Wednesday, September 18, 2013

What I Did This Summer #3: Tamales, Fried Chicken, And More Great Restaurant Questions

Corn tamale at Huajicori in Catonsville
We did a little bit of old and new this summer -- hitting up comforting standbys and stepping outside our regulars.

Bon Chon fried chicken is one of the happiest places to return -- although their missing "local options" make it harder to return that often.

Bon Chon chicken
Bon Chon is a pleasure.  Their chicken comes incredibly crisp, and there is skill in everything from that chicken to the coleslaw.  It can just be really, really hot.  Well, it's either garlic-soy or spicy hot.  Just two flavors of chicken.  One is a bit mild, and the other starts at fiery delicious, then becomes just too much to handle.

My advice is order half-and-half or even one-quarter spicy (if they'll do that).  My other advice is to ask for the pickled radish side dish because crunching radish cubes can cool down your mouth.  The Rte 40 restaurant offered "Old Bay" and "honey-hot" flavors for a few weeks this summer, but those are gone now.  I get the idea that the franchise got heat from the central Bon Chon company.

But what about new places this summer?  How about Catonsville?

We had a light lunch at Huajicori, a casual Mexican place that replaced the El Nayar on Frederick Road.  We went with our vegetarian niece, and we discovered a terrific tamale.  Straight corn flavor steamed in a leaf.  Mrs. HowChow learned tamales at LA farmers' markets, and she thought the Huajicori dish measured up.  Between our snack and good salsa, it seems like a place worth checking out again.

We also ate at Catonsville Gourmet.  We both had good fish there, and it seems like a nice place if you want something classy without driving into a city.  But it's priced like the city, which always makes me ask the "Woodberry Kitchen question" like I did in 2010.  For $50-75 per couple, the best local restaurants need to compete with kitchens in two cities.  Since we eat like that only a few weekends a year, we often find ourselves willing to drive into town.

What places are good enough to draw you out for high-end meals?  We have Aida Bistro, Bistro Blanc, Tersiguel's, Portalli's and many other options.  The Highland Inn is supposed to open soon -- at least according to its Web site.  What do you recommend?  What makes your special dinner near home?  What do you know about the Highland Inn?


DanaB said...

My two favorites for a nice dinner are Luna Bella and Stanford Grill.

Rhfoodie said...

We like bon chon chicken a lot...but we love their seafood's like a sushi salad. Yummy!

Balancing Act said...

We have never been to Bistro Blanc, but took a look at the website. Does anyone know if they still do half priced burgers on Wednesdays? Thanks!