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.

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.

Thursday Ramblings

{by: alicia} It’s been a couple weeks since my pity party about the weather changing, and I’ve come around (but barely) by focusing on what’s fun about autumn. People think football is fun, right?

Ohio State Buckeyes

Last weekend, Alexis kindly gave us tickets to the Buckeyes game since she’s a fancy staff/faculty member. We had so much fun–mostly because we were busy being ridiculous and not actually watching the game. To everyone whose earshot we were in, we apologize for our inane topics of conversation and me (accidentally) throwing my bratwurst. Whoops.

Blog favorite Megan was also in attendance, and we had a grand old time spending a majority of our day at the tailgate, walking eight hundred miles, cramming into my clown car, and ending up at the barcade (where we nearly conked out while our husbands played Off Road). To think I had ever worried that I wouldn’t see her or Alexis once I left my old job. I feel like we see each other more than ever!

It helps that we make an effort to plan girls’ night once a month. Our last outing was at the newish Cray Eatery & Drinkery. They are located in the old Wonder Bread building and specialize in sliders and batshit infused vodkas. We made sure to dabble in all the things.

Cray Eatery

Fried green tomatoes, fries, and fried olives–I detect a pattern.

Gummy Bear Martini from Cray

A whimsical gummy bear martini.

Cray Eatery

Like 900 sliders.

When the weather gets chilly, all I want to eat is comfort food. I made this happen recently with brunch at the aptly named Double Comfort (Alexis’ review lives here).

Double Comfort

Fried chicken as far as the eye can see.

And by indulging at a new place by my neck of the woods called Mezcal Cantina & Grill.

Mezcal

Fries + tacos throw me off, but I will allow this.

I also bought myself presents in an attempt to put me in an autumnal mood. When I say presents, I mean frivolous groceries. (Also a bonus sweater cape. Ask Alexis to tell you about her BLARDIGAN.) I came home recently with bags bursting with pumpkin-inspired goodies (damn your siren song, Trader Joe’s!), and now I want to stock up on some holiday candles (said in the voice of the SNL Target Lady).

But that doesn’t mean I’ve completely embraced fall. I’ve been desperately clutching at some of my summer favorites while I still can. Favorite number one is iced coffee. One chilly morning last week, I had my seat warmer on while I sipped my freezing drink–talk about denial.

Since I can no longer find Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate at TJ’s anymore (shaking fist in rage), I have been on the hunt for decent replacements. Remember our chat about Fresh Thyme? It was there I found High Brew, which isn’t too shabby when on the go.

High Brew

But even better is the homemade coffee concentrate I made earlier this week–BEST ICED COFFEE I’VE HAD ALL SUMMER (technically it’s still summer, guys). And it’s so stupidly simple. I can’t believe how long it took me to try this. All you do is coarsely grind some beans until you have 3/4 cup, combine it with 3.5 cups of water, cover it, let it sit at room temperate for 24 hours, strain, and serve.

I used my French press which made this even easier–just make sure to save the plunging part for the very end. I stored this concentrate in mason jars and combined it with twice as much milk and ice (use a 1:2 ratio).

Okay, I’ll calm down now. Let’s talk about summer favorite number two: ice cream.

Graeter's Coconut Chip--ah-mazing.

Graeter’s Coconut Chip–ah-mazing.

Um, I really ought to consider my own affogato now that I’m eying these photos side by side. And sorry, no ice cream recipe. My standby is called “go to the store and buy a pint.” I stubbornly refuse to let ice cream go. Weather be damned. One time, I made my sister go to Handel’s with me during a blizzard. That is commitment, and I’m sure she secretly thought it was worth it. Right, Becca?

Some things I have let go of? Open-toed shoes and shorts. Despite my penchant for iced coffee and iced creams, I don’t actually like feeling cold. I’m officially a walking contradiction. The saga continues.

A Visit to Hilton Head

{alicia}

To coincide with Throwback Thursday, let’s continue the tale of my Southern vacation. After a quick stay in Savannah, Thom and I drove 45 minutes to our next destination–some call it Hilton Head Island; I call it Ohio Jr.

Hilton Head Island Beach

Okay, fine. Ohio doesn’t look like this.

If you’ve never been to HHI, you might be unaware that it’s the official vacation spot of the Buckeye state. I’m not sure why, exactly. The only reason Thom and I went is because we were the only people in the entire state who had never been.

I mean, I’m not complaining. It was a lovely place with great weather, and we subsisted on a diet of iced coffee and Miami Vices by the pool. Life was grand.

Drinks at the Omni Hilton HeadWe stayed in an area called Palmetto Dunes which was chock-full of golf courses, hotels, the beach, and a handful of restaurants. I would highly recommend renting a bike (Hilton Head Outfitters had them for $10 an hour and so forth) and exploring the scenic nooks and crannies.

Hilton Head isn’t exactly offbeat. It’s chain restaurants and commercialism at its finest, so I was thrilled when I came across the wondrous, yet random, Palmetto Dunes General Store. We were here every single day. Sometimes, twice a day. I MISS IT.

Palmetto Dunes General Store

They had EVERYTHING. Soft-serve ice cream reminiscent of my childhood? Check. A deli with the most delicious fried chicken in the back? CHECK! A crazy candy section? YES. Fanta in the most batshit flavors like peach and pineapple? SO MUCH YES.

I wasn’t the only one in love with the General Store. People would congregate outside eating popsicles, ice cream, and that amazing fried chicken at all hours of the day. Pro tip: the fried chicken sells out fast, so call in advance for large orders or show up before peak lunchtime to get a combo (get the mac and cheese).

I wouldn’t consider HHI a “foodie” place, but there were definitely some gems that could make me eat my words. The Porch (located in the Beach House Resort at Coligny Beach), was one of the more interesting restaurants we visited. The food was great (I had the catch of the day and Thom had more fried chicken) and it had the best ambience. The restaurant was decked out in wood, vintage decor, and there was a lovely breeze coming in from the ocean. Plus, we could easily park at the resort, a HUGE perk. Parking at Coligny Plaza is a nightmare at dinnertime.

The Porch, Hilton Head IslandThom had a birthday during our stay, and he chose Alexander’s for the celebratory dinner. The minute they plonked down the basket of warm, chewy bread, I knew this was going to be a successful meal.

Bread at Alexander's

Have I mentioned that I like a good bargain? Well, I do. Here’s a secret about a lot of restaurants in Hilton Head–they have Early Bird Menus. Alexander’s, for example, has a pretty sweet deal for $15.99. This includes a soup or salad, entree, and includes a complimentary glass of iced tea or lemonade. You can also snag Vella Chardonnay, Blush or Merlot wine for $4 a glass. The catch? You must be dining between 5:00p-5:45p.

Alexander's Crab Cakes Hilton HeadWhat is a birthday without a sinful dessert? I’ll tell you: the worst birthday ever. I owed Thom a birthday cake upon our return home (it was blue velvet cake–long story), so he took the pie route. Peanut butter pie, that is.

Peanut Butter Pie at Alexander's Hilton Head Island

“Too much pie, that’s your problem.”

Another cool spot was A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant. The food was pure comfort, the patio awesome, and the inside was friendly. Plus, there was banana pudding in huge mason jars.

A Low Country Backyard Restaurant Hilton Head Island

As with Savannah, we didn’t do a whole lot of planning. Our days revolved around lounging at the pool/beach, eating and drinking delicious things, and going to the General Store a hundred times a day. We also did a lot of exploring and aimless wandering. My only complaint? We had to drive so much. My travels usually take me to places with a metro system or the ability to walk everywhere, but this was not the case on the island. Not a big deal, but I wasn’t expecting it.

Sea Pines Hilton Head Island

Sea Pines was worth the drive.

After four relaxing days, we packed up the car for the last (and my favorite) leg of the trip: Charleston. To be continued!

24 Hours in Savannah

{alicia}

Oh, hi. Remember me? I’m back from vacation and adjusting to the real world. It’s a difficult transition, and I thank you for your understanding during these trying times. Yes, Columbus has its charms, but I can’t help but miss this type of atmosphere:

Savannah

As seen on Jones Street.

Spanish moss, you guys. Need I say more? And Savannah gets bonus points for allowing people to walk around (most parts of) the city with an open container. Believe you me, we did our fair share of tippling–when in Rome the South, right?

The Public, Savannah

I especially enjoyed the drinks at The Public Kitchen and Bar (which was conveniently located next to our hotel). My favorite concoction included strawberry puree, St. Germain, and honeysuckle vodka (I KNOW, RIGHT). Unfortunately, I can’t remember what this drink was called. I was too busy shouting at my husband about how much I loved Savannah, while sending drunken texts to my friends (sorry, friends!), to pay attention to such details.

I did, however, manage to take a picture of the bar, which I was enamored by. Talk to me about this light fixture.

The Public, SavannahI can also vouch for the food–even though I didn’t take any pictures. If you are ever in that neck of the woods, I highly recommend The Public for your eating, drinking, and people-watching needs.

We didn’t really have a plan for our limited time in Savannah. It was supposed to be a relaxing visit, so I restrained myself from overplanning. Instead, we walked all over town, popped into places that struck our fancy, and stumbled across many a park and plaza.

Savannah

The fountain in Forsyth Park.

We stayed in the Historic District, which I would recommend to anyone who is planning a trip. It’s centrally located to most of the big-ticket attractions, and it was easy to walk everywhere to take a million photo ops. I was happy about this as I hate driving on vacation (something we will talk about in my next post).

Savannah

The Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

Along with sights and spirits (puns, as this place is supposedly haunted), Savannah is a great city for foodies. I had a list of recommendations a mile long, but I’m sorry to say we barely made a dent into it. I’ll tell you what we did, though. We stood in line at Leopold’s for over half an hour for ice cream. It was so hot outside that the employees kept bringing water to keep us from passing out.

Somehow, perhaps the promise of what was to come, we managed to brave the crowd and walk away with the richest, creamiest scoops of ice cream to ever exist.

Leopolds Ice Cream in Savannah.

Peanut butter chippy. You got lucky this time.

We also braved the brunch crowd at J. Christopher’s–I can’t even tell you how many people suggested this place to me. The standout was the blueberry crunch cakes (also recommended by a zillion people).

J. Christopher's, SavannahSpeaking of recommendations, here is a list of eateries I was unable to try, but came highly touted by everyone and their mom. My loss is hopefully your gain:

Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro

{alicia}

Though Thom and I grew up on the East Side, we rarely find ourselves in that neck of the woods–which is terrible, because his parents still live there, and now I feel super guilty. Anyway, we found ourselves in Reynoldsburg a few weeks back, on one of our rare pilgrimages, to visit some friends.

Heather was nice enough to let me pick the evening’s meal, and based on what I’ve read, it had to be Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro. The restaurant is housed in a renovated, century-old colonial style house with multiple dining areas and a pub on the upper level. I eat that kind of thing up (har har, unintentional pun), so I was even more enchanted by  the concept. Since it was a beautiful, summer night, we took advantage of the patio.

Pies Reynoldsburg Patio

From my focal point, I was obsessing over the fire pit area. If you’re just coming out for drinks, it would be the perfect spot to hunker down with a big group and some cocktails.

Pie's Reynoldsburg PatioFirst things first, we ordered refreshments. I didn’t get the memo about it being summer, and clung to my trusty hard cider which I enjoy any season.

Pie's Gourment Pizza Bistro Reynoldsburg

Once revived, I scanned through the menu and hyperfocused on the Margherita, though the pizza of the night (BBQ Chicken) was also kind of tempting. Right behind us was the smoker where the scent of roasting chicken was sputtering out in little puffs of smoke. Don’t punch me guys, I had to pass. Chicken on pizza confuses my tastebuds. Now if we were talking chicken separate from the pizza? That would be very nice.

Pie's Reynoldsburg Menu

While we waited, Heather was kind enough to share her Crispy Fried Brussels Sprouts ($7)–these were ridiculous, and if I wasn’t so polite, I would have shoved her over and stolen the plate. I mean, LOOK AT THIS:

Brussels Sprouts at Pie's Reynoldsburg

I was able to keep my food jealousy in check because the pizzas came out quickly (you got lucky this time, Heather).
Margherita Pizza at Pie's Reynoldsburg

The tomato and sweet basil tasted very fresh, and I was a happy with my night’s decision. My husband got a custom pie of sausage and mushroom–they weren’t messing around with the toppings:

Pizza at Pie's Reynoldsburg

Somewhere under that mass of fungi is a pizza.

All in all, a very successful night out east. Perhaps this is just the kick in the pants I needed to go out there more often? Oh yes, and guilt over in-laws, can’t forget about that.

Pie’s Gourmet Pizza Bistro is located at 7601 East Main Street, Reynoldsburg, OH. Restaurant hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 10pm, and the pub is open Tuesday through Saturday, 5pm to 11pm.

Weekend Wanderings

{alexis}

Whenever I write these weekend recaps, I’m always shocked to realize that my weekend is behind me. Where do they go?! We spend all week with our eyes on Friday, and then it and Saturday are gone in a blink. I’ve been trying to be present and enjoy every moment of the time that is only mine.

Here’s what we did! We looked at another house on Friday evening, which ended up a bust. We’ve been catching a lot of renovation shows on HGTV, and have convinced ourselves that we, too, could flip a house. Never mind that we’ve never owned property or done anything more complicated than hang a painting (those framed pieces stacked in my basement will even try to tell you we can’t do THAT), but even we knew this house was too much for us. From the sloping floors to the cracked plaster, this place was a PROJECT. And all that thinking and looking and talking got us hungry!

We headed back to German Village and wandered into a favorite of ours, Club 185. We sat quickly and ordered a pair of beers and a plate of onion rings. We must be sommeliers of beer batter by now. They were big, intact onions with lots of flavor. I’ve never seen onion rings served with salsa before, but it was an interesting pairing.

Club 185 onion rings

Next we moved onto our entrees. I went with the fried egg sandwich, which I convinced myself was the healthiest thing on the menu (after you hold the bacon and may of course, WHICH I DID). The Texas toast (what was I just saying about being healthy?) held up beautifully to the egg, which was well-cooked. It was a filling and tasty dinner to be sure.

Club 185 egg sandwich

Husband went for an enormous basket of wings. Literally, he ordered 20. While I stole most of his celery (because celery is DELICIOUS), he got to work. They were a good size, and he said they had a satisfying bit of heat.

Wings at Club 185

I also want to note that we love the staff there. We’ve had our waitress before, but she won me over immediately by complimenting my sunglasses. Flattery gets you EVERYWHERE. She also saved us from tragedy by chasing us down the street with our leftovers. Thanks!

So, we drained our (second) beers, and went home to continue the party with our new Mario Kart. Even though I am terrible (what do you MEAN this is only 50 CC?!), we love it. On Friday, we even unlocked a car drawn by PONIES. BELIEVE IT. It’s the little things.

Saturday, after a good bit of cleaning, resting, and dog-walking, we gathered ourselves up to head to the driving range. Husband has been talking about picking up a set of clubs, and this week he succeeded. Yes, he shelled out a whole $25 for a bag, shoes, and clubs at an estate sale. He is FRUGAL, I tell you. We lugged our parcels to the range and teed up. It was a beautiful evening; it had been hot but there was a divine breeze blowing steadily during our visit.

Golf range

I am not great at golf, you guys, but I’m also not TERRIBLE. After hitting more than a few way up high (which, as any beginner woman knows, is the sign of SUCCESS), and straight to boot, we felt we had earned ourselves another round of beer. Or CERVEZAS, in this case, as we enjoyed a drink and dinner on the patio of El Vaquero. It was a lovely evening. Which brings us to Sunday, and to now. Here I am writing again, all for you! This will be a busy week, so hopefully we’ll have more exciting things to wander and whine about. Until then, looking forward to next weekend!