search for me

31 Days of Louisville Love: El Mundo's Margaritas

While I’m on the theme of spirits, let’s talk about El Mundo’s margaritas. 

As mentioned yesterday, margaritas were my favorite grown-up beverage before Peace Corps taught me gin was good, and Louisville taught me about bourbon. It can take a while to find a good margarita. Too many places use mix (I see you, Old Seelbach bar), some places use too much sugar (or maybe it’s too much mix). You’re better off just making your margarita at home. 

But my homemade margaritas (which tend to be a little too tart) can’t compete with El Mundo’s. They’re so good. Fresh, not too sweet, and strong. Sneaky strong —  their menu advises customers to stick to two per visit. I’ve heard some wild stories about what happens after too many of those margaritas, so despite the temptation, I’ve always followed their advice. El Mundo is not a short walk from my apartment.

I’m actually missing those margaritas now. It’s been a while since I’ve had one. Anyone want to grab one in the next few weeks? 

Where is your favorite place for a margarita? 

31 Days of Louisville Love: Grind

When I moved here, I was mostly vegetarian (I ate seafood, and after Peace Corps, turkey on Thanksgiving). Then I decided I would occasionally eat meat. Hot wings were my downfall. Then ribs. And brisket. Basically, my meat-loving past caught up to me. My mother used to call me a “fleisch mutti” as a kid, which literally translates to “meat mother” and figuratively means “meat lover.” I think. Swiss German is weird. 

But I have never been that big on burgers. Gabe took me to a some restaurants that are said to have Louisville’s best burger, but I usually felt I would have enjoyed something else more. And then I had my first non-veg Grind burger. I don’t remember what it was — probably the B&B (Brie! Still my favorite) — but I liked it. I didn’t regret the stomach space or the money spent on that burger. And I’m a repeat customer. And Liz knows how well we like our burgers done.

Now, because Grind has converted me on burgers, I will occasionally order a burger elsewhere. Those other burgers frequently leave me wishing they were Grind burgers. I’m excited for the brick-and-mortar business, because now I know where I can find the Huots and don’t have to chase the truck. But knowing where a Louisville restaurant is won’t help me get a burger fix in Boston. So who’s going to fill the Grind-void in Cambridge?  

#FriFotos - Road Trip (and Hot Chicken, Round 2)

I'm rarely enthusiastic about the from-the-car photos I take on road trips. This one from last weekend's jaunt down to Nashville is no different. I want to share it because in the first seconds I saw this truck, I thought (hoped) it was actually a truck full of coffee. 

NSHVL_713 - 06

Now that we've discovered hot chicken, no trip to Nashville will be complete without it. This time, we visited Hattie B's, near Vanderbilt. Hattie B's is a little fancier than Bolton's, but you still order at a counter and sit at picnic tables. They also have beer.  

NSHVL_713 - 01
NSHVL_713 - 02

Since I survived the "hot" at Bolton's on our last visit, I thought I should see how I would handle the hottest chicken, the Damn Hot. I was nervous, and rightly so. That first bite was deceptive. I even thought Hattie B's might be faking it. When the server came around with a second dish of potato salad, her warning of, "It's a slow build," was too late. I was already there. And I never really crossed over to a place where I wasn't looking for something to eat that would ease the burn. I ate most of our four sides (pimento mac 'n' cheese!) and drank two beers in about 15 minutes. The chicken was delicious, and I ate half of Gabe's even though I said I was done before mine was gone. But when you feel like you've removed a layer of esophageal tissue, it's too hot. No more Damn Hot chicken for me. 

The Other Side of Spicy

"…hot chicken is a unique brand of fried chicken that's highly seasoned, some would say to incendiary proportions."

I was intrigued by the special "Hot Chicken" section in our Nashville guide book. When our friend saw it and also expressed interest, we had our dinner plans. 

The guide book recommended a hot chicken place near us, Bolton's (the only spot that also does hot fish, according to the fifth edition of Insiders' Guide Nashville). We ordered through the window -- medium spicy wings to share, and various levels of spice from medium to "as hot as you can make it" on our individual orders of quarters and legs. The guy in line behind us overheard our friend order his chicken "hot" and said, "Oh… you don't want hot." 


Now. I love spicy food. I grew up in Texas, and Picante commercials taught me that my home state knew salsa (and to me, salsa means heat, or don't bother). My dad ate Tabasco on everything, and my mom made him (and later me) homegrown Scotch Bonnet-Habañero relish. I like it hot and am stupid about it. So yes, I do want it hot. 

I volunteered my Texan origins to this wise gentleman, which convinced him that I'd be "good." I'm glad others will so easily join in my delusion. 

Bolton's waiting-and-dining area has four tables and hardly enough room for the crowd that gathered, so everyone overheard our order. They were eager to witness our first hot chicken experience (I think they just wanted to see if we'd cry), but we got our chicken to go. On the patio of our weekend home, we spread out our boxes, napkins and beers. The chicken comes with slices of white bread and two sides. These, I suppose, are to ease the burn. 


I started with the medium-hot wings and knew I was in trouble, Texas roots and all. Next to me, our friend drank his beer and announced he was burning. I was officially concerned about my hot chicken leg and knew I would not try my husband's "hot as you can make it" chicken. We soldiered on, tongues and stomachs burning, gulping beer and sides -- mac and cheese, greens, baked beans, slaw -- fists clenched, "experiencing THINGS."

And then it happened. My husband knows this feeling, and though I believed him, I had a hard time imagining it. But it happened. We passed to the other side of spicy. I could still feel the heat in my stomach, but slowly, the pain was gone. And I felt… good? I really did experience things and was able to eat the rest of my meal without feeling like a cartoon of a guy eating a hot pepper. 

If you're headed to Nashville and want to experience your own spicy feelings, in addition to Bolton's, 400 Degrees, Prince's (here's a great video about them), and Hattie B's were recommended to us. There's also a Hot Chicken Festival in July. I will be looking for something comparable in Louisville, and I welcome tips -- not just for chicken, but any really spicy food. Have you ever traveled to the other side of hot?