Catching Up: Restaurant Reviews 294-296: Atlantic City, NJ

I have a bunch of restaurant reviews coming from when I was on my brief hiatus. Unfortunately, some of them will not be as detailed as I would like, since they occurred a few months ago. For this, let’s go back to March when Justin and I went to Atlantic City for his birthday.

Review #294: Casa Taco and Tequila Bar

We were staying at the Tropicana and wanted to kick off his birthday with a bang: that meant afternoon cocktails. Well, I should be more specific: early afternoon cocktails. For this, we landed at Casa Taco, which is inside the Tropicana. As for most people, the goal of this trip was to not have to move the car until checking out. This allows for worry-free imbibing. And while I am never averse to a tipple while the sun is still shining, you know damn well that it would have to be a special occasion for me to have a Tequila flight at 1 PM. I’m not a tequila guy, but when in Rome, right? This started our day of wandering with a nice buzz. Justin had a Mojito and a bottle of Magic Hat #9.

This drinking was to occur on an empty stomach, so we ordered nachos with chicken. The behemoth platter soon arrived and sopped up all that booze. No joke, this thing could have easily fed four people and the two of us could no finish it. For $16, it just may be the best bang for your buck in the entirety of Atlantic City. But it was not just pub grub. The chicken was perfectly seasoned (Justin recognized the flavor of recaito and swears the chef must be Puerto Rican), and it was loaded with cheese, guacamole, beans, pico del gallo, jalapenos, and a crema drizzle. Four months later, and I am still dreaming about these nachos. 4 out of 5 stars.

Review #295: The Chelsea Inn

After a few hours of playing at the casino and walking around the boardwalk like true tourists who had no idea where they were going, we headed over to The Chelsea Inn for a couple of drinks. This was recommended to us highly by our friend Lisa and her husband Irv, who are avid devotees of Atlantic City. We only had drinks here, no food, but I will still leave a numerical score as a placeholder like I often do, which can be upgraded with another visit and more of a sampling.

I specially wanted a gin and tonic made with Mr. Finger’s Alibi Gin, which is a local distilled creation. It was Lisa’s family who gifted me a bottle of the stuff for Christmas a few months prior, and I fell in love with it. Despite its cucumbery notes (and me being no fan of cucumber), it is one of the most flavorful and refreshing gins I’ve ever had. While not at Mr. Finger’s actual bar, it was nice to sip this spirit in its hometown. Justin had a Budweiser or two, and we headed back to the casino. This was a chill place to hang out in with very friendly bartenders. The atmosphere was Gatsby-esque, making their Speakeasy moniker live up to its name. 3 out of 5 stars.

Review #296: Cuba Libre

I don’t like hotel restaurants. Everyone knows that. But this is AC. You’re supposed to eat at a wildly overpriced hotel restaurant. Actually, I found Cuba Libre to be decently priced, at least compared to nearby Carmine’s. But that is besides the point. While I could have gone for Italian, the family-style portions there would have been too much food for Justin and I to handle.

Cuba Libre was virtually empty when we arrived but gradually filled up. We started off with drinks: a Caipirinha for Justin and a Rumrunner for me. His was not as sweet as we are used to, and we were actually appreciative of that and how the bartender let the Cachaca shine through.

Believe it or not, we were still full from those nachos (and a later stop at Chickie and Pete’s for some dreadful crab fries that I am not even going to bother reviewing) so we just had entrees. The aromas coming out of the kitchen were promising, and the final result did not fail to deliver. When it comes to this type of Spanish food, Justin is a lot more critical than me, but he loved his Ropa Vieja. Brisket was braised and shredded, being perfectly tender in a rich sauce with vegetables and wine. It was served over rice and topped with a maduro. For me, I had a skirt steak which they cooked exactly to my liking and placed atop a bed of popping roasted garlic mashed potatoes and with a light watercress salad. Neither of us had any complaints. 4 out of 5 stars.

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