Friday, January 13, 2017

New Mexico Food (La Posta de Mesilla, Church Street Cafe, Frontier Restaurant, Standard Diner, Los Magueyes, and El Toro Bravo)

After spending some time in El Paso for a convention, I rented a car and went on a whirlwind tour of New Mexico. Here's some of the food from that whirlwind.

La Posta de Mesilla:

The town of Mesilla was very pretty with lots of adobe architecture. While there, I had lunch at a sprawling restaurant called La Posta de Mesilla. They've been around since 1939 so they must be doing something right. 
I had a combination plate which included a tamale, taco, enchilada, chili con carne, rice, and beans. It was a huge amount of food for a reasonable price.

Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque:

Moving on to Albuquerque, I had breakfast at Church Street Cafe in Albuquerque Old Town. My decision on where to eat was made easy because this was the only restaurant I found open for breakfast in Old Town.
Chips and salsa at 10:30 am.
I had Huevos Rancheros topped with half green chili and half red chili sauce. Homefries, beans, and tortillas were served alongside the eggs. New Mexico's green chili is delicious.

Frontier Restaurant in Albuquerque:

This restaurant was recommended to me by somebody who grew up in Albuquerque. Located right across the street from the University of New Mexico, Frontier had somewhat of the same feel of the indoor portion of Atlanta's Varsity with very different food.
I had the Mexican Combo, which came with an enchilada, taco, rice, beans and flour tortilla. I also ordered a cup of green chili stew, because green chili must be eaten everywhere in New Mexico. The combo was good, but not the best Mexican food I've ever had. It didn't seem nearly as authentic as my meal in Mesilla. The green chili stew was delicious though.

Standard Diner in Albuquerque, NM:

A second breakfast the next morning in Albuquerque. This time at a restaurant called the Standard Diner.

I had the Rail Runner. This was named after the commuter rail connecting various cities in New Mexico (with a way cooler paint job and better sound effects than Orlando's SunRail). It consisted of scrambled eggs and chorizo over a cheddar biscuit, topped with New Mexico green chile, pimiento queso, and white cheddar. Black beans and hash browns were served on the side. This was pretty delicious!

Los Magueyes in Santa Fe:

Moving on to Santa Fe, I had dinner at a restaurant in downtown called Los Magueyes. They were located on a side street closed to traffic called Burro Alley and had seating in the street.
Live music was happening.
I had the Nuevo Guadalajara Special. It came with flautas filled with chicken served over a piece of steak, a tamale, rice, beans, and garnishes. For some reason I was expecting a chicken flauta and a steak flauta rather than chicken flautas served over steak. It was unexpected and resulted in a lot more food. Everything was good (although the steak was a little tough).

El Toro Bravo in Roswell:

Roswell and aliens are such a big part of American pop culture that I couldn't not stop at the UFO museum. I had lunch on the next block at El Toro Bravo. How could I not want to eat at a restaurant with mariachi aliens painted all over the outside of the building?
They had a lunch buffet going on. How about we not talk about the food on the buffet and focus on the cute tire tread alien above? After the Mexican food deliciousness that I had eaten all week, this was pretty disappointing. I guess the extraterrestrials haven't quite figured out how to have good Mexican food on a buffet yet...

Monday, January 9, 2017

El Paso, TX Food (L&J Cafe, Luigi's Home Style Pizza, Nolita Corner Bistro, Convention Center Tacos, and Chico's Tacos)

Let's start out 2017 with some posts about the foods from some of my travels in 2016 which were never published. I spent just about a week in El Paso, TX. This was my second trip to Texas in 2016, but this time I was in a totally different part of the state. I guess because Texas is huge, I got a totally different vibe of of the state on this trip compared to last. Both good, just different. The food was different as well. Much more of a Mexican influence, although tacos almost seemed less prevalent. Read on...

L&J Cafe:

I was expecting good Mexican food in El Paso. L&J Cafe was my first experience with Mexican food in the city. They were located in a historic building with a view of a cemetery. L&J seemed to be an happening place with a wait when I arrived, plus people all around town were recommending it as a good Mexican restaurant..
I tried the Machaca Plate. This was new to me and consisted of shredded beef mixed with scrambled egg, tomatoes, onions, and jalapenos. Refried beans, rice, and tortillas were served on the side. Pretty tasty. Trying something new at a Mexican restaurant was a nice break from the standard enchiladas, tacos, and tortillas that pretty much everyone serves.

Luigis Home Style Pizza:
I found out it's hard to find restaurants that are open for business on weekends in downtown El Paso. Luigis was one of the few places serving food when I went looking on a Saturday afternoon. They had a pizza buffet going on, but it looked really sad and unappetizing. A fresh pizza was ordered instead. We had it topped with pepperoni, onions, black olives, and green chilis. This was my first tasting of green chili in the area. They made a very nice topping...

Nolita Corner Bistro:

This was another restaurant in downtown El Paso which was recommended. Burgers aren't normally my first choice on a menu, but the Toreado Burger caught my attention mostly because I didn't know what a toreado was. Turned out a toreado is a roasted jalepeno. The burger was topped with the toreados, provolone cheese, sliced avocado, mushrooms, and cilantro. I picked something called Sidewinders as my side which I actually enjoyed more than the burger. These were a combination of a wedge fry and a curly fry, with some really tasty seasonings.

El Paso Convention Center Tacos:

I had these from a food truck at the El Paso Convention Center. Pretty standard Mexican style tacos with meat topped with cabbage, cheese, and lime. 

Chico's Tacos:
Chico's Tacos was a local chain with several locations, most of them open late at night. I visited the original Chico's Tacos location on Alameda Avenue which has been around since 1953. This place was interesting. The tacos which Chico's serves weren't like tacos I know. These were rolled up tortillas filled with ground beef, then drenched in a pool of red sauce and covered in cheese. The tacos were tasty junk food, but I don't know if I'd rush out to get tacos like this again.

Juarez, Mexico:

El Paso and Juarez, Mexico are basically one city with a pesky international border. My hotel was located a few blocks from the border and I could see more of Mexico than the United States from the hotel's window. Because of this, I had to venture into Juarez while I was in El Paso. After the easiest border crossing/customs I've ever been through, I spent a few hours in the city. I didn't have any food in Juarez, but something food related worth noting was The Kentucky Bar. The Kentucky has been around since 1920 and their claim to fame is having invented the Margarita.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Tapa Toro Sunday Brunch in Orlando, FL

I was invited to come along to Tapa Toro to sample some of their brunch items. They are located on International Drive in I-Drive 360. Tapa Toro's Sunday Brunch happens weekly from 11am - 3pm.

Apple Pie Sangria: Made with the Tapa Toro Housemade apple juice syrup spiked with nutmeg, cinnamon and fresh ginger.

House Made Focaccia Sandwich: Ham, chorizo, serrano, olive spread, and olive oil. This was one of the tastiest sandwiches I've had in a while!

Poached Egg Toast: House alioli on on ciabatta bread with pickled shallots.

Tapa Toro Chicken n Pancakes: Fried chicken milanese, fried eggs, and a house honey glaze.

Three Little Pigs: Cheese grits, pork belly, chicharrones, and chorizo.

Pretty much everything I tried from Tapa Toro's brunch menu was delicious! The flamenco dancing that was also happening in the restaurant was a nice touch as well!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Shake Shack Holiday Menu (International Drive)

I was invited to visit the Shake Shack on International Drive in Orlando to taste some of their new menu items for the holiday season this year.
The visit started out with a sampling of the standard Shake Shake foods including ShackBurgers and Cheese Fries.
The first of the holiday menu items was a cup of Brownie-Batter Hot Chocolate. This very thick and rich hot chocolate was topped with whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles.
There were three Holiday Shakes to sample. The Chocolate Peppermint shake was my favorite with a strong minty flavor. The Pumpkin Pie shake tasted just like pumpkin pie, and was almost like drinking liquefied pie in a cup. The Christmas Cookie shake was also good, tasting the most like a traditional vanilla shake. These seasonal milkshakes are on the menu until December 31.
These aren't new for the holidays, but they were new to me. Shake Shake also sells Shack Burger Dog Biscuits for your pets. I brought a bag of these to a few dogs I know who quickly scarfed them down.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Oh My Gyro in Longwood, FL

I tried a new restaurant in Longwood called Oh My Gyro. They are in a location that has had an endless cycle of restaurants opening, lasting a few months, and closing again. Because of this, I wish them the best of luck, especially since it seems like they did major renovations on the space since the last time I was in the building. Oh My Gyro touts themselves as having authentic New York Halal cart food. Having frequented halal carts in New York on my visits and comparing the menu here, this seemed to be about right. The menu was simple where you had your choice of platters with gyro, chicken, or falafel or sandwiches with the same fillings.
I tried the combo platter. This came with gyro (lamb and beef), shredded chicken, salad, lots of yellow rice, and pita. Most everything was topped with the famous halal cart white sauce and hot sauce was served on the side. The portion of food was very generous and tasted comparable to actual New York halal cart food.
I enjoyed my food here. As noted with the history of past restaurants not surviving very long in this location, I hope they do well (but try them while you can).

Monday, December 5, 2016

Abracadabra Ice Cream in Kissimmee, FL

I tried a restaurant called Abracadabra Ice Cream in downtown Kissimmee. Unlike the standard ice cream shop, Abracadabra served ice cream made with liquid nitrogen. You picked your flavors, they added them in a bowl with some cream, and mixed everything with liquid nitrogen to freeze everything.
I choose mango and raspberry as my flavors. The consistency of the ice cream was interesting. It wasn't as smooth as standard ice cream. It sort of reminded me of Dippin' Dots, only with larger pieces of ice cream and a much better taste.
I very much enjoyed the novelty of seeing ice cream being formed before my eyes in a misty cloud. I'd return to Abracadabra!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Just Smokin' BBQ Food Truck in Tampa, FL

I was over in Downtown Tampa for an event a few weeks ago and found some food trucks parked outside. I decided to have lunch from a truck called Just Smokin' BBQ. Looks like they specialize in Memphis style barbeque.
I had the BBQ Nachos. This was pulled pork with nacho cheese, BBQ sauce, and jalapenos served over tortilla chips. They normally do sweet barbecue sauce on the nachos. I saw they had mustard based sauce which I like better, so I had them switch it out. The nachos were pretty tasty overall. They weren't the most creative version of nachos I've ever had, but they did the trick. I'd probably have this again.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Kona Grill Grand Opening in Winter Park, FL

I was invited to the grand opening of Kona Grill in Winter Park last week. Located in a new shopping center along 17-92, Kona Grill is a welcome addition to Winter Park's collection of restaurants.

Because you want to know, here's what Kona Grill has to say about themselves:
WINTER PARK, Fla. (November 21, 2016) - Winter Park's already outstanding dining scene just got even better with the opening of the new Kona Grill. Located in the Lakeside Crossing shopping center, Kona Grill offers a modern American menu, sushi bar and signature drinks - perfect after a day of holiday shopping along Park Avenue. Kona Grill is sure to be a favorite after-work gathering spot, for its happy hour (Monday-Friday from 3 pm-7 pm) and reverse happy hour (Monday-Thursday from 9 pm-11pm and Friday-Saturday from 10 pm-midnight).

This is the first Kona Grill in Central Florida, and company's fourth location in Florida. The publicly-traded company (NASDAQ: KONA) operates 44 restaurants in 23 states.

About Kona Grill:
Kona Grill features a global menu of contemporary American favorites, award-winning sushi, and specialty cocktails in an upscale casual atmosphere. Kona Grill owns and operates 44 restaurants, guided by a passion for quality food and exceptional service. Restaurants are located in 23 states and Puerto Rico. For more information, visit
A sushi buffet was set up for the grand opening where I was able to sample various types of rolls and sashimi. A large ice sculpture was the centerpiece of the sushi table.
There was tuna, salmon, yellowtail, California rolls, spicy tuna rolls, and more. All tasted fresh and delicious.

Potstickers were also delicious.
Portobello & Goat Cheese Flatbread - Tomato sauce, parmesan, spinach, mozzarella, sun-dried tomato, red onion, and basil.

Big Kahuna Cheeseburger - caramelized onion, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, brioche, homemade pickle spear.

Macadamia Nut Chicken - House mashed potatoes, seasonal vegetables, shoyu cream, and pineapple-papaya marmalade.

Miso-Sake Sea Bass - Shrimp & pork fried rice and pan-Asian ratatouille.

Passion Fruit Creme Brulee:

Carrot Cake:


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