Lunchtime Love: Dixie Picnic & Shoo Mama’s

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Amy’s Mama at Shoo Mama’s (img via website)

Looking for a break from the lunch routine? Though neither place is exactly new to the scene, two independent businesses are serving fresh, interesting and casual fare. First, Dixie Picnic in Malvern (in the shopping center with Giant). Started as a restaurant on the Jersey Shore town of Ocean City, this location opened a few years ago. The menu features a wide variety of sandwiches, many of which are available in Bette’s Box Lunch, which comes with a side salad, a deviled egg, and an “upcake”, the Dixie Picnic version of a cupcake (in which all surface area is covered with frosting).

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Mi Pais, Malvern (Frazer)

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Calling all people who subscribe to the overstated, but no less true theory that bacon makes everything better: report to Mi Pais in Frazer and order Colombian bacon, stat.

This stuff is ridiculous. Think of a normal lardon of bacon, but super-sized, with a crispy exterior, and moist, fatty interior, and you have a sense of the  awesomeness at play here.

Not being all that familiar with Colombian cuisine, we put ourselves in the hands of our friendly server (who is, I am guessing, also an owner). He suggested the¬†Cazuelita Mi Pais ($8) as a good introduction to the cuisine. “Its not too heavy, he told us. It has grilled steak, choirizo, and Colombian bacon, as well as beans, rice and plantains.” Who were we to argue with this logic? After all, he hadn’t suggested the larger version ($11), which also includes a fried egg.

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Rosalita’s Fresh Mexican, Malvern (Frazer)

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There’s something about the space in the Lincoln Court Shopping Center (the one with Giant; why don’t they just name these places after the flagship store?) that’s on the right side, across from the QVC outlet. Something that says “this must be a Mexican fast-casual restaurant”. Seriously, is it written in the real estate contract? As far back as I can remember, this has been a Desert Moon or a Mesa Grill or some such semi-chain creation.

It’s unclear whether the latest tenant, Rosalita’s Fresh Mexican, has any connection to these other places, but it appears not. This is an independent, single-location place, started by a few local (non-Mexican, as far as I can tell) guys, although it does have the trappings of a chain in the making. For now, at least, it’s not.

Enough of all that, however. Let’s get to the food. According to Rosalita’s website, they have been “generating buzz for their pork”, so we tried some soft tacos ($6.95) with their 10-hour smoked carnitas (which are also marinated in spices for 24 hours) and their signature salsa, a smoked jalapeno and tomato number. Each taco also included pico de gallo and some shredded lettuce, and there was a side of tortilla chips.

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BuenaVista Mexican, Malvern (Frazer)

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It’s on the main drag (Rt. 30), but not all that easy to notice. Located in the spot that most recently housed the Great Valley Deli (Collegeville Deli II), BuenaVista Mexican is a small, nondescript restaurant in a small, nondescript strip mall (that also houses Strawberry Bakery) along a nondescript area of Frazer. It is, however, worth finding this place, for hearty, homemade Mexican fare that stands above the more common fast-casual Mexican chains of the area.

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Alfredo Italian BYO, Berwyn

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When longtime Berwyn mainstay Trattoria San Nicola closed abruptly last April due to a supposed “expired lease”, some eyebrows were raised, especially when the space was quickly snapped up by Alfred and Barbara Giannaccari of Newtown Square Alfredo’s fame. Though it is perhaps unfair to the Giannaccaris to immediately compare the two restaurants, it is only natural to do so when they are so similar in concept. Luckily for both Alfredo’s owners and their patrons, however, the new team brings a freshness and creativity to the Southern Italian concept that – though there is nothing wrong with what places like San Nicola are doing – is a nice breath of fresh air into the local Italian scene.

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