Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cha Cha Cha!

This was a quaint little place. It felt relaxed and friendly. There were so many good things about Cha Cha Cha . The outside seating was wonderful. There was overhead covering in case you didn’t want to be directly in the sun, but for those who are working on their tan, they could sit off to the side in the sun. The birds were adorable! There were about 10 birds that must live out there and they were just doing their birdy things (bathing in the dirt, fighting over a piece of a chip, etc) but it was fun to watch and hear them chirp. It was great to people watch too because it’s right along Hawthorne. I don’t like to go out to eat alone but here it felt like I could just sit outside alone and eat alone without feeling awkward about it, because there was so much to watch!

One recommendation is to put a little fence around the outside seating. This would keep little people inside but not have to keep a constant eye on them. Seems that most restaurants with a big outside seating area have it blocked off somehow. I guess I have another suggestion; I missed the free chips and salsa you normally get a Mexican place. The absence did help my caloric intake though. Those chips add up!!!

Ok, on with the food! For casual dining I liked the walk up ordering, especially with large groups. It gets the payment out of the way and there is not splitting the check at the end. The prices were outstanding! You can’t even get a greasy BicMac meal for what you pay here and the food is WAY BETTER! I had the veggie taco salad it was very light and fresh feeling. Grilled veggies with black beans, lettuce, sour cream and guacamole. Maybe a little too light because I was still a bit hungry :) (It was the HH size though and only $3). The people, who ordered the burritos, were stuffed! That’s the way to go. Most of their food was about $6 and generously sized portions. To drink I had the Sangria. It was fruity and delicious. The perfect drink to sip on while you bask in the sun and socialize with friends. -O

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds
Value: Exceeds

Cha Cha Cha

There were SO many things on the menu at Cha Cha Cha that I wanted to try, it made decision-making very difficult. But, that's a good sign for any restaurant. I ended up ordering off of the happy hour menu (which was hard to find as there were only two mixed in with all of the other regular menus - a ploy, I'm sure, to keep people from ordering cheap eats) which meant that I wasn't quite satisfied with the size of my meal.

O and I both ordered the veggie taco salad. I was a little worried when it first came out as the liquid from the beans was already soaking through the shell and had covered the entire plate. It didn't cause any problems, though...as I am a pretty fast eater and the whole thing had been gobbled up before the bottom of the shell could become entirely saturated. Maybe some people like their shells soggy, I don't know. Either way, the flavors mixed up in that small salad "bowl" went quite well together. Everything was so fresh. It was a perfect choice for a warm summer day.

Still sticking to the happy hour selections, I ordered a house margarita to accompany my meal. With a salted rim, it was a pleasant number. For the price, it was just right...but, it doesn't quite top my list of favorite places to enjoy margaritas.

As for the ambiance, I was quite impressed (knowing, I'm fairly certain that is, that this building used to house a British tea house) and especially enjoyed the outdoor seating. I would have preferred to have been seated at the comfy lounge chairs (risking the spill that most like would come with the less than adequate table space) but with the number of people joining us, it just wasn't to be.

Food: Exceeds
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Exceeds


Cha! Cha! Cha!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cha Cha Cha

3433 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Happy Hour 3-6 p.m.

You might get the impression we like Mexican food from reading this blog. Well, we do! If you like cheap, delicious Mexican food, Cha Cha Cha is the place for you. There are multiple locations in Portland, but this time we visited the one on 33rd and Hawthorne.

Cha Cha Cha has good happy hour deals, but their normal prices are pretty great too. I ended up ordering my usual favorite, which is called Big Mama. This giant burrito has rice, potato chunks, and shredded beef. It is topped with green sauce, sour cream, and avocado slices. It was delicious and only $5.95.

While their happy hour house margaritas and sangria are just $3.00, I ordered something I wanted to try for awhile, which was a hibiscus margarita for $6.00. It tasted fine, but I couldn't really taste the hibiscus, so I wouldn't recommend it. It was pretty to look at though. Later I ordered a regular size sangria, also $6.00. Their sangria was decent but not my favorite. They put apples in it which was kind of weird. However, I have a boyfriend and a bff who make fabulous sangria, so I might be hard to impress.

The outdoor seating was nice on a beautiful summer day. Cha Cha Cha is also convenient if you are going with a group because you have to go up to the counter to order. This is nice because it lets you avoid any annoying awkward moments when trying to divide up the bill.

Overall Cha Cha Cha is a fun place to go with friends!

Food: Exceeds
Drink: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambience: Exceeds (outside)
Value: Exceeds

Cha! Cha! Cha! on Urbanspoon

Friday, June 26, 2009

O for Oba!

It’s always fun to go downtown with your girlfriends but Oba made it even better. Open at 4, the happy hour was pretty happy. I loved the salsa/samba music and was wonder
ing if they had a dance floor. If not they should put one in because my hips were ready to swing!

They have wonderful fruit margaritas. Normally I don’t like margaritas they always seem to taste like too much tequila. These margaritas were a perfect blend. I had the Marion berry and would recommend it! The only downside is they were a bit small. I’m used to seeing fishbowl-sized margaritas. I also ordered the coconut shrimp and Cuban style fried rice. Both were absolutely delicious. The shrimp had this marmalade sauce that was sweet with a hint of spice. The rice (vegetarian) had a wonderful flavor I can’t quite name, maybe a bit limey. Whatever it was it was delicioso! Don’t let the description of the plantains scare you from ordering the rice. They were thin fried strips, more of a decoration but also tasted good crunched with the rice. I did realize later that both entrees that I ordered were fried and I think that always adds some good flavor, but not the healthiest. E and B didn’t have quite the same experience as I, but they do agree that my food was the best!!! I guess I just know how to pick 'em.

As we left I told E and B that this was one of the best places we have been in Portland. I had a wonderful time. Loved the food, music, and drinks. Eating at Oba brought me back to my vacationing times in Costa Rica! -O

Food: Exceeds
Drink: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Exceeds

Value: Conditionally Meets

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

La Costita

17102 SE Powell Blvd

I don't know about you, but I have always wanted to have a local bar that is like the one on the show Cheers. La Costita is one of those places. Unfortunately, they know us, but they don't seem to particularly love us or give us special treatment. I do enjoy being called Maestra by one of the waiters, but other than that, we don't get the love that we deserve for the amount of time we have put in there.

That being said, La Costita is a good place for happy hour or lunch because it is close to work, has cheap food and cheap drinks, and it is never too crowded. La Costita is not a good place for happy hour or lunch because it has slow (but fairly friendly) service, they sometimes make mistakes on the bill, and they got rid of the spinach enchiladas (or as Kristin likes to call them, enchiladas espinacas).

At lunch today I ordered a combination meal and a diet coke. I have to admit, La Costita has THE BEST diet coke. However, they put a lot of ice in it and only seem to give one refill. This is a big disappointment for an addict like myself. For my combo, I got beans, rice, a tamale and a cheese enchilada. It was big and good! I couldn't even finish it, but I ate all of the tamale. Better than my meal, though was the chips and salsa. You never know what to expect with the salsa--sometimes it is super hot, sometimes it has extra pepper, but it is almost always good. I can--and will--eat a whole basket of chips and salsa by myself.

The prices at La Costita are pretty good, especially if you are ordering an alcoholic beverage during Happy Hour. Well drinks are about $3.50. Lunch items are around $6.00. Happy Hour items are $3-4.00 each.

Food: Meets.
Drink: Exceeds.
Service: Conditionally Meets. (It was pretty good today, but can be problematic.)
Ambience: Meets. (Although sometimes it is so chilly that I need a jacket.)
Value: Exceeds.

La Costita on Urbanspoon

La Costita

Only minutes away from work, La Costita was the perfect place to stop on a Friday afternoon for happy hour. During the school year, it used to be the ONLY place we would go...until they changed the happy hour menu. We went so frequently that they knew us when we walked through the door. And, we almost always got the same table. Not that it's a busy place or anything...but, we had a little competition from the bus drivers. That's right, bus drivers. They go out on Fridays, too.

I have a tendency to order the exact same thing every time I go to a restaurant. Some people might think that it's a fault. They might assume that I am not adventurous. Maybe it's true. I'm just trying to play it safe. I know what I like...and I don't like to be disappointed. So many times, I branch out and end up with something that I can't even finish. I've been this way my whole life. (In fact, while I'm in Idaho this weekend I am going to go to Tomato Brothers and I am going to order Baked Spaghetti because that's what I've done since I was in junior high.) At La Costita, it was the spinach enchiladas. They were only three dollars and went SO well with my sangria. Now that they are not on the menu, I'm not as eager to go to La Costita for happy hour. They are still on the regular menu...but, I'm not willing to pay three times as much for the same number of enchiladas plus beans and rice. I don't even eat the beans. And, I'm all about value.

Today we met there for lunch. I tried something new. Something I've had at other restaurants and even at home. Arros con Pollo...minus the pollo, of course. It was good but missing something. I can't quite pinpoint it. Maybe it needed more cheese. Maybe more mushrooms. Maybe sour cream. Or, maybe it was the chicken. :P

La Costita has a lot to offer. First, it holds so many memories. We've been going there for years...so, it would have to. The painted walls are typical of any mexican restaurant, the TVs and video lottery provide oodles of entertainment (or at least, lots of background noise), the drinks are super cheap and the bathroom smells like jellybeans. (I might be the only one who has noticed...and, the only one who cares.) The make fresh tortillas (both flour and corn) and make you feel extra special on your birthday (right, O?). Overall, it's a great place. Other than the change in the happy hour menu, the only real complaint that I have is the mints. They're key lime. Not good. At least not in my opinion.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Exceeds
Ambiance: Meets (it's typical)
Service: Does Not (always) Meet
Value: Exceeds


La Costita

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Oba! from another perspective

Like B, I didn't make the best choices at Oba! I ordered the Grilled Chicken Tacos, which were decent, but my drink was not the best. Instead of the beautiful and delicious prickly pear margarita I ordered on my last visit, I tried the guava margarita. Too much tequila flavor made it taste like a regular lime margarita. The Grilled Chicken Tacos had two salsas (green and red) that really made them taste better. However, I had a strong garlic flavor in my mouth long after the meal was over. Luckily, I like garlic, but if garlic is not your thing you should probably stay away from this dish.

I enjoyed the music, and the service was good. We sat inside since it was a little chilly, but their outside seating is really nice during the summer.

The prices were about average for Happy Hour. My total ended up being $12.00 for a margarita and the chicken tacos. I do have to admit that later on I was hungry again and went to Cha!Cha!Cha! for dinner number two! --E
Oba on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 22, 2009


555 NW 12th Avenue
Happy Hour 4 - 6:30 everyday

They've changed the menu since last summer. I was excited to see more food options but didn't make the best selection. Shouldn't macaroni and cheese (whether it be flavored with green chilies or not) have a substantial amount of cheese in it? It's a cream sauce...and they should call it what it is. The fresh fruit margaritas are still available and as good as before. -b


Someday we will publish a book. For now, we will do our best to maintain this blog.

We are teachers. Teachers with a little extra time on our hands during the summer. Yes, we still have families, commitments, places to go and things to do...but, this is our summer. All year long we rush through microwaved meals and shortened conversations during our "duty-free" lunch. Those thirty minutes never feel quite as long as they should with all of the questions, parent phone calls and time spent supervising the flow of traffic to and from lunch. To make up for it, we plan to take full advantage of the time we have off.

Our goal is to get to a new happy hour spot each week. We'll be there early enough to get a good table (outside if the weather allows) and stay late enough to enjoy a drink or two, some tasty snacks and maybe even dessert. Pictures will be taken, comments will be made, drinks will be spilled (I am sure of it). It's bound to be a good summer.