Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cafe Ole: Slugs and Salamanders

Slugs need food, too.

I say that because I accomplished next to nothing today, making me feel very lazy and yet by late afternoon, all I could think of was where I wanted to eat lunch.

I've no doubt that my sluggishness arose from two of the last three nights being 3 a.m. bedtimes.

What with today being the weekend, though, I corrected that deficit by getting up, having breakfast and taking a windy walk before crashing for a two-hour nap.

And I don't know about you, but I always wake up from a nap hungry, so when I arose around 3:00, I found myself headed to the new Cafe Ole in Carytown still rubbing the sleep out of my eyes.

Since I'd never patronized Ben and Jerry's, it was my first time in that space with its great panorama of C-town's street theater.

And today's sunshine had brought out a full cast of characters human and canine.

With the Arcade Fire's new album "The Suburbs" blaring overhead, the place had all the entertainment I could hope for.

I was disappointed to see that the wall menu had a paper sign over the nachos portion saying "No Nachos."

When I inquired as to why nachos were not yet available (I mean, come on, the ingredients are all over the rest of the menu), I was told it was because they don't yet have a salamander.

This became a teachable moment because I didn't know about Salamander toaster ovens.

My server explained, "They're expensive and we just opened, so we gotta pay the electric bill before we buy anything else new. But nachos are definitely coming."


So I had to move beyond the nachos portion of the menu for my late lunch.

Although I didn't see them on the menu, I took a chance and asked if they had fish tacos; they were always my favorite item at the downtown Cafe Ole.


I ordered a couple of those, found a window table and settled in to read the Washington Post article about the competitive eating club at University of Maryland (my alma mater).

Frankly, I found the idea of a school-sponsored club centered around overeating pretty repulsive, but who am I to judge extra-curricular activities?

My tacos arrived, full of blackened tilapia, fruit salsa (pears and mango, but I was told it changes), and chopped lettuce with a honey/chipotle sauce; they were surrounded by Ole's signature chips (fried in peanut oil the sign boasts) and house salsa.

It had been easily a year since I'd last had the downtown location's fish tacos and these were just as good as I remembered. It occurred to me that down there, you could only get them on Thursdays.

And, come to think of it, why weren't they listed on the menu at all here?

Enquiring minds need to know, so I went up to the counter to ask.

Turns out they only serve fish tacos in Carytown on Saturdays, Mondays and Wednesdays.

So I'd just lucked out in ordering them today.

The girl did say that they were sort of planning to add them to the menu soon and possibly even daily.

I told her I was glad for my random good luck in having inadvertently stumbled in on a fish day.

"Oh, good!" she said, sounding relieved. "I thought you were coming up to say you were allergic to tilapia or something."

Not a chance.

Slugs eat everything, honey.


  1. you're brilliant you know.

  2. Careful or you'll bring the haters out yet again.

  3. Since you are in the area, check out Nate's taco truck stop when you get a chance. Nate mentioned to me last time I was in there that he was considering keeping fish tacos on the menu as well, instead of it being a special. The more people that ask for it the more likely it will happen--which is good for us all.

  4. Thanks for the suggestion. I always order the Frito pie, but fish tacos would be great.

    I'll be asking!