Archive for July, 2011

Mex I Can

Monday, July 4th, 2011

If you’re looking for a place to eat, don’t look around the Florida mall. The majority of restaurants in this direction are your typical chains- syndicated food with typical decor and little deviation. Garibaldi’s was indeed a chain restaurant, but it didn’t seem so when we walked in. The staff was friendly but not fake-big-toothed-smile friendly. It was genuine warmth.

We were quickly lead across a small bridge-like walkway to a dining area and stepped up to a comfy booth. The decorations were somewhere between cheesy mexican (queso?) and cinco de mayo pool party. There were colorful plastic squares hung everywhere, corona signs and various Mexican culture posters and items blended with some random things I didn’t quite understand.

The waiter came by and brought us chips and salsa right away. I love that! The chips weren’t salted, but tasted fresh made. They were thin and light so as not to spoil our appetites, and the salsa also seemed fresh made. It wasn’t spicy but was flavorful. ┬áSo we munched on chips while looking at the drinks specials.

They had a 2 for 1 deal on margaritas, so we inwardly shouted “ole!” and ordered them up. Man Biscuit and I silently sighed together when the waiter plopped down four tumblers instead of two. We were of the impression that 2 for 1 implied that there were two of us, and we’d each get one while only paying for one…that was not the case. We should have asked. The cups weren’t large, however, so drinking two wasn’t going to get us plastered, just buzzed.

We began sipping margaritas while perusing the large menu. The margaritas tasted authentic. This was a nice change from the typical super-sweet margarita-like drinks that are really nothing more than a glass of sugar and liquor. These were salty and tangy with the tequila lime twist. Pretty good, and chilled mugs, too.

We decided to order a Sope to share. This was described as a hand-made corn dough, covered with chorizo, lettuce, salsa, sour cream and cheese. For my meal I had to order my favorite Mexican fair – the chimichanga. There’s nothing in this world that can stand up to a fried burrito.

The food arrived more quickly than I expected. It was only a few minutes of quiet chat, margarita sipping and chip-crunching before the food was presented to us. The plates were an explosion of color. The sope was a grand pile of chorizo, lettuce and fixings, so much that we couldn’t see the corn cake. Digging a fork in found it quickly. The cake was moist, warm and delicious. The flavor was balanced well with the chorizo, which after a few bites became tastier still. The mess on top brought it all together and cooled everything down. All in all, a tasty side dish.

After a few bites of sope, I focused on my chimichanga. It was a big burrito, slathered in queso blanco which overtook half the plate. There was bowl-shaped rice on the side, some pico de gallo, guacamole, lettuce and sour cream in little piles. I cut into the chimichanga, and was surprised to find the flavor of the cheese was very bright and tasty. It layered across the top and killed some of the crispness of the fry, but it was tasty enough to be forgiven. Probably one of the best queso experiences I’ve had. I was disappointed with the lack of a crispy shell. I think I may have taken too long with the sope and gave the chimi time to sog. The chimichanga filling was simple and good. Ground beef with a little diced onion and a little spice. When I grabbed some of the guacamole and pico de gallo to make a big bite, it was a great combo. The guacamole also tasted fresh made. It was my favorite type – the kind that’s not processed, but chopped and mixed. It was chunky, fresh and spiced perfectly. I would buy this stuff by the gallon. The pico de gallo was much the same, fresh and bright with flavor.

We were getting lucky with homemade food, so we decided to keep the train rollin’. For dessert, we ordered the Tres Leches. The tag under the title “Made Fresh Daily” definitely caught our eye. When the dessert arrived, it didn’t look like much. A small round pile of something tan, coated in what appeared to be reddi-whip. When my fork bit into the pastry however, cream dribbled from the side. The effect was delightful. The pastry itself was springy, and not turned to mush by the cream. Each bite was wonderful – the cream was sweet and fresh, and the pastry a delight. Even the reddi whip was charming. The plate was decorated with a caramel sauce which had the perfect amount of salt. A great ending to our meal.

Garibaldi was definitely fresh. Everything had a refreshingly fresh quality to it, like the Prince of Bel-Air. The service was friendly and quick, even if the decor was a bit odd. For a chain restaurant, they certainly stood out with home-style cooking, big portions and a remarkably low price.

Once Upon A Time… in a Mexican Restaurant

Monday, July 4th, 2011

We showed up to a pleasant quasi outta the way restaurant called Garibaldi. Its a Mexican place that is situated just behind/near the florida mall. Outside it does a good job of looking what I imagine a fancy restaurant in Mexico to look like, regardless of the truth, it fit my imagination. There were two little fountains that looked like they were hand made with decorative tiles.

When we got inside and the decorations are a bit funny. There was a poster of ‘Once Upon a Time in Mexico’ with three random mariachi instruments. There was almost no place to stand, fortunately the time we went the place was not super busy. The bar was just to the right and seemed nice and modern with its neon lights. The host showed up and took us on a small path that led directly past the kitchen. Sometimes this is a style choice so you can see the kitchen and watch the way your food will be prepared. I’m thinking this may not have been the case. It looked like it may have been an accidental design flaw. I could be wrong but it didn’t look like they were show casing the kitchen.

It didn’t seem like too big of an issue. When you get past the small walkway, you’re rewarded with the dining area full of tiled table tops that titillate and transfix the telescopic testimonials of the theater of the eyes…. whoa, sorry about that. I got into a serious thing. Then I forgot what we were talking about. Anyway, the booths and tables were roomy and tiled. Bonus points for having free and hot tortilla chips ready for us when the server showed up. We were also informed about their two for one house margarita’s.

I turned to Applecheecks and said “Do you want A margarita? Cus I could go for A margarita, and its priced two for one!” She obliged and the server brought us 4 margaritas… Pretty sneaky server. Are you really so frightened I may under-tip you that you have to sink to these depths? Instead of taking our implied order or ASKING US, you chose to give us twice what we wanted. Jerk. Anyway, they were pretty tasty, on the rocks, salt on the rim. Pretty good stuff.

We decided to go with a Antojito for an appetizer. Antohito is a Mexican street food that is basically (from what the internet tells me) a mid day snack that satifys a craving. We ordered a Sope with chorrizo. Its basically a corn dough patty cake thing. Topped with classic taco fixins and some delicious chorrizo. You have a choice of meats and we went with chorrizo because I thought the corn would mute any lesser flavors. It worked out great. Good starter, probably filling enough to be your main course.

For the entree I went with the Floutas, The picture was adorable, 5 little fried corn tortillas filled with beef and topped with cheese/sour cream, guacamole and pico. Giving the impression of the mexican flag. Unfortunately the beef inside tasted freezer burnt or soapy or some bizarre flavor. I ordered a bowl of pico (which was delicious) and some of the in house hot sauce (also very delicious) and dowsed the Floutas with my aquired sauces and it made it tolerable.

Dessert! We went in on some Tres Leche cake. Specifically because it advertised ‘Made fresh daily’ I’m a big fan of those things, if it’s a frozen dessert we could buy it ourselves and eat it at home. The cake came out in a rounded little serving size. Decorated cutely with swirly caramel. Topped with some whipped creame and a cherry. The cake was totally sweet and squishy with that leche sauce. Highly recommend this bad boy.

I’d stay clear of the flouta’s and be very clear with your 2 for 1 orders. Other than that, everything was tasty and pleasant. VIVA LA MEXICAN FOOD!