Catarina Chang, Kevin Cuartas and Allan & Iesha Rodas are the innovative members behind @ThiccButHungry Instagram account. You might find this North Shore crew hunting for the best cold cut sandos in East Boston, hitting up the newest eatery in Newton or cracking up while they create their next IG reel (with fingers covered in sauce). Learn how to become fluent in food with this boisterous group and see what they think is on the horizon for restaurants.
Tell us a little about yourself. How’d you end up in Boston, and what inspired you to create your Instagram account?
We all grew up locally and like to call ourselves “fluent in food”. As two couples, we are natural foodies and would always enjoy going on adventures to discover and try new places. We decided to start blogging our adventures and sharing our experiences with others, especially since the hospitality industry has been so harshly affected by COVID-19. We use our platform to try and support local eats and small businesses, giving our viewers a fun map of New England’s real foodie scene.
Name the top five dishes on your Boston food bucket list.
- Hot Stone Bibimbap – Koy, Boston, MA. Biased, but this is the best Korean in the city. Koy uses real stone bowls to create bibimbap’s crunchy rice, pairing it with different veggies, bulgogi beef and of course, their homemade gochujang chili sauce- it tastes like home!
- Hot Mess Burger – Crazy Good Kitchen, Malden MA. We love to eat anything that makes you wash your hands afterwards – this burger is no joke with its mountain of melted cheese. Their shaved steak is seasoned perfectly, moist, and served on a patty and grilled bun. What else do you want in a burger?
- Hot Chicken 6 piece – Underdog, Allston MA. Underdog is one of those magical spots where you wait 25 minutes for fresh, cooked-to-order Nashville style fried chicken, and it’s WORTH the wait. The first bite’s crunch is an out-of-body experience, and we definitely recommend the “crazy” level of spice.
- Shrimp Tacos with house hot sauce – La Hacienda, East Boston MA. Tacos are everywhere in this city, especially in Eastie, but La Hacienda does it best with their shrimp tacos in cream sauce, topped with chopped onion, cilantro, avocado, and their secret house spicy sauce. You might cry from the sauce or from happiness, but we are here for both!
- Top Shelf Italian Sub – New Deal Fruit Inc., Revere MA. It does not get more authentic than New Deal. You may get yelled at for taking too long to order or stumbling over your words, but for these Italians, it’s all out of love. This is a loaded, layered, herbed, oiled, vinegar masterpiece…and don’t ever ask for mayo or ketchup while you’re there!
What do you think is on the horizon for restaurants?
We think the trend is reverting back to small, individually owned and operated dining spots. We definitely see a turn away from mass produced fast-casual corporate businesses as the soul of mom-and-pop shops is coming back! We love nothing more than featuring family businesses that truly take pride in their generational recipes, and it is definitely exciting to see Boston’s multicultural food scene come back to life!
Which chefs are your favorite to follow on Instagram and why?
- @gordongram — Gordon Ramsay – because it’s Gordon Ramsay! We love his honest critique of not only flavors but how a dish comes to fruition.
- @doobydobap — Tina Choi — she is a super quirky chef who loves showcasing Asian recipes with short looping reels that are fun to watch and follow along!
- @benstogram — Ben Robinson — he’s from Bravo and we LOVE his wild personality that’s showcased all over his IG.
Beyond chefs, what are your top three favorite food Instagram accounts to follow?
- @sceneoverheard — Is very active and engaging with her followers and takes vibrant pictures that makes you feel like you’re out to lunch and in the action! We love her positive attitude that shines through her posts!
- @forkingwitharmani — Classic and classy guy, who is a pleasure to bump into at restaurants, has a bright and clear aesthetic with his work, and overall very talented at content creation.
- @dc.yum — We love her light, playful and bright photography, and she captures the essence of each featured food item perfectly.
Describe Boston’s food scene in three words.
Classic, diverse, family-owned
Which restaurants haven’t you been to but you’re eager to try?
- Jaime’s roast beef — We are tried-and-true North Shore people and we LOVE roast beef sandwiches. Their selection of different sandwiches, although we are keen on sticking to the classic 3-way, is something we definitely have to try.
- Contessa — We have heard great things about this place located in the Newbury Hotel- the interior design looks incredible and the picture perfect, delicate plates look almost too pretty to eat. We are dying to find out if the taste matches the aesthetic!
- Kokos Hot Chicken — Newton has proven to be a foodie hot spot throughout our adventures, and who needs convincing to go try fried chicken?
What’s your food photography philosophy, and can you share your top tips for taking awesome food photos?
We try to give the viewer the most authentic experience possible. We only feature places that pack flavor with each bite, and we want to make sure our followers’ mouth waters with each video or photo we showcase. We try to share our personality and passion for food and let the food do the talking, while we do the laughing!
Favorite brunch spot: Zaftigs in Brookline — You have to try the Potato Latke Benedict!
Favorite place for outdoor dining: Alcove in the West End.
Favorite pizza joint: Santarpios in East Boston
Favorite neighborhood for food: East Boston, Eastie Baby! Everything is within walking distance. This neighborhood has a lot of diverse cultures and food, from Italian, Spanish/Latin, Asian and African food. We also love that the area’s restaurants are mostly made up of small places run by passionate people!
Favorite new restaurant: ZuZu Momo, located in Everett MA. This spot serves Nepalese food- something that is new to the neighborhood! We did a spicy challenge here with their chicken biriyani…it is NO joke. They definitely know how to use their chilies and tie in flavors. A must try are their curry wings — soaked in sauce and magically still crispy!
Favorite pandemic takeout: New Saigon in East Boston
Favorite new restaurant innovation: DIY home cooking kits, takeout cocktail setups- we love the flexibility and hands-on nature of participating in making some of our favorite dishes and cocktails in the comfort of home!
Meet The Tastemakers is a monthly column that shares the stories of those contributing to the conversation on Boston’s food scene.