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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Tired Hands Brewing Company, Ardmore

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Put simply, Tired Hands Brew Cafe is one of the most exciting local openings in recent memory. It didn’t bring big city pedigree like White Dog Wayne, nor did it bring the hype of Xilantro. So why is it exciting? Because it’s a downright cool place that, unlike those other two, is also the type of place you want to visit every weekend. It’s comfortable, but modern and extremely well-designed (chalkboards! exposed beams! exposed brick!). You can go with your buddies. You can go on a date. You can bring the kids. And every time you go, there’ll likely be different beers on tap and different food on the menu.

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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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Frecon Farms, Boyertown

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Saturn peaches from Frecon (via Facebook)

Having become familiar with Frecon Farms through their participation in the East Goshen Farmers market, we decided to take a drive to the actual farm for Peach Jubilee, a seasonal celebration of the succulent summer fruit. That, and the word that they make hard cider.

To be perfectly clear, Frecon Farms is a hike from the Main Line, up 422, then 100, and will take at least 45 minutes, depending on your starting point. (It’s just down the road from the Tiki Bar in Earlville, if that helps.) It is a relatively pleasant drive, however… we even saw a school bus on cinder blocks in someone’s front yard!

Upon first glance, after a long drive, the Frecon storefront can be deflating; it doesn’t look like much more than a small, roadside farm stand. Looks, of course, can be deceiving. Behind the subdued exterior lies a veritable culinary playground, featuring fresh produce, gourmet items, meats, cheeses, baked goods, and even wine, mead and hard cider.

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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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