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Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reyna's - Casa Reyna - Strip District

Casa Reyna is located below Reyna's Foods in the heart of the Strip district. It is a nice little wood paneled restaurant with lots of fun junk on the walls and a tiny bar where it looks like you could meet a recent divorcee interested in re-bound sex.

Pictured above is the tinga tostada. Shredded chicken and sauteed onions with lettuce, avocado, queso fresco and sour cream. It was a fantastic dish with a fine array of flavors. The chicken was well seasoned, perfectly cooked and fresh. Although fresh well seasoned chicken may sound like something all restaurants would strive to provide, this is not always the case. For example, I recently had some tacos from a different restaurant in the Southside that tasted like cardboard garbage. #sadmex

We liked every dish we tried at Reyna's. Everything was authentic, reasonably priced and delicious. PS: I hate calling things authentic. It feels disingenuous.


What the heck is a tostada you ask?  The word tostada is Spanish for, "toasted." Basically it is just a giant nacho. I guess it is probably a good way to use up the old tortillas that are starting to turn.

Although we loved the food, we had some trouble with the space worth mentioning. It was very hot. Like hotter than the devil's dick. Additionally, they started cleaning the grill with some type of caustic chemical as we were leaving. This made all of us cough and it was very unpleasant.  Somehow, I still feel that breathing toxic gas was probably less detrimental to my health than eating at Taco Bell. So all around, A-.

 Casa Reyna on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Dive - Lawrenceville

Sliders and Pork Pancakes
I don't follow the concept of creating a bar called Dive Bar that is not a dive bar. Here are some of the reasons Dive Bar & Grille in Lawrenceville is not a dive bar: their happy hour special features wine, you can't smoke inside, there are no pool tables, they have many fancy light fixtures on the walls, the bathroom was clean, nothing was broken, the bartenders were actually helpful and you can't spit on the floor. Like I said, not a dive bar.

There is a silent dignity to hanging out in a real dive bar. At a real dive bar no one will talk to you and everyone just enjoys their cheap drink in isolation. Co-mingling is not encouraged. Dive in Lawrenceville had a much more convivial atmosphere. People were telling jokes, taking selfies, enjoying Tinder dates and talking about their families. It was enough to make a real dive bar patron vomit. Again, vomiting is a behavior typically encouraged by real dive bars but not by Dive Bar and Grille of Lawrenceville.

Interestingly, Dive had a large number of appetizers that were discounted for happy hour. However, the discounted appetizers were not isolated from the non-discounted appetizers on the menu. I wonder if bars consider what a huge waste of time this is and how frustrating it can be to patrons. I watched the bartender explain the specials at least five times throughout the evening. Watching his finger bounce around the menu while explaining the specials was like watching someone explain potential nautical routes in the 16th century.

Pictured above are the cheesesteak sliders and the loaded croquettes. Priced for happy hour at $4.50 and $5 respectively. (Not bad price points!) The sliders could have benefited from the use of a more interesting and less stale bread option, and were otherwise bland but passable.

The croquettes could have been a knock-out, but the potato pancake was more like a hush puppy than a standard potato pancake. This greatly detracted from the dish as there was a certain mushy quality to the potatoes resulting in many plates of unfinished potatoes throughout the bar. The pulled pork on top of the mush was fresh, well seasoned and delicious. 

I have to say that I found my experience at Dive bar enjoyable and I'd recommend stopping by.  I'm still struggling with the concept though. Would it make sense if I opened a three star hotel and called it Rat Nest Motor Inn? Perhaps in the age of hipsterdom it is just cool to be considered a dive bar even if you have an extensive wine list and an attractive and helpful waitstaff.

 Dive Bar & Grille on Urbanspoon