No matter how you decide to do it, just do the damn thing.

jeanralphio-bounce

The Bounce Club is located at 3967 Presidential Parkway, Powell, OH. Visit the site for more information on classes, schedules, etc. And have fun!

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.

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.

Fox in the Snow Cafe

{by: alicia} The next time you’re in Italian Village, and in the mood for a pick me up, do yourself a favor and check out Fox in the Snow Cafe.

Since opening its doors in October, this cafe has amassed quite a following (myself included) thanks to its amazing atmosphere (so much natural light! so open and modern!) and wondrous drinks and pastries (HOMEMADE POP TARTS–hand pies if we’re being literal). It makes me curse my decision to live up north.

When I first heard about Fox in the Snow in late summer/early fall, my interest was immediate. THE NAME ALONE. I mean, have you SEEN a fox in the snow? It looks something like this.

Courtesy of zastavki.com

Courtesy of zastavki.com

Did you hear that? I apologize for shattering your eardrums. It was me making this loud “eeeeee” sound I do when something too adorable for words. Then I saw the official logo and knew I had found something special.

BEST LOGO.

BEST LOGO.

There is nothing better than a pouncing, hoppy fox. NOTHING. Exhibit A:

Sometimes, I overhype things in my head and end up being disappointed. In this case, my first visit confirmed my suspicions: THIS PLACE IS BOMB.

Pastries from Fox in the Snow Cafe Columbus

Fox in the Snow Cafe

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On my last visit, we made sure to get a variety of pastries and unanimously declared everything amazing. Cinnamon rolls? AMAZING. So soft, perfectly spiced with cinnamon, and the icing wasn’t cloying in the slightest. Also. The lattes (AMAZING) were beautiful and a perfect complement to our baked goods.

Fox in the Snow Cafe drinks

Also amazing were the egg sandwich and hand pie (aka the homemade Pop Tart). There were rave reviews on these, my friends. Look at the flaking crust on that pie. I can hardly contain myself.

Fox in the Snow Cafe Hand pie and egg sandwich

Now let’s take a gander at the doughnut, plump with various fillings and dusted with sugar. I know. By now you are filled with longing and don’t know what to do with yourself. I understand. Scroll on down to get the details to plan your own visit!

Fox in the Snow cafe doughnut
To experience the wonder that is Fox in the Snow, head down to 1031 N. 4th St. Tuesday through Friday from 7a-5p and the weekend from 8a-6p. Parking is available in the lot and on the street.

Columbus Food Adventures’ Taco Truck Tour

{by: alexis & alicia} We market ourselves as a Columbus lifestyle blog, but between us and you, loyal readers, we have a focus on eating. You may have noticed that Alicia and I will research restaurants, wait in line, and travel to all ends of the Earth for that next great meal. But we’re lucky because honestly, we don’t have to go that far. A few weeks ago, Columbus Food Adventures asked us to attend their taco truck tour and, after several frenzied rounds of “OMG TACOS” via gchat, we happily accepted and picked a date.

columbus food adventures wander and whine

Alicia was far more excited than she looks. Also, check out her donut sweater!

For the record, I was being instructed to do “my best Jordan Catalano lean” and only succeeded in duplicating his indifference–and even that didn’t last very long. I don’t think Jordan ever squee’d at a plate of crispy pork. He probably brooded in a corner, and closed his eyes like it hurt to look at it. Whoops, sorry. Just as Jordan Catalano is great at leaning, I’m great at going off on tangents. BACK TO THE FOOD.

We showed up on time and and ready to eat everything in sight. Now, kids, if you check out the Columbus Food Adventures website, you’re going to get some important details, but you’re not going to get the route. We’re going to follow their lead and share you with our dishes, but not necessarily the stops on the tour. We can’t give away all their secrets! And we wouldn’t want to deprive you of the expertise and camaraderie of the tour guide, Andy Dehus, either!

After piling into the van, Andy whisked us away to stop number one (there were five plus a bonus stop).

We started with a classic taco truck, prepared by a Latino chef for a Latino audience, as was described by Andy. These trucks aren’t trucks in the sense that you can’t drive them all around, like many of the taco trucks you’re familiar with. They’re stationary. Each truck has a specific regional focus, which allows for a bajillion of them to exist in a small area.

taco truck See those sauces lined up in a row? This was a common theme to the trucks we visited–multiple sauces ranging from mild to spicy. Alexis and I are are huge fans of avocado, so we made a beeline for the avo sauce all day despite its lack of heat.

The typical tacos served here are smaller, and made using corn tortillas instead of flour. The first taco we had was filled with chorizo, which, as I stated in another post, is not really my bag. But THIS chorizo. Here. Look!

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The chorizo was removed from its casing and grilled up for us. The accompanying radishes and cucumbers were perfect ways to test the various spicy sauces. Here, we started what became of chorus of “YEP”s, and “UH-HUH”s we yelled through full mouths. HOLY CHORIZO.

Our next stop was at a more locally well-known truck nearby. You may be familiar with Los Guachos brick-and-mortar space in Columbus or Gahanna. Andy ordered us all a gringa, which is now a word that causes conversations at W&W headquarters to devolve into a series of nonsensical yelling and near-fainting. It is that good. A gringa is a flour tortilla with caramelized cheese, a few veggies, and al pastor, which is a pork layered together on a vertical grill and sliced off for serving. BEHOLD THE GRINGA.

gringaI’m having trouble even writing right now with this picture in my eye-line. It was so cheesy, the pork was so flavorful, we both lean toward choosing this as our favorite of the whole tour.

What’s crazy is the combination of flavors that made this dish really sing, like, what do you mean there was pineapple in there? There were also garnishes that took these to another level. See the bowl in the bottom righthand of the next photo? That contained habaneros and onions in soy sauce. We piled this wondrous concoction on top of our gringas and doused them with sauces. The result was an explosion of flavors and spice that made us audibly gasp. 

IMG_2135It was hard to leave the prospect of more gringas behind, but we had more food to eat. Our next truck focused on Oaxacan cuisine, and Andy ordered us all a tlayuda. Well, that’s not exactly true; each tlayuda is ENORMOUS, so we split one amongst four tour-goers, and still had more than enough to eat. This tour won’t allow you to go hungry.

tlayudaIt’s a bit like a pizza, actually. On the bottom you’ll see the tortilla with a spread of black beans which is then covered with lettuce, tomato, avocado, chorizo, and another delicious slice of meat. Eating this one was a bit of a challenge as the tortilla didn’t cut especially well with the plastic fork, but Alicia and I were more than happy to take matters into our own hands and use our teeth like the daintiest of cavemen.

Meanwhile, we got to sip some horchata, which is a sweetened rice milk drink. This was a delightful companion to the spicy tlayuda. While everyone was finishing up, Andy brought around another plate of beef tongue for us to try. He assured us it was excellent as a taco filling, so we didn’t shy away.

Alexis is kind to say that, because I most certainly shied away at first. But, seeing this was a food adventure and all, I plucked up a little courage and was so glad I did. Everything we ate was delicious, and the tongue wasn’t an exception.

beef tongue tacoIf it doesn’t look quite full, it’s because Andy was offering samples to the whole tour. You’ll get more than this!

I went first. Believe it or not, this is my DELICIOUS GIVE ME MORE face.

IMG_20140921_191617Alicia was spurred on by my expression and went for it, too.

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You can actually see my reluctance here.

But after all, we both agree: TONGUE IS DELICIOUS. My only exposure to tongue is my father’s cautionary tale of ordering a tongue sandwich on a European flight. (What person orders tongue on an airplane? Oh, my dad does!) This was tender and flavorful, and the texture was just like any other, non-frightening meat part. Don’t be scared of the tongue, you guys! And here’s a spin on a familiar motto: LISTEN TO YOUR TOUR GUIDE.

Next we moved onto what Andy described as an old faithful taco truck. We were each served an individual gordita, and it’s about a jillion times more delicious than Taco Bell’s version — even I didn’t think that was possible! This time, carnitas were served in a soft pocket of corn cake. It’s griddle-fried, so parts are crispy. It was so good we, um, forgot to take a picture. Here! Feast your eyes upon my half-devoured gordita!

Plus, the avocado sauce here was actually spicy! Bonus points all around!

gorditaSorry about that, readers, we got a little over-excited.

And with good reason! This was our second favorite item of the day (nothing could top gringas). What’s funny is before we received our gorditas, we didn’t think we could possibly eat another bite. Hilarious joke. We inhaled these. Then we had a whispered conversation about whether or not it was bad form to order another one. We decided it was seeing that there was one more stop to be had.

Our fifth stop was for dessert, an icier version of ice cream called nieves (which means snow in Spanish). Andy checked out what flavors were available and recommended the nuez (nut). Seeing that all of his suggestions were on point, we had to listen to him.

These teeny cones were like a revelation: At first bite we thought, oh, sure, is good! And then with each bite our eyes got wider and our commentary grew from quiet “yum-o’s” (sorry this is how we actually talk), to all-caps-worthy yelling.

This was such a refreshing (and delicious) way to end the tour.

IMG_2150Well, at least the eating part of the tour. Right around the corner was a Mexican grocery store called La Plaza Tapatia. This place was a treasure trove of freshly baked goods, a meat department, vats of peppers, an entire CANDY ROOM, and many more amazing things. Seeing that this was a popular spot, Andy took us around the perimeter of the store, pointed a few things out, and gave us 15 minutes to run amok.

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The entire experience was four hours, and it flew by in a blur of eating and discovering delicious things we wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Alexis and I wholeheartedly endorse Columbus Food Adventures, and if tacos aren’t your thing, there are many other types of tours available here. You can even buy tickets as a gift (I’m winking really hard at all of you).

(I’m hoping that note means Alicia is buying me tickets for Christmas.) I can’t say enough good things about our experience. You don’t just get bussed from one delicious, ridiculous snack to the next, you get a bit of history at each site. I mean, that’s why they call it a tour, dopes. I’m flattered that you’re still reading this, all fifteen hundred words, but how bout you stop, and go buy your own tickets. You won’t regret it.