Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Allston's Hidden Slice of Texas

You wouldn't guess it by the dark, unmarked exterior, but Lone Star Taco Bar is a vibrant, cozy place to warm up with gourmet tacos and Mexican beer. Everything about it echoes Deep Ellum - they're both owned by the same people - to the point that if feels like you're in some kind of Texan parallel universe next to its sister bar. And I have just as many good things to say about Lone Star as Deep Ellum.

It barely seems possible, but Lone Star is a little smaller than Deep Ellum, but in a cozy way. The old cowboy westerns playing on a TV above the bar, mounted bison head, and dim lighting (at least when we went around 9PM last Thursday) made you feel like you may have just stepped into Texas. Not a cheesy Hollywood version of Texas, but a cool, slightly upscale version where hipsters go for conversation and delicious food. There must be hipsters in Texas, right?

Lone Star was crowded when we got there, so we grabbed the last two seats at the bar, but by 10 it had nearly emptied out and we could hear the music again. The music was chill, but probably the only piece of the puzzle that didn't fit the authentic Texas feeling.

I couldn't resist trying the Chelado - the Pacifico on draft mixed with lime juice over ice with a salted rim. It managed to taste refreshing but not watered down at all. Brittany tried the Chica Facil (haha), a delicious blend of tequila, aperol, lime, agave, and orange bitters.

Baja Fish and Carnitas Pork Tacos
Then we moved on to the difficult food decision - everything on the taco menu looked great, but we could only eat so much (especially since I had already technically had dinner). I got the Baja Fish of the Day while Brittany chose the Carnitas Pork and the Grilled Avocado with Griddled Queso. She had been to Lone Star before so she prepared me for how great they would be, but I was still in awe. The balance of hot/cold, sweet/savory in my fish taco was exactly right.

Brittany and I followed up our first drinks with Pacifico on tap - only $4 for a pint of a decent Mexican beer.

It was a great place to catch up and adventure into some unique TexMex flavors. The Lone Star bartenders were great, too - attentive and clearly skilled at their job.

Although the tacos were gourmet, we were a little disappointed to learn after eating from one of our bartenders that the real deal at Lone Star are the tostadas: only $5 for a heaping pile of delicious ingredients. Not as gourmet or as meticulously made as the tacos, which are in a class of their own, but still delicious and at a great price.

I feel like I say this about most bars I visit... but I'll definitely be going back.

P.S. For those keeping track, no, we didn't go to jm Curley like we promised in our last blog post. By the time Brittany was done with classes and work on her long-day Thursday, we went for something closer to home. But jm Curley is still on the to-do list!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tapped in Allston: Drinking (at Home) on a Budget

This week, due to lack of funds and high stress, Alicia and I decided to give our readers a new take on our Tapped in Allston lifestyle. We approached the night with two major goals: put together our trifecta of a kitchen cart turned counter space and dining area, and make a strongly worded phone call to Comcast due to our lack of internet. What better way to accept this challenge than with a much-needed Sangria buzz? The best part about this stay-at-home adventure is that it barely cost a thing and we could stay in our sweatpants as it happened.

Alicia and I are personally huge fans of making our own Sangria, so all we needed was to pick up a bottle of wine from our all-too-convenient Brookline Liquor Mart and add the rest. Having an awesome liquor store, where the staff can quickly lead you to a bottle of wine you've never tasted, as well as supply you with the classics (Sam Adams Harvest Collection/Blue Moon) has made quality drinking at home that much more affordable.

Our next door neighbors: Brookline Liquor Mart

Every Sangria recipe is completely different, which is perfect since we wanted to keep it simple and use most of what we already had. We used a $5 bottle of Headbutt red wine, sugar, rum, and Sprite (unfortunately we had no fruit to add). Before we could set out to take care of our kitchen cart, we cooked a quick dinner and enjoyed it where we spend most of our dinners - on the living room floor. This feels like an important detail to mention, since this project stopped us from going out this week.

The many pieces of our kitchen cart had been sitting in our hallway for about a week, and with our two chairs completed (shout out to Sam Ratner), we were ready to commit to the project. I've never considered us a handy pair, but it did feel pretty good to build it ourselves in a little over an hour.

The Final Product!

As to not disappoint ourselves and our readers (specifically our family) we promise to follow this post up with a MUCH more exciting one when we head to jm Curley later this week! 

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Beers at The Avenue

Sorry readers and drinkers, we've waited far too long to blog about our antics in the city. Moving, traveling, work, and starting up school and a new internship have added up to not enough free time and free energy for our beloved blog. But don't worry! We've been going out plenty in the past month.

At long last, this past Thursday we chose The Avenue to grab a few drinks and catch up. It's surprising how even as roommates we can end up seeing each other so infrequently. The Avenue was the perfect choice: not too bright or too dark, not too loud even with some games on, just a couple blocks from home, and enough good beer options to keep us drinking.

The Avenue's beer board from July

Despite being located so close to some less-desirable college bars like White Horse and Tavern in the Square (commonly known as TITS - does that tell you anything?), The Avenue has a great vibe. The wall of taps and a giant chalkboard over the bar show off how many options there are to drink at good prices - most beers on tap are $5, some heavier options are a little more, and bud light is always $3.50. The bar is pretty small but has a lot of seating and I've only ever waited for a table on Mondays when burgers cost a dollar (that's right - $1 and totally worth it).

Not only was the beer selection great, but so was the service. I've had decent enough service when I've been at The Avenue in the past, but last week we had an exceptional server, Kyle. He was always checking up on us, never let our glasses empty, and offered his advice on beer based on our tastes. Without asking, I even got a small glass to taste Shipyard Pumpkinhead when he realized I didn't like the Smuttynose Pumpkin Ale I had tried first. I found the Smuttynose too bitter and hoppy with not enough pumpkin flavor. Although I already knew what Shipyard Pumpkinhead tastes like, I certainly didn't turn down his offer for a free taste!

Probably laughing at how ridiclous
we always feel taking pictures with
our beer
As I told Brittany at The Avenue, I have a scale of pumpkin beers, and Smuttynose fell on the far end of too bitter. However, Shipyard is too sweet, like drinking a liquified pumpkin pie. But Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin? Just right.

For a second beer I ended up trying the Jack's Abby Jabby Brau, which I had heard of through Boston craft beer circles, and was a little disappointed. It was completely drinkable, but not much more, and I like a little more flavor and excitement to my beer. I finished with Avery Ellie's Brown Ale, which I really enjoyed. It reminded me I should try brown ales more often. They'll probably be a better option once we work our way through the fall beers filling our fridge and need some heavier options for winter!

Meanwhile, Brittany started with one of her favorites, Sam Adams Octoberfest. I think I'm the only beer drinker I know that doesn't like Octoberfest. I preferred her second beer, the Brooklyn Oktoberfest, but Brittany definitely did not and switched right back to Sam Adams.

We didn't eat at The Avenue this week, but I've been plenty of times in the past with friends for dollar burgers. Don't let the price fool you: these burgers are always a good choice, even for the regular prices (nothing over $10, most under $5, including some amazing sweet potato tots).

I'm ready to go back already.