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Restaurant lunch highlights:

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Tamal

Tomatillo's, corn stew compliment tamales

TAMALhorseABy Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Talking about a special, unique lunch treat, a trip to Tamal's on downtown S. Main St. surprises the GLOB Master with unique, Mexican flavor profiles in a good, cheap lunch of entrees like nowhere else in town.

Not only that GLOBers you are getting this home cooked meal from mama Rachel Iannelli's Mexican kitchen with a smile and a serious need to make you a happy customer. I was lucky thinking veggie tamales with two of three Tamal Daily Specials fell in Meatless Monday category with THE VEG, and the O-T-P sounding really delicious:

zzGLOBbullet THE VEG consisted of poblano peppers, cheddar cheese and tomatoes wrapped into an amazing masa harina corn meal casing that scream tomatillo sauce. Which is a good thing because the homemade sauce is incredible on any food entrée I can think of .

zzGLOBbullet I was excited about trying the Olive, Tomato, Potato (O-T-P) tamale. The bitter flavors of the olives sound like an interesting, inviting partnering with the mild tomato, and potato combination. I was correct. The bitter bite of olive mixed in with the tomato, potato and tomatillo sauce was incredibly good. YUM!

 

menuBRDsides

The Tamal tamales are reasonably priced at $3. That allowed me to feel good about ordering the home made corn stew

 

CornStew4ho

The delightful prize of my Mexican meal was the 'Esquites' Corn Stew with cream and lime ($3.00). OMG! The freshly shucked corn happily intermingling with the tomatoes was amazing. Fresh tasting, pronounced flavors in the corn and tomatoes the spices in the broth made the GLOB Master sit up straighter with copious appreciation.

The crema sauce mentioned above is very good. Lunch Outers have told me the house mole, is equally fabulous with pungent flavors and textures. Built please allow me to make the case for the Tamal Tomatillo Sauce. The tomatillo pepper is such a unique flavor standing all on its lonesome. The way the pepper combines with other spices bumps up the lunch plate partnership in this Mexican lunch is spectacular.

The GLOB Master will never give up his Tamal tomatillo sauce. Now, if mama Rachel could bottle that sauce. . .

The Pluses and Minuses of the Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop:

Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop (+) indicators: Tmatillo sauce, extraordinary cord stew

Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop (-) indicators: The GLOB Master woud like am American soda available for lunch.

 

 

TAMALpoblano2

Unique sides take Tamal center stage

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

It was a hot tamale lunch at Tamal's with Gainesville Lunch Out Blog Content Editor, Lynn Dirk, and Healthy Eating Columnist and UF Assistant Professor, Michelle Cardel. Michelle was excited as it was her first Tamal experience, and Lynn was contemplating giving the Tamal Spicy Cucumber on a Stick a try. The GLOB Master was thinking tomatillo salsa would make a nice accompaniment to the mild corn meal shells encasing fresh, nothing-but-Mexican flavors, and the side order of black beans.

For your lunch time eatification, Tamal Chef Rachel Iannelli and the Tamal cooking team fly by the seat of their chinos and come up with their tamale choices in the morning and post them on their FaceBook page. Between the three of us we ordered all three tamales available:

CUKEstickzzGLOBbullet The Veg tamale that consisted of poblano chili peppers, tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. I added a generous addition of a fabulous tasting homemade tomatillo salsa. MAGNIFICO!

zzGLOBbullet The Chorizo+Potato tamale that Michelle ordered really looked good, however I showed good restraint and stayed away from the diced potatoes.

zzGLOBbullet The Green Mole Chicken tamale was picture perfect with large chunks of chicken slathered with a tomatillo sauce.

Lynn and Michelle both tried the Tamal Cucumber on a Stick. This is a popular Mexican street food style where a piece of fruit or a veggie is coated in lime juice and then dredged in a mild spice mix. Tamal's spice mix on the cucumber is fantastic – it is a startling combination of tartness from the lime, complex flavor from the spice mix that is not hot at all, and refreshing crunchiness from the cucumber.

Two tamales and a Tamal side order make a good sized lunch. The old Professional Eater in me was really trying to talk me into eating a third tamale, however I abstained thanks to the black bean side order.

 

tamalSOUPmc2

The surprising lunch time winner was the Tamal Esquite –a cup of delicious fresh cut corn off the cob stewed in a mild cilantro broth, topped with special crema, and a squeeze of lime – the flavors of all melded beautifully in a dish that captures all the primary non-meat ingredients of great Mexican food. CARUMBA!

Lynn was very disappointed there was no mole that day and she hopes that is just because it wasn't on the day's menu. The line of people was out the door so Lynn didn't want to interrupt Rachel to hear whether this was a permanent thing or not. Last time she was at Tamal she had the mole and couldn't stop raving about it. Instead I shared some of my tomatillo sauce with her so she could sauce up her tamale, which she very much enjoyed, except the tomatillo sauce is cold unlike the warm mole. Still, she loved her veggie tamale. And she said she's going back!

 

LUNCHline

 

 

 

TAMALtoppings

Flavors abound in corn meal casings

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

TAMALsfI have had a serious love affair with Latin American cuisine my entire adult life. When I came to school in Gainesville one of my first, new experiences was the Taco Bell on W. University Ave. They made – and still do, sort of -- delicious beef burritos with a sauce that was new to me called green sauce. Green sauce can be many things to a food lover. To the GLOB Master a delicious tomatillo sauce enhances anything I am eating.

As I prefer the crunch of a hard shell taco and the wonderfulness of chili rellenos, tamales have generally flown under my radar screen, but with a new tamale restaurant in town, I looked up tamale on the web and found a good, short history of tamales on the Austin Times website:

TAMALtamale2TAMALES can be traced back to pre-Columbian history, as early as 7000 BC, when Aztec women served as battle cooks. A portable yet sustainable food was needed, and tamales could be made ahead of time, packed, and warmed as needed. Wrappings varied from cornhusks to soft tree bark to edible leaves such as those from avocado and banana trees. Even fabric was sometimes used. Today, the most common variety is a tamal composed of masa (hominy flour dough) spread on a corn shuck and filled with either chicken, pork, beef, green chile, cheese, or, more recently, vegetables.

I was feeling like the GLOB's new Eating Adventurer (missing Melissa Kahan :( when I went to TAMAL, Gainesville's first exclusive tamale-only food stand located in the South Main Arts District in the newly-named Power District Development area near the South Main Street fire station.

TAMALrachelHORSEnick

Tamal is a family-owned business with Rachel Lannelli, her husband Nicholas, and her son Cecil manning the Mexican street food lunch stop. Rachel is Tamal's head cook and menu coordinator. Nicholas rolls tamales and manages the front-of-the-house, and Cecil, an Eastside High School culinary student, is TAMAL's part-time prep cook.

The bright, clean, airy, windows-all-around lunch area was a perfect setting for a tamale experience.

TAMALcustomersRachel

"Tamal is like a food truck with no wheels Mike," Rachel said leaning over the lunch counter, looking me straight in the eye to make sure I understood where I was and what I was eating.

TAMAjamaicaThe Tamal Facebook page brags on their chicken, pork, vegetarian, and vegan tamales. They are hand-rolled and served fresh daily with locally-sourced, seasonal side-dishes along with beans, greens and agua fresca beverages -- Horchata, Tamarindo, or a delicious-looking red juice fountain drink called Jamaica -- all made in-house from scratch.

Rachel warned me about Jamaica: "There is a ton of sugar in the Jamaica Mike. That's not for you," the Tamale chef said knowing about my diabetes club membership while she handed me a can of diet soda.

With a few small tables and a lunch counter that seats six, Tamal is an intimate, friendly lunch stop with a very homey feeling. Tamal has only been open for a few months, but I felt like I was at Cheers in Boston, "where everybody knows your name."

Serving lunch Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon until the food runs out, the Lannelli family is enjoying a busy lunch hour and are still trying to figure out feeding all the happy customers.

TMALmenuBDS

"We try to guess-timate how many tamales to make for the day," Rachel said. "Sometimes we get swamped with customers and have to close up early because we are out of tamales," she added with a perplexed look on her face. "It's the price we are paying by using locally-sourced produce and wanting to present the best tamales we can."

The Tamal menu is posted on its Facebook page and usually consists of three different tamales, a few side orders, and a standing side of a 'pickled cucumber on a stick.' Recently there was a notice from the tamale trio: "Hey folks! We will be serving our pumpkin seed pesto, carrot, blueberry tamale @ 1:30 today!! It's vegan!!" This note tells me to check the Tamal FaceBook page before lunch.

Rice bowls are available for a mix of salsa, mole, peppers, beans, and corn for a food-in-a-bowl lunch option.

 

TAMALlunch

I wanted to order all three tamales available the day I went but realized I couldn't eat that much at one sitting. So I selected the poblano and the chorizo tamales with a side order of marinated cucumber on a stick.

 

TAMALcuke

The cucumber is peeled, marinated in lime juice, and rolled in a mix of pepper and red seasoning to create a unique-looking side. Slicing off some of the cucumber and tasting it was amazing: it was a refreshing, delicious, crunchy taste treat."

"Where did you hear about these cukes, Rachel?" I asked.

"I made it up Mike. This is Mexican street food, remember?"

I liked the idea of adding toppings of my choice to the tamales, imager at the top of this review,  and was happy to see tomatilla salsa as an option. The tomatilla sauce was freshly made with – surprise to me again – freshly squeezed lime juice for a delightful, tart, lip-smacking flavor.

 

TAMALtamale

Thinking the corn meal tamales would need some heat assistance, I also added a side of jalapeno peppers.

I avoided the Tamal mole as my experience with this topping is it usually overwhelms the palette, even though GLOB Staffer Lynn Dirk, who had made it to Tamal before me, highly recommended it.

 

TamalWINDOWtopper

The somewhat mild tamales, for my taste, were nevertheless very good. All the flavors in the corn husks took their turn on my palette's center stage making me a very happy lunch outer.

My Tamal lunch was very good and reasonably priced at $3 a tamale. There are a lot of tamales in those corn husks waiting to be discovered by the GLOB Master.

The Pluses and Minuses of the Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop:

Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop (+) indicators: Delicious flavors, a veritable different kind of tamale for every customer. The marinated cucumber is certainly worth your consideration and large enough to share. The fresh lime juice brightens the entire meal.

Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop (-) indicators: A few more poblano peppers in my Tamales would have been nice. I will order the mole as a side item next time.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Tamal Premiere Tamale Shop.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Read more...

Domirican Cuisine

 

The Pluses and Minuses of Domirican Cuisine

101 Downtown + indicators :

101 Downtown - indicators:

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Domirican Cuisine.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Read more...

Blue Agave

BGchipsSALSAReal estate folks like to make a point of talking location, location, location when they are trying to make a big sale to a motivated buyer. Blue Agave on NW 43rd St. is now less than a half a mile from my residence north of Thornebrook Village. More importantly, I have pretty much decided this Tex-Mex lunch stop has all the green chile, corn tortilla, poblano pepper, hot salsa to make it one of the best Mexican cantinas in Hogtown. I have become a giant fan of the Blue Agave Pollo Poblano, which consists of slices of grilled chicken, onions, and mushrooms simmered in a green spicy poblano sauce. This entrée is served with Mexican rice, black beans, feta cheese, and three flour tortillas. Going meatless, I was ready to step outside my corn tortillas, and I ordered the Chiles Poblanos. This meatless Mexican wonder is two poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, fried in egg batter, and covered with special sauce and sour cream. The entrée is served with Mexican rice and refried beans. The Blue Agave Tomatillo Sauce could very well be one of the best, tangy, spicy, green, salsas around. I substituted this gem of a topping instead of the BA Special Sauce on my poblanos. CARUMBA GLOBers! At $10 this entrée is $2 cheaper than my favorite Pollo Poblano and quite possibly more flavorful with the inclusion of the pobalno peppers AND tomatillo sauce. This isn't just a Meatless Monday Special GLOBers, this is an every-darn-day of the week special for the GLOB Master. BTW the Blue Agave free chips and salsa are worth their weight in corn meal and tomato salsa and add a very special 'Mexican side order' to this Meatless Monday prize winner.

- Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

 

BonataTOPPER

GLOB colleagues meet for muy, muy, lunch

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

Blue Agave Mexican restaurantFall seems to be laden with holidays to celebrate, from birthdays to anniversary celebrations. Not only is the GLOB celebrating five years of world-wide web publishing this month, but I can mark my two-year anniversary contributing to the GLOB, as well. First up, though, GLOB Editor, Mike Sanford, was celebrating a birthday and had a few places in mind to ring in another year wiser.

Homemade Mexican cuisine, including taquitos, nachos and taco salad, are in my meal planning rotation just as much as anything else. However, I rarely dine out at Mexican joints. Regardless, I was looking forward to trying out Mike's birthday spot pick, Blue Agave, as it had been on my list to try ever since Mike first raved over the tasty tacos.

MElynnNestled off of 43rd Street by 43rd St. Deli and Saporito Oil, Vinegar & Spice Shop, Blue Agave makes a bold statement upon first glance, colorful signage and interior seeming to be a typical aesthetic for Mexican restaurants. It was just around opening time, so the GLOB staff did not have any wait to be seated at a booth by the window. Several parties filed in and out, though, over the course of our meal, giving the appearance of a somewhat popular spot.

SangriaThe service was very prompt without much wait time for food or refills. After the easiest decision of the day was made to split half a pitcher of red wine sangria, which was actually a little too sweet for my taste which is saying something, we all decided a family-style meal time of shared plates would aid us each in trying as many different items as possible.

Bnota480

The complimentary chips and salsa left much to be desired, in my opinion. The chips tasted a little stale, and the salsa needed to be doctored up with hot sauce to gain some flavor. The Botana (no roll on the "n," although we certainly tried including one), was the Mexican food equivalent of a combo appetizer at any big-box chain restaurant. This medley of quesadillas, fried chicken flautas and individual nacho chips with either chicken or beef and cheese provided a nice little sampler platter for the table wanting it all, so to speak. It was an adequate portion size for three or four people. Each section of the platter was cut into smaller pieces while still including plenty of the tasty fresh fixings that make each meal customizable, including a small cup of queso cheese dip, guacamole, pico de gallo, lettuce, jalapenos and sour cream. One of the best parts of this multi-topping system is creating new flavor combinations. 

Lynn Dirk, the 3rd GLOBer in our birthday fiesta, noted that the menu has an interesting section of sides:  a side order of onions or tomatoes is $1 each, which seems steep, but then some of the a la cart items like one taco or beans or rice seemed very reasonable at about $3.

PorkVerde

TacosMike was also interested in trying something new at the spot where he has ordered many a taco. The Chile Verde dish, image above, piqued his interest. Although advertised as "hot," I did not think the spiciness level surpassed even a medium heat. I was, however, pleasantly surprised by the dish: Thick chunks of tender pork coated in green sauce and cilantro fell apart in my mouth, every bite as juicy and flavorful as the last. The addition of rice and beans also pleased my dining companions, and I took to dousing the leftover tortillas from the meal in the Botana's queso sauce. However, true to form, Mike insisted we include tacos into this feast, and no one was ready to deny the birthday boy. He ordered fish tacos, a protein filling that he claimed he had not previously tried at the restaurant, and seemed very pleased with the grilled chunks of tilapia that rested in the flour tortilla. Of course there were again plenty of toppings to customize each taco.  I took to adding some green salsa, red hot sauce, a little pico de gallo and lettuce for a pretty decent stuffed taco. While not the best I have ever had, it did the trick.  There is a complete Blue Agave menu at the restaurant link below.

Dessert480

What is a birthday celebration without a little dessert? Yes, our ambitious birthday party finished two slices of cheesecake as well as all the aforementioned food. The server informed us that this particular cheesecake wasn't on the menu, but it was his favorite and worth a try. It certainly did not disappoint: Traditional-flavored cheesecake was met with a layer of fudgy chocolate in the middle and a generous top coating of caramel that dripped down over the sides. The graham cracker crust was Mike's favorite part, but I had no problem devouring the rest!

Mike claims that Blue Agave is one of the better Mexican restaurants in town, and I do feel that it was a satisfactory experience. As mentioned previously, I rarely dine out Mexican, but if the opportunity to dine at Blue Agave presented itself again, I hope it would be during lunch on a weekday when they have all the great lunch specials.

The Pluses and Minuses of Blue Agave: speedy food delivery, attentive and friendly service, tasty food, wide variety of meat and meatless options, reasonably priced for quantities, enticing lunch specials.

Blue Agave + indicators:  One of the more unique Mexican menus in town with eight different tacos. OMG the fish tacos include pico de gallo and tomatillo sauce!  The red, and green sauce available on the tables add nice heat to the B A house salsa.

Blue Agave - indicators: Somewhat standard Mexican food, hard to get to if on other side of 43rd Street.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Blue Agave.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

 

TacoTOPPER

Tacos astound GLOB Master with variety

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

Blue Agave Mexican restaurantI made it my mission to seek out the best tacos in GLOB land primarily because I am a giant taco fan.  I’m not too proud to say that it has only been recently that the GLOB Master has discovered that the new millennial meaning of taco is way more involved than the yummy fried corn tortilla that encased spicy ground beef, cheese, onions, and tomatoes that has symbolized Mexican sandwich bliss for me since I was old enough to pay for my own lunch

On my first trip to Blue Agave off NW 43rd St across from the Thornebrook Village, I experienced the spicy, green, flavorful joy of the BA Enchiladas Poblanas.  If you are a poblano pepper fan you have to give the Blue Agave poblano sauce heartfelt culinary consideration.  The mild but tangy, creamy green sauce added a rich, smooth flavor to the over-stuffed-with-chicken corn tortillas. CARUMBA muchacho! This was an excellent South of the border lunch.  On my second trip, it was the tacos.  More on that shortly

Blue Agave is the third restaurant in this old Las Margaritas location in the last few years.  Not a lot of change has taken place to the design inside the stucco walls of this lunch time hacienda.  There is still a lounge area on the lower level of Blue Agave, plus ample seating inside the restaurant, and some tables line a patio on the outside wall of the café.

Blue Agave has the traditional Mexican combo lunch platters ranging from the $5 Speedy Gonzalez consisting ofone beef taco, one enchilada, and Mexican rice or beans to Special #25, which is your choice of a shredded chicken or beef chimichanga served with Mexican rice, lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and sour cream for $7.  That is 25 lunch combo platters ranging from $4.50 to $7.

In addition to the combo platters, BA has a full menu ranging from antojitos (appetizers)  to fajitas, ala carte selections, and nine vegetarian lunch options including Chiles Poblano with two poblano peppers stuffed with cheese, fried in egg batter and covered with special sauce and sour cream, and served with Mexican rice and refried beans. (There is that poblano sauce again . . .!)

There is a restaurant link to the Blue Agave menu below

It was tough overlooking all those spicy green choices, but it was a taco kind of lunch day for the GLOB Master, and Blue Agave had an impressive taco of eight, distinctly different, choices ranging from cilantro flavored chopped steak to my selection, the Taco de Alambre.

I think I need a little GLOB help here, amigos.  I am not aware of any other restaurant in Hogtown that serves up that many different taco flavor options.

Carumba!  I have never had a better taco than the Taco de Alambre.  The flavors were battling for my attention from the grilled chicken to the chorizo and bacon.  The bacon and chorizo added a little more salt to my palate than normal, but this taco was GLOB FAB FIVE caliber from the paper thin, crepe like corn tortilla to the cilantro and shredded cheese.

Talk about a conundrum -- I could happily try a different Blue Agave taco every day.  It looks like I will be taking the ala carte Mexican lunch route -- a custom AB Taco with a side of Chile poblanos.   

The Pluses and Minuses of Blue Agave

Blue Agave + indicators :  One of the more unique Mexican menus in town with eight different tacos. OMG the fish tacos include pico de gallo and tomatillo sauce!  The red, and green sauce available on the tables add nice heat to the B A house salsa.

Blue Agave - indicators:  So many choices for such a short lunch hour . .

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Blue Agave.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

Blue Agave on NW 43rd Ave. is fast becoming my favorite Mexican lunch stop.  The food is flavorful, the variety of entrees in vast including eight different tacos.  I’ve mentioned many times I measure a good Mexican lunch by their Chili Relleno.  The combination of this delicious entrée presents the GLOB Master with all the essential flavors of Tex-Mex cuisine.  Since this was a Meatless Monday lunch I opted for this   cheese, and poblano pepper sautéed in a yummy corn meal crust. The tart, tangy flavor of this perfectly cooked green pepper is a perfect foil for the creamy, gooey, melted cheese.  For the carnivores you can also add chicken or beef to your crunchy or soft shell lunch proze.   I seem to spend a large portion of my meal decision these days by what I eat, how I eat it, and how will it impact my diabetes.  I mowed the yard before this meals and I was rewarded with an extraordinary drop in my blood sugar.  YAY!   After five months trying to reshape my diet to accommodate eating a better, healthier diet I have reconditioned my choices to refrain from a lot if carbohydrates.    I love refried beans,unfortunately I can’t indiscriminately shove food in my face.  The rice was a perfect texture, spicy flavor that left me smiling.  All right fellow GLOBers.  After bragging about my new, disciplines approach to lunch I did slip back a little and could not stop myself From ordering a hard shell taco WITH MY LUNCH.  It’s the hard shell crunch, combined with the mild cheese, cool flavored lettuce, and a heaping portion of salsa will always be a favorite lunch, or dinner winner.

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Chuy's Mexican

CHUYSbeansIt might not be pretty, GLOBers, but Chuy's Deluxe Enchilada with cheese and deluxe tomatillo sauce is one of the best lunches I have had in some time. All right, I think what made this Enchildada Deluxe special was my request to try the Deluxe Chicken Enchilada without the chicken--because I just wanted the green tomatillo sounded sauce, which sounded delicious. Lunching by myself, I sat at the bar to speed up the sometimes slow service. I asked the barkeep/server if it was possible to get the Chicken Enchilada without the chicken and no Mexican rice for me please.  My expert server said no problem and replaced the chicken with the veggie mix of spinach, onions, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell peppers, serranos, roasted green chiles, and corn. The server suggested two orders of the charro beans. According to Wikipedia : Frijoles charros (cowboy beans) is a traditional Mexican dish. It is named after the traditional Mexican cowboy horsemen, or charros. The beans are characterized by pinto beans stewed with onion, garlic, and bacon. Other common ingredients include chili peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, ham, sausage, pork and chorizo. The Charro beans had amazing flavors with the savory Latin tastes of chili peppers, cilantro, chorizo, onion and, garlic. WHAT A TASTE TREAT! The two enchiladas drenched in the tomatillo sauce surprised me with so many flavors highlighted by the spicy, mildy tempered heat from the green chilis. This blue ribbon meatless lunch was way too much to eat for one small GLOB Master. After years of being a c lean-your-plate kind of food lover I'm starting to get a complex about not cleaning my lunch plate properly . . . Meet me for your next meatless lunch at Chuy's GLOBer and we can share this belly bomb amalgamation of spicy green lunch time bliss.

- GLOB Master

 

CHUYStaquito

- GLOB staffer and friends dive into the green chile pool for dinner

Tex-Mex lunch serves up Austin memories

> PRO iNK's Terry Van Nortwick discusses learning the Chuy's culture

> The GLOB Master presents his impressions of Chuy's Mexican below this feature

By Bubba Scott, GLOB Correspondent

Editor's Note: Farmer Bubba Scott is a container vegetable farmer. To help support the farm, he is also a P.H.D., Professional Home Developer/Repairman

ChuysBUBBAsfI recently received a call on my red Gaineville Lunch Out Blog emergency phone, from GLOB Master Mike about visiting a new restaurant in town that should take me back to my good ole days in Austin, Texas, when I used to go to a restaurant  called Chuy's.

When Lynn was recently visiting my farm, she mentioned Chuy's to me, and I asked if it was the one from Austin, Texas.  After further investigation I found out it was.

Oh my! Chuy's started in Austin in 1982 -- see other story link above -- on Barton Springs Road. That was the same year I started my home improvement business. Boy does that bring back some memories.

Barton Springs was the outdoor 'place to go' in Austin on weekends. When I lived there, I can remember taking my two daughters there for some good ole Tex-Mex cuisine and fun times. Chuy's was wildly decorated and if you've ever been to Austin, you would know Chuy's was tops in Southern hospitality.  Yes, Texas is Southern to me.

When we drove up in front of the Gainesville Chuy's for lunch, I recognized the wildly decorated sign on the outside, but did they bring a little of Austin with 'em was my question.

 

BubbaServer

Upon entering, I said to myself, oh yes they did. We were met with smiles and much Southern hospitality. We were greeted by our server Brittany. Again, all smiles. We were a group of four GLOB representatives:  the GLOB Master, Mike; Lynn the Content Editor; Joan. a GLOB contributor, and myself.  After a quick vote, we chose a booth for our lunch. We just wanted the comfort of a little extra space.

I just kept look'n around the restaurant thinking about what I left behind in Texas.

For lunch I ordered the taco salad with chicken and a side of jalapeno peppers.

Before my food arrived, Christine Brittany made sure my tea glass was filled and asked if there was anything else we needed.

 

CHUTStortillas1

We were served chips with three kinds of salsa, the Tex Mex, tomatillo, and the creamy Jalapeno.

Chuy's corn chips and their tortillas are made fresh and in three varieties:  corn, blue corn and flour. Really, you can watch 'em make 'em at the tortilla creation station. Now thats some creative Southern word play that rolls off your tongue.

When my taco salad arrived, I thought, WOW! This is Austin style. Along with the taco salad came little bowls of goodies. WOW again.

 

BubbaSalad

How was my Taco Salad? The first thing I realized is they put a variety of mixed greens in the salad. Before I added anything to it, I wanted to see if the veggie ingredients had their own flavors. Being a grower of greens and other vegetables I know what good produce should taste like. My salad veggies met teh taste test and had a variety of good flavors.

The grilled chicken added its own flavor. Now this was a taco salad. The jalapeno peppers were warm but not hot and all of the sauces had their own heat and flavor.

One thing I found very interesting was that I never had to ask for anything. Once they knew what I needed, it was always there. I can't say that about other places I have visited for lunch.

When we arrived for lunch close to 11:30, Chuy's was a bit empty. After about 30 minutes, I'm glad we got there early. This place filled up fast.

I'm giving Chuy's a big 10 on the food scale and want to thank Brittany for making my first visit one that calls for a re-visit.

I think of it like this. I just ate some of the best Tex-Mex food from Austin, Texas, and didn't have to take a plane trip to eat it.

 

HatchRELLENOS

100515HatchWhen my lunch partner says Chuy's Tex-Mex, I automatically think Hatch chili peppers. They grow in one place in this world and could be one of the tastiest peppers you will ever enjoy. A recent story says it best: "Hatch chiles are a foodie dream food: They have a short season (in the late summer to early fall) and a unique flavor profile—and they're hard to get your hands on." Chuy's has a great Chili Relleno Two-Fer of two chile rellenos: fire-roasted Hatch chilis with your choice of filling battered and fried to perfection and drizzled with sour cream, with ranch sauce and tomatillo sauce on the side. The flavor and the texture of the thick-walled pepper is indeed a foodie dream. The gooey ranch sauce combined with the perfectly deep fried crunch. The customary sides of refried beans and Mexican rice are nice mediums to absorb the extra sauce and cheese. BTW were you aware the unique climate and rich soil of Hatch Valley, not found anywhere else in the world, are key to the green chile's legendary flavor? Each year Chuy's contracts with farmers in the Hatch Valley to grow over 1.75 million pounds of the freshest green chilis just for Chuy's restaurants. Carumba! That's a lot of Meatless Monday lunch orders GLOBers.

- GLOB Master

Tex-Mex, '56 Buick and Elvis at one lunch stop

All Gainesville Lunch Out Blogers should have Elayna Rexrode join them for lunch the first time they visit Chuy's Mexican restaurant.

Elayna is the Operations Director for PRO iNK, the marketing and public relations firm that has helped Chuy's establish their Tex-Mex presence in Gainesville.

Before Chuy's opened in Gainesville, Elayna spent several days in Austin to acquaint herself with the nuts and bolts, facts and figures and, most importantly, the Chuy's fascination with Elvis (see other Chuy's feature) and the unique culture that characterizes the 33 Chuy's restaurants. Although the culture is the same, no two Chuy's restaurants have the exact same décor.

CHUYSdog1Chuy's has partnered with Pet Smart and the St. Francis House Pet Care Clinic to memorialize many pet care clinic dogs by hanging images of them throughout the restaurant.

NOTE TO GLOBers: Read the sign in the second dog photo.

Gainesville's Chuy’s is a CHUYSdogGator blue with a 1956 Buick 'loaded' with all the necessary Tex-Mex nacho ingredients to get your lunch started. Elayna and the GLOB Master discussed which was coolest – the blue Buick fins or the retro hub caps.

Mexico’s Mil Pescado from the village of Tlaquepaque in Mexico hand-carved and hand-painted the 1,000 wooden fish hanging from the Chuy’s ceiling He also delivered the fish to Gainesville and hung each one according to exacting specifications.

The Chuy's tortilla station stays busy making flour, corn and blue corn tortillas for chips, chalupas, enchiladas, quesadillas, tacos, and burritos.

CHUYSnachoCarElliot, Chuy's Assistant General Manager, has been in Gainesville since planning for Chuy’s began and says the quality of a Tex-Mex restaurant is always identified first by the quality of their chips and salsa. Chuy's sports eight different salsas. Be sure to try the Creamy Jalapeno!

Oh, that's right, we were there for lunch. Giant portions, everything made fresh, I ordered the beef fajita and UF Entomology Art Director, Jane Medley, my lunch partner, ordered the Deluxe Chicken Enchilada.

CHUYSdinner3"OMG I think I am in heaven, this is so good," was Jane's comment several times while enjoying her Chuy's lunch. GLOB Staffer Farmer Bubba Scott grew up in Texas and is looking forward to visiting Chuy's and making some comments soon.

There is a Chuy's menu available at the Restaurant link below this feature.

- Mike S., GLOB Master

> PRO iNK's Elayna Rexrode and Terry Van Nortwick report on trip to Chuy's home base in Austin, Texas to get a first hand glimpse of life in the Chuy's Mexican world. 

 

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With 19 Spanish and Mexican lunch stops on the Urban GLOP map, Chuy's Mexican on SW 34 th St. never disappoints with excellent, quick, service plus they have their own special link to some of the best peppers -- the Texas Hatch Anaheim Chilis. The big, thick, pepper membrane is unlike any other yummy, spicy pepper I have seen in Gainesville. Add to that the fact that the extensive Chuy's menu is loaded with veggie and meatless options. I was set for my obligatory Chuy's Chili Relleno with the fresh Anaheim pepper, fire-roasted and filled with my choice of ground sirloin, chicken, or shrimp and cheese when I noticed the daily Special was a Big Mambo Burrito. This burrito was so big it looked to me like two people could not eat this Mexican lunch prize in a lunch hour. My very friendly server suggested they could create the Big Mambo in a half size portion for me. CARUMBA! Now that was a great idea. I'm really starting to have a hard time with lunch options that are so darn big I can't finish them. I eat lunch to satisfy my palette, not to take home left overs for the rest of the week. The burrito was excellent and loaded with refried beans, cheese, my favorite pepper, and some delicious tomatillo sauce. I was in Tex-Mex lunch heaven. With the smaller burrito, it felt good OK to also indulge in the treat of a crunchy hard shell taco with refried beans, cheese topped with the Chuy's spicy, refresh salsa. With the addition of Costa Vida At the same SW Archer Rd. corner as 3 other Mexican lunch stands within walking distance of each other, Chuy's is a stand out with their full menu and awesome Hatch green chilis.

- GLOB Master

Offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Chuy's. Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments. - THANKS!

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Flaco's Cuban Bakery, Midtown

FLACOSmtDINERI have never had a bad Cuban sandwich from Flaco's Cuban Bakery. I was excited about giving Flacos new Midtown lunchstop a try and I was glad I did. Nothing fancy in this 15'X50' foot end-of-the-strip-shopping-center location. Flaco's is definitely a midtown Food On The Run lunch stop right next door to Designer Greens. The air conditioning was not working when I arrived and it was as toasty as my pressed sandwich in this little walk up FLACOSmidtownSFdiner. But I was Ok with the warmer than usual temp. The staffers were very friendly and looked at me quizzically like I was the one with a climate change problem. Then we started talking lunch sandwiches and I forgot how hot I was. I explained to the staffers I usually get Flacos' Media Noche with the very special sweet bread made especially for Flacos that includes corn meal and a little sugar. I think it is one of the best sandwiches in town. Today I was ready for something different and the Spot Sausage Pressed Cuban Sandwich was suggested to the GLOB Master because of its spiciness. "But if you really like spicy I can include some spicy mayo in your sandwich that will set you free," suggested the sandwich maker. The Spot Sausage Cuban is spicy chorizo sausage, onions, garlic and swiss cheese pressed in the toastiest, crunchiest, moistest flattened Cuban bread this side of Ybor City. The sandwich's chorizo sausage was very good and was brought to life with the onion, garlic and spicy mayo. It was also suggested that if I like spicy I should try the Scarface Sandwich next time. The Scarface is a ham, salami, chorizo sausage, tomato, spicy mayo, mustard and swiss cheese pressed belly bomb that will make a happy young Cubano out of any lunchouter.

FLACOSlogo0512There is a brief Flacos history and reviews on the back of the Flacos' menu: "We're not the first place to serve Cuban food or ropa vieja and we're definitely not going to be the last but we're going to try our hardest to make it the best."

I can't agree more Flacos, you Cubanos make one of the better, tastiest sandwiches in the Urban GLOB!

Editor's Note: A Gainesville Lunch Out Blog feature story on of Falcos Cuban Bakery can be viewed on the Flacos Downtown GLOB page. -- GLOB Master

The Pluses and Minuses of the Flacos Cuban Bakery Midtown

Flacos + indicators : Best Cuban bread intown, excellent sandiches and Cuban choices.

Flacos - indicators: It is going to be a long, hot summer for Midtown Flacos staff and cutomers.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Flacos Cuban Bakery.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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Tijuana Flats - Archer Rd.

092117TacosFLATSTijuana Flats is one of those restaurants for me when I can't REALLY come up with a good lunch idea TF, and their giant hard shell tacos, are a long time favorite of the GLOB Master's and is hard to resist. Not only that, today was a Tijuana Taco TWO-Fer for me. I was eating a black bean taco with jalapeños, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream & cheese. Plus the black beans, and refried beans, are vegetarian lard free beans cooked in zero trans fast cooking oil. BTW Tijuana Flats proudly says they never use canned foods, EVER. CARUMBA! I understand how all of those things I just mentioned are very important to a lot of GLOBers. Gosh Pee Wee, they are important to me. What I find remarkable is those healthy eating elements are secondary TWO my lunch mission which was TWO enjoy TWO of the best tacos in Hogtown. The refried Bean taco brings back many memories of tacos gone by with the crunchy corn taste of the taco, combined with the plethora of yummy veggies flavors and Mexican Hot sauce Goodness. It's fun standing in front of the TF Hot Sauce Counter and selecting my favorite sauce of the day from the amazing number of different sauces. Today I selected the "House Favorite" hot sauce, and the "Tropical Chile Company Hot N Honey Sauce". Both sauces were a little sweeter than I had expected but they added tons of flavor to my lunch. Tijuans Flats has one of the best taco TWOsday special in town with two giant tacos, chips and a drink for $5.59. That special deserves TWO CARUMBAs!

-GLOB Master

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Editor's Note:  A Gainesville Lunch Out Blog feature of Tijuana Flats can be viewed on the Tijuana Flats University Ave. GLOB page.  -GLOB Master 

The Pluses and Minuses of Tijuana Flats

Tijuana Flats (+) indicators: TACO TUESDAZE, 9" taco shells, visiting the comically cool TF website. (see example above.)

Tijuana Flats (-) indicators: Plan to go to the Univ. Ave TF early, when UF is closed, or, be patient and enjoy this unique environment while waiting for your lunch.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Tijuana Flats.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!  

TijuanaFlatsSF

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The La Tienda Latina delivery

GLOBer makes a new Mexican lunch friend!

I Ordered takeout with some friends from La Tienda on SW 13th St. earlier this week. I can not rave ENOUGH about my new favorite restaurant!!  

First of all: it's cheap. I think the most expensive entree was $8.50, and that was for grouper. Most meals are $6.50-$7.50 and include rice, beans and tortillas.

Second: it's fresh. All the ingredients were delicious and ripe including the avocado!!!

We ordered two chicken chimichangas, chicken nachos, a beef tongue burrito and a beef cheek burrito (and a bunch of Coca-Cola made with real sugar).

Where do I start??

The nachos were sooo good, it was a shame I had to share. The chicken was all white meat, shredded finely, flavorful but not overpowering. The cheese coated the nachos in an ample portion. This was one of the most delicious cheese sauces I have ever had (the kind you want to drink!), sour cream, tomato, avocado and lettuce, as well.

The chimichanga was filled with the same chicken, and topped with sour cream, lettuce, tomato and avocado. Fried perfectly, not greasy at all!

The burritos were pronounced delicious by those adventurous enough to order them, (not me!) I was told that the tongue won the burrito contest between the two, though. My husband was so pleased! He loves ordering things like this, and there aren't too many places that serve such delicacies.

Finally, La Tienda serves some of the most fantastic salsas ever to grace my plate. One was red, the other was green. Both were ingested in mass quantities. Both were slightly spicy.

Oh drat, I just drooled all over my keyboard. We will be dreaming of La Tienda until we order from them again, which might be..... tonight??

My only disappointment is that I waited so long to try this place!!

- K. Rossetti

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Saboré

Sabore pushes past brunch expectations

By: Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

brunchCHEFOver a year ago I dined at Sabore for the first time. It was a Tuesday night — a predominantly empty dining room bursting with color greeting my party of two—and I had only heard high praise about the restaurant boasting international cuisine and an innovative tapas menu. I had witnessed Sabore's Chef Valero in action at the 2014 Gainesville Iron Chef competition during the Taste of Gainesville event earlier in the year, and I was eager to try the winner's cuisine myself. To make a long story short, it did not disappoint. In fact, it blew even my high expectations out of the water.

SaboreSFImagine my delight when Sabore announced they would be serving brunch on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If any of my previous articles have surmised one thing, to put it mildly, I am a huge fan of brunch. I could only dream of the culinary masterpieces Chef Valero would have on his menu, mainly because the brunch menu isn't posted online.

Nevertheless, I was ready to have my taste buds blown away once more. I do realize I set very high expectations, but I was confident in Sabore's capabilities.

The nudge to finally make the trek up to the Tioga Town Center, however, is mainly due to none other than my dining companion, Ken of the popular local food blog Ken Eats Gainesville. He had been to this brunch and posted some scrumptious-looking photos on his Instagram page, so I already had a few images to hold me over and enough anticipation to make the drive more than worth it.

 

Booth

Upon arrival on a sunny Gainesville Saturday at 11 a.m., it was very similar to my first experience at Sabore: A dimly-lit, deep red room opened up into only a few tables occupied, only this time we were greeted with some Christmas decorations. Ken and I were ushered to a large booth, complete with plush red seats and iPads for menus.

300SyrupA server was quick to arrive at the table, followed shortly by a personal greeting from Chef Valero himself. He bustled about the dining room, cradling black truffles to be freshly grated to this table and special maple syrup to that table. Luckily, we were one of those syrup stops, as a plate of freshly-made in-house brioche French toast aptly named "mon dieu what a French toast!" arrived to the table, garnished with a few "healthy things," as Ken put it a.k.a. fruit. The brioche was very light, but had a slight crispness to the outside that kept it all together. Well, it was the syrups—yes, that is plural—that truly made the seemingly simple dish come alive. The first special one, a thicker, almost balsamic-like Deseve Birch Nectar syrup, was certainly richer and more viscous than I was used to (although truth be told I use Aunt Jemima at home so this was out of my league). The second was the restaurant's "everyday" Gold Maple Syrup with a texture more in-tune with syrups I typically use on breakfast foods, but this one had an almost pure, semi-sweet flavor. The third was a very special syrup that was aged for so long the consistency was only slightly thicker than water. All were absolutely worth every douse.

The Basque Omelet with shrimp seemed like a relatively safe, yet appetizing meal option, but my heart was set on two of the meals Ken raved about from previous dining: the Bombenedictine, $12, and the Duck French Toast, $23. Let's start with the benedict, image at top if this review,  because the name speaks for itself: This truly was the bomb.com of benedicts. The chorizo hollandaise spread generously over two well-cooked, poached eggs was not overly rich, even with the addition of a thick layer of pork sausage and scalloped potatoes that created the base for the meat-lovers breakfast. It was probably my overall favorite dish of the day. That is not to say the Duck French Toast wasn't an other-worldly experience in and of itself, or at least that of another country. In fact, it took me back to Paris where I enjoyed more Foie Gras, creamy sauces, and bread than I care to share. One fork swipe of the duck egg yolk and the yolk-fall quickly ran down the length of that fluffy brioche French toast slab. The duck meat perched atop was just the right size for the extremely rich taste of it. However, it wasn't until Chef Valero arrived to the table once more with a small honey pot of truffle honey that he proceeded to drizzle over top that sealed the deal. I was glad to be sharing this dish with Ken, as I can't imagine having it as my sole entrée mainly due to how flavor-rich it was.

As if the mounds of carefully-crafted brunch fare wasn't enough, Ken and I felt a seemingly simple order of churros with chocolate sauce would be a welcome conclusion to one of the most decadent brunches I have ever consumed. As soon as the tray of churros arrived, I was immediately drawn to the thick coating of sugar around the crispy fried dough. The sous chef informed us that it was actually vanilla bean-infused sugar, just in case we made the mistake of thinking this was a typically-made churro. Ken's first reaction to the sauce was that it tasted like everyone's childhood favorite Ovaltine chocolate powder mix. I thought it tasted pretty close to what a hot chocolate sauce would be. The server confirmed it was not Ovaltine, for the record.

 

brunchSAUSAGE

I think I prepared myself so well for how intense of a brunch experience this would be that I paced myself to not being overly full. That, or the richness of the food almost forced me to portion out each dish more frugally. Next on the list — because there will absolutely be another visit in the near future — is the Huevos Estrellados, mainly because of the generous portion of Iberico ham nesting the eggs, which Ken claims is delicious ham. I stand by my previous Sabore write-up when I say that the chef has truly created an "alluring ambiance and an unforgettable menu." If you ask me, Sabore's attention to detail, from the atmosphere to the dining options to the service, is unparalleled against any other dining establishment in town.

The Pluses and Minuses of Saboré:

Saboré (+) indicators: Brunch available every Saturday and Sunday, somewhat pricey but value worth the price tag, completely unique menu, more standard brunch options also available, friendly service, accommodating and involved chef, great ambiance for any occasion, good portion sizes, attention to detail.

Saboré (-) indicators: Slightly out of the way in Tioga, prices not conducive to a regular dining option if looking to eat cheaper.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Sabore.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANK!

 

 

SaborePLATE

S. Beach decor, style, highlight lunch experience

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

The GLOB Editor headed out to West Gainesville last Saturday to see what all the excitement was about with the new restaurant called Saboré in the Town of Tioga shopping area.

SaboreSFWith Miami-backing, Executive Chef and Co-Owner, William "Willy" Hernandez, has created a contemporary, very stylish restaurant that is visually stunning to the eye. Mr. Hernandez has put a lot of thought and detail into the design of this very large dining area.

The Saboré website is representative of their style and has many photos of the restaurant and their food.

Their menu touts a world fusion theme combining dishes, "from countries such as Peru, Japan, Greece and Italy."

I was there for the weekend brunch menu that included some very interesting egg and breakfast entrees in the $10 range including:

zzGLOBbullet Tomato, basil & bufala mozzarella frittata

zzGLOBbullet Poached eggs, spinach on toast

zzGLOBbullet Saboré eggs Benedict, crab cake, asparagus

The breakfast choices caught my eye, however I have a hard time paying $10 for an egg entree.

Going for the lunch menu, my friend Lynn was riding the horns of a lunchtime dilemma: Crab Cake Salad, which included organic mixed greens and a honey mustard dressing, or Crispy Duck Salad, which included almond-coated duck strips, mixed greens, mandarin oranges, and honey sesame seed vinaigrette.

SaboreDUCKsaladThe Crispy Duck salad won out, and Lynn was presented with a salad that look appetizing but also quite elegant with strands of cabbage circling lightly around the top and pieces of crispy fried duck peeking out around the sides (or should I say Peking?).

Besides salads, Saboré has an extensive list of sandwiches from which I selected the Naked Grilled Chicken sandwich. My sandwich contained buffalo chicken, mozzarella, romaine lettuce, crispy bacon strips (except for one bite that was not so crispy), and herb aioli sauce. Does anyone know what buffalo chicken is? I think that is a menu error and probably should read buffalo mozzarella. The sandwich comes with a side order of home fries. The Saboré fries reminded me of McDonalds fries to be honest. Lynn thought they were very good and crispier and lighter than McDonald's fries.

The soft roll that the sandwich came on added an interesting texture combined with the other ingredients. The melted mozzarella cheese was a very nice accompaniment to the breast of chicken.

Lynn was happy with her lunch salad. The coating on the duck was very crispy and the duck itself tasty. If Lynn had read the NYT story I had read earlier in the day, she would have paraphrased the best line of that story and declared, "Winner, Winner, Duck Dinner!" Sorry I just had to use that line for some reason.

 

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As usual, Lynn and I happily split our lunches so we could taste what each other ordered. Lynn thought the bread on the sandwich was rather ordinary and the amount of ingredients a little skimpy except for the tomatoes and the bacon, but then bacon has a very strong flavor. She preferred her salad.

Toward the end of our lunch, Lynn offered back to me the remaining portion of the Chicken sandwich she couldn't finish. Another standard lunch practice. Taking a bite of her-half-of-my- sandwich, I exclaimed, "Your sandwich is better than mine!" My half had been drier. "I didn't get any herb aioli sauce on my half of the sandwich," I said in a disappointed voice.

Spreading sauce on the entire sandwich is a small detail I guess. If I had eaten the entire sandwich MAYBE I wouldn't have noticed the difference.

Walking to the car after lunch, I summarized my Saturday lunch experience. "The next time I am driving this far for lunch I am going to the Blue Highway for pizza."

The Pluses and Minuses of Saboré:

Saboré (+) indicators: Decor, style and a very diverse menu

Saboré (-) indicators: Saboré identifies themselves as a haute cuisine restaurant. But the quality is uneven. Perhaps a little more focus on the food might be in order to attain five star status. Also, our waiter was perfunctory. Lynn wanted to ask him how long the restaurant had been open and twice she wasn't fast enough. She did finally get an answer – about 2 months later.

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Sabore.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANK!

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Mi Apa Latin Cafe

MiApaAREPASThe flavors, textures, and home style goodness of Latin American food could convince the GLOB Master to go south of the border for lunch every darn day. My mission heading into Mi Apa was to have a very nice Meatless lunch. Unfortunately the carnivore in me saw a plate of giant chunks of roasted pork and any meatless thoughts in my head just vanished. The Mi Apa Arepas menu did have some interesting meatless lunch choices including a vegetarian Columbian and Venezuelan arepa.  My lunch partner, Lynn Dirk, went vegetarian and picked the Columbian Vegetarian Arepa with mozzarella, mushrooms, tomatoes and green peppers but requested avocados in place of mushrooms. OMG was that a wise decision. The Columbian arepa is an open face-like sandwich where the ingredients are stacked onto a creamy, super flavored corn meal pancake. They also serve a Venezuelan Arepa where the corn meal patty is cooked to a light brown color and folded over the ingredients. Top the Arepas with a dollop of hot sauce and a serious dollop, or two, of mojo sauce and this is a yummy lunch. The GLOB Master ordered the roast pork and black beans and rice for lunch. OMG again! The roast pork just might be the moistest, tenderest, juiciest plate of pork to be found in the GLOB. We topped lunch off with an order of Sweet Plaintains that were cooked to perfection. Talk about a perfect – ALMOST meatless - lunch for two, and for less than $20!

- Mike Sanford

 

MiAPAmk350SANDWICH

Eyes, stomach open wide to small Latin cafe

By Melissa Kahan, GLOB Correspondent

miaapiaI have heard many things about Mi Apa Latin Café. Located in the shopping center on the southwest corner of 34th St and University Ave., it is in a prime spot for plenty of traffic. Apparently, I was one of the few not stopping there until recently.

I was going to Corks and Colors with my roommate, Alyssa, to pick up some lovely coasters we had a chance to paint to beautify our new home (when I say beautify, keep in mind we are amateurs). In any event, we were on our way to get some ice cream when Mi Apa caught my eye. I realized I had never truly taken a look at the small Latin café, let alone walked into it. Even at a very late lunch hour around 3 pm, there were hungry customers bustling in and out.

Alyssa and I got to talking about sandwiches and desserts and before we knew it, our feet followed our mouths right to the restaurant.  I was surprised that it was a sit down-style dining experience, as I would have pegged the very small location for an order-at-the-counter place. We opted to sit outside, and a server greeted us promptly.  We ordered our drinks and perused the menu.  Again, it was more extensive than I expected. Plus everything on the menu, from the delicious-looking breakfast sandwich to the pastries, looked extremely appetizing. There is a Mi Apa restaurant menu link below.

MiAPAmk350Our bellies sure took over as a shared bite to eat turned into a Latin-infused full blown lunch. We started with a beef empanada, which arrived on the table roughly two minutes after ordering. Again, I had expectations and figured that a location as this would have pre-prepared food items ready to just be warmed up.  If so, this was still a very decent empanada. I remarked to Alyssa, "The crust tastes just like those crispy noodles you eat at Chinese food restaurants."

miapaMKfriendAlyssa (right) and I agreed that maybe one smaller item to share would be in order, but--once again--this meal was nothing we had planned for. Originally we were going to split the traditional Cuban sandwich, as my taste buds were craving the combination of savory meat, mustard, and Swiss cheese. However, my food adventurer mentality reared its curious head and suggested the Miami sandwich instead. Pressed on the same crispy bread as a Cuban, the Miami, which took a little longer to be presented since it was not premade (to my relief), combined crisp bacon atop turkey, ham, and cheese with the refreshing crunch of lettuce and tart tomato that I love in any sandwich, hot or cold. There was a little too much mayonnaise, but the sandwich was extremely tasty anyway. I'm glad Alyssa and I split it, though, as one half was almost the size of a whole sandwich!

miAPAmkPASTRYWe were a tad bummed that we did not get to treat ourselves to a long-overdue ice cream delight, so naturally we had to compensate for that. The $0.79 price tag on a guava cheese pastry may have aided in that decision. This premade option was much bigger than I expected, but I greatly enjoyed how the flaky crust, sweet guava, and savory cheese melded into a harmony of deliciousness.

Considering everything that was consumed, I was blown away to see the final bill for my meal. Without tip, it was just shy of $5.50. How is that even possible!? I was so taken aback; half an empanada, Miami sandwich, and a whole pastry barely dented my wallet. Now I know that for great Latin-inspired food with a nice variety and quick and friendly service, Mi Apa will be my go-to. Not to mention that they have a drive-thru option! This eating adventurer is forever a Mi Apa fan.

The Pluses and Minuses of Mi Apa

Mi Apa (+) indicators: Great service, tasty food, wide variety, very inexpensive for the quality, drive-thru is very convenient

Mi Apa (-) indicators: A a few extra pounds around my midsection if I keep up the visits

 

Cafe is 'ethnic cuisine' prize winner

By Mike Sanford, GLOB Editor

I am your garden variety Anglo Saxon white male.

miaapiaMy father's family came to the New World after imany generations in England.   My mother grew up in Dundee Scotland and her family relocated to America to start a life in Central Florida when she was a teenager.

I have lived in Florida my entire life and I possess a certain amount of Southern pride.

So why is it that Latin American cuisine is my food of choice? Mexican, Cuban, Latin American, yellow rice, plantains, tortillas, roast pork.

The Lechon Asada, roast pork to southern boys -- at Mi Apa Latin Cafe on SW 34th St. behind Grandy's could very well be the ultimate ethnic cuisine lunch in the Urban GLOB in my opinion.

MiApaPrintMi Apa's giant serving of roasted, chunked pork stacked high on the plate accompanied by incredibly tasty sweet plantains. and a side order of black beans, is a savory, comforting, filling lunch experience every one should have, especially if you are a professional eater.

This juicy, flavorful pork entree is such a perfect comfort food that this Anglo Florida boy was thinking siesta before I got up from the lunch table.

This is a great cafe for a quick, rewarding lunch experience. The attentive wait staff, and seating both inside and outside the cafe, offers the GLOBer a mid-day stop where serious eaters can be recognized by the lack of conversation going on while they are working on their caloric intake.

MiApaLUNCHMi Apa has all the pressed Cuban sandwiches -- including the media noche with sweet bread -- available along with a Cuban pot roast, steak. chicken entrees and vegetarian entrees.

My suggestion is the Lechon Asada. Do you think Lechon Asada means, "the other white meat," in Spanish?

I'm going to have to make a quick trip back to Mi Apa and try their sandwiches. I also think I need to make sure their chicken & yellow rice, and pot roast is up to par with their other excellent entrees.

MiApaPatioI'm not sure why I am informing other fellow GLOBers, but I do I think it is important this place gets a thorough evaluation from me.

One final important point to make. Mi Apa also serves a Cuban breakfast every morning including cuban coffee and espresso starting at 7:00 in the morning.

The Pluses and Minuses of Mi Apa

Mi Apa (+) indicators: Original home style Cuban cuisine excellently prepared!

Mi Apa (-) indicators: I wanted to eat every thing on the menu . . .

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Mi Apa.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS

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Chipotle, Archer Rd.

I think I am an oddity at Chipotle's Mexican Grill. I really like their three taco entrée where I can have it just the way I want it. Most GLOBers like to create a giant Chipotle burrito with all the tasty flavors and items available to choose from on your make-it-as- you-go burrito. I like the three taco selection for the same reason. Since this was a meatless Monday lunch stop, I was excited about making three distinctly different tacos. I made myself a spicy brown rice taco with, onions, salsa, cheese and lettuce that was very interesting in that the rice melded together giving the taco a meatless substance in the crunchy lunch wonder. Next I chose the black beans and topped them off with very tasty, piquant corn salsa and hot sauce from the condiment counter. I love black beans, I think I must have some South American heritage in my background. My last taco, the Meatless Monday prize winner, consisted of Chipotle's spicy peppers and onions topped with guacamole, cheese and some very good hot sauce. This is a great lunch. The crunchiness of the hard shell taco combined with cornucopia of interesting textures and flavors makes me think to heck with Meatless Monday. I could eat these tacos every day of the week.

- GLOB Master

 

Please read Gainesville's Lunch Out Blog's Chipotle feature on this GLOB Blog page

Be the first to offer your GLOB comments, lunch photographs and opinions about Chipolte Mexican Grill.  Please identify your opinions with a PLUS SIGN (+) for positive comments, and a MINUS SIGN (-) for your negative comments.  - THANKS!

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