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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

OFF DUTY

If you haven't noticed, I'm out of commission. This semester is just crazy, and "ain't nobody got time for that."

I may come back in May, I may not. We'll see.

For now, if you want to see some of my food and commentary, follow my instagram @EatBYU, where I am not yet lazy enough to take pictures of my food, at least.

Friday, December 5, 2014

CHIPOTLE

Where: Chipotle, 1011 E 2100 S, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Chelsey, Kierea, and Hallie

Number of Visits: 5

What We Ordered: Chicken Salad, Sofritas Salad with Guacamole, Carnitas Salad (three girls, three salads. I know.)

What It Cost: $7.60 (for one person)

What We Thought: 

Of all restaurants that Provo is lacking, Chipotle is the one I hear brought up the most. Like, seriously. Why isn't there a Chipotle in Provo? (it has something to do with liquor licenses, parking, blah blah excuses! #chipotleinprovo) Alas, there isn't one yet, so I'm going to give you the lowdown so you can determine if it is worth the approximately 35-minute drive to the nearest one.

In short, yes.


Chipotle is a nice mix of organic and Fresh Mex tastes, that are pretty dang good, despite them being a chain. They aim to provide the most fresh and flavorful ingredients, which come together in a couple great options -- burrito, bowl, salad, or tacos, all with the same meat options. They have chicken (my favorite, a little spicy, and totally great), barbacoa (Owen's favorite), carnitas (Hallie's favorite), sofritas (seasoned tofu - Kierea's favorite), steak (Tim's favorite), and veggies (no one's favorite. Just kidding. It's actually quite good also). The rest of the line-up seems kind of similar to our fave Mex chain, Cafe Rio -- cilantro lime rice, black or pinto beans, four types of salsa (including a corn salsa, which I really like!), cheese, sour cream, romaine lettuce, cilantro. It's a similar assembly-line set-up as well, which is always great because you can customize your plate as they are making it. I tried the spiciest salsa this time for the first time, and thought it was great - left my mouth with a little bit of the burn! We've had the burritos, probably their most famous item, and found them to be excellent and more than filling. I was glad that the salads and everything actually is all the same cost - I hate it when I order a salad, and it's more expensive, so I feel double cheated...


The guacamole is an extra $1.95, which I thought was a little lame-o, but after seeing Kierea's salad, I do have to admit that a) it looks really good and b) at least they give you a LOT. A LOTTA GUAC. Which is how guacamole always should be.

What You Should Do: Join a group like this one. Tweet the mayor. Come on people. We are a group of highly motivated, hungry students, and we need a Chipotle. Sadly, they don't franchise, or else I would have already opened one up here myself. Chipotle isn't the best Mexican food you'll have in Utah Valley, but its a delicious option when you're in the mood for a quick, healthy, and scrumptious meal.
Read other reviews here: 
Chipotle Mexican Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 28, 2014

TACO AMIGO

Where: Taco Amigo, 1395 N State Street, Orem

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Three tacos -- one flour, one soft corn, one hard corn, a "chimichanga," an a raspberry milkshake

What It Cost: $17.96

What We Thought: 

You are going to have to forgive me for two major things here today with this blog post. And I am really sorry.

1. I forgot to take a picture of our milkshake, which is sort of "THE" item at Taco Amigo (that everyone talks about)

2. This is probably going to be the most racist post I've ever done. And for that, I am truly sorry.



But seriously, this is the LEAST Mexican Mexican restaurant I've ever been to. You know that you are going to get completely wrong Mexican food when there isn't a single Mexican individual eating or working at the restaurant.

Okay, okay. Enough of that. Let's talk about the food.

First up, my chimichanga, as shown above. I know. You were probably as confused as I was when this came out. A chimichanga, according to Webster's Dictionary (and I type this with the utmost irony), is a deliciously deep-friend burrito (in more or less words). This thing was just a soggy smothered burrito, if it had been fried, it was a couple days ago because there was literally no crispiness to the burrito at all, and it was just swimming in the most flavorless, bland tomato sauce, with exceptionally pitiful toppings. Sad iceberg lettuce, canned olives, and piped sour cream, all trying to mask which wasn't even that good of a burrito/non-chimichanga. I didn't even finish it.


Owen got three tacos, because he was in a taco mood and couldn't decide if he wanted a flour, soft corn or hard corn tortilla. So, all three it was. They were all filled with the famed American-Mexican mystery meat (presumable some ground beef of sorts), that weak-sauce iceberg lettuce again, and shredded cheese. Your bare bones. Granted, the meat was certainly more bearable than its competitors, like Taco Bell or Del Taco, but it was really just kind of sad.


The best part of this whole experience was that we found a new talent of Owen's -- taco hand modeling! I mean, come on, that looks really nice how he's holding it.


We eventually found some "taco sauce" which made the totally dry tacos a little better, but the sauce was nothing exciting, and the whole thing was just underwhelming. If you're going to do the cheap, American Mexican food thing, fine, just don't charge prices that are similar to what I'd pay at Cafe Rio for food that is actually delicious.

We got the fresh raspberry shake, and yeah, it was good. You could tell there were actual fresh raspberries in there. It wasn't blended a bunch, so every now and then you'd get a big ol' chunk of frozen berry, which was a little unpleasant, but I'd be willing to go back and try the peach shake, since that sounds pretty good.

What You Should Do: People. We live in a mecca of Mexican food, in all its varieties. I appreciate that this place is family-owned and local and all that jazz, but we have SO many other places that are way better, and better priced. 180 Tacos. Maria Bonita. Laura's. El Gallo Giro. El Mexsal. In fact, the next two blog posts I have are Mexican restaurants (go figure). The list goes on. And so should you. We were so disappointed after this meal that we wanted to go and eat a second dinner to make up for it. We didn't of course. But we wanted to.
Read other reviews here:
Taco Amigo on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 21, 2014

PENNY ANN'S CAFE

Where: Penny Ann's Cafe, 1810 S Main Street, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 2

What We Ordered: Pork Chili Verde Skillet and Penny Pot Potatoes, both with sides of Pancakes. 

What It Cost: $23.28

What We Thought:

Ohhhh Joe's Cafe, I hate to do this to you, but I may have a new favorite breakfast place!!!!

Of course, this one is in Salt Lake, so maybe we can still be friends? 


Penny Ann's Cafe is a tiny little place hidden in the base of a sorta-ghetto apartment complex that you would definitely miss if you blinked. Is this the secret to excellent breakfasts? Not sure, but I definitely see a trend.


They have these skillet breakfasts, which are basically everything good about breakfast, chopped up and pan-fried together. YUM. I looove their Mexican-inspired breakfast foods, and this place sure knows how to make a mean chile verde. Their eggs are always perfectly cooked, and you can definitely plan on bringing some home for breakfast tomorrow.


I mean, just look at that burrito! These are the things that burrito dreams are made of, my friends. And the flavor definitely matches up to the size -- it is seriously so good. And good luck eating all of it!


The best part of all of these meals is that they come with a side of the best dang pancakes you've ever had EVER. They are sour cream pancakes, and are somehow so much lighter, fluffier, and tastier than any pancake you've ever had. It is truly a mystery, and one that I would like to spend my whole life solving. This side of pancakes could definitely be a meal on it's own. But why would you limit yourself like that? But please, at least get the pancakes. I love them so much!!!!


And this one's my favorite -- breakfast nachos! Oh yeah. It's true that the sauce seems to be the same between the burrito, skillet, and nachos, but when you have a good thing going, why mess it up? The nachos are on these homemade tortilla chips that rival Lone Star's, and the chile verde sauce is just sublime. Plus - NACHOS FOR BREAKFAST!!


Penny Ann's is also known for their spectacular pies, and though pie for breakfast is a little intense, even for me, we got one to-go once (lemon raspberry), and can indeed confirm that it was truly divine. Can't wait to try the others. It's Thanksgiving season after all, right?

What You Should Do: Best Brunch Place Ever. I would say breakfast, but there is so much food with each serving, that you should probably count it for both breakfast and lunch. But it's reasonably priced, ultra friendly, and MAN THE FOOD IS GOOD. Especially the pancakes. Oh heavens, those pancakes.
Read other reviews here:
Penny Ann's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 14, 2014

THE CHEESECAKE FACTORY

Where: The Cheesecake Factory, 65 Regent Street, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 2

What We Ordered: Tex Mex Egg Rolls, Macaroni and Cheese Burger, SkinnyLicious Factory Chopped Salad, Wild Blueberry White Chocolate Cheesecake (not pictured), and Reese's Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake

What It Cost: $57.36 (excluding price of salad)

What We Thought: 

Keeping in the tradition of overpriced restaurants lately (sorry, I promise to get some cheap stuff on here soon!) we decided to venture to the well-known and oft-debated Cheesecake Factory. We went to the one at City Creek, though I am pretty sure they all get their food shipped in from the same provider and that it all tastes exactly the same no matter where you go so...yeah. Apply as you may. 


We started with the Tex Mex egg rolls, because you know my weakness for these special/weird egg rolls from CPK. Mmmm.. Look at that grease pile. And sooooo much sour cream. Yeah. It's all a fat bomb up in here. The egg rolls were filled with chicken, black beans, cheese, peppers and onions and were certainly flavorful. And filling. I was totally full after the bread and appetizer. 


And what else did we have look forward too -- more fat! Oh yeah! I know Cheesecake Factory gets a bad rap for being calorie-loaded and this mac & cheese burger totally lives up to that reputation. I mean, it's not like we were expecting anything else when we ordered this, but it was still pretty funny. On top of an actually decent burger, they placed a fried wad of mac & cheese, and then drizzled it with cheese sauce on top. Hahahhahahaha oh man. This thing is nuts. It actually tasted pretty good (I really liked the bun!) and the fries were quite tasty, but yeah, you can't eat anything else for a week after this not-so-little guy.


I went and ordered something off of the SkinnyLicious menu, and can I just say, it is SO embarrassing ordering off that menu. I mean, can you imagine if you were a guy ordering off the menu? Not to be sexist, but even as a female, it's totally humiliating. ANYWAY. Got the SkinnyLicious Factory Chopped Salad, which is supposed to have chicken, avocado, corn, bacon, tomato, apple and blue cheese. Immediately I was put off because, as you can see, the hunks of blue cheese were gigantic - and blue cheese is something that's better as an accent, not a mouthful! But I decided to start into the salad anyway, only to find that the taste was just...off. I'm not sure if it was the lettuce or the dressing or what, but it was bitter and weird tasting, and it totally made me lose my appetite. So I sent it back (I'm becoming quite the complainer I guess...) and then was done for the meal. YUCK. Couldn't eat it, not sure why but the ingredients were not very fresh and it was just all kind of gross.


The cheesecakes were obviously pretty good. I do have to say that I am a sucker for all of the flavors they have - it's so exciting. I really like the peanut butter one, and cheesecake is way hard to make at home, so this part is pretty good. They were both a little dry, but overall, tasty cheesecake with fun and unique flavors.

What You Should Do: The server told us that she would take the cost of the salad off our bill, so I was surprised when it still came out to be $60! It would have been closer to $75 with the salad! I don't know about you, but that is totally not worth it to me. There are a LOT of other much more delicious restaurants out there (just click here for some excellent choices!) that you can go to for special occasions. The Cheesecake Factory is just too cookie-cutter now (excuse the really lame dessert pun) and the food all tastes just kind of tired. And expensive! I'd probably only go here again for the cheesecake, and even that can have better options elsewhere. You won't have to order from an embarrassingly-named menu, you won't have to wait an hour to be seated (you may even be able to make a reservation!), and you won't have to be ashamed of all the calories you mysteriously consumed.
Read other reviews here:
The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 7, 2014

GLORIA'S LITTLE ITALY

Where: Gloria's Little Italy, 1 E Center Street, Provo

Who Went: Owen and Chelsey

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Butternut Squash Ravioli with Side Salad and Gnocchi with Rosata Sauce and Tomato Basil Soup

What It Cost: $44.71

What We Thought: 

For some reason, I keep trying Italian food even though you know how I feel about it...But hey! Let's see if this one was worth the cost! Gloria's in downtown Provo is like one of the nicer restaurants in the area, but it's looking like it could use a little refresher. I don't know. The accordion player was kind of fun, but the girl clearing tables in basketball shorts and flip flops kind of ruined the mood...


Plus the accordion player never came to our table and asked what we wanted him to play! Totally bummed. I had a great song picked. Also a bummer - this salad. Why do restaurants insist on putting unmixed salads in bowls that are reallllly hard to mix in? Beats me. But the salad was boring, and I didn't really even eat it because, well, I'm already bored talking about it. Let's move on.


Owen started with the Tomato Basil soup, which was much more exciting. In fact, yeah I stole it from him. The soup was creamy and wonderful, and may even be better than Zupas. I know, hearsay. But it was really great! Definitely the highlight of the meal for me!


I got the butternut squash ravioli with sausage and four cheese sauce. The sauce did look like it had kind of been sitting a while, but the ravioli were really flavorful and delicious. It was a little weird though, because it totally reminded me a LOT of this pasta...Not sure who the original is, but our server assured us that they make all of the pasta in house, so I don't know...anyway, it was good. The sausage was flavorful and the sauce was certainly cheesy, and it was just a good all-around comfort meal.


Owen's dish was also high on the comfort-meal scale - I guess that's kind of an Italian food thing? I don't know. But he got the gnocchi in their signature sauce -- a creammmmy tomato sauce with cream cheese mixed it. Wowza. It was hearty. The gnocchi was pretty good. I think it was boiled and pretty sfot, and I really like it pan-fried for a bit of texture contrast, but that's getting nit-picky. It sure was a lot of pasta, and we took a good amount home, which is always nice.

We thought about getting dessert, but tried some of the gelato and found it to be icy and weirdly-flavored (and I normally totally dig gelato...), and the other desserts looked like they had been on display for a while, so we opted out.

What You Should Do: Pretty good, but $45 worth? I don't know. I think we probably made some of the best choices (I know, I sound super full of myself here...) with our meals -- ordering Italian options that can't be made as easily at home, which made the cost seem more justifiable. But still, it's a pretty expensive choice. I definitely think this would be more tasty on one of those chilly winter nights when you just want some comfort food, and make sure to order the tomato basil soup and put in an accordion song request for me, would ya?
Read other reviews here:
Gloria's Little Italy on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

CHEF'S TABLE

Where: Chef's Table, 2005 S State Street, Orem

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 2

What We Ordered: Cheese & Charcuterie Board, Macadamia Crusted Halibut, Rack of Colorado Lamb, Bananas Foster Cheesecake, and "Chocolate Dream Dessert" 

What It Cost: $118.44

What We Thought: 

It's so funny -- probably one of the "nicest" restaurants in Orem is really in not so nice of a location -- across the street from D.I. and next door to PC World...ANYWAY. Since it's won so many awards (lots of Best of State, Zagat, etc), we of course had to check it out. The first time we had a Groupon (scout these out -- so worth it here!), but we actually kind of liked it, so we had to go a second time...


You know those nights when you're just feeling like, I want to go somewhere nice and expensive! Okay, okay, it's rare (we are students, after all), but when you do, Chef's Table totally fits the bill (literally). Though it's in a really weird location, it has a pretty view of the mountains, and a very pretty dining area. We started our meal with the cheese & charcuterie board, and you know that song "These are a Few of My Favorite Things"? Well, this board is that song to me...Tartufo Salami, Soppressata, cornichons, gorgonzola, merlot-soaked sharp cheddar, crostini, prosciutto, and kumquat marmalade? These are a few of my favorite things! In all seriousness, this charcuterie board was a great mix, and a super delicious start to the meal. The only things that could make it better -- 1) More crostini (it was a little awkward to eat the cheese & meats without a good carb base) and 2) The server didn't know who made the meats - I thought it was Creminelli, but it would have been nice to know for sure :)


I mean, is there anything that makes you feel more sophisticated or like this is an Important Meal than a lemon sorbet to cleanse your palate? I think not.


Now...for the entrées...YUM! Owen got the rack of Colorado lamb, which was served over the creamiest polenta, with a roasted tomato sauce and green beans. The lamb was cooked perfectly medium rare, and was sooooo juicy and tender. I would eat this every day if I could afford it haha.


I ordered the macadamia crusted halibut, which was served over a delightful risotto with asparagus and beurre blanc. The risotto and sauce were AMAZING, and the halibut would have been really great except for the fact that I am totally picky and the fish was a little overcooked for me. It was still all really good, but when I mentioned to the server that the fish was a little dry/overcooked, he offered to make up for it with some free dessert. Yeah, you know I couldn't turn that down...


And WOW am I glad we didn't! First off, it is rare that more than one dessert sounds even remotely appealing after, you know, a full meal. But at Chef's Table, literally every dessert sounded super intriguing. I ordered the Bananas Foster Cheesecake, and Owen got what the server described as "It's really chocolate-y - chocolate brownie topped with chocolate mousse and chocolate wafers and chocolate sauce...yeah, it's a lot of chocolate." Of course we had to try that. The cheesecake was divine - I looooove bananas foster AND cheesecake, so I knew this would be a win for me. The flavor was phenomenal, and I loved the brûléed banana - it was perfectly cooked and the bananas weren't mushy at all! I was surprised with the raspberries on top, but it was a perfect bit of tartness on a dessert that could have been overwhelmingly sweet. I WANT THIS RIGHT NOW.


I can't even describe this chocolate dessert except...best thing ever/I love chocolate/so intense but so good/you gotta try it/never take this off the menu

What You Should Do: Like I mentioned before, Chef's Table is a great place for those special occasions where you really feel like splurging! The service was really excellent and they want you to have a wonderful dining experience. My only advice is hey, if you're going to be spending more than $100 on a meal, let's dress a little nicer, okay? Just a personal thing... :) I would probably give this place four stars, but it is pretty expensive in reality, and I'm not recommending going here every day!
Read other reviews here: 
Chef's Table on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 24, 2014

HIRES BIG H

Where: Hires Big H, 427 S 700 E, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Owen and Chelsey

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Fish & Chips, Blue Cheese Burger, and Raspberry Milkshake

What It Cost: $24.90

What We Thought: 

An old, classic Utah establishment with retro decor, friendly service, and seriously good food. 


Also, can I just say this is like one of the least expensive halibut fish & chips I've seen in Utah?? And it's totally a good value because the fish was excellent (moist and not too fishy), the tartar sauce was the bomb (as tartar sauce usually is), and the fries were top notch. Fish & chips can easily go down the "way too greasy" road, but this managed to be just right. YUM!


The burger had all of the components of a classic, old-school burger (fresh, local bun, great tasting patty, etc.) but was pumped up with the blue cheese and bacon. I was stoked that they used gorgonzola, which gives a great mild blue cheese flavor without overpowering everything. The bacon was thick and crispy, and altogether, it was just a great burger.


And this milkshake was just one of the best I've ever had. Fresh raspberry, but without any annoying frozen berry chunks. It was the perfect consistency (not so thick that it's basically ice cream, but not soupy), and seriously the best end to our meal. Although, let's be honest, it was the first thing we tasted...

What You Should Do: I was totally surprised with the mixed reviews with this place -- we had such a great experience! The owner personally greeted us as we came in, rang out our check, and thanked us sincerely for coming. The food came quickly and tasted great. We will definitely be coming here again!
Read other reviews here: 
Hires Big H on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 17, 2014

HRUSKA'S KOLACHES

Where: Hruska's Kolaches, 434 W Center Street, Provo

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 3

What We Ordered: Raspberry Cream Cheese and Jalapeño Sausage Egg & Cheese Kolaches

What It Cost: $4

What We Thought:

If you're ever in the mood to check out the farmer's market downtown on a Saturday morning, this place is an AWESOME breakfast stop! Of course, it is also awesome every other day of the week too...


I had never heard of kolaches before this place popped up. Apparently it's a Czech breakfast item, kinda like a doughnut/muffin/danish type of thing (though they have savory ones too!) and they are really popular in Texas. And now, they are really popular in our household!

I love how this is just a little family-operated joint that is just bringing flavors they love from Texas here to share with us. And the kolaches are seriously good -- fresh baked rolls with crisp exteriors and soft chewy insides, with scrumptious flavors to go! We loooooove the jalapeño/egg/sausage (or bacon!) ones - a little kick in the morning that comes with a serious flavor punch. The dessert ones are all fantastic too. We are definitely partial to the fruit + cream cheese combos. YUM.


What You Should Do: Follow the advice of me and your friendly Provo City mayor, and give this place a try! It's such a fun breakfast alternative, and make sure you ask them to heat them up for you! Man...I want some right now!!!!!! We've tried a bunch of flavors, and the spicy sausage one is definitely intense (you've been warned) and for some reason the cinnamon roll wasn't my favorite. BUT EVERYTHING ELSE SERIOUSLY ROCKS!
Read other reviews here:
Hruska's Kolaches on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 10, 2014

COSTA VIDA

Where: Costa Vida, 1200 N University Avenue, Provo

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 3

What We Ordered: Pork Salad and Steak Burrito

What It Cost: $16.45

What We Thought: 

Costa Vida. Or, in my mind "the other Cafe Rio." Finally. After much deliberation, the results are in. 


Reasons Costa Vida is better than Cafe Rio:

1. More flavor options for meat (including raspberry chipotle chicken, which is kind of exciting)
2. Usually much shorter lines
3. You can order a half salad (though it's only like $1 or $2 cheaper, but if you really are working on portion control, this could be advantageous)
4. They serve it at BYU Football games


Reasons Cafe Rio is better than Costa Vida:

1. The sweet pork just tastes better
2. Better salsa (2 of 3 visits, my salsa has had a weird, fishy taste??)
3. Better tortillas (at least when they are made fresh)
4. Bigger burritos
5. Better atmosphere (right next to the bowling alley just doesn't do it for me...?)
6. It's at the airport
7. Sauces taste better (and more of it on the smothered burrito)
8. Everything just seemed to taste fresher...maybe because Cafe Rio goes through so many customers, they have to get fresh new food more frequently? Not sure...

What You Should Do: Go to Cafe Rio instead. Join my petition to get Cafe Rio at the BYU football stadium. I'm sorry, I tried. Both are better than Bajios, however.
Read other reviews here: 
Costa Vida on Urbanspoon

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