Last Stop: Terminal Juárez
It’s easy enough to pass it by, and the first time I tried to go that’s just what I did. I was told that “it’s in a parking lot”, but I didn’t think that meant literally. Terminal Juárez Pop Up Hall, the latest in what seems to be a plethora of ‘gourmet’ food courts in our city, does indeed look over a working outdoor garage but is well enough designed to inhabit its own separate space; in and out-going vehicles remain at a safe psychological distance. Some unusual culinary offerings make Juárez a destination worth seeking out.
Its name misleads, as it is not located near a ‘terminal’ and houses permanent locales that do not ‘pop-up’. But it beats the others I have visited recently for its unusual variety of international offerings. It aims for bargain-basement sophistication without compromising quality. The lengthy corridors made of simple metal beams and wood is on two levels that house mini-locales and wide blond-wood tables at which to sit and enjoy a leisurely lunch. An upper level sandwiches a cocktail bar at one end and a soon-to-inaugurate wine bar at the other.
Hot Mamma's Hot Chicken from the Grand Ole Opry
Hot Mamma’s southern fried chicken joint is one of the few non-chain venues for the kind of crunchy golden fried chicken that is hard not to like. Mamma serves up Nashville-style chicken, crusty without and steaming/succulent within, in three different levels of hotness. The menu also includes sandwiches, chicken & waffles and pulled pork sliders. Sides such as cole slaw and mac & cheese would make any Tennessean happy. And that’s because recipes have been meticulously curated by Nashville native Gina Hendrix, who also happens to be a sommelier and wine distributor. When the wine bar opens next door, she will undoubtedly be happy to suggest a pairing.
From India to Japan
Neighbors with Hot Mamma, Kebab prepares Indian dishes to order. While the owners are from Bangladesh, the offerings here are pan-Indian, i.e. a panoply of regional dishes from all over the continent and some invented by the English. Fiery lamb in vindaloo from Goa competes with bengali byriani and, fragrant saag-paneer (spinach cheese curry) and the British favorite, butter chicken. But the point is that all dishes are prepared to order and spicing is balanced.
On a recent visit, I was pleased with my "bhaji" – such common street food snacks as samosas and pakoras. The quality of the food compares well with much higher priced options in the city.
Nosferatu Pizzas are a cut above average. They may not be ready to be certified by the Napolitano judges, but they feature quality ingredients and, at $45 for a personal margharita, are a great deal.
Cobá Fonda Yucateca, next to a decent hamburger stand, is purveyor of acceptable panuchos.
On ground level at Shibui Ramen, the affable Ken Luna, of Japanese descent, prepares a rich ramen; it's the best in the area and that's saying something in a city saturated with good ramen. And sometimes his mother hangs out to make sure things are in order.
Términal Juárez Pop-up Hall
Versalles 88 (inside the parking lot), Colonia Juarez. (see map)
Open daily 1-8 p.m.