Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Warmth of Mexico

It was freezing on Sunday night.  I was meeting my friend Stacey for dinner to exchange Christmas gifts.  I wanted to go somewhere cozy and comforting.  
CHAGO'S CANTINA on Belmont Blvd.   The atmosphere is snug and I ordered a coffee with Bailey's to add to the warmth.  
This is not your typical numbered-meal Mexican place.  It's casual, cool vibe allows you to come here both for lunch or before a rocking night on the town.  It holds its own among the other hip places in small houses along the street.  
  Along with the chips and salsa they serve you, we ordered guacamole and we were going to order the queso dip, but then we saw the bean and queso dip.  
Okay, so I was going to take pictures of it, but I was so caught up in how good it was that we ate it all before I could get a pic.  That's embarrassing.  
The fresh guacamole is handmade to order and along with the salsa I was satisfied before we even ordered our entrees.  
We ordered enchiladas.  I got the vegetarian ones:  spinach, mushrooms and beans.  At a lot of Mexican restaurants when it says there is spinach in something, it usually comes with a tiny amount of canned spinach in it.  These enchiladas were stuffed full of fresh spinach and they were delicious.  You have a choice of salsa verde or salsa rojo and I chose the green.  Our very accommodating server suggested it.  He was right.  
There are many other specialties and a large list of tacos on the menu.  There's even a kids' menu.  It's authentic Mexican and there are a lot of interesting dishes, but if you just want a bean burrito, you can get that too.  

So, Here are the enchiladas.  They were so good that the next day I couldn't stop talking about them.  
My kids were annoyed at me.  
Because of the fact that my son Jack's favorite food is Mexican, I promised to take them here soon.
And I will keep that promise!
You must go.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A little East in the West

My friend from New York came in town today.  Hmmmm... where to take him for dinner?  He comes to Nashville once every few months so he's been to a lot of places.  What's new?  What's tasty?  
What's cool? I mean, he is a native Manhattanite after all... THE WILD HARE.  
The first time I went here I was thinking, "seriously?", it's not much to look at from the outside and you may fly right by it if you're going the speed limit.  I'm not knocking the west side of Nashville, but White Bridge Rd is not the first street that comes to mind when I think "culinary".  
Every time I've been to The Wild Hare, I've been greeted before I can get all the way in the door.  It's like they were expecting me.  They are so friendly that it makes me feel like I'm one of them (trust me, totally cool).  The employees have a hip vibe that I usually associate with East Nashville.  It's funny that they work in this little wooden house on White Bridge Rd.  
At night, the bar has a hang-out vibe that's very welcoming.  There's a long wooden table running through the middle of the restaurant where singles can sit or groups can share a table together.  Lunchtime is just as delicious, and it's such a casual vibe that I can bring my kids.  Killer mac 'n cheese!
Which brings me to the good part... the food.  First of all, I never eat deviled eggs except when someone is making them and forces me to try them to see if they need something.  I'm not a big fan of mayo.  The first time my husband and I went to The Wild Hare we ordered them.  I've gotten them every time since.  They are perfectly mild and topped with melted gouda.  Oh my gosh.  The eggs are even plated with some homemade pickled okra (one of my favs) and roasted red bell peppers.  MUST EAT.
The gourmet pizzas are topped with deliciously unique ingredients (or make your own).  The fat burgers are extremely satisfying and served with addictive french fries.
This was the special that night.  Panko crusted salmon over parmesan risotto and sauteed spinach.  Always a perfect combination.  I think I licked my plate.  
 Local produce is used in this tasty grilled vegetable salad with green goddess dressing.
Roasted chicken with a cranberry glaze.  Even the white meat was moist (I don't love that word but it has to be used in this instance).

Okay, I love brussel sprouts but even someone with an aversion to them would gobble these up!
That's mashed potatoes in the picture also.  Uh huh.  

Check out this joint and support another local business.