Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Laura's

Where: Laura's, 664 N Freedom Blvd, Provo

Who Went: Chelsey & Owen

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Chicken & Green Chile Tamale, 4 Tacos -- Barbacoa, Carnitas, Chicken, and one that was fried...can't remember the flavor!

What It Cost: $9.68

What We Thought: 

Laura's is the perfect place to bring that (potentially annoying) return missionary friend who always loves to show off their funnily-accented Spanish. Most of the menu is not in English and the only person speaking English at the restaurant was the kid who was working the register, but if you can figure out what it is you want to order, you can get delicious results! Between Owen's Portuguese and my high school Spanish classes, we were able to order a variety of tacos with a fair amount of confidence in what we were going to get!



We started out with our tamale -- this is where your Spanish speaking ability comes in handy because they just shout out the orders as they come up and you have to remember what you ordered! This tamale was definitely the best I've ever had in Utah County...I've recently become obsessed with tamales, and this soft, flavorful and super cheap tamale will definitely satisfy my cravings! This one was stuffed to the brim with filling and was not dry at all. Perfection.


They have a little salsa bar near the register where you can customize your hot and fresh tacos. Though not as extensive as some places like Tarahumara, their salad bar had all the basics you needed to make these tacos perfect. They were double-lined with soft corn tortillas which helped to keep all the goods in, and each taco presented a unique and flavor-packed taste. The carnitas taco (or was it barbacoa?) was smothered in a delicious sauce, and we had a hard time only eating half of each in order to share because they were  just too good! Rich authentic flavors, fresh preparation, and excellent seasoning all contributed to the wonderful fillings of these tacos.


I can't remember what flavor this fried taco was, but there wasn't a single flavor that we didn't like, so I'm sure it was delicious as well. The fried tortilla was a little messier to eat so I'd probably stick with soft ones in the future, but it was still fantastic. Normally I turn my nose up at any type of iceberg lettuce, but theirs was so fresh and crisp that it added a nice crunch that I don't think you'd get with other types of lettuce! I'd definitely recommend adding cilantro and a fresh squeeze of lime to all your tacos.

What You Should Do: Umm....did you see that below $10 total cost? Yeah, this place is CHEAP. And GOOD. Two of my favorite things :) Fortunately it is just outside of quick walking distance from my house, or else I am pretty sure I would go order a tamale every day. And the best part is that it wouldn't even break the bank! The only challenging part about this restaurant comes to those of us who are not very fluent in Spanish since the majority of the menu is not in English. Here are a couple of words to give you a head start:

  • Pollo = Chicken
  • Barbacoa = Barbecue
  • Carnitas = Pork
  • Lengua = Tongue
  • Al Pastor = Pork with Chiles and Pineapple
  • Pescado = Fish
  • Carne Asada = Beef
  • Camarones = Shrimp
That's all I can remember, but if you're feeling adventurous, order something new! We were pleasantly surprised by everything we got, but make sure to write it down and remember so that when they call up your order, you know to pick it up! Or just bring that return-missionary friend (you all know who I'm talking about...)
Read other reviews here:
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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

DBoy's BBQ & Grill

Where: DBoy's BBQ & Grill, 294 N State Street, Orem

Who Went: Owen & Chelsey

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Spicy Sausage Sandwich and Fries, Barbecue Chicken with Baked Beans and Potato Salad

What It Cost: ~$20

What We Thought:

Every time we've passed this restaurant in the past, Owen's thought that it was a jewelry store because of the diamond on the front door! But when I got a coupon for DBoy's, I was able to convince him that they served barbecue not baubles, and we decided to give it a try. The first thing that impressed me with DBoy's was their unique menu and centrally-located smoker. All of there meats are prepared daily in the restaurant, and if you can't make up your mind, the owner will give you more details on the food and may even let you sample some! They had some fun choices that strayed from your typical BBQ fare - mostly focusing on Greek food, like gyros.



Owen ordered a sandwich with sliced and sauced sausage inside a toasted bun. It was different than anything I've ever had, and despite the difficulty to eat, was pretty tasty. The bun was perfection, and we really enjoyed the fresh flavor of these crispy fries - they were just the right width for me! I don't know if I'd order this as a sandwich again because the meat pieces were too big and kept falling out, but it still tasted good.


I definitely enjoyed my chicken, which was barbecued on the bone and seasoned to perfection. The meat fell easily from the bone and I gave up using a fork after five minutes in and just went for it! The baked beans were piping hot and had some unique flavors, and the potato salad (which is not easily visible in this photo -- it's that bright stuff in the back!) had a bit of a Greek flair and was surprisingly good. The only thing I wished was that I had gotten more of the potato salad...it seemed like a rather small side dish compared to the baked beans and fries that Owen received. It was also served with a large slice of garlic toast, which was a nice touch.

What You Should Do: If you're in the mood for some unique, good-portioned, and decently priced barbecue food, you should definitely head over to DBoy's! It was not very busy so there was very little wait, which was surprising for food this delicious :)
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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Aristo's

Where: Aristo's, 224 S 1300 E, Salt Lake City

Who Went: Chelsey

Number of Visits: 1

What I Ordered: Orzo Pasta Salad & Regular Gyro

What It Cost: $13.73

What I Thought:

Just off the corner of the University of Utah campus, Aristo's provides delicious selections of Greek fare that are infinitely superior to anything you'd find in the Student Union! I meandered over here for a solo lunch one day and was pleasantly surprised with the results.



I ordered a gyro, which could come with a variety of different sides, including this orzo pasta salad. I am so glad I chose it over fries or something - it was amazing! I loved the rich potent flavors, adorable presentation, and it was enough food to be a meal on its own! I've been trying to recreate this at home with little success - my only hope will be to go to Aristo's and order it again and again.


The gyro was simple and superb. It was wrapped in the best, softest, most flavorful and tender pita I've ever partaken of, and the meat was cooked to perfection with just a little mix of onions and fresh tzatziki sauce. My only complaint would be that all of the delicious tzatziki sauce was piled towards the front of the gyro, which would leave the bottom half rather dry if you didn't think to mix it all in before eating it. But if you spread the tzatziki sauce, then you're golden. Definitely the best gyro I've ever had, and I'm definitely going to have to take Owen here someday since he's the biggest gyro-lover I know!

What You Should Do: If you happen to find yourself in enemy territory ;) then you have to give Aristo's a try! They have some lovely indoor and outdoor seating, wonderful service, and amazing Greek food.

Read other reviews here:
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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Screen Door

Where: Screen Door, 2337 East Burnside Street, Portland, Oregon

Who Went: Chelsey, Devynne, Lyvia, Charles, Quinn, Mom

Number of Visits: 1

What It Cost: A lot....$100+ (gratuity included)

What We Ordered: Blackberry Lemonade, Fried Chicken, BBQ'd Beef Brisket, Pecan-Encrusted Trout, Carolina Pulled Pork Sandwich, Two Screen Door Plates - one with Mac & Cheese, Thin-Sliced Fried Pork Chops, and Red Beans & Rice, the other with Smoked Chicken and Andouille Jambalaya, Fried Catfish, and French Fries, Creole Pecan Pie, Ban-offee Pie, Mississippi Mud Pie, Hummingbird Cake, Upside Down Rhubarb Cake, and Strawberry Shortcake

What We Thought:

Of course I typically write reviews for restaurants around Utah County, but I thought I'd throw in an extra review this week for a fun out-of-town visit I've taken recently. For my birthday at home in the Pacific Northwest, I requested one of the most talked-about Portland restaurant, the Screen Door. This was before my experience with chicken and waffles at Station 22, and the Screen Door receives a lot of press for their famed chicken and waffles, as well as their famed line out the door! They are only open for Saturday and Sunday brunch and dinner everyday at 5:30, so we got there around 5 to start waiting in line! There were already people there of course, but at least we were let in with the first round of diners, even with our large party. I was impressed with how quickly they got our food to us, even though the restaurant was absolutely packed and incredibly busy. Unfortunately, when we looked at the menu, I discovered that the chicken and waffles are only served during the weekend brunch! NOOOOOOOO! I decided I would settle for the regular fried chicken and just overly compensate with tons of desserts. (I also thought it was hilarious that in addition to their traditional Southern-style plenty-of-fried food menu they had a separate menu with organic and vegan options...so Portland).


I started with the blackberry lemonade, which was heavenly sweet and flavorful. We were lucky enough to get to sit outside with the perfect Portland weather and missed out on the hustle and bustle of the indoor restaurant, which I was kind of grateful for. It was nuts in there!


I staked the first claim on the fried chicken, and being the annoying restaurant blogger that I am, I i̶n̶s̶i̶s̶t̶e̶d̶ encouraged everyone else to try something different. I absolutely loved my fried chicken - divine crispy buttermilk exterior with moist, juicy chicken inside. It is definitely at least 10 degrees better than that at Station 22....sorry. It was served with mashed potatoes which were decent and some collard greens - turns out I'm not a huge collard greens fan. But nothing on the side mattered, the real star of this plate was the huge pieces of fried chicken, and they really shone. There was so much chicken on this plate that I even gave in and shared some with everyone at the table, despite the fact that I'd really rather have eaten it all myself!


The Screen Door Plates are a fun choice for those of us who can't ever make up their mind about what to order - you get to choose three separate "sides," most of which could really be a complete dish on their own! On this plate, I was actually a little disappointed with the red beans and rice - it's one of my favorite Southern dishes, and this one was just under the expectations I had for flavor. The macaroni and cheese was good of course - cheesy, oozy, intense, and with a tasty crunchy top crust. And the fried pork was a little dry but had a nice salty crispy profile and it was all an overall enjoyable plate.


The pecan-encrusted trout was probably our least favorite plate - the fish had a little bit of a dirty taste and the pecans did not add much of a flavor-punch. The potatoes and asparagus were fine but a little boring, and there wasn't enough sauce to add enough pizzazz to the trout.


The beef brisket on the other hand, was absolutely delicious. Huge slabs of tender meat, doused in a sweet and spicy sauce was complimented with twirls of crunchy fried onions. Yum! Devynne ordered this plate and it was hard to pry a single bite from her, but I greatly enjoyed the little taste she spared :) The potato salad was a nice refreshing touch to the savory meat, and there were some forgettable greens that upped the healthiness factor at least.


Our second Screen Door Plate was ordered by someone who's not actually part of my immediate family, so I tried not to be too awkward about wanting to try everything, but he was surprisingly compliant. He greatly enjoyed the fried catfish and I was impressed with the jambalaya - since I'm not a huge shrimp fan, I thought the slightly different combination of meats was a delightful change.


This pulled pork sandwich was probably my second favorite dish that we ordered - I've never had my coleslaw actually piled on top of the sandwich, and it has changed my life! Now I always slap some slaw on top of my pulled meat sandwiches. It is so good!!! The pork was tangy and delicious, and some of the best peppery coleslaw I've ever had on a toasted tasty bun. If I ever could convince myself not to order some of that amazing fried chicken, this would be an excellent second choice.


Now on to desserts! We went a little crazy and ordered every.single.dessert on the menu! They just all sounded so good that we couldn't exclude any of them...well, we were going to say no to the strawberry shortcake, but we just couldn't leave it out. They brought out this Ban-offee Pie to me with a little birthday candle, oh-so-festive. I've never had Ban-offee Pie before - apparently it is a traditional British dessert, and it is a dessert that I am definitely going to add into my rotation! A crispy shortbread crust, tender bananas mixed with delicious toffee, all topped with a caramel-infused whipped cream. AMAZING! I may need to move back to Portland just so I can eat this EVERY SINGLE DAY!


This was the Mississippi Mud Pie, and honestly, it was gone between Charles and my brother before I could even get a bite! I was lucky to even get a picture...I'll take that as a good thing :)


The pecan pie was cute, but a little too much crust and not enough filling for me...though still delicious.


We probably should have just said no to the strawberry shortcake. You know, I've never really had a strawberry shortcake that I've been super impressed by. With this one, the biscuit was too dry and crumbly, and there were not enough strawberries or sweetness. Definitely our least favorite of the desserts.


This cake definitely made up for it though! A mix between a carrot cake and pineapple cake, this Southern classic with cream cheese frosting was absolutely delectable. I hate raisins and love pineapple, so this baby was right up my alley. In fact, I don't think I'll ever be able to have carrot cake without pineapple again! It was just too darn good this way.


Finally (I know, you thought it would never end) was the upside down rhubarb cake. Not too much to say here - the toasted almonds were a nice touch and the cake had a good flavor and texture, but I really could have gone for more fruit in the cake itself. The rhubarb flavor was more of an accent than the leading role in this cake for us.

What You Should Do: Well, if you ever find yourself in the Portland Oregon area, I'd definitely recommend going there! But if you don't mind doing me a small favor, try to go for brunch and then report back to me if the chicken and waffles are worth all the hype (and the line out the door and around the block)! There were a couple of misses in our meal, but probably just because I forced everyone to try something different - if I was a little nicer and less selfish (hey, it was my birthday at least), then probably everyone would have ordered the fried chicken and we all would have gone home as happy as me!
Read other reviews here:
Screen Door on Urbanspoon
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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Yuki Shaved Ice

Where: Yuki Shaved Ice, 1796 N 950 W, Provo

Who Went: Chelsey, Michelle & Ashley

Number of Visits: 1

What We Ordered: Three Smalls - Nectarine and Lime, Avocado with Sweetened Condensed Milk, Strawberry and White Peach

What It Cost: $3.25 each

What We Thought:

I know, I know, it's technically October already but hey, the high for Provo today is almost 80 degrees, so I don't think that going out for some shaved ice is out of the question! People eat frozen yogurt all year long after all, so I thought I'd squeeze this one while the weather is still warm.

I previously wrote a loving review of the classic Hokulia Shave Ice right near BYU, and I still believe that they are my favorite shaved ice spot for traditional taste and cheap prices. However, if you are in the mood to spend a little extra and try something new, Yuki Shaved Ice is producing "artisan" shaved ice right on the corner of Mountain West Burrito.


Originally when I saw this little shop pop up, I rolled my eyes at the term "artisan" - it seems to be such a hot word right now and people are throwing artisan onto everything these days. However, Yuki seemed to live up to their claim, producing flaky delicious ice with made-from-scratch syrups. Yep, their syrups are actually made from real fruit (and some vegetables!), not just a crazy mix of artificial flavorings! They have a range of seasonal syrup flavors, including some exciting types like avocado, beet, and I'm pretty sure I even saw jalapeƱo there once!


The flavors were very fresh and really tasted like they were really fruit once upon a time. They will offer you sweetened condensed milk for free, or you can pay a little extra to get some vanilla ice cream in the center. I thoroughly enjoyed my nectarine flavor, and everyone else was impressed with how fresh the flavors were. The avocado flavor even had that thick creamy texture you would expect from a syrup made from avocados!


They are much smaller portion sizes than Hokulia and I think to be fully satisfied I would want the larger size next time. The wooden spoons were a nice nostalgic touch for me, reminiscent of those little orange creamsicle ice cream dishes, but the paper bowl it was served in was weird to me and somehow I felt like it affected the flavor.

What You Should Do: I would definitely give them at least one try - they truly live up to their "artisan" claim, making fresh syrups from real seasonal fruit. Their portion sizes are definitely smaller and more expensive, but worth it for the exceptional treat every now and then!
Read other reviews here:
Yuki Shaved Ice on Urbanspoon
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