Category Archives: Mexican

L is for Lime

Lime, a Federal Hill tequila bar, was hopping on Tuesday night. Annie and I snagged the last table in this tiny wedge of a restaurant. Table service meant backless stools and no free shot and a lime presented to bar patrons. Oh well, it’s Federal Hill, so small spaces are de rigeur. (Exception: the new oversized townhomes on Fort Avenue down the street from Lime. WTF? That block looks like a mouthful of oversized veneers ready to chomp away its teeny neighbors.) Voices and loud music bounce off the hard green walls so loudly that Annie and I had to shout across the table to hear each other. Perhaps I’m just too old for Federal Hill. Dumb kids and their rock and roll.

After perusing Lime’s enormous margarita and tequila list, Annie got a Hometown Girl, a pink concoction with passionfruit juice that she loves. I am a margarita purist who wants only lime, salt and tequila singing across my tongue. Lime’s Horny Frog was just that, silly name notwithstanding. I had two Horny Frogs since it was two-for-one night. (Nice service note: Annie, who is a very good girl, had only one drink and the server gave her half off.) Lime has great specials every night, so it’s never a splurge, which is nice in these economic end times.

While Lime’s drink menu goes on for pages, the food menu is about half a dozen items, a smart move for a small kitchen. Skip chips and salsa (nice but not special) and nachos (individual nachos carefully layered with toppings, not a big fun mess of condiments – really, what is the point of an elegant nacho plate?) and go straight for the chicken tacos (soft torillas and tender, juicy meat).

Wednesday is flip a coin night, where the bartender will flip a coin and patrons who correctly call it in the air get a $1 drink. That’s a fun promotion, and Lime is a fun place. If they just hung some rugs on the walls or glued foam rubber to the bottom of the tables to get the decibel level down, I’d be sold.

Now you whippersnappers get off my damn lawn. My damn e-lawn, anyhow.

E is for El Salto

“You’ve never been here before?” asked the eavesdropping man in the next booth.

Nope, never been here.

“Good food, good food. You’ll like it.”

He looked simultaneously thrilled for us and bereft for himself, that we had the joy of new discovery before us while he had only the memory of the first heady days of amor por El Salto.

Brooklyn Park’s El Salto has a cult following among Baltimore’s Mexicanophiles. I can’t say that I’m one of them now, but I did leave pleasantly full of chips and good cheer. It was an evening of highs and lows.

Low: Spotting the place. El Salto is a converted fast food place on Richie Highway, with all the architectural splendor that description implies. My sources tell me it used to be a Wendy’s, but as someone who purchased her car from a converted Taco Bell, I have no complaints.

High: Getting out of the car and being hit with the smell of chilies and spices and grilled meat.

Low: Coming in the door and realizing El Salto has no bar. (Converted Wendy’s. Duh.) I worried I’d hauled myself across town for no AHH-relevant reason.

High: A row of tables pushed together, populated by co-workers and a brace of empties, having an emergency post-work happy hour to bitch about their idiot boss. Totally AHH applicable.

Low: My margarita. Sufficiently alcoholic, but made with a weak mix and served in a parfait glass with table salt on the rim. I fared much better when I switched to a bottle of Modelo, garnished with a lime and a frosty beer mug.

High: Delicious, fresh chips. Subtle tomato-y salsa that was neither overly spicy or sweet.

Low: My boyfriend was late.

High: El Salto was very nice about letting a single occupy a corner booth during prime time, and apparently 6:30 to 7:30ish is prime time at El Salto, with the post-work crowd and young families having a night out and high schoolers on dates. (Good people watching? High schoolers on dates!) The crowd thinned out after 8.

Low: My boyfriend’s El Salto combo platter. Beef tips in sauce with rice and beans were pleasant but underseasoned. Granted, he’s not happy until food makes him sweat from spiciness. (I know, I know. Tardy AND sweaty? Step back ladies, he’s taken!) And I couldn’t sample it because of my Lenten vegetarianism to provide a normal person’s POV. The rice and the piping hot corn tortillas were good though.

High: My Vegetariana Quesedilla. A big quesedilla filled with cheese and deliciously spiced and char-grilled veggies. The VQ has a depth of flavor that so many vegetarian dishes lack. Very, very well done.

Low: El Salto doesn’t have a website, so I can’t link to it. But I went to the one at 5513 Richie Highway.

In conclusion, I wouldn’t go out of my way to visit El Salto, but if I found myself in the neighborhood post-Lent, I’d try the chicken chimichanga that the El Salto superfan in the next booth recommended as his personal favorite, and wash it down con mas Modelos. But it would be hard to pass on another VQ.