Noms: Margarita’s, Framingham

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One of our favorite cuisines is Mexican food. In fact, we had our engagement party at a favorite Mexican restaurant. That place has since closed, so we have been on the lookout for a new favorite Mexican spot. Recently, we decided to give Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant in Framingham a try. Margarita’s is a chain with 24 locations throughout the Northeast.

When we walked in at 5:30pm on a Saturday, the place was already packed, which was surprising. While we waited for a table, we had a chance to peruse the lengthy menu, which was divided into numerous sections, including appetizers, salads, vegetarian dishes, fajitas, tacos, grill and “Los Favoritos.” Needless to say, the number of menu options was overwhelming. In the end, we opted to share the appetizer of guacamole with tortilla chips. Jonah got the “Burrito Vegetariana” (aka vegetarian burrito), and Joanne ordered the shrimp fajitas.

The meal started off well, as our waiter was prompt and courteous. We were given a complimentary basket of tortilla chips with salsa, which was deliciously salty and spicy, and our drinks were brought quickly and refilled as needed. We were pleasantly surprised by the guacamole appetizer, as it tasted freshly made and authentic.

After that, the meal took a turn for the worse. While Jonah was excitedly expecting the variety of vegetables promised in his burrito, he was sorely disappointed by the lack of peppers, mushrooms, black beans, and rice, and completely overwhelmed by the sheer abundance of under-sautéed onion in and on top of the burrito. Jonah likened his experience to “pulling a raw onion straight out of the ground and eating it like an apple,” and, unfortunately, his breath smelled like onion for the rest of the weekend.

While the shrimp in Joanne’s fajitas were perfectly cooked and the presentation was impressive, she was put off by the overly-salty seasoning used on the fajita vegetables (again, an overabundance of onion) and felt like the veggies were undercooked. The fajita platter did not come out of the kitchen sizzling on a cast iron skillet like most fajita platters do; instead, the food looked like it had been sautéed and then placed on a cast iron skillet afterwards. All in all, it was a disappointing entrée.

To top it all off, the meal ended up being more than $40 for just the two of us, which seemed unreasonably high for the quality and quantity of the food. Thus, we will continue our search for our new favorite Mexican restaurant. If any of you have suggestions, we’d love to hear them!

Noms: Zaftigs, Brookline

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Zaftigs Delicatessen is hardly a new kid on the block when it comes to affordable, addictive Jewish- and American-style food.  Since opening up in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner in 1997, the restaurant has received numerous awards and recognition for its impressive menu of comfort food favorites.  Since Zaftigs is merely a five-minute drive from our home, we often go there for breakfast, lunch, or dinner at least once a month!

The menu at Zaftigs is large but not too overwhelming, separated into Starters, Salads, Sandwiches, Entrees, and Breakfast sections.  We often find ourselves ordering the same things over and over, but we occasionally will go out on a limb and try something new.

This past Friday evening, we were in the mood for sandwiches.  Joanne ordered her usual Nanny Fanny sandwich, which typically is made with corned beef, coleslaw, Russian dressing, and Swiss cheese on marble rye.  This time, however, she swapped out the beef and had roasted turkey instead and asked for a small salad as her side.  Jonah went for his favorite grilled cheese on challah bread (pictured above), asked them to throw some tomato slices in there, and also had a side salad.

The turkey Nanny Fanny was a really nice change from the usual corned beef version.  The turkey was tender and juicy, and the coleslaw in the sandwich added a wonderful amount of sweetness and crunch.  Zaftigs is known for its generous portions, and this overflowing sandwich was no exception. Jonah’s grilled cheese was ooey gooey and delicious, definitely a warm and comforting choice for a chilly December evening.

Given the size of Joanne’s sandwich, she was fully satisfied with eating half for dinner that night and saving the other half for lunch the next day.  And since the whole meal came out to only about $27, it was a real deal, as we basically got three meals out of it!

Zaftigs is truly a gem in Coolidge Corner (A new one opened up in Natick recently and is equally delicious.) and we will continue to go there for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between!

Noms: Cook, Newton

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Last weekend, we decided to branch out and try a new restaurant.  Cook, located on Washington Street in Newtonville, opened its doors this past September.  This New American Bistro serves a wide variety of dishes, including snacks such as bacon-caramel popcorn, wood-fired flatbreads, appetizers like shrimp tacos, and a number of entrees for vegetarians and omnivores alike.

We went to Cook on the early side, as we had gleaned from the numerous Yelp reviews that the restaurant can get very busy very quickly.  When we arrived, we were surprised to see a number of television cameras and bright lights – Chronicle, Boston’s daily TV news journal, was shooting there!  We saw Anthony Everett, the host of the show, talking with the head chef, and the cameramen were taking footage of the restaurant patrons, too.  You might just see us on that episode of Chronicle, so keep an eye out!

While there were a number of items on the menu that looked delicious, Joanne ended up going the rather unadventurous route of having the roasted chicken.  It came with a parmesan polenta cake and sautéed broccoli rabe.  The chicken was juicy and tender, the polenta cake was creamy and delicious, and the broccoli rabe was cooked to perfection.  Jonah got the grilled cheese sandwich which was accompanied by a small side salad.  We decided to also share an order of French fries that came with three dipping sauces: a sriracha ketchup, a curry honey mustard, and a creamy bacon dip.  The grilled cheese was excellent, right up there with Rox Diner.  We both enjoyed the French fries with the various dips, although at the end of the meal, we felt like we could have skipped them because we had no room for dessert.

There are a number of dishes we would like to try upon our return, including some of the sumptuous- looking desserts, so we will definitely be going back to Cook sometime in the near future!