Tag Archives: Restaurant

Putting the Fun in “Fundido”

Los Otates Restaurant in Cozumel, Mexico

As mentioned in my last blog, Cozumel, Mexico is one of the ports that I have had the pleasure of visiting during several cruises. Aside from scuba diving, one of my favourite things to do in Cozumel is eat at Los Otates, a local restaurant. Los Otates is an authentic Mexican restaurant, just off the beaten path, in an area that tourists rarely visit. If you didn’t know it was there…you would never find it!

I first learned about Los Otates five or six years ago while I was in Mexico with friends. Unfortunately, I was unable to visit the restaurant on that trip, but my wife was lucky enough to eat at this hidden gem. She raved about it and since that time, I too have eaten more than once. I always look forward to returning.

If I was to take you to Los Otates, you would probably think I am crazy based on its curbside appeal… because it has none. The restaurant is a small hole in the wall that has a green tin roof and a chicken wire fence on the side to close shop. The sidewalk leading up to the restaurant is in disrepair but it is in a safe part of town and the food speaks for itself.

Los Otates is the kind of place locals go to after spending a night on the town. All the taxi drivers know it and everyone ends up there, since they are open until four or five in the morning. Really – you want great food? Ask a taxi driver. These guys know their stuff.

They serve some of the best Mexican food I have ever eaten. They make the guacamole right in front of you, and melt the cheese for their signature dip, Queso Fundido, as you watch. There food is always fresh, served hot, and delicious.

Aside from the quality, you can’t beat the price! Whether it’s beers for a $1.40 US, or tacos for $2.50 US, you will leave extremely full without putting a big dent in your wallet. To put it in perspective, four of us stuffed ourselves silly, ordered beers and apple sodas and our bill only came out to $38.00 US. You just can’t beat that!

If you really want to experience authentic Mexican cuisine while in Cozumel, I really recommend that you abandon the tourist joints and head to Los Otates. They put the fun in “Fundido”!

Los Otatates
gerencia_mexico@losotates.com
www.losotates.com

 

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How Starbucks Became my “Third Place”

Starbucks Secret Menu

When it comes to my caffeine fix, I will admit that I love Tim Hortons and always go there for my morning coffee. The coffee tastes great and I find it less expensive than many coffee shops.

That said, in more recent times, my visits to Starbucks have become more regular, since my wife and daughter enjoy a number of their drinks, including their “Secret Frappuccino Menu”. In addition, over the last few months, my daughter has asked me to take her to the local Starbucks so she can sip on a beverage and relax in the “big cozy chairs” after a day of skating or other fun activities.

Since I began sharing these experiences with my daughter, I have started to appreciate the Starbucks experience even more. Currently, I frequent my local Starbucks to catch up with friends, have informal business meetings, or get work done without the distractions encountered at my home or office. In fact, between the big cozy chairs, the free Wi-Fi, and some nice music playing, I’m wondering if I really need an office anymore!

During a recent visit, I was surprised to observe how many of the customers at the Bathurst and Joicey location were regulars. What was even more surprising, is how the employees knew many of these people by name, regardless of whether they were a manager, full-time or part-time employee. In addition to the personal touch, I also like how this location usually has seats available. Whether it’s the big cozy chairs, a table for two, or space at the communal desk, they have room for everyone!

I remember Howard Schultz, the founder of Starbucks saying that his goal was to have Starbucks be the “Third Place” in our lives…home being the first, work second and Starbucks third. Given my recent experiences, I see what he means, and I think that he might have succeeded.

So if you have some time to kill, want to catch up with friends, relax with a book, do some work, or just sip on a tasty drink, check out your local Starbucks.

Starbucks
1-800-782-7282
www.starbucks.ca

 

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Games Night—Stay Latte!

Several weeks ago, as the weather turned colder, my family introduced me to great place for food and fun, located in downtown Toronto.

Snakes and Lattes (S&L) is Toronto’s original board game café where you can dine and play games for as little or as much time as you would like.  With over 1,000 games to choose from, there truly is something for everyone!  S&L now has two downtown locations.  The original location first opened on Bloor Street in 2010, and after much success, they opened their second location on College Street in 2015.

Both locations offer guests a dining experience, however, Bloor Street is more of a cafe, while the College Street location has more food and beverage options.  Of course, the food is almost secondary, to the main reason for going to Snakes and Lattes…..to play games.  In fact, if you enjoy any of the games that you play, they also have an area of the store where you can purchase games (I believe they are the only place in the city to buy the popular game, Cards Against Humanity).

The staff are well educated and can suggest age appropriate games for your group and give you details on how to play each game.  This is pretty impressive given the number of games S&L offers.  The games are divided into zones like card games, strategy, fantasy and more.  Some of the games are ones you have probably never heard of but they do indeed exist!

Snakes and Lattes does not take reservations so it is good to get there early, but if there is a wait, they will take down your number and text you when a table is available.  Even if you have to wait, it is definitely worth it!  S&L provides a fun evening out where you and your friends or family can partake in something a bit different than just going out for dinner or drinks.  It’s an especially enjoyable place to go during the cold winter months.  

Don’t be surprised if you get hit by the bug and end up buying a game you played that night….it’s happened to us more than once.  Alternatively, you can also purchase games from their website.

Now back to Monopoly……

Snakes and Latte’s
647-342-9229
www.snakesandlattes.com

 

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Top 5 Rooftop Patios in Toronto

Here is another one of our “Top Lists”! Summer is almost here, and the desire to catch up with friends has never been greater. When you are in the company of an amazing friend, a must-have is a restaurant that is just as amazing. Toronto is famous for its many restaurants – from board game cafés such as Snakes and Lattes to pitch-black dining rooms at the O.Noir. However, it is Toronto’s rooftop patios that are on our radar this week. They do not only offer amazing food, but also allow you to fully enjoy the summer sun. Here is our pick of Toronto’s top 5 rooftop patios:

1. Paupers Pub: Located at 539 Bloor Street West, this rooftop patio is in the heart of the Toronto Annex. It is the perfect place to try out the pub’s delicious beverages menu on a Friday night or the weekend. From non-alcoholic drinks to draughts, to tallboys, Paupers Pub has a beverage for everyone.

2. Madison Avenue Pub: This pub is located at 14 Madison Avenue, and it is home to not only a lovely rooftop patio, but the home of fantastic food and live music. This pub also has a distinct British flair. The decorated walls, brass fittings, and comfortable booths make for a memorable experience.

3. The Flight Deck: Part of The Pilot and located at 22 Cumberland Street, the Flight Deck is the restaurant’s recipe for success. You would not only get to bask in the sunlight, enjoy the cool breeze, have some cold drinks, and make new friends, but also enjoy how it is away from the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets.

4. Sky Yard: Located at 1150 Queen Street West is the Drake Hotel’s roof top patio. The Sky Yard is truly a hidden gem in Toronto, as it is decorated with a very modern aesthetic, and has speedy and friendly customer service.

5. Jazz Bistro: If you and your friends love jazz music, then this rooftop patio located at 251 Victoria Street is the place to be on a hot summer’s day. Its unique atmosphere, coupled with a seasonal cocktail menu, give it a well-deserved place in our top 5 picks. The knowledgeable staff members are a fantastic bonus.

Other worthy mentions include Jack Astor’s and Milestones, both of which have locations in downtown Toronto and are always ready to provide stellar customer service.

 

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The Red Caboose- Affordable Family Fun!

Please pardon me while the cold weather in Toronto brings about some of my favorite summer memories…

Whenever I go to Orillia, Ontario with my family, one of our favourite places to visit is The Red Caboose Mini Putt.

The mini putt itself is just like any other mini putt course, with 18 holes and some nice benches to sit and chat at, throughout the course. The Red Caboose restaurant that we eat at after playing is fine too, with rarely any lines, fast and friendly service, and a menu with great such as homemade hamburgers and fresh-cut fries.

However, what makes the Red Caboose my favourite place to visit in Orillia is because it serves Kawartha Diary ice cream.  It’s very tasty ice cream with flavours like Rum Raisin, Moose Tracks and Bear Paws.  It tastes even better when the Red Caboose serves a kid’s scoop for only $1 and an adult scoop for only $1.50!

In fact, the first time I played there and I bought ice cream for me and my family, I thought the employee had accidentally misheard how many scoops of ice cream I wanted because I was holding literally two scoops of ice cream, and it was still just a $1.50.  The amount of ice cream they scooped for us was that generous.

One time I took my family and some friends to play some mini putt.  While we were puttering around, we met another family whom we knew quite well.  After we had all finished playing, I bought ice cream for everyone and I still had change from a $20 dollar bill!

Most stores would charge roughly three or four dollars, so I highly recommend stopping by the The Red Caboose, the next time you’re in the area.

The Red Caboose
705-325-4777
nicole@redcaboose.ca

 

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Se7en Numbers fills me up

If you’re looking to eat out with family and friends, as a couple, or perhaps on a date, you may want to pay a visit to a restaurant known as 7 Numbers on Eglinton Avenue in Toronto. 7 Numbers is a casual Italian restaurant with an eclectic atmosphere. This is evident as soon as you arrive when you see one of the owners cooking food in the small kitchen near the front window. The restaurant has great food at reasonable prices, is family friendly, and always provides great customer service. As a result, the restaurant has become one of my “go to” places with my wife and our friends.

On the menu 7 Numbers offers appetizers, first and second courses, as well as family-style platters. During my past few visits, our table ordered some of the family-style platters and it was on such an occasion that I realized how different the experience is at this restaurant from many others.

Although the family platters contain a lot of food, I often find that everyone gravitates to the same items that I like, resulting in me getting less of some of my favourite foods, like the calamari, as opposed to the other options. However, on a recent visit after the platter arrived and everyone began to eat, one of my friends simply asked the server if they could bring “a little more calamari”. Without hesitation, a small extra bowl of calamari was brought to our table!

When many companies focus on the bottom line, it is a great feeling to be able to go out to a restaurant, and not worry about incurring extra costs for a little more food in order to leave with a full belly. Clearly it is 7 Numbers’ philosophy that if it takes a few extra pieces of something to create a positive experience for the customer, they are willing to go the distance. It was great to see that at a family-run restaurant, they want you to leave full and satisfied.

On your next night out, be sure to visit 7 Numbers. I am sure that you will leave happy… and full!

7 Numbers (2113407 Ontario Inc.)
516 Eglinton Avenue West
Toronto, ON
M5N 1A5
416-322-5183


 

 

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