hot ticket: jalapeño southwest grill.

burgIMG_6299There’s a new kid in town, and he’s HOT. And saucy. And bright and vibrant and fun. His name is Jalapeño, and you can find him near the Food Lion on Port Republic Road. Brandy, Ben, my kids, and I all managed to get our schedules aligned one night recently and decided to pay him a quick visit.

Once there we were shown to a large booth in their clean and tidy dining room. The textured walls, wooden tables, and simple artwork balanced the festive plates, colorful cocktails, and warmly lit bar. I unpacked “the bag”– a bag of assorted crap and whatnots that we never leave home without. Comic books, sketchbooks, paper, a coffee tin of colored pencils, a deck of cards; and the kids were happy. We ordered the signature Jalapeno Margarita, a Three Brothers Hoptimization, a Corona, and a Devils Backbone Vienna Lager, and the adults were happy. (Yes, that’s four drinks for three people. Brandy and I shared the margarita, thankyouverymuch.)

burgIMG_6243 burgIMG_6252 burgIMG_6274burgIMG_6257The menu has lots of variety, and the portions are generous. It took us forever but we finally ordered Arroz Con Pollo (rice topped with queso dip, chicken strips, grilled onions, mushrooms, four-color peppers with soft corn or flour tortillas); Tacos Al Pastor (corn tortillas with marinated pork and pineapple, pico de gallo and a side of spicy salsa and lime, served with your choice of Amazing Fries, rice and beans, or house salad); and a Steak Quesadilla, served with a side of romaine lettuce, pico de gallo and sour cream, plus  your choice of Amazing Fries, rice and beans, or house salad.

burgIMG_6272 burgIMG_6281We also ordered a “Create Your Own” burrito, which was the size of a small infant. The server actually handed Brandy an order form and she checked off all the fillings and toppings she wanted, from meat or fish or BACON to an assortment of veggies and special toppings like Chipotle Mango Pineapple Salsa. And rounding out our party of five, an order of chicken tenders (good grief. My son can beat every level on Super Mario Bros 2 in 45 minutes and can crack a joke every ten seconds, but he can’t eat a dang taco). To say the least, everything was delicious and gobbled up much too quickly.

burgIMG_6285 burgIMG_6291We were much too full for dessert, but I can’t wait to go back and try the cheesecake taco. While Brandy and I chatted, and Bree put her nose back in whatever 700-page book she was reading, Ben was nice enough to entertain Cal with a game of rock-paper-scissors-bunny-soup-lighter. In case you weren’t sure, bunny beats paper and soup, but not lighter, rock, or scissors.

Jalapeño Southwest Grill is located at 1039 Port Republic Road in Harrisonburg. Hope to see you there soon!
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winter solst… soulspice: rick’s cantina.

ricks cantina signTo write this post, I’ve had to get my thinkin’ cap on, because this outing occurred before Christmas, during the haze of the holidays. I remember it was a chilly day, and I remember Michael and I were shopping warriors–this one day being our last chance away from the kids to get gifts for all five of them. The expansive list included items such as LEGOs, books, fuzzy socks, Angry Birds, ninja swords, roller skates, handcuffs, and a yoyo. We had a lot of stops to make. Man, I was getting grouchy. Finally, we took a much-needed hiatus when Brandy invited us to meet her and Danielle at Rick’s Cantina. Hello, refreshment!

ricks cantinaAlthough we arrived limp and hungry, we quickly transformed into lively revelers. Why? Because you can’t maintain a bad mood while eating Mexican food. You just can’t. Salad? Yes. Tuna casserole? Sure. Meatloaf? DE-PRESS-ING. An entire container of Breyers Rocky Road? Oh, yes–I’ve done that lots of times. But Mexican food? No. You cannot be sad in its presence. And I haven’t even gotten to margaritas yet.

For one thing, they offer more than 50 different types of tequila and many creative ways to drink it. We ordered one house margarita with a chili rim, one sangria margarita, one strawberry margarita, and a tequila sunset. Danielle said hers tasted “like summertime.” See? Instant mood lifter. Then there was mad exchanging of drinks because we all wanted to try everyone else’s. And a bit later Michael asked, “Hey, where’s my drink?” And I said, “Um, you drank it.” We’ve all been there before.

ricks cantina menumargaritasTo eat, we ordered roasted chicken tacos, chicken quesadillas, chicken tortilla soup, salmon and avocado ceviche, chips and salsa, cheese quesadillas, and crispy yucca fries. Michael’s chicken quesadillas were the best he’d ever had: “Look–you can actually pick it up and eat it.” Brandy loved her tacos so much she wanted us to experience her eating them:

“Lemme cleanse my palate. Okay, currently it’s warm and gooey to my finger.”

She takes a bite, and from here on out speaks with a very full mouth:
“Okay. The shell is soft and warm. Then you get inside..” <giggles> “…and it breaks off in your mouth…. a nice lil’ tornado of chicken and rice and tortilla… and it’s spicy as you exhale.” There you have it, folks. Run to Rick’s right now and order those tacos!!

ricks cantina foodAs usual, the after-dinner conversation trailed off into weirdness, like how kids intentionally eat PlayDoh. I did. It’s good. So what? And that led to how pregnant women sometimes eat dirt… and other such topics that somehow made sense at the time.

More info you should know. The Daily Specials:

Monday 4 – 9pm–Margarita Monday, $3 House Margaritas
Tuesday 4 – 7pm–Dollar Gringo Tacos
Wednesday 4 – 7pm–Tequila flight with Chips and Salsa for $10
Thursday 4 – 7pm–$2 draft beers and half-price Pie Pan Nachos
Sunday Funday 11 – 3pm–$3 Maria Verde, $2 Sammie’s Sangria, and $2 Bromosa; 3 – 7pm–$5 Burrito and $3 Mechelada

That’s A LOT of special. It doesn’t matter what day of the week you’re cold or grouchy–Rick’s will gladly take care of you! Rick’s Cantina is located at 14 East Water Street downtown. They’re open 11 – 11 every day.

katie michael danielleCopyright © 2012-13 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.