Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Latin Weekend

My brother Luke is a bit of a foodie, so when he raves about a restaurant, I believe pretty much without question that it's got to be good.  So we took a lunch break to Frita Batidos, a Cuban street food restaurant that is relatively new to Ann Arbor...we were on a mission try a sandwich that has become one of Luke's favorites.  Honestly I love street food, I think that it represents some of the best of cuisine, so if you haven't hopped on the street food bandwagon, get on board!

As soon as you walk into Frita Batidos you're welcomed by a trendy yet simple aesthetic.  The sandwiches and other lovely food are listed over the counter where the friendly staff take your order. There's also a small bar.

Now you can enjoy eating at this place one of two ways: you can people watch from the front window (Ann Arbor is perfect for that!), or you can sit at one of the picnic tables.  Get ready to mingle with people, because the seating is set to invite a neighborhood atmosphere!

Haha...I look sorta forlorn here, but I promise, I was in a good mood!

Tah-dah! This is The Inspired Cuban.  THREE types of bacon and melted cheese (gruyere!). To be more specific it's lemongrass roast pork, thick cut bacon and tasso ham. It's also  packed with chipotle mayo and cornichons.  Delicious.  I was definitely impressed.

~ The next day my whole family, along with my sister's friend Clayton, took a trip to Lena for brunch/lunch. Also relatively new to Ann Arbor, Lena specializes in upscale Latin fare.  This isn't my first visit to this place...their pulled pork sandwich is fantastic and had me hooked, so a return was inevitable.  I can't recommend the food here enough.

The atmosphere at Lena has a cool vintage unique vibe, which I love.  They have a gas fire near the entrance to warm your hands from the cold Michigan winters.  As it is summer here, the weather wasn't an issue during this visit obviously, but it definitely will come to good use soon enough!  The decor has sort of late 1960's feel, with multiple booths with little windows that kind of make you feel like you're in a (very classy) old diner. It's fabulous!

From the brunch menu, my mom had the Tortilla De Fideo:  grilled capellini, egg cakes, cilantro and salsa with queso fresco.

Lena's version of The Cuban.  Scrumptious.

Lena's Seared Chicken Sandwich.  Boneless chicken with escabeche salsa, cheese, pickled onions and cornichons. I love those little cornichons!

So I'll be honest: one of the things I judge a restaurant by is their sweet potato fries, if they happen to have them on the menu.  Lena's sweet potato fries are always perfectly prepared.  Not soggy, not overcooked, just the right amount of crispness. I definitely recommend getting a side if sweet potato fries are your thing.  If you're ever in the mood for a good dessert, try Lena's flan, it's deliciously rich and making my mouth water just thinking and typing about it!

Also a little hint-leave extra time if you're visiting this place, as the service style tends to be a bit more laid back (but always friendly).

It gets busy on the weekends but you can make a reservation here:

Buen provecho!

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