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Hippo de Mayo Taco Challenge

When: Thursday, May 4, from 4 to 9 p.m.
Where: Participating restaurants in Manchester’s downtown and millyard
Cost: $2 per taco
Visit: hippodemayo.com 
 
Participating restaurants 
900 Degrees (50 Dow St.) Toscana Taco: ground sweet sausage, bacon, onion, garlic, kale and a spicy crema in a soft tortilla shell
A&E Coffee and Tea (1000 Elm St.) Affogato Taco: sweet shell filled with locally made ice cream topped with A&E espresso
B&B Cafe and Grill (25 Stark St.) Fish and Chips Taco: haddock with tartar sauce and coleslaw; Pulled Pork Taco: pulled pork blended with barbecue sauce 
Baked (1015 Elm St.) Lettuce Cup: Latin spiced pulled pork in lettuce cups with pineapple salsa fresca
Ben & Jerry’s (940 Elm St.) Churro Dough: taco-shaped waffle cone shell dipped in cinnamon and sugar, stuffed with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, finished with caramel or hot fudge sauce and an additional sprinkle of cinnamon and sugar
Birch on Elm (931 Elm St.) Taco Hecho a Mano: homemade tortilla filled with a 36-hour brisket, homemade green harissa, and a corn and roasted red pepper salsa
Cafe la Reine (915 Elm St.) Acai Waffle Taco: waffle taco shell topped with acai sorbet, coconut and whipped cream
Campo Enoteca (969 Elm St.) Eggplant Polpetti: vegetarian taco with flash-fried eggplant polpetti, artichoke puree and piquillo pepper relish 
Central Ale House (23 Central St.) Pollo Al Fuego: chopped fried chicken, original fire sauce, pepper jack cheese, diced jalapeno, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, salsa and sour cream on a soft flour tortilla
Club Manchvegas Bar & Grill (50 Old Granite St.) Maple Bacon: bacon pork taco with Belgian cheese
Consuelo’s Taqueria (36 Amherst St.) El Chapo: beer-braised shredded beef, topped with thinly sliced cabbage and crunchy tortilla strips
Currier Museum (150 Ash St.) Joe’s Jamaican: jerk chicken with a spicy honey-tamarind glaze and mango salsa
Doogie’s (37 Manchester St.) I Found the Meat: ground beef, corned beef and ham topped with salsa and melted cheese
Edible Arrangements (1000 Elm St.) Frutaco boat: taco boat with gourmet semisweet chocolate, fruit salsa and coconut with strawberry or blueberry puree
El Rincon (10 Lake Ave.) Taco Arabe: pulled pork, roasted onions, pico de gallo and salsa
The Farm Bar and Grill (1181 Elm St.) Pulled Pork Taco: pulled pork on a flour tortilla with coleslaw and barbecue sauce
Firefly Bistro (22 Concord St.) Chicken Chewbacca Taco: seasoned chicken, cheddar cheese and crema with crispy tortilla crumbles served on a soft tortilla shell, top as you like at the (BYOT) fixings table
The Foundry (50 Commercial St.) Smoked Brisket Taco: house smoked brisket with cabbage slaw and classic barbecue sauce; Chili Choco Chip Fried Taco: chili chocolate chip fried taco tossed in cinnamon and sugar
Fratello’s (155 Dow St.) Mediterranean Taco: white corn tortilla with hummus, Mediterranean salad, grilled chicken, crumbled feta, arugula and a spicy roasted red pepper aioli
Gale Motor Co. Eatery (36 Lowell St.) BAO Taco: braised pork belly, pickled onions, kim chi aioli, hoisin and cilantro on a steamed bread bun
Gauchos Brazilian Steakhouse (62 Lowell St.) Chicken Taco: grilled chicken smothered in a traditional chili sauce in a grilled flour tortilla 
Pho Golden Bowl (12 Lake Ave.) Vietnamese Chicken Taco: chicken, lettuce and carrot topped with a sweet fish sauce
Granite State Candy Shoppe (832 Elm St.) Flan-tastic Crunch Taco: chocolate wafer cookie with flan ice cream and caramelized sugar
The Gyro Spot (1073 Elm St.) Opa Fried Taco: pork and chicken with tomato, onion, sauce and feta cheese
Hilton Garden Inn (101 S. Commercial St.) Buttermilk Chicken and Honey Taco: buttermilk chicken and hot honey in a taco with cilantro lime ranch
Hooked/Ignite (110/100 Hanover St.) Costa Rican Fish Taco: soft shell filled with fried haddock, fresh greens, pico de gallo and original Creole tartar sauce
JD’s Tavern (700 Elm St.) JD’s Wake Up Taco: coffee-chili-rubbed pork belly, pickled red onion, ancho chili, roasted pineapple, avocado and cotija cheese
Lala’s Hungarian Restaurant (836 Elm St.) Transylvanian Taco: crepes filled with apricot, blueberry and cherry fillings
 
Participating restaurants cont.
Lorena’s Cantina (860 Elm St.) Lorena’s Taco: authentic Mexican street tacos with chicken or steak and cilantro, onions and salsa
Manchester Fire Department (100 Merrimack St.) Fire House Taco: flour tortilla filled with a spiced pork, onion, tomato, and topped with a Mexican blend of cheese
Margarita’s (1037 Elm St.) Tortilla Encrusted Fish Taco: tortilla-crusted fish, roasted corn salsa, shredded red cabbage and chipotle aioli on a white corn tortilla
Matbah (866 Elm St.) Taco Fala: veggie falafel taco
Midtown Cafe (814 Elm St.) Midtown Taco: grilled chicken kabob with Midtown sauce, lettuce, tomato and cheese on a taco
Milk & Honey (889 Elm St.) Vegan Tofu Taco: carrot tempeh taco with vegan slaw and your choice of savory or sweet sauce
Stark Brewing Co. (500 N. Commercial St.) Pork StarkO: Carolina pulled pork with Cajun slaw
Mint Bistro (1105 Elm St.) Ginger-Bourbon Brisket Taco: ginger-bourbon braised brisket, homemade kimchi, avocado sour cream and cilantro
Penuche’s Music Hall (1087 Elm St.)  The Nuchie Taco: pork and ground beef and fresh pico de gallo on a hard shell
Piccola Italia Ristorante (815 Elm St.) Chicken Parm Taco: chicken Parm in a hard shell topped with Caesar salad
The Pint Publik House (1111 Elm St.) Cajun Crisp: seasoned chicken, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cajun spiced tortilla chips, with spicy ranch dressing topped with shredded cheese
Portland Pie Co. (786 Elm St.) The Maine Taco: taco chips topped with chicken, lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onion and cheddar jack cheese, drizzled with southwestern ranch
Red Arrow Diner (61 Lowell St.) Grandma’s Meatloaf Taco: a slice of dinner-made meatloaf, mashed potato and gravy
Republic (1069 Elm St.) The Falafel Taco: a vegan taco with flash-fried falafel, house-made tahini and red cabbage slaw
Restoration Cafe (235 Hanover St.) Breakfast Taco: a corn tortilla filled with scrambled eggs, chorizo, potatoes and queso fresco
Strange Brew Tavern (88 Market St.) Taco di’a de San Patricio: corned beef, sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese
Suddenly Susan’s Gourmet Deli (87 Hanover St.) Crab Meat Taco: crabmeat salad and coleslaw
Taj India (967 Elm St.) Chicken Tikka Taco: chicken with tomato and masala sauce
Thirsty Moose Taphouse (795 Elm St.) Poco de Tratar: a southwestern smoked chimichanga with a cilantro-lime sour cream sauce
Thousand Crane (1000 Elm St.) Seafood Taco: shrimp and crabmeat with a spicy mayonnaise sauce topped with lettuce and tomato
USA Chicken & Biscuits (990 Elm St.) Sambosa Taco: seasoned ground beef, lettuce, tomato, American cheese with a white mayonnaise sauce 
Veranda Bar & Grille (201 Hanover St.) Chicken Tikka Taco: chicken tenders marinated in delicate spices, baked and served with pico de gallo and topped with curry aioli; Fish Taco: fresh haddock with pico and mixed greens, topped with Louisiana aioli




Take on the tacos
Hippo de Mayo returns to downtown Manchester

04/27/17
By Angie Sykeny asykeny@hippopress.com



 Thousands of taco-lovers will head to downtown Manchester on Thursday, May 4, for the world’s largest taco tour, the Hippo de Mayo Taco Challenge, featuring nearly 50 downtown restaurants selling unique $2 tacos they’ve created just for the event. 

“We were looking for an event that would bring people out into downtown and into the streets,” said Hippo Publisher Jody Reese, who created the taco tour with his staff in 2009. “The time of year fit to do something with tacos. We looked around, and there was really nowhere else where they were doing organized taco tours, so we thought it would be a fun idea.” 
During the five-hour event, people can walk to participating restaurants, trying tacos and voting on their favorites to win the People’s Choice Award. Restaurants will also be vying for a Judges’ Choice award, and both winners will receive $1,000 to benefit the charities of their choice. 
These year’s participants include cafes and delis, pubs and diners, farm-to-table and vegan eateries, candy and ice cream shops, steakhouses and seafood restaurants and a variety of ethnic restaurants including Greek, Italian, Mexican, Brazilian, Indian, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Japanese and Chinese. 
“If you think about it, a taco is just a piece of bread with stuff in it,” Reese said. “That’s the nice part about it. It’s very versatile. Every culture has a taco.”  
Taco tourists can look forward to several first-time participating restaurants this year, including recently opened restaurants like vegan juicery and cafe Milk & Honey and apothecary-inspired eatery Restoration Cafe, as well as some well-established restaurants like Piccola Italia Ristorante, which is in its 16th year of business. 
“Every year, I thought, ‘But we don’t sell tacos here.’ ... I didn’t see the fun part about it,” said John Paolini, owner of Piccola.
His chef, Heather Pelletier, who joined the Piccola team last September, prompted his change of heart. 
“I’ve gone to Taco Tour before, and I always thought of it as a fun kind of chaos,” Pelletier said, “so it was exciting to hear that [Paolini] hadn’t done it before. I thought it’d be nice for our clientele to see us do something new.” 
“So this year I said, ‘Let’s do it. Let’s have some fun,’” Paolini said.
Piccola will feature a chicken Parmesan taco — a breaded fried chicken cutlet with sauce and shredded cheese inside a hard taco shell, and a Caesar salad mix sprinkled on top. The idea was inspired by one of Piccola’s kitchen workers who often makes himself a chicken Parmesan sub with a bit of Caesar on top. Pelletier said it’s the perfect taco to represent the restaurant. 
“We sell a lot of chicken Parm. It’s a staple in the Italian world.” she said. “When you go out [for Italian food], that’s one of the things you think of.” 
Those who didn’t try the Judges’ Choice winning taco last year will have a chance to this year as Mediterranean restaurant Campo Enoteca brings back its eggplant polpetti taco, made with eggplant, artichoke white bean purée and pico de gallo pepper relish.
Peter Macone, operational manager for Campo Enoteca and farm-to-table restaurant Republic, also a taco tour participant, said the tacos allow the restaurants to highlight the styles of cuisine featured on their menus; for Campo, the eggplant is a common special and the relish is used as a garnish on its artichoke small bites. Republic’s falafel taco is inspired by the restaurant’s vegan-friendly menu, which includes a falafel plate, and has a homemade tahini dressing and red cabbage slaw that can be found with Republic’s chickpea ragu dish.  
“We may not have tacos on the menu regularly, but everything in our [Taco Challenge] taco is a piece of one of our dishes and can be found somewhere on the menu,” Macone said. “We take different flavors from our menu and say, ‘These will go great together.’” 
With so many tacos being featured that day, it can be hard for restaurants to make their taco stand out. 
“For me, the flavors need to blend, and it’s got to have a little crunch to it,” Reese said of what makes a memorable taco for him. “[Restaurants] should mix different textures and get a little freshness in there with whatever that may be.” 
To make the most of your taco tour experience, Reese said, do some research beforehand and go in with a plan; map out eight to 10 places with tacos you want to try and tackle those places. Also, don’t be afraid to branch out into the outskirts of the taco tour map or you could be missing out on some fabulous tacos. 
“People tend to congregate in the Lowell Street-Elm Street area, which is great, but I strongly suggest hitting the outer areas first,” Reese said. “Once you hit those, it’s easy to come in and hit Elm Street, but you’re getting some geographic diversity in there.” 





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