Ay Dios Mio
Let me just start by saying that I never intentionally set out to accomplish this rather impressive feat, but once I started I couldn't back down from the challenge.
It all began in a little underground restaurant called Bandido's. This Franklin Street hot spot is frequently visited by Tar Heels for birthdays and other "pre-event events" that call for copious amounts of drinking, and I was no exception on the night of December 14th, 2017.
It was my friend's 20th birthday so I was drinking for the both of us (read: I ordered a pitcher of margaritas), and it was also the end of Finals so I was on full #treatyoself mode. I threw in an order of Guac with the table's order of chips and salsa, and I got the combo plate that had not one but two tamales. As for my sides, you can bet your bottom dollar that I got the Spanish rice and refried beans because who wouldn't?
Seriously tho, who? I just wanna talk.
In my experience, tamales are usually pretty hard to find, so they're my go-to at Bandido's and I highly recommend them if you're looking for something a little different.
We all devoured the food almost as fast as it was brought to us and I chugged the last of the margaritas before hinting to our server that we had a birthday girl in our midst. One tacky sombrero, an on-fire scoop of ice cream, and a really loud chorus of "Happy Birthday" later, we were on our way.
Peep me high-fiving the Birthday Girl for successfully blowing out her on-fire scoop of ice cream.
The next morning had an early wake-up call because I had to drive back to Charlotte for Winter Break. I loaded the car, cranked some tunes, and headed West. Roughly 160 miles later I found myself back home and a little hungry. As luck would have it, so was my dad.
Upon his suggestion, we decided to hop in his truck (if you know him, you know about the truck; if you don't, you will) and head to a new spot in a nearby shopping center: Sabor Latin Street Grill.
Just like it wasn't my intention to eat Mexican food back-to-back-to-back, it wasn't my intention to drink margaritas every time either, but fate would have it that the Friday special was $4 margaritas and I was officially on vacation. You do the math.
This time I opted for the Quinoa Avocado Bowl in an attempt to compensate for last night's heavy-hitter and to keep it light for what I was sure was going to be a large dinner later that day. I understand that a lot of people don't like Quinoa -TBH, I'm not a huge fan of it myself - but I'll eat it every once in a while to convince myself I'm not eating total trash all of the time. In this particular dish, I enjoyed it. It was light but filling and I didn't hate myself when I was done.
If you're looking for a more authentic meal, I recommend the Platanos Maduros, or sweet plantains for all of you gringos out there. They're typically a crowd favorite, and they were the best part of the meal hands down. Dip them in the sour cream. I promise you won't regret it.
It's probably right about now that you're wondering how I ended up at a third Mexican restaurant. Like I said, it wasn't my intention. It just ... happened.
The whole reason I had left Chapel Hill at the crack of dawn was to make it back to Charlotte in time to see a Hornet's game with my family and friends. With the timing of tip-off and the inevitable traffic leading into the city, we had to leave much earlier than usual and subsequently missed eating dinner at home. We were left to pick between concession stand food or a sit-down meal. I think you can guess which one was more appealing. Sure there were other options, but once you factored in prices, location, and everyone’s personal tastes, there was only one option left: Mexican. For the third time.
Now, I’m not complaining. I love Mexican food. I had three great meals in three great venues. But too much of anything is bound to have negative effects, and by the time we rolled up to Vida I knew I was going to face some repercussions later the next day. That didn't slow my roll though because Mama didn't raise no quitter.
Vida Mexican Kitchen y Cantina was easily the most up-scale venue of this trilogy sequence. It's located in the heart of uptown Charlotte at the EPICENTRE and it's just a block away from the Spectrum Center - where we were headed for the game. The bar is separate from the dining area, but both sections are spacious and comfortable with floor to ceiling windows.
The combination of a late lunch with an early dinner meant I wasn't that hungry in the first place, but it was either eat now or eat never.
I picked the "now" option.
The usual chips and salsa were brought to the table, but my Mom and I are suckers for guac so we ordered their Handcrafted Guacamole starter. If you're a fan of avocados, I highly recommend you splurge on their Guacamole. It is delicious. It's freshly mixed when you order it and they always sprinkle just the right amount of lime juice over it. Don't let the $9 sticker price deter you. It's plenty for a party of 4.
Despite it being "for the table" it was just my Mom and I that ate it, and that could have been a meal itself. Thankfully, I had the good sense to foresee this being a potential problem so I had ordered a light-ish dish for my main course: Quesadillas with - you guessed it - Spanish rice and beans.
Before I tell you how amazing the quesadilla was, I want to call your attention to the margarita glass in the background of the photo. Yes, not only did I eat Mexican food 3 times in 24 hours, but I also had margaritas each time. This margarita was special, however, because instead of using the traditional house tequila, Daddio decided to ball out and order a pitcher with Patrón. Cheers, bitches.
By the end of the meal, I felt about as stuffed as I did after my fourth thanksgiving (that's a story for another day, but you get the point). I was genuinely concerned as to whether or not I would be able to sit down at the game without having to unbutton my pants. I was borderline in pain, definitely uncomfortable. I vowed to myself that I would never let myself fall into this trap again. I wasn't going to eat Mexican food for the rest of the year and maybe not even in the next.
One week later I found myself in Charanda. I guess old habits die hard.