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La Condesa – Napa, CA

While strolling down Main Street in cute St. Helena I couldn’t help but notice this hip new Mexican joint and I couldn’t wait to try it.  When you walk in you are immediately struck by the vibrant blue painted walls that look something reminiscent of Carrie Bradshaw’s closet in Sex and The City only a tad bit little brighter!

The menu is loaded with flavor punching Mexican favorites with a new twist to them such as the pickled strawberry, roasted pepitas and queso fresco guacamole.  Say what?!  Another dish that stood out to me was the Panza de Puerco Huaraches with pork belly, blue cheese, fig jam, black pepper caramel, arugula and tomatillo.  Wowzers!  I’m not even sure what to say except that I’m looking forward to going back just to try some of their interesting modern Mexican dishes.

I chose to take them up on their $15 lunch special which included a salad, 2 tacos of my choice, rice, beans and a scoop of ice cream for dessert.  Perfect!  PS – the Cream Cheese Ice Cream is delicious!  Tastes just like frozen cheesecake…yum!

Casa Salad – mixed greens, queso fresco, avocado, tortilla strips and balsamic vinaigrette

Cochinita Pibil Taco – seville orange-banana leaf marinated berkshire pork, cabbage, pickled red onion and pickled jalapeño & Pescado Taco – griddled pacific rockfish, cabbage, salsa de arbol, pico de gallo, and chipotle mayo

Coffee Chip Ice Cream

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C Casa – Napa, CA

For those of you who have been to the Oxbow Market in Napa you already know how incredible it is!  Although I had been there once before, I hadn’t actually eaten at any of the stalls.  On a recent trip down I needed a quick bite and decided on C Casa.  The menu made it hard for me to narrow down my choices…everything sounded so fresh and yummy.  I settled on the C Chop Salad and one salmon taco which was a special that day.  YUM!  I chose well:)  And I would definitely order them again.

There’s a charming outdoor space where you pick your order up right at the window otherwise there’s ample space inside.

C Chop Salad – with queso fresco, red bell peppers, pumpkin seeds & creamy cilantro lime dressing

Grilled Salmon Taco – with grilled corn relish, poblanos, green onions, romaine, garlic aioli, micro greens and avocado crema

In my most recent issue of Bon Appétit I came across the taco recipes and couldn’t wait to try them out…so I put my magazine in my purse and headed straight to the grocery store!  I decided to try out the homemade chorizo for my first batch along with the homemade corn tortillas (so excited to finally use the tortilla press I registered for:)) and the pickled red onions.

I’m just going to post the chorizo recipe however if you’re interested in the tortillas and/or pickled onions just go HERE and HERE.  I know you’re probably not going to believe me but this recipe is SUPER easy and so delicious!  My husband had to talk himself out of eating everything I made because he knew he wouldn’t feel good.  The good news is the chorizo saves well and is great with some scrambled eggs, avocado and tortillas.  Yum!

Ingredients

  • 6 dried New Mexico chiles
  • 8 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus more for seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds ground pork

Ingredient Info:

  • Dried New Mexico chiles are sold at specialty foods stores, Latin markets, and some supermarkets. Smoked paprika is available at most supermarkets.

Preparation

  • Heat a large dry cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles; toast, turning often, until just fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and let cool.
  • Using kitchen scissors and working over a medium bowl, cut chiles into 1″ rings, reserving seeds and discarding stems. Cover with 1/2 cup hot water; let soak, stirring occasionally, until chiles are soft and pliable, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer chiles with seeds and soaking liquid to a blender. Add garlic, paprika, 1 Tbsp. salt, and pepper; pulse until a paste forms.
  • Combine pork and chile paste in a large bowl. Gently mix until just blended (do not overwork the meat).
  • Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook chorizo until cooked through, 7–8 minutes. (Be sure to let meat brown before turning and breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon or spatula.) Season with salt. DO AHEAD: Chorizo can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before serving.

Sitka & Spruce : Monday Taco Night – Seattle, WA

I’m embarrassed that it’s taken me this long to go to Sitka & Spruce let alone the Melrose Market, but I finally did and I can’t wait to go back.  What an incredible space!  I had no idea Monday nights at Sitka & Spruce are taco night but it sounded great and oh was it:)  On Monday nights, one of the S & S employees, Alvaro Candela-Najera, takes over the kitchen and makes the most amazing traditional Mexican food inspired by his hometown and travels through Mexico.

We started with the Avocado with Totopos – smashed in a mortar with serranos, onion, lime and cilantro.  The chips are made fresh in house and couldn’t have been more tasty.  It’s also served with four healthy servings of fresh Mexican cheese…holy cow…I could eat a lot of that and it was the perfect compliment to the guacamole.  For my entrée I chose the Suadero Tacos – 3 corn tortillas filled with long-cooked milk-braised beef brisket.  Whoa…those were good!  Topped with some pickled radishes, cilantro and onions, these tacos were perfect in everyday and I would definitely order them again.

Now I’m dying to go back for brunch, lunch and dinner!  Do yourself a favor and go to Monday night taco night at Sitka & Spruce.

Tacolicious – San Francisco, CA

It seems like ever since I moved from SF that new restaurants have been popping up like crazy which makes it even harder for me to decide where to eat when I go back to visit.  Tacolicious in the Marina is new to me and I finally got the chance to try it out.  Located on Chestnut close to Fillmore it’s such a cute spot.  Not huge inside but there are great windows facing the street that slide open on a nice day.  All in all it’s a great location and the decor couldn’t be more perfect.

I loved everything I tried!  And if I were to go back I’d love to try the Aztec Chicken Soup, Shrimp a la Diabla, Rock Cod Taco, and the Traditional Churros with Mexican Hot Chocolate…um…yes please!

Grilled Squid Veracruz – tomato-caper sauce, olives, garbanzo beans, cilantro

Marina Girl Salad – romaine, avocado, cucumber, radishes, pumpkin seeds, cotija cheese & added grilled shrimp

Shot-and-a-Beer Braised Chicken Taco…DE-LISH!

Tacko – San Francisco, CA

While on a quick trip to SF my husband and I took some time one afternoon to walk around the Marina, our old neighborhood, and stumbled upon Tacko.  I immediately noticed that the menu mentioned “Nick’s Way” which for those who are familiar with SF know is from Nick’s Crispy Tacos up on Polk Street…an old favorite of ours.

Long story short, it turns out “Nick” and his business partner split ways and this is Nick’s new place.  It’s definitely a nicer environment for a food establishment.  I think anything beats eating inside a nightclub during the day:)  The food was excellent…so much so that we went two days in a row.  On a nice day the front windows slide open and like any place in the Marina, there’s always great people watching.

I recommend the Pollo Taco Nick’s Way and my husband would most definitely tell anyone to get the California Burrito (a burrito with french fries in it).  As a past San Diego resident, this burrito is hard to come by outside of SD so he will eat any one he comes upon and this one passed the test.

Grilled corn and black bean taco salad with chickenThe lobster roll…a little pricey but very tasty!

Cactus South Lake Union- Seattle, WA

The new South Lake Union Cactus is officially open and it’s very deserving of your attention.  Located next door to Tom Douglas’ Cuoco and Brave Horse Tavern on the corner of Terry and Harrison, it’s ideal for Amazon employees and those enjoying the newly revamped area as much as I am.

This is the 4th Cactus to open and overall a breath of fresh air with the decor mixing new with mid-century.  It stands out from the previous 3 locations decor wise but the food remains the same and is still outstanding!  Another exciting detail is that come summer time, there will be ample outdoor seating which we all know is hard to find in Seattle.

Favorites dishes of mine include: Navajo Fry Bread (amazing!!!), Spiced Caesar, Sonoran Spa Chicken, Chimayo Enchiladas, Pescado Tacos, and then the Flan for dessert…it’s the best I’ve ever had!

Check out the awesome lanterns!

Cowhide booths?  Love them!!!

My delicious Prickly Pear Margarita

One of the specials that night – Negro Modelo Braised Short Rib Tacos with house-made corn tortillas, smoked Oaxacan and cotija cheeses, and sour red cabbage…delicious!  These should be on the permanent menu:)

I forgot to mention the cool art

A view of the bar from the private dining area above

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