I am a sucker for all things Mexican – seriously, I could eat it every day. AND, not get sick of it.
While looking at restaurants online, I came across Nada, looked over the menu and immediately became obsessed with getting the Crispy Pork Belly Tacos. Does it get BETTER than that? I hounded my husband for weeks about Nada – until, my friend, went there for lunch and told me that yes, I HAD to go there. She also said that the chips and salsa were amazing.
My husband was disenchanted – thinking that there would be no way that chips and salsa could be anything that special. But, he’s also on board for Mexican all the time (thank God – I don’t know that I could be married to someone who disliked Mexican food. That’s a definite deal breaker) so he was IN.
A few Saturdays ago, off to Nada we went. Can I just say that I’m reminded, every time I go downtown, how much I love it? Located right next door to the Arnoff Center, you definitely get a blend of diners.
Because I guess we’re getting old, we arrived a little before 5, thinking we’d beat the rush. However, they didn’t open until 5, so a line of people were outside, waiting for the elusive Nada doors to open. It was a little like Willy Wonky and the Chocolate Factory.
The magic hostess came out at 5 and the seas parted and we all descended.
Quickly, without reservations (I called earlier and they said that they only hold a small portion of tables for reservations…the rest are first come, first to eat. Or something like that), we were seated. Nada is funky and fun – everything that I expected it to be. We dressed casually nice (is that a description?) but noticed that to the left of us, were people going to the Arnoff, dressed up. And, to the right of us, people coming from the Reds game, obviously, not dressed up.
The menus were cute – sort of like a Mexican comic or superhero? The water guy immediately filled our glasses and the server quickly followed.
Let’s just say, I loved our server. When you think of good service and what you want, our server was it. He was knowledgeable and available without being overbearing and annoying. (and, he remarked that I made good choices so sucking up to me always earns brownie points)
Going in – I knew what I wanted, but still looked over the menu. Chips and salsa don’t automatically come BUT, I had to have my guacamole ($7) fix so, we ordered the yummy trifecta. Like my friend, said, they were heavenly!!!! No, not your typically triangle tortilla chip. They were fresh and crunchy, slightly puffy and newly salted. No grease, just airy and light. My husband quickly realized that chips and salsa can be so much more than what you’re used to.
The salsa tasted roasted, smoky and slightly spicy – absolutely perfect. And, the guacamole, while very good, didn’t knock me off my seat. However, I wouldn’t turn it down. Of course, I don’t know that I’d turn ANY guacamole away.
My husband, after going back and forth many times, ended up ordering the Carnitas Tacos, Spicy. ($14 -braised pork + pickled onions + guacamole ) Although, the Vegetarian Tacos ($12 – portabella, black beans, guacamole, chihuahua cheese, poblano rice and pico) were attempting to suck me in, I was ALL IN (as I had been for weeks) for the Pork Belly Tacos.($16 – guacamole, pickled vegetables, guajillo diablo salsa and cilantro)
The tacos didn’t come with anything, so my husband and I ordered a side of Mexican Mac’n’Cheese ($8 – fresh cheeses and roasted poblano) Not that we NEEDED it, but who can refuse cheesy, yummy goodness? Especially a Mexican version?!?!
OH! I almost forgot about my Pink Grapefruit Margarita! ($10 – our secret recipe made with madisono’s pink grapefruit sorbet). I was raring to go for my margarita and if anything was a disappointment, this was it. It wasn’t very grapefruity and kind of small for $10. But, that didn’t stop me from drinking it – or drinking it before I could take a picture of it being a FULL glass!
Our food, quickly, came out and we dug in…
The Carnitas Tacos! My husband fell in love – and forgot that he disliked guacamole! He said that they were spicy and full of flavor – but still added hot sauce. Men.
I am a lover of the bacon. (my ass might be proof of that) Just imagine, succulent bacon, in thick wedges, topped with just the right amount of pickled veggies and cilantro and of course, the guacamole. All perfect. Nothing was too much or “wrong”. Everything had a purpose and complimented the next taste. It didn’t need to be piled with cheese or sour cream…it was able to stand on its own and just be damn good food.
Oh yeah, we got mac’n’cheese, too!
Okay, how do you refuse something that looks like that? Comes in the skillet that it was baked in, still steaming and oozing cheese. It was awesome – it had the potential to just be spicy. BUT – it was a spice that was more smoky and just an afterthought. Just enough to make you crave more. And, nice crunch on top! (very important to a good mac’n’cheese)
My friend told me that I had to visit the restrooms, so, of course, I’m nosy and did. They were just as cute as the restaurant. Basin sinks and they played Mexican soap operas on a hologram (is that right? I’m so not electronic girl!) screen. Nice, touch! I made my husband go in to the men’s bathroom to see, too.
Nada was just, absolutely, delicious! They also serve lunch and brunch (on Sundays – I’ve heard it’s fantastic!) My husband and I are dying to go again and we have found our new favorite Mexican restaurant!