Cinco de Mayo Mexican fiesta @ Quetzal

Now, if I had to pick a favourite holiday, it’s gotta be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. (Yarrr matey!) But, y’know, Cinco de Mayo is right up there, too. I’ll take any reason to drink beer and eat Mexican food, bro! But this year, we ain’t going for any old tacos or burritos — we’re hanging out at Quetzal, this funky Mexican joint at College and Bathurst, stumbling distance from Sneaky Dees…in case you’re looking for tacos or burritos. I think I’d rather have a half-moon empanada, though:

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This I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-A-Quesadilla stuffs smoked chicken into a blue corn masa shell, topped with holy mole amarillo, and side servings of crema and green salsa cruda, for that extra kick. And if that’s not enough masa, then how ’bout some avocado and white bean dip?

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Man, I could eat this all day. You’ve got the creamy avocado, some zesty white beans, queso fresco, a coupla pepitas–even some cactus chunks. Dude, cactus chunks is what they called me after I spewed at the Delta Tau Chi kegger in college!!!

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Now, the idea of this place is family-style plates. And you’re probably gonna wanna share, unless you think you can eat a whole skirt steak by yourself. I dunno man, I could probably pull it off…but then I wouldn’t have any room for some seabream:

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Why yes, that is an entire fish, grounded ‘n pounded chicken parm style with some Mexican herbs and spices. If this dish was a classic rock song, it would be She Sells Sanctuary, son!!!

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Now, I don’t remember who ordered the kale salad, but that person has already been kicked out of the Triple B Dinner Krew. On the other hand, when it comes to side dishes, these roasted sunchokes with some more of that mole were pretty tasty. Dude, you could put mole on a flip-flop and it would still taste good!!!

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Of course, even after that culinary land, sea and air adventure, we still had room for dessert. And this dish is bringing another guest to the party–we’re talking avocado leaf ice cream with cocoa flakes and candied crickets! Now, I’ve never actually chowed down on chapulines before, but the way they do ’em up here makes ’em taste kinda like raisins. I dunno if I’d wanna put ’em in a taco, though, bro…

To get real-deal Cuban food in Miami…you gotta go to Las Vegas!

Now, one of the best things about living in Toronto is that you can pretty much pick any country on a map, and you’ll find at least one real-deal, authentic joint somewhere in this city that’s dishing out some of their righteous grub. (This doesn’t really work if you’ve got a fever for some Finnish food though, bro!) But when it comes to Cuban, you’ll be lucky to find much more than a copycat Cuban sandwich anywhere up here. So we’re heading down to the most Cuban city that doesn’t have socialized healthcare — welcome to Miami, Big Willie Style!!! — right here, right now on Triple B!

OK, this city has got an entire neighbourhood called Little Havana, so you know it’s gotta be good–but we’re all about finding these too-legit-to-quit establishments a little farther off the beaten path…so we’re hanging out at Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine, this friendly neighbourhood joint inside a strip mall up in Pembroke Pines. Man, this place has got everything: yuca frita, papa rellena, pan con lechon, tostones, medianoches and a takeout lineup longer than the line for the men’s room at a Justin Bieber concert, bro!

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So, we’re starting off with some real-deal, Cuban-style empanadas. These empanadas are so good you’ll wanna smack your mama, cabron! They’ve got chicken, they’ve got pork, they’ve got beef… but we’re definitely going with beef, cuz we gotta save room for some pulled pork tamales!

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Dude, this pork is unctious-alla-dunktious, bro! The flavours are amazing, it’s super-tender, and goes great with the masa dough. Dude, this is body by masa dough, bro!!!

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Aaaaand now it’s time for the main event, some real-deal ropa vieja. Normally, if I’m chowing down on some old clothes, it’s because the Camaro stalled out somewhere on Route 66 and my celly is all outta juice from streaming too many Smash Mouth tunes. But when it comes to this Cuban stewed beef delicacy, man, I could eat this morning, noon and night! You’ve got some white rice, black beef and a few peppers mixed in with the beef, but the plantains are what makes it:

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Now, here I thought that deep-fried plantains were only for dessert…but I was so, so wrong. You’ve got the hot, the sticky and the sweet, all mixed in with the meat. Pour some sugar on me, cuz I’m about to slide this dish down a stripper pole right into my piehole, bro!!!!

This steak was imported from Argentina para Vos…

Man, if there’s one food I’d eat pretty much any way you slice it, it’s gotta be steak. I’ve tackled a 22 oz cowboy ribeye, a 20 oz porterhouse, a 22 oz prime rib…I even ate most of a 67 oz roast beef for one. But one thing I’ve never done was eat steak that was shipped all the way from Argentina–until now.

So, we’re hanging out at Vos Restaurante Argentino, this funky little joint just three doors down from Southern Accent on College Street. These guys get their hormone-free, grass-fed beef straight from the source, and they cook it with charcoal, just like back in the old country. They’re even serving up this killer take on an Argentinian classic–say hola to my short rib empanada!

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OK, first of all, this crust is so flaky it makes Gary Busey seem like a normal guy. They deep-fry it to perfection, and stuff it with tender chunks of short rib, along with some onions and carrots. Then they throw in some smoked chorizo for a double down in Flavourtown! Dude, I could crush, like, 16 of these…but then I wouldn’t have room for the main course:

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Now, with so many great cuts of beef on the menu, I couldn’t have just one. So I went Splitsville on an entrana de ternera (veal skirt steak) along with some more beef short ribs. Who needs mas tequila when you can have mas asado, bro???

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Now, the skirt steak was thinner and chewy, while the short rib was thick ‘n delicious–which is also my online dating handle on Plenty of Beef (why have fish when you can have beef, bro?). Both were nicely seasoned, with a nice charcoal flavour, paired with a side order of mushrooms with chorizo and then some rosemary french fries.

Now, this might not have been the most meat I’ve ever shoved down my piehole in one sitting (a full order of skirt steak is 8 oz while a rack of short ribs is 20…but I only had half), but it might be right up there in the top five steaks I’ve had this year. And this temple is body by steak, so that’s really saying something!!!