I love me some Mexican food, but I never thought I could eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Turns out that on a recent weekend, I did. Three old favorites -- Lime, Local Taco and La Paz (in its new Elliston location) -- had new offerings I wanted to check out, and apparently I have very little willpower when it comes to spicy foods.
First off was a Friday lunch at Lime. They have just recently started to serve a midday meal and have totally revamped their menu in the past month. Our meal started with a delightful amuse bouche of cut melons served in a margarita broth topped with spicy red salt. For an appetizer we ordered their "Rock Guac" and Chips, a chunky guacamole served with rock shrimp. In deference to a shellfish allergy at our table (poor bastard), we had the shrimp on the side. After tasting the zesty dip, one of my lunchmates leaned back in his chair, sighed contentedly and commented, "Cantina Laredo is dead to me!"
For main dishes, we shared the various permutations of the Taco Flight including Dos Equis Fried Fish, Grilled Veggie & Mushroom, Tequila-Lime Chicken and "Gaucho" Steak Chimichurri along with a Spicy Steak Quesadilla served with cabrales blue cheese, cremini mushrooms and caramelized onions with white truffle-thyme queso to universal acclaim. As part of the M Street group of restaurants, the lunch price was similar to that at Whiskey Kitchen, which is to say not cheap. Entrées were in the $12-15 range, but worth it if you're looking for a high-end treat in a hip atmosphere.
Next on my gastronomic tour of Hispano-Nashville was brunch at The Local Taco. While opinions of this neighborhood taco joint remain polarized, when I saw on Twitter that they were serving brunch, my girlfriend and I thought it would be worth a quick Saturday visit.
The regular brunch menu offers three different breakfast taco options: Migas, Huevos Verdes and The Local Scramble. Migas, with scrambled eggs, potatoes, cheese and sofrito, was spicy without being overseasoned. Mario and Gwenyth would be proud of this dish after their recent culinary tour of Spain, and this is probably as close as I'll come to the Iberian peninsula any time soon. The zucchini and spinach based Huevos Verde taco was an excellent option for vegetarians. The Local Scramble combined Chorizo sausage and eggs with quesa fresca and cumin, although I'm not sure what's "local" about that. We missed out on the large plate offering of a Bisteca Alejandro (beef tenderloin, eggs and ancho potatoes), but if you get a chance to try this dish before we make it back on a weekend be sure to give us the heads-up in the comments.
After inhaling her first taco, my girlfriend remarked, "This almost makes me wish I was more hung over." It definitely would have helped soak up any residual alcohol left over from a Friday night.
We finished up our weekend with a Sunday dinner at La Paz in their new location in the former shell of Ombi on Elliston Place. We went with two friends and their young children who were frequent diners at the Green Hills version of the cantina. After overcoming the cognitive dissonance of walking in the front door to a space that still looks almost exactly like the decor of the previous tenants, we were comforted by the sameness of La Paz's menu.
Even though the space is half the size of where La Paz moved from, the atmosphere was homey and dishes fairly flew out of the kitchen. Even to experienced La Paz habitués like our friends, the dining experience seemed to be just like in their old digs. The staff was friendly and genuinely seemed happy to still be working in the face of the difficult circumstances of packing up and entire restaurant and moving it over the course of a week. They treated the young ones at our table like the beautiful little princesses we know they are.
Our quesadillas were as dependably good as ever and certainly enough for multiple meals as leftovers. Thanks to the baffling bureaucracy of local alcohol regulations, La Paz is still waiting for their beer license, but we cared not a whit because the margaritas are still excellent. Somebody is still going to have to explain to me why I can't get a watery Miller Lite, but it's OK to serve all the tequila shots you can handle. Whatev...
One thing I will let you know is that three days of spicy Mexican food can give you some messed-up dreams. I'm still wondering how that iguana got in my pajamas.