Tapping our way to a Saturday Brunch Bargain

4 04 2010

A single that has been stuck in my head with a wise life anthem to live by. Sing out loud!

Masa, South End

I always forget that Boston is known for being one of America’s top 10 most walkable cities. Six months out of the year (and, unfortunately, sometimes even longer) I find myself living inside a train station,  playing a balance game inside the overcrowded T, wearing a heavy down-coat, scarf, and gloves just trying to avoid the wind tunnels and cold temperatures outdoor. I think that it is fair game to say, then, that I do not think that any of us recall this fact about this beautiful city during the cold winters, not even making it fit for small-talk material.

Yet, today is another gorgeous, sunny day in Boston, and I am reminded once again that you can walk through the parks (Public Garden, Boston Common to name a few) and get yourself almost anywhere around the city! Gotta love it!

Rene and I decided to take advantage of the weather and met near the Public Garden (Arlington) to head over to our brunch destination of the week: Masa, a Tex-Mex restaurant in the widely popular Tremont neighborhood.

Most of you might be familiar with Masa as a great dinner spot or maybe for its infamous $0.50 tapas on Thursday nights, followed by salsa night featuring free salsa lessons from 10:30-11:30pm (mmm…Ready to add some Latin flavor into your relationship? Or pick up a new hobby? This might be the place…).

Tapas- Caramelized Mexican Cinnamon Empanada

This week was Rene’s turn to pick, and the main thing that caught his attention about Masa was the Saturday Brunch Special. With this deal, you can order one choice from their famous tapas menu, featuring traditional choices such as granola with milk/yogurt or add an edgier spin to your morning with the caramelized Mexican cinnamon empanada.  But, the offer does not end there. Masa gives you more for your money than what you expected by also offering you one choice from their Main Courses menu with some favorite brunch plates such as the Jalisco Chocolate Chip Pancakes and everyone’s favorite Huevos Rancheros. And for drinks, you are also entitled to a complimentary cup of tea or coffee.

Now, as I said, the Saturday Brunch Special menu is a condensed version of the regular brunch menu. Yet, you will be given both menus by your waiter upon your arrival. So, before rushing to order, FIRST: remember that you are here to relax and to enjoy a day away from the world’s demands….and SECOND: pat yourself in the back for waking up early on Saturday morning since you have the incredible option of indulging on the most popular brunch items from the regular menu for half the price! Yes…your friends will hate you for it.

Latin background music, white-table cloths and antique, copper chandeliers add elegant, upscale warmth to the venue, perfect for a reserved, classy brunch with family members or with colleagues. Although Masa opens up for brunch at 10am, I would recommend arriving at around 11am to enjoy a livelier vibe to the restaurant. Yet, do not panic about making long lines since Masa has plenty of tables available indoors and outdoors, where you can work on your tan as you eat and enjoy people-watching (which seems to be the newest and trendiest hobby of 2010.There is even a club at Boston University dedicated to this manner… )

Complimentary Cornbread at Masa

As soon as we were seated, the waiter served complimentary cornbread with delectable spreads: whipped butter, cranberry jam, and apricot jam. Although I  am not a big fan of cornbread, I have to say that Rene and I did enjoy the spiced cornbread which we saw as an original twist to the regular kind. We could not get enough of the different flavors brought out by each spread, so, I advice you to be adventurous and try them all! I assure you that it becomes a fun game that distracts you from hunger.

We received some great recommendations from the waitress to start off with the Caramelized Mexican Cinnamon Empanada and the bowl of fresh seasonal fruits as our tapas choice. Now, although I do have a sweet tooth, the empanada is extremely sweet, and the cinnamon flavor is unavoidable. There is something about cinnamon that I believe to be one of those things that requires an acquired taste, which has been my personal experience. Therefore, if you’re not a big fan of cinnamon gum or desserts covered completely with cinnamon to the point that they overpower other flavors, then I would recommend you to stay away from this choice. If not, then go ahead and give yourself a Mexican treat, which after being combined with some of the fruit (thanks to sharing), tastes a lot better than by itself. The beautiful thing about a restaurant offering a tapas menu, though, is that you can take full advantage of it by recruiting a group of your family members or friends to be your accomplices in the quest of ordering different tapas and having a taste of all of      them from the menu! The Spanish were on to something, after all, when they created this system.

Give all of these spreads a try with your cornbread!

The Eggs Benedict course that I ordered was not anything out of the ordinary, and I found the eggs to be a bit cold when served. I introduced my sidekick to his first set of Eggs Benedict, and he did enjoy the flavors, specially the avocado combined with the crunch factor added by the English muffin at the end, but we both agreed that there was nothing special about neither the taste nor the cooking methods to make us want to come back for more. The home fries served with the eggs did not leave a lasting impression, either, and they were by far not the best that we have tried.

Rene decided to play devil’s advocate and try the Huevos Rancheros since his last time eating this delicious dish was at The Other Side Café. Masa’s plate presentation is impeccable, though. The restaurant definitely gets our vote on this, and the Huevos Rancheros were not an exception. Instead of the traditional red beans, this plate was served with black beans, crispy tortillas, and two sunny-side up eggs topped with sour cream, fresh-cut tomatoes, jalapenos, and black pepper seasoning, which added a unique taste to the entire dish. The eggs tasted delicious with the tortilla and the tomatoes, but my side-kick and I agreed that the beans were missing something to their taste in terms of seasoning to take it up a notch on flavor.

Check out the presentation of the Huevos Rancheros--almost a sin to eat it

Eggs Benedict with home fries at Masa---avocado included!

We left Masa feeling full but not raving about the experience. Therefore, here are some things to keep in mind:

Strengths: Price. Variety of options from eggs to pancakes to some Mexican empanadas. Good ambiance for dinner with the parents, colleagues, group of friends. Maybe a place to keep in mind for Commencement on May and June around Boston and Cambridge for college students to take their parents J

Weaknesses: Do not expect mind-blowing flavors. Menu is more Americanilized than Latin, so do not let the name deceive you.

I leave you with Happy Easter wishes and many blessings!

Soak in the sunshine!

Signing out, one brunch at a time.

Masa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Neighborhood: South End
439 Tremont St
(between Appleton St & Arlington St)
Boston, MA 02116



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