Review: Nada

I finally found time to go to Nada. I’m not a fan of waiting two hours for dinner on Friday or Saturday night, and for the past few weeks (months?) both Terry’s and my weeknights have been packed. We finally decided: we are going to Nada on Wednesday, come hell or high water.

The hell and high water involved a fitting for the wedding I’m in on Saturday, as well as me leaving the camera at home. Oops. If you want to see great Nada pictures, check out 5chw4r7z’s blog.

We got there around 9 PM and the place had a few tables full, mostly with out-of-town businessmen and a couple who looked like they had cut out of The Color Purple early. Our waitress offered us chips, salsa and guacamole before we ordered, so we took her up on it. The salsa was nice– roasted tomatoes, garlic, and not too spicy. The guacamole was exceptional– I could have made an entire meal out of the guac and the chips (which were obviously homemade and warm and perfectly salty): it was very fresh, light, refreshing (not often you hear that about guacamole!) and spicy, but not too spicy. It wasn’t bland and was well seasoned, unlike Margaritas’, but I expect that from a restaurant owned by Chef David Falk.

To drink, Terry got a beer (surprise!) and I got a Mojito Fresa, whch is a mojito with strawberry puree. It was very good, not too sweet, but the bartender last night was, according to our waitress, “MIA”, which led to long delays between rounds.

Since so many people had raved about it, we got the Mexican Mac and Cheese as well. It was a little spicy for my tastes, but the cheese was a great, creamy compliment and the portion was just right for splitting– it was rich, so I wouldn’t have wanted to eat more of that than I did.

For my entree, I picked an old favorite: barbacoa taco. This is shredded short rib meat topped with lime and pickled onion on warm tortillas. While good, they tasted the same as La Mexicana’s in Newport– and La Mexicana’s are $1.50 a piece instead of 3 for $13.

Terry picked shrimp with a white corn tamale. The shrimp was in a spicy cream sauce, and he commented that spice and cream need to go together more often– they are a nice compliment. However, he commented that the tamale was very delicate, and the sauce totally overwhelmed it. He deemed it good, but not exceptional.

Dessert was a very standard warm chocolate torte, similar to Nigella’s Chocopots, and topped with bananas foster gelato from Madisono’s and some banana flavored caramel. It was nice, but Mexican restaurants aren’t known for dessert. The gelato made it a step above average.

I will definitely go back for their guacamole and cocktails, but I’m still not entirely sure what all the fuss is about. If I get a craving for barbacoa tacos, I’ll go to La Mexicana. Otherwise, if I want a Falk restaurant, I’ll stick to Boca.

Nada on Urbanspoon

  • Cin Twin1

    I read recently that Madison’s made a unique flavor of gelato for Nada. Was there a mojito flavor on the menu?

    My hubby and I really enjoyed the sliders while we were there. He also got the mahi mahi tacos and raved about it. My hubby really likes sangria (I told him once it was a pansy drink) and he liked the one they had at Nada. I ordered the grapefruit margarita and could have drank 10 of them.

    I think I so want it to be a good downtown restaurant, that I find if I step back and compare food quality, ambiance, and service to other restaurants, it is decent but not exceptional. I am glad it is not a vacant prime retail space. Now if we can just bring back “Rockin on Walnut” this summer…..

  • Julie

    Mojito and bananas foster are the two custom flavors for Nada.

    I watched the waitress do shots of grapefruit margarita with one of the tables of expense account guys. :)

    It’s decent, certainly, and I’d rather a decent place that brings people downtown to be there than nothing.

  • Cin Twin1

    Nothing or Nada?

    Hee hee hee

  • Chris S

    Yeah, your impressions of Nada jive perfectly with my experience. I was not overly impressed with the entrees but I do love their guac, and their coctails.

    For me, nada has become a place to stop quickly to munch/grab coctails (and their grapefruit margs…. sooooo good. I really think that is my favorite margarita in town by quite a long stretch)

  • liberal foodie

    I didn’t try the margaritas while there with coworkers for lunch but I intend to go back for those and guacamole. I enjoyed my mahi mahi tacos too. Did you get beans and rice as a side?

    It’s good to know that other resto reviewers are about in the same boat on Nada. It’s decent but nothing exceptional.

  • Julie

    liberal foodie, I didn’t. I’m ATTEMPTING to control my portions (yeah, chips and guac? not a good idea) so I try to not order stuff that isn’t my favorite, because I’ll just eat it because it’s in front of me. Are the rice and beans particularly good?

  • Cin Twin1

    We had one of the sides I think it was a mashed plaintain and black beans? It was decent (gosh we keep using that word) but it was kind of gray in color. I wouldn’t call it pretty.

  • Jaime

    We were thinking of trying Nada this Saturday night but now I’m starting to change my mind….. It seems like everyone thinks Nada is ok but not great.

  • liberal foodie

    Julie- glad to hear that you didn’t try the rice and beans. They weren’t good. Sharing Mac & cheese with your companion was a better idea.

    I know what you mean about finishing food that’s in front of you. I do it all the time. At home, I tell the husband to remove a plate of food or bag of chips in front of me so I stop eating them.

  • Jaime

    I think we’re going to try Boi na Braza Saturday nigiht instead of Nada, has anyone heard anything about it? So far I’ve heard from 2 people that its very good and a ton of food.

  • Julie

    liberal foodie– goes back to my german grandmother and the clean plate club. Kids starving in China and all of that.

    Jaime– my mom and her friends have been, but I haven’t yet. She particularly liked the side dishes and the salads, and said the meat was good too (but a little underdone for her tastes– she’s a medium well sort of person. If you like medium and under, like I do, you’ll be fine). Let me know what you think!

  • vudutu

    Jamie, if your real hungry Boi na is a pig out, skip lunch. The salad bar, actually it is the sides bar I guess, is awesome, I can dine on just it. Nada to me (so far, been twice, I want to go back) is more of a cherry picking menu. A little of this a little of that. I LOVE their salsi, I wish they would bottle it, personally I think their margs suck, stick with a good Mex beer. Don’t go at prime hour, I would check the theater schedule and work around it.

    Julie, I’m with you, I HATE to waste food, drives my SO nuts but I have been hungry before, I know, we forget how blessed we are here, millions around the world go to bed hungry. Here is a link to recent food riots. It’s going to get a lot worse I am afraid.

    http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2008/04/10/8205/

  • Cin Twin1

    My hubby went to Boi Na Braza for work (don’t you just love people on expense accounts) and came home and gave himself a “B+” I was a little confused until he explained, he graded himself and went in thinking he could pig out or just eat until he was content. He must have done well!

    I haven’t been but he said I would like the side/salad bar. I don’t love meat enough to eat my body weight of it.

    I think Palomino’s is a good downtown restaurant in Nada’s price range if you are looking for something not so expensive as BNB. Don’t miss their happy hour, 5-7 Everyday. Definitely is my favorite mojito in the city.

  • becauseweloveit

    Great review! I think you liked the place a little more than I did, but it was good to see that I was not too far out in left field by not loving the place.
    I agree that it is nice to have a place downtown that attracts folks even the food is not fantastic.
    Do you have any recommendations for the weekend?

  • Julie

    becauseweloveit– hmm. For me, this will be a sort of restaurant-free weekend. I’m in a wedding, so we have the rehearsal dinner tonight and the wedding itself tomorrow. However! The rehearsal dinner is going to feature homebrewing, so I’m going to write about that. I have instructions from the bride to do a cake review, too. Oh darn. Cake!

    If I WERE going out this weekend, I would go to the Hideaway or Melt. I’m feeling sort of low key and Northside-y. I might do Biagio’s, too– drove by there and realized I hadn’t been there in a couple of years.

  • vudutu

    cin twin and chris s, boy you and I have different taste when it comes to cocktails, I tried a mojito at Palomino’s and thought it was terrible. Same for Nadas ritas, it’s the mixes and bar lemon they use I think. If I am going to pay their prices for a cocktail it needs to be from scratch.

  • Julie

    vudutu, I specifically got something that wasn’t a rita based on your rec. :)

    For really good, hand-muddled, no-mix cocktails, you can’t beat Hugo.

  • The Boyfriend

    As Julie said, other than the chips and guacamole, there was nothing about the meal that was anything more than just OK.

    Neither of us really WANTED dessert; we just wanted to give the place one last chance to really wow us. The warm chocolate torte was no better than dozens of warm-chocolate-cakey-with-ice-cream things I’ve had at mid-to-upper-price chains like Longhorn or Outback (and I don’t CARE what kind of custom-made ice cream it had on it).

    I really don’t understand the two-hour waits on weekends.

  • Chris S

    Eh, the qualification here is that it is a margarita.

    Its the “best” that I have had in Cincinnati, and after margs at places like all the chain mex restaurants, and even the locals (like Cactus Pear), this was quite a step up. Perspective is everything, and frankly if I want a really good marg, I’ll make it myself. (Its alot cheaper to use your own Patron than the bar’s Patron ;))

    That said, I am also not realy a coctail person (besides bloody marys). I am a single malt scotch, or single barrel bourbon kind of guy.

  • Jaime

    Well, I wasn’t overly thrilled with Boi Na Braza. Don’t get me wrong the food was good but at $45 a head I don’t want to be going through a buffet line to get my own food. I felt like it was an expensive more upscale Golden Corral. The food was good, but not great, the service was good… but at that price I’d rather go somewhere that feels more upscale.

  • vudutu

    Julie,
    Hugos is on our radar, want to go, we hear good things. BF I think the reason for the 2 hour wait is mostly because it happens to be the current hotspot and because it is in a prime spot and a cool space. Aoi is my current new fave, also very cool space, a friends brothers company did both build outs.

  • Kasmira

    I HAVE made a meal out of Nada’s guacamole. :)

    I also recommend the grapefruit margaritas.

    Nice to know I can get those barbacoa tacos elsewhere. They were out of this world good, but pricey.

  • liz

    i also love the grapefruit margaritas at nada. i think it is a good addition to downtown in terms of having a fun atmosphere and good drinks. the food is not great but it’s a fun place to hang out with friends. i also like via vite for the same reason. yay for fun places to get drinks and snacks downtown!

  • Steve

    David Falk is the most egotistical and overrated chef in Cincinnati, although Travis at Seny is making a go of it.

    Boca is a great restaurant, Nada is just OK, but Boca is WAY to expensive for what you get, and I am completely accustomed to small portions and tasting menus.

  • becky

    I love nada. It is becoming my favorite semi-cheap comfort food restaurant. If you go again try the carnitas tacos. Easily my favorite, enhanced by the fresh lime wedges. Agree fully about the guacamole. I often eat so much of the chips and guac that I have no room for the food.
    Nadarita is good but overpriced. Gazpacho was good also.