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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Magleby's

Where: Magleby's Restaurants, 1600 N Freedom Blvd, Provo (right under the Courtyard Marriott hotel)

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 5

What We Ordered: Blackened Chicken Pasta, Banana Cream Pie, Sliced Turkey & Avocado Salad, Petite Filet Medallions, Wonderful Halibut, Buttermilk Pie, Carrot Cake, Famous Chocolate Cake

What It Cost: ~$35/meal

What We Thought:


This was where Owen & I went on our second date. He thinks that I'm the chatty one, but he could not stop bragging about how amazing Magleby's pies were. So as a late-night treat, we stopped in and he ordered a buttermilk pie and since I had to keep things interesting, I ordered a towering slice of carrot cake instead. Neither dish let me down! I've never had a buttermilk pie before -- it was rich, creamy, custardy and smooth. The top was perfectly browned, and the crust was soft and buttery. But my carrot cake definitely won out that night. It was an ideal balance of fruity and nutty and earthy, and just the right amount of delicious cream cheese frosting for me (I'm a huge frosting lover). I crave this carrot cake more than most desserts, and once Owen brought me a slice on his way home from work to help make up for a particularly crappy day - I've never tasted anything more comforting and wonderful.

The desserts never disappoint. They are known for their pies for a good reason - the banana cream pie we partook of once actually tasted like bananas, which was surprising and fantastic!

Their food is also good, but nothing outstanding. They boast about using local ingredients and creating everything from scratch. Although this lends itself to nice, fresh flavors in their meals, it does lead to quite a restricted menu. After going twice to actually eat food (and not just desserts), I feel like I've tried everything I wanted to, and there's not really any reason to go back. Try the blackened chicken pasta (a creamy and smoky flavor in a light alfredo sauce) or the halibut (well-seasoned and cooked to perfection), and make sure to fill up on the flaky, delicious parmesan garlic rolls! I need to find a replicate recipe!

What You Should Do: Go. Go once to actually eat there, and return many times in the future to sample their amazing desserts! You can also stop by Magleby's Fresh, which has a slimmer selection of sweets but is open later.


Great news: They also have a Magleby's birthday club!

Magleby’s on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 30, 2012

Eva

Where: Eva, 317 S Main Street, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Chelsey, Owen & Jarom (my brother-in-law, who also happens to be a vegetarian)

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Spanakopita with Spicy Feta & Balsamic, Spicy Chickpea Shells, Spinach & Potato Gnocchi, Greek Mac & Cheese baked in Phyllo Dough, & Chocolate Pots de Créme

What It Cost: $57.00 (including tip, for all 3 people)


What We Thought:


Friday afternoon, I went over to my friend Katie's house and helped her with her new little baby, Eva. As I was holding Eva and playing with her, I said, "Tonight I am going to eat at a restaurant named after you, baby Eva!" However, somehow, in her little baby mind (she's only 7 weeks folks), it must have gotten processed as "Tonight I am going to eat you baby Eva!" because her eyebrows got all scrunched up and she began to wail. Back to you mama Katie!


When we walked into Eva, I knew right away that it was a good pick. It had a dingy yellowish sign outside the unassuming front door, but once we stepped inside, it was bustling with servers rushing plates, laughing and chatty diners, and LOTS of people for its tiny square footage. It was clear that this was one of those trendy & hip places that not a lot of people know about (so exclusive), which always makes me a little wary to begin with (see Sammy's). We told the casually dressed hostess who came up to us that we needed a table for three, and she informed us that the wait would be between 45 minutes-1 hour, but that she would take our names & number down if we wanted to go grab drinks or something. Of course there would be no grabbing drinks for us, but we agreed to give her my number and she said she would call us when a table was available. 

This is where I would have done things differently. Instead of wandering outside in the cold with our measly jackets, we should have planned ahead and gone shopping at the Gateway or ice skating or something. There are loads of things to do nearby, but since we didn't really have a plan, we just kind of walked around for a while until our faces froze off and we decided to check back in with the restaurant. We kind of awkwardly stood in the way at the front of the restaurant (the entryway was only about 2 feet long) and it ended up being over and hour & a half until we were seated, but fortunately our stomachs were so frozen that we kind of had forgotten how hungry we were by 8:45....


We were seated at a table in the corner of the restaurant near the kitchen, where the overhead lamp light was burned out and it was all very dim. Normally I wouldn't really mind, except I was trying to take photos of the dishes and it was a little crammed. Our appetizer arrived quickly, and all complaints in our mind vanished.

I'm a huge Greek food lover -- we had Mediterranean fare at our wedding, and though my sister was so kind and thoughtful to grab a plate for me, apparently all of the spanakopita was already out before she could snag some for us. I knew we had to order it here so I could show Owen the wonderfulness of this flaky spinach-filled dish. The spanakopita served to us at Eva did not disappoint. The phyllo dough was crispy and flaky, perfectly enveloping a mixture of cooked flavorful spinach and spicy feta. An acidic balsamic glaze complemented the rich and warm flavors of the pastry's insides, and we couldn't get enough of it. Absolutely wonderful.


Jarom, my brother-in-law, was pleased to see all of the vegetarian options on the menu, and decided to go with the spicy chickpea dish with tomato sauce, basil, and cashew cream. The term spicy was no understatement -- this dish was hot! But the wonderful kind of hot, where it's surprisingly zippy while you are taking your bite, but your mouth isn't still burning after you finish your taste and it leaves you with a pleasant aftertaste. A unique and filling vegetarian dish that we would highly recommend -- Owen loved it so much, he finished what Jarom couldn't eat after wiping clean his own plate!


You're going to judge me for this one -- macaroni & cheese, Chelsey? Really? But lately I've had a craving for cheesy pasta that would not be satisfied with any ordinary boxed meal. This mac & cheese was mixed with fresh tomato, bacon and arugula, and was sandwiched between layers of perfectly crisped phyllo dough. Talk about comfort food to the most delightful extreme. Every bite was soft, warm, rich and inviting, and though I could feel the heavy cheese sauce adding inches to my waist with every luscious morsel, I couldn't stop myself. 


What? A dish that's not topped with chopped basil?? I know, you are shocked. Owen ordered the spinach & potato gnocchi that was served with parmesan, truffle oil, mushrooms, peas, and a white wine cheese sauce. "A flavor punch in the mouth" was how Owen described it. Though he personally found it a little too rich, I thought it was utterly decadent and perfect: soft pillowy gnocchi, smoky mushrooms that didn't make me want to gag (a big accomplishment), sweet crisp peas, vibrant green spinach, all mixed together with an intense and indulgent sauce. It doesn't really photograph well, but my was it delectable. 



 And to round out our meal, we sampled their chocolate pot de créme -- a perfect ending to our meal. The chocolate mousse base was thick, sweet, had the perfect consistency, and was rich enough to complement the light and fluffy cream on top. The fruit served along with it was dulcet and ripe, a perfect pairing. I was a little disappointed in the lack of flavor of the pistachio cookie in the center, but nothing could really ruin the purity of the chocolate base. I also would have preferred chopped mint rather than two leaves artfully placed, because although they look pretty, no one really wants a large mouthful of mint leaves.

What You Should Do: Go right now! But make sure to do it right -- have one person run into the restaurant and leave your name & number, and then go shopping or do something fun instead of wandering in the cold. There is a parking lot right across the street (be sure to bring cash for it, no cards accepted) so you'll be able to rush back when they call you, and you'll be able to enjoy your night of mouthwatering Mediterranean dishes!

Eva on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Have a Delicious Weekend

Hey everyone! Hope you have a delicious weekend, full of good things to eat. We're going to check out a few restaurants that have been on my list, and we'll be back on Monday to report! Look forward to an exciting and awesome giveaway coming your way next week, right here at eatbyu.com!

Friday, January 27, 2012

Nicolitalia Pizzeria (but not for the pizza!)

Where: Nicolitalia Pizzeria, 2295 N University Pkwy, Provo (across the street from the dollar theater)

Who Went: Chelsey, Owen, Devynne, Abby (Devynne's former roommate)

Number of Visits: 2

What We Ordered: Trip 1: 10 piece hot wings, The Stallion pizza. Trip 2: 10 piece hot wings, Margherita pizza, & Strada di Roma pizza

What It Cost: Trip 1: $22.07, Trip 2: 20.45 (we had a coupon for a free margherita pizza with purchase of other pizza)

What We Thought: 



My goodness. This photo can hardly do justice to the glorious flavor of these wings. They are perfect. They are spicy. They are juicy. They are just the right amount of greasy and messy. They are heaven on earth. Order them, and you'll never go back to any other type of wings. When Owen and I started eating these our first time, we ate them in complete silence, trying to partake of that delicious flavor as fast as we could without any distraction. Then we just looked at each other and said, "Wow." No other words can describe this amazingness. 

Also, I promise this is the last post you'll hear about wings for a while! I know you think I'm obsessed with them and that's all I eat (only 90% true), but I couldn't resist sharing these with you! You must know of their wonderfulness!


Needless to say, our hopes were pretty high when our pizza arrived.

We should have just stuck with the wings. 

We ordered the Stallion pizza -- Spinach, Mozzarella, "Gah-lic," Pepperoni, and Steak. Notice how I didn't say any type of sauce? Well, it didn't come with sauce. That was weird. And dry. And it was that day where I learned the difference between garlic and gah-lic (the terminology they use at Nicolitalia, since they're from Boston I guess?) Garlic is an herb that I love cooking with and using to enhance the flavor of many meals. It is awesome and I really enjoy the smell and taste. Gah-lic on the other hand, is a huge chunk of highly aromatic and robust garlic clove that clears your sinuses completely with the first bite and completely overpowers any other flavors that may be lurking on your pizza. Stay away from the gah-lic! All I could taste on this pizza was the gah-lic, and I'm pretty sure I will be safe from vampires for the rest of my life thanks to this dining experience. 

We went back another time with my sister and her roommate, mostly to get the wings, but also because we had a coupon and thought maybe we had missed out on something. We hadn't. Their margherita pizza was only so-so (go to Pizzeria 712 instead!), and the sauce on both of the pizzas was very flavorless. 

What You Should Do: Go right now -- but only for the wings!!! Stay away from the pizza and dangerous gah-lic and just be glad that this joint got one menu item right. Oh so right. 

Nicolitalia Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

Diego's Taco Shop

I wish I had known that I wanted to be a restaurant critic blogger my whole career here at BYU because then I probably would have had the foresight to take photos at every place I've ever eaten in the past three years. Sadly, I only had this revelation last week, so I do not have photographs of all of the meals we have partaken. Many places we are excited to try again, and this time I'll remember to tote along the camera -- but there are a few places that were either mediocre or horrible, and I don't really want to waste another dime there again. This is the story of one of those places.

Where: Diego's Taco Shop, 45 W 300 N, Provo (kind of near Smith's grocery store, hard to find, not worth it)

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Carne Asada burrito, 2 Al Pastor tacos

What It Cost: $6.93

What We Thought:


When I was in high school in Washington, I used to work at a fireworks stand in the summer. Classy, I know. There were two things that were incredibly awesome about this gig -- getting paid in cash and Super Burrito Express. This place was the ultimate when it comes to down & dirty Mexican food -- we're talking pulling a big slab of pork straight from the back of the scary white van where it probably wasn't even refrigerated. I probably caught at least 50 stomach viruses those summers, but it was so worth it. It was Super Burrito Express where I learned the magic of Jarritos and the wonder of the Al Pastor burrito.

When I heard about Diego's Taco Shop, and their famed hole-in-the-wall Mexican food, I began to dream again about the Al Pastor. I ordered Al Pastor tacos, and Owen went with his favorite, the Carne Asada burrito. We waited in anticipation (and in some dim, fluorescent lighting) and got our salsas - only 2 containers allowed per person! Stingy much?


Grave disappointment is only the tip of the iceberg of my feelings. My tacos were underseasoned, dry, and altogether wimpy. There was hardly any filling, and after inhaling them, I was left with the feeling, "Was that it?"

But at least my meal didn't make me want to retch in a nearby trash receptacle.

Owen's meal on the other hand...wow. We couldn't even finish it. The sauce that smothered the burrito literally tasted like Spagetti-O's sauce. Not a good combination with the leathery, super salty "steak" that filled the burrito. Next time I want to relive my childhood lunches, I'll skip the wait and spend the $1.50 at Smiths in the Chef Boyardee section.

What You Should Do: Avoid at all costs. Do not go here. Even if a really hot date asks you there and you don't want to offend him, just say no. Your stomach will thank you. Dear Provo, these are NOT real tacos. I actually haven't found a decent taco shop yet, but when I do, you will be the first to know!


Some people may say, "Oh you're too harsh! You've only been there once and you really should have ordered _____ instead." No. I don't care. One horrible experience is enough. There should never be any horrible experiences at a good restaurant.  

Diego's Taco Shop on Urbanspoon

Thursday, January 26, 2012

J Dawgs

Let me just begin this post with a huge disclaimer: I HATE HOTDOGS. I always have, all growing up. The idea of them grosses me out, the flavor of them grosses me out, and I'll only eat the breading if you force me to eat a corn dog. So when my then boyfriend/fiancee raved on and on about this hotdog joint that was out of this world, I just smiled and nodded and thought to myself "No way am I ever going to spend a single cent on any kind of hot dog. Not going to happen." But then somehow, magically, the very first J Dawg came into my life.

Where: J Dawgs, 858 N 700 E, Provo (just on the SE corner of campus)

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen, Monica & Devynne

Number of Visits: Too many to remember

What We Ordered: Beef Hot Dog, Polish Hot Dog, all with a variety of toppings

What It Cost: $3.00/dog ($4.00 for dog + drink)

What We Thought: 




This is me, the very first time I ever ate a J Dawg. It was at the Stadium of Fire pre-party hosted by Qualtrics (where my husband works, aka the coolest company eva) and we had free J Dawgs. That kind of pure joy cannot be faked my friends. Shock and awe. Those two words can barely graze the surface of how I felt. This was a truly eye-opening culinary experience, and I have been a J Dawg die-hard fan ever since.

This is a place that is famous for a good reason. Their food rocks, is cheap, and it rocks. Simple as that. Where can I even begin?


There are three important characteristics of a hotdog.

1. The Bun - I would eat these buns plain all day long. Soft, so fresh, and a light buttery flavor -- these are the perfect compliment to this wonderful masterpiece. They fold around the hotdog and toppings just right, but aren't too soft that they get soggy with the Special Sauce.

2. The Toppings - Though this location does not come equipped with the complex varieties that other hotdog joints may boast (i.e. Hot Dog King), it doesn't matter at all. They supply you with the freshest and best options to compliment this flavor sensation. I've tried all of the different toppings with all different combinations, and have found my favorite mix: smattering of fresh onions, 3-4 banana peppers (no more, no less), plenty of Special Sauce (this is basically your typical BBQ sauce, times a million) squeezed in along the sides and in the scored dog itself, and a pickle on the side to cleanse my palate. Some people make the mistake of ordering ALL of the toppings on their dog, especially since it does not cost more to get more toppings, but I do not recommend this. The flavor will overpower the simple wonderfulness of the hotdog, and you will wonder what all of the excitement is. I recommend trying a few different combinations of 3-4 toppings and then picking your favorite. You may even like it best plain! (just FYI: Owen's favorite combo right now is sauerkraut, onions, pepperoncini, and Special Sauce)




3. The Dog (or should I say "Dawg") - This was the best surprise of all. I had no idea a hotdog could be so savory, spicy, meaty, flavorful, transcendental, and perfect. This is high quality meat my friends, and even your typical hotdog hater like myself will be blown away. There is nothing about this that tastes cheap or plastic-y or rubbery (my usual complaints about dogs), and it is grilled to juicy perfection. They score the dogs with a criss-cross pattern on top, which allows for the flavor of the sauce and any other condiments you desire to penetrate deep into the meat and take your mouth on a miraculous journey. Do not miss out on this. It is so worth the journey -- oh wait! It's five feet away from campus! And it's so worth the price -- oh wait! It's only $3! It really doesn't get better than this.


One of many wonderful J Dawg experiences, with many more to come. 

What You Should Do: Go right now! Do not delay this experience any longer. If you haven't eaten here, you haven't truly lived (the BYU life anyway). They've opened a new shop on University Avenue that is a little less shack-like, more store-like, so hopefully we will go there next!

J Dawgs on Urbanspoon

Texas Roadhouse

Where: Texas Roadhouse, 1265 S State Street, Orem (right west of University Mall, follow the smell of meat...)


Who Went: Chelsey & Owen, for Owen's birthday


Number of Visits: 1


What We Ordered: Raspberry Smoothie, Hot Wings, Medium Rare Sirloin Steak, "Fall Off the Bone" Ribs


What It Cost: $35.00* (with tip)


What We Thought: 


I don't know what the deal is with Texas Roadhouse, but the lines there are insane -- longer than the wait for Toy Story Mania at Disney California Adventure, I swear. They are always SUPER busy, and like Outback Steakhouse, usually full of some pretty manly (hairy) men, which is always interesting.

When we finally got a seat (I hear you can make reservations now, which you must make if you want to go here at a normal hour!), we started chowing down on some peanuts they had there since we were so starving. We got some of their "famous" Texas Roadhouse rolls and honey butter -- Owen thought the honey butter was weird, and I thought the rolls were only so-so. I really think that their secret is to make you wait for at least an hour so that by the time you get any food, you think it is the most wonderful thing in the whole world because you've been starving (similar technique seen at Cheesecake Factory).

Since it was his birthday, we decided to get Owen a frozen raspberry lemonade. It was pretty good and very large, which was good since it was so pricey. Then we got hot wings since we looove hot wings, and they were your typical, not too spicy buffalo wings. Good amount of wing sauce, decent dipping sauce, not too dry -- but nothing that blows your mind. I got the "Fall off the Bone" babyback ribs with mashed potatoes. First off -- the potatoes were so loaded with sour cream and butter and FAT FAT FAT that you really couldn't tell that there was any potato in there, so order vegetables or something on the side! The ribs lived up to their name I guess -- they did fall off the bone, but since they were so overcooked (slow roasted for forever apparently), they were SUPER dry. The barbecue sauce they tried to coat it with did little to hide the dryness of the ribs, and I was pretty disappointed.

Owen ordered his steak medium rare. When we got it, and he cut into the steak, it was completely cooked and brown all the way through. This my friends is not medium rare. We told our server this problem, and she brought the cook out there to talk to us. The chef told us about how most people in Provo don't know how to order steak correctly, and they always complain about it being too raw, even though they ordered the meat that way. He was super nice though and cooked up another steak for Owen, and we got it on the house! Bottom line is...Texas Roadhouse = not such great food, but really good customer service.

It was also fun because I told the server that it was Owen's birthday, and she made him get up on this little horse mount and shout "Yee-Haw!" while others sang and danced around him. This was mostly for my enjoyment, and I very much enjoyed it. Plus we got a free birthday ice cream. Never a bad thing.

What You Should Do: Go if you have to. But I would recommend taking a little drive and going up to the Texas Roadhouse in Lehi -- I have heard from many that this more well-established site has much better food than our Orem version. And, learn how to order a steak and be sure to inform your server that you actually know what you're talking about, and you really do want that steak medium rare.



image source 

Texas Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sweet Tooth Fairy

Where: Sweet Tooth Fairy, 1227 S University Avenue, Provo (across the street from Provo Towncenter Mall)

Who Went: Owen & Chelsey

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cupcake & Raspberry Lemonade Cupcake

What It Cost: $5.02

What We Thought:



Oh the popular cupcake. How fun and cute and perfectly sized. Just enough sugary happiness for one. That was my mentality when I coerced Owen into taking me to The Sweet Tooth Fairy after a particularly excruciating midterm.

When we got to the cupcake shop, there was no one inside. We waited around in the awkwardly silent shop for a few minutes until the girl running the register finally came through the back door...oh sorry to interrupt, were you eating cupcakes back there? She kind of pouted while we looked at the different cupcake options...I guess it was like 8:30 but come on lady. A little customer service would have been nice. We made our choices as quickly as we could and then decided to get them to-go because we felt awkward just eating our two cupcakes alone in that shop. The individual carrying cases for the cupcakes were hands-down the best part of the whole cupcake experience.



The cupcakes were average -- a little dry and not really that creative. My raspberry cupcake was chewy and not moist at all, though I did like the tartness of the lemon frosting and the fact that you could actually see raspberry seeds in the cupcake itself. Plus, let's be honest - I like pink. Owen's was your typical pumpkin chocolate chip with cream cheese frosting. The only problem with this was that they were also average size -- three bites and they were gone. More than 80 cents a bite? I don't know if it's worth it.

What You Should Do: Give it a try. You'll probably get a more friendly typical bubbly-cupcake-selling-BYU-girl than I did, and that really would have helped the experience. Personally, I'm more of a Cocoa Bean cupcake fan, but if you happen to be craving a sweet treat and you have lots of cash and you're near the Provo Towncenter Mall, then go and try it. I think I may go back and try some of their macarons or cookies -- I hear the black & white cookie is pretty darn awesome.


  The Sweet Tooth Fairy on Urbanspoon

Awful Waffle


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Where: Awful Waffle, 815 N 700 E, Provo (just kitty corner from JDawgs)

Who Went: Owen & Chelsey, then Chelsey, Monica, & Devynne

Number of Visits: 2

What We Ordered: Trip 1: 2 Belgian waffles, one with kiwis, blueberries, whipped cream & syrup, the other with strawberries, Oreos, Nutella, and whipped cream. Trip 2: 1 crepe with "European Specaloos," bananas, & cream cheese frosting, and one waffle with strawberries, caramel, and whipped cream

What It Cost: $10.75 & $10.62

What We Thought: 


I feel like Belgian waffles and crepes are the new "hot thing," maybe "the new cupcake" or frozen yogurt if you will. Every time I blink a new crepe shop pops up, and of course we feel like we should try it. Who doesn't love breakfast for dinner (or lunch) (or midday snack...)?


The waffles were different than what I was expecting. They were pretty dense, and quite chewy. The toppings were fresh and delicious, but not cheap. If I was going to go again, I would bring my own syrup (since it is not worth the add-on 50 cent price, and they are very skimpy with the syrup), and I would bring my own milk since they charge $1.50 for a tiny cup, when a whole gallon of milk practically costs $1.50.



With this waffle, I made the mistake of thinking that the melted Nutella would sub in for the syrup. Not so. It was very dry and difficult to eat since I only had 4 oz. of milk to wash it down. At least it was filling since it was so dense!


The crepes were alright - I wasn't too impressed by the fancy Specaloos spread that they get imported from Europe. It is a spread with the consistency of peanut butter that is made from Biscoff cookies, and they even sell it at places like Macey's and Winco now! The overall combination that I ordered was way too sweet, even for me, but it was my own fault for choosing such a saccharine combination of flavors. I wish they had flavor suggestions or something so that crepe rookies like myself won't make the same mistake.



What You Should Do: Go if you have to. And if you're hungry and have brought your own form of liquid to wash everything down. And if you bring your own real plate. They serve the waffles on styrofoam plates and I have really weird feelings about cutting into styrofoam for some reason. But what you should really do is learn how to make your own crepes - they aren't too hard, and future dates/spouses will be impressed by your skill (I like to add a little vanilla and cinnamon to them - as do the owners of the Awful Waffle). Oh, and go to Winco and buy your own Biscoff spread - it's all the rage these days.

Awful Waffle on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two Jack's Pizza

One thing you will also learn about me as this blog progresses is that among my various food obsessions, I have a certain passion for hot wings. Now this will probably degrade your opinion of my culinary expertise, but are you really going to tell me that hot wings do not taste good? I'm not here to talk about what restaurant has the most trendy dishes or adheres closest to the most current food philosophy. I'm here to talk about food that tastes good. And hot wings just happen to be one of those things (usually).

Where: Two Jack's Pizza, 80 W Center Street, Provo (just a little west of ComedySportz)

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Two 8 in pizzas -- one Hawaiian and one sausage with fresh (I mean, not cooked) tomatoes, 1 side of cheesesticks, 2 sodas (it was a combo special meal), 5 piece hot wings

What It Cost: $17.22

What We Thought: 

They recently opened, and to keep up our pizza fanatic title, we knew we had to check out Two Jack's on Center. The overall service was decent for a smallish pizza joint (though the cashier was really confused when I asked for fresh tomatoes on my pizza instead of cooked..."Oh, you mean uncooked?" Yes...) but we were a little disappointed in the number of options. Pretty much all of the pizzas are design-your-own, and they don't have any fun flavor combinations for you to try. The only two "specials" are just pizzas with different sauce -- one BBQ and one alfredo, both with just chicken and mozzarella. Not that special if you ask me.




Even though it looked like there were only two people in the kitchen, our food came pretty quickly and was hot. The cheesesticks were delectable, but can you really go wrong with cheese, bread and garlic? I don't think so.





My pizza, with the sausage and tomato was decent. The marinara sauce was richly flavored and well balanced by the cheese. I think the only reason I sort of enjoyed the one piece I was able to eat was because I just picked a good topping combination.





Owen on the other hand was much more disappointed. The good news was that they put plenty of pineapple on...the bad news was that it just didn't tasted that great. Meh meh meh all around.


I really hoped that the wings would make up for it, just like they did at Nicolitalia's for me, but when we got them, all I could think was, "Wow. Dry." They tasted better than they look, but were very much fried, pretty heavy, and lacking exciting sauce. 

What You Should Do: Go if you have to. The pizza was only mediocre, but if you get invited to go there on an awkward date or something, you won't have to worry about hair in your food or throwing up mid-meal or anything. Probably. The only thing that was remotely interesting about this pizza joint was the other restaurant guests.


Yes that guy is wearing a raccoon tail. There was like a whole...clan of them. The only memorable feature about this place. 

Two Jack's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sammy's Cafe

One reason I really wanted to start this blog is because I am tired of reviewers always agreeing with what's popular. What kind of food critic just agrees with what everyone's saying on Urbanspoon or something else? Some restaurants are popular because they are actually good. But there are a few restaurants that are popular for no good reason at all -- they are just trendy and receive a lot of hype, but are either overpriced, or have poor service, or just aren't worth it. And I want to warn you about these ones so you don't get your hopes dashed like I did! Here is one of those hope-dashing experiences...

Where: Sammy's Cafe, 27 N 100 W, Provo (just off of Center street, between Univ Ave and Freedom)

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Raspberry Cheesecake Shake, Sweet Potato Fries, The Promo Burger, El Paso "Burger" (WARNING: They sneak chicken burgers in there on the menu and you may not even notice it, just like me, and you will be very sad when what you ordered is not actually a burger, but a sissy sandwich instead)

What It Cost: $19.50

What We Thought: 

Let me just say that I was really excited to try this place. BYU students are crazy about a few restaurants -- J Dawg's, Cafe Rio, The Pie (even though it's in SLC...), and Sammy's is one of those few. We went on a pretty warm day in the summer, which was the first of our mistakes. The tiny place was PACKED -- even the crappy picnic tables they set up outside were full, and it was way hot in there. I'm pretty sure that the place would not pass general health code standards because while we were waiting for our food, we noticed fruit flies cruising lazily from the garbage can (which was open and right next to where we were supposedly going to eat) to the kitchen and to the restaurant guests. Not very appetizing.


We started out with a Raspberry Cheesecake shake, since they are "famous" for their pie shakes. What an underwhelming experience. The only thing different between this shake and something you might pick up from McDonald's is the price. There was no evidence that this beverage once was a pie, and it was super runny and overall disappointing for the $4.29 price tag. We slurped it up in 15 seconds and then proceeded to wait in the fly corner for another 15 minutes until some more food was ready.


Then we got our fries, which I fully blame for Owen's hatred of sweet potato fries (fortunately, this was recently remedied by Guru's...more on that later!). These were too thin, too crunchy, and too flavorless. The fry sauce was okay, nothing special but not gag-inducing, but Owen refused to eat any more of the fries, much to my great sadness. I am a huge sweet potato fry lover, and this was Owen's first time having them. Bummer.



Owen ordered "The Promo" burger, which was pretty much your basic bacon cheeseburger. Meh. Everything tasted fresh at least, but nothing blew my mind. The burger itself was a little overdone and dry, but it was alright. And it was served with sweet pickles -- when will restaurants learn that EVERYONE PREFERS DILL? Sorry, personal vendetta there...



And I got El Paso burger. Like I mentioned previously, I had a blonde moment and didn't realize this was a chicken burger, so I was pretty put out when it arrived. For a chicken burger it was fairly decent I guess -- the avocado mash on it compensated for the lack of flavor in the chicken, and I really wish I could have tasted that pepperjack cheese I paid for. 

What You Should Do: Go if you have to. It's not BAD really, it's just not that great. Just because you throw the word "Famous" in front of your restaurant's advertising campaign doesn't make you have good food, I'm sorry. I think people just go there for the hole-in-the-wall, I-went-there-before-anyone-knew-about-it appeal, and sometimes people just think food tastes better if it's more expensive. If you want a pie shake that actually tastes like it contains pie, drive down the road to The Malt Shoppe instead and order the Jumble Berry Pie shake. Nothing else on their menu is really that spectacular, but the Jumble Berry Pie shake is a diamond in the rough my friends. 

Sammy's Café on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 23, 2012

Red Iguana

Though the primary goal of this blog is to focus on restaurants near BYU, there are a few places outside of Utah Valley that I feel compelled to share with you. If it's within an hour & a half drive and I think it's awesome or horrible, it's going to show up here!


Where: Red Iguana, 736 W North Temple Drive, Salt Lake City (just west of the LDS temple and Gateway mall)

Who Went: Chelsey, Owen, Monica (my lovely mother), Devynne (my sista), Jarom (my brotha-in-law)

Number of Visits: 3

What We Ordered: Enchiladas Suizas, Friday Night Special (Mango Enchiladas), Tacos don Ramon, Carnitas, Enchiladas Poblanas, Puntas de Filete a la Norteña, Shredded Beef Burritos, Horchata (every time), Fried Ice Cream, Peach Virgin Margarita

What It Cost: $40, $35, $47 (with tips added)

What We Thought:

My mom kind of has an obsession with the Food Network, and so when she told me that Guy Fieri came to Salt Lake and raved about this place, I knew we had to go. We ended up planning to go there on the night of our 1st anniversary (yay!) and we loved it so much, that we went back the next day for lunch! Seriously. I don't have pictures of all of the food we've eaten there because well, we've eaten a lot of things there. 

I don't really know how to put it better than this, but...The Red Iguana is THE BEST. If you've never been there and you are a fan of Mexican food at all, do not delay your visit here any longer. The Red Iguana is best known for their complex moles. 

When you go there (which hopefully will be tomorrow), be sure to ask for a mole sampler plate. On this plate they will dish out a small portion of each of their 7 (8 if you're on a Friday) different moles that you can try with tortilla chips to see what's your favorite. Mole is a Mexican sauce that usually involves Mexican chocolate (though not always) and lots of different spices and ingredients. And it is wonderful. 

Here are some of the images of their most popular dishes. And let me tell you, these babies are popular for a very good reason

 Enchiladas Suizas: Enchiladas with avocados & sour cream with mole poblano and shredded jack cheese. This is exactly how enchiladas should be -- wonderfully flavorful sauce and lots of it, and honestly I could eat this forever.


Puntas de Filete a la Norteña -- this is what Owen ordered the first time we dined there. This is not a dish for the faint-hearted! The Red Iguana is not skimpy on portion sizes, so be warned! This dish was full of flavor and spice - the meat is cooked with bacon and then it is all grilled together similar to a fajita. Served in one of their top notch mole sauces, a fantastic choice for a hungry night!



The Tacos don Ramon. I have painfully pleasurable dreams about these. Now I have to throw out a little disclaimer - I was hesitant to try these at first because I had a bad history with chorizo growing up. The one time my dad made chorizo & eggs was hands-down the most disgusting, vomit-inducing meal he ever served us (and probably the ONLY disgusting meal he ever served us), and I haven't really brought myself around to trying chorizo since that time I was 11. Oh am I glad that I got over that inhibition just for these tacos! These tacos are the best kind of greasy you'll experience, and the avocado-lime sauce that accompanies them perfectly balances the flavor. Eat these or else you will not be a complete person.

I would definitely recommend the horchata (my previous love for this amazing Mexican drink expressed here), and I got the peach virgin margarita which was pretty good -- even though it looked small, it lasted the whole meal which was nice. P.S. Free refills on the horchata, so it's definitely worth it! The fried ice cream was tasty, but nothing spectacular, so don't worry if you miss it. We've also tried some other dishes, all of which did not disappoint!

Carnitas:

Juicy, not too sweet, served with corn or flour tortillas. Amazing.


Enchiladas Poblanas: 


You really can't go wrong with any type of enchilada here.


Shredded Beef Burrito:


I'm not a huge beef fan, but Owen liked them well enough. However, if you're only going to go once or twice, we'd recommend getting one of the earlier-mentioned dishes. Their chile verde is also reportedly to-die-for.



What You Should Do: GO RIGHT NOW! But only if it is an "off-hour." We've heard rumors that this place can get insanely busy, and since they don't do reservations, you can end up waiting up to 45 minutes. However, this didn't happen to us any of the 3 times we went, so maybe we just lucked out! But to ensure a perfect Mexican dining experience, try going for a late lunch or an early dinner. There is enough food to fill you up for two meals worth, so it works out great! This is a restaurant that totally lives up to the hype, if you ask me!

Red Iguana on Urbanspoon

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