While up in New York, I found myself in the Bellerose neighborhood near the border of Queens and Floral Park. This part of town had what could be described as a Little India. For blocks, everything was Indian, Pakistani, or from another country in the surrounding area. Seeing all this, I knew where I would be stopping for dinner.
I chose a restaurant called Surya Sweets & Snacks. This place was fast food and had a large selection of desserts near the entrance. As for the the food selections, everything was vegetarian and also very cheap. The most expensive food on the menu was $8.00, with most everything else around $4 or $5.
The menu was initially confusing for the uniformed. With only names and no descriptions, we had no idea what exactly some of the menu items were beside the typical Indian foods. Someone ordering in front of us saw our confusion and gave some recommendations. That's how the Papdi Chat was ordered. This bowl had interesting flavors, somehow being sweet, sour, and spicy at the same time.
The Samosa Chat had a few somosas buried under potatoes, chickpeas, and many other ingredients all drenched in a spicy sauce.
I always like dosas at Indian restaurants, so I had to try the Masala Dosa. The huge crepe was filled with a potato based filling and was served with various sauces.
We also tried some assorted desserts from Surya. These were very different than a typical American dessert and had some interesting flavors and textures.
I never knew this section of New York existed, but it was well worth a visit for Indian food. When it's exotic, vegetarian Indian food, that's even better!
I was driving along the New Jersey Turnpike and got off for some gas in the town of Haddon Heights. Suddenly, I saw a place called Philly Pretzel Factory. Since I was still relatively close to Philadelphia, I decided it was worthy of a stop.
The pretzels were surprisingly cheap at $0.50 each. They weren't the typical pretzel shape that I was expecting, but were still pretty tasty. There wasn't a huge difference in taste between this and other soft pretzels that I've tried. I ate the pretzel with some mustard and ended up being a very nice snack.
I stopped in Elkton, MD for lunch. I got off I-95 at this exit and had a few interesting food choices. One was a seafood restaurant selling food from a shipping container. Another choice, and the winner for the meal was BBQ in a log cabin called Durham's Best Barbeque.
I had the beef brisket sandwich, topped with peppers and onions. Durham's gave a huge amount of meat, all overflowing out of the bun. It had nice flavor but was a bit dry. The small cups of barbecue sauce that were supplied weren't enough to moisten the sandwich. The peppers and onions were very skimpy and went almost unnoticed.
It's funny how TV changes people's opinions of restaurants. I was traveling up north along I-95 a couple of years ago and stopped to get gas in a Shell station in Elkridge, MD. Attached to the gas station's store was a Mexican restaurant. I suggested that we try the tacos there but my travel companions objected to getting food from a creepy gas station and we ended up snacking on some sad looking foods from a supermarket across the street. Fast forward a bit and I'm making the same trip along I-95 with the same people and it's lunch time once again. After looking through the various smartphone apps for a place to eat, it is decided that we try a Mexican restaurant that was featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called R&R Taqueria. We follow the directions and end up pulling into the same Shell gas station. I recognized it as the place that was rejected for being gross gas station tacos, but it was now okay to eat at since it had been legitimized by the Food Network.
There was a good amount of people inside the tiny restaurant. It was separated from the gas station store by large windows, and the walls were decorated with Guy Fieri's portrait. R&R Taqueria is the second restaurant I've dined at that was featured on his show.
I tried two of their tacos at R&R. First was a taco al pastor, filled with nicely marinated pork, onions, and cilantro on a corn tortilla. Next was a pollo taco, consisting of the same fillings with the pork exchanged for chicken. While I liked the al pastor, the chicken was very dry and bland. The salsa served on the side helped it out.
I also tasted part of a chicken huarache. This was a thick tortilla topped with refried beans, meat, cheese, sour cream, and avocado. This was my first time trying a huarache, and it was definitely interesting. I'll need to try another one of these at some point.
I liked R&R Taqueria. It was good, simple, and cheap Mexican food all inside a cramped gas station. I'd stop there again on my next road trip up I-95!
I took a detour along one of my road trips and ended up in Winston-Salem, NC for a festival. It was my first time exploring the city, and I ate while there. The restaurant I chose was an Irish pub called Finnigan's Wake. I had the fried cod sandwich. The fish was Guinness battered and fried, topped with lettuce, tomato, and sauce. I found the fried fish to be soggy rather than crispy. Not good to get soggy fried fish on a $9.00 sandwich. Mashed potatoes and a pickle were served on the side, both of which I liked.
This was my one and only food experience in Winston-Salem and I wasn't too impressed. Finnigan's Wake was on the expensive side (my sandwich was one of the cheapest items on the menu) and nobody I was with was happy with their food. Hopefully the other restaurants in Winston-Salem are better!
I stopped in Downtown Clearwater on the way to the beach for some lunch. The winner for the day was a Mexican restaurant called Los Mayas.
The meal started with a huge basket of chips and salsa. For my meal, I had the Tacos al Pastor. This consisted of four tacos filled with very flavorful pork on corn tortillas. Refried beans were served on the side as well as a bowl of salsa borracha. This salsa, or drunk sauce, was new to me. It was sort of like a type of guacamole, except it had chunks of avocado rather than mashed. The salsa had a nice kick and ended up being used on all of the tacos as well as left over tortilla chips.
I liked Los Mayas. I haven't been too happy with the past few Mexican restaurants I've visited and Los Mayas finally broke the spell of mediocre Mexican food!
I was invited to try the new Gatorville Pool Bar & Restaurant at Wyndham Orlando Resort. The Wyndham Orlando is a sprawling hotel at the intersection of International Drive and Sand Lake Road. They are currently under renovations and will eventually be connected to the new I-Drive Live complex that is being built on the site once occupied by the Mercado mall. I was quickly escorted to the pool when I arrived at the Wyndham. The Gatorville Pool Bar overlooks two of the swimming pools at the hotel and I was greeted with appetizers.These included shrimp and veggie spring rolls as well as skewers of beef and chicken satay. The appetizers were good, but much better food was on the way.
A tray of sushi and summer rolls were soon served to the table. The dinner was described as having Floribbean style foods, but so far everything had an Asian theme. I was good with that and always enjoy some sushi. I tried the summer rolls, California rolls, spicy tuna rolls, and soft-shell crab (spider rolls?).
Salads followed the sushi. First up was a spinach and goat cheese salad with rye bread croutons.
Next was a pasta salad topped with salmon. It seemed the food was fitting more and more into that Floribbean description.
Once the appetizers and salads were finished, the main courses were served. There were these Lollipop Lamb Chops cooked in garlic, rosemary, sugar and vinegar. The meat was nice and tender!
Then there was this plate of Crispy Fried Snapper and Prawns. The snapper was one of my favorite foods of the night and the size of the prawns was amazing! I would have mistaken them for spiny lobster if the menu didn't say otherwise!
Various sides were served as well. The jalapeno cornbread was very moist and tasty.
I enjoyed the pot stickers. But then again, it's rare that I find a dumpling that I don't like.
Tostones were also served. I honestly can't say I've had enough of these mashed and fried plantains to be a good judge of them, but I liked these.
Bananas Foster was served for dessert. It was cooked at this station where the chef flambeed the bananas.
The bananas were then served over crepes filled with vanilla ice cream. Ice cream crepes are awesome...
And with that, my meal at the Gatorville Pool Bar was complete. I enjoyed both the food and the dining experience in general. I've gone to other local hotels in the past for dinner, but the Wyndham was completely off my radar for some reason. Now that I know about it, I just might have to stop in again for another meal some day!