Aug

20

2013

Dishcrawl – The Social Food Adventure That Doubles As A Workout

Written By Adam in Reviews

Dishcrawl - Pedal Wagon in Cincinnati by Caroline Wik

During most Dishcrawl events participants walk from restaurant to restaurant, however on the Taco Crawl they rented Pedal Wagons.

Dishcrawl

Rating: 3 out of 5 Plates
What: A social food adventure – sample food from multiple restaurants and meet new people.
Price Range: Varies Greatly, Usually $25-$35

www.Dishcrawl.com

Recently we were invited to try out a Downtown taco crawl with Dishcrawl. For those who aren’t familiar with Dishcrawl it’s basically a progressive dinner that moves from restaurant to restaurant around the city. Each one is themed and tied to a specific area, usually with all the restaurants within walking distance. So you have a dish at the first restaurant, walk to the second, have a dish there and then on to third, etc. Additionally the route is kept secret until you’re on the way to each place.

Now the taco crawl we went on was a little different than usual for two reasons – the first was rather than be a progressive dinner (appetizers at the first place, the first course at the second, the entree at the third and so on) it was all about the tacos. The second reason was, since the chosen restaurants Downtown were a bit far apart it was decided rather than walk we would all be shuttled around by the Pedal Wagons.

The Restaurants

For this particular Dishcrawl the restaurants chosen were Mynt Martini, Tacqueria Mercado, Arnold’s and Bakersfield OTR in that order.

We started off all meeting where the Pedal Wagons were waiting near the Gateway garage so we could sign our waivers and things and then headed off to Mynt. Mynt’s offering was a trio of tacos, one beef, one jerk chicken and one vegetarian (think avocados and lettuce on a tortilla).

Mynt Martini steak, chicken and avocado tacos by Caroline Wik

Mynt Martini’s tacos were simply unremarkable.

To be honest while none of them were that bad, none of them were really all that good either. I liked the beef best out of the three and Caroline liked the jerk chicken best when comparing solely among the trio. Both the jerk chicken and beef had a little flavor to them, but in both there just wasn’t anything really to get excited over. The vegetarian one was just sad. I felt really bad for the vegan sitting across from us who got three of them. Mynt’s manager did tell us they have a taco bar there open certain nights where you can build your own buffet style, so maybe given that freedom you could come up with something with a little more flavor to it.

Thankfully after Mynt we were off to Tacqueria Mercado which is easily one of, if not, my favorite Mexican restaurants Downtown. There we were treated to another trio of tacos, this time filled with chicken, beef and pork respectively.

Where Mynt’s tacos were more likely than anything to put my taste buds to sleep, Tacqueria Mercado’s were fantastic. They have the most authentic fare out of all the places I know in the area and it definitely shows. All of the ingredients were fresh and contributed to the blend of flavors in such a way that you could pick each one out individually but all together they were something special. We also had a margarita while we were there which was excellent.

The Pedal Wagon ride to Arnold’s was probably the longest of the night, but it was worth it. Not so much for the tacos which were just decent, but for the drink and the atmosphere.

Taqueria Mercado steak, chicken and pork tacos by Caroline Wik

Taqueria Mercado has some of the most authentic and delicious tacos in Cincinnati. Hands down.

Margarita at Taqueria Mercado by Caroline Wik

The huge margarita is, according to Taqueria Mercado, one of the best in the city.

We were seated out in the courtyard at Arnold’s which, if you’ve never been back there, is a fantastic space. They brought us tacos filled with blackened tilapia, beef and pork. Like I said they weren’t bad, but they weren’t much to get excited over either. They were certainly better than Mynt’s, but having just come from Tacqueria Mercado I think we were still a little spoiled.

One thing (other than the atmosphere) there that was fantastic was our drink. I can’t remember the name now for the life of me but it was a wonderfully alcoholic blend of mint, chocolate and bourbon that tasted just like a thin mint. It went down quick and I have to admit I could probably drink those all day long.

Irish Coffee at Arnold's Bar by Caroline Wik

Arnold’s Bar has great drinks – even ones like the Irish Coffee here.

Fish, Chicken and Beef tacos at Arnold's by Caroline Wik

Fish, Beef and Pork tacos by Arnold’s.

Our last stop on our dinner journey was Bakersfield OTR. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough room for all of us inside, so we all just hung out around the outdoor seating area and the manager brought our tacos out to us. They served both the chicken and short rib tacos and both were easily the very best thing we had the entire night.

Don’t get me wrong, I did love Tacqueria Mercado’s tacos, but where those are wonderful in a traditional way Bakersfield’s tacos are a more modern kind of spin that gets everything right. I cannot adequately describe in prose how delicious the short rib tacos were and haven’t the time right now to be composing sonnets so just take my word for it and go try them.

Short Rib Tacos at Bakersfield OtR by Caroline Wik

Taqueria Mercado has the most authentic tacos, but the Short Rib tacos by Bakersfield OtR are – no question – the most delicious in town.

The Experience

Dishcrawl in a lot of ways isn’t really about the food.

Ok, it’s about the food – but it’s about the food in the sense that the food makes for a convenient excuse to build the whole experience around. When you go on a Dishcrawl what you’re getting more of is an experience. You get to try a handful of restaurants you may or may not have tried before or even heard of, you get to meet a bunch of new people and you get to go on a fun little group adventure.

This particular one was made even better by the addition of the Pedal Wagons which soon formed into very proud teams and devolved into a mad, if silly looking, race around the city to see who could get to the next destination first. There was loud music, lots of yelling, laughter the whole way and it was a lot of fun.

The food was certainly worth it, and I left full (several people boxed food up because they couldn’t finish) but I wouldn’t have cared a ton if I hadn’t left full because of how much fun I had.

In the end for the $35 per person our Dishcrawl was we got a filling meal that overall was quite good and a fun evening riding around the city meeting new people and having a bunch of little dinners with new friends. It’s probably not something you’ll want to go on every week, but it’s definitely a fantastic option for a fun night out – especially if you’re looking for something a little more social.

Have you been to a Dishcrawl event? Does it sound like a fun idea? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. You can also find more photos from our Dishcrawl over on our Facebook Dishcrawl photo album. While you are there, be sure to like us too.

Verdict: A Fun Social Experience

For $25 per person it’s a relatively cheap way to sample a handful of restaurants without having to worry about taking care of all the arrangements yourself. The food can be hit or miss. For us we had the whole range from boring to mind-blowing, so it’s a bit of a lottery. Since seating naturally gets mixed up at each location you get to meet new people but the groups tend to be small enough to be able to get to know everyone else a little. It’s a lot like a small, moving party. Definitely a good option for a night out every now and again and, if our experience was any indication, guaranteed to be a fun time.

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