Taste of Manchester: La Bamba Mexican Restaurant

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2015 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 12th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2015) for more information. 

When you hear “La Bamba,” no doubt the traditional Mexican folk song popularized by Ritchie Valens strikes up in your brain. Now you can visit La Bamba, the Mexican restaurant that opened recently on Hartford Road. And you can sample their food at this year's Taste of Manchester, taking place on Tuesday, May 12th.

The cheerful décor is a refreshing change from the dark bar that was once in this location. Mismatched chairs in vivid hues have symbols of suns, maracas, and cacti in their backs. Sombreros decorate the brightly-colored walls. The bar serves various flavors of Jarrito sodas, made in Mexico and sweetened with real sugar. They have not yet received their liquor license, so for now, it’s BYOB (with no corkage fee).

To start there are warm, crisp, tortilla chips served with zippy fresh salsa. A nearly-nuclear hot sauce sits on each table; use sparingly if you dare. The first page of the menu lists appetizers, salads, quesadillas and chimichangas. Most are convincingly Mexican (cheese dips, guacamole, tostadas) and worth a try. Chunks of grilled chicken float in the uber-creamy “White Cheese Dip” that has hints of allspice, or perhaps nutmeg. Whatever it is, it is a highly recommended starter.

Page two offers a variety of tacos made with beef and/or pork, tortas Mexicanos (sandwiches), and a couple of out-of-place pasta dishes. Flip past these to the back to find two categories of entrees -- carnes and mariscos. Carnes feature steak and chicken in a variety of preparations. There are fajitas, enchiladas, and burritos for those who delight in the ordinary. However, the mole sauce at La Bamba is seductive – deep and dark with hints of chocolate, coffee and smoky, spicy chile peppers. Try it drizzled over chicken and rice (the “Mole Veracruzano”) or in the tortilla-wrapped chicken Enmoladas. Seafood plates are mariscos, including the house special “La Bamba,” a marvelous mix of lobster, shellfish and tilapia served with a chipotle-and-tequila-infused cream sauce. Desserts include flan, ice cream and the enticing Tres Leches cake, a subtly-sweet milk-drenched cake.

The service here is friendly and welcoming, and, if you wisely choose the traditional Mexican fare, the food is remarkably delicious. Prices for most items are in the $12-$20 range. La Bamba is participating in this year's Taste of Manchester on May 12th, and is located at 485 Hartford Road. They are open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and their phone number is 860.474.5955.They do not have a website, but can be found on Facebook

La Bamba Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon


To the Moon, Onyx!

Onyx Moonshine


EAST HARTFORD, Conn.April 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Onyx Spirits Company, a New England craft distillery, will launch a full sized bottle of their signature spirit, Onyx Moonshine, into space from Connecticut on Saturday May 2, 2015. The announcement is being made today to commemorate Earth Day and Onyx Spirits Company's commitment to sustainable business practices.
A team of scientists spent two years constructing "Onyx 1", a custom-built, weather balloon-powered space apparatus that will carry a 750 mL bottle of Onyx Moonshine and accompanying rocks glass, mounted on a silver platter 22 miles up into space. The platform has been fitted with GoPro cameras, GPS, radar deflector, deployable parachute and a protective foam casing that will safeguard the bottle upon landing in the Long Island Sound. All safety measures have been considered and the FAA will be notified prior to the launch.
"Onyx Moonshine is all about attempting things that haven't been done before, which is the true essence of the American spirit," said Onyx Spirits Company co-founder Adam von Gootkin. "It's amazing to think that 150 years ago our ancestors were arrested for illegally selling moonshine and here we are, legally sending a bottle into space. This is just one small adventure of many more to come," he added.
The first launch date is set for Saturday May 2, 2015, weather dependent. If the launch doesn't occur on May 2, the subsequent target dates are Sunday May 3Saturday May 9 or Sunday May 10. Launch confirmation, time, and location will be communicated the day before the launch. Please visit our dedicated launch page for complete details. 
Follow Onyx Moonshine on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube and use the hashtags #spacelaunch #onyxmoonshine and #onyxadventures for launch updates.

Onyx Spirits Company redefined American spirits with the release of Onyx Moonshine, the country's first ultra-premium moonshine, and Secret Stash, New England's first aged whiskey. Onyx Moonshine was the Official Spirit of the 2012 GRAMMY Awards. The company was voted by Yankee Magazine as the "Best New England Micro-Distillery", won two gold medals at the 2014 International Craft Awards Competition and won a triple gold medal at the 2014 Micro Liquor Awards. www.onyxmoonshine.com // www.drinkbetter.com/onyx

SOURCE Onyx Spirits Company


Taste of Manchester: Lucky Taco

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2015 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 12th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2015) for more information. 

If you are a Connecticut taco fan, you’re undoubtedly familiar with Flaco, the Lucky Taco truck, which rambles around Bushnell Park on weekday afternoons. But if you’re not free to chase food trucks in the afternoon, it’s no longer a problem. Lucky Taco Cantina and Tap Room is now open on Main Street in Manchester. And they are participating in their first Taste of Manchester this year. Taco lovers rejoice!

What's on tap today?

The space, for a long time a local breakfast joint, is narrow and long, and is separated into two parts - restaurant and bar. The bar is dimly lit, as a bar should be, with a few high-top tables perfect for snacking or having a libation while waiting for a booth. There’s a full bar, yes, but we suggest indulging in something different. Lucky Taco carries over a dozen different tequilas (including some house-made tequila infusions), and makes margaritas with Connecticut’s own Ripe fresh juices and fresh fruit purees. They also have a wide variety of local and craft beers on tap.


The restaurant is bright and cheery, evoking thoughts of warm Southern weather. Booths line one wall; a counter and the kitchen lines the other. Lucky Taco specializes in what they call “Tex-Mex comfort food infused with other worldly delights.”  As far as “Tex-Mex” goes, the menu offers a few of the standard Mexican-style dishes, particularly among the appetizers (nachos and quesadillas), salads (taco salad), and soups (chicken tortilla). But the worldly delights do entice, particularly with the inventive taco and burrito options. There are 14 different types of tacos and 15 different styles of burritos at Lucky Taco, so you’re sure to find one that tickles you. 

Lucky Nachos

Portabella Fajita Taco

We found the menu section called "Tacos Around the World" to be particularly intriguing. Here you'll find global favorites like Kung Pao Chicken, Island Jerk Pork, Thai Chicken and Chorizo, all stuffed, taco-style, into flour or corn tortillas. There are plenty of vegetarian options, and even breakfast tacos on their breakfast menu.

Island Jerk Pork Taco (with Mango Pico de Gallo)

Black Bean, Tomato and Cheese Burrito

Daily dessert specials vary, but this silky flan, smothered in a light caramel sauce, was a crowd-pleaser. All Lucky Taco menus can be found on their website. They even cater!


Come sample Lucky Taco's Tex-Mex fusion fare at The Taste of Manchester 2015. Then visit them at 829 Main Street in Manchester. They are open Tuesday-Wednesday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. (Closed Mondays). Their phone number is 860-432-2274. 


Lucky Taco - Cantina & Tap Room on Urbanspoon


Onyx Moonshine Cranberry Margaritas

At Mickey Blakes in Milford for the grand opening, enjoying Onyx Moonshine Cranberry Margaritas.

Substitute Onyx Cranberry infusion for tequila in your favorite margarita recipe and revel in the sweet tart amazingness.



Crunchy Chicken Taco Salad for Healthy Solutions Spice Blends Recipe Challenge

It has been a long time since we’ve entered a recipe contest. However, this one sounded too intriguing to pass up. Food bloggers were invited to try one of Healthy Solutions Spice Blends and create a health-conscious, family-friendly recipe using it. We received a sample packet of their “Authentic Chili/Tacos” seasoning blend, and found a way to use it not just once, but four different ways in our recipe.

Our recipe is inspired by the taco salad, the delicious but usually quite unhealthy dish found on the menus of many restaurant chains in the U.S. Was it possible to create a healthy taco salad that was crave-worthy in its deliciousness? That was our mission, and to do so required packing in as much punch as possible. Thankfully, the spice blend is filled with an abundance of fragrant herbs and tongue-tickling spices such as chili pepper, garlic, onion and cumin. Thus, we incorporated it into all the levels of our salad, from the protein to the garnishes to the dressing.

First, we used the blend to season the Greek-yogurt-based marinade for our crunchy baked chicken fingers.  Then we sprinkled it on some corn tortillas we cut into strips to make a crunchy salad topper. We threw a teaspoon of it into the black bean layer that sat atop our salad as well. And finally, we created a zesty chili/taco flavored vinaigrette to give it one last kick.

The robust flavors and varying textures of this fresh dinner salad made it a huge hit at our table, and we dare say, it would be at yours as well. The seasoning blend is mildly spicy, and therefore not too much for the tummies of the little ones. You'll notice we only used about 4 teaspoons of it; feel free to add more or less to taste. The packets are resealable! And (bonus!) this simple salad can be made from scratch in about 45 minutes.

Crunchy Chicken Taco Salad
Serves four


Your favorite salad ingredients for four 
6 ounces plain Greek yogurt
1 pound chicken breasts, cut into strips ("fingers")
1 cup panko (Japanese-style breadcrumbs)
4 corn or flour tortillas, cut into narrow strips
1 15.5-ounce can black beans
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Juice of 2 limes

Use your favorite salad ingredients to make a dinner-sized salad for each member of your family (we used shredded lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers). Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the yogurt in a shallow bowl or baking dish and stir in one teaspoon of the spice blend. Coat the chicken fingers with the yogurt and set aside to marinate. Meanwhile, spread the tortilla strips in one layer on a cookie sheet and sprinkle with one teaspoon of the spice blend; bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and crunchy. Dip each chicken finger on all sides in panko and place on a cookie sheet; bake for 15 minutes, flip, and bake another 15 minutes, until golden brown. While the chicken is baking, heat the black beans with one teaspoon of the spice blend in a small saucepan and place as a layer on top of the salad ingredients. To make the dressing, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and lime juice with a teaspoon of the spice blend. Place the chicken fingers on top of the salad, drizzle with the dressing and garnish with the crunchy tortilla strips.


About the Taste of Manchester 2015

Perhaps you read the recent post on La Via del Gusto and your interest was piqued. What is the Taste of Manchester and how does it work?

The Taste of Manchester is a single-night fund-raising event that supports the Manchester Dog Owners Group and is run entirely by volunteers. Your ticket offers you the opportunity to explore, in pub-crawl fashion, the flavors of Downtown Manchester, and support the local businesses in the City of Village Charm.

Each participating business will have a "Tasting" area set up either at their own location, or at one of the joint locations on Main Street, where they will offer a taste of their menu items. You can start anywhere along the route, and travel by foot or take one of the shuttle buses that will be available. Visit as many businesses as you like, but make sure you end up at the Army & Navy Club for the after-party and raffle drawings! 

This year's event will be held on Tuesday, May 12th from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. All the information you need, from purchasing tickets to finding out more about the participating restaurants to volunteering for the Taste of Manchester, can be found at one or more of the following sites:

Twitter Handle: @tastytownct  
This year's hashtag: #TOMCT2015

Get those tastebuds revved up and ready by reading about a few of the 2014 Taste participants below, and BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!


Taste of Manchester: La Via Del Gusto

As part of the Taste of Manchester 2015 Marketing Committee, Amy has volunteered to write short features on the participating restaurants and share them via our blog here.This year's Taste of Manchester will be held on Tuesday, May 12th from 5:30 to 9 p.m. See the TOM webpageFacebook page, or Twitter @TastyTownCT (#TOMCT2015) for more information. 

La Via del Gusto on Broad Street

Think you need to go to Franklin Avenue to purchase great Italian meats, cheeses, espressos and pastries? Think again. In the Strano Bakery building on Broad Street, you'll find a hidden treasure - La Via del Gusto, an Italian cafe, bakery, deli and market, right here in Manchester, CT. The Italian name means "The Way of Taste," and this business is Manchester's way to the old world tastes of Italy. They will be participating in the Taste of Manchester 2015, their second year. 

Owner Claudio makes a cappuccino

Frothy, sweet, and delizioso!

CAFE: Business owner and ever-the-welcoming-host Claudio makes a mean espresso, or a cappuccino, if you prefer. Sip on one as you listen to Italian music and browse the multiple pastry cases in search of the choicest accompaniment to your caffeine fix. And speaking of pastries...

Fresh Bread

Creamy, crunchy cannoli

Lobster-Tail Pastry

BAKERY: One step into the building and the tempting aromas give it away -- La Via del Gusto specializes in freshly baked Italian breads and rolls, flaky pastries such as ricotta-stuffed sflogliatelle and cream-filled "lobster tails," cannoli (plain or chocolate-dipped) and assorted Italian cookies. All of these can be ordered in individual servings or by the dozen (pastries) or pound (cookies), to eat in the cafe or to take away. Just like their deli items...

Italian Cheeses

Sweet Sopressata, Sharp Provolone, Scamorza Garlic Bread, and Meatballs in sauce 
- the at-home feast of foods we bought at La Via del Gusto

DELI: Italian meats, like prosciutto, capicolla, salami and sopressatta are among the deli choices at La Via del Gusto. But what is meat without cheese in the old world? Parmigiano-Reggiano, scamorza, Grana Padano, provolone - take your pick. You're sure to find one that is crumbly, stinky, salty, smoky, or nutty enough to suit your needs. If you need a quick breakfast or lunch sandwich, look no further. Claudio's Classic Italian Combo is the way to go - ham, Genoa salami and sopressata with your choice of cheese, veggies, and special housemade roasted pepper cream, or any other combination for a grinder or panini you can think up, will be magnificently stuffed with freshly sliced Italian-style formaggi and carni.   

Serving up a hefty sandwich

MARKET: La Via del Gusto also has a market area with shelves overflowing with imported pastas of every shape, bottles of olive oil and vinegar, tomato sauces and other Italian specialty items. They also sell their own items such as meatballs, spaghetti sauce, soups and more. Which means you can buy the best ingredients to make your dinner from scratch, or get that dinner ready-made to simply heat and eat. 

Oils, vinegars, tomatoes, sauces

 Homemade Meatballs are vacuum-packed and ready to heat 'n eat

Pastas of every shape

So, Manchesterians, next time you are craving the culinary delights of Italy, rather than wrestle with traffic on I-84 into Hartford, keep it truly local and travel "the way of taste" to La Via del Gusto

The Menu

La Via del Gusto is located at 255 Broad Street, in the old Strano Bakery Building. They are open Monday-Saturday from 9:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Their phone number is 860-432-2122, and you can eat in the cafe, take items to go, and/or purchase catered platters and trays.  

La Via Del Gusto on Urbanspoon