Local Eats: Los Portales - Wilmington, NC

Photog note: Cheap Mexican food may taste good but it sure doesn't look good. I've recently found out that it is really quite difficult to take tasty photos of Mexican food. Los Portales is a great taqueria in Wilmington that you should definitely checkout for yourself. My photos do not do the place justice. Cheap and oh so tasty!

Chicken Quesadilla
Rich and creamy with cheese and chicken gooing out of the sides. If you are looking for a heavy meal at this taqueria you need to get one of these. Go load it up with your favorite salsas and trimmings and beware the spicy red sauce!

Vegetarian Burrito
I didn't realize a vegetarian burrito could taste so good. Inside this amazing burrito isn't a dry, hodgepodge of under cooked veggies and filler rice. Instead it is full of a red sauce mixed with all sorts of yummy flavors and veggies. It was like eating Mexican gravy in a burrito. If there is such a thing as Mexican gravy.

2 Chicken Chalupas
These are a bit of a more refined dish at Los Portales. They are a layer of fried tortilla topped with chicken and veggies. If you're looking for high class eating at a taqueria here it is. In all seriousness, you can't go wrong with these.

3 Tacos: Chicharon, Steak, and Pulled Pork
The pièce de résistance for a taqueria, the taco. If you are looking to get yourself full on tacos you might as well order at least 3. These are fresh made to order tacos with two corn tortillas that are filled with your meat of choice. I had to go with chicaron (pork rinds), steak and pulled pork of course. Everyone needs a bit more fat with their fat. I know my toppings aren't artistically stacked and it just looks like a mess, but underneath those veggies are an amazing explosion of flavor. If you're mobile in Wilmington you have to try this taqueria. It will NOT disappoint.

--Joe Kwon

For more info click here.

Casa Nueva Cantina - Athens, OH

We started the 2010 tour off with a bang, literally. At 7-am on February 24, 2010 we were just 30 minutes away from Athens when I woke up to the smell of burning rubber and what felt like rumble strips. NOT yum! After hearing everyone rave about this restaurant I just had to go and with this little set back it was looking like it wasn't going to happen. Luckily I found a couple extra minutes between load in and sound check to go and explore. I b-lined it straight to Casa Cantina to find Scott and Seth had already beat me to the punch. They had just ordered but I eat fast so it was alright. I didn't have time to look at the menu so I just ask our very nice waitress what to get and was steered to the Casa Burrito. Being the heat seeker I am I asked for the hottest salsa they have. This would later be a great idea!
Scott and Seth seemed to have the inside track on Casa. Their breakfasts looked amazing and I may or may not have snuck a bite in to taste it as well. I gotta say the bread at Casa is just about as perfect as wheat bread can get. Light, crisp, and buttery. Wonderful. This was an omlet made with spinach and local sausage. So delicious!
These are the vegetarian sausage patties. Seth prefers them with a little maple syrup. YUM!

If you don't know much about this place it is a coop of founders and staff owners. All the produce and meats, I believe, come from local farms giving them the freshest in seasonal vegetables. There is so much to be said about that. This gives me a chance to plug buying local. There is something so wonderful about getting vegetables and knowing exactly where they came from. Go out there and visit your local farmers market you'd be amazed at the wonderful things you can pick up.

This is the Casa Burrito. You notice how the plate has some burn marks? Well that's because these aren't normal burritos. Something Casa does a little differently is to make the burrito and then broil them to a crispy outside leaving the salsa hot and the plate sizzling. A wonderful idea!

My only complaint I have about this burrito is that it lacks the heat all the way through. But that's mostly because I like to scald my mouth when I take bites of food.

If you'd like more information click on the google link here.