Sombra Mexican Kitchen = Love

If you know me (or even if you follow me on Twitter), you know how much I love Mexican food. Or at least you think you know, but really, you have no idea. I am one of those people who could honestly eat Mexican food every single day. Fajitas, taco salads, tacos, chips, cheese dip, guacamole – you name it, I love it! So when Sombra Mexican Kitchen opened up a few years ago right down the street from my office, I was ecstatic.

At first, my trips to Sombra were few and far between while I was feeling the new restaurant out. But soon I found myself stopping by for lunch and/or happy hour once or twice a week and getting to know the servers and staff who work there. (Did I mention they have the most awesome employees ever?!) In the last six months or so, my love of Sombra has grown to what some people might consider ridiculous and my co-workers and I try to grab lunch there at least 2-3 times per week.

Since I would now consider myself somewhat of an expert on their menu, here are some of my Sombra favorites:

The Taco Salad

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Though I just tried this salad for the first time a couple weeks ago, this may very well be my new favorite thing on the menu. I order mine with ground beef (also no shell for this gluten free girl!), but if the chicken taco salad is half as good as this, then you are in for a treat! The flavor of the taco meat is seriously to die for! Not to mention, Sombra definitely doesn’t skimp on the meat on this salad. I never feel hungry after eating one of these babies for lunch!

The King Special

When you eat at Sombra as much as we do, it’s not long before you start inventing your own menu items. If you’ve ever had their cheese dip or enjoyed their Smothered Chicken for dinner, you know how fantastic the cheese at Sombra is. And if you’ve ever had their steak fajitas, you know they cook the most flavorful steak of any Mexican restaurant in the area! So naturally, we decided to combine the two.

Ladies and gentlemen, introducing the King special…

Meat & Cheesy Goodness - YUM!

Meat & Cheesy Goodness – YUM!

That’s right. This is a plate of amazing steak covered in cheese dip. Great for those on a low carb (or gluten free!) diet, but even more delicious with rice (for those of you NOT avoiding carbs)! What makes this dish even better is you can get the cheese dip for free just by showing your Eat Jackson card!

The St. Rita Margarita

St. Rita Margarita

St. Rita Margarita

I love MANY of the margaritas at Sombra, and you can surely catch me enjoying a house margarita during happy hour from time to time. But when I’m really craving a delicious and smooth margarita, I always turn to the St. Rita. Made with fresh agave nectar, top shelf tequila and St. Germain, this drink is a margarita lovers dream! You can find my review of Sombra’s margarita options here.

If you haven’t tried one of these menu items then definitely give it a shot next time you’re at Sombra. And if you’ve never eaten there at all, what the heck are you waiting for?

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New Year Resolutions

I never make resolutions. I used to, when I was younger, but I quickly learned that most resolutions that I made were superficial (“exercise more”) and cheesy (“be more open minded” – I mean really, what does that even mean?) and it wasn’t long before I fell off the new year bandwagon and went back to my old ways.

But I have been thinking a lot over the last couple of weeks. Thinking about my previous year and this year ahead of me and what they mean to me. 2013 was my best year ever. And I can truthfully say that. It was incredible; not in some lame “best year ever” kind of way. In the honest-to-goodness, most genuine way possible. If I could relive 2013 over and over again, I would. To sum it up, here are some of the highlights of my last year:

I got married. To an awesome man who genuinely makes me feel like a better version of myself whenever we’re together. I cannot even remember what my life was like before I was his wife.

View More: http://chaophotography.pass.us/lindsayjason

Our family grew. With the addition of our six pound maltese, our baby girl Gracie became the center of attention in our home. What did we even used to do before we brought her home with us last April?

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I started this blog. That’s right, my blog less than 8 months old. But in those eight months, I’ve had the chance to share information with people all over the world. And joining the gluten free community has opened my eyes to so many new ideas, new people and let’s face it, amazing recipes, that I can’t imagine NOT being a part of it.

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I traveled. A lot. In 2013 I had the chance to visit St. Louis, Minneapolis, Nashville, Memphis, Little Rock, Tampa, Las Vegas, Austin, Seattle, St. Louis, Buffalo, Houston, Chicago, Niagara Falls, Orlando, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Dallas and did I mention Antigua?!

Beautiful Antigua

Beautiful Antigua

2013 was a whirlwind of a year surrounded by awesome customers, incredible friends and of course, my amazing husband. So when I think about 2014, I wonder how on Earth I am going to top last year’s awesomeness. The only way I can even think about coming close is to set some goals for myself. Not resolutions, because we know I can’t help but break a New Year’s Resolution. But instead, some reasonably attainable goals that won’t make me feel terrible about myself if I can’t do them every single day.

– I will travel. As far and as often as possible. You can’t see, learn and eat everything from Mississippi. There are too many incredible things (and incredible foods) in the world to sit around and miss it all. So get ready for some (Gluten Free) posts while I’m out exploring this year.

– I will write. More. Writing is more than just a hobby for me now. It’s cathartic. I’ve written a countless number of blog posts that never even get “published” but instead, just sit in my drafts as evidence of a crazy day at work, or an amazing trip or even a terrible dinner. Reading old posts never fails to make me laugh. And writing new ones never fails to make me smile.

– I will smile. As much as I can. Because not every day is perfect, but if there’s one thing that last year taught me, it’s that happiness is contagious and smiling in and of itself can make any day brighter.

– I will be more grateful. Let’s face it, we are all guilty of taking things for granted from time to time. This year, I want to focus my efforts on constantly staying grateful for all of the amazing things in my life. Whether it is a night out with friends, a simple dinner at home with the hubs, a wonderful vacation, or just a delicious piece of gluten free pie… Taking a second to appreciate things will surely help to make the year a better one.

Cheer’s to 2014! Wishing you a year that is as much of an adventure as I hope mine will be!

cheers-2014

Eat Local, Jackson: A Giveway!

Are you looking for a quality local restaurant while you’re in Jackson? Wondering which local restaurants might be best for a romantic date night or a Southern Style meal? Look no further than Eat Jackson.

I first discovered Eat Jackson a few months after I moved to Mississippi. I was unfamiliar with the city, and definitely didn’t know which places were best to eat at, so I would constantly search online for new spots to try out. Luckily, I discovered Eat Jackson, a local’s dream guide to the latest and greatest dining options that Jackson, MS has to offer. With food directories by location, craving and meal type, this site makes finding food an absolute breeze!

Here’s what makes it even more awesome. You can purchase an EatJXN Card for just $20, which gives you discounts and freebies at tons of local places throughout the year! Some of my favorite deals include Free Cheese Dip with the purchase of an entree at Sombra Mexican Kitchen, Two-for-One Dessert at Bravo! Italian Restaurant (their GF peanut butter pie is to die for) and Bar and 10% off your order at Campbell’s Bakery (which features GF options daily!). For a complete list of card deals, click here.

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For those of you who follow me on Twitter, you know how important that free cheese dip at Sombra is to me! And if you’ve read my post about Bravo!, you won’t want to miss out on that two-for-one dessert deal. So how can I help YOU benefit from this awesomeness?

One lucky reader will win a 2014 EatJXN card! That’s right, all of those awesome deals can be yours for an entire year. All you have to do is comment below and tell me what your favorite restaurant in Jackson is or which of these deals you’re most excited about. Tweet about the giveaway and “Like” Gluten Free Girl MS on Facebook to increase your chances to win!

One winner will be randomly selected on Friday, December 20th.

Good luck!

Margarita Madness: Day 4

And the madness continues… It seems my search for Jackson’s best margarita is never-ending – not that I’m complaining! This Saturday, I headed over to Jaco’s Tacos in Ridgeland for day four of my taste testing adventures. (The Ridgeland location is fairly new. Some of you may be more familiar with their State Street location downtown.) I have never had a margarita at Jaco’s Tacos before and I have to say, I was not disappointed!

First up: The Gold Margarita
This tasty blend of Jose Cuervo, Grand Marnier, and a splash of orange juice was every bit as delicious as it sounds. With a side order of chips and guacamole, my taste buds were definitely satisfied.

The Gold Margarita

The Gold Margarita

Next up: The “Original Margarita” – not on the menu.
When I started talking to our waiter about their best margarita options, he insisted he get me a specialty drink, hand-crafted by the owner himself. Who was I to refuse? This drink was not a traditional margarita like we are all used to. In fact, it was really just tequila. In a glass. With fresh lime juice. Think I’m kidding? The only ingredients in this baby were Don Julio Repasado and fresh California lime juice.

The "Original Margarita"

The “Original Margarita”

Word to the wise: Don’t drink this one on an empty stomach!

My favorite drink of the day was definitely the Jaco’s Margarita. One of the more popular options on the menu, this premium margarita is made with 1800 Tequila, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, and fresh squeezed limes. Delicious to the last drop, it definitely would satisfy any margarita-lover’s craving. The only downside? At $9.25 a pop it carries a pretty hefty price tag.

My favorite - The Jaco's Margarita

My favorite – The Jaco’s Margarita

So how does it stack up on the grading scale?
Freshness: B
Quality of ingredients: A-
Presentation: B+
Price: B
Happy Hour Specials: B+ (Swing by on Wednesday evenings for 2-for-1 margaritas!)

Another happy hour special at Jaco’s Tacos that rocks my socks is Saturday’s all-you-can-drink Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s for just $10 (with the purchase of an entree)! I’ll definitely be back to enjoy that awesome deal another time!

Long story short: If you’re downtown or in Ridgeland, be sure to hit up Jaco’s Tacos for a margarita sometime – especially on a Wednesday during Happy Hour! You won’t be disappointed.

*Special shout out to Anthony at the Ridgeland location for taking such good care of us on Saturday!

Margarita Madness: Day 3

As some of you may know, I started the search for Jackson’s best margarita a couple weeks back. After my first stop at Babalu Tacos and Tapas and my second stop at Sombra Mexican Kitchen, I wanted to visit a place that nobody would expect. So I started thinking of awesome local restaurants with good drink menus – and stumbled upon Georgia Blue. With locations in Madison, Hattiesburg and Flowood, you can visit a Georgia Blue no matter where you live in the Jackson area!

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Georgia Blue is most known for their Plate Lunches and delicious “Southern-Style” meals, but their delicious margaritas are a well-kept secret. I knew they were a must-try on my journey to find the very best.

First up: The Georgia Blue Margarita. A “Camarena Margarita with blue Curaçao that takes your blues away!”

Georgia Blue Margarita

Georgia Blue Margarita

This drink sure was pretty, but boy was there a lot of salt on it! If you don’t love salt with your margaritas (I personally do not) then be sure to ask for yours with no salt. A little bit sour, the Georgia Blue Margarita wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I still enjoyed it, as evident by my very empty glass at the end of the night. 😉

The next margarita I ordered was definitely my favorite of the two. The Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita features Camarena Tequila, Triple Sec, sweet & sour, blueberry & pomegranate juices, splash of simple syrup & a squeeze of lime.

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How cute is it with those blueberries floating in the drink?! (Yes, I just called an alcoholic beverage cute)

So how does it stack up on the grading scale?
Freshness: B
Quality of ingredients: B
Presentation: A-
Price: A- (this drink goes for $8 normally, but it was happy hour, so it was only $4!)
Happy Hour Specials: A (1/2 priced drinks, including top shelf liquor, from 4-6 pm everyday!)

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Long story short: Next time you’re at Georgia Blue and you’re not sure what drink to order, give the Blueberry Pomegranate Margarita a try. It won’t let you down!

Margarita Madness: Day 2

Keeping up with the madness of my search for Jackson’s Best Margarita? Well lucky you, because day two was this past Friday. Because who doesn’t love happy hour on Friday afternoon?! (If you are one of those people, then I’m sorry, but this post might not be for you..)

In case you don’t remember (maybe you’ve been drinking too many margaritas of your own… huh?), my first stop was a delicious visit to Babalu Tacos & Tapas. Stop #2 on my journey was an easy choice – Sombra Mexican Kitchen at the Township in Ridgeland, MS. If you follow me on Twitter, you already know about my obsession with Sombra’s menu. No joke, I average between 2-3 lunches here whenever I’m not traveling. I am seriously wondering why my name hasn’t been memorialized on a plaque at my favorite booth by now…

Sombra Mexican Kitchen

Sombra Mexican Kitchen

But that’s neither here nor there. This post isn’t about food. It’s about booze. Margaritas specifically. And one thing Sombra does not mess around with is their margarita menu. Because I knew I couldn’t handle so many margaritas on my own, I brought three of my trusted co-workers with me for this challenge. What did we learn?

There are five (5) standard margaritas on Sombra’s menu. The first choice, the House margarita is their least expensive option. With just a $6 price tag (or an awesome $3 during happy hour!), this drink won’t kill your budget. However, it is just a little bit tart for me. If you like a margarita that’s extra tart, this one’s for you! However, if you want something that goes down a little more smoothly, try stepping it up a notch and ordering the Sombra or the Township.

The Township margarita has been my go-to marg at Sombra since the restaurant opened. Featuring Exotico Reposado tequila, agave nectar, lime and Brazilian orange liqueur, this drink offers the freshness I crave in a good margarita, with a unique flavoring. Even better, it carries only an $8 price – or should I say $4 during happy hour?! 😉

I had never had a Sombra before Friday, but I was glad I tried it. Featuring El Charro anejo tequila, Grand Marnier, agave nectar and lime, this one goes down very smoothly. It would be easy to knock back 3 of these babies before you even realized what hit you!

Oh – and I almost forgot to mention they squeeze their own lime juice in house and their agave nectar is 100% organic, gluten and allergen free and made without any artificial sweeteners?! Bonus points for Sombra!

But what was my favorite of the margaritas offered at Sombra Mexican Kitchen? Without a doubt, it would have to be the St. Rita. Featuring Cazadores Anejo tequila, St-Germain, agave nectar and lime, it’s hard to tell you are even drinking a margarita! In fact, I don’t know if I have EVER tried a margarita that was so smooth. Everyone at the table took a taste for themselves and the opinion was unanimous – the St. Rita is a rockstar.

St. Rita Margarita

St. Rita Margarita

So how does it stack up on the grading scale?
Freshness: A
Quality of ingredients: A+
Presentation: B
Price: B- (with a $12 price tag, this baby is pricy! But come from 4-6 during happy hour and it can be yours for only $6!)
Happy Hour Specials: A (because I LOVE a half-price margarita!)

Long story short: next time 5 o’clock rolls around and you’re looking for a quick margarita, head over to Sombra Mexican Kitchen. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Next up on my search? That would have to be Jaco’s Tacos in downtown Jackson.

Margarita Madness: Day 1

There’s no denying that I love margaritas. Let’s face it; they’re just delicious. And I’m not that picky when it comes to my margaritas – I will try them just about anywhere. That being said, wouldn’t it be nice to try them everywhere? Those of you who follow my Facebook page know that this week I decided to do just that, as I started my search for Jackson, Mississippi’s best margarita!

Because I can’t just arbitrarily decide which restaurant/bar in town serves the best Margarita, I decided to come up with some judging criteria. During my search, margaritas will be judged on the following:

1. Freshness
2. Quality of Ingredients
3. Presentation
4. Price
5. Happy Hour Specials

Last night was day one of my quest. First stop: Babalu Tacos & Tapas in Fondren, MS.

babalu-storefront

I’ve always been a fan of Babalu. From the great atmosphere (I mean who doesn’t love the I Love Lucy reruns that are projected on the wall?) to the delicious food (the Mexican street corn is heavenly), Babalu stole my heart the day that it opened. But I had never tried all of the margaritas on the menu before and I was determined to accomplish just that.

Of course, I couldn’t do it alone, so I set out with my trusted partner in crime, Dana. She and I started with the classics: The Baba-Rita and the Martinez.

The Baba-Rita

The Baba-Rita

The Baba-Rita features the following ingredients: Patron Silver, Agave nectar, Patron Citronge, fresh sour mix, and pomegranate. Served with a salted rim and lime, the presentation is fantastic! Don’t you just want to take a sip right now?

The Martinez

The Martinez

I’ve had Baba-Ritas countless times before at Babalu, but I had never tried the Martinez before. But when a drink is that similar to your own last name, you’ve got to give it a try, right?! The Martinez features Patron Reposado, fresh squeezed lime juice, Cointreau, and salt foam. As gorgeous as the presentation was, it definitely had the freshness to match! Delicious.

After ordering a bowl of guacamole (oh, did I mention they make FRESH guacamole prepared table-side at Babalu? Well they do. And it’s fantastic), we decided to move on to our next round of drinks.

Next up: The Tamarind Margarita.

Tamarind Margarita

Tamarind Margarita

A sweeter margarita than the others, this drink features Cazadores Blanco, fresh citrus juices, and tamarind extract.

After that, they ran out of margaritas that are regular menu items – so the bartender started making some up for us. Bonus points for creativity!

Dana ordered the Jalepeno-Rita next. Yes, it was as spicy as the name sounds!

Jalapeno-rita

Jalapeno-Rita

Honestly, at this point, I’m not sure what ingredients they were using in our drinks. But I can tell you that this one had a fresh kick of jalapeno to go with the tequila. I’m not a big jalapeno person, but Dana LOVED it! If you dig fresh jalapeno, order this drink next time you hit up Babalu.

Last but not least, we sampled a strawberry margarita, complete with fresh strawberries!

Strawberry Margarita

Strawberry Margarita

A+ for presentation on this one!

So which one was my favorite overall? Honestly, I’d have to stick with the Baba-Rita. It’s a staple at Babalu, but for good reason! I don’t know if I will ever get sick of it.

Freshness: A
Quality of Ingredients: A
Presentation: A-
Price: B (At $10 a pop, these babies will hurt your wallet after a couple of drinks)
Happy Hour: C

Babalu’s happy hour or “Social Hour” goes from 4 PM – 6 PM daily and features $2 tacos, $4 sangria, $5 wine and wells, $1 off drafts. But remember, we’re looking for margarita specials during happy hour. For a place with such amazing margaritas, you’d think they would feature them during happy hour! They do feature $5 margaritas all day on Monday though. So next time you’ve got a case of the Mondays, head over to Babalu for a tasty pick-me-up!

Don’t forget to give Babalu a peek on Facebook. They feature awesome specialty margaritas throughout the year. “Like” their page for the scoop on all their latest creations!

All in all, I would have to say that day one was a definite success. Can’t wait to continue my search!

Keep an eye out for the details on my next stop: Sombra Mexican Kitchen (Coming Soon)