Tuesday, March 11, 2014

WDYJE Coast to Coast Part 3: North Carolina is the South

If you are a native westerner like me -- please, go to the museum. It is free because it is a part of the Smithsonian, so use those fucking tax dollars. It is an insane illustration of what the Civil War did to the Eastern Seaboard and the Mason-Dixon line is a LOT further north than I thought it was. Also did you know there were NUMEROUS GERMAN SUBMARINES SUNK OFF THE COAST OF NORTH CAROLINA? 20th Century history is not my strong suit but I feel like I would remember some mention of THAT.
Anyway, on to what you came for...

NoFo's Cafe (NoFO @ The Pig)

Pimento Cheese is not a thing in the west, but it should be. It is like our spinach-artichoke dip. Ubiquitous and, I discovered, practically irresistible. NoFo Cafe version comes with a generous portion of vegetables and BACON to dip into the hot, melty cheese.

The shrimp and grits is amazing. This kicks the ass of any shrimp and grits I have had. Understated and perfect.
It was very busy even on a weeknight.

Ba Da Wings

Wings, duh. LOTS of flavors. I went for the normal "BaDaBing" hotness and got a couple of sides of other sauce because I am obsessed with Carolina BBQ sauce.
I loved the sauces, but I would ask for the wings cooked a little longer to get a more crispy outside. (They were cooked through though.)
These guys were super nice.

The China Queen
This is a Chinese buffet. It was PACKED at lunch time. But really, one of the better cheap Chinese buffets I have been to. Busy equals quick food turnover so everything was really fresh. Also it helps being near a coast -- you don't have to be so squeamish about the fish selections. I think it was like 8.00 with a drink.

Red Monkey Tavern

This is why you don't take food recommendations from peasants. Seriously if someone says they like Olive Garden you can NEVER EVER EVER listen to what they think is good food again.
One of my fellow trainees claimed that the food was great here. They recommended the lobster BLT.
This was bullshit. I mean it was basically like I went out and got a shitton of lobster and then went back to my house and toasted some cheap, stale wheat bread and put the lobster on there. It had a lot of lobster. Unseasoned lobster. Just sitting with the B, L, and T on the dry-ass bread. It was really an insane waste of lobster.

What I missed:  apparently every day there are a bunch of food trucks on the North Carolina State University campus, so if that is your thing it is probably worth a look here.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

WDYJE Coast to Coast Part 2: Back inside the Beltway

Another short and dirty trip to our nation's capitol.

Day 1:
McDonald's at DIA. What? It is insanely expensive, and the menu is limited. That equals fine dining. Next they will have a prix fixe. Remember this, it become relevant later.

I arrive at my hotel behind a huge pack of midwestern red-hats and I am so tired I want to cry. Until some lovely person comes around with a tray of hot, fresh appetizers. Cheese sticks, tiny crab cakes, and little spanikopita. She was an angel in a Hilton vest. This place knows how to make people not care about waiting for Sarah from Omaha to ask about every amenity they might possible have, including Day Care even though her daughter is obviously in high school.

Day 2:
I am a cheapskate, so I ate every day at the FREE BUFFET in the hotel. It was awesome, like most breakfast buffets.

Lunch is at the cafeteria in the office building where I am training. This is a new experience for me and I also ate shit on the ice right before I got to the building so i do not feel like traveling anywhere. Surprisingly good made-to-order food.

Bolt Burgers
Much like Five Guys, only a little fancier. When I was waiting for my food some dude was actually grilling the poor girl at the counter about how they were different from Five Guys. Well, you can choose your seasoning for one. I think they have more "gourmet" toppings as well. Plus they have shakes and smoothies and shit. Very good food and they sell their seasoning or you can just steal one off the table. Just kidding, don't steal. SERIOUSLY DON'T

Day 3:
Ben's Chili Bowl

How could I not visit? Well -- I didn't have time the first trip, that's how. So I am very lucky I got to come back. Half-smoke, split and grilled, times two. And chili-cheese fries. The line was not too long at 5pm on a weekday.

Day 4:
McDonald's at Regan. What. The. Fuck. A: cheaper than DIA. B: THEY STILL HAVE THE CHICKEN BISCUIT SANDWICHES C: I was more excited about this than I should have been and ate more than I should have before a long flight.

What I missed: Apparently they have a really good restaurant in the National Museum of the American Indian.

Friday, January 31, 2014

WDYJE Coast to Coast Part 1: A Very DC Christmas

I have been busy eating my way across the US which is why no updates have come for a long time. Also some shit went down over the last year that was way more important than snarking about food. Anyway, I am back and here we go!

For Christmas I went to Washington D.C.
My memory of this is vague so here is the quick and dirty run down:

Day 1: Christmas Day
Hot Wings, Burger, Crab Cake sandwich
Crab cake sandwich was the star. Open on Christmas Day!! Burger was good, wings were great. Nice little place.

Day 2: 
GBD Chicken and Donuts
Tenders and donuts
Um, chicken...and donuts. Please go here. The sauces are great and the sides are great and the donuts are great. I wish I had one of these here. Frankenbutter sauce is the obvious choice for hot wing lovers.

Woodley Cafe
Some egg something?
Not a memorable experience. Completely boring food you can get anywhere. Skip it.

Day 3:
Austin Grill
Fajitas, burritos, something?
Also not memorable. Chain-like food of dubious "Mexican" type. Skip it unless you are starving after 300000 museum exhibits and need something easy with booths and booze and bathrooms.

Julia's Empanadas
Savory and sweet empanadas. We don't get empanadas around here very much, so having a selection of like a dozen different flavors was a bit overwhelming, but completely worth it. Unique spices and large portions, it is a really good value. The Saltenas was not my favorite but I liked the others - a curry, a strawberry cream cheese, and a peach.
Great to haul back to the hotel when you really can't remain upright for any longer.

Day 4:
Good Stuff Eatery
Burgers, duh. I am full from lunch but my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Nice little place and affordable, unlike a lot of "famous" chef's restaurants.

And why not stop next door at Spike's other place
We the Pizza
Mushroom pizza
This pizza has more mushrooms on it than I have eaten in the last year. Holy crap it is amazing. Long wait but the egg cream is so good and so is the ginger soda, I was close to ordering another of each when my food finally arrived. I don't know where DC gets their mushrooms but they taste like nothing I eat around here. So flavorful.

GBD late night -
We had to stop for a couple more donuts on our way to the hotel, because they were open and we deserve a treat for carrying a giant pizza halfway across the city on the metro. Awesome even late at night.
Get Maple-Bacon Bourbon (house-cured bacon, yup) and Chocolate Pudding (best filled donut ever.)

Day 5:
Old Ebbitt
I am not telling the secret of Old Ebbitt, you have to figure this one out on your own. I do recommend the Orca platter though, for two or three or four. There was one oyster on the Orca Platter we hated, but the rest were divine. Just to top off the decadence, a creme brulee of the finest quality.

Day 6:
Krispy Kreme when they first opened at the butt-crack of dawn.
Honestly it is a glazed-raised donut. I am not head over heels for these. It was nice because it was so fresh.

District Taco
Breakfast tacos
Yes. The creamer was spoiled but the food was amazing. Good deals. I need this here as well.

Nando's Peri Peri
Last stop before the flight. People flip their shit over this chicken. I thought it was pretty good. I may need to go back 3 or 4 dozen times to make sure. Yeah, it is good.

Okay, there you have it. As usual, I try not to eat anywhere I can eat in my own town, because why would you?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Casa No More, Lupita's is the Score

I am not sure when this happened, but Casa is closed. I shed a quiet tear for them.
Never fear, my friends! Lupita's is here to fill that cheesy void in your soul.

Lupita's is over by City Park in what was a donut shop about 20 years ago. I can't recall everything that has occupied that spot since the donut shop closed, but I hope Lupita's is here to stay.

Lupitas is everything you want in a Mexican restaurant: cafeteria ambiance but table service, giant plates of food covered in green chile, and cheap ass prices. Crispy chile rellenos smothered in hot, medium, or mild green chile. Cheap ass breakfast burritos made to order (sorry, Consuelo's.) The perfect cheese enchilada, swimming in red sauce, with fresh diced onions. Sopapillas stuffed with shredded beef. I can't even write this without my mouth watering - seriously, I might go there for lunch today.

Anyway, check it out and tip well. Keep our real Mexican food around and give the finger to the stupid fake, overpriced bullshit.

<a href="http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/145/1568896/restaurant/Northern-Colorado/Lupitas-Mexican-Restaurant-Fort-Collins"><img alt="Lupita&#x27;s Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon" src="http://www.urbanspoon.com/b/logo/1568896/minilogo.gif" style="border:none;width:104px;height:15px" /></a>

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Underground (Social)

It was a cold and crowded night out, but after leaving another bar at midnight we noticed there was no line at Social. Whee!
It really is what TV and movies tell you a speakeasy was like. It is crowded and noisy with the usual bar chatter. There are Edison bulbs and screens and cosy alcoves. They give you tiny cups of hot cider while you wait for your table. There are loud pretentious people over-pronouncing the names of meats.
Get a fancy cocktail. Yeah, they are pricey but you are not here to save money I assume. Go to Surfside for your beer/shot special. Come here for a date or to treat yo' self! Actually the drinks are very reasonably priced.
Charcuterie. It is all the rage right now. People love ultra thin slices of super expensive pork product. Skinny people. Adding some deviled eggs and some meatballs to a board made a good dinner for two people. Or me alone. Deviled eggs are replacing the pickled egg of old as a common bar snack, so keep your eye out for this. The meatballs are big and tender and rich.

You get more than just meat; the seasonal fruits, nuts, and pickled veggies are awesome. Consider adding a cheese flight to your meat board to get the full experience. Then order another cocktail. Then go lurk around the big window into the kitchen and watch a big bald guy work the incredible slicer. Also look around and see how many of your favorite staff from other bars around town are now working here.
Which brings me to another cool thing about Social: this is not a bar born from the excess and boredom of some trust-fundy from out of state. This is a enterprise created and executed by industry folks from all the favorite Fort Collins bars, from Elliot's to Surfside. It is owned, operated, and staffed by all our friends. So be nice, tip well, and mind the stairs. They are fucking steep.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Hey, ladies.

I am not sure why restaurants and bars still have "ladies' night." So people who date women can 'afford' to take them out? So that ladies have something to look forward to after being fucked over by the systemic sexism of our society all week long? To market a happy hour deal in an unnecessarily gender-biased way? To highlight the inability of Americans to use an apostrophe in the correct way EVER?
(I know the real reason for ladies' night. To get ladies drunk so they will not notice your bar is full of skeezy losers.)
(Also I am now certain there will be one apostrophe mis-use in this writing. Mock as you will.)

HOWEVER, I am pretty sure that Bacco Trattoria is just doing it for the fun of calling something "ladies night." I don't speak Italian, but 'Bacco Trattoria' can mean a few things -- "Eatery of the god Bacchus," "The mood of drinking at a silk-throwing mill," or "Let's gather to blow off steam over a fuckton of wine because we are not young enough for margarita night any more."

The most interesting thing Bacco offers is tapas. I saw your ears perk up. I know you saw Anthony Bourdain eat tapas and now you think you can be suave and sexy like him. Well, you are wrong. You can be like every other person discovering tapas for the first time, even though Fort Collins has had tapas around in different places for like 16 years at least.
The other recently trending food they offer is 'charcuterie.' I don't know how to say it either, but I have eaten it and enjoyed it.

We went on a Wednesday (NOT LADIES NIGHT.) At 5pm there was no one there. Our server was pretty chatty with me as I sat alone. The service was slow in general, but we have a complicated group of people so we don't complain much. However, if I were there as a couple or a smaller group and got the same speed of service I would not have been happy.

Anyway she brought some bread and herb-y oil (which turned out to be actual pesto sauce) to the table with ample water, so that was nice. And they brought more bread whenever you wanted it, hand sliced by a nice young man in nothing but a loincloth. Whoops, no, that is only on ladies' night.

All the dishes have complicated names just to show you how useless taking one year of Latin and one year of German really was. Luckily they also have good descriptions so you can just point and say "This fish thing" and the waitress can shame you by saying the name in a perfect Italian accent.

The tapas were the best of what we got. The calamari were not rubbery, and not greasy, and the dipping sauce was tasty with red pepper flakes on top. The Brussels sprouts were not over-cooked and tasted sweet and fresh. The duck prosciutto was 'not really worth it' according to the person who ordered it. It looked good but was a very small portion. The lamb skewers were decent chunks of lamb and peppers.

The salads were also popular, the beet salad came with two giant golden beet slices on the bed of greens.
I had the french onion soup. The soup itself was good, but had some issues. LEAF OF DEATH -- I got a huge bay leaf in my soup. Not that I was really that upset, because this usually means your food was made by a real person from scratch and not out of a vacuum-sealed, frozen bag. The bread was burnt on the bottom, but the cheese and bread were not very toasty on the top. Additionally the bread tasted very WHITE BREAD, unlike the bread at the table. 

Two people ordered pasta dishes. They were both typically over-sauced. The linguini rustica was drowning in oil. I thought it was gross. It did come with some white anchovies, which were not like anchovies I have had before -- these were just like little pickled herrings, a little sweet and not too salty and not "hairy" like the grey, oily anchovies I know. The spinach ravioli were similarly swamped in a pink vodka sauce, which was trending like 10 years ago.

The wine list is big and expensive. Actually I don't drink wine (because it seems really fucking expensive), so I have no idea what to say other than they only have 3 tap beers. Which is both refreshing and equally annoying in this beer-sodden town.

I recommend this place for tapas for sure. Everything else -- caveat emptor. See, Latin.
If you meet me in person, ask me about my very funny Latin joke. A qui ambulat in tabernum...

Friday, October 25, 2013

I Killed Cock Robin

Red Robin fucking sucks.
I could end there, but I suppose you will want my anecdotal evidence.

I have eaten at RR three times in the past year. Every single time the service has been terrible. I will repeat myself to say I am VERY forgiving of waitstaff. I am polite and don't complain about minor things that don't cost me money. I don't complain if my burger is cooked wrong, or if my refills are slow in coming.

Red Robin has taken shit service to a new level. I didn't review my second time there this year because not only was the experience the same level of crap, we had the exact same server. 

The most recent time we stopped in on a pretty busy night. The lobby was empty, but after the hostess asked me how many were in my party she basically ignored me immediately to talk to another employee.
We elected to wait for a booth and were sat after about 10 minutes. 

The place was swarming with giant families that seemed spread out over twice as many tables as necessary. Waitstaff were everywhere - before we even saw ours the table next to us had at least two different servers visit them. 
We ordered from our plucky waiter who kept trying to talk to the 'conventional looking male' out of the three of us, even though I was the one doing most of the talking. (Like "Hi! Great, thanks. That would be super.")

Let me sum up -- we did not get refills on drinks or fries, extra salad dressing, the boxes for our food, or our check in anything remotely resembling a 'timely manner.' We did not get extra fries or salad dressing for the entire time we were there, despite asking for these things at the time we ordered and multiple times afterward. We were completely polite the entire time and never abusive to the waiter at all.

Our waiter said he was really busy, but we could see him most of the time we were there. He did have other tables, but it didn't seem excessive. Plus, as I mentioned, there were like 100 other waitstaff. After asking for my check, the waiter noticed that my friend's salad was uneaten. He asked "Oh did she need extra salad dressing?" YES, 40 MINUTES AGO. My friend went to talk to the manager at this point, and by the time she came back and told me we were not paying for our meal, the waiter had still not returned with dressing or the actual check.

Also the food is really not that good. And my burger was cooked wrong.