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Revel, a senior living facility

MusingsOlympia

Am I too young to do a glowing write-up on a senior living facility? It depends on your point of view, I suppose. I might not be old enough to check into a place like Revel, and I’m a bit miffed about that. You know the whole enjoy your youth while you can, and all that? Yeah, after perusing Revel, I’m not so sure I buy into that.

The Editorial Board members vetted the spot during Olympia’s Chefs on Tour, which was a bit of a bumbling event. Five residences; five meals; one clear winner: Revel, the bona fide retirement home. This is not to knock some of the finer foods provided elsewhere on the tour — Bitter Sweet Chocolates and Sofie’s Scoops Gelato delivered the goods — and there were some lovely abodes out there. Revel, though, brought it, and more.

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I’m ready to hit this place up. Fist-bump with Phyllis, sample Jeremiah’s homemade tapioca, have an afternoon snooze while catching up on Murder She Wrote. Revel is set up for the twilight years I deserve, and my biggest fear is that by the time I’m old enough to be allowed in, I’ll be too old to enjoy the amenities.

Accusing a retirement home of ageism might be somewhat ironic, but I’m willing to do just that. That, or get a fake I.D.

The movie room, the gym, the spa? Residents only. The restaurant with a suitably early happy hour, which can only be described as high-end? Swanky enough for us to inquire if outsiders could dine there, just to be smacked down and rejected.

There are sensibly laid out apartments with tasteful finishes, flanked by kitchens you’d expect to find in a waterfront property, albeit with no water or front. Just Lacey, though on the plus side, you will never need to leave the premise, because my god, Revel’s got it all. I even heard rumors of a billiards room.

Alas, it is not meant to be. Not yet. I will say, though: Never before have I set my sights so firmly on being old. There’s a brave new world out there, and I, for one, am ready for it.

Picture taken from Revel’s website because I was too blinded by the greatness to remember to take one myself.


El Taco Amigo

RestaurantsOlympia

The beauty of the taco truck can also be its downfall. One day it is there, right in front of you, peddling its tacos and burritos in the most tantalizing ways, luring you in like a Siren of the Parking Lot. Then, it’s gone. Where it went, nobody knows.

I’m not sure where El Taco Amigo started its life, but at the time of writing, you can find it in the Done-Rite Automotive lot in East Olympia. You probably cannot find a less scenic location outside of the I-5, but at least the service here is fast enough for a grab-and-run.

In the spirit of research, I tried El Taco Amigo’s namesake burrito, which is big in every way. Literally in size, figuratively in flavors. You could go crazy and top the $7.90 default with a $2.59 deluxe option, but I see little reason to do so. Do you really need to stash the proverbial sour cream in with the meat? Of course you don’t, because the burrito comes stuffed to the brim with beef, pork, and chicken. An herbivore’s nightmare is a carnivore’s dream.

Located in Olympia, Washington, El Taco Amigo delivers Mexican food and burritos we can get behind.El Taco Amigo is located in the Done-Rite Automotive parking lot in Olympia, Washington, and is open until 8 p.m. We recommend the El Taco Amigo burrito.

It might be an overkill, but it works. The flavors are distinct enough to give the burrito round flavors, each part of a harmony akin to a dazzling Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire fandango. The seasoning packs a gentle punch without taking anything away from the base, which I can respect. A polite spice is one that understands when it should be known, and when it should make a discrete exit.

So, El Taco Amigo delivers a burrito I can get behind. It’s not there to flaunt every color of the rainbow, but instead, it displays palpable, pragmatic flavors, different from the flashier California Tacos. Which truck is the better choice depends on your wanton moods, but El Amiga holds its own. Buy the ticket, take the ride, and your venture into unchartered territories will be one of enjoyment.



Octapas Café

RestaurantsOlympia

I miss Obsidian. I think Olympia — the world even — was richer with it in it. Waffles and hot dogs served in a Scandinavian black metal-themed locale? I guess it wasn’t wont for this world, and its owners’ decision to transform the spot from a café into a club clearly didn’t pan out for long.

Now Octapas has opened its doors in the building, and the result is a bit of a mixed bag. The vibe is good, and I’m glad the wood paneling still dons the bar. It’s all reminiscent enough of Obsidian to keep the memory alive, yet it’s still its own thing.

Looking at the menu, things are less intriguing, and it’s hard to say what Octapas is trying to be. It’s not very downtown Olympia, with a dearth of vegan dishes, and not a whole lot in the way of vegetarian offerings either. If you’re not into eggs, your non-carnivore brunch options are limited to a couple of side dishes.

The rest is not particularly original, either, and aside from a selection of oysters — always welcomed — the menu is more Lacey than Olympia. No offense to Lacey, but… Well, you know. Different market for sure.

The aforementioned oysters weren’t bad at any rate. From Hood Canal, they tasted fresh, and the accompanying horseradish was spicy. The $2.75 a pop price point is OK, though $15 for half a dozen doesn’t seem like too great of a discount.

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Going with a carnitas breakfast burrito the day after the religious awakening at La Tarasca might not have been a great decision, but it was done in the name of science. It wasn’t a bad burrito either, just… regular. Completely average. The carnitas were decent, with a nice chew and all that, but not memorable. Should you go to Octapas with a group, you know you’ll have a safe choice, and frankly, a group decision is the only reason we’d go back, as opposed to our own sole choice. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The beignets were fine — lightly fried, and covered with powdered sugar as one would expect. They didn’t have any distinct flavors, and probably wouldn’t transport you back to New Orleans. Still, yet another safe choice.

Because Octapas is safe. There is nothing offensively bad there or even bad in general. Maybe that is why the colorful locals of yore are nowhere to be seen. During our final visit to Obsidian, people were sleeping at the bar by the window; this time there was more of a, shall we say, subdivision vibe. Which is fine. We just miss what once was, and what was once served.

Octapas is no Obsidian, and I suppose we’ll have to get our Dimmu Borgir and waffles at home instead.



La Tarasca

RestaurantsOlympia

La Tarasca doesn’t make its expectations from you a secret. Greeting you at the door is a note informing that they do not serve chips and salsa. In fact, they do not even have chips, which really is a polite way of saying don’t even ask. Hey, fair enough, and you do get a bowl of pickled carrots and salsa served before your meal as a happy compromise. La Tarasca is strict but fair.

This pragmatism continues through the menu. As opposed to many of its ilk, La Tarasca has only one starred house specialty: the carnitas. Even the flan, described as a MUST have, is not deemed worthy of the elusive star, though it probably should be.

I’m good with all of this. I like to know what to expect, just as much as I like to know what is expected of me. If La Tarasca wants me to go with the carnitas, who am I to argue?

And I’m glad I didn’t.

The carnitas are stupendously good. I don’t toss out that type of hyperbole often, but caution to the wind, and all that — they are good enough for anyone to make the trek to Centralia. Centralia! It’s a lovely town, I’m sure, but not exactly a road-trip destination. Should they decide to rename the place to La Tarasca in the name of marketing, I’d be in full support of it.

But I digress.

These are the type of carnitas you want to get to know. Converse with; enjoy their company; show them respect. Your relationship will be short, but it will have the depth and affection you usually see with a dear family member. Just in meat form.

There’s a proper surface-bite to the pork, yet the innards melt in your mouth. The spices are delicate, with a depth you only get from proper slow cooking. It all makes for an almost mysteriously delightful experience, one of lore only found in ancient tomes.

The tortillas look and feel as rustic as they are fresh, and like good bread, I could eat them by themselves. Don’t do that, though. Wrap the meat with the rice and beans in them, and top with pico. The combination is of divine proportions.

Should the mood strike, we would seriously recommend the flan. It’s not too sweet, and the sauce adds just a little bit of zing to the party. La Tarasca might not give it a star, but I will.

In fact, I’ll give La Tarasca as many stars as I can (two). It hands down serves the best Mexican food in the Olympia area and is worth the pilgrimage for any tortillaphile. Anything else would be in violation of your nature.