Review: El Aguacate adds to Mexican restaurant choices in Monroe

Maggie Smith, Staff Writer

In Monroe alone, there are approximately seven Mexican restaurants. New Mexican restaurants open in Monroe often. I personally am an Mexican food enthusiast, so naturally when there’s a new Mexican restaurant I want to try it out.

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Photo Source: Yelp

Recently a new Mexican restaurant called El Aguacate opened up on E Roosevelt Blvd. and I decided to check it out.The restaurant has two separate entrances, the one on the right is for take out and the one on the left is for dine-in. The restaurant is pretty big on the inside, so there is a lot of room for sitting.

The business was very slow for a Sunday afternoon compared to other Mexican restaurants on Sunday afternoons when many people pile in after church for their Sunday fix.

It could be because it’s a new restaurant and business isn’t up to par yet, or it could be that it’s location is tucked away off of the Blvd. in a strip of stores connected to the Food Lion, which keeps it hidden.

So if you’re craving Mexican food on a Sunday afternoon and all the other Mexican restaurants have a long wait, El Aguacate will have a table available. Like many restaurants they bring you chips and salsa immediately when you’re seated, but what I really liked was that they also bring you a delicious complementary dip which is Queso mixed with refried beans.

Typically at Mexican restaurants I order a Pollo Con Crema or something similar to it, so I decided to also order it at El Aguacate to better compare it to other Mexican restaurants. The Pollo Con Crema is a plate that consists of marinated chicken strips covered with Queso and comes with a side of Rice and Refried Beans.

They also bring offer a choice of flour or corn tortilla shells with the meal so you can make your own burritos if you want, which I recommend. The mix of the Chicken, Rice, Beans, and Queso is the perfect mix.

The Pollo Con Crema at El Aguacate was $9.75, which is the average price at most Mexican restaurants. The overall pricing was average on the menu and they have different specials each day of the week.

On Sunday’s the special is the Burrito Acapulco, which is a burrito stuffed with Mexican rice, melted cheese, pinto beans, grilled mushrooms, and a creamy white sauce. On Monday’s, the specials are Enchildas, in which you get to choose an Enchilada from the menu for a discounted price. On Tuesday’s, the special is Chimichangas in which you choose the one you desire from the menu as well. Wednesday’s are taco nights. Thursday is fajita night. Friday’s special is the Pollo Con Crema, and Saturday is the Camarones Diabla, which is a garlic spice marinated with butter, grilled onions, and pepper.

It’s served with rice and salad. The menu also has a varied selection that is not limited to just Mexican food. El Aguacate also serves Seafood, Pork, Wings, and Pizza. They also have domestic and imported beers and tend to have specials on certain days for beer.

For instance, on Thursday’s along with the Fajita’s they also have $3.00 large beers. If you’re a sweet tea drinker and like your tea pretty sweet like I do, you’ll definitely like their tea. They also have other mixed drinks to choose from that run as specials certain days, they also serve smoothies, and of course Margarita’s.

The service was great and the owner even came over to check on us a couple of times as well. He was very nice and wanted to ensure that we had everything we needed.

El Aguacate is open Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday’s.

I was very pleased with this new restaurant and really recommend giving this place a shot.

Edited By: Brea Childs

Review: Hilltop brings culinary diversity and family fun to the Monroe-Wingate area

Jackson Kaplan, Staff Writer

MONROE, N.C. – – – When going out to eat for a meal, do you consistently struggle with deciding what to get on the menu? Spiro’s Hilltop Fish Fare and Steakhouse may very well present this challenge; however, any food item you choose is guaranteed to satisfy anyone’s taste buds.

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Photo Source: The Knot website

Since 1930, Hilltop has provided quality American, Italian, Seafood, and Greek dishes to the Union/Mecklenburg county area. When a customer walks in through the front doors, you instantly smell the combination of a very diverse menu this restaurant has to offer. Hilltop has something for everyone during all times of day.

Hilltop features a family friendly, welcoming atmosphere with multiple sectors of the restaurant that appeals to every type of person who prefers a particular dining experience. If you walk through the entrance and turn left, this room provides a quiet, calm atmosphere for small to large parties.

When walking to the right of the hostess stand, Hilltop brings a first-class bar/buffett area which features multiple TVs and a large projector screen to watch sports or the local news. Walk further to the back and down a spiral staircase, you will experience a lively bar area for people who want to watch their favorite sports team in a fun atmosphere. Again, Hilltop has something to appeal to every customer.

First time at Hilltop and looking for its specialties? All you need to do is read the full title of the restaurant and it will provide a clear indication of its best dishes. For steak lovers, try Hilltop’s signature steaks like the bone-in ribeye or the prime filet mignon. The steaks are cooked to perfection and are highly recommended for first-time visitors.

Not a fan of steaks? Customers could never go wrong with a solid assortment of signature fishes including Chilean sea bass, halibut, mahi mahi and grouper. Don’t worry, there are many other different fried, blackened or grilled fishes to choose from if you aren’t a fan of either of the aforementioned options.

Hilltop offers the same menu at lunch and dinner time, but the lunch crowd can enjoy a variety of sandwiches, paninis, wraps, soups and salads. The possibilities and combinations of menu options are almost endless.

Hilltop is one of those unique establishments that has you covered for all three meals of the day, including a delicious breakfast. The lunch and dinner crowds are much more popular (especially on weekends), but Hilltops provides all of the classic breakfast time favorites. Pancakes, omelettes, french toast, waffles, eggs and biscuits.

There are also many unique offerings like country ham biscuits, chicken biscuits, country fried steak, country fried ham, toasted bagels, and many more. The food options for all three meals are too many to list, so it’s best to check out the menu yourself because chances are good that you’ll find everything you’re looking for.

Personally, there are very few negatives with Hilltop because of the many food choices, friendly service, family environment and the southern atmosphere. One downside is parking. If you decide to dine at Hilltop on a Friday or Saturday night and arrive at around 5:30-6:00 p.m., good luck finding a parking space. Sometimes customers get lucky and someone is leaving their space as they arrive,  but there is very little parking to accommodate everyone who comes to Hilltop.

However, the parking lot of nearby Southern States provides additional parking if the Hilltop lot fills up, but it’s quite a hike from there to the restaurant. Other than the bad parking options for vehicles, Hilltop is sure to be a satisfying experience for every customer looking for quality and southern fun.

Stars: 5

Reservations?: Yes. Reservations are required for parties greater than 15 people.

Atmosphere: A combination of noisy and quiet depending on what section of the restaurant you sit in.

Hours:

Breakfast – 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. | Saturday and Sunday until noon.

Rest of the day – 12 noon to 11 p.m.

Prices: Low to high depending on the food item.

Busiest times?: 6 to 9 p.m.

Time spent: 45 minutes to 1.5 hours.

Size: Very large

Edited by: Brea Childs

NCG movie offers a great movie experience to the Monroe area

Andrew Elliot, Staff Writer

You open one of the many doors available, and you are greeted by the smell of delicious popcorn. The friendly staff greets you from across the room over the hum of the icee machines; “Hi! Welcome to NCG!” they call. Now this, is a movie theater!

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Photo Source: NCG Movies website

Many of the locals have taken the opportunity to go and spend the day at the new NCG (Neighborhood Cinema Group) Cinema Monroe. The first run theater is located at 1911 Dickerson Blvd. in Union Square; where the old theater was when it closed in 2012. In 2015, the wait was over for people looking for a place to catch the latest movies as NCG opened its doors on December 12th.

NCG Monroe is a place the whole family can come and enjoy the latest blockbusters; NCG is wheelchair accessible and hosts birthday parties. The theater has eight screens and is open seven days a week; NCG is open 365 days a year.

The ticket prices are $8 for adults and $6 for seniors, students, with valid I.D, military, and children under 12 years of age; $6 matinee tickets are available before 6 p.m. and $5 tickets on Reel Deal Tuesdays. The theater accepts credit cards and cash; as well as reward vouchers from the NCG Club Card, free on purchase.

If you decide to go to see a movie, be sure to arrive early, should your movie be a popular hit. Parking is available in front of the theater.

When you enter the theater, you will buy your tickets at the registers on the right; there are plenty of concession items to choose from such as popcorn, candy, nachos and pretzels; all items are discounted on Reel Deal Tuesdays as well.

After buying your tickets and concessions, you will take your popcorn bucket to the popcorn counter; where you can get unlimited refills throughout your movie.

The popcorn is best when you ask for the popcorn server to fill the bucket halfway, so that you can apply butter and flavoring to make your already tasty popcorn even more delicious; the popcorn server will then fill the rest of your bucket while you fill your cup with either a coke product drink or an icee from the frozen and Coke Freestyle machines on either side of the popcorn counter.

On your ticket, there will be a number for the theater, ranging from one to eight. On the far side of the theater, are theaters one thru five; on the side nearest the counters, are theaters six thru eight.

After you give your ticket stub to the ticket taker, if there are any the day you go, you are ready to enter the theater and sit in there comfortable reclining seats; just make sure you don’t fall asleep and miss your movie!

For more information on tickets and birthday party hosting, go to https://ncgmovies.com/monroe/ or call them at (980)-313-8503

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wingate women’s tennis seeks victory in upcoming SAC tournament

UPDATE, Tuesday. 4/25: The Bulldogs lost the tournament championship match 5-4 to Tusculum on Saturday afternoon in a third-set tiebreaker in the No. 4 singles match. Wingate, now 17-4, will learn its postseason destination when the NCAA Division II tournament field is announced tonight. 

Brandon Bowles, Staff Writer

It was another successful season for Wingate University Women’s Tennis, as they’ve successfully won with a 16-3 overall (11- 0 SAC). This year’s SAC Women’s Tennis Tournament will be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina starting Thursday April 20th. Wingate will begin their chase for a SAC tournament championship on Friday at 1 P.M. against either Anderson, or Carson-Newman.

Head coach Michael Cabana, who is in his 11th year has enjoyed continued success since taking the head coaching job. Women’s Tennis has posted a staggering 59-1 record since 2011.

Along the way they have earned 115 total conference wins in program history 48 straight conference wins, seven straight SAC tiles 11 total in program history, and five undefeated SAC seasons. Just like most of Wingate’s other athletic teams Women’s Tennis is competitive.

This no doubt helps establish a culture that student athletes are proud to be a part of. Recruiting players becomes easier because you have the numbers to back up the claims that you make about your program. This season Women’s Tennis was able to have seven players earn conference with coach Cabana being named coach of the year.

This year’s team has a mixture of upper and lower classmen and “having a mixture of youth and experience is key”, said Cabana. When he first took the job, Cabana thought that he had to control everything, but through the years he has learned to give the upper classmen more responsibility.

Coach Cabana has what he calls a council, this a group of seniors that are responsible for being the eyes and ears when Cabana is not around. They are tasked with showing the freshmen the way the team is run.

Not only is this council used to lead by setting an example for the underclassmen in understanding what it takes to be a part of the program, but they are also used as mentors for them. Before establishing the senior leadership council Cabana would be stressed before matches because he thought he had to do everything to make sure that the team was in the right mindset to perform well in matches.

The senior council has taken a lot off Cabana’s plate. He has become more composed during match days because the team knows how to prepare for matches through the examples set by the upperclassmen.

Underclassmen are able to lean on the experience of the upperclassmen when things get tough throughout the season. The team knows that they are going to get the best from their opponents and they cannot afford to have a bad match.

Now that the regular season is over, it is time for the SAC Tournament. What makes the tournament different is that it is one and done. “You only have to be good for four days,” said Cabana. The mindset of playing in a tournament is the same for each team, they know what is at stake and know that they must play their best game for each match, or their season is over.

That is another reason why having experience on the team is key because they have been there before and know what to expect. They in turn can take their experience and teach the lowerclassmen how to handle certain situations.

This year’s SAC Women’s Tennis Tournament will be held in Rock Hill, South Carolina starting Thursday April 20th. Wingate will begin their chase for a SAC tournament championship on Friday at 1 P.M. against either Anderson, or Carson-Newman.

Photo source: Wingate Athletics

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wingate Softball gained record in a Double-header against Catawba

Cierra Smith, Staff Writer

This past Tuesday May 18, 2017, the Wingate softball team took their record to 25-21 overall and 10-8 in the South Atlantic Conference (SAC) in a double-header win over the Catawba College Indians. In the first game that started at 2 pm, the Bulldogs won with a score of 2-0 and in the second game starting at 4 pm, it was a close game with a score of 5-4. This win comes after a tough loss to Carson-Newman Friday in a SAC conference game.

In the first game, the team was led to a victory by a few key players including freshman Mary Claire Coyne (#14) who had a great night with a triple after three times at bat and one run to home plate. Sophomores Naomi Sapp and Taylor Wells  also helped lead the dogs to a victory with significant plays.

Catawba had prominent players including Kristen Stinnard who went up to bat three times and had a hit for the first game, as well as Keri Faulkner who also got a hit for the team.

In game two, we still see Mary Claire Coyne leading the game ending the night with four runs to home plate and a grand slam with two hits at bat. Following suit was seniors Katie McLaurin and Olivia Smith who helped solidify the victory with two hits and a run each.

Catawba scored much better in this match with players Katherine Shumaker and Leah Huggins contributing a series of RBI and a homer for the team, boosting the score for the Indians to 4 at the close of the game.

The Wingate softball team will have another double-header SAC game this Saturday, April 22nd against the Anderson Trojans.

Photo Source: Wingate Athletics

Edited by: Brea Childs

Women’s Arion Pierre is named SAC Player of the week for the fourth time in a row

Rachel Lods, Staff Writer

Wingate, N.C- After receiving the honor of SAC Astroturf Defensive Player of the Week for three weeks in a row, it did not even cross sophomore goalie, Arion Pierre’s mind that it was a possibility she could get it again. On Monday, April 10, however, that’s exactly what happened. Pierre was named the SAC Player of the Week for the fourth time in a row.

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Photo Source: Wingate Athletics

Pierre is from Haymarket, Va and is a sophomore here at Wingate. Before attending Wingate, she went to Battlefield High School where she was academic honor roll for three years, while also earning membership in her school’s Spanish Honor Society.

Despite this uncommon honor, she says that it has not given her any sense of arrogance or “cockiness”. Pierre said, “If anything, getting this award four weeks in a row has only made me want to work that much harder. I am so hard on myself all the time and don’t necessarily think I deserve it but clearly people believe otherwise, so it feels good to get recognition.”

On the SAC charts, Pierre leads the league in save percentage at 54.3. She is second in total goals against (84) and goals against average (8.05). She also gave credit to the Wingate Women’s Lacrosse outstanding defensive performances that have enabled her to perform as well and as consistent as she has been.

Pierre hopes to keep improving, whether she is named SAC defensive player of the week again, or not, and is focused whole-heartedly on the success of the team.

Edited by: Brea Childs

Wingate Spring Sports wrapping up their 2017 seasons

Maggie Smith, Staff Writer

Wingate University’s spring sports teams are finishing up their 2017 spring seasons.

The Track and Field team will compete in the 2017 South Atlantic Conference championship meet on Friday, April 14, and Saturday, April 15. The meet will take place at Lenoir-Rhyne University.

Six of the Bulldogs have returned as defending SAC champions in seven events. Madison Hiatt won the 1500 meters and the 800 meters in the 2016 event. Vanisha Wilshire and Isaiah Kyle won the women’s and men’s high jump. Hannah Hinson won the hammer throw in 2016. Alyssa Johnson won in the 3000 meter steeplechase in 2016, and Austin Greeson won the men’s javelin throw at the 2016 SAC meet.

The Women’s outdoor track and field team is currently ranked third in the Southeast regional rankings, and the men’s team are ranked sixth.

The Wingate University Baseball team is currently 17-24 overall, and 8-10 in the conference. The Bulldogs will finish up their season with three home games. The Bulldogs face Erskine on Tuesday, April 18, and Tusculum on both Friday, April 21, and Saturday, April 22. Wingate will then move on to the SAC Tournament on April 27.

Wingate Softball is currently 23-19 overall and 8-6 in the conference. The Softball team takes on Carson Newman for a double header on their Senior day, Friday, April 14 at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The Bulldogs will then finish up their season with three more games against Catawba, Limestone, and Anderson before heading into the SAC tournament.

Wingate men’s Lacrosse is 9-3 overall, and 4-2 in the conference. Men’s Lacrosse has two final games to wrap up the season before heading into the SAC tournament. The Bulldogs will have their Senior day against Brevard on Saturday, April 15, at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs have 11 seniors on the 2017 Roster; Michael Connor (Stockport, England), Seth Grimwood (Huntingtown, Md.), Brennan Asplen (St. Augustine, Fla.), Jacob Ormerod (Lake Mary, Fla.), Drew Thompson (Charlotte, NC), Tanner Kotch (Butler Pa.), Anthony Crisera (Silver Springs, Fla.), Vinny Aiello (Centereach, NY), Tyler Antram (Whitby, Ontario), Austin Murphy (Orillia, Ontario), and redshirt Senior, Ryan Vogrig (Vancouver, B.C.)

Senior Austin Murphy recently won National Player of the Week.

Wingate University women’s Lacrosse is 10-3 overall, and 4-1 in the conference, heading into their final three games of the season.

Women’s Lacrosse will also have their Senior day against Brevard, Saturday, April 15 at 12 p.m. The Seniors for the Wingate women’s Lacrosse team are; Paulena Dempsey (Jarrettsville, Md.) Kendall Sienon (Woodstock, Ga.), Morgan Insel (Plantation Fla.), Laura Swanson (Plantation, Fla.), and Brittany Andrews (Bel-Air, Md.).

Wingate’s Sophomore Goalie, Arion Pierre, has had a great 2017 season receiving Astroturf SAC player of the week four consecutive weeks for the past four weeks.

Wingate men’s and women’s Tennis finished their season April 12. The Men finished at 16-4 over and 10-1 in conference. The Women finished 16-3 overall and 11-0 in conference. Wingate Men and Women’s Tennis were both defeated by Georgia College in their last match on April 12. Both teams will enter the 2017 SAC Tournament April 20, in Rock Hill.

Wingate men’s Golf finished fourth in their last tournament on April 4.  Junior, Jarrett Stowe earned an all-tournament spot to end his season. Wingate Men’s Golf will compete in the 2017 SAC tournament April 23-April 25 in Salisbury, NC at the Country Club of Salisbury.

Wingate University women’s Golf finished fourth in the 2017 SAC championship tournament at the Link Hills Country Club Tuesday, April 11. Freshman Diana McDonald shot the second-best round of the day, posting an even-par 72.  The Bulldogs as a whole shot a 309 for a 54-hole setting a school-record total of 924. The previous school-record was 944 in the 2015 SAC tournament.

The Wingate men’s and women’s swimming collected four silver medals at the 2017 NCAA Championship to wrap up their season. Junior Alexis Divelbiss earned two silver medals, finishing second at 49.32 in the 100 Freestyle Relay. Defending national champion Senior, Vika Arkhipova finished second in the 200 Backstroke at 1:54.48. Wingate women’s 400 Freestyle Relay team consisting of Hanna Van Horen, Maria Madsen, and Abby Kosic finished second in the relay at 3:21.24.

The Wingate women’s swimming team finished third with 346 points. The men finished sixth.

Wingate redshirt Sophomore Lennart Queiss won the 100 Freestyle consolation finals at 44.08. Wingate took silver in the last event of the day in the men’s 400 Freestyle Relay with a time of 2:55.01. The Bulldogs 100 Freestyle Relay team included; Queiss, Sebastian Holmberg, Leif-Henning Klüver, and Mehdi Zeraidi.

Photo Source: The SAC website

Edited By: Brea Childs