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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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

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+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?

What to Bring Your Thanksgiving Hosts

{by alexis} This week is Thanksgiving! Is everyone as excited as I am? I’m sure that depends on whether you’re the guest or the host. If you’re the latter, you can go: I HAVE NO WORDS OF WISDOM. But! If you’re a guest, let me remind you that you cannot show up empty-handed! Forgot about that, didn’t you? I’m here to save the day! What follows is a list of gifts you can bring for your brave hosts, items that will guarantee you a seat closest to the stuffing (because it’s the best part).

I’m actually headed North to Michigan to break bread with my family. (I don’t care WHAT week it is guys: Our blog always includes the FULL ALPHABET.) Since I’m always yelling about how fabulous Columbus is, I welcome these trips home to expose my favorite Michiganders to all that is delicious about Ohio.

I would not be welcome in the house without a wrapped package of Bahama Mamas from Schmidt’s. We’ve been known to cook this up on Thanksgiving itself, and serve them alongside that gargantuan turkey. A little spice goes a long way!

schmidt's sausage haus | columbus, oh

You can always go a more traditional route. This year, Columbus Monthly published a great piece on where to get pies in the city, complete with order-by dates WHICH I WILLFULLY IGNORED. Take pity on me, Just Pies? The photography on their piece will prove you can’t go wrong with any of the local pie people.

If pie isn’t your bag (we need to identify a Thanksgiving Day Cake immediately), feel free to up the fancy factor and pick up a treat from Pistacia Vera. Today at noon is the last time they’re accepting orders for Turkey Day, so I’ll forgive you if you stop reading to make that important call. GO FORTH.

pistacia vera | columbus, oh

Prefer to drink your dessert? Can we best friends? Pick up a bottle of festive Apple Pie Mead from Brother’s Drake. It’s sure to warm the cockles of your heart and set those shimmery lights aglow.

If your host insists you musn’t bring a thing, and has talked your ear off for weeks about their perfectly crafted menu, don’t mess with their plans! Grab a beautifully wrapped box of chocolate from Winan’s to set out with coffee, and don’t be surprised if your host tucks them away to enjoy alone while recovering from the madness that is Thanksgiving.

winan's chocolates | columbus, oh

credit: Winan’s website

Don’t forget the adorably decorated sugar cookies from Cheryl’s too! Individually wrapped, there’s no pressure to eat them all at one time! (But it’s always an OPTION.)

chery'ls cookies | columbus, oh

credit: Cheryl’s Cookies

My mom and I will be doing a bit of early Christmas prep, so I couldn’t come home without several rolls of the loveliest paper on earth from Paper Source. We get positively giddy about the selection here, and it’s sure to make your gifts stand out under the tree. Below is my current favorite!

paper source gift wrap

credit: Paper Source

And last, but certainly not least, I’ll be sure not to forget Indiana Bones! He’s pretty good entertainment and he’s a great garbage disposal in a pinch!

indiana bones

he’s giving me side-eye

I wish you all safe travels over the river and through the wood! Happy Thanksgiving from Wander & Whine!

Guest Posting at Live Columbus Part Deux

{by alexis}–Alicia had so much fun a few weeks ago taking over the Live ColumbusInstagram, she insisted I give it a go. And so, last Thursday, I swapped my credentials for a new set and signed in to document my day. What follows is a quick recap, along with a few outtakes at the end!

We started the day with a walk in German Village. It’s gotten so cold, so quickly, don’t you think? I had to break out my serious winter coat far earlier than expected. Indy, on the other hand, doesn’t so much mind when the temperature dips. Must be that whole fur coat thing.

wander & whine | German Village

One of the perks of living in GV is the atmosphere. These bricks and lights and trees, oh my! Another perk? Pistacia Vera.

wander & whine | Pistacia Vera

I’ve lived here for over two years, and I STILL haven’t tried everything. This morning I treated myself to an almond croissant the size of a newborn, and a latte. If you like almond, go quickly here. It was the bomb.

Later on, I took some time to walk around Ohio State’s campus. Autumn is in full swing out here on the oval, and there was no shortage of beautiful photo opportunities.

wander & whine | ohio state university

Just on the other side of the oval, where you’ll find the Wexner Center for the Arts. I’ve got a date to visit the Transfigurations exhibit next week, but last week I only had time for lunch. Fortunately, you’ll find the singular Heirloom Cafe inside. Their menu has a seasonal focus and they’re committed to local sourcing. Also, their food is BEYOND delicious. I ordered the green chili bowl, with tender roasted chicken and tangy green chilis and enjoyed every hearty bite. My lunch dessert was that frothy pumpkin spice latte on the side.

wander & whine | heritage cafe

In the evening, Alicia and I met up at the Trader’s Haven Sip & Style event. The designers behind this showroom and interior design business served us cocktails, let us wander around, gawking at their wares, and even gave us a little how-to on how to set a festive holiday table. We’ll share more from the event soon!

wander & whine | trader's haven

After a few more errands together, we called it a night. I was happy to get home to my embarrassing stack of library books, and this face.

wander & whine

I had such fun with the Instagram takeover, and I’m so excited they gave me a shot!

Check out some outtakes below, featuring — who else? — Indiana Bones. Follow me on Instagram (@alexishattie) to keep up with me on the regular!

wander & whine | german village

can you spy our kitty friend?

wander & whine | german village

he’s not always the most cooperative model

Hiking at Hocking Hills

{by: alicia} I’m not the most athletic person, but even I feel compelled every now and again to get some sort of exercise. I’m a big baby, so I prefer something low impact like yoga…or napping. Hiking is perfect because it can be as intense as you want to be (or not). This is why I found myself at Old Man’s Cave one recent Sunday. Not only was it a perfect fall activity, but the trails were just challenging enough to make things interesting.

Old Man's Cave -- Hocking Hills

Old Man’s Cave is aptly named because an actual man shacked up there in the 19th century. He was a hermit named Richard Rowe, and by some accounts he was buried somewhere nearby in an unmarked grave. Some interesting local lore, but there’s a lot of history that surrounds this area.

Since the cave is the most popular draw, we tromped down the main path and went along the trees to reach it, stopping to take many photos along the way.

Old Man's Cave -- Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills

Old Man’s Cave

Like most things, it was difficult to really capture the expanse of the cave and the enormity of it all. I tried my best, but it’s truly something you have to see in real life. Once you get past the cave, there are two paths you can pick from. Upper Falls and Lower falls.

Hocking Hills

I THINK this was Upper Falls.

We went to Upper Falls first, and on the way back towards Lower Falls we found a trail that went up into the hills towards Cedar Falls. We got pretty high up there, so I avoided the cliffs, while Thom lived on the edge (literally) to take some photos.

Hocking Hills

See, I like to take my photos AWAY from said cliffs.

It was maybe three miles to Cedar Falls (spoiler: I got turned around at one point and we went back after two miles), but we spent most of our time taking a gazillion snaps.

Hocking Hills

This tree was adorable.

Hocking Hills Hocking Hills

We made it all the way to the river before we headed back from whence we came. I was getting a bit fatigued at this point and needed all the snacks to refuel.

My hiking fuel of choice. The savory Kind bars are delish.

My hiking fuel of choice. The savory Kind bars are delish.

Once we connected to the main artery, we took the trail down to Lower Falls before calling it a day. At this point, my legs felt like rubber, but I was revived by all of the beauty around me.

Hocking Hills

Lower Falls

Next time, I hope to make it out to Ash Cave and Rock House, but there are closer trails on my list, so we’ll see. Keep your eye on this space.

Hocking Hills

If you would like to plan your own trip, check out this travel guide for trail maps and tips. Hocking Hills State Park is located on State Route 664 (follow the signs down through Logan) and closes at dark. We did not stay overnight, but  information on cabins and other accommodations can be found here.

Pittie Party with Peace for Paws and Devoted Ohio

{by alexis}–I have written to you all many times before about how much I love our canine friends and the joys of pet adoption or rescue. So, it was a no-brainer when Devoted asked if I would be in a few photos at their pet adoption event last Saturday. They teamed up with Peace for Paws, a rescue group here in central Ohio, and held a lively event in the Gateway Alley outside their store, with live music, local vendors, and oodles of pitties!

The Devoted team always runs great events. In addition to Peace for Paws, they teamed up with some exceptionally talented photographers. Amy Clark Studios was there snapping the pups, as well as Jaclyn from Coley & Co Photography. Jaclyn worked with husband and I as we goofed off with the dogs. Look at these gorgeous photos she took!

coley & co photography

snuggles

coley & co photography

snuggles

coley & co photography

snuggles

coley & co photography

emma

coley & co photography

emma

And look at those dogs! These were two of our favorites. So well-behaved, so friendly, and so mellow. Indiana Bones is many things, but I’m not sure anyone would describe him as MELLOW.

Oh, and do you love our shirts? We are wearing designs from Sugar Pie Tees. These Ohio-centric tees are available for all members of the family, from infant to adult, and are oh-so-soft. They will be PERFECT for tail-gates (yes, football starts again in just a few short weeks!). I wasn’t allowed to wear the Made In Ohio shirt, given that whole my-being-from-Michigan thing, but I found the heart-in-Ohio shirt to be quite appropriate! These shirts, as well as a whole truckload of others, are available at Devoted.

Once were done with the modeling portion of the event, we wandered around making new friends with all the adoptable pups. WHAT DOLLS.

snuggles

snuggles

snuggles

snuggles

Snuggles was a very special puppy. She was so calm, engaged, and just good-hearted. She let us, strangers, lead her around, pick her up, and was generous with the kisses. What is better than a patient and affectionate puppy! And did you see her manicure?

snuggles

snuggles

Ugh, that NOSE! She was so sweet. We milled around for a while, but always found ourselves back at Snuggles’ side. Basically, I want to keep her.

And then we met Layla. She and I had a pretty quick and natural connection. Another calm puppy, she was full of love.

IMG_20140817_192630

layla

She investigated me for a little while, then I guess she made up her mind.

layla

layla

layla

layla

We were pretty fast friends. Can I we just take a moment to acknowledge WHAT A FUN DAY THIS IS? There’s more!

Brawny was a more reserved, shy pup. I tried to woo him, but he only had eyes for my husband. The only time I could get a good picture of his face was when he nestled up to husband’s legs.

brawny

brawny

Look at that face! And that bow-tie (this dapper look brought to you by CollarDoos). I love this; it’s so sweet, and is a great illustration of the natural, automatic bond between dogs and people. They just want to be close to us. And who wouldn’t want to snuggle that sweet face. I will always remember one visit to the Franklin County Dog Shelter while we were looking for Indy: Some of the dogs in the stalls would press their entire bodies up to the doors, just so you could pet them. That’s how much they crave human touch and attention!

Some dogs were really just basking in all the attention. Check out Tyson: he looks like a centerfold!

tyson

tyson

He’s loving the sun and all the “good boy”s!

Before we headed out, we got another picture of Emma. This one is a pretty good representation of her sweet disposition and happy attitude.

emma

emma

I mean, only good dogs put up with this! There were more dogs than just these we featured here, but you can blame my photography for any omissions.

We had so much fun talking with the fosters and getting to know the pups themselves. Rescue groups are always full of such fundamentally good people. You’ve got to tip your hat to folks who open their homes to dogs in need, and donate their time to help find forever  homes. Truly, we were thrilled we could help give these darlings the exposure, and I hope one or two of you readers is looking to adopt. You couldn’t go wrong with any of these dogs.

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?

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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.