Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Portland Restaurant: Honky Tonk Taco

What: Honky Tonk Taco
Where: 3384 SE Division
Honeys Heart: Slushi Margs! 

Like any sane person, I love tacos. Luckily here in Portland, we have quite the selection of taco joints. Off the top of my head, I can think of:

1) Por Que No?- greatest of all Portland taquerias
2) Taqueria Santa Cruz & 3) Rose City Taqueria- our prefered taquerias in St. Johns
4) Uno Mas Taquiza- our prefered taqueria when we lived in NW
5) Mi Mero Mole- guisado tacos (and an owner with attitude!)
6) Cruzroom- fusion tacos that aren't as great as they used to be
7) La Taq- Tex-mex tacos (and queso!) that my mom and sister love
8) Stella Taco- we gave them a poor review and now we're not invited to LGP blogger previews
9) Portland Mercado- taco food trucks!

And that's just the tip of the iceburg. All this is to say, do we really need another taco place? Even if it is from Nate Tilden?

Doug and I decided we should investigate for ourselves, especially since Honky Tonk is billing itself as serving "deliciously inauthentic", Austin-style tacos and we needed to know what that meant.

From the looks of the current menu, that means basically nothing since the majority of tacos offered seem pretty basic. You've got your carnitas, chicken tinga, al pastor, lengua, mushroom, and camarones plus one taco that I guess would fall into the "inauthentic"/tex-mex category: carne de res (brisket). 

Doug went for the brisket ($3.25) and al pastor ($3.25) while I tried the carnitas ($2.75) and hungos ($3).

The brisket, al pastor, and carnitas were all quite tasty but those hongos, man. Someone had a very heavy hand when they were seasoning the sauce and I won't be ordering those again.

We also tried the queso fundido ($9), which was just okay. It's hard to go wrong with melted cheese but this version solidified fairly quickly and that kind of takes away some of the fun.

To drink, Doug chose a local microbrew and I tried the slushy margarita ($8). My mom and dad raised me to order my margs on-the-rocks but I'm glad I bucked tradition and went the slushy route. That thing was good! Refreshing and not in-your-face-boozy, but still boozy enough.

So getting back to the question, does Portland really need another taco place? Probably not. But Honky Tonk's tacos were fairly solid and they do have a big patio and delicious margs.

Plus, Tilden says that soon they'll start both hosting "competitive taco fights" and roasting whole goats in an outdoor firepit on Saturdays so people can enjoy fresh barbacoa tacos on Sundays... so that's at least something different!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

2016 Oregon Brewers Festival- Picks & Pans

The 29th annual Oregon Brewers Festival kicked off yesterday and we were there to drink all the beers. Well, not all beers... but between myself, Doug, and Brian, we managed to try 33 of the 88 domestic beers that were available on Wednesday night. Not too shabby!

Here's what you should be sure to try and what you shouldn't waste your tokens on- plus some novelty beers that were interesting enough to take a chance on. 


Best Sours
There seemed to be more tart/sour beers this year than ever before. Two that really nailed their styles were Aslan Brewing’s Disco Lemonade and Stone Brewing’s Gose Gose Gadget. Aslan came down from Bellingham for their first OBF and brought this Berliner-Weisse that’s tart, full of lemons, and aggressively sparkly. Stone’s Gose has a similar taste but a little more complexity with its flavors.

The longest line was for pFriem’s Mango Sour. While not our favorite beer that pFriem has ever made, it’s worth the 5 min wait for this light and refreshing summer sour.

Best Ryes
A few rye beers cracked our top 5 list for the fest as well. Make sure to check out both Payette’s 8 Second Rye’d and the Collaborator We’d Rye’d Like Kings. Both surprised us with their ability to take what is typically a heavier malt beer and lighten it up with tropical flavors that created great balance and unique aromas.

Misc Bests
A few others to not miss:
- Bayern Brewing Citra Charged Dump Truck 
- 54° 40’ Brewing 70% Ultra Pilsner 
- Culmination Deutschland-Down Under
- Flying Fish Brewing Love Fish
- Pelican Chongie Saaz


Bouy, Why?
Doug and I drive out to Astoria every few months just to have a few beers (and amazing oysters!) at Buoy Brewing. The view in the taproom is great and their ability to make clean, perfect-to-style beers has always been impressive. However, Buoy finally managed something no other brewery has ever done in the 8 OBFs we have attended: they made a beer bad enough to dump the 4 ounce taste. Their Dragon Weiss was just not good. The dragon fruit taste was lost because of all the off flavors (beer nerds: so much diacetyl flavor). Sad face.

All Trend, No Substance
Boulder Beer’s Pulp Fusion Blood Orange IPA was another one we found strange. We didn’t hate it but it was… confusing. Our tasting notes simply read “I don’t get it.” It was neither hoppy enough to make it a good IPA nor fruity enough to make it a decent fruit beer. Pass.

Weird, But Worth It 
A Twist on a Classic Combo
Out of pure curiosity, Doug tried Zoiglhaus Brewing’s Birra Pazza al Pesto. It was… something. A wheat beer infused with pine nuts, parmesan, basil, garlic, and olive oil, then ‘dry-hopped’ with basil, it is what it claims to be: pizza in a glass. I can’t say that I loved it but I can’t say it was bad. You definitely can smell the basil and very subtly a hint of garlic but only the slight tang of olive oil and basil comes through in the taste. It’s confusing that a brewery so heavily influenced by German brewing and culture would make a pesto pizza beer, but they did and you should try it cause it’s definitely unique.

Strawberry Spice
Lakeland Brewing’s Lipstick on a Pig was the group's most polarizing beer. Doug thought it was delicious with its "subtle strawberry backbone and hint of basil, rounded out with the spiciness created by Saaz hops". I wasn’t so sure. It’s creative and not for everyone, but worth checking out.

All in all, the lineup of beers isn’t as strong as it has been in past years (I mean, Breakside’s entry last year, Rainbows and Unicorns, was so good it became a year-round beer for them and a must-order for me every time I see it), but OBF still a party a beer lover shouldn’t miss. The weather is only going to get hotter throughout the week, so make sure to stay hydrated. Cheers!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Portland Restaurant: CHKCHK

What: CHKCHK!!
Where: NW 23rd and Overton
When: 11 am - 10 pm
Honeys Heart: The price! And the decor.

Adam loves fried chicken. Like really loves fried chicken. He also really loves a sandwich, so anytime there is an opportunity to have a fried chicken sandwich he is all over it.

I've recently found that on weeks where we don't get Blue Apron delivered, we've lacked some cooking motivation. On such nights, I struggle between the financially responsible grocery store stop and the convenient Thai Peacock or Laughing Planet options. Tiring of our usual go-to's we decided to hit up CHKCHK, a new casual semi-fast food restaurant on NW 23rd. 

The menu is small but affordable, and the food is made to order, but quick. I would say we had our dinner in about 10-12 minutes and with our two drinks, spent a grand total of about $32. 

Our drinks were one of their four "Boozy Sodas". The Cactus Cooler ($7) is a bottled mix of green melon, tequila, and a little love. They weren't bad, but they were a little too sweet and a bit funky. I think I would try the CHKCHK Libre next time with rum, Blackstrap bitters, and cane soda.

For food, Adam opted for the Spicy ChkChk Sandwich ($7) while I went for the ChkChop Salad ($6) plus ChkChk Bites for an extra $1. 

Not that we needed it, but we complemented our fried chicken dinners with the ChkChk Fries ($2) and an array of dipping sauces. I do love a waffle fry...

The drinks weren't my favorite, but otherwise I would say this is a good stop for a quick, cheap din. Maybe not if you're trying to be healthy though... 

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

DIY Cocktail: Rosé Slushies

Kelly is very good about being a consistently thoughtful friend. Whether it's for a bday, housewarming, or a promotion, she always takes the time to give a little gift or card.

I, on the other hand, usually never remember to do any of those nice things. So, when Kel's birthday rolls around, I really have to step up my game.

Last year, I put together a champagne bar for her golden birthday. This year, Kel has to work on her real bday (today!), so she gets two mini-celebrations. The first took place last night at our Bachelorette viewing party.

A group of our girlfriends take turns hosting viewing nights and there's always dessert and wine. Most of our Bachelorette girls live out toward Beaverton/Hillsboro, so combining Kel's bday with my turn to host ensured that they would all make the drive out to my house in NoPo (sneaky, I know!).

Wine is a must-have at our viewing nights, so while I didn't want to mix things up too much, I also needed to find a way to make the wine feel a bit more special. Rosé slushies to the rescue!

These are the easiest things to make ever.

Step 1: Choose a sweeter rosé 
(The rosé I chose was on the dry side and since we're used to slushies being made with super sugary syrup, it felt a little odd to be drinking something so tart in slushy form.)

Step 2: Freeze rosé in an ice cube holder

Step 3: Blend rosé cubes in blender or food processor

Step 4: Serve in a coupe glass with a sprig of mint or a few raspberries

See, so easy! 

To accompany our slushies, Doug made lemon bars, Kel's favorite dessert. (I had to work later than expected or else I would have made them, mmmk?!)

What's Kel's second mini-celebration, you ask? We're hoping to float the river on Saturday, but the weather is not cooperating... cross your fingers that the sun stays out for us!

Happy Bday, Kel!