A few Fridays ago, we headed out to dinner at Xia's - a small Asian fusion restaurant tucked away on a side street (Spruce St) in downtown Winston. On our way to Xia's, we drove down 4th St which was packed on both sides with restaurant and bar goers. There was a ton of foot traffic too, ranging from workers with gym bags slung over their shoulders headed to Rush to a bachlorette party all gussied up headed to Noma's to those in jeans and t-shirts headed for a bite of pizza at Mellow Mushroom to families grabbing custard at Wolfies. Downtown was busy, and looked like a real city should on a Friday night. Matt and I both looked at each other and went "Is this Winston?"
We are both so excited to see the changes that have happened in our little city over the 9 years we've been living here. Truly you can see that people are investing time and money into making downtown a desirable place to be. For a moment, we even pondered to each other whether should we have spent a few years in one of the new lofts on 4th St or the newly renovated Nissan Building.
Living in downtown Winston? It would have been unheard of, pointless, just a few years ago.
(For the record, we both agreed we love our country bumpkin locale more than the lure of being able to walk to the gym and/or custard shop. And let's be honest, we both know which one we'd walk to more often.)
For our anniversary, we tried out one of the new restaurants on 4th St, called Rana Loca. It's a Mexican restaurant, which to any Winston-Salemite sounds pretty blase. I mean, we've got La Carreta, El Torero, Monte Del Rey, El Dorado, Tequila's, El Mague, La Botana.... let's just say, that is one genre that is well established.
But our friends had given it a thumbs up and we went. I was delighted by the menu - empanadas, ceviche, fried yucca... this is not your typical Mexican menu here.* (No "combinacion numero dos" available here.) Their build your own menu is fantastic - you get a big magic marker and check off burrito, taco, quesadilla; the type of meat you want, all the veggies, the sides - guac, different types of salsas, etc.
What I loved about the food was how fresh everything tasted. I tend to find most of the dishes in the Mexican restaurants I've been to all sort of taste fairly similar and bland and rather salty. I usually just go to munch on chips and drink a 'rita, and then I always complain that there's no tequila in my 'rita.
There was definitely tequila in the 'rita here. And wine in the sangria. Heck yea.
Needless to say, I'm excited about the most recent addition to our little city and I can't wait to go back. Delicious foods, yummy drinks, great location? What more could you ask for? Hope you are here to stay, Rana Loca.
*Come to find out after a little Google research the restaurant is owned by John Cahoon, owner of Finnegan's Wake, the Irish bar on 6th St. When I asked the waitress for extra guac, por favor, she just laughed and said "Yea, no one speaks Spanish here." So, as I said - not your typical Mexican restaurant. Is it authentic? I don't know, and truthfully? I don't care. It is delicious. Eso es todo lo que importa.