WTGW 8/14/19: Nathan’s Patio Bar & Grille, North Canton

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So full disclosure, we’ve all technically been here before, but only for drinks, and not food. On a night a few summers back we returned to a previous WTGW spot, The Ignorant Owl, to check out a band … which was so awful that it literally drove us across the street in search of better times elsewhere.

We ended up on the patio at Nathan’s, enjoying several cocktails and a much better band. So essentially we credit Nathan’s for turning that evening around for us.

Well, and the ensuing 3AM Taco Bell run, which involved Ted knocking on the window of the drive thru as we pulled up after placing our order and emphatically declaring that we were “gonna need some orders of cinnamon twists.”

But that’s a story for another time.

Back to this week’s adventure (spoiler alert, it did not end at Taco Bell, or at 3AM for that matter). We tried to once again visit the patio area of Nathan’s but as we walked out to that area we looked around to discover that there were only about a handful of very small tables that maybe would’ve fit about 1/4 of our usual food order. So that was disappointing.

I mean, I guess we could’ve all four just sat by ourselves and yelled from table to table. But that would’ve probably gotten annoying to the other patrons at the bar area out there, and we kind of didn’t feel like getting beat up that evening.

And we didn’t see menus anywhere, or anyone else eating on the patio … so by our secret decoder ring settings that usually implies that they don’t serve food in that part of the establishment.

Boooo.

So back inside we went. We grabbed a table along the far wall, and studied the helpful calendar of specials.

Hey look, it’s $4 burger night! And you know this group typically doesn’t turn down a burger. Or wings.

What are we on, like week #427 of mentioning that now?

Plus, trivia. I mean, granted we were down one member of the Moist Towlettes trivia team, but of course we weren’t about to let that stop us.

However, our general lack of knowledge for pretty much anything pertaining to this particular game of trivia did stop us from winning any portion of the game, but that’s neither here nor there.

WHAT WE ORDERED

Uh, duh. I pretty much already gave this one away. Even someone as awful as we were at trivia that evening could guess the answer to that question.

So Nathan’s classifies their burgers into categories: regular, super, mega, etc. Seems someone was a little overly concerned with size when they put this menu together, no?

I have to give props to our server, as she was a giant help in placing our orders. No complacent “everything here is good, can’t go wrong” answers from this one. She basically ordered Cassi’s entire meal for her, and had quick answers to the firing range of questions that were thrown at her during that process: which burger is better, mushroom or Italian? what’s better, fries or onion rings? which fries, steak or regular?

It was like watching an eye doctor go through the “which is better, one or two?” portion of the eye test, but at like 100x the normal speed. And some would argue with greater consequences.

BTW, the answers to those questions were Italian, fries and steak. Which is exactly what Cassi ordered.

I went for the lesser of the server’s choices in Cassi’s scenario, the mushroom Swiss burger. And the side salad, which no one asked about. Because, well, we all know this group doesn’t do vegetables well.

Ted got the mega-sized Big Piggy burger. Which was delivered looking just as unhealthy as it sounds.But it did come with its own very sharp utensil, so I guess I really should watch what I say about it.

Shane got the regular burger … and also the kielbasa burger. Because, why not? Clearly I’m eating all the vegetables in our family, so he has to take on some of the bad habits to make up for my health, right?

We should point out Shane was shocked to see that both of his sandwiches contained a burger patty. Wait, what now?

Yeah, he thought he was just ordering one burger, and the other would just be kielbasa on a bun. Ok. That might’ve made sense had that sandwich not also been listed under the section called “burgers.” But sure. Guess that extra meat was just bonus.

That what she … oh never mind.

We also started out with a nice big bowl of queso with tortilla chips, just for Ted.

Just kidding. That was for the entire table, minus Ted. He opted for fried pickles.

Let’s just talk for a moment about that sauce for the pickles, shall we? Oh wait, we couldn’t, because it was so spicy that all we could do after first trying it was gulp down about a gallon of water or whatever other beverage might have been sitting in front of us at that moment. Even habanero-eating Ted declared it to be “pretty spicy.”

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was also good. Just consider this more a word of warning to like not even think about trying it if your glass is almost empty.

Also, maybe don’t order the queso in the same sitting, or else you’ll leave thinking it had zero flavor. I’m sure it did have at least a little, but it was like just putting a bit of squashed, unseasoned cauliflower on a tortilla chip in comparison to the pickle sauce.

Plus we could’ve used about another whole serving of chips with the queso.

Oh, and in our never-ending quest to get hard seltzer at every single bar we visit, we were thrilled to discover they have both White Claw and Truly. But – in true “us” fashion – of course the flavors are held under top secret clearance until the server makes about 15 trips to our table. This evening our server was convinced there was a raspberry back there, until she returned holding mango.

So. Close.

AND THE VERDICT IS:

The burgers were really good. They were cooked to order, and actually stayed pretty close to those specifications. So Shane wasn’t going to die this time.

Always a plus. The Rail will clearly never be forgiven for their murderous attempts. Of like 5 years ago. But whatever.

Cassi thought her burger was a little too done for what was supposed to be medium well, and mine was just past well done for what was supposed to be medium – but regardless they still had good flavor.

I ended up not eating the bun because it was a little too toasted for my liking. Meanwhile, on the other side of the opposite train, Cassi thought hers had a mushy bottom.

This was also definitely one of the cheaper nights out for us in a while.

Cassi’s bill for herself was only $14. She spent more on alcohol ($4 each for each White Claw?!) than her $5 burger and $1 upgrade to fries.

#pride

Our bill was $39, which breaks down to two rum and cokes, two white claw, three burgers, and one app.

Not too shabby.

The service was far better than I think we expected to see when we walked into the place. Our server was always nearby and super friendly, greeted us promptly, and gave helpful recommendations.

Oh how our standards have fallen over the years, right? Like basically just pay attention to us and be friendly and we’ll love you forever. We’re like a group of stray puppies.

Which is what I’m sure you’d rather look at as opposed to the usual pictures of our group at the end of our posts … and since we forgot to take our pictures this week anyway, here you go.

You’re welcome.

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Jason’s back in rotation

WTGW 7/24/19: El Tren Mexican Restaurant, Tallmadge

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This week’s adventure begs the question: if there’s a national holiday for a beverage but yet the place you’re eating at doesn’t offer a special on it, is it really a holiday?

Technically El Tren is a revisit for 3/5 of this group, but let’s take a moment to break down the numbers: two of us have never been here before at all, three of us have been before but it was when the place was called Nuevo Acapulco (we think? there was some issue on that visit discerning exactly what website was used to find this magical place that supposedly had towers of margaritas but then no one knew what the hell we were talking about when we inquired about them), and out of those three, two have been back since it changed over to El Tren.

Confused yet?

Admittedly the two of us who had returned after the name change didn’t have the best luck, but we pretty much just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best this time around.

Because … National Tequila Day. And it was nice enough to sit on the patio.

So in the broad spectrum I guess we can consider this a win? I mean, even though … well … I’ll let you decide.

The What (we ordered)

So as I mentioned, it’s National Tequila Day, which means it’s just a tad sacrilegious to choose anything other than Mexican food, no? I mean even Ted gets a margarita on this holy day.

We’ll take all the tequila, please

Meanwhile Shane gets a rum and coke. OK.

For meals, we can break this down again into fractions, as 3/5 of the table chose the fajita quesadilla. Shane and Jason opted for steak, while Cassi chose chicken.

There seems to be a lot of math so far this week. Sorry about that. I’ll just leave you with one more little equation: 0% of those who ordered this dish got what they were expecting once the meals came out.

Like, what is that? Did they hear “appetizer quesadilla” and not “fajita quesadilla”? That looks like something you order at Applebee’s. I mean, being married to Shane for as long as I have been now, I can attest that this dish is his go-to order at any Mexican restaurant. And never once has it looked like this.

Except, well, the last time we came here. Oops. Shane said he forgot about that until the plate arrived in front of him. Like “hey what was that place that serves the child-sized portion of fajita quesadilla? Oh, right, this place.”

I got the chicken fajitas. Not the fajita quesadilla, just the regular fajitas. Otherwise known as that dish that gets delivered to the table basically still cooking on the plate so pretty much the entire restaurant can hear, see and smell it arriving at the correct table.

FYI, that didn’t happen here. But, you know, by the end of the evening that wasn’t exactly a shocker to us, since we were kind of just impressed that we got food of some kind brought out.

More on that later.

The chicken fajitas were ok – there was a lot of chicken with the onions and peppers – but it was a touch on the dry side. I eventually got some extra salsa to help with that, but let’s just say I was too hungry to wait as long as I would’ve needed to if I wanted it for the whole meal.

And then there Ted, getting some type of burrito.  I missed the name of the dish because I was paying too much attention to the special inquisition he was involved in with the server regarding the type of sauce inside the burrito and the possibility of it being cheese-based. Here the server was trying to educate Ted on the level of spiciness involved with the sauce, when really all he truly cared about was “is it made of cheese?”

That’s right, around Ted things can be spicy to the 1000th degree (habenero peppers, anyone?), just for the love of God don’t let it be made with or include any sort of cheese products.

Ted said his burrito was also really dry. And the sauce definitely had cheese in it. So that worked out well for him.

He also thought his meal should’ve come with rice and beans on the side. Because doesn’t pretty much every meal at a Mexican restaurant? Frankly I think we were shorted like three plates of rice and beans, but, again, at some point we just all agreed I think to be happy we were served anything with the rate at which we both saw our server and had things we ordered or asked for brought out to us.

Shane and I also ordered the tableside guacamole, because we remembered that being like the one thing that went well on any of our previous visits to this place. And I will say that once again, that was the best part of the meal. I mean, on one hand, for $9.95 it better be. But who can really complain when it’s made fresh next to your table and it comes in one of these awesome and much heavier than you think it would be bowls?

Cassi and Jason got the churry queso. I think in part to taunt Ted after the great cheese inquisition of 2019 during our orders. Because we all know that the one thing Ted loves more than asking to not have it placed anywhere near his meal is to sit at a table next to a vat of gooey, melted cheese, right?

Ironically, after these appetizers arrived, and after we asked twice, it still took a hot minute to get a few more baskets of chips. Because there’s only five of us at the table and two apps that require chips to be consumed. But sure.

The Who (we saw)

We have to admit we were shocked to arrive and find the patio surprisingly empty. Especially considering it was a beautiful night. And they do have a pretty great space outside. And, did we mention tequila holiday?

I’m going to attribute this to everyone else hearing of a tequila special we didn’t and going there instead. Dammit. Next time shoot us an invitation. I mean, why else do you think we joined social media after all these years?

(shameless plug, find us on Instagram @wheretogowednesdays and on Twitter @where_wednesday)

But at least it made for a nice quiet evening on the patio for us. Oh wait, until the gang of children started running around the patio full tilt. So it doubles as a playground, I guess? Good to know.

Because children running uncontrolled in places where adults are consuming alcohol seems like a splendid plan. I can’t imagine any possible scenario where that might be an issue.

For those of us who have visited El Tren before, our main complaint in the past has been the service. Hey, guess what? That hasn’t changed. Hats off to management for keeping stability in the lousiest of arenas. Kudos.

Drinks take approximately six hours each to arrive, so I can only assume they charter a plane and make a quick trip to Mexico to grab that tequila fresh each time someone orders something from the bar.

And then there was this fun little sitcom that took place with my order … so when meals arrived I was served a plate of chicken and peppers/onions, with no rice, beans or fajitas. Not really what I was expecting, but sure I’m trying to be a bit healthier here so thanks for reading my mind, not trusting me on my own and just removing the carbs from my field of vision.

But then about 10 minutes later some guy who wasn’t our server arrived with a package of fajitas to hand to me. Not wanting to be wasteful, I said thanks anyway but actually I’ll skip the fajitas, and can you just bring over some more salsa instead? He said sure … and then disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle of the restaurant, never to be seen again. Maybe he got called oto that Mexico charter for more tequila? Who knows.

So like 15 minutes later when our server finally made her way over to ask how things were, I asked again about some extra salsa. And that ask put me on the receiving end of not one, but two extra bowls of salsa … and another attempt at being delivered a package of fajitas.

Perhaps what we have is a lapse in communication. And they really, really wanted me to have those damn fajitas after all.

But the worst of it happened even later, when the server committed the epic fail for our group: trying to bring us our bills without asking if we needed anything else and just assuming we were ready to go. Because nothing says “I’ve loved taking care of you, please tip me kindly” like shoving customers out the door.

So we ordered another round just because. And the server was clearly annoyed. But the joke was on her because it took about 20 minutes to get that last round (fill up the plane, boys, we’ve got another round of drinks to get!), during which time all we did was calculate the ways her tip was getting smaller, while she still had to keep coming out to check on us.

Good times.

Ted thinks it all went downhill when we forgot to tip the guacamole guy. I think that may be solid logic.

The How (much we paid)

So, yeah, this was an expensive one, kids. Almost $90 for two people. Hey $5 burger specials from a week ago, we really, really miss you. Now granted about $40 of this week’s tab was alcohol … so, um, what was I saying about no tequila specials?

Also our server, in all her helpfulness to get us our bills promptly before we’d asked for them and essentially shove us out the door, of course got the bills all messed up. Seems the queen of assumptions, in her haste to be rid of us, thought she should split split the guacamole amongst the table, when it was clearly Shane and I who had ordered it and wasn’t about to subject the cost to the rest of the group. So we had her change that, but then when we got the bill back after that we also had Cassi and Jason’s meals instead of our own, plus their app. So they paid for one fajita quesadilla and my chicken fajitas instead of two fajita quesadillas, but we got two fajita quesadillas and both apps.

But our alcohol was right, so I guess that counts for something? I mean, usually that’s the part where people get confused, just because of the sheer amount that gets ordered.

What was I saying about the math portion of this post being finished? Oops.

The Why (they probably won’t see us again)

Well, I mean, unless we’re desperate. Or once again forget our past experiences. This one pretty much got an “eh” all around from our group. Well, except Jason, whose thumbs up makes me think perhaps he either wandered off to join another group for a while or maybe his drinks were made with the extra special tequila shipment.

I will admit that the patio atmosphere was perhaps worth the price of admission … or maybe at least the price of the guac and a couple of rounds of drinks. But then factor in the great invasion of the children and the amazingly awful service, and, well, let’s just say it would need to be a perfect storm of being on that side of town, not being very hungry and just wanting to sit on a patio that may or not be peaceful for us to actually consider going back there.

Picked by: Cassi
Next pick:  Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 1/15/19: Craft Cantina, Merriman Valley

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THE WHERE (we went)

That’s a question best answered by first telling you where we didn’t go: Springfield, Ohio. As is 180 miles away from us. Not Springfield Township, where we’ve been frequently. Jason learned an important lesson in checking the directions before thinking the place was too good to be true.

But, you know, if we ever are 180 miles away, the Hickory Inn sounds like an amazing pick. Just sayin’.

So we ended up with a collective vote to check out Craft Cantina in the Valley, after throwing out around 27 other options and driving aimlessly around Cuyahoga Falls for about 15 minutes. But at least that drive was educational, in that we learned the old Barmacy space in the Valley is currently uninhabited, and a sketch place in Akron that Shane has been eyeing doesn’t have food, so that was out as a pick.

Using our time wisely, folks.

Craft Cantina is also the younger and smaller sister to Crave Cantina, which we visited a while back when the then-new downtown Cuyahoga Falls location opened. So this isn’t exactly a revisit, more like just choosing another location of a chain, something some of us in the group are prone to doing every now and again. Not naming any names or anything.

THE WHAT (we ordered)

Drinks of course and foremost … because, well, you should know that about us by now. Plus we had just been driving around for what felt like an eternity so we had to make up for lost time.

Cassi and I went with mixed drinks. I highly recommend the Tiki Mojito. It was delicious.

Meanwhile, Shane ordered a beer, which Ted at least had the courtesy to wait until the server walked away before announcing that Shane would definitely not enjoy drinking.

Newsflash: Ted was right. His prize was Shane’s beer.

For apps Cassi and Jason got the Disco Fries. Which did not arrive with a tiny mirror ball attached to the plate, so I feel a little cheated and like that was a marketing opportunity completely lost.

So. Many. Possibilities.

Regardless, they said they were delicious. I guess that’s more important.

Shane and I got the queso dip with jalepenos. Or Rotel. Or something that gave it some chunkiness without a lot of spice. Which I realize sounds disgusting but trust me it was tasty. The chips were also really good – they had some sort of dusting on them, kind of like Dorito’s in training.

All of us did some fashion of the make your own tacos or bowls – the ordering system of which pretty much confused the hell out of most of us, but somehow we powered through. I mean, I get that this is the new trend for Mexican and Latin American restaurants, but some direction might be helpful. From the server. Or the menu itself. Or, well, anywhere really.

I did the make your own bowl with steak.

It was just OK. The steak wasn’t very good, and the bowl overall just didn’t seem to have a ton of flavor. Maybe that goes back to the whole guidance on ordering thing, as I could’ve probably used some in the area of “sauces-that-add-flavor-without-sacrificing-every-one-of-your-taste-buds-or-your-will-to-live.”

Jason made his own giant burrito with brisket and pineapple. Let’s just say that they aren’t kidding about that giant thing.

This photo seems aggressive

This was something Shane probably would’ve preferred to know before he placed his order – which was not only a create-your-own flank steak burrito, but also one of the fried chicken tacos.

One of these things is unnecessary

Shane ate his taco first, something that probably contributed to his later taking half of his burrito home with him. Because we all know how it pains anyone at this table to ask for a to-go box.

Jason ate his entire burrito, but was a bit regretful of that afterwards.

Ted got three tacos – one of the Buttermilk Fried Chicken tacos from the House Specialties section of the menu, and then two tacos that he created himself – a blackened chicken with pineapple, and a fried chicken with Verde sauce.

He liked the fried chicken the best. He said they were all good, bit that was the favorite.

Just to be clear, I’m still not exactly certain how the fried chicken and the buttermilk fried chicken are different from one another. I mean, aside from the absence of buttermilk in one of them and all. Come on now. But like who knew there were two ways to make fried chicken that goes on tacos?

He also got a side of dirty rice. Because there clearly wasn’t enough food already on the table.


Cassi made her own tacos – one with chorizo and one with fish.

She liked one better than the other. I could let you guess, but let’s just say that the one that rhymed with “dish” was the clear winner.

We also got orders of house made fresh guacamole – pico for me and Shane, cotija cheese for Cassi and Jason. And yes I had to consult the menu in order to get the spelling of that cheese correct. Listening to Shane try to pronounce it resulted in several variations that aren’t suitable for print.

It pains me to even have to say this, but the guacamole was a little disappointing. Shane said it had too much lemon. The rest of us thought it didn’t have too much of anything, except maybe avacados.

We also had to order the entire large side order just so that Shane could have guac as a side for his burrito – since this whole fresh-made system means you can’t just get a small portion slapped into a tiny side container like in regular Mexican restaurants. That seems excessive, no?

I mean, I’m only sort of complaining, because you really do’t have to twist my arm to eat guac. Even when it’s not to tasty. And of course there were more of those Dorito-ish chips, because we definitely could’ve eaten our weight in those throughout the course of the evening. And don’t think we didn’t try.

THE WHO (we saw)

No one. Literally no one.

Well, OK, the server like two or three times. And one other group at the bar. But in the dining room, yeah, well, we were kind of it.

We also think Elton John might’ve been there in spirit, as the jukebox literally never stopped playing his songs. So either someone before us played the joke of programming the next five hours of songs on their way out the door, or one of the staff members really, really likes his work. Or maybe they got a deal on the machine since it can only play his music. We may never know.

THE HOW (much we spent)

Well I forgot to note the receipt, so it’s hard to answer that one in this post. It’s a new concept for the blog, it takes some getting used to. Stop badgering me.

THE WHY (they will/won’t see us again)

Well I’m sure they would like for us to come back, since it seemed like they could use the business. And I think we all would go back, just maybe order something slightly different than what we got this time around. Shane and Jason said they would just get the tacos again, but not the burritos. They said they “were too much.” And those are definitely not words that get thrown around lightly in this group. I would get a bowl again, but not the steak and definitely with more spicy sauce of some kind.

Of course, given the ordering system, we might try to order something different and then end up with the exact same thing we got this time without even trying. Hard to say.

Picked by: Jason

Jason

Jason, mid-decision

Cassi

Ted

Shane

Steph

WTGW 12/26/18: The Crazy Chicken, Green

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So Shane and I literally drive past this place at least once a month, but somehow we missed the moment when it magically changed names from Tommy Li’s to The Crazy Chicken.

I mean, they sound so similar I can see how we missed this.

Anyway.

Seems the new name hasn’t exactly brought in the crowds, though, because despite a combination of being there in time for Happy Hour and also on wing night, we were only one of about a handful of tables in the entire place. I mean, I get that it’s a Wednesday night and it’s also the day after Christmas, so maybe people are still home gorging themselves on leftover ham and not particularly craving chicken?

We’ll go with that.

Given that there weren’t many of us there, it seems logical that they would sit the group of five of us in a booth. Because that’s always super comfortable given the amount of food we order. Guess in this case our reputation definitely did not precede us.

We didn’t complain, though, because as I mentioned we actually made it there in time for Happy Hour – so therefore getting settled in time to order a few rounds of drinks and cheap apps took precedence over everything else. I mean, when you can get a draft domestic beer, a order of egg rolls and an order of crab Rangoon for a grand total of $7.50, you jump on that.

Clearly we have our priorities in proper order.

Also, you may be asking yourself – wait, what’s this with egg rolls and crab Rangoon, at a place called The Crazy Chicken? Yeah, we kind of were, too. The menu reads similar to our amazing sushi and pub pick from almost a year ago with an interesting mix of Asian and American cuisine.

We’re all a bit shocked Ted didn’t discover this place before Shane.

In any case, we ended up with two orders of crab Rangoon – one for me and Shane, and one for Cassi and Jason.

Winner winner chicken dinner. Or something like that.

Wait, make that three orders – Cassi took one bite of theirs and decided they needed another order before the special pricing ran out. Because nothing says “I’m not sharing” like immediately ordering another plate.

Shane and I also got an order of chips and salsa. Because why not throw some Mexican food into the mix, too, right?

Of course we order the most non-Asian thing on the menu

Ted got the edamame. I’m not sure I realized that until it arrived and I asked what the hell was so garlicky that I was smelling. Shane – who was seated right next to it – immediately outed Ted’s food as the reason we would be vampire-free for the evening.

Several cloves of garlic were harmed in the making of these

As mentioned, Wednesdays are wing night, which meant regular wings were 77 cents each. On any other night you can get 5 for $4.99, which works out to about 99 cents each. Or 5 boneless for $3.99. Wait, what? How does that work out? Usually those are more expensive.

Maybe that’s why this place is so “crazy.”

The guys sort of ordered wings as appetizers, since they also got full sandwich meals along with their wing orders. Or at least that was the explanation we gave ourselves when the wings were the first things to show up at the table after the real apps.

Cajun dry rub for Ted

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen garlic parm as a cream sauce before, but OK.

Honey mustard for Jason

Never mind that Cassi and I had ordered side salads. I mean, those must be really complex to put together compared to running a deep fryer? Seems that way, as a full 10 minutes after the wings arrived we finally were served our plates of lettuce and assorted other plain vegetables.

Well this looks like something I could make at home

Cassi declared them the “saddest looking salads ever,” due mostly to the fact that they were missing the cheese. She definitely remembered reading on the menu that there would be cheese.

Jason: I think Ted ordered no cheese for the entire table, sorry.

Dammit, Ted.

At least the wings made up for it. I got 5 of the Cajun dry rub and 5 of the whisky glaze. Cassi had 10 of the boneless Asian. The consensus of the entire table was that the wings were very good. They were decent sized, and the various flavors were all what we were hoping for. Personally I thought that the Cajun dry rub had a bit more spice than I was expecting – not in a bad way, but typically those aren’t overly spicy. Meanwhile Ted, who ordered the same kind, thought otherwise. Clearly our taste buds are not soulmates.

Dry rub and not dry rub

And the chicken minus bones

It wasn’t long after mine and Cassi’s wings came out that they brought the burgers and sandwiches that rounded out our meals.

This included a Black and Blue burger for Shane, which is a burger topped with bleu cheese and bacon.

There seems to be a lot going on there

Jason got the Crazy burger. What makes it crazy, you ask? Well I’m not really sure, because the description just says it includes a fried egg and bacon. See also: the same burger that one or another of us has ordered at other restaurants under the name breakfast burger, sunrise burger, burger with fried egg. But, sure, crazy works, too.

Watch out, it’s getting crazy up in here

And Ted got the Western chicken sandwich, which was chicken topped with onion straws, bbq sauce, yum yum sauce – oh, and bacon, because apparently everything under a bun here includes that as a staple condiment. OK.

This looks easy to eat, no?

When he placed his order, Shane made sure to ask how the burgers were cooked. The server said they always cook the burgers medium well, but could specifically do something different if asked. Seems reasonable. And of course Shane said he’d like his medium rare.

Yeah, it still came out with zero pink in it, so clearly we need a refresher course in the various stages or meat cooking. But good thing he said something or else it probably would’ve been charbroiled.

Even so, it was still deemed good. The only regret Shane had in ordering it was that it was the only item on our bill over $10. If it had tasted bad he really would’ve been sorry about that, but being that it was good he didn’t think about it too much.

For as much as we complained that our server didn’t seem to be moving too fast when we sat down – which of course we thought would be hampering our ability to order as much as we wanted at the happy hour pricing – it all turned out OK. She even put my last martini in at the $5 price, even though I’m sure it was ordered well after the time frame.

All in all, a delicious meal in a very non-presumptuous space. The service was good, there are plenty of TVs around the space if you’re looking to watch a game, and drinks were well poured – and cheap, if you make it for happy hour, anyway. While the menu is an interesting mix of bar food and Asian influence, somehow it works – maybe because everything we tried tasted really good.

Shane was shocked when Cassi admitted she really liked this place, as usually she’s not a fan of his picks. Maybe it was because this one had more than two things on the menu? Just a thought.

Picked by: Shane

Shane

Steph

Cassi

Jason

Ted

WTGW 10/12/16: Tacos Mexicanos, Macedonia

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Alternate title to this post: always judge a Mexican place on their ability to make margaritas.

More on that in a minute.

So, since Ted was enjoying a week in Florida and didn’t even consider the option of flying back just to participate in WTGW (boo, hiss), I took advantage of his absence to choose one of the lesser chosen WTGW ethnic foods – Mexican. You know, because they usually slather everything in cheese, and we all know by now that’s like Ted’s version of hell.

I was told about Tacos Mexicanos by a coworker, who said she drives past it every night on her way home and that it was always packed – particularly on $1.00 “Taco Tuesdays.”

Needless to say, since tonight was not a Tuesday, nor were the tacos $1.00, it was a little less packed this evening. Just keep that in mind as you read on.

I noticed on the specials board as we entered that they were featuring a pumpkin margarita. My initial reaction was that that sounded kind of interestingly gross … but then I thought what the hell, it is fall after all, and if they can pumpkin out everything from cream cheese to potato chips, I may as well give it a shot.

Let’s just day I should’ve trusted my first instinct.

The best way I can possibly describe this drink is that is looks like butternut squash soup, but tastes like tequila with a bit of a spice aftertaste.

Sounds delightful, no?

Margaritas should not be this color. Ever.

Margaritas should not be this color. Ever.

Shane and Jerrid both opted for the mango strawberry margaritas. And I was extremely jealous … until Shane eventually took pity on me sitting there sullenly stirring my margarita and traded his mango strawberry for my pumpkin. Not because he thought mine was good, mind you, but more because he was worried I would waste alcohol. Priorities.

Yeah, well, the mango strawberry isn’t much better. It was basically a crapload of tequila, with a little bit of some fruit flavor that tasted neither like strawberries or mangoes.

Better color, not better flavor.

Better color, not better flavor.

So that begs the question, how can you trust a Mexican place that can’t make a good margarita? It’s like sacriligious.

It was about this time that Amanda realized she and Jerrid had actually been to Tacos Mexicanos once before, back when the place first opened … and they didn’t have their liquor license yet so they couldn’t serve alcohol.

I might suggest they go back to that idea until they hire a bartender that knows more about mixing drinks. Until then it seems they’re just wasting cheap tequila.

Anyway.

So onto food. Since all the pictures kind of look alike (as you’ll have at a Mexican place), I’ll try to keep these straight.

Amanda got the burrito Mexicano.

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take one

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take one

Jerrid got the beef chimichangas.

Mexican stuff in shells with sauce and cheese, take two

Mexican stuff in shells with sauce and cheese, take two

I got the fire burrito.

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take three. No wonder they only have like three things photographed on the menus

Mexican stuff in a shell with sauce and cheese, take three. No wonder they only have like three things photographed on the menus

Shane got the quesadilla skillet – after much debate since they didn’t have his usual fajita quesadilla.

Shane's looks like a pizza

Shane’s looks like a pizza

 

All of the above was just OK. None of us really had anything much specific to say about it – I mean, it was typical Mexican food. Put lots of meat, sauce and cheese into or on top of a tortilla shell, then serve with rice, beans, more sauce and more cheese. Repeat.

Shane did mention that his quesadilla could’ve used more filling. And I will say that I agree with that. Mine in particular was pretty much just shredded chicken inside the shell, no veggies or sauce or anything. Because that screams flavorful.

Although somehow that did make it super hot. Must’ve been the sauce on the top – and maybe I should be glad there was none inside, because wherever this heat was coming from, it was most certainly enough. And before all you smartasses point it out, yes, I know that I ordered the “fire burrito.” Clearly they got one thing right in this place with that title. Just one.

Also, the irony of the lack of a good margarita to wash this down was not lost on me.

So already we have two strikes … let’s just add one more with the service. For starters, part of the reason we – and I assume about half of America – go to Mexican restaurants is for the promise of never-ending free basket of chips and salsa that just seems to regenerate at your table nonstop all night long.

Am I wrong?

Well, let’s just say don’t arrive here hungry.

As usual, Amanda and Jerrid had been there for a little bit before Shane and I arrived, and were almost through the first basket of chips and bowl of salsa when we sat down. So you’d think when the server noticed two new people joined the table they would bring more, right? Yeah, no. We waited. And waited. And ordered our drinks. And waited. And ordered our meals. And got our crappy drinks. And then FINALLY someone asked if we wanted more chips and salsa. Um, yes. Was it that fact that we were pretty much fighting over the tiny scraps and crumbs at that point that tipped you off?

And then one our food arrived, Shane was waiting on his side of guac for almost as long as the refreshment of chips – and keep in mind he won’t start eating his food until he has it, so you’d think the fact that one plate was untouched at our table would be cause for a server to stop and ask how we were doing. But once again, you’d be wrong.

I guess the moral here is to stop thinking.

So by about 7:30PM, the place was pretty empty, only us and about two other tables. And yet the service didn’t get any better, considering they had fewer tables to check on. Did they send the servers home with the guests? Were there bartending lessons going on somewhere? (that I might be able to forgive, just sayin) Do they keep the actual good margaritas in the back and the servers go back and get sloshed on them after 7:00?

It’s a mystery, folks. And one I’m not interested in going back to find out the answer to.

Amanda

Amanda

Jerrid

Jerrid

Shane

Shane

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Amanda
Tacos Mexicanos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 8/31/16: Bomba Rum & Tacos, Fairlawn

Standard

OK, let’s be honest, do I even need to write a review here? I mean, this place has the words “tacos” (delicious) and “rum” (even more delicious) right in the title. Could anything be more up our alley? It’s like someone fashioned a WTGW oasis just to lure our group into its clutches. The only thing more appealing to us might be if someone opened a place just called “Cheap Wings and Beer.” I mean, really.

So it’s probably no surprise that both Shane and I had been eyeing this place up since it opened a few months back. On many occasions we’ve been in the area and almost just broke down and stopped in for dinner, but were trying to hold out to use it as a pick.

Must. Not. Break. Down.

The struggle is real, kids.Bomba Tacos and Rum, Fairlawn

Bomba is located in the old Hudson’s Restaurant space in the Montrose Center in Fairlawn. Having been to Hudson’s a few times, I can say Bomba definitely gutted the place when they moved in, as it’s barely recognizable now that it’s been redone. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I mean, Hudson’s was OK – but I always thought parts of it needed more lighting. Like they were going for that romantic date spot, but when a few of the tables around us had like four kids with them then the darkness just kinda came off as a bit creepy. No wonder the kids are crying, they can’t see what you’re feeding them.

Anyway.

In contrast, Bomba has a great atmosphere, very open and much brighter. There was also patio seating, although we didn’t opt for that since it looked like the skies might open at any moment. And you know our luck there.

So when you’re in a place that has the word “rum” in the title, it makes perfect sense that Ted gets a beer. Because, well, Ted.

Well at least "Lagunitas" sounds Mexican, no?

Well at least “Lagunitas” sounds Mexican, no?

I mean, he did redeem himself later by switching to a mojito, but sheesh. Damage done.

I got the Tropical Mango White Sangria, which sounded delicious on the menu but ended up tasting a little less so when I actually tried it. Kinda like those deceptive beer descriptions I always want to volunteer to compose.

I should know by now not to trust descriptions

I should know by now not to trust descriptions

Jerrid got the Brazilian Red Sangria – which also sounded delicious – and he was far happier with that one than I was with mine.

Check out the size of that berry!

Check out the size of that berry!

But it was Shane who once again won the drink lottery with the Blackberry Ginger Mojito. One sip and I knew that’s what I would be switching to next. It was similar to the mules we had at Caston & Main a few weeks back. He’s on fire with his choices lately.

Winner winner chicken dinner

Winner winner chicken dinner

And for Amanda … water. Boo.

No rum for you!

No rum for you!

For appetizers, Shane and I picked the bacon wrapped jalepenos – which Shane liked but I wasn’t crazy about. I didn’t think they had much flavor. So either I got the lame pepper with no taste, or my taste buds are permanently scarred from weeks of hot wings.

That's not a hot dog. Really.

That’s not a hot dog. Really.

Jerrid and Amanda got the beef empanadas. Which, aside from just being fun to say, were tasty.

Fun to say, good to eat

Fun to say, good to eat

We also got an order of the fire-roasted salsa for the table (this is one of those “fancy” Mexican places where you have to order the chips & salsa/guac, they don’t just bring it to the table automatically) as well as the house made guac. Because it’s made fresh when you order it, they have stuff you can add in to make it your own custom mix. Our server was kind enough to suggest a few things that he usually adds to his … but we just went with plain for our first try. Because, honestly, some of the add-ins seem a bit strange. Candied pumpkin seeds? Chipotle honey? Goat cheese? We’re simple folks. Just bring us the green stuff to dip our chips in. For reals.

We like our guac non-fancy, just tasty

We like our guac non-fancy, just tasty

Speaking of chips, this might be a good time to mention that they’re also on the fancy side. The chip baskets include four different kinds of chips – yucca, plantain, malanga (five dollars to the first person who can tell me what that actually is – without googling it), and regular corn – so of course the new table game became “guess what strange toasted substance you’re using as a vehicle to get the salsa/guac into your mouth.”

Good times.

At least I’m happy to say that we chose wisely, and the plain guac was really very good. As was the salsa. And most of the chips. Although I honestly can’t tell you which ones we liked least, because, as I mentioned, I still don’t think we really knew what we were eating.

Toast and salsa?

Toast and salsa?

Moving on.

To tacos. So, remember what our table looked like last week at Cruiser’s with our little wing fest? Well, just picture that same thing for this week, but with tacos.

So the gist of this place is that basically they have a bunch of different kinds of tacos, and they’re all a la carte, so you can mix & match. They’re all like $3 or $4 each, and they recommend 2-3 per person.

And now comes the part of the review where I test my own memory and ability to take notes, since, well, let’s face it, pretty much all tacos look the same in pictures.

I got the potato chorizo, braised beef and spicy shrimp, along with a side of mango cilantro rice. The spicy shrimp was definitely my favorite, it was for reals spicy – but in a you’re-killing-your-taste-buds-for-good-reason kind of way. I thought I would like the beef the best but when it turned out that it was primarily jalepenos, I decided that wasn’t so much a winner. The rice was delicious.

That rice was a meal in itself

That rice was a meal in itself

Amanda had the blackened fish, potato chorizo and chipotle ground beef. She liked the chorizo the best. She and Jerrid also got a side of the adobo fries, which she hardly touched because the three tacos were enough to make her quite full.

Same shells, different filling

Same shells, different filling

Ted went with the blackened fish (the server highly recommended this one and said that was his favorite … can you tell?), crispy fish, smoked brisket and slow braised duck. He said the dusk was his favorite. He thought the blackened fish didn’t have much flavor (in your face, server). The other two were OK but the definite winner for him was the duck.

Ted's side dish was apparently an extra taco

Ted’s side dish was apparently an extra taco

Jerrid had blackened fish (seriously, I’m getting tired of typing that), bbq pork and smoked brisket. Agreed that the fish wasn’t the best. He liked the pork and brisket though.

They're all starting to look the same

They’re all starting to look the same

And then there’s Shane … who went the “Ted’s getting a beer” route for his meal, ordering the Smoked Brisket Torta (that’s a fancy way of saying sandwich – I only know that from reading it on the menu) with adobo fries. Or adobE fries, as he called them. Like the photoshop software. Because who doesn’t like a little lesson in filters and levels while they eat french fries. Whatevs. He said the brisket was a little dry, and he compared the bread to an English muffin. Hmm, that’s not so tasty.

That doesn't look like tacos. Where are we Shane?

That doesn’t look like tacos. Where are we Shane?

He did mention that he thought it would’ve been better with some guac on it. Because woudn’t everything really?

Overall Bomba is a fun place with great options if you’re in the mood for tacos and don’t want the cookie-cutter options at the local Mexican joint. It’s a little pricy, but the a la carte is nice so you can try different things – or get a whole bunch of the one thing you try and decide you like. They had rice bowls that looked intriguing also, I would be willing to return to try one of those at some point. The chips and salsa/guac were good – although I’m still not sold on the list of additional add-ins, but that’s just me and my somewhat uncultured taste buds, perhaps. And I’m not a fan of straight-up rum without some type of mixer, but if you’re into that kind of thing they also have a ton of flights and sampling options for you to find the one that suits you best. I could see this being a good spot for a late night snack and drinks, or maybe a midday late lunch with day drinking. Because who doesn’t love cocktails at like 2PM? I mean, other than your boss when you’re supposed to be at work … but that’s a whole other blog there I suppose …

Ted

Ted

Shane

Shane

Jerrid

Jerrid

Amanda

Amanda

Steph

Steph

Picked by: Steph
Next pick: Amanda asked for a week off, since she just started this new job that puts her on a regular schedule and back to being with us on Wednesdays. So Ted’s up next week.

Bomba Tacos & Rum Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

WTGW 9/17/14: Nuevo Acapulco, Tallmadge

Standard

No, your calendars aren’t fooling you – we did skip a week of WTGW. With Ted out of town for work the week of his pick and a crazy tornado outbreak in our area, we decided it might be best to hunker down at home instead of venturing out. Call us rational, I guess.

(PS – for the record, tornadoes are pretty much the exact opposite of patio weather, Mother Nature. Stop effing with us on Wednesdays. Seriously.)

So, fast forward to this week, when I get a text from Ted debating between two destinations for this week’s pick. When I clicked on the link he sent me for Nuevo Acapulco via my phone, it took me to a landing page touting that “the tower of beer or margaritas is back!” I immediately told him that’s not a nice thing to send to someone at 5:30 pm on a Tuesday. And that I didn’t care what the other option was because this place wins, hands down.

So here we are.

Only it turns out he didn’t send me a link to the right website. The waiter’s blank stare when we asked about it gave that away pretty quickly. And honestly, I’d like to link to the page here … but we still aren’t really sure what the correct website is for this location. Google it, you’ll see what I mean.

On another note, Amanda also thought from the name of the place that we were going to some new Mexican restaurant downtown with a rooftop patio. So clearly we were all confused.

In any case, this place is just off the circle in Tallmadge, in the former Erie Station Grille – and still has the old sign on the side of the building and the train cars on the former tracks outside. Because nothing says “Mexican restaurant” like a portion of a railroad train positioned just off the patio.

Hey, if it's already on the property, why move it right?

Hey, if it’s already on the property, why move it right?

Oddest Mexican restaurant patio ever.

Oddest Mexican restaurant patio ever.

The place is pretty large inside, and it wasn’t by any means full or overly busy. But we still had to wait a hot minute for a table to be bused for us. Hmm. We’ll call that strike #1.

Our waiter was clearly new. Shane thought he recognized him from another Mexican place in town – which if that was the case then we’ll probably be seeing him at another one in the near future because based on our experience I’m not guessing he left the last place by choice. Because we’ll call him strikes #2 – approximately 57. And really our biggest complaint about the place.

Let’s start with drinks. We all ordered margaritas – well, except Shane, who was trying to be “healthier” and went with a Miller Lite. For real? I mean, who a) does that at a Mexican place, and b) really touts Miller Lite for exceptional health benefits? Seriously. At least margaritas are fruit flavored. Anyway, our lovely waiter didn’t ask us what size margaritas we wanted, so we ended up with what I think must’ve been the largest ones on the menu. I mean, I know we asked about the Tower of Margaritas and all, but just because you didn’t have it didn’t mean we all wanted our own individual one.

Peach and mango flavored margaritas

Peach and mango flavored margaritas … well kind of anyway

Tequila flavored margarita

Tequila flavored margarita

One of these things is not like the other. And for once Ted isn't the one holding it.

One of these things is not like the other. And for once Ted isn’t the one holding it.

And another fun trick: when we got the bill at the end of the night, the price for said huge drinks didn’t match anything on the menu. Huh? We finally kind of put the pieces together and deduced that  the Tower of Margaritas conversation had kind of led to talk about the different kinds of margaritas they DO offer, then Ted had asked the server about top shelf tequila in drinks … then the server just pretty much assumed top shelf was the kind we wanted. Um, no. First of all, we shouldn’t have to be CSI detectives to figure out our bills. And second of all, the joke was kind of on him, since the margaritas were so strong that we only ended up ordering one each. And barely finishing them. I had mango (which probably would’ve been good if made with less tequile), Amanda had peach (which she said just tasted like tequila) and Ted had original (which I guess is supposed to taste like tequila, so score for him?).

But don't pay attention to the prices, because they won't match anything you see on your final bill.

But don’t pay attention to the prices, because they won’t match anything you see on your final bill.

So there’s that. Let’s move on to appetizers.

We asked for the tableside-prepared guac as our appetizer, since we had seen others rave about it on reviews for the place. And then we never got it. And never even saw our server to ask about it. It wasn’t until we were getting our meals that we finally were able to remind him about the guac – which clearly he just forgot about – and to which he replied “Well, do you still want it?” Um. no, I thought I’d ask about it just for fun. Actually, it’s a little game we play where we order an appetizer and then take bets about whether or not we think it will really get delivered to us, or if we’ll starve waiting for it! Super fun, right? Tell your friends!

Ugh.

Sidenote – the guac actually is really good. Although we all agreed we were glad it was mixed tableside, because if he had to make it fresh in the backroom I’m sure we all would’ve probably been a little nervous about what extra “flavor” he might’ve added to it in the process.

I know, it looks disgusting. But it tastes delicious, trust us.

I know, it looks disgusting. But it tastes delicious, trust us.

Ted and his new friend

Ted and his new friend

At least the bowl was entertainment for us. It was like our new pet.

I think what it kind of boiled down to was that we clearly weren’t as interesting as the table of two single ladies near us, who our server kept stopping to chat with. And then had the staff come sing happy birthday to – after we overheard the conversation where one of them admitted to an upcoming birthday, and he asked “Well don’t you want today to be your birthday, since you’re here?”

(Just for the record, when you’re in a Mexican restaurant, the answer to that question is always NO. Always.)

Just after this he also told the couple at the table behind us that he “wasn’t that busy tonight, was kind of bored” – but throughout the evening he barely stopped to check on us, forgot our guac, forgot the water Shane asked for at the beginning of the meal (and when he finally was reminded and brought it later, he brought two glasses and tried to give it to another table).

And so it goes …

Other than the service things were good. We all got some sort of burrito – I had chicken chipotle (spicier than I thought it would be but still very good), Amanda and Shane both had the steak burrito, and Ted had the macha burrito. Everything was delicious, and of course we ate way more than we should’ve. Chips and salsa were replenished several times (not by our waiter, of course, but another server – thankfully, or else we’d probably still be scraping up crumbs to fight over while waiting on a second basket) and were very good.

Spicy burrito and not so spicy burrito

Spicy burrito and not so spicy burrito

And of course, there’s this:

Creepy shadowy engineer Ted

Creepy shadowy engineer Ted

I may have nightmares about this photo

I may have nightmares about this photo

CAPSULE

Picked by:  Ted
Drinks: They lose a few points for reeling us in with the Tower of Margaritas, then not actually having it. But they clearly have tequila – or at least they did, before they made our drinks. I think most of what they had ended up in there. 
Food:
 Typical Mexican, and as usual good portions for a good price.
Service: Hopefully the guy we had will be on to the next local Mexican place by the time you visit, because he was the big thumbs down of the evening.
Overall: Good food, not good service.

Next Pick: Shane