Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Rio Nuevo in Alpharetta, GA

Alpharetta, GA is a bedroom community of Atlanta, with a nice big mall with a Macy’s.

(Pensacola does not have a Macy’s.)

When we got to Alpharetta, it was 7 pm because we had lost an hour between Pensacola and Atlanta; we got settled and then we decided to look for a place to eat. I checked with TripAdvisor and Yelp, but we really didn’t see anything that interested us until we checked one of the sattelite strips around the Northpoint Mall, and found Rio Nuevo.

Rio Nuevo is a relatively new Mexican restaurant. I loved the hostess, who essentially looked at me and said “I don’t think you’re from around here” LOL; her Mother is European and she pegged me for European, too. She was surprised when I told her I am an Eskimo (not really true) and that I am a born Alaskan (true).

I loved the light fixtures. I wish I had the courage to put one of these gorgeous sparkly lights up in my entry hall instead of the traditional chandelier I have there, now. These light fixtures really give life to the restaurant; they sparkle!

It gave me something to think about besides the menu. The problem with the menu: too many good things to choose from, and a lot of them I have never heard of before, but they sound really really good.

Very good selection of beers and wine 🙂 I had ordered a Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet, but ended up with the house cab – and it was just fine.

I ordered the Chili Seared Scallops. They were beautiful, and tasty, and surrounded by lovely vegetables, so I felt doubly good, eating tasty scallops AND vegetables. I was just a tiny bit taken aback that the chili sauce was sweet, so it reminded me a little of Thai food; I think I would prefer them sharp and salty, rather than sweet. They were, however, beautiful and delicious.

AdventureMan, however, was the big winner. He ordered a la carte Mexican tacos, one with a Pastore filling and one with a Barbacoa filling.

Here is what Wikipedia says about Tacos al Pastore:

A similar dish is served in Mexico known as tacos al pastor or “tacos de trompo”. The cooking is different from that of the kebab. The meat is cooked and then sliced into a corn tortilla. They can be found all over Mexico, especially in street corners. They are not new to Mexico, and it is unknown if there is a direct relationship with the Turkish Kebab. In Puebla, this was introduced by the numerous Middle-Eastern immigrants, mostly from Lebanon and Syria, but also Turkey and Iraq, in the early 1920s.[42] Since then, it has become a traditional dish of the city, locally known as taco árabe, “Arabian taco”, sold in taquerías orientales, “[Middle-]Eastern taco stands”.[43] Nonetheless, it is now usually made with beef and lamb and served either in pitas –locally called pan árabe, “Arabian bread”–, leavened bread –locally called torta árabe, “Arabian baguette”, also called cemita–, or simply in flour tortillas.

It is usually accompanied tahini and labneh –locally called jocoque–[44] even though the skhug (or kharif) has been replaced with a thick chipotle-garlic sauce.[45] In other parts of the country, most notably in Mexico City, the dish has adapted to the Mexican cuisine by replacing the pita with corn tortillas, in what is now called a taco al pastor, “shepherd taco”.[45] Unlike a taco árabe, the taco al pastor is served with pineapple, cilantro, chopped onions and green or red salsa, and marinated with annatto sauce.

Regardless of local adaptations, authentic middle eastern shawarma is available in the many middle eastern restaurants and kosher taquerias that cater to the large Mexican Lebanese and Mexican Sephardim communities. German style Doner Kebab can be found too but is not common, although is gaining popularity.

In some places of Northern Mexico, such as Nuevo Leon, Durango, Chihuahua, these are usually called Tacos de Trompo if served on maize flour tortillas, and gringas if they are served on wheat flour tortillas with cheese.

A similar dish is called Tacos Árabes, which originated in Puebla in the 1930s from Lebanese-Mexican cuisine. Tacos Árabes use shawarma-style meat carved from a spit, but are served in a pita bread called pan arabe. These tacos have been brought by Mexican immigrants to the United States in the past few years and have become popular in cities like Chicago and Los Angeles, the two largest Mexican and Mexican-American population centers in the United States.[46]

LLOOLLL – an Arab taco! Filed under doner kebab! And made with PORK! Well, they are delicious, and they have this taste like I imagine you could buy on a street in Mexico 😉 I have to imagine. I have never been to Mexico. Not yet 🙂

Here is what Wikipedia says about Barbacoa:

Throughout Mexico, from pre-Mexican times to the present, barbacoa (the name derives from the Caribbean indigenous Taino barabicu) was the original Mexican barbecue, utilizing the many and varied moles (from Nahuatl molli) and salsa de molcajete, which were the first barbecue sauces. Game, turkey, and fish along with beans and other side dishes were slow cooked together in a pit for many hours. Following the introduction of cattle, domestic pigs, goats, sheep, and chickens by the Spanish, the meat of these animals was cooked utilizing the traditional indigenous barbacoa style of cooking.

“Barbacoa” actually has its origins in all the countries that Tainos and other Indian populations inhabited, not just Mexico. The Tainos themselves were pre-Columbian Indians located throughout the Caribbean and which some believe included the Arawak Indians who especially dominated the most leeward Caribbean islands themselves.

The Arawak were first and foremost those who historically used the green and fire resistant flexible limbs of the hanging branches of the giant Bearded Fig Tree (Los Barbadoes) to cook meats and fish over an open fire while first marinating their foods in tropical herbs and spices found naturally throughout the southern islands to South America.

Unlike latter variations, the original and most authentic “Barbacoa” used herbs and spices, such as island prepared “cassareep” (derived from the root of the cassava plant), not only to enhance the natural flavors of meats, fish and vegetables, but preserve their cooked foods from spoiling in the heat of the tropics. The Arawak Indians called their preparations “Barbacoa,” accordingly, as these methods proved to be a boon of protection for keeping their foods from prematurely spoiling.

Rio Nuevo also had two different Mole’s I am dying to try, but when we went back for lunch the next day . . . . after hours at the Mall on the hottest day in Atlanta history ever, we BOTH ordered the tacos-a-la-carte: al pastore and barbacoa. They were SO good, served with bowls of fresh cilantro and chopped onion to sprinkle on – divine!

Service both times was excellent. This is not fast food, but there were a lot of people eating lunch there who were in and out quickly. The owner came by both times we ate there, and there are still things on the menu I would love to try.

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Adventure, Cold Drinks, Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Road Trips, Shopping | , | Leave a comment