May 24, 2012


A new taco joint has popped up in Bay Ridge, but it took a friend of a friend's rave reviews to get me to stop in one night.

The three of us met for drinks & dinner last night-- during a brief break from recent rain. Ho Brah (surfer speak for "Hey, Brother") offers tacos, empanadas, salads, desserts, Mexican sodas (Jarritos!!) and Mexican Coca-Cola, as well as beer & margaritas. It's not a large space, but it's family-friendly, a great spot to meet for drinks or a light bite, and it will definitely be a new stop for me.

K & I started with the classic margarita, rocks & salt. This was insanely delicious. Bursting with fresh lime juice, no sicky-sweet tang, just enough tart to make your lips pucker. Wow. And a great deal at $8!

Our friend J showed up and we moved to a comfy booth. Jen had the cucumber margarita, which was like the most heavenly cucumber water with a kick. Sweet but not too sweet, and so refreshing!

We started with some guacamole (huge amount, perfect for 3 to share) which came with a smoky-sweet mango salsa, and a smooth red salsa that tasted, to me, like shrimp cocktail sauce with a kick. I stuck mostly to the guac, which was ridiculously delicious, citrusy, and creamy with just the right amount of texture.

The tacos are small, but not mini. 2 per person was a great pick. They all come out on the same platter, unless you ask otherwise (no allergies or anything in our party, so we said bring it on, brah!)

I ordered the Diablo Diego ($3.95), which was 'double-chili marinated shrimp, California cole slaw, pico and chipotle crema. I also got the Bohemian ($3.50) with jalapeno-lime braised chicken, California cole slaw, salsa verde, diced white onion, and chipotle crema. I want chipotle crema on just about everything, please!!

The shrimp taco was okay, but not spicy at all. The chicken had a good zing to it but was not eye-wateringly hot. Note to world--want to shut me up for a few minutes? Slide a Bohemian taco my way! It was, however, so delicious that I barely made a peep. These tacos are super-fresh, just the right amount/ratio of toppings, and I loved the succulent, delicious chicken. Yum.

As you know, I love spicy things, so for my second margarita I ordered the jalapeno. It's described as being 'infused with homemade jalapeno extract and a splash of ruby red grapefruit.' Instead, it tastes like someone took a can of pickled jalapeno juice and stirred some dirt in there. Just awful. That is probably one of the harshest things I ever said on this blog. They need to rework this one, IMHO. I took 2 sips and told our server that I didn't like it, and could I have a cucumber instead? He said no problem, and took away the clearly-unfinished rita, but we still had the drink on our bill. Sure, only $8.00, not a huge thing, but I wish they'd removed it. It was not good. I did not like it or enjoy it. At all. And it takes something being pretty bad for me to even say that on my blog. We ended up leaving a 15 percent tip when I usually leave 20-25 percent, which I opted to do instead of going through the whole "can you take this off the bill" dance which I generally try to avoid. I made it clear that I didn't care for it, I wasn't happy with it, and afterwards, I wasn't thrilled to pay 8 bucks for a margarita I didn't even finish. Oh well--at least it was reasonably priced!

We wanted something sweet for the end of our meal, and we chose the key lime cheesecake. It's really just plain cheesecake with a key lime glaze on it, but we liked it. One round slice (?) was enough for us 3 gals to have a few delicious bites. This is my kind of cheesecake--super firm and cheesy. Yum!

Overall, I'd give Ho'Brah a must-visit rating. You can't go wrong with their standard rita or the cucumber--so fresh and invigorating! I'd go back for the Bohemian taco again, and I'll have to one of their fish tacos next visit (which is probably going to be, I don't know..Saturday?)

Ho' Brah A Taco Joint

8618 3rd Avenue

Brooklyn, NY 11209

(718) 680-TACO

May 18, 2012

Ruben's Empanadas

After a rainy day movie and girl time, I popped into Ruben's Empanadas with my fellow bridesmaid L and the bride herself, Jen.

Ruben's is a small setup in Chelsea, off 8th Avenue. They heated up our empanadas quickly--I got the special off the day, ground beef and green olives, for about 6 bucks. I also got a Mike's Hard Margarita--why not?

First thing I noticed is there was something about the pastry itself that seemed... off. Was it too doughy or puffy, maybe? I can't even put my finger on it. There was just a lot of air/room inside there.

It was okay, barely. Bland, not much flavor, and even a hearty dose of hot sauce couldn't quite make it sing. I wouldn't go out of my way for this, but if you are in the area, it's a relatively cheap eat and you'll be in and out in no time. If you want really great flavor, honestly, I'd suggest you go somewhere else.

Ruben's Empanadas
224 8th Ave
New York, NY 10011

May 09, 2012

Shagwong Restaurant (Montauk)

ABF & I took a spur-of-the-moment trip last weekend to Montauk, the easternmost point of New York (on Long Island). It also just happens to be the site of our second date, waaaaayyyy back in 2008.

I absolutely love lighthouses--there's something so comforting and reassuring about them-- a light guiding ships safely back to solid ground though fair and foul weather alike--and they are also an important part of the scenery in my favorite happy place-the seaside.

All that driving and reminiscing can build up an appetite, and options on a late Sunday night in Montauk are pretty limited. Fortunately, the Shagwong Restaurant was still open. We'd last been there quite a few years ago.

I started with a bowl of their chowder. It's not exactly New England style, but it was still delicious. It was a thinner broth than the creamy New England version, and it had a hefty, smoky flavor from the bacon in the broth. So good!

ABF ordered the fish and chips, a specialty there. The beer batter on this fish is fantastic--I had a delicious, tasty, melt-in-your-mouth bite and loved it. Their tartar sauce is nice and citrusy, too. ABF rated this dish very highly, and he is quite the fish & chips connoisseur.

I was also craving fresh vegetables (yes, this happens!), so I ordered the house salad with blue cheese dressing on the side. It was a super thick and creamy dressing, and a little bit went a long way. It was a fabulous dressing and the salad was fresh, crunchy, tangy, and exactly what I was wanting. It was also bigger than I expected!

Shagwong isn't cheap--I'd put it more in moderate range (fish & chips are $20, which seems a bit high to me, but it's excellent and a big portion, and the salad and chowder were not that expensive, around the $7 dollar range), but the food is just flat-out delicious. The decor is a bit dated, with weathered booths and tables and dim, yellowish lighting, but it's all part of the charm of the place. It's also conveniently located right off Montauk Highway, so it's a perfect stop if you're going to/from the Montauk Lighthouse.

Shagwong Restaurant

774 Main Street

Montauk, NY 11954

(631) 668-3050

May 04, 2012

Golden Unicorn Dim Sum

My friend Carlota & I met up a while back for dim sum (speaking of Carlota, she is a Creativity Yenta--if you're looking to get yourself in gear, and can handle some NYC-style tough love, check her page out here) at a (formerly) favorite place of mine: Golden Unicorn. It's on East Broadway, which is a bit of a pain to get to, but until this visit, I always thought it was worth the hike.
Golden Unicorn will keep you full and happy with tons of bite-sized food that doesn't break the bank... but something was off this time. The food was .. okay. Not amazing. Not shut-your-mouth good.

The shrimp dumplings are still tasty--we got 2 orders of these and I happily dunked them in spicy mustard sauce for an extra kick.

The pork buns (photo at top of post) were in a perfectly soft and delicious roll, but the filling was too sweet for me. Meh.

Not sure what these meat-filled dumplings were, but we each took one bite and left them there. Bland and just not worth it.

A standby that hasn't gone down in taste or quality, at least--the sesame bites that I love. Carlota had never had these, and I was happy to see she likes them as much as I do.

You don't go to Golden Unicorn for the service--it's pretty brusque and there can be quite a language barrier (I speak a lot of languages but Chinese is not one of them), but if you're okay not always knowing what you're eating, it can be a fun trip. I just hate to report that the quality wasn't so great.

The meal still wasn't that pricey--about 15 per person including tip and a soda for each of us. I just didn't leave as wowed as I normally do when I hit up GU.

Carlota, I think this means we need to go out to Brooklyn's Chinatown-- East Harbor Seafood Palace (my visit/review here) kicks the pants off of Golden Unicorn!

Golden Unicorn

18 East Broadway

New York, NY 10002

(212) 941-0911

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