Guy Fieri, Food Network personality, has one of those great jobs. He travels around the country to scope out diners and other casual establishments to find people who are passionate about food. And what do they do with their passion? They make the locals passionate about it as well. Guy gets to "find" these places (I use "find" because really, I'm not sure if he does it all, but either way, fantstic for him) and try their creations. Guy's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, is a show I never seek out to watch, but as the Food Network is my default channel, I end up watching a lot of them.
I imagine driving around the country to eat at all these places that he finds. When I pass Triple XXX in West Lafayette on my way to Purdue University, I always say, "I have to try that place!" And yes, it is only because Guy was there and said it was good. I would have never thought about stopping there otherwise.
So when hubs and I were on our way to Milwaukee post wedding (more to come, it is wedding season after all!) I started to search my phone to see if there were any Guy recommended spots in Milwaukee. And yes, there was, a spot on Brady Street. Brady Street is too cute, lots of fun shops and restaurants that scream "dine here!" The weather was perfect, so we parked a few blocks away and made our way on the East side of Milwaukee to get some authentic Mexican food at Cempazuchi.
Yes. Not beers or brats. Mexican food.
We grabbed a booth inside the brightly decorated restaurant, opened our menus and started to drool. We were greeted by a friendly server as well as a basket of chips and salsa. After the welcome, I grabbed a chip because I just had to try the salsa. The chips were perfect - the right thickness, perfectly salted and fried to perfection. Not heavy, not greasy, just a delicious chip. But the salsa is what got me. There were two salsas, one which was a peanut based and the other was a garlic based. Amazing. The right amount of spice to balance out the main ingredient. Tim said "I need to know how to recreate these at home." This was not your everyday salsa, and I had to restrain myself from drinking it.
Perfection on a plate
We decided to get the queso fundido to start off our lunch. There were a few options to the queso fundido - with housemade chorizo or poblano mushrooms. I chose the chorizo - you just can't say no to homemade chorizo (unless you are a veggie eater, much love to you all.) The queso was greasy, but I expected that with the chorizo. It was served with their homemade tortillas, and I dove right into them. I like cheese (insert Wisconsin jokes here) and the fundido was just that, cheesy goodness with chorizo spice. Nutmeg and cinnamon shined through, but it was definitely something I couldn't eat a lot of. Rich goodness, but share with friends!
My entree came (hubby wasn't feeling the best, so he just nibbled on mine and the chips) and the blue cornmeal perch looked phenomenal. I had ordered Tacos de Tio Israel - aka. perch tacos. NOM. The crispy cabbage gave the perfect crunch component to the blue corn meal encrusted lake perch (I adore lake perch, and you can't get the good stuff outside of the big W.) The corn tortillas held the goodness, while I used a little of the spicy, mayo based sauce to compliment the black beans and cilantro. Squirt of lime - you had a fiesta going on. The rice was perfectly cooked and complimented with ground cilantro, but I only had a few bites as I filled up the tacos (and chips & salsa.)
Hopefully I can get hubby to stop in Chicago on the way back to Indy...I know Guy has a lot of fun spots there. I'm such a sucker for restaurants that have been seen on tv. Anyone else?