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


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






WTGW 6/14/17: Crave Cantina, Cuyahoga Falls


Wait, what, there’s a new taco joint in our backyard? Please, twist our arms to try this one.

Crave Cantina opened just a few weeks ago, a spinoff from the same owners of the Akron-based restaurant of close-to-the-same-name, Crave. We see what you did there, owners. The new Cantina is located in the old Firehouse restaurant on Front Street in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, which looks like a war zone now (note to ladies, heels may not be the best choice for navigating the walkway from any parking area to the front door, trust me on this one) but once the street renovation project is completed should be fabulous.

Speaking of parking, it took us a hot minute to find a lot and a spot – which of course caused us all to think there would be a wait for a table once we finally got into the restaurant. And the hostess didn’t help things much, as we’ve learned the hard way that being greeted with the question “do you have a reservation?” typically leads into the “well, unfortunately we currently have a wait until about 2025 if you don’t have a reservation” let down. Especially when a place is less than a month old.

But luck was on our side this evening, as our “no” to the reservation interrogation was followed with “OK, well follow me this way.” Yes, please. Gladly.

Also, it should be noted that we don’t do reservations for WTGW. Well, except if you’re Ted and you want to check out Gus’s Chalet. Just saying.

Our first observation after we were seated was that they definitely put some energy into changing the place up from its last incarnation as Firehouse. Let’s just say that our few experiences at that particular establishment were not good ones, so noticing that it was freshened up – and cleaned up – was a good sign. Although we did notice that the wall on the one side of the back area where we sat – which you’ll see in the pic of Ted later – looked a little like the street outside (maybe they’re waiting to match it to said street?), but other than that the place looks great.

Crave is also part of this new trend of “fancy” Mexican places, where instead of the generic menu-that-could-be-placed-at-any-Mexican-place-in-the-city-involving-dishes-made-from-a-combination-of-rice-and-beans-and-some-sort-of-corn-or-flour-shell-filled-item, everything is pretty much a la carte. Tacos with interesting fillings are individually purchased at $3 or $4 each, and then you can add sides if you like. There are a few entrees, and some intriguing appetizers, but the focus is more on creating combinations of your own than a standard menu.

Which also means … no free chips and salsa as soon as you sit down. This is one part of “fancy Mexican” I certainly can’t get behind.

Because of this, and the fact that (as usual) we were “hungry enough to eat the entire menu” as soon as we got there, Shane and I ordered the chips and quacamole as an app. We did the trio of three different guacs: traditional, mango, and charred corn.

Mix and match

Unfortunately it seems that we probably could’ve stuck with just one guac option, as they all tasted the same to us. And trust me, we tried really hard to make comparisons. But we honestly felt they were all extremely similar. Three bowls of green dip, with nothing much to distinguish one from the other. Well, OK, one had some chunks of mango on top. But if you closed your eyes and just did a taste test, it was very difficult to tell one from another. Also, chunks of corn are surprisingly similar to chunks of mango when placed in a green substance. Just an observation.

At least they brought us extra chips to help finish off the guac

Meanwhile, on the fancypants side of the table, Ted went with the Yellowtail Cerviche as an app. And yes, I had to consult the menu online before I typed that.

It apparently tastes better than it looks

He was far more pleased with his app than we were with ours. He gave it a thumbs up, saying that the sweet potatoes on top were tasty, and the nuts (at least that’s what he thought they were?) were a good contrast. And the dish as a whole was sweet.

You know, unlike other dishes we’ve had in the past.

Yes, I just made another Gus’s Chalet reference. It was that kind of night.

We also, of course, got margaritas. Or, at least Shane and I did – Ted made up for his highbrow appetizer by ordering a boring old beer. Boo. We shared a pitcher of passion fruit margaritas … which, strike two for us, I guess, as we weren’t thrilled with the flavor. The taste – what there was of it – was a bit tart. I probably wouldn’t go that route again.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, we still finished it. Please. But for next time we made a mental note that we should probably try something else from the drink menu. Maybe Ted was smart after all.

We also got this lovely bottle of water for the table.

Fancy water to go with the fancy food

This is awfully classy for a Wednesday night out, people. I mean, it has a cork in it. And it’s water.

Although Shane pointed out that if the bottle were plastic and not glass he would probably have thought they just recycled one of those old cheap vodka bottles with the built in handles on the sides. Point, Shane.

For meals, Ted again got something I can’t pronounce or spell, so let me consult the online menu … Pollo la Braza. Which I think must translate into “entire chicken on a bed of fried plantains.” And also without flavor, according to Ted. He said he expected it to be spicier, but if was almost like just a rotisserie chicken with rosemary flavor. And the fried plantains (wait, that’s what we were calling them all night … but it turns out after I look at the online menu those were actually yucca fries. Are they the same thing? I took German in high school, folks. Spanish is lost on me) Anyway, those were good as long as you used the sauce on the plate to dip them in. He definitely preferred his appetizer over the main dish.

Here’s your half a chicken, sir

Shane and I went the taco route. I got three total – although in retrospect I should’ve only gotten two. When we asked how big the tacos were – because at these places they can be anything from two bites to the size of a frisbee – the server told us they were about as big in diameter as one of the small plates on the table.

So either she was off on her comparison, or – more likely – I was using hangry eyes when I ordered, because the tacos we got seemed far bigger than the size of those dishes. Bigger is better? No?

In any case, I chose the chicken, the chorizo and the ground beef.

I was too hungry to note which was which. Sorry.

Shane was in the same bottomless pit of hunger boat as me, and got five total – two brisket, one chorizo, one buttermilk fried chicken and one flank steak.

Come hungry, leave happy. Wait, wrong restaurant.

I also got a completely unnecessary side of rice. Because, again, eyes bigger than stomach. I should also point out that this side was the one and only thing that I could probably walk into any Mexican place and obtain. So I wasn’t really missing out on much by not finishing that.

Extra food. Because we never have that at our table.

I liked all of my tacos. The chicken one had good flavor all around, but the other two got most of their flavor from the sauces and not the meat. That being said, I would still order them all again, but I would also really like to try some others on the menu.

Shane adamantly disagreed with me about the chorizo. He thought it was lacking in flavor overall. He thought the buttermilk fried chicken and the flank steak were the best of his – he said would’ve been happy with just those two and maybe one more as far as being full, but definitely those two in terms of flavor. The others were a disappointment in comparison.

Thus followed a conversation about the merits of eating the best food first versus last – as Shane had eaten his two best tacos first, since those were the ones he was the least sure about and thought he would like least, and then was stuck with the actual least liked ones to finish things out. See also: why I’m prone to taking a bite of each and then deciding what order to eat them in. Don’t judge.

Overall Crave Cantina is a decent place. The service was good, although we think our server may have been new to the business since she was a bit timid (I mean, come on, even though we were hungry we’re not that intimidating … usually …) but she was still OK. And while we were a bit hit and miss on our meals and drinks … the concept and the space (and the fact that they’re kind of still getting their feet wet at this location) are enough to make us want to come back and try out some different things on the menu that we passed up this time around. It reminded us of places like Bomba in Fairlawn or Barrio in downtown Cleveland, where the tacos are all interesting and different and you want to try them all since they’re all only a few dollars each. Frugal + options = a thumbs up in our group.



Ted. And I wonder if they’re taking suggestions on what to do with that wall?

Picked by: Ted
Next pick: Shane

Crave Cantina Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


WTGW 10/12/16: Tacos Mexicanos, Macedonia


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.


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.









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

WTGW 6/3/15: Tres Potrillos, Fairlawn


And once again we managed to outsmart Mother Nature for a WTGW adventure. I know, it seems a little silly to be this proud of a chance to sit on a patio, but if you haven’t figured out our ongoing war with Mother Nature by this point in time then clearly you need to start reading this blog more often. She tried tricking us by bringing out the cloud cover while we were waiting for Shane to get home from work so the group could head out, but yet we weren’t deterred. It was like a staring contest. And Mother Nature blinked first, allowing the skies to clear as we were seated and happily eating on the patio. Yes.

And as if that weren’t enough excitement for one week, I’m proud to say this was also the week I also finally got to say that I’ve dined at the place associated with the generic “Mexican Restaurant” sign high above Rt 77 at the Rt 18 exit.

Because who really remembers the name anyway?

Because who really remembers the name anyway?

Clearly it’s been quite a week.


I think I have to be that excited over the little things surrounding this week’s adventure, as Tres Portillas itself didn’t seem to give me much else to talk about. And thank the lord we were able to sit on the patio, as I think that was the most redeeming factor of the entire visit – for me at least. Ouch.

Let’s start with drinks (as if you’d suspect otherwise with this group, right?). Of course we ordered margaritas, because, well, what else do you order at a Mexican place? They didn’t seem to have quite as many flavors to choose from as some of the other Mexican places we’ve been to, but enough for each of us to try something different. I had the mango, Amanda had peach, Shane had raspberry, and Ted ordered the guava. Which I’m still really not sure what flavor that is, but whatever. Ted’s was also the only one served on the rocks, thus proving once again that he just has to continue to be different from the rest of the group.

This photo makes me happy

This photo makes me happy

As does this one

As does this one

I will admit to being intrigued by something called the “Octopus Margarita”on the menu, which apparently is sangria and a lime margarita combined. I know, right? I like sangria. I like margaritas. But the two together? That can either be disastrously gross … or delicious enough to be dangerous.

Regardless, my liver was not up to the challenge this time around. Maybe next time.

We all agreed from the start that it seemed as though our server wasn’t exactly thrilled to see us. Which is always an endearing realization as you sit down for your meal. She also wasn’t exactly fluent in English. Which, hey, I’m all about authenticity at an ethnic restaurant … but after I’m well into a margarita it becomes a little harder to understand normal English, much less broken.

But at least we never felt like she was rushing us out. In fact, I have to believe that the word “rush” didn’t exist in her vocabulary, no matter what language. I would describe her pace as somewhere between a geriatric turtle and a sailboat on a day without wind. Which is extremely helpful when she also insisted on making a separate trip for every. single. thing. we. could. possibly. need.

Trip one: Take drink orders. Walk away.
Trip two: Deliver chips and salsa. Walk away.
Trip three: Bring water. Walk away.
Trip four: Drop off margaritas. Walk away.
Trip five: Oh, hey, did you want to order dinner now? It’s only like a half hour later by this point, no biggie. I’m half surprised she didn’t ask us if we were ready, then walk away for 15 minutes to get a pen and paper.

I mean, I’m no expert in the food service industry, but it seemed to me maybe a few of those trips could’ve been combined, no?

Bonus points for missing the silverware in all of that, too, so we had to ask for it after we got our food. Luckily we were able to flag down another server for that, or else we might still be sitting there staring hungrily at our plates to this day.

So there’s that.

I got the spicy grilled burrito with steak. Which seemed to be neither spicy nor grilled, so clearly that name is super appropriate. But it did have steak in it, so score there, I guess? The chorizo on top of the burrito was I think what was supposed to lend most of the “heat” to the meal, except it actually wasn’t spicy at all. And there seemed to be no sauce covering it either. The rice also had zero flavor – and without even a salt shaker on the table to help me there, I ended up leaving most of that on my plate. So unless my taste buds were just taking the night off, I was not finding this meal to be anything spectacular.

Burrito, side of flavor please

Burrito, side of flavor please

Ted had the carne asada – minus cheese of course, although it didn’t go unnoticed that this was really the first time in the past few weeks that he’s actually had to speak those words of request. He said the meal was just average.

Ted's two week streak of cheese avoidance continues

Ted’s two week streak of cheese avoidance continues

Shane and Amanda both got their usual Mexican restaurant staple, the fajita quesadilla. Can you tell they’re related or what? They both liked their meals, but it was definitely a lot of food, as Amanda was stuffed long before the end of hers. Shane also ordered extra guac for his meal – which in most places would be like a whole cup or small bowl full. But when the meals came out, we quickly realized that “extra” at Tres Portillas kind of just meant that he got two spoonfuls of guac on his plate, compared to the one that Amanda had on hers. Gee, thanks. He finally flagged someone down (again, not our actual server) and asked for a real side of it … which we then noticed on the bill later was an extra charge of $5.00. Ouch. Did they ship the avocados in special just to prepare his side?

"The usual" for the Keefer siblings

“The usual” for the Keefer siblings

BTW, this is "extra" guac.

BTW, this is “extra” guac.

So all in all, I think we decided that the patio was by far the best part of our visit. Well, that, and the completely inappropriate dinner discussion about weights of organs and tumors which led to us discovering that our dear friend Ted has never seen the movie Jerry Maguire. I know, right? It seems impossible.

Anyway, like I said, the patio was well worth the price of admission, and even if you just wanted to enjoy some chips, salsa and $5 guac with some drinks it would be well worth it. It’s quiet (although they do have what looks like a stage for bands) and nice lighting fixtures around. Definitely better than the food in my opinion, but I think I’m the minority on that one, as evidenced by the photos below. Or maybe they all just should’ve stopped at one margarita.




















Picked by:  Amanda

Drinks:   I’m sure they have drinks other than margaritas – and I believe we passed a full bar on our way to the patio – but we stuck with the tequila. And were not disappointed.
 Typical Mexican restaurant menu. Although you may want to bring your own salt. Or hot sauce. Or really seasoning of any kind.
Service:  I think we got the server who didn’t expect to get another table this evening. She didn’t seem especially happy to see us, nor did she move very quickly. So that’s always helpful.
Overall: I seemed to be the only one completely unimpressed, although the patio did sway me a little. Maybe.

Next Pick:  Ted

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WTGW 9/17/14: Nuevo Acapulco, Tallmadge


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!


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


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. 
 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

WTGW 5/28/14: Pancho & Lefty’s, Stow


Now that it’s summer, one of our big requirements for WTGW spots becomes patio space. Because after all this is Ohio, and you know we only get about 4.25 days of real summer weather … so we have to make the most of them.

However, it seems that Mother Nature is going to make damn sure that none of those days fall on a Wednesday. Because she’s a whore.

So this means that a couple of places I was thinking about for this week’s WTGW got pushed back to later weeks this summer, since it was threatening rain this week and I didn’t want to chance us getting soaked. Pancho & Lefty’s actually has a decent – albeit small – patio space that we could’ve sat on had the weather cleared up. But since the skies were still iffy when we arrived, we decided to play it safe and sit inside. Let it be noted that it didn’t rain during our meal – but I’m certain that if we’d sat outside there would’ve been a downpour as soon as our meals arrived. Because – you guessed it – Mother Nature is a whore.


Pancho & Lefty's, Stow

The place is tiny inside, but it never felt cramped or overly loud. It was more homey than anything else. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t ever super crazy busy, but still. The server was very pleasant and always quick with drinks and chip refills.

Pancho & Lefty’s menu features traditional Mexican fare but also more “American” things like burgers, steaks, salads, wraps, etc. It’s nice to have options. Part of why I picked this place was because I thought that would help Ted – you know, with his dislike of cheese and all. But he ordered a burrito covered in cheese anyway, then proceeded to try and scrape it all off. You’re welcome, Ted.

We asked about drink specials – since Mexican places always seem to have them – and were told they ended at 6. What working person can enjoy a happy hour that ends at 6:00? Hmmm.

Regardless, we were intrigued by the long list of flavored margaritas – many of which we’d never heard of (pineapple? grape? cherry?) – so of course we made it our mission to try as many as possible. We even convinced Ted to break his “I have to be different” rule after his first beer and come to the dark side with us.

3:1. Guess which is Ted's?

3:1. Guess which is Ted’s?


Overall among the group we tried the orange dreamsicle, cherry, strawberry banana, watermelon, peach, mango, pineapple and – after a lengthy debate of what it could actually be – blue moon (FYI, it’s blue raspberry, not blue moon beer flavored. I lost that bet.). The orange one had the majority vote until Ted got the pineapple on the last round, and we were all sorry then that we didn’t get that one. Chalk one up for the guy who usually only drinks beer.

Post Memorial Day patriotism ... at a Mexican restaurant

Post Memorial Day patriotism … at a Mexican restaurant

The food at Panchos was good and portions were large. I had the taco salad with shredded chicken, which was mixed with refried beans and spread onto the outer edge of the bowl instead of just dropped by dallop in the middle. I liked that better. But it was frigging huge, so I couldn’t finish it.

Filed under: "trying to be healthy at a Mexican restaurant"

Filed under: “trying to be healthy at a Mexican restaurant”

Amanda had the shredded beef chimichanga, which was good but also way too much food for her to finish. Ted had the aforementioned cheese covered chicken grande burrito. Shane was disappointed that his usual fajita quesidilla wasn’t on the menu, so he asked the server what he would get the most food by ordering … and ended up with a steak grande burrito. I think there was an actual whole steak on the inside. He obviously wasn’t disappointed.

Action shot of Shane digging in

Action shot of Shane digging in

And this was after he scraped the cheese off.

And this was after he scraped the cheese off.

Chips and salsa were plentiful and quickly refilled. Although word of warning, the chips here are covered in some seasoning, which inspired a lengthy discussion among our group as to what exactly it was. The best we could come up with was that it was “like Doritos but different.” Because I’m sure those are professional culinary terms. In any case, the concensus at the table was that the guys liked them, but the girls didn’t. That’s OK, we saved our calories for margaritas.

If tortilla chips and Doritos had a baby, it would be these chips

If tortilla chips and Doritos had a baby, it would be these chips

While it’s a little further of a drive than some of the other Mexican places we’ve been to, I’m sure we’ll visit Pancho & Lefty’s again (which, side note,  Shane kept trying to call the place Lefty Ponchos. I’m not really sure what to do with that.). If nothing else than for the impressive flavored margarita list, and the excellent service. Case in point, you know you’re in a good place when the server 1) agrees to serve as your group photographer, and 2) even has the good sense to take additional photos when she realized Shane was being stupid. I think she got an extra tip just for that.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag ..."

“I pledge allegiance to the flag …”

Really, Shane?

Really, Shane?

Ted kind of looks like he fits into the mural

Ted kind of looks like he fits into the mural

Oh, those weren't non-alcoholic margaritas? Weird.

Oh, those weren’t non-alcoholic margaritas? Weird.

Since it was 8:30 when we left the Mexican place, we decided to stop in at Chelsea’s down the road for one drink on the way back home … where it became evident very quickly that we were clearly not part of the “regular” crowd. Amanda and I also made fools of ourselves waiting for the restroom when there’s more than one stall. That might’ve pointed us out on the non-regular list. We also tried the charging stations at the tables, which would’ve been a nice gesture if they worked. Oh well.

Hello, is this thing working?

Hello, is this thing working?


Picked by:  Steph
Drinks: The list of margarita flavors is impressive. And you know that because we even got Ted to give up his beer and try one. Go with the pineapple. Trust us. 
Good.Large portions are par for the course at a Mexican restaurant, and Pancho’s didn’t disappoint. My only disappointment was the chips, although the guys raved about them, so I guess you have to try for yourself and give us the verdict in your house.
Service: As I mentioned, any server willing to take extra photos of the group because she realized one of us was being stupid is OK in my book.
Overall: I’m sure we’ll be back – if nothing else to sit on the patio and drink margaritas. Can I bring my own chips?

Next Pick: Amanda

Pancho & Lefty's on Urbanspoon

WTGW 1/15/14: El Rancho Mexican Restaurant, Cuyahoga Falls


So this week we … well … we ate Mexican food. That’s really about all I can say to sum up the experience of this week’s Where To Go Wednesday adventure at El Rancho Mexican Restaurant in Cuyahoga Falls.

And that’s not to say that the place was bad – just the opposite, actually, as we all seemed to agree that this was probably some of the best Mexican food we’ve had so far in this area. The portions were good, service was decent (we even scored a second basket of chips because too many servers tried to wait on us at once), the margaritas were delicious and gigantic … really, what more can you ask of a Mexican place?

But in all honesty, there’s just not much else to tell about our evening. There were no big surprises on the menu, no mishaps with our orders, nothing particular to rave about or complain about, no shenanigans to speak of.

We didn’t even take any pictures. For shame!

Maybe we were all just having an off night. Or maybe, as with any time we eat Mexican food, we were just stuffed beyond obliteration halfway through our meals and ready for naps. I think this night may have actually gone down in the record books as the earliest arrival home of any WTGW evening – primarily because once we were finished eating there was no way any of us could even think about trying to fit another morsel or liquid into our systems. The only “adventure” on this evening was ensuring we all stayed awake long enough to pay our checks and get home. Crazy, I know.


Picked by: Shane
Drink options:  We all tried a different flavored margarita – and the mango was voted the best by the group. I would hope as they’re open longer they will start offering better some drink specials.
Food:  Typical Mexican combos and a la carte items. Good portions, and they definitely kept the chips and salsa coming.
Service: Good. Never noticed a wait for a table, and they didn’t kick us out as we were sitting chatting and killing the time before we deemed it acceptable to end the evening without seeming like old people.
Overall: Good, just unimpressionable. As mentioned, I would be interested to try the place again in the warmer weather when we can utilize the patio.

Next Pick: Steph