Frida Bistro - Salt Lake City, UT

Frida Bistro is Mexican food like I've never had it before. If you are fortunate enough to be able to stop by this gem hidden in what looks like an up and coming neighborhood of Salt Lake City, UT, you should take your time and savor each and every bite.

The above is a gordita the chef sent out as an "amuse-bouche." The are small corn meal cakes filled with a mexican soft cheese and sprinkled with savory pumpkin seeds.

These three "salsas" were so fresh and perfectly spicy for the novice spice lover. Not too much kick, but present kick. From left to right: Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Salsa Verde.

Two of their spicier salsas. These were much more my speed since I love any hot sauce that makes me hate myself the next day. You heat lovers all know what I mean. A good hot sauce should always burn you twice!

If you recall at Azkena Rock Fest, I had the chance to eat a melon gazpacho, and as you may recall I loved it. So, when Frida Bistro had it on their menu I had to give it another go. I wasn't disappointed. I loved the addition of jicama on their version giving a nice crunch to each bite. This was a bit more mild and tangier than the one I had in Spain, but equally deliciouso.

What do you get when you stuff half an avocado with crab claw meat and top it with a delicious citrus dressing? Perfection! This salad is one of those dishes that comes to the table and you immediately know you've made the wrong decision not ordering it for yourself. I could have made a meal of this thing. It was stuffed full, overflowing with crab meat. The dressing on it complimented the avocado AND the crab so well that you really did get a sense that this combination must have happened before.

These blue corn quesadillas had such a nice subtle, light flavor. I'm in love with the idea of drizzling a little honey to contrast the the savory quesadillas. A great little appetizer or meal for kids.

This frisée salad with melon is a great summer dish. The brightness and juiciness of the melon goes well with the lightly bitter frisée. Everything here is so fresh and crisp, it's all about texture texture texture.

I'm a huge fan of pork as you all may know. When it comes to flavor in meats, my rule of thumb is always go closer to the bone. This shank is braised to fall-off-the-bone-perfection and served with some nice cilantro rice.

I'm not one to ever order chilé relleno so I can't begin to make a comparison because my knowledge is so limited, but call it the wine or just pure satisfaction of the meal thus far, but I loved it as well.

One thing that Frida Bistro does well is make you feel like you're experiencing something unique and very special. It's an odd find in such a city as Salt Lake City, and I guess in that sense it's not that out of place.

--Joe Kwon

Local Eats: Salsa's - Asheville, NC

Molcajetes: Slow Roasted Pork
This post has been on my mind for some time now. I've loved Salsa's since the first time I tried them back in 2007. The portions are huge and the price is good for the amount and quality of food you're getting.

From their website:

Our Story...
Salsa's first opened in 1994 with much love, hope and creativity from Hector Diaz. Hector, a native of Puerto Rico, stumbled upon a little spot and was given the opportunity to use his creative energy and turn it into a great restaurant. Salsa's was born out of a small kitchen, dirt filled alley and food that compares to no other. Hector had a tiny window to sell burrito's and taco's out of and everything was "to-go". Years later when Hector had the chance to get the space next to his kitchen he took the opportunity and opened the walls up and added a dining room. It has now turned into a full-fledged dining experience that shouldn't be missed! We guarantee you that every bite tastes new and the food you order is made with pride and love.

The dish above is what Salsa's calls a Molcajetes. Not to sound racist or anything (nothing good can ever come after a statement like that) but Korean's love hot food. If it's boiling while it hits my lips and scalds the top of my mouth causing it to instantly blister . . . well, I'm in heaven. A molcajetes is a lava rock that has been heated over a flame making it super hot and then the ingredients are put into the bowl to continue to boil as it comes to your table. I highly recommend it to anyone needing a nice mouth roof blister. The pork was so tender and the fennel is such a nice flavor next to pork. It's awesome.

I digress, I got so excited about burning my mouth I forgot to start with the super tasty apps we got. I love some fresh made guacamole and Salsa's must be doing something special to their guacamole. We couldn't quite figure it out, but it really tastes like some sort of nut oil is added to the guac. giving it a nice warm flavor. So difficult to explain so I suggest you just go eat it.

Anafre Bean Habanero Dip
Oh how I wish this dish were hotter. I expected it to blow me out of the water with spice but I didn't get the fortune of biting into the habaneros. I guess there just weren't many in the dish to begin with. I was bummed. The flavors were really nice but it could have stood a bit more time in the salamander.

Lamb Plato
I love my girlfriend for so many reasons and reason #5928889 is that she's not afraid to order lamb without putting in the caveat "If I don't like it can I trade with you?" Well lucky for her and me (she can't eat like I can . . . yet) I got to eat plenty of the lamb and it was cooked such a nice med-rare and the curry sauce and trimmings were all super pungent and complimented the dish so well.

Shrimp a la Diabla
My cousin Brian ordered this dish and we were all wishing WE had ordered this dish. So instead I picked off his plate throughout the night and got my fill, thanks BP! The dish was nice and spicy with tons of chili flavor. I don't know what it is about dishes covered in sauce but I just want a big bowl of rice to go along with them.

Mushroom and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
I didn't get the chance to get a good taste of this dish but I did want to mention that there are a couple great looking vegetarian options on the menu for all you veg's out there.

I gotta say I really loved the lava bowl dish particularly, mainly because it's quenches my itch for extremely hot(temperature) food. But, everything is really quite delicious at Salsa's and it's definitely worth the visit.


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.