Friday, August 26, 2022


Cortez is a trendy, happening spot on the even trendier and more happening Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. Their menu changes frequently, so if you have your heart set on something, I suggest going stat before it gets replaced with another seasonal offering. Being pregnant, I found it difficult to navigate a menu flush with oyster and raw seafood options - I will most definitely return when I can indulge appropriately. But the food I was able to eat was all outstanding, and paired with exceptional service - no water glass was ever empty and that goes a long way in my book! My only criticism would be the air circulation - the partly open-kitchen concept is cool, but smoke permeated the entire restaurant so badly that I had to wash my hair when I got home. If they could get some better ventilation, it would be one of my top picks in the area.

An order of Bread and (Sea)Weed Butter goes a long way, as it should, if you're being charged for it. Four thick slices of bread are served along side a soft, herbaceous butter that thankfully didn't give off too many seaweed notes. The butter was salty and the bread was soft, and a fine substitute for the dozen raw oysters I would have preferred to enjoy.

'Tis the season for watermelon, and I've certainly had my share of it, but I couldn't resist their rendition of a Watermelon Salad, complete with 2 (count them, 2!) types of watermelon - red and yellow - with a tangy, fishy Nuoc Cham Vinaigrette (think about what you're served along side Vietnamese Vermicelli Bowls or Thai Spring Rolls), Peanuts and Herbs. This was a beautiful dish, with the juicy watermelon cubes stacked along side each other and sprinkled with the toppings (if only I had thought to take a photo!) I would have loved a bit of spice, perhaps a serrano or something for heat, but this was a lovely, light start on a hot day.

The Grouper with Hominy exceeded my expectations. A beautiful, thick grouper filet is covered (unnecessarily) in Hollandaise, and is served on a bed of Hominy, Okra and Chorizo, with a beautiful tomato sauce binding it all together. I've never enjoyed hominy this much! It wasn't the grainy, mushy, corn kernels I expected - it was cooked perfectly and was a really unique spin on a side. The chorizo was in bite-sized cubes and a great addition of saltiness. I cleaned my entire plate, aside from some of the hollandaise (the dish was rich enough without it!)

Churros are not high on my dessert favorites list, but I couldn't resist the sound of Corn Ice Cream, Caramel and Cinnamon Sugar - I mean, what's not to love about that combination? The Churros were presented in a coil, served hot and rolled in cinnamon and sugar. They served as a bed for that not-too-sweet corn ice cream, and it all just floated in a bed of caramel. This is a dream come true, pregnant or not.

I would definitely recommend Cortez, but next time I'll eat outside. I look forward to continue trying their ever-evolving menu!

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