Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Revival - revisit for Tennessee hot chicken

John and I went to Revival recently for lunch. My second visit and his first visit. One thing to note, even though it was a Saturday, we arrived about 11 am and it was not that busy yet. We only waited 15 minutes for a table. It become a lot busier by the time we left.

I have read so much about the Tennessee hot chicken I was excited to try it. The people at the table next to us warned me it was really, really spicy, but I got it anyway. It IS really spicy! No extra hot sauce needed! If you remove some of the skin it is a lot less spicy. That said, I enjoyed it, I ate it all, but I am not sure I would order it again. If I want spicy chicken I'll order their regular fried chicken and add one of their hot sauces to it.

John ordered the two piece white meat fried chicken. He enjoyed it a lot and said it was tender and juicy. I think this is probably the best fried chicken in the Twin Cities. John liked the vinegar pepper and sweet potato habanero sauces.

The biscuits are perfect. So flaky, crispy and light. The sorghum butter is sweet and delicious. Don't miss these biscuits!
We also ordered the macaroni and cheese for our second side. The crisp cheese on top was the best part, but the creamy cheese mixture below was quite good as well.

The service was very good, rather quick and we were in and out in no time at all. I only wish the restaurant was larger so it was not so difficult to get into.

Here's a link to my first visit to Revival in November:

4257 Nicollet Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55409
(612) 345-4516

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Puerto Vallarta trip report 2.3 - 2.11.16 - Never enough days in a trip!

We had a lot of snowfall the day before we departed for PVR, and it was still snowing when we drove to the airport at the crack of dawn. The roads were awful, but we slowly made it to the Park n Fly lot and to the airport. Have I mentioned how fantastic TSA pre-check is? The security lines are so fast with this. I highly recommend it! Everything said our flight was on time and we boarded and backed away from the gate, even though I was worried it could be delayed any second. It took about 30 minutes to de-ice the plane, but we took off to DFW with plenty of time to spare. We thought we had a tight connection there, but when we arrived at the gate for our PVR flight, they had not even started boarding the flight yet. Once that flight took off, we were home free.

Customs at PVR went pretty quickly even though it looked like quite a few flights landed at the same time. We got cash at an ATM and paid for a taxi near the departures door and headed for the Tropicana in Old Town.
We checked in and were assigned a room on the third floor. Here are a couple room pictures I took later in the week. Note: rooms that end in 49 and 50 in the "newer" tower closest to the beach have king beds and beach front views.

The hotel is nothing fancy, but it is clean and in a great location. We walked to most restaurants, bars and shopping in the area for most of the trip, which is great.
nice view from patio

After checking in and unpacking a bit, we headed down to the hotel bar for our first relaxing beverage. We were happy to see pretty much all of the same employees still working there.

The hotel redid the pool bar area with a larger palapa and more seating underneath, but I forgot to get a photo of it.
We walked down the beach and had a couple drinks at La Palapa. Their margaritas are excellent and they have some unique flavors and mixtures.

Our next stop was Cuates y Cuetes for some Pacificos and sunset. It is certainly a busy place for most of the day and evening.

nice sunset

We walked down to Joe Jack's (Basilio Badillo 212) to see how busy it was for dinner. We only waited a few minutes and we got a table downstairs right behind the hostess stand. Sometimes it feels very warm in this area, but I found the temperature to be fine.
mai tai
ceviche trio served with tortilla chips- very delicious
I had a fish special
John had the shrimp and chips

It had been a long day that started at 4am, so we grabbed a few supplies at the Oxxo or Kiosko on the way back to the hotel, sat on the patio for a bit and went to bed fairly early.

We were up by 8am Thursday, which is sleeping in for us since the puppy usually has us up at 6am at home. We decided to go to Coco's Kitchen (Pulpito 122) for our first breakfast. This is one of my favorite breakfast places due to excellent food, low prices and a pretty garden setting in the back.
Vallarta omelet for me
Pancakes, eggs and bacon for John
The cornbread here is phenomenal!

We headed back to the hotel and decided to sit by the pool for the day. The weather was perfect and the time sure flies by.
my pool chair view

There was a Trip Advisor pub crawl starting at 2pm, so we cleaned up and grabbed some lunch at Daiquiri Dick's before going to the meet up.
shrimp tacos
fish tacos

Both versions of the tacos were very good and the service was pretty quick. I also enjoy the patio at Daiquiri Dick's a lot with its nice beachfront view and always excellent service.

I forgot to take photos during the pub crawl completely! I'm sure other people have some photos though. We went to Thirsty Cougar, Andale's, Bar La Playa, Monchi's, Los Muertos Brewing and Cafe Roma. We had a fun time and enjoyed taking to people from all over the US and Canada. Thank you to Scott (Cheeseheads on TA) and Rena for organizing and planning! We enjoyed meeting them and ended up going to dinner with them at No Way Jose (5 de Febrero #260) afterwards.

my Mexican mule drink - basically a Moscow mule with raicilla
chicken fajitas for me
Chicken fajitas for John also. We have had these before and enjoyed them just as much as previous visits. The food and service here are always excellent.
table side Caesar salad for Scott and Rena
finished product- they added shrimp, which looked excellent
Our waiter sang to us- he was a very good singer too! 
I love the Sexy coffee here! Yes, I have a thing for things done table side. 

Hi Rena! Pic take just outside No Way Jose. 
After dinner Scott and Rena asked us if we wanted to join them for churros or flan for dessert. The churro place didn't seem to be open, or we could not find it, so we went to Cenaduria Celia for flan. It was really good too. It was getting pretty late at this point, so we called it a night and headed back to the hotel.
Friday we started off with breakfast at Freddy's Tucan (I. Vallarta & Basillio Badillio). First, I had a really good muffin/croissant thing with creak cheese and blueberries inside.
The mango jam served with the toast was very tasty. 
my basic breakfast
with blueberry pancakes
John's had eggs, hash browns and chorizo
and blueberry pancakes for him also

After breakfast we went back to the hotel and sat by the pool for most of the day. We tried Derby City Burgers (Calle Olas Altas 356) for lunch. The burgers were good and the fries were OK, nothing too special, frozen I'd be willing to bet.
bacon cheeseburger for John
mine was topped with these, bacon, caramelized onions and BBQ sauce
Enjoyed a round of dollar beers at Sea Monkey
Looking down the beach toward Langosta Loca and their creepy two story building that moves a lot when people walk. Won't be sitting upstairs there again!
And had a round at Bar la Playa (Lazaro Cardenas 179). We went there on the bar crawl, but didn't actually get a drink there as it was really busy, so we went back. The drinks are all made with fresh ingredients and they have lots of unique offerings. I had some sort of a Moscow Mule.
margarita for John

We went to Archie's Wok (F. Rodriguez 130) for dinner. We had to wait about 20-30 minutes for a table. It was pretty busy.
I had a really good mango martini and John had a super, super spicy sichuan margarita, that was almost too spicy to drink.
Barbecue pork riblets, hoisin style. These were very good with a flavorful sauce and the meat was very tender and juicy.
shrimp and chicken fried rice
Thai garlic shrimp- these were very good as well! 

The food and service were very good and we were seated in the pretty garden area in the back. After dinner we went back to the hotel and sat on the patio a bit before going to sleep.

Saturday we went to Cucco's Market Bistro (Basillio Badillio 229) for breakfast. They had a sign out front advertising a breakfast special for 65 pesos so we both ordered that.
The bacon was good, eggs were fine, but I was not crazy about the breakfast potatoes. 
John liked the potatoes fine though, so i was being picky I guess. 

We headed back to the hotel and sat by the pool. Have I mentioned that if there are no pool chairs at the Tropicana, the attendant will being some out as long as you can find a place for them? We did that a few times. They also had chair pads available.

We wanted to have an early dinner to Pancho's Takos, but they were not open when we first walked by, so we went to Nacho Daddy for chips and guacamole.
Pancho's Takos (Calle Basilio Badillo 162) was open by 6pm and we were seated right away. Here are the hot sauces they serve. I think I forgot to use them on my tacos though.
tacos al pastor
The food and location are basic, but everything is really delicious and very affordable. 

Of course, did I mention that the exchange rate for this trip was 18 pesos to the dollar, so we felt like we got great deals on just about everything on this trip. After dinner we went back to the hotel, rested, read and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Sunday we went to Memo's Pancake House (Basillio Badillio 289) for breakfast. It was pretty early, so we were offered a selection of seating options. It filled up as we were finishing though.
I was feeling like some yogurt and granola and got a huge bowl of it that I barely put a dent in.
toast and strawberry jam
Mexican scrambled eggs with hash browns
bacon, eggs for me
with pancakes. These are large pancakes too and super filling! 

We found breakfasts to be very affordable all over town. I don't think we spent much more than $20 even when we ordered tons of food like we did at Memo's.

After breakfast, we took the bus to WalMart, looked around a bit a picked up a few souvenirs and took a bus to the Marina. The buses don't come very often, but the once one arrived it was pretty new and nice. Ironically, it got a flat tire as we were going through the Marina roads. There was a large pop and sound of air escaping and the bus driver got out to look. We decided to get off then and saw the flat and knew that was the end of the line anyway. So we walked from there.
wandered through a resort and looked at the boats a bit
We found the lighthouse, but it did not open until 5pm and it was only noon or so. The area is a lot of condos and resorts with a bunch of restaurants, bars and shopping. Basically, the same stuff that is in Old Town or along the Malecon. I suppose if you are staying in that area the shops would be convenient since a bus or taxi takes 10-20 minutes to get to the Malecon.

We took a taxi back toward town and ended up a the Thirsty Cougar for a few beers. It was pretty busy already and people were buying squares for the Super Bowl.

It was Super Bowl Sunday and we were going to go to El Torito, but decided to switch to Los Muertos Brewing (Lazaro Cardenas 302). We had made a reservation and put a deposit down when we stopped during the Pub Crawl on Thursday. We had to spend $300 pesos per person, which was not that difficult to do since we were there for four hours.
The buffalo wings were pretty good with a spicy sauce, though the wings themselves were a bit on the small side compared to what we would see at home.
goat cheese and tomato dip
We had the Pancho Villa pizza, topped with ham, artichokes, mushrooms and drunk onions. The pizza was very good and huge- about a 16 or 20 inch pizza if I recall correctly. We had a lot leftover and nowhere to take it.

We had a fun time watching the Super Bowl and also enjoyed chatting with the people next to us from Canada and a local that worked at one of the resorts in Nuevo. The game was a feed from Seattle, so the commercials and everything were in English. Also, they offered other beers besides those brewed there. We both switched over to Pacificos after awhile as their beers are pretty high in alcohol content. The service throughout our visit was very good, though our pizza did take a long time to arrive for some reason.
After Los Muertos we stopped at Bar La Playa for one more drink before calling it a night. I loved the little patio there.

Mondays are not so bad when you are on vacation at the beach. We went to La Palapa (Pulpito 103) for breakfast. Little known fact: Breakfast tastes better when you can see the ocean and the beach.
I can not say no to the guy with the basket of pastries. They all look so good! 
John had enfrijoladas which are corn tortillas filled with scrambled eggs and chorizo, queso fresco, pickled onions with oregano, black bean sauce.
I had the Playa Del Sol breakfast with two eggs (that looked like four to me!), bacon, plantains, french toast, hash browns and fruit topped with yogurt. Everything was so delicious and perfectly prepared. We made a reservation to sit there on the beach later in the week before we left.

We took the bus down to Boca de Tomatlan to visit Ocean Grill for a 1pm reservation. Taking the bus is always a bit of an adventure and the view going South is spectacular. We arrived early and sat at the restaurant nearest the pier.

Here's a shot of some other people arriving at Ocean Grill. You have to be pretty quick and agile to jump from the boat onto the ladder of the dock.

Ocean Grill margaritas- they are green due to the addition of mint
chips and guacamole- the guac is a bit different as it has cucumbers added to it
John had shrimp with Ocean Grill sauce, which is a buttery garlic sauce. 
I had catch of the day, which was sea bass with Ocean Grill sauce. Everything is freshly prepared, grilled and excellent. The service was great also. 
The Key Lime pie should not be missed! 

The restaurant is in the palapa /deck area just above the water. there is a small beach area off to the right, not in this shot.
After Ocean Grill we took the bus to Mismaloya to sit on the beach. It was a bit cloudy, but we managed to enjoy the beach regardless. There were quite a few resident dogs hanging around that we were entertained by for the afternoon.
beach with Barcelo hotel in the background
Interesting homemade bridge (behind the boats) we crossed to get to the beach bar we ended up at.

We took the bus back to Puerto Vallarta, stopped at Lucy's Cucu Cabana for some shopping fun and went back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation.
Stopped to make a later reservation at Polo's Mariscos (Basilio Badillo) and then went to Twisted Palms for Monday Martini Madness. All martinis are on special for $50 pesos. Quite a deal considering how much care goes into making each drink here- lots of freshly squeezed juices and such.

We headed back to Polo's and ran into Scott and Rena from the TA Pub Crawl. They had just arrived as well, and they invited us to join them.
I had shrimp with mole sauce- very good. 
John had some sort of garlic shrimp. I can't find a menu online to be sure. 

After dinner, John and I decided to walk along the Malecon as we had not even crossed the river once in the trip so far. We stopped at Bar Oceano for a beer and watched people climb the sculpture across the way.
malecon at night

Tuesday and also our 8th wedding anniversary, we started the day with breakfast a Daiquiri Dick's on the patio. We were pretty early so we had our choice of seating.
I had the sunrise burrito made with scrambled eggs, chorizo, tomato, onion, jalapeños and avocado salsa. This was huge and very, very filling.
John had the scrambled eggs - a la Mexicana with diced tomato, onion and chilies. Everything was excellent once again.
We sat on the beach for most of the day in front of the hotel and enjoyed watching all of Puerto Vallarta go by. We headed down to Swell to grab some lunch. The food was excellent but it took forever for our food to arrive and of course we had appointments for massages, so we didn't have all day.
I came across the old Carlos O'Brian's sign at Swell. Wonder how and why that is there of all places?!
I think John had a BLT
I had a really good chicken sandwich with avocado on it along other things. Lucky for us, the owner saw we had been waiting a long time and comped us each a drink.

We went to Metamorphosis spa (Francisca Rodriguez 159) for massages. The rooms were cool, dark and quiet and the masseuses were very nice and professional. I think we paid $600 pesos per person.

We went back to the room and got cleaned up and ready for dinner. There was another, larger TA Pub Crawl that had started earlier, but we had decided to show up late at the last couple of stops, which was exactly how it timed out. We had plenty of fun at the previous one and didn't want to drink so much before our anniversary dinner. We had a beer at Pour Favor and went up to Twisted Palms a bit early so we could get a martini before the group arrived.
Raspberry beret martini

We had reservations for a nice anniversary dinner at Cafe de Artistes (Guadalupe Sanchez 740), so we walked there as we had plenty of time to spare. 
We were seated in the beautiful outdoor garden area
rose petals on the table for our anniversary
bread basket with flavored butters and three types of bread
John had the confit suckling pig and broiled bay scallop taco with avocado cream, black onion puree, crunchy mushroom, beer and tomato sauce. The pork was very tender, but it was tough to eat- kind of fell apart when you picked it up.
My appetizer was the fresh tuna Vietnamese marinated with chili pepper, avocado, basil, lemon, coriander and seeds. Very fresh tasting and delicious.
For my entree I had the roasted sea bass fillet with potatoes Cafe Des Artistes with confit turnip perfumed with aniseed, spinach custard and fine herb sauce. The fish was excellent and I found the potato preparation unique and delicious.
John had the grilled catch of the day special, we think was mahi mahi possibly. 
creme brûlée with cookies on a special happy anniversary tray
sexy coffee on fire-- this one was very strong tasting of alcohol and not very good, plus they did not pour it back and forth, which must help burn off some of the booze
piano bar inside with live entertainment
building exterior

The food and service were all very good and the garden is very beautiful and impressive. This is certainly the place to go for celebration meals, they certainly go all out, the rose petals on the table and the huge dessert plate all felt very unique.

We walked down to the malecon and walked along there until we got to Old Town where we caught the end of the Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras parade. Looked like some people had been enjoying themselves waiting for it to go by.
lots of Mardi Gras spectators- can see a float or two in there also

Wednesday, our last full day. Sadness sets in a bit knowing the trip is almost over. We spent the day on the beach at La Palapa.
before all the chairs filled up
breakfast pastry
coffee and fresh grapefruit juice
I had the Playa Del Sol breakfast again. I like the variety of it.
John had yogurt and granola with seasonal fruit, berries and agave honey
some complimentary mango, tomato, onion and garlic salsa with plantain and sweet potato chips- very unique salsa and fresh tasting
burger for John
tuna burger for me with side salad

We sat here for quite a long time and out bill came out to $56 US dollars, which is not bad at all considering we ate two meals, had a multitude of beverages and they wait on you hand and foot. The service was excellent throughout our visit and I'd certainly spend a beach day here again.

pic from our hotel room patio
We went to Cafe Roma for happy hour. I had a delicious mango margarita on the Pub Crawl and had to have one more before we went home. Very good with fresh juices.

We had a dinner reservation at Palomar de la Gonzalez (Aguacate 425). We wanted to try one of the view restaurants for our last night. We took a taxi from Cafe Roma as I think it would have been a taxing walk.
nice views of the city, but we could not see the sun setting
We were seated near the pool/fountain
fresh tuna with mango appetizer
John had shrimp in wine- shrimp sautéed in wine, garlic and butter
I had Palomar shrimp, shrimp sautéed in a light tomato and pepper sauce. 
pretty fountain/garden room

The service was OK, the main server became pretty scarce the longer we were there, the assistant apologized and told us someone didn't show up that night so they were short staffed. I had a really good Sexy Coffee here, but the pics didn't come out very well. I thought the food was OK and the views are better elsewhere, so I'm not sure we'd go back. Seems like the higher up the hill, the less amazing the food is. We took a taxi back down the hill. Not sure we could have found our way! The roads up on the hill twist and turn a lot.
Stopping at Bar la Playa became a bit of a habit. A good one! I enjoyed chatting with the gal that owned it each time we stopped.

We stopped at 116 Pulpito for a nightcap. It is a newer place and very small. The Moscow Mule I had was very good.
The complementary guacamole and chips was very good

Thursday we had one last fantastic breakfast at Coco's Kitchen before we had to pack up and head to the airport.
french toast with eggs for John
side of bacon
crispy, crunchy cornbread
another Vallarta omelet for me
We took some laundry to a Lavendaria (on Pulpito) and it came back the next day folded, fresh and smelling great for 60 pesos. Great way to save some space on packing.
We had some extra time, so we walked along the malecon and tried to store up some Vitamin D for the trip home.
We packed our bags and grabbed a taxi to the airport. It took about 30 minutes to the airport and the bag check and security lines went very quickly. Our PVR flight departed right on time.

We both recently applied for Global Entry with the added benefit of TSA Precheck, so landing in DFW was our first use of Global Entry. It was so awesome! We went right to the clearly marked Global Entry kiosks, scanned our passports and fingerprints, answered a few questions, got a picture taken and took the printout through customs. We went to wait for our bags, which came out pretty fast, we took the bags and printout to the next lineup, handed the print and passport to an agent, who reviewed it all for a minute and we were on our way to re-check our bags. From the time we got off the plane to the time we sat down to eat some dinner, I think it was 30 minutes total. Global entry is awesome! I highly recommend if you plan to travel internationally often. It cut our lineup times in half or maybe more. In the past, we barely had time to grab a sandwich to go onto the next flight.

We had extra time to sit down and eat so we went to Salt Lick BBQ in terminal A. John had a brisket sandwich and fries.
I had the brisket meal with beans, cole slaw and fries. The fries were fresh and tasted good, but likely frozen, the brisket was tender with a good sauce, the cole slaw was possibly vinegar based and not very saucy. I didn't care for it much. The beans had an odd flavor due to the sauce and hamburger meat mixed in.

We had another wonderful trip to Puerto Vallarta once again. Even though we were there almost nine days, it felt like the time went incredibly quick. We ran into so many people that were there for several weeks to many months and I had a hard time not being jealous of them. Hopefully, one day we can stay for an extended trip like that! Guess a girl has to have goals!