Not your Mama’s Tacos!

Taco Mamacitas

My sister-in-law was the first to introduce me to Taco Mamacita in Chattanooga and I’m the kind of person that once I discover something as wonderful as this, I want to share it with everyone.  Three years consecutively I was able to persuade my staff to take them for team celebrations. (One staff member, went back the following three weekends in a row to introduce others to the Taco Mama glory!) We had many a ‘ladies nights out’ with some of my colleagues, several double dates, and numerous times where it was just the hubby and I escaping at the end of a stressful and tiring week. Not only did we want to visit Taco Mamacita this summer while in town because of the great food, but because it is now a place full of precious memories with friends and family.

Taco Mamacitas

Before you write this off as just another taco place, Taco Mamacita is NOT your average Tex Mex, lettuce-filled-soggy tortilla! Neither is it just the best version of the tastiest standard yummy taco out there (although it is that too). Mama is putting some of your favourite foods into taco form. Love Pulled Pork Sandwiches? Try The Memphis with dry rubbed slow braised pork, onions, pickles, jalapeno slaw and BBQ sauce. OR how about the Loaded Gyro with thinly sliced lamb gyro, baja white sauce, peppers and feta. My personal favourites are the California Club (exactly what you might think-a twist on the classic club sandwich) and the Vegetarian Jerk with sweet, fiery, jerk-seasoned plantains and Mango Salsa.

Taco Mamacitas

As well as offering a great regular menu, they have hidden items and chef’s specials on occasion. While we were visiting they were trying out a new taco with duck confit, goat cheese, and cherry pepper relish which was outstanding.

Taco Mamacitas

And then there’s the seasonal Mojitos (virgin available upon request) like blueberry, strawberry and my absolute favourite, blackberry. All made with fresh fruit and muddled mint leaves. Perfect for hot summer days on the patio.

I don’t know that we will find anywhere quite like Taco Mamacita round here in Texas so if you are reading this and get to pass through Chattanooga (or their Nashville, TN or Charleston, SC locations) stop by and order some Mango salsa on my behalf!

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Birthday Surprises in Austin

Last weekend, I turned 35! Hard to believe how quickly my 30s are moving along. It seemed that my 20s went on forever so I assumed the next decade would pass at the same pace. But, I was wrong! I’ve always heard that time speeds up the older you get and it appears to be true. GULP! I can’t say I am unhappy with the way my life is turning out. I lived up my 20s mostly as a single and free woman moving around and having great adventures and the last seven years as a married woman have been just as wonderful, fulfilling and adventurous but in a different way.

Part of this has been due to the incredible man I married. I had no idea when I met this silent, intelligent, introverted, tall American southern gentleman that he would capture my crazy, nomadic, impetuous heart in such a way to find roots and a home in him that I love. (I hope you will excuse the side-step into gushy territory but I can’t tell you the next foodie bit without explaining how we ended up at the places we visited last weekend.) Some of you may remember from a couple of months ago that John and I always try and plan cute fun birthday surprises for each other every year.  A budget is set and then the whole day is a complete mystery. But it’s not just about where we go or what we do, it’s also about the creativity involved! One year I made word-search and crossword puzzles that John had to solve to discover the next destination. On my 30 birthday, John hid 30 presents all round the house with no clues and I had to find them all just by frantically looking under mattresses and dishware!  This year was no exception. All I knew when we left the house on Saturday morning was that we would be spending the weekend in our favourite Texas city, Austin. Once we arrived, John gave me a clue sheet

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(mastered from my favourite game Whirly Word!) to help me figure out the next step of the day. First up was :

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can you see it? You can imagine my squealing delight when I realized I would be going for a MASSAGE! I can’t think of  a better way to soothe these aging muscles of this 35 year old body! After 30 minutes of complete serenity, we moved on to one of our favourite sunny day past times:

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a SCENIC walk along Mount Bonnell; a beautiful small mountain overlooking the river. The trek up and down the trail helped prepare our appetite for lunch :

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Not just any TACOS but we went to a great Austin trailer/restaurant called Torchy’s Tacos

Torchy's Tacos

where we had The Fried Avocado (hand battered avocado with pico, lettuce, cheese and Poblano sauce) and

Torchy's Tacos

the Mr. Pink (seared Ahi-Tuna, cabbage, cilantro, queso fresco, with lime and Chipotle sauce). Yum!

Torchy's Tacos

But for dessert, one more puzzle told me we would be leaving Torchy’s and venturing over to Buenes Aires Cafe

Buenos Aires CafeBuenos Aires Cafe

for my favourite kind of dessert: BRULEE

 However, this was no normal Brulee, this was their Dark and Spicy Chocolate Brulee which is exactly as it sounds. Rich with a lovely bite!

Buenos Aires Cafe

We also enjoyed a slice of real Lemon Meringue Pie

Buenos Aires Cafe

and a delightful cup of Turkish Mint Tea. hmmmmm relaxing!

Buenos Aires Cafe

After being full and happy, I unscrambled my next clue which led us to

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lovely artist MARKETs around the city.  You can imagine we were pretty tired by the time we checked into our hotel. Fortunately we had plenty of time to relax before dinner.

And, now we come to the real jewel of the day (other than my Sweetie!)

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I love sashimi, SUSHI and other Asian flavours so John hit one out of the park with his final surprise of the night. We went to Uchiko

Uchico

which is rated number 1 on TripAdvisor out of 2,300 restaurants in Austin and we knew from the arrival of our first plate that we were in for something very special. This is the kind of place where you can order lots of little dishes and sample so many wonderful flavours and concoctions without getting full and uncomfortable. We had 10 different dishes in total and each one was just as amazing as the next. Here is a small sampling of the descriptions:

Koviche: fresh diver scallop, tomatillo, kalamata, black lime. 

Yokai Berry: Atlantic salmon, dinosaur kale, Asian pear, yuzu

Hot Rock: “sear it yourself” wagyu beef, Japanese river rock. This was not only fun but delicious. The meat was so tender and cooking on the rock made it surprisingly taste like it had been perfectly flame grilled.

Hot Rock at Uchiko, Austin

Even the  Tobacco Cream dessert with chocolate sorbet, maple budino, huckleberry, scotch was strangely one of the most delicious I think I have ever had! (Sorry Brulee! We had a good run!). I wish I had taken pictures of all of these to share them with you but I was too busy staring lovingly over the table at my date and being wooed by all the wonderful dishes that kept arriving. I don’t think I am exaggerating when I say that this was one of the most amazing meals I have eaten on the planet! It’s up there with my other all time favourite in Cambridge, La Raza. A perfect day!

The next day we went to Round Rock for Outlet Mall Shopping but not before stopping at the famous Round Rock Donuts for a quick peak.

Round Rock DonutsRock Round Donuts

 They have been featured on several Travel Channel shows like Man Vs Food for their crazy Texas sized donut:

Round Rock Texas

We settled for a plain glazed non-giant sized donut and I can definitely see why they are a donut favourite. Soft, warm and melt in your mouth sweetness.

All in all it was a wonderful birthday and I am very blessed by my darling hubby who, not only treats me well all year round, but knows exactly how to make me feel extra cherished on my special day.