Latin Cuisine

361. Bolero – September 19, 2018 – Detroit, MI

September2018Bolero1 (3)September2018Bolero2 (2)Filet on a Wednesday night? How luxurious! Thanks to a visit last week to Bolero, I enjoyed a sumptuous meal that included that tender cut of beef.

A friend and I have gotten into a groove of trying new places on weeknights, and I’m LOVING it! Visiting downtown Detroit post-workday is especially thrilling to me; it transforms what could otherwise be a banal evening of me in my robe wrangling dinner out of leftovers and perusing my DVR for scraps (come on, fall TV line-up!) into one of adventure and excitement.

The excitement last Wednesday started with me doing one of my Favorite Things in Life (SOOO J/K): seeking parking in the crowded Midtown area of Detroit. Fortunately, there is a garage on Forest Avenue near Bolero that had reasonable rates that night (it cost $6 for under two hours of parking; I believe it’s a Wayne State University structure, but it was open to visitors).

If you plan to visit Bolero and are street-parking-phobic like me, I’d recommend parking in this garage if it’s open, as the curbs in this area are KICKING now that Wayne State’s school year is in full swing. Worth noting: this structure is a pay-at-a-kiosk-before-you-leave operation, where you have to walk to the pay station near the elevators on the first floor, insert the ticket you received when you drove into the garage, then pay the given amount with cash or credit card. You then have 15 minutes to exit the structure.

With parking shenanigans out of the way, it was on to Bolero! The Latin restaurant owned by the same proprietors who operate Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine opened last December. My visit to Vicente’s in March has been a highlight of Blog Year Five, so I was enthused about trying Bolero.

Arriving in the midst of happy hour, which touts food and drink specials Tuesdays through Fridays from 4 to 6:30 p.m., we kicked off the night with a round of $2 shots. Their selling point: the strong, light-colored liquor of which they consisted came in mini shot glasses fashioned from chocolate (YUM!).

I then ordered a glass of red wine as well as the aforementioned filet, the Bife de Buey a La Argentina. The eight-ounce tenderloin was excellent, cooked a perfect medium-rare and incredibly tender. It came with a side of chimichurri sauce that was BOMB (I could practically drink that stuff, it was so good!). Accompaniments of roasted potatoes and asparagus rounded out the meal.

I boxed part of the Bife de Buey to take home and scoped out Bolero’s dessert tray. When I saw the restaurant offered chocolate tres leches cake, I was sold. Being a tres leches lover AND a chocolate lover, this cake was absolute heaven to me in all its spongy, sweet-cream-saturated glory.

Not only was the meal at Bolero superb, the service we received was stellar. Our server was perfectly attentive, polite, and friendly. She also scored major points with me when, unprompted, she brought me an extra side of that life-changing chimichurri sauce to take home with my leftovers.

So thank you, Bolero, for offering a memorable dining experience on what could have otherwise been a forgettable Wednesday evening!

51 W. Forest Ave.

Detroit, MI 48201

www.bolerodetroit.com

313. Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine – March 10, 2018 – Detroit, MI

March2018Vicentes1 (2)March2018Vicentes2 (3)If you visit Vicente’s Cuban Cuisine in downtown Detroit, try the Ropa Vieja – a.k.a. the Old Clothes.

OK, I know what you’re thinking: how good can a dish be that’s named after worn-out apparel?

AMAZINGLY GOOD, it turns out. The shredded beef cooked in a red wine tomato sauce with diced bell peppers and green olives was amazingly tender and flavorful during my visit a few weeks ago.

This is a smile for your stomach! This is comfort food at its finest! I seriously believe I could eat this dish accompanied by rice, black beans, and sweet fried plantains (SO yum in themselves!) every day, and I would be happy.

Of course, I also wouldn’t mind if the mint-studded mojitos I imbibed and the tres leches cake I ordered for dessert made more frequent appearances in my life – maybe not daily, but surely weekly (I am totally a chocolate person, but tres leches cake is LIIIIIFE).

Vicente’s struck me as the perfect special-occasion venue – and not only because of my table’s consensus on the food being of a high caliber of deliciousness. The dining room is sleek and contemporary, ideal for sophisticated soirees, and there is salsa dancing on Friday and Saturday nights from 10:30 p.m. onwards, including free lessons for beginners. Live jazz music is played every Wednesday and Thursday, too.

Of course, I’d also argue that Vicente’s is the perfect place to dine whether it’s a special-occasion day or not a special-occasion day, because I’m a major advocate for everyday life being more magical (here’s to packing as much magic and whimsy and straight-up FUN into adulting as we can!). I know if I continue to frequent Vicente’s, savoring vibrant dishes such as the Ropa Vieja, Cuban Style Paella, and Medallones de Cerdo (pork medallions) to the rhythm of rollicking jazz tunes, I’ll get into the fun-zone of life a little more frequently.

1250 Library St.

Detroit, MI 48226

www.vicentesdetroit.com

310. Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño – February 25, 2018 – Detroit, MI

February2018Pupuseria1 (2)February2018Pupuseria2 (2)February2018Pupuseria3 (2)

PUPUSAS!!!! HOW had I gone so long in my life without consuming you, you glorious little pancake-esque tortillas loaded with savory, meaty, cheesy fillings!

My first encounter with pupusas was back in 2014 at El Guanaco in Troy. I was immediately taken by the Salvadorean delights: what was not to like about piping-hot grilled corn tortillas stuffed with meat and cheese? I mean, that is kind of my JAM right there.

Yet somehow I went all this time without consuming another pupusa. I’ve never returned to El Guanaco – certainly not because I don’t want to (I gaze upon it fondly whenever I drive past it) but rather because a consequence of running a blog that’s all about trying new places is that repeat visits are not especially common for me – even when I really, really love a place and intend to go back. And sadly, Salvadorean restaurants are not especially prevalent around Metro Detroit.

But as I discovered a few weeks ago, there is at least one other Salvadorean restaurant in this area:  Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño in Southwest Detroit. Continuing my quest to visit 50 new places in Detroit in Blog Year 5, I set out for the restaurant on Livernois Avenue one Sunday in late February.

Right away, the place won my heart because it had its own parking lot (a category of criteria I especially appreciate in the city), which was packed with other cars for the midday lunch rush. I entered the colorful restaurant bedecked with flags and vibrant artwork and put in a carryout order for one of the combination plates, which contained two pupusas, rice, beans, curtido (a cole slaw-esque, spicy cabbage relish), and a drink. I can’t recall exactly how much the combo cost me, but I believe it was around $8.

The order came out relatively quickly, and I excitedly made the jaunt back home, sucking down the horchata I’d ordered as my drink choice and savoring its creamy, cinnamon-laced goodness. Soon I’d also be savoring those pupusas nestled in my carryout bag!

The glorious moment arrived: I got back home and sat down to devour the pupusas in all of their fresh-grilled, meat-and-cheese-studded glory.

They were of course AMAZING. I’d gotten a ground pork pupusa and a cheese pupusa, and both were wonderfully fresh and flavorful and filling-stuffed. If I had to pick which one I liked better, I’d go with the cheese one (cheesy goodness being pretty hard to beat in its glorious simplicity), but the ground pork one was deliciously savory, too. Paired with the curtido, these bad boys were utterly KILLER. How come more food isn’t accompanied by a spicy cabbage slaw??? That needs to change.

If you have never tried a pupusa and are intrigued, can we agree that that needs to change, too? Give Pupusería y Restaurante Salvadoreño a try – and while you’re at it, try El Guanaco, too! There’s enough love to go around for both of them.

3149 Livernois Ave.

Detroit, MI 48210

302. Garrido’s – January 14, 2018 – Grosse Pointe Woods, MI

January2018Garridos1 (2)January2018Garridos2 (2)Today’s post feels especially appropriate for me given that I’ve just returned from a 10-day vacation in South America (Ecuador, specifically): the lovely Garrido’s of Grosse Pointe Woods is being represented on the blog!

The bistro’s menu packed with popular Venezuelan dishes reminds me of fare I consumed while in Ecuador. The Venezuelan Pabellón that I tried during my visit to Garrido’s was healthful deliciousness with its tender shredded beef, rice, black beans, and the kicker: tajadas (ripe plantains).

Man, were those tajadas AMAZING! How can something as simple as a plantain be so mouthwateringly packed with flavor? Caramelized, flavorful, sweet, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness constituted those tajadas. I gobbled them with relish, as I did the rest of the  Venezuelan Pabellón dish.

I felt so good about eating this healthful dinner that I figured there was room for dessert, so I capped off the meal with Garrido’s Deep-Fried Cheesecake with Berry Party. The New York-style cheesecake wrapped in fried dough and served with a berry compote was yes, as glorious as it sounds.

What’s on Garrido’s menu besides the Venezuelan Pabellón and the bomb fried cheesecake? There are various appetizers, including fried plaintain chips with pico de gallo and guasacaca (a Venezuelan avocado sauce similar to guacamole) and Venezuelan Tequeños (cheese wrapped in dough and deep-fried). There are arepas (corn-flatbread sandwiches) stuffed to the gills with goodies such as shrimp, black beans, and avocado-bacon-and-cheese-slathered burgers. There are a variety of seafood dishes, including paella, pastas, and a stew loaded with scallops, shrimp, squid, and octopus.

Other traditional Latin fare plus entrée salads and a more eclectic assortment of dishes (spaghetti with lamb meatballs; ahi tuna steak; beef stroganoff) round out the food menu, which is capped by desserts including that fried cheesecake, plus a molten chocolate cake and churros.

While the bistro doesn’t serve booze, it has an in-depth non-alcoholic drink menu – one loaded with various teas, smoothies, and coffee drinks. I NEED to go back and try its extreme hot-chocolate concoction: check out the drink section on Garrido’s menu to see what I mean! This sucker is STACKED (literally) with more than just the typical steamed chocolate milk; it’s a veritable tower of goodies.

It’s obvious that I’m not the only one in the area who is feeling Garrido’s, as the intimate little place quickly became packed during the Sunday evening that I visited it. With good food and a cozy, inviting vibe, it’s an obvious choice if you’re looking to dine within the Grosse Pointes.

19605 Mack Ave.

Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236

www.garridosbistro.com