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.

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.

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

IMG_2816

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.

Holiday Events in Columbus

{by: alicia} Tis the season for merrymaking, and we’ve rounded up five of our favorite events for your holiday cheer. Don’t let the cold keep you inside this winter (I should really take my own advice), bundle up and brave the elements to check out these events!

WILDLIGHTS

Courtesy of The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

Courtesy of The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium

+If you’re a fan of sparkle like us, you won’t want to miss Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo. Each year, millions of lights are displayed throughout the property, and with light shows, a visit from Santa, and other festivities, it’s the perfect activity for the entire family. This event runs through Jan. 4, Sunday through Thursday from 5-9 p.m. and Friday to Saturday 5-10 p.m.

VILLAGE LIGHTS

German Village is extra gorgeous this time of year!

German Village is extra shiny this time of year!

+Because there is no such thing as too many lights, make a stop at Village Lights on Dec. 7. Alexis will be reporting live from what is undoubtedly one of her favorite German Village events. Sponsored by Schmidt’s (a Wander & Whine favorite), businesses and restaurants will be open late that night, and there will also be carolers, live holiday music and a horse-drawn carriage.

MADE LOCAL MARKETPLACE

2775806_orig

+You know we love to keep things local, and what better way to support local vendors and get your shopping done than at the Made Local Marketplace! Treat yo’self and your loved ones with items you can’t get anywhere else! Check out this write-up we did of the Market from back in March for more info. This is a one day extravaganza-ganza-ganza on Dec. 13 at the Bridgewater Conference Center in Powell.

THE NUTCRACKER

Courtesy of BalletMet

Courtesy of BalletMet

+BalletMet’s annual rendition of “The Nutcracker”  is a holiday institution in Columbus. Get gussied up, and take the entire crew out for a night of amazing dancing, intricate costumes, special effects, and the beloved sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite!

TRANS SIBERIAN ORCHESTRA

+Or if ballets aren’t your thing, tickets are still on sale for the Trans Siberian Orchestra on Dec. 28.  (Whenever I hear TSO, my mind immediately goes to this):

 What are your favorite local events in December?

Festival Latino

{alicia}

This past weekend, Columbus hosted its annual Festival Latino, and after living here for nearly two decades, I was finally able to attend. The festival’s roots go back to the late nineties, so it was about effing time.

Festival Latino, Columbus, OHConsidering my husband is half Costa Rican, you would think this is something he would have gone to at least once. WRONG. Since he’s been to the Asian festival with me a hundred times, I made it my business for us to go to his counterpart. We were both pretty excited–mainly because we both like to eat all the things. This is my priority whenever I go to something like this. Luckily, there was no shortage of delicious food at the festival. I mean…

Festival Latino

Oh hai, skewers of meat.

There were roasted meats as far as the eye could see. I’m talking turkey legs, chicken and pork skewers, carne asada, ceviche–it was madness.

Festival Latino

Observe the meat on a spit.

We ate our way through chicken skewers, red beans and rice, fried chicken, plaintains, and elote. It was awesome. If we didn’t have dinner plans with Thom’s parents that evening, we probably would have kept on going.

Festival LatinoCould you blame us?

IMG_1647

That corn though.

Here’s the deal with elote. It’s roasted corn brushed with mayonnaise and rolled in cheese. I’m not even a mayonnaise fan, but this corn was insane. If anything, it tasted like buttered popcorn.

For refreshment, there was the usual tokens for booze or soda, but the biggest draw were the drinks served in a hollowed-out pineapple. Even non-drinkers could partake in some mocktails and juices.

Festival LatinoThere were also the usual booths of shirts, crafts, and jewelry, but I had my blinders on once we hit the rows of food, so sorry, not many photos of that. Well, here’s one.

Festival Latino Columbus Ohio

Along with food and wares, the festival served up live entertainment. Here’s a taste:

I’m not sure where the festival was held in the past, but I really like that it took place at Bicentennial and Genoa Park. Scioto Mile lends itself well to an event like this, especially when the weather is as perfect as it was on Saturday. If you weren’t able to make it out this year, keep an eye on the organizers’ Facebook page for future updates.

Counting Crows at LC Pavilion

{alexis}

Last week, Wander & Whine took a field trip to the Lifestyles Communities Pavilion to see the Counting Crows and Toad the Wet Sprocket. This is one of Alicia’s favorite venues, but it was my first visit. I’ve told my husband before that I am too old for concerts now: the jostle, the over-priced beers, and the late-nights make me want to crawl underneath my down comforter. But this concert was exactly what I needed.

With husbands in tow, we met on the hill. We were joined by Megan, a blog favorite, and her husband as well. It was a reunion of sorts, and we were ready to celebrate. Here were are, before all that celebrating.

wander and whine

Yes, we realize we are getting “bombed” by…a guy in the back. We don’t care! But back to the celebration, do you see that beer in Alicia’s hand? THAT THING IS HUGE. I found out later that these things cost $11, yes, but they are close to 3 beers EACH. This means you need to pace yourself. Concerts are long, and you have to stand. TAKE YOUR TIME.

Soon, Toad the Wet Sprocket came on, and they were quite good! I was especially thrilled when they sang “Walk on the Ocean,” and I’m sure our neighbors were equally thrilled when I belted out my rendition. Do you know what Toad the Wet Sprocket looks like? I didn’t either. Here you go!

toad the wet sprocket

i did not take this picture

Here they are. They put on a good show!

The time between the two acts left time for more beer guzzling, catch-up chit chat, future plan making, and general merry-making. Thom and I argued over whether Adam Duritz dated Jennifer Aniston or Courtney Cox (answer: BOTH). And then it was time for the main act. We stood, and sang when possible, and bopped around. The crowd was into it, for sure.

counting crows at the lc pavilion

alicia is so mad about the quality of this picture

I couldn’t WAIT to hear “Long December.” I wouldn’t shut up about it all night. When are they going to play Long December. Is this Long December? They better play Long December. Of course, I had to make a run to the ladies’ (thanks, $11 beer), and I waited till they BEGAN a song I didn’t know. While gone, I heard the song end. I heard the round of applause. I heard another song begin, and then my phone started going insane in my purse. Guess what, people. THEY WERE PLAYING LONG DECEMBER. I bowled over several waiting patrons and sprinted back to the hill to hear the end. THE END. I missed the light attaching to the pearl, and all the best bits. What luck is this?!

In any case, they were quite good. I know my fellow concert-goers were a little bummed they didn’t get to hear Mr. Jones (thanks, Obama), and I don’t blame them. At least I had half of Long December to live off of for the rest of my life.

Angry Bear Kitchen

{alicia}

When Sage American Bistro closed its doors last year, my first thought was “Whyyyy” and my second was, “Maybe something just as good will go in there.” Fast forward a few months later, Angry Bear Kitchen moves in and fulfills the prophecy.

Angry Bear Kitchen

Though I have heard conflicting reviews about this place, I chose to take them with a grain of salt. New restaurants take time to iron out the kinks and get into a groove. For what it’s worth, I wasn’t disappointed with my experience (though this is strictly about the brunch). The restaurant is attached to the same storefront as Ravari Room and Hounddogs, so take advantage of the parking lot behind the building and waltz right in.

The bones of the space should look familiar. The Angry Bear team has maintained the vibe of Sage but with the addition of their own charm.

Angry Bear Kitchen

Charm in the way of mason jar light fixtures that we all wanted to steal or DIY:

Mason jar lights  at Angry Bear Kitchen

And here’s a look at the brunch menu. They get bonus points for the adorable bear logo and typography.

Angry Bear Kitchen Brunch Menu

It’s all self-explanatory with the exception of the Midwest Mimosa–I had to inquire about that. This concoction is a blend of Miller High Life (the champagne of beers, you know) and orange juice. In lieu of this, I went for a concoction of fried chicken, brioche French toast, and strawberries–a winner!

Fried chicken and brioche from Angry Bear Kitchen

Quite a few of us went down the fried chicken/brioche path, but I also heard good things about the biscuits and (huge bowl of) gravy.

Biscuits and gravy from Angry Bear Kitchen

The pièce de résistance came in the unlikely form of a $1 donut that Sarah haphazardly added to her order.

Donut from Angry Bear Kitchen.

This little beauty had us all staring, and when she didn’t have room to finish it, I was this close to volunteering my services. My heroic and selfless act was dismissed in the form of a to-go box. Well then. I could have easily ordered my own, but as you’ve probably deduced by now, I like to make excuses to return.

Angry Bear Kitchen is located at 2653 N. High Street, Columbus. Open Tuesday-Thursday 5p-10p, Friday-Saturday 5p-11p, and open for Sunday brunch 11a-2p.