Gather around kiddies! It’s time for another #BIEat. This month brings us to Ottawa Street! -Hamilton’s destination for inspiration! I know that was cheesy but I’m lovin’ the cheese! If you haven’t been to Ottawa Street in the past few years, you need to get your $%^& together and head down there asap. It definitely is not the fabric land, modge podge street it use to be a handful of years ago. It’s got this new uber vintage, rustic and hidden gem vibe. And of course – it’s became famous outide Hamilton borders as the home of Sew Hungry.
On this occasion Michael Marini, my partner in crime, pictured above, hit up Poco Loco for lunch. Another pleasant edition to Ottawa Street in the last few years are coffee shops like Cannon Coffee, and locally owned restaurants – like Poco Loco as well as old school favourites like Limoncello.
Poco Loco is most famous for their Frito Pie, so naturally I couldn’t walk away without ordering this monstrosity. And trust me, it was a beast! Poco Loco is a pretty small joint. One large communal table and a few two tops scattered throughout the place. But that doesn’t hurt business at all. While we were there, there were line ups and swarms of people going in and out. It had a real “mom & pop” kinda feel to it. Especially when a local chimed in and said she added to the above collection of hot sauces and another guest who didn’t even have to order when he got to the counter. They already knew what he wanted! I adore places like these. Nothing fancy – just good food made by good people.
Alright, back to the food. The Frito pie ($4.85) consist of two scoops of homemade beef chilli, spanish onions, cheese and their special Poco Loco sauce, all served in the Frito Lays bag. This wasn’t my first time having one of these bad boys but I’ll be honest and say I did not remember it being such a monster. The combination of Poco Loco sauce, chilli and the spice and crunch from the Fritos were perfection. This is the epitome of what I like to call dirty food. It’s bad for you and it could give you heart burn from just staring at it for too long, but it is oh so good. And I loved the fact that it was served right out of the bag! Very clever.
Patty, the Executive Director from the Ottawa Street BIA joined us for lunch and she had the Taco Salad. This was also quite the beast.. are you seeing a pattern here? For $6.95 you get layers of lettuce, tomato, salsa, taco meet, cheese etc etc tec. You can see for yourself they really pile it in there. And for under $10! What a great deal. I love it when big portions meet small prices. It’s the cheapie in me!
Marini ordered the classic taco. In one order you get three tacos and a pop for $6.50. I’m not a fan of hard shell tacos but I heard no complains from Marini. To me, these looked the most generic but C’est la vie – if that’s what you’re into.
Did I mention I also ordered a Beef Burrito ($6.95) with the works because I didn’t know if the Frito Pie was going to be filling enough. I know, I know, roll your eyes. I can’t help it! It’s the refugee in me – my biggest fear is starving. Needless to say, it finally happened – for the first time ever in #BIEat history, I took home leftovers! That’s right! Even when we ordered a large pizza and bacon fries at The Attic we didn’t leave anything behind. But that burrito was too much for this Hungry Gnome.
But check out my lunch compared to Marini’s. Do you even lift bro?
After lunch I needed to walk off all of dat – cause if you don’t know, I’ve been trying to work on my bikini body. Patty was nice enough to give us a mini tour of some of the new vendors on Ottawa Street. I promise this Ottawa street is not the same one you remember. We stopped into Blair Elements, the Hamilton Farmers Market stand turned bricks & mortar tea shop. You name it, he’s probably got it – or can find it for you.
We also stopped into Pura Vida, the new Tuscan inspired gourmet food store. A few olive oil tastings and some cheese pairings and you’ve made me a happy camper. Owner Sauro Bertolozzi is very passionate about all things Italian so make sure you stop in so he can talk your ear off. Poke around and ask about the latest treats he’s flown in from Italy.
The buffalo mozzarella pictured above can only be purchase at Pura Vida (in all of Hamilton). We’re talking the most buttery and soft mozza I have ever had. It practically melted in my mouth!
And then we went vintage shopping and I made Marini try on this hat from Hats Where Its At. Indiana Jones anyone? Sue has the best collection of everyday to eccentric hats. Definitely worth a stop in just to see what she has in stock. Fascinators to bowler hats, it’s a treat if you fancy something fresh on your head.
Till next time Ottawa Street! You’ve been a treat. Check out their BIA website for upcoming farmer market schedules and community events.
131 Ottawa Street North
*this was a complimentary meal in partnership with The Hamilton Economic Development Office. The opinions expressed are my own