30 March 2006

Going Out To Eat

I LOVE going out to eat. This love developed shortly after I heard one too many, "I don't like this. I don't want to eat it. Waaaah!" Besides, cooking takes preparation, time and talent and I'd rather blog, or sew, or sit on my butt watching TiVo'd Oprah. We don't think about cooking until everyone is starving and by then it's too late to get started. I know I've trained my family to be this way - shame on me. When I go out to eat I pretty much get the exact same thing everytime at each restaurant. Each place has one or more items on the menu I love and trying something else (like my hubby does EVERY time) just ends in disappointment and wishing I had just gotten what I always get. Here's my list of restaurants and what I get there, in no particular order... (drum roll please) 1. Carrabba's: filet Marsala, Mezzaluna Carrabba (combination of 2 dishes) or the Salmon On a number of times (at least 3) the salmon has come to me not completely cooked, so watch out for that. Anything with the word "Bryan" in it is delicious. The taglainini (sp?) is foul - not in the chicken sense but in the gross sense. Proceed with caution. Most entree's come with soup (all are yummy but the spicy chicken is especially) or a salad; the Caesar is the best and I get mine without croutons - if I'm going to eat all that bread in olive oil then I need no croutons. Oh, another thing about the olive oil, you have to ask for the balsamic vinegar; add it. 2. Wendy's: grilled chicken sandwich with fries and a coke I figure that ordering the GRILLED chicken instead of the breaded/fried gives me permission to have some fries and coke. Sometimes I'll throw away the end of the bread if I run out of chicken in the bites. This is not how I grew up but I'm trying to convert - I don't have to eat everything on my plate MOTHER! 3. Los Hermanos: Halibut Veracruz Now, the clencher with LH is that I never go if I have to wait longer than 10 minutes. There is no burrito on this planet worth a 2 hour wait. Swing through Taco Hell - it's faster anyway. Their purple smoothie drink is worth the $ but not worth buying a t-shirt and wearing it there so you can get it for free. Seriously, I don't want to look like an idiot to save $3.25. No offence to those who do want to look like idiots... you're saving lots of money and that is to be commended! 4. Thai Village in AF: Pad Thai and/or the coconut soup (can't remember the official name) This place gets a bad rap because they serve their soda in a can. But, I am happy to know that no bugs have fallen into the fountain container and I'm drinking the real deal. There is one server there that needs an attitude adjustment (WE are the customer, don't be a jerk) but most of them are gracious. Pad thai is what I get at any Thai restaurant. 5. Cafe' Rio: grilled steak salad only if I'm going there with someone who loves it will I wait in line for 30-45 minutes for some friggin' lettuce and chewy sliced steak. I don't get the big deal about that place. It's just too long to wait for a burrito (see the LH notes). Granted, I do think their tomatillo ranch dressing is to DIE for but my gourmet friend Miss Teenie can make it pretty close to the real deal. The place we prefer is... 6. Bajio: chicken chimichanga with black beans and sweet rice topped with mango salsa B usually gets the pineapple shrimp salad but I think the shrimp are dumb. They're just little guys, not worth stabbing around the lettuce for (ending in a preposition?). But the guys behind the counter are the SAME ones everytime (seems like they're at the other ones we go to also, but I'm sure they're not). The kids chaw on a cheese quesadilla ("Make yourself a dang quesa-dill-a, Napoleon!") and the sweet rice while gulping down Apple Beer (who's idea was Apple Beer anyway?) 7. California Pizza Kitchen: hummus with pita bread if with a friend and Margherita Pizza I can eat a whole pizza by myself. The crust is thin and tasty and the ingredients are fresh basil, mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. The hummus is to die for. They have a spicy grilled chicken soup that, I swear, is the same that you can get in the refridgerator section of Costco. I have one in my freezer at this very moment. 8. Carl's Jr.: I love, love, love the low-carb $6 burger that comes wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun Sometimes they use a piece of lettuce that is too monsterous to get into your mouth but the patty is so tasty and the fresh ingredients are refreshing. Sometimes I top it off with an Oreo Shake --- I don't eat the burger for any type of diet, I just like the taste. 9. Arby's: jalepeno poppers with the berry dipping sauce I'll swing through and just snack on those sometimes. Not ALL the time or often but they're fun and I won't go through the trouble of making them at home. 10. Tepanyaki: chicken with veggies This is a fun place to go if you have a group and are alright with smelling like grill smoke. You must be ready for them to hurl a busted piece of shrimp or chicken (if you're allergic to fish) into your mouth but even my kids have successfully accomplished this feat (one is 6 and the other almost 3). I hear they're opening one in Lehi right off the freeway. The Provo one is out-of-date and kinda trashy. My P loves the broth they bring out at the beginning; shocking. These are all places in the Utah Valley area. Restaurants up in SLC have much better cuisine than we do down here and I do try what sounds good on the menu (Red Rock Brewery, Lugano's, Pine, The Boulevard, Cucina's). With the exception of Carrabba's, we've found the food choices in the valley to be sub-par. What makes your tastebuds tap?


~j. said...

Yay! What a great idea for a post. Inspires me to do one of my own one day, because I feel the same as you: Dangit, I should have just gone with something that I know I like. (Although tonight at Mimi's I got meatloaf...wha???)

Carrabba's: petit filet. MMM. And I agree with the balsamic - ask for it. I lovelovelove their minestrone soup, too.

Wendy's: junior cheeseburger deluxe. maybe fries, but usually not.

Cafe Rio: veggie salad, black beans, house dressing. Occassionally I'll get the steak on the side for the kids, but lately, if the kids are going to be with me or awake when I bring it home, I have to just get them their own.

Thanks for the Bajio recommendation, by the way. I've heard great things but only went there once and was very disappointed in their salad (they're no cafe rio...). :)

CPK: the one with the avocado & lettuce OR the one with the black beans & mexican stuff. I, too, can eat one on my own.

PF Changs: lettuce wraps, mongolian beef, kung pao chicken, honey crispy chicken (only listed on the lunch menu; on the dinner menu there is honey crispy shrimp, but you can ask for the chicken for dinner), shrimp chow mein. I can't get ALL of these EVERY time, but I know I like 'em.

I think that's all...

compulsive writer said...

I once made a comment to a female server at one of my favorite restaurants about the lack of fine dining in Provo. Her reply? "That's because there are not enough good looking gay men to hire as servers." Still makes me laugh...

I'm right with you ~j on the lettuce wraps at PF Changs. I could eat those every day.

Wendys: Single with lite mayo, lettuce and tomato only. Although admittedly 2 out of 3 times they will get the order wrong, which just means I get to come back another day for a...

You guessed it! FREE MEAL! My favorite there is the pork burrito enchilda style. Every time. Oh and please do share the recipe for the knock-off tomatillo sauce.

As for the Bajio...although some of my nearest and dearest friends swear by it I have to publicly admit that the first and only time I went there I got one of the worst cases of food poisoning ever. Just to warn you.

~j. said...

Sisters and brothers, I have a testimony of the meatloaf from Mimi's. Even the next morning, for breakfast, after a minute in the microwave. I know it's true.

Eliza said...

Cafe Rio--overrated! I'm happy to eat it if someone else gets it for me--that line is insane. And it always seems salty to me. Maybe that's because I've become accustomed to the sweetness of--

Bajio--my favorite. Ever. I love the chicken green chile salad and have a testimony of that, for sure. I've been to most of the Utah locations, and for some reason it just always tastes best in Provo.

I'm a fan of Rumbi, although I got food poisoning from their salad dressing first time I ate there. Now I get the Beach Club Sandwich--turkey/bacon/avocado with delicious salsa and chips on the side.

Also, in the Provo arena, I always liked Guru's despite their opening and closing at random. Their corn fries are good, but I think they stopped making them. I started going to Guru's when I realized it was cheaper, better, and faster than the Los H. one block away.

Anyway. Just had to put my 2 cents in after I found your blog on ~j's and laughed for about a minute straight re: your dog's diaper situation. Nice blog.

~j. said...

Oh - the key to Cafe Rio is calling ahead and picking it up. 375-5133. You're welcome.

more caffeine, please said...

I found your blog from Jen and since I just had THE WORST dinner at Macarnoi Grill I'll say let's not get the Lobster Ravioli from there.

Now, a shameless plug for my family's restaurants....Da ta da da.... Costa Azul!

Provo, Lindon, Gateway, Denver, AZ, Sacramento and soon Huntington Beach.

And, we're nicer than the Cafe Rio folks.

more caffeine, please said...

Okay, how lame can one be? The actual name is Costa Vida (just changed it). Duh.

Don't let my ignorance scare you away. And may I recommend our halibut tacos?

LuckyRedHen said...

Welcome everyone!!!

~j-I'm not a fan of the salads at Bajio but, apparently, Eliza likes the Chicken Green Chile Salad and the meatloaf at Sundance...erotic, especially on the plates they use. They're some kind of rough pottery that they wouldn't sell me and didn't offer in the gift shop so I considered for longer than I really should have of five-finger-discounting it.

CW-Tupperware has a recipe & seasoning that is just like PF Chang's lettuce wraps. I've even faked the recipe without the seasoning and it came out close enough for foolin'. The secret ingredient is the Hoisin Sauce, which is available in most grocery stores in the Asian section. Then add some fresh grated ginger, garlic, soy sauce and brown sugar. Voila. I prefer butter/boston lettuce to iceburg.

Eliza-I like Guru's Grilled Halibut Salad when they have it (seasonal; right now it's salmon and it's not as good) and the corn fries are the bomb! As for the dog; I thought we were safe having the diaper on her but the last one I put on I cut the hole too big for the tail and she was able to leave a present for me because I tried forcing her to wait - dangit.

more caffeine-I hope you don't get paid to plug Costa "Vida"... just kidding. I love halibut (from the NW) so I'll be trying the halibut tacos and letting you know.

Lyle said...

Down here, they have Rosa's, which is totally different than the Rosa's that used to be by Provo High. It's one of them there hybrid restaurants, fast-food/dining, the way they do at Cafe Rio or Bajio Grill. Oh soo tasty and soo cheap. Biggest problem, our 4yr. old hates Mexican food so we don't go very often.

cabesh said...

Utah Valley Favorites (that I'm missing):

Cafe Rio-- beef burrito, black beans, mild, enchilada style

Macaroni Grill-- Chicken portabello

Spaghetti Factory-- ravoli with a side of broccoli. SERIOUSLY, try the broccoli--it's awesome!

Los Hermanos- cheese enchilada w/ chicken. Diablo Rojo.

AND, one that's here too, so I'm not missing it:

Wendy's chili. Yum! It tastes homemade (and I don't mean from a can).

La Yen said...

I would give W's left nut for some Bajios sweet rice right now.

waldo said...

La Yen is being pretty fast and loose with my nuts. I object.

But I also love going out to eat, and I have to say that the Smokehouse BBQ in provo is by far the best restaurant there. I could eat Smokehouse every day, and apart from being the size of a house, I wouldn't object.

And I have eaten at Los Hermanos one time and that will be the one and only time I ever eat there. When I asked for hot sauce, they said (and I am NOT making this up), "We don't have hot sauce, but I could give you some ketchup and chili powder." Come on!

waldo said...

Jen is being pretty fast and loose with my nuts. I object.

I also love going out to eat, and the best place I have found to eat in Provo... well, it's a tie. Tuesdays at Demae is 50% sushi night, and it's awesome (very authentic and reasonably priced). But for every day dining (and I mean EVERY DAY) I have to say Smokehouse. It's the best place I've eaten in PRovo, ever.

BTW, I have only eaten at Los Hermanos one time, and that will be it for me for ever. I asked for hot sauce, and they said (and I am NOT making this up), "We don't have any, but I can give you some ketchup and chili powder." I mean, come on!

Lyle said...

Keeping the favorite list in Utah, I would say that Tucanos is my favorite followed by PF Changs. Pick a menu item from either of these places and Pavlovs dog takes a back seat to my salivating.

Bek said...

Do you know how long it has been since I have lived in Utah?????

I have never heard of these resturaunts.....(besides Wendys....the one where the finger was found is our closest one.....) I have heard lots of talk of this...Cafe Rio....I must try it. I LOVE the Baja Fresh..do they have those there? And Wahoos (fish tacos..from Huntington Beach..but MCP's place is much better I am sure..........)

I am coming to to town this week.Shall we have a blog lunch and show me the new and improved Provo?

Imsewfunny, I saw your comment on my blog PLEASE TEACH ME HOW TO TAKE PICTURES!! I don't know how my camear works. :-) Well, I kind of do. WHen I adjust the fstop to make the background blurry, I don't always get crisp subjects (and then I have to play with the sharp filters in photoshop....). I am not sure if it is just because I don't know what I am doing or if it is because I should be wearing glasses and my eye can't tell when it is in focus. I rely on my auto setting a lot....

We should talk, eat lunch and you can share you knowlege with me...what do you say? :-)

Bek said...

BTW..that is how I eat too. THere is one thing that I eat at each place....I am always afraid I won't like the new thing that I try as much as the old favorite.

:-) It drives my husband nuts.

LuckyRedHen said...

Lyle, I don't think I've officially welcomed you to my blog...

W E L C O M E!

W, La Yen offered YOUR left nut because she doesn't have any of her own. You could make yourself useful ;o) And I would like to thank you for turning me on...
to Beto's chicken burrito with the green sauce!

AzĂșcar said...

I've eaten at Carraba's twice and have never been impressed. Please, tell me, what's the secret? Better company?

I love Pampas, an argentinian steakhouse located in the old pizza hut on University ave 350 North. I have a testimony of their molten potatos croquettes and the desset buffet (for THREE dollars.)

I used to love Cafe Del Sol, but they're not open anymore. It was worth the chance you'd get hepatitis (the reason for their many mandated health department closings) for their handmade corn tacos.

El Azteca will take Los H and beat them into the ground, just name the time and the place.

Thai Ruby is goooood. I, too, try the Pad Thai everywhere I go, but I will branch out.

Yamato, in Orem. Tasty Japanese. Geo had the seaweed salad and it was Divine. I'm nuts for miso soup.

BRAND X BURGERS in Springville--worth the drive for the valley's, possibly the state's, best cheeseburger and onion rings.

Bombay House-mmmm garlic naan. My husband won't go with me, anyone want to meet me there for dinner sometime?

Shoots, the new Chinese place at the Riverwoods (where China Lily used to be) is very tasty and fresh.

There are more....let me think about it.

Eliza said...

Forgot one of my fave Utah fresh-Mex places, Barbacoa. Along the same lines of Baja Fresh and Chipotle. I love their burritos. I don't know if there are any Barbacoas in Utah county but I would guess as much since they're all over SLC.

I liked Cafe del Sol, too.