I slipped into this new Broughton Street restaurant late one Sunday afternoon, pretty much had the place to myself and left really happy. The basement level space has undergone a great transformation and suits perfectly the casual menu of Tex–Mex burritos, soft tacos, enchiladas and nachos. My chicken burrito was hot, fresh and filled to capacity with lots of plump, seasoned chicken, pinto beans and rice, and gooey, stringy, melted Jack cheese. Mild salsa blended nicely with the jalape o flavored tortilla — and a cold Presidente beer rounded out this late afternoon lunch. Fillings include beef brisket, jerked chicken, fish or shrimp, chicken and, for the vegan crowd — tofu. A subsequent visit found a bustling lunch crowd — and I munched my way through a burrito loaded with tender, spicy pork. Clean, tidy and prompt service is consistent. So far, the audience , at least during the day, is a good blend of younger folks and downtown workers — all craving a satisfying, quick meal at the right price.
217 1/2 W. Broughton St./232–3466
Sometimes, I just want some of grandma’s cooking — and that’s what you’ll find at this Southside buffet restaurant. I hear Randy Quaid’s voice every time I step up to a buffet, his words from National Lampoon’s Vegas Vacation ring in my head: “Give me some of the blue, and some of the yella, and don’t you get cheap on me.” The good news: There is no “blue.” But there is some darned good fried chicken that I’d put up against any downtown chicken — and a myriad of side dishes ranging from gumbo and rice to green beans to carrots — the list goes on. Again, I was hankering “grandma food”, which in my case means mashed potatoes, cream style corn, cornbread and some “yella,” banana pudding. The chicken was hot, crispy fried and perfectly seasoned. I loved the flavor of my mashed potatoes — despite the texture that develops from hovering over a steam tray. The corn was sweet, thick and a trip down memory lane. I’m a self–professed cornbread snob — and I must say this corn muffin was extraordinary. It was not the overly sweet variety that too many restaurants pass off as “Southern cornbread.” Oh, and that banana pudding? Creamy, flavored with very ripe bananas and crisp vanilla cookies — which means it was a winner. Fairmont is packed midday with construction workers, seniors and soldiers. It’s a good destination for a large group of finicky eaters or folks with large appetites. Value? Lunch, including iced tea — under $9!
65 W. Fairmont Ave./920–4020
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