Local Favs at Tiki Tok!

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Every time I visit Cozumel, Mexico I fall deeper in love.  Their downtown strip on Avenida Rafael e Melgar offers tourist mucho finds from jewelry, cheeky souvenirs, and of course, tasty food!   One of my favorites so far on the island is Tiki Tok Restaurant Bar.

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I discovered Tiki Tok on my first visit to last year but not for the food.  Actually it was for their coconuts!  I LOVE coconuts.  Nothing says refreshing like a big green coconut filled with coconut water.  Yum.  This year, the restaurant outdid itself by actually putting a face on the coconut made out of fruits.  Way to jazz up the “coco frio natural”.  Cute.

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The server recommended the fajitas as the best item on the menu. I love it when employees are familiar with their menu.  Usually in America I don’t eat fajitas, so I was interested in how delicious it would be in it’s homeland.  My party got the Fajita Combo of Chicken and Shrimp accompanied by Quac, Sour Cream, and Black Beans.

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In addition to the coconut water I grabbed a Strawberry Margarita Fresa.  This frozen beverage was perfect for the hot day under the roof of the outdoorsy restaurant.  There’s even sand seating if you want to feel like your right at the beach, even though the beach is directly across the street.

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When our sizzling fajita came out I was instantly excited.  The smell was inviting, the appearance enticing.  I already knew what I was in stored for.  Juicy chicken with tender shrimp.  The guacamole was a nice chucky texture and I couldn’t ask for any more onions (love onions).  The pitas were soft and the overall combination in my mouth was superb.

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Next time I go to Tiki Tok I HAVE to spend more.  My table got 2 margs, shared the fajita, and 2 coconuts for only $435 pesos or $36.25 US dollars.  They use the same dollar symbol we do so it can look daunting at first but TRUST me, it’s worth every cent.

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Tiki Tok Restaurant Bar

Av. Rafael E. Melgar, Upper Level | between 2nd and 4th St.

Cozumel 77600, Mexico

987-869-8119

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Dry Foodie Shelter at The Wet Lizard!

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Sweet Belize!

Hot weather, friendly people, and yummy food!  With a culture mixed with Caribbean and Spanish, this country has a mix to gather their culinary skills from.  On my quick visit this year I had to try at least ONE of their tasty snacks.  The place of eats, The Wet Lizard Restaurant.

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Located on the port of Belize City this restaurant offers fresh seafood, a nice view of the ocean, and a gift shop upon entry.  Before even going in the restaurant you receive a buy one get one for your drinks.  Nice!

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Showcasing a simple menu of drinks, starters, seafood, dessert, and “a bit of everything” Wet Lizard keeps it simple for tourist and locals alike.  Prices are very reasonable, meaning for $40 U.S. dollars you can get a good-sized meal for two. What caught my groups attention were The Wet Lizards Famous Fritters Conch.  We seen someone walk by with it and were determined to try.  The last time I had conch was April 2012 in Jamaica as the chaser in a drink (seriously) so I couldn’t pass this up.  In addition to the conch we also ordered the Coconut Shrimp, which were shrimp dipped in coconut, fried to perfection, and served with “secret” coconut sauce and coleslaw.  My mouth became a human waterfall as I waited.

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Both starters came out together leaving only the questions of, “which one first?”  I started with the fritters, which were soooooo yummy!  Within the fritters were mixed veggies.  I tasted the onion and tomato and LOVED IT!  Accompanied with some homemade tartar sauce this meal was off to a good start!

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Then I had the shrimp.  O. M. G!  Not only were the shrimp a good size but they were also juicy, fresh, AND amazing when dipped in the coconut sauce.  That sauce was fantastic!  So sweet and tangy.  Funny enough I’m not even a huge coconut fan.  The coleslaw was surprising as well.  It wasn’t full of mayo like I’m used to, but instead had a vinaigrette base.  So good!

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Although I didn’t get anything to drink besides water the restaurant has a full bar with many options to enjoy.  Seems Rum Punch was a high seller.  Not too surprising though, it’s both Central America AND the Caribbean!

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Xo Belize, til next time!

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Wet Lizard

Fort St, Belize City, Belize

+501 223-5973

Historic Dinner at Steel and Rye

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I always forget the town of Milton is a stone throw away from me since I live in Dorchester, but I’ll never forget how close it is now after visiting Steel & Rye.  This restaurant, built in an old ambulance garage, gave the Lower Mills area both a new dinner spot and a neighborhood hangout since November 2012.

With free valet and street parking patrons can choose to park and walk themselves a couple steps to the door or hand over their keys to the trusting attendants.  Both are equally appealing.  This contemporary open space for dining displays lots of “steal” fixtures and furniture, showcasing a modern yet rustic look.

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FOOD

The dining room opens for dinner at 5pm everyday and closes at 10pm Sunday through Thursday and 11pm Friday and Saturday.  Price points for apps are $2.75 to $14, including their snack options.  Homemade Pasta’s and Mains are $16 to $29.  I got a snack to start off, Fried Green Olives with Black Pepper Cream Cheese, and ordered pasta to finish, Gnocchetti (A pasta variety that is shaped like a curved shell with ridges on the outer surface).

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Historic fun fact: this restaurant has their own Anadama Bread!  It’s a traditional New England bread made of cornmeal and molasses.   This dark, sweet bread was served with nicely whipped butter on the side.  Very creamy and light.

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I like snack options because they’re usually sharable and lighter than an appetizers.  That’s exactly what my olives were.  The crunchy, salty green olives were complimented with the peppery cream cheese.  I didn’t want these to end.

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At that point I wasn’t sure how things could get better and then out came my pasta.  The Gnocchetti contained Niman Ranch Spicy Sausage, Rapini (broccoli rabe), Ricotta, and Chili Flakes.  This dish was spicy, reasonably cheesy, and satisfying.

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Another great entrée (which is currently unavailable) is their Catfish Sandwich with pickled okra on the side with a dipping sauce.  Talk about flavorful!  I got to sample it and not only was it my first time having catfish but it was my first time eating okra.  Both wins!  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve known and seen okra all my life but never wanted it.  Now, it’s a craving.

To end my delightful feast I ordered “Treats”, a spread of Cashew Crème Brulee, Lollipop, and Milano Cookies with white chocolate flakes sprinkled on top.  Great variety.  The lollipop was ice cream coated with a chocolate ganache.  The Milano cookies were soft and sweet, and the crème brulee was very smooth.  Dinner complete!

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Thanks Steel and Rye!

DRINK

Now, the reason why after a year I ran to check out this spot was mainly because of their new holiday drink,  “Tom and Jerry”.  I had the pleasure of meeting the bar manager, Ted Gallagher who describes the drink as, “like winter in a glass” and he went through the mixing steps.

Historic fun fact: this drink dates back to the mid-1800’s from a St. Louis hotel.

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When done from scratch it can take about 20 minutes to complete, but when pre-made it’s a normal drink wait.  First, the egg whites and yolks are separated and beaten.  This is required for the process.  My batch was beaten by hand making it even more authentic than if done by a mixer.  Then sugar is added to the yolks, cream of tartar to the whites, and both are folded together with rum and brandy.  After, the mixture is served with warm milk (or water) and MORE liquor.  Yes MORE liquor!

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My instagram shot!

This drink is definitely a sipper. Perfect to warm you up on a winter night.  Gallagher said it’s the perfect thing to enjoy after the first snowstorm hits Boston.  Sounds like he’ll see me soon!

Steel and Rye

95 Eliot St

Milton, MA 02186

617.690.2787

http://steelandrye.com

New American at Nubar!

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Checking out hotel restaurants is a rare thing I do, but I’m noticing as time passes, I’m getting more into it.  Something about the idea of dining with hotel guest seems almost intrusive since I come in just walking off the street.  But with that negative invisible line null and void I made my way to Nubar, adjacent to the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Harvard Square.

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Opened in April 2011, Nubar puts a spin on American cuisine while obtaining a chic, contemporary lounge appearance.  As their site states, “Nubar’s Chef’s (Executive Chef Thomas Connaughton and Chef de Cuisine William Flumerfelt) combines a modern approach applied to classic dishes.”  With an affordable menu (priced between 10 and 30 dollars) this restaurant allows patrons to dine in style without blowing the bank.

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Although I stopped by for dinner the location is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and Sunday brunch.  I started off with the Taleggio Polenta with Wilted Baby Spinach and a Crispy Poached Egg followed by Pat’s Littleneck Clam Roast, which came with Baby Shrimp, Toasted Angel Hair, Zucchini, Cherry Tomatoes, Bacon, and Garlic in White Wine.  Is your mouth starting to water?

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As I waited for my drink and app to arrive I snacked on the tasty complimentary herb-based bread with creamy butter.  I never had such bread before a meal and was quite impressed with the culinary teams approach to the typical dinner bread.

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My whistle wetter for the evening was the Tru Gin Horse (say that FAST! lol) and I sampled the Absinthe Minded.  I got the Tru gin mainly because of the ingredients, which made me happy: Tru Organic Gin, Apple Cider, Muddled Apple, Rosemary, and Thyme.  It was like a manly drink made for ladies who like bite!  Very good. The Absinthe contained Tito’s Vodka, Clandestine Absinthe, Fruitlab Jasmine Liqueur,
Simple Syrup, Lemon and Lime.  Though I’m not a big fan of absinthe-based drinks (mainly because I don’t enjoy licorice) this one was smooth.  I could see myself having another in the hot months of August while in the city.

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Tru Gin Horse

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Absinthe Minded

Out in no time was my polenta (cornmeal boiled into a porridge then baked, fried or grilled).  This was, by far the BEST polenta I have EVER tasted!!! So glad the host recommended it!  I LOVED the fact that it wasn’t heavy.  I’ve had polenta before as a starter and it was too dense.  To me that makes no sense, I mean why would you want to full up in the start of the meal?  The poached egg added to the baked lightness.  I could have eaten 2 of those polentas!  Nice size to share and conquerable for one.  I would recommend the Truffle Fries for those not interest in the Italian cuisine.  They’re crispy and lightly sprinkled with Parmesan.

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Completing my memorable noshing was Pat’s Littleneck Clam Roast.  Wow.  It wasn’t just good that night but it was good as leftovers the following day.  My shrimp and clams were tender, my angel was pleasing both toasted and cooked, and the random bacon bites were superb.   I must go back whenever I’m in the area again and again!

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Maybe next time I visit I’ll have some dessert.  I’m always up for trying a good cannoli or to try their Pumpkin Spiced Cheese Cake.

Xo.

Nubar at the Commander

16 Garden St.

Cambridge, MA 02138

617.234.1365

http://nubarcambridge.com