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Archive for August, 2006

Mondo’s

I’ve tried to like this place for years and while I don’t think it’s terrible, I don’t think its good either. If I am going to eat Italian food in a decrepit, outdated space, it should be excellent. The portions are large, the prices are moderately high, and the food is unremarkable. I think this speaks to the quality (or lack therof) of good, simple, middle priced Italian eateries in the area. Though somehow, the dining room remains packed. On a lighter note, the lunch is decent and well priced with huge portions and pleasant service. I wish I could like Mondo’s more but I don’t.

Visits to Mondo’s: +10

Prices: entrees around $18. 

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Santi’s

Though Santi’s improves on mediocre gringo mex in Charleston, I have had a few bad experiences here, namely funky meat. I like the moles, cactus, and other interesting things on the menu but on a few recent visits the quality of the meat has been very poor, from 2 bad chicken mole dishes to 2 bad cactus with pork dishes. I wish the ingredients were of better quality because the food is otherwise delicious. On a positive note, the soups are good and worth trying (chicken, azteca..) That Santi has revitalized an old huddle house in the neck area is another big plus. I look foward to more restaurants in that area.

Visits to Santi’s: 8
Prices: entree $6-10

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Al Di La

A recent trip to the beloved Al Di La left me a little dissapointed, though i think this is one of the best Italian spots in town. I ate with 8 other people and tasted most of the menu. The dishes are very rich in keeping with the tradition of Northern Italian food which lies closer in influence to France and Germany than to the Mediterranean. I think another restaurant from this obviously talented chef serving upscale Sicilian or southern style food (grilled sardines, tomato sauces, and so on) could be a huge hit if executed properly. Out of the nine diners nobody was wowed in particular by the meal, though the wine, an amarone, was excellent.

Another trip to the bar side of Al Di La, Bacaro, was a good experience and quite unique from the al di la experience. Apart from a ridiculous, loud, pugelent dousche-bag who felt it necessary to yell like he was at the king street grill, the meal was beautifully paced by a skilled, attentive server and really affordable. We ordered 6 appetizers and wine for under $50. The bresaolo (air dried beef) was like a delicious, glorified pastrami. The cured ham with melon was legit, and most interesting was the pizza with confit duck, braised grapes and ubriago cheese. I’m not even sure if I liked this pizza but it was so unique that I let it pass. The marsala mussels were also very good, smaller delicious morsels without any of the funk that you sometimes find it huge, mature mussels. My only complaint would be the overall saltiness of everything, especially the bread. These meals always leave me parched. I wish they would serve a little sorbet or something fresh to cut through the salt. Oh well.

Later in the meal, the offending aformentioned dousche face set his wine glass down on our table (while we were eating) to pay his bill. I don’t want to fight in a nice restaurant, but this was like having a new pair of nike’s stepped on. I didn’t fight, of course, because I don’t think that one can beat the meatiness out of another. Also, I would hate to end a nice meal locked up on leeds ave.

Tito

Visits: 6

Prices: Pasta around $10, entree $17, wine $25-50.

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Though it may seem too classy for you, this kitchsy bar on the top floor of the round Holiday Inn is one of the most underrated, undervisited spots in Charleston. It still feels like the late seventies in here in a good way. The view is actually very pretty–one of the best in town and the drinks are expertly mixed by seasoned veterans. The bloody mary is excellent. Don’t miss weird food nights either, like tuesday night hot dog night, weds chicken wings night, and so forth. Great place for a date with a good sense of humor.
Create your own VIP lounge in the back.

Visits: 1
Prices: $4 cocktails, cheap beer

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Pearlz

153 E. Bay St
577-5755

Pearlz Oyster Bar is good–way better than its inferior cousin T-Bonz. The oysters are of good quality though recently i’ve had a few dozen gulf oysters that were flat, not salty enough, and tiny. The more expensive dozens (whose provenance vary) are always great–it just hurts me to spend $20 on 12 oysters knowing that a burlap sack full of delicious local oysters can be sourced for around the same price from any local seafood store. I guess if we were landlocked i wouldn’t even think about complaining.

Pearlz is full of thirty something singles and up if you are in the market for cougars. The fish and chips plate is excellent and the other fish dishes on the menu are interesting and very fresh. Definitely worthwile and a good place to bring out-of-towners who want oysters.

Visits: 3
Prices: oysters $10-$20 per dozen, entrees $10-20

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G&M Fast and French

G&M consistently delivers good, simple bistro style food to its loyal constituency. The service is decidely hipster in theme and can be marked by attitude at times. I get the sense that every server in there is either overworked, pissed about being at work, or just part of the art-damaged crowd that demands brooding. Either way, G&M is a good spot for intimate conversation and great atmosphere. Order anything and get a cup of rocket fuel french-press coffee and some cake for dessert. You will be pleased. Closed Sunday.

Visits: +10
Prices: lunch special $8 w/ wine. dinner $10-15

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Taco Boy

15 Center St, Folly Beach
588-6187

I have heard a lot of slander about this new edition to the fb center street (from the raval/poe’s people). A few people have told me that it is the worst food ever. I’m pretty sure that those people are not well. If you want to experience some severely messed up taco/burrito food, refer to La Cocina (Folly Rd). I think Taco Boy is doing it’s best.

Taco Boy has a well designed atmosphere and good, almost authentic taqueria food. Though you wouldn’t find most of these tacos at an authentic taqueria (who use simpler, more humble ingredients), a lot of the elements are well done–you are offered corn tortilla tacos which are far more authentic than the gringo grocery store flour alternative along with interesting fresh salsas and good guacamole. Taco Boy also has a good tequila selection and decent margaritas. As a taqueria not as good as La Nortena or any of the taco trucks that circle N. Chas but as a restaurant it’s pretty decent.

visits: 4
price: $2-$4 per taco, around $6 for a margarita.

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