Brunch at Odessa

I feel like I should subtitle this post: The Never-Ending Quest for Decent Mexican Food in Dublin.

Coming from California, there’s not much I love more than good Mexican food. When I first moved to Dublin in 2007, it was nearly impossible to find. There were two Mexican restaurants (that I knew of) in Dublin then: one, Acapulco, was just down the road from me, and the other, called Mexico to Rome, was a combo Mexican-Italian restaurant in Temple Bar (which really tells you all you need to know about it). I was a student and didn’t have much money, but I remember saving up to go out for my birthday. I knew I wanted Mexican food, and so we ventured to Acapulco to celebrate in style.

It was, unfortunately, a disappointment. I’m sure it tasted great to Irish mouths that were less familiar with the real Mexican food on which I was raised, but it was just not right. We ordered chips and salsa, and were brought a dish of oven-baked spicy Doritos with a ketchup-like sauce. It went downhill from there. To be fair, I haven’t been to Acapulco since, and I’m sure they’ve made improvements over the past nine years (they do have four stars on TripAdvisor!), but I haven’t been up to risking it again.

Anyway, since I left Dublin, Mexican food has become more popular. Everywhere you look, you find burrito bars. It was the new hip food for a few years, which is great news for me as it means the food I love is much more accessible. It’s still not quite the same – nothing will ever hit the spot like $1 chicken tacos from Don Antonio’s – but it certainly makes Dublin feel more like home.

On a recent trip to Dublin, a friend brought me to Odessa for brunch. I wasn’t sure what to expect – I’d never been before, and had only ever heard about the club downstairs. Upon arrival, we walked upstairs to the restaurant and were seated right away. One look at the menu, and I knew what I had to try – huevos rancheros. This amazing breakfast is really more Tex-Mex than true Mex, but it’s one of my favorite ways to start the day. Eggs, cheese, guac, and salsa all piled on top of crispy corn tortillas…perfection. However, I’ve been burned before by inferior huevos rancheros. When they’re bad, they’re bad. I knew I was taking a risk, but I also knew I’d always wonder if I didn’t try.

I’m so, so glad I did! These huevos rancheros were incredible. Fresh ingredients, well-cooked, and oh-so comforting. They came on a bed of breakfast potatoes (because this is Ireland), which is certainly not traditional, but I actually really enjoyed the combination. This was by far the best Mexican breakfast I’ve had outside of the US. Odessa also has some other great brunch options – my friend got the veggie breakfast and it was pretty phenomenal.

If you find yourself in Dublin and are searching for a great brunch option, give Odessa a try!

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Where to Begin?

I’m struggling at the moment with where to begin with this move. My to-do list is long and is growing by the minute. Trying to take a step back here and tackle things one at a time…

James will be moving to Dublin a few months before I do, and will be staying with a friend during that time. This means that apartment hunting has been put off for a bit, which is honestly a relief. I’ve done a lot of research into the Irish market, and all I’ve discovered is that renting is expensive and we’ll never find what we want. Instead of sulking in that disappointment, I’ll shove it to the side for now as we have more pressing issues to deal with.

First on the to-do list: figuring out who I am. We got married over the summer and I’m changing my name. I think it makes the most sense to legally change my name and get a new passport before moving to Ireland, as my Irish visa will be stamped in my passport. So step 1 is sending my marriage license and every form of identity I’ve ever had to the Social Security office at the US Embassy in London. Once I have the new Social Security card, I can move forward with the new passport. I’m dreading that bit. Every expat will tell you that your passport is your lifeline. Giving it up – even for just a few weeks – makes you feel trapped, and it’s terrifying.

Next, determining a timeline. My boss is the most wonderful woman in the world and has basically told me that I can move whenever I feel I need to, notice period be damned. The flexibility is wonderful, and I appreciate it so much, but I sort of wish I had someone telling me how to do this. At the moment, it looks like I’ll move over to Ireland at the beginning of December. That is dependent upon my passport situation (will it be back in time??). More updates on this later, I guess…

If I am moving at the beginning of December, I need to start organizing someone to move all of our stuff. I have a few quotes already, but I need to decide which company will work best for us and figure out the right time to get them to move. The quotes are actually a lot more reasonable than I’d expected, and we’re lucky that James’ new firm has offered us a relocation package. But finding that happy moving date can be tricky – we’re shipping all of our furniture, so I won’t be able to stay in the house after it goes. But we don’t want to leave it too late because we don’t want to get stuck paying for another month’s rent in London. Maybe aiming to have everything shipped on November 30th is a good call? (Can you tell that this post really is just me typing out my anxiety?)

img_3276My last move (from Brussels to London) was much smaller. I don’t think we’ll get off so easy this time…

Speaking of which – what to do with our flat? We’re still not sure what the situation is with our lease, but are hoping to hear back from the landlord soon. Best case scenario: we can leave whenever we want without any consequences. More likely scenario: we’ll need to find someone to take over our lease. My brother and his girlfriend are interested, but it means figuring out timing that works for them, getting them approved by our management company, a probable overlap of tenancy, etc.

Once I do finally get out of our flat and get everything shipped to Dublin, there’s a big problem (the biggest problem, really): finding a job. Ireland frustratingly has a rule that you cannot teach primary school unless you speak Irish. To be fair, I do speak some Irish – I can count to ten, say “cow,” and I can tell people to sit down. (What more do teachers need, really?) But apparently that is not enough. This means I’ll most likely have to change careers. I’d love to continue working in a school even if I can’t be a classroom teacher. I’ve emailed a few schools already asking about opportunities for a teacher like me, but am still waiting to hear back. If that doesn’t pan out…well, I honestly don’t know what else I’d like to do. I love being a teacher and can’t really imagine working in a different field. So I need to spend some time looking at options.

IMG_0287.jpgI will miss having a classroom to organize.

Alright, I think that covers the biggies on my list. I’m sure a million other little to-dos will be added in the next few weeks, but it does feel good to have started processing all of these important tasks. Will keep you updated!

Where I’m Going

As I mentioned in my last post, this will not be my first time living in Dublin. I’ve spent a year there before. In 2007, I moved to Dublin to spend my junior year abroad at Trinity College. At the time, I was anxious about committing to a whole year away from my school and friends, but it turned out to be the best decision I’ve ever made.

Dublin is an incredible city. It’s small enough to feel manageable but big enough to provide tons of great opportunities. The city is absolutely full of incredible restaurants, pubs, and cafes. It’s walkable, and there are loads of beautiful green spaces. The history is all around you, which I loved as a student and love now when I go back to visit. To me, it’s the kind of city that feels like it’s giving you a hug. (Full disclosure: There are some people who don’t feel so positively about Dublin. Including my Corkonian husband. They just don’t know it like I know it.)

Friends often ask for suggestions before visiting Dublin, so I have a running list that I send out. I plan on posting that here, but I imagine the list will change a lot once we actually move. 2007 Dublin could not be more different from 2016 Dublin. The city has gone from peak Celtic Tiger days to a pretty phenomenal crash and back up again. New restaurants are popping up all the time – you can now get pretty legit huevos rancheros for brunch at Odessa, which is a win in my book. As I discover more of these gems, I’ll add them here. Hopefully someone finds them useful!

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My top Dublin breakfast.