I AM the Dining GURU!
I have always had a strong love for food. I love good tastes and as a child if I got to enjoy one of my favorites it wouldn't be odd for me to do the infamous "happy food dance".
Now, let me clarify. This does not mean that I am a lover of all foods. I am a picky eater. I have a thing about textures, no slimy.... hate the slimy. So that means I don't eat:
- Tomatoes - unless they are chopped into little cubes for nachos or tacos OR if they are in a salsa (loves me some salsa)
- Mushrooms of any variety - they give me the willies
- Fruit. - yes.. I said it! I HATE FRUIT! Slimy, pulpy make you gag as the slime slides down your throat... [shivers]
- Chunky Puddings - tapioca I can live a lifetime without tasting.
- Yogurts with chunks of fruit slime - the ultimate in unsatisfactory textures.
- Fish - some I can deal with if it's deep fried beyond recognition. I also don't mind the shrimp at Benihana for some reason. Maybe because I see them make it with my own eyes so I know there is no funny business.
Which brings me to what I DO enjoy! I love dining out. LOVE IT! I think I like it so much because we were poor growing up and usually couldn't afford "out to eat". Many times we would cry and whine when we'd pass a McDonald's and mom would say, "I can make you a hamburger at home". Which usually ended up as small hockey pucks of meat with chunks of onions and green peppers sticking out.
Below you will find a list of my absolute all time favorite restaurants in the country. Yes, many are in Minnesota being that I live here. But some are in other places, as traveling treats.
El MesonI always order the Bistec Encebollado. It comes with black beans and white rice and is not your traditional steak and onions latin style. Its in this sauce that is nearly impossible to deconstruct. I'm thinking balsamic vinegar or maybe red wine. We also get the plantanitos for an appetizer with their house speciality salsa. I wish I could get some to take home with me cause it's amazing!
Machu PicchuI get the Pollo Soltado. Yes it has french fries in it... no it's not weird... just TRY IT! I order a side of black beans with my dinner and an empanada for an appetizer. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. We go here so much they start making our order when we walk in the door.
Howie G'sI know I know... looks like a big giant steak house where you eat your weight in meat and then rub your belly and undo your top button when you're through right?!? They have added a sushi bar to this seemingly all beef restaurant and I hear it's quite good. I order the sliced sirloin and it comes in this yummy asian inspired sauce with hints of soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Although there is a potato bar to slather yourself in butter I choose the sushi bars rice and it is the perfect marriage of flavors and textures. They offer a choice of 3 bottomless salads to start and I recommend the caeser but they are all quite tasty. If you get the soup, I warn you... it's actually beef stew and a meal in and of itself.
Macaroni Grill So what if it's a chain! I dig only one thing on the menu and if that one thing wasn't there... I probably wouldn't go. The Carmela's Chicken Rigatoni is soaking in this white wine cream sauce with small pieces of smokey flavored grilled chicken. Once again a caeser salad is usually ordered and their rosemary warmed bread is lovely with some olive oil and fresh ground pepper.
The Great Wall Some may say that this is your standard Americanized Chinese place but I say - YUM! They have the best wonton soup I've ever had. It's in a slightly darker brown broth and the wontons are of a thicker noodle variety. I would go so far to say they may use potsticker wraps for their wonton noodles but I really have no idea. I also get the Sizzling Spicy Chicken which comes out sizzling... as you would expect. It has this tasty spicy sauce with asparagus and red bell peppers. We usually share it and it's perfect.
PF Changs I may have to take this off my list of favorites soon as with weightwatchers most of my favorites are slowly going into the "bad" category. I used to get the lettuce wraps for an appetizer and the Double Pan fried noodles with Chicken for a main course. Now... with the whole diet thing, I'm subjected to their Ginger and garlic chicken and broccoli which is fine... but no pan friend noodles.
Christos If one were to enjoy the Greek food (and I do) then one would enjoy Christos. It's got all of the standard Greek fare. Mr. M loves the lemon soup to start... I have their Tomato Basil with chunks of Feta floating in it usually sopped up by some warm fresh pita bread. If they have my favorite on the menu (which they rarely do and I usually call ahead) Putenesca then I am truly in heaven. Kalamata olives, fettucine noodles, feta cheese, with a light olive oil. If they don't have my favorite I get any of the regular standard items Phyllo Chicken (not the right name but you get the point) or Spanakopita.
Snappy Dragon Judy Fu I love YOU! I went here on my first trip to Seattle with Mr. M as it was one of his all time favorites while he lives there and I TOTALLY KNOW WHY! It's amazing. The Jao Zi is to die for everything is amazing... literally pick ANYTHING on the menu and you will be in heaven. Now we just have to convince Mrs. Fu to start something here in Minnesota and we'll be all set.
The Mayflower In Vegas it's hard to pick your FAVORITE restaurant since really everything and anything there is a step above most things other cities have. The Mayflower offers yummy asian dishes but would by no means be considered authentic Chinese. I like it because it's different than most places who try to fuse Asian with American... I think they have succeeded and if I got to Vegas in two weeks like I want to... you'll see me there!
Houstons I would have sent you to their official website www.houstons.com but they had little to nothing about what kind of food you would find. I suppose it's a bit of a chain. Ok I'm lying, it's totally a chain. But they don't have them here in Minnesota I have gone to the one in Atlanta and had the quite tasty Chicken Strips. I know, chicken strips?!? What am I 8 years old??? No, I assure you, these are fried in a tempura like batter which makes them light and flaky. I also get the coleslaw and stringy fries that are so yummy and very much like comfort food for adults.
El Loro Located in total suburbia this is a diamond in the rough. We usually share the Chorri Pollo which is this tasty dish with a grilled chicken breast smothered in white cheese and ground chorizo sausage. Served with your standard refried beans and spanish rice (what a false title, they don't make spanish rice like that in authentic mexican places)as well as some fresh warm flour tortillas. Eaten much like you would a fajita it's the perfect meal for two. The chips and salsa are also on the favorites list as the salsa is fresh with chunks of onions and yes, dare I say tomatoes with just the right amount of heat.
ok... I'll stop now. Although there are quite a few more options that I love. I will let you all tell me your favorites. Items I HAVE to try if I come to your cities.