So Tina and I have celebrated our birthdays together for the past…so many years, and while this past week was no different, it was particularly bittersweet. Our TT just left for Switzerland to market cigs to the Swiss =) and she’ll be sorely missed! But before she did, here’s how dinner for our 26th birthdays went down.

Our most beloveds joined us at Macondo, a chic Latino “small plates” joint on Houston and Allen, for what ended up being an intensely filling dinner. There were so many raciones, bocadillos, cocas, arepas and more that just kept coming from the kitchen that my camera ran out of batteries. Below are six that actually came out decent in the photos.

Since there were so many dishes, each with such a distinct flavor profile, you really just need to go and cherry pick the ones that sound most appealing to you. I will say, however, that as a group, be wary of over-ordering. Keep a menu at the table and order as the meal goes on. It’s much like sushi where a serving may not seem quite as filling as it actually is. By the time our last two plates came out, none of the 14 of us could take another bite.

Standouts included the crispy calamari (not pictured). It was crunchy and had almost a candied quality to its saucy coating. It’s a great sweet and tangy appetizer.

As a very vegetarian-friendly restaurant, veggies have plenty of options. My personal favorite is their mushroom croquettes. Freshly fried, these steaming globular munchies oozed with wild mushroom aromas upon first bite. Use the creamy chilled dipping sauce or not, it’s jam-packed with earthy flavors with each brittle mouthful.

Meat-lovers, on the other hand, also have a plethora of options. From quail to chicken, shrimp to steak, Macondo will spin the taste and texture of all these proteins, so that you’ll want to try all of them. One of my favorites was the bacalao – chunks of cod fish topped with a fried egg (see Feast Your Eyes).

Just one word of caution. Cocktails by the pitcher will add up. At $30 per decanter, which really only pours to fill three to four glasses, our group ended up rounding up four of these guys, which were most responsible for the damage on the bill. This isn’t to say that these bebidas aren’t good though! I loved the Fresca+Pisco, with muddled strawberries and jalapenos and the Acai+Ron, a spritzy pomegranate Bacardi concoction.

All in all, a fun-filled, eccentric feast to round out our seven years in the city together! Actually, let’s just see this as a hiatus!

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