Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Mexican Platter

It's fiesta time!!! I honestly can't believe that I haven't written up a post about my most favorite platter of them all. Now is the time. And, I hope you're super excited because I am laying them all on you at once. As a budding foodie, I try not to discriminate against any type of cuisine. I honestly haven't met many platters I don't like. But, when it comes to true and unconditional love, my heart lies with the Mexican platter.

Mexican food is like home. I go there when I wanna kick back, relax, and not worry about a damn thing. Much like family, I often take it for granted, thinking that there will always be a chicken burrito or quesadilla around when I need one. If you keep up with my blog then you know that I love dining with my favorite little bro, Michael, but I must say that my mom and dad make excellent dining companions as well. They're always game for a margarita or two (actually mom prefers white zin) but regardless of the drink choice, the Holladay family loves a  Mexican platter.

Our Holladay go-to platter is the Texas Fajitas at Fiesta Time  The order for two is so big that it actually feeds three of us easily with occasional leftovers. Shrimp, steak, and chicken with onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers create a glorious union. Throw in the divine queso, sour cream and guacamole, and you have yourself a little taste of heaven. Throw in a few margaritas and you might be headed in the other direction... Let's hope not! Fiesta Time is cozy little spot in the East End of Louisville that is always bright, bustling, and filled with families. Beware there is almost always a wait on Friday and Saturday nights but that's a good thing, because it means great food.

The Holladay's second choice is El Nopal. Similiar to Fiesta, El Nopal is very inviting with great service. The two things that make it stand apart for me is the live music (which mom also loves) and the delicious chicken Floutas. Floutas are long tortillas stuffed with meat and cheese, and should I dare mention that they're deep fried!?! These babies are rich like a sugar daddy and that's why I love them. Another thing about this place is that its everywhere in Louisville. Its like being a Louisville native, you can't go anywhere in town without seeing a familiar face... you can't go anywhere in town without seeing an El Nopal.

Next up is Los Aztecas Honestly I think I've frequented this spot more than any considering my VIP status. Yup, that's right, I've got the members only jacket here. Unfortunately my 15% discount doesn't apply to alcohol, however it does apply to food at all locations around town. Normally I make it easy and go for a simple chicken quesadilla or I share the delicious fajitas with a friend. But when I really wanna shake it up, I order the Enchiladas de Mole. The mole sauce is dark and thick. With hints of chocolate, chili pepper, and clove, this sauce makes the meal and hits the spot every time.

I have mixed feelings about the Sol Aztecas in Louisville. I really love the Frankfort Avenue location. I think the chef there is fond of garlic and that is more than fine by me. My platter of choice is usually the Shrimp Quesadilla which is always bubbling hot with loads of cheese. I have often gushed over the chicken Fajita Nachos as well.  As for the other locations in town, Bardstown Road and Main Street have treated me well. However, I am not a fan of Fourth Street. The food and service miss the mark for my Mexican expectations. 

I wish I could shed some light on Ernestos but I haven't been there in almost a decade. And I would love to tell you about El Mundo but if you've ever been there, you know that it's in a special league of its own and I think it deserves its own post in the future. I've been told that La Rosita and Lolitas are great ones too and I have added them to my endless list of places to dine...

Mexican food is like family. We often take it for granted and don't give it the love it deserves. So grab your family and take them out for a Mexican platter tonight. And as always, you better live to eat!

Saturday, January 7, 2012


Happy New Year readers!!! It's been awhile....I know you are terribly heart-broken that I failed to post any of my wonderful "Holiday" platters. I sincerely apologize. Time was not on my side last month. Allow me to start the new year off right by sharing a subject that is near and dear to my heart. Sushi!!! There are a lot of great spots for Sushi in Louisville, especially in the Highlands. That area just can't seem to get enough of it. I like Sapporo. I like Wild Ginger. I even like Oishii. But when it comes to love, I've gotta give it to my Maido. 

Located on Frankfort Avenue in the Clifton Area, this sushi spot is unique because it doesn't have an actual sushi bar like the other restaurants around town. The sushi at Maido is made back in the kitchen. It's considered an "Izakaya" or Sake Pub, known in Osaka, Japan to be popular with business people. And in the 'Ville it's known to have the very best sake in town.

Shame on me for never having tried their sake. I've dined here about a billion times and my drink choice is always the same, the Kasteel Rouge - a Belgian brown ale. It's super sweet cherry flavor calls out to me as soon as I enter the door. I'm not sure how I started the tradition of ordering the Kasteel with my Maido sushi. It doesn't make much sense because I normally don't go for sweet beer or wine and I've never ordered a Kasteel anywhere else. I guess it's just one of my weird dining quirks, kind of similar to when I was a kid at the movies, I would always order a Cherry Coke with my popcorn, but never with anything else.

Anyway, when it comes to the eats, an Izakaya style restaurant is similiar to Spanish tapas, serving up small affordable plates for everyone to share. Sharing is caring, and I always care to try as many dishes as possible. Maido knows what's up. In fact, the name Maido actually means "What's Up?!" I have been happy to share many apps with friends here, notably the Shumai - a dumpling filled with either pork or crab, gouda and mozzarella cheese wontons - deep fried to perfection and smothered in wasabi honey, a yummy oyster mushroom with sinfully sauteed spinach, asparagus, and garlic.
This past Summer my pal Jules and I enjoyed a few plates outside on the spacious front patio. We shared the delightfully simple Bagel Roll with garlic and salmon and then splurged on the insanely delicious Buike Monster - white tuna with avocado, scallions, garlic, and chili sauce. Yum. Some other fun rolls I've shared include: the Nemo's Revenge - red snapper and octupus along with garlic (of course) , the Citrus Heat -a unique combo of red tuna with jalepenos and shaved lime, the Serendipity - spicy crab.. need I say more? and the Nirvana...this roll is drizzled with truffle oil for God's sake!!

The atmosphere at Maido can't be beat. It's a low-key establishment that is comfortable and cool, with funky art decor that is subtle in the dimmed lighting. Housed in an old shot-gun style building, it has a wooden bar near the front entrance, with black and white tiles leading to ample table seating. My experience with the service has always been excellent. I am convinced that being cool and having at least one visible tattoo is a requirement to work here.

So remember, the next time you want to take some shots of sake and share some sushi, gimme a call. I will share an Izakaya platter with you all night long! Until next time, live to eat Japanese.

MAIDO UPDATE: I had the great pleasure of dining at Maido last night and thought I should mention here that they are now taking reservations for their digital karaoke party room. My friend works there and introduced me to looks awesome!

I also had the pleasure of trying a tofu roll this time around. I normally don't go for tofu with anything but decided to give it a whirl and was blown away. The Tofu Katsu Roll includes deep fried and breaded tofu topped with slices of avocado and was served with a thick brown sauce (can't remember the name) that enhanced the roll with a bit of a ginger and cinnamon flavor. My lovely dining companion strangely thought it brought out a chipoltle taste, whatever the ingredients... you should know that we devoured it!!! That's all.