Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Chick & Ruth’s Delly – Annapolis, MD

20170730_142357Now that I’ve discovered Chick & Ruth’s Delly, it’s become my go-to place whenever we find ourselves in Annapolis. I found the place thanks to some great reviews on Trip Advisor. It’s honestly one of those restaurants that is just full of character, so its worth a visit if you’re up for adventure.

Chick & Ruth’s Delly is located right on Main 20170730_143837Street in downtown Annapolis. It’s 3 blocks from the Harbor and easy walking distance from the US Naval Academy. Parking is a bit tricky in Annapolis, but there is a parking garage about 1 block away called the Noah Hillman Garage.

The restaurant is not that impressive to look at from the inside or the outside, but it’s part 20170730_150902of the character that I was talking about. The building has a green awning beneath a vintage bright orange sign. The front window is covered with pages from the Menu and you’ll generally find customers lining the sidewalk. In my experience, the best thing to do is just march right inside and flag down the nearest waiter/waitress and ask to be added to the list for a table. The restaurant is small and usually crowded so the smaller the party, the better your chance of getting a table quick.

After a short wait, you will be escorted to a booth. The menu for the restaurant is the most haphazard menu you’ve ever seen (see above). It’s okay though, you probably have plenty of time to figure out what you want to order because the waitstaff always seem busy. But they”ve also always been incredibly nice. It’s a “delly” (I have no idea why they spell it that way), so I generally order a sandwich with pastrami or corned beef or the one above which is a combination of both. It doesn’t take too long for the food to arrive and while you wait, they provide a whole bin of homemade cucumber pickles that are delicious. The restaurant charges you a pretty big fee to split a sandwich, so just order yourself a whole one and take half home if it’s too much (it probably will be). The sandwiches do not come with french fries or any sides so those are ordered separately and can probably be skipped because they aren’t anything special. Instead, I recommend saving some room because the restaurant is also known for having something like 30 different flavors of fresh pie which they sell for $1.99 a slide.

If you find yourself in Annapolis, don’t be scared off by the shabby, crowded appearance. It’s really a fun experience if you can handle it!

RestaurantReview.Chick&RuthsDelly.AnnapolisMaryland.TravelBlog

 

 

San Antonio’s Little Red Barn – A Family Tradition

IMG957386My husband’s family has gone to the Little Red Barn for ages. When he first took me there, he told me that it was his Grandparents’ favorite restaurant for a night out. And now just about every time that we go back to visit family, we find ourselves going to Little Red Barn and that’s okay, because it really is a nice restaurant.

Located close to the intersection of Interstate 10 and 37, the first thing I noticed about the Little Red Barn is that it’s not that little. The sprawling building has a lot of dining space making reservations unnecessary unless you are bringing a big crowd. When you arrive you are promptly shown to a table by a waitress wearing cowboy boots. I’ve been there three times and each time have eaten in a separateIMG957390 dining area with its own western decor. The tables are picnic tables and the restaurant serves sweet tea in pitches making it feel very simple and homey. All of the dishes are served on heavy metal silver plates and bowls which make you feel like you are dining out on the trail.

Rather than paper menus the restaurant lists their entire menu on a wooden/poster sign board. One of the great tings about the restaurant is that they serve steaks in all sizes so you can really find one that is the right amount for you. One of the things that frustrates me about most steakhouses is that the steaks are such huge portions, I feel like part of it goes to waste. The 6 oz sirloin at the Little Red Barn is just my size.

IMG957391Each diner at the restaurant gets their own small salad. The salad is a simple mix of lettuce, tomato, cheese, and croutons and your choice of dressing on the side. The green goddess dressing is a very popular choice, but they also have basics like ranch and thousand island. The salad is really simple, but for some reason it’s really good in a way I can’t explain. I’m honestly hungry for a Little Red Barn salad as I write this review. IMG957392

For my main course, I always order the smallest sirloin steak and for a side you have a choice of french fries, baked potato, or green beans. Last time I ordered the french fries, but they have a loaded baked potato that looks delicious and will be my go-to from now on. My husband orders a larger rib-eye and adds a 6 piece shrimp to his order. Even though it’s a steak house, the Little Red Barn is quite famous for their shrimp.

Overall, we really love visiting the Little Red Barn in San Antonio. It’s a great, simple restaurant with very reasonable prices. Because of the atmosphere it works great if you’re celebrating an occasion or even if you just want a nice dinner out with family and friends. We highly recommend it and I’m sure will be back many times in the future.

RestaurantReview.LittleRedBarn.SanAntonioTX.TravelBlog

 

 

Eat at Portillo’s for a Chicago Dog

20170818_225441When visiting Chicago there are two foods that tourists have to get, a deep dish pizza and a Chicago-style hot dog. My husband has been to Chicago a bunch of times, so I asked for his opinion about where to get a hot dog and he said we had to go to Portillo’s. Interestingly, Portillo’s just opened a new location in Champaign, IL so my family had already been to one. And my mom loves the place, so that’s where we went!

Portillo’s is located in Downtown Chicago at the corner of Ontario and Clark streets. It’s about 6 blocks west of Michigan Avenue and 7 blocks north of the River for anyone staying in the Downtown area.

My picture isn’t great, but Portillo’s has this great old-timey, diner 20170818_225110atmosphere that I loved. They have neon signs advertising the different menu items and you go up to different counters based on what you want to order. Since we were there for hot dogs, we went right up to the hot dog counter and ordered. But they also have a milk shake counter and an Italian food counter that also looked awesome and that I’m dying to try. The tables are covered with picnic style red and white checkered table cloths and there is so much space that you can easily find a place to sit.

We ordered hot dogs, french fries with cheese, and a chocolate milkshake to share.  If you are ordering a “Chicago-Style” hot dog it comes with a full pickle spear, sports peppers, onions, tomato, and mustard. Brian loves them that way. He also told me that if you ordered ketchup the Chicago-ans will judge you (I don’t know if that’s true or if he was messing with me, but I 20170818_225623ordered mine without just in case and got ketchup from the condiment station – LOL).

Once the food is ready, you pick it up in bags at the counter. It really just takes a few minutes of waiting. My reaction to the food was as follows: The milk shake is huge, I’m so glad I talked Brian into sharing; the hot dogs came with poppy seed buns, fancy!; and yum, liquid cheese.

Overall I loved our visit to Portillo’s and it’s on my list to go back to next time I’m in Chicago, or next time I visit my family in Champaign, IL!

RestaurantReview.PortillosChicagoIL.TravelBlog

 

The Original Rainbow Cone

Our Friends modeling their Rainbow Cones! :)

When we visited Chicago our friends told us that we had to go to Rainbow Cone. However, they all said that it was way too far to Uber to the original location on the South Side of Chicago. But, our day was saved once we discovered that there was actually a location at Navy Pier, and so we set off!

The Original Rainbow Cone is located in a small white building, basically a hut, on the far right side of Navy Pier. It’s past the Ferris Wheel, about halfway down the pier and across from the restaurant called Riva’s.

Our friends had told us all about the flavor choices while we were in the Uber: Chocolate, Pistacchio (green), Strawberry (pink), Orange Sherbert (orange) and Palmer House (yellow) with cherry

chunks. However, Brian and I were completely surprised when we got there and found out that you actually get all 5 flavors! Your only decision is if you want it in a cup or a cone!

We loved it so much we actually got it two days in a row when we found ourselves at Navy Pier again! 🙂

RestaurantReview.RainbowCone.ChicagoIL.TravelBlog

 

 

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – Icelandic Hot Dogs

DSC00706 DSC00709 DSC00713If you find yourself in Reykjavik, you have to stop by Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (Translation: “Town’s Best Hot Dogs”) to try their famous Icelandic Hot Dogs for an inexpensive lunch or snack. Yes, really.

The hot dog stand is located in downtown Reykjavik, an easy walk from many of the main tourist attractions like the Harpa Concert Hall (about 3 blocks) and Hallgrimskirkja (1 km/ 12 minutes). If you are walking from Hallgrimskirkja, you will go right through the neighborhood with all the shops and bars and some interesting graffiti, so it’s a pretty scenic walk.

Baejarins Beztu Pylsur is a small building where people order hot dogs right on the street. If you are visiting the stand, you’ll want to allow some time because sometimes the line stretches around the block!

They don’t have any menu items other than hot dogs and soda, so its fairly simple. (Note: after standing in a long line you may want to order more than one!) Your toppings choices are: Ketchup, mustard, onions, and remoulade. Remoulade is a mayonnaise based sauce with a bit of spice to it. If you’re going to get the true Icelandic experience, you order your hotdog with “The Works”!

Most interesting about the hot dogs is that they are made with a natural casing that actually snaps when you bite into it! It’s quite unique.

RestaurantReview.BaejarinsBeztuPylsur.ReykjavikIceland.HotDogs.TravelBlog

 

Location Noted on Google Maps.

IcelandHotDogMap

Anchor Bar – Home of the Original Buffalo Wings

IMG_6786Frank and Teressa’s Anchor Bar is located in Buffalo, NY, and thus the reason that Buffalo Wings got their name. According to their website, Buffalo wings were created by Teressa for their son, who asked her to create a tasty snack for him and his friends while they hung out at the bar.

We decided to stop and visit Anchor Bar this summer while we were on a road trip to Niagara Falls. Buffalo is only about an hour IMG_6787from the falls, and it’s near the westernmost of three border crossings in the area, so depending on where you are coming from, it’s probably not very far out of your way. In our case, we decided to stop by for an early lunch/snack as we road tripped back home to Washington DC.

We had already had a late breakfast of Tim Horton’s doughnuts on our way out of Canada, and were pretty stuffed when we passed through Buffalo. But, we didn’t to miss our opportunity, so, we ordered one plate of mixed appetizers including pizza logs, chicken tenders, and potato skins. We also ordered a medium-sized plate of buffalo wings that came with celery and we asked for ranch dressing instead of blue cheese. They sell the wings in many different quantities so you can order just what you plan to eat. All of the food was good, but it’s definitely bar food which is fine because that’s how they are advertised.

Overall it was a great stop and we recommend it if you are a fan of spicy food and are passing through Buffalo. I would definitely go back and would love to try other menu choices since we stopped when we weren’t very hungry. They also sell bottles of sauce, T-shirts, and adorable little stuffed winged-buffaloes in their gift shop for people who are interested!

RestaurantReview.AnchorBar.Buffalo.NY.TravelBlog

 

Gyristroula – All the Greek Classics in a Great Location near the Acropolis

IMG_4365When my husband and I visited Athens, we were there the day before Easter and so we tried to hurry through all of the archaeological sites because they were closing early. As a result, we didn’t have time to stop for lunch, but we passed this place with signs that really caught our eye and the next day, Easter Sunday, we trekked all the way back just to go to it.

Gyristroula is located catty-corner to the Thissio metro station, at the corner of Adrianou St. and Agion Asomaton Place. It’s also very close to the archaeological sites of Keramikos and the Ancient Agora of Athens, so if you’re in the vicinity of those two sites, you’re only a couple of blocks from an excellent lunch. And they have a lot of pictures on signs out front, so you’ll know what they offer before even seeing a menu.

IMG_4358In Greek, the word is spelled Γυριστρούλα (this is the name that you will see on the sign out front), which translates to “roundworms” according to Google Translator. But I asked, the restaurant and the actually name of the restaurant, Gyristoula, has a much nicer meaning and origin :). According to the staff, Gyristroula is a made up greek world from a song called Gyristroula by Lakis Papadopoulos. Gyristroula is a female noun and it means the one who wonders around and goes from a place to another doesn’t stay IMG_4359for a long time in a place or in a relationship and it’s from the Greek word “γυρίζω” which means turns around. That’s where the gyros took its name because it tuns around!

IMG_4362Gyristroula has a really long menu which helpfully includes pictures. We loved it because it’s one of the few places where we actually found pita sandwiches in Athens! I never dreamed that they would be so hard to come by. Brian ordered a sandwich and so he also ordered a greek salad as a side, which came as a huge salad (see above in the white bowl) while my platter came with a smaller simpler salad (in the red bowl). We could have easily split the bigger one between two people. Our salads were excellent. The tomatoes were red and fresh which is important to me. And the Greek feta was delicious!

IMG_4360For his main course, Brian ordered a pita with shaved chicken, french fries on the side, and it came with a small container of tzatziki sauce. I ordered a platter which consisted of shaved chicken, french fries, bread, and a side salad. My platter also included a yellow sauce, which seemed somewhat like a mayonnaise. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it, but I remember that I liked dipping my chicken in both my sauce and in Brian’s extra tzatziki.  We shared a slice of baklava for dessert that was delicious, but so very sweet!

IMG_4363

We very much enjoyed our meal and we liked sitting outside. The weather in Athens in April was just perfect and our table had some covering which kept back the sun.  We had a great time eating Greek food and watching people stroll down the busy street right in front of us. If you find yourself wandering around the tourist sites in Athens, we highly recommend Gyristroula as it’s inexpensive, the food is great, and it’s perfectly located!

RestaurantReview.Gyristroula.TravelBlog

Electra Roof Garden – Dining with the Gods

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The Electra Roof Garden offers one of the most beautiful views in Athens. The restaurant is located on the fifth floor of the Electra Palace Athens hotel in Plaka, just northeast of the Acropolis. It’s also gives off a pretty fancy vibe, which is probably not surprising since it’s located in a 5-star hotel. That being said, we went in jeans and tennis shoes since that’s what we had and we didn’t have any issues. You could easily arrive dressier and be just fine, but I wouldn’t IMG_4341recommend going more casual than we did. Their website even says the restaurant is “smart casual”.

We did not have reservations, but arrived for a slightly early dinner and were shown immediately to an empty table. It was a bit chilly outside, so we had an indoor table but each table in the restaurant is arranged to have a beautiful view of the acropolis.

The IMG_4342restaurant had a Mediterranean menu with many classic Greek options, but prepared in different ways, to make it feel “fancier”. It was also obvious that the Electra Roof Garden cared about the plate presentation as well as the food taste. We started with an appetizer and salad to share. For an appetizer, we selected a chorizo and rice dish that we expected to be like paella. It arrived covered with little blobs of red and white that seemed like a fancy mayonnaise and ketchup drops. Anyways, I can’t describe it as anything other than weird.

The salad choices were all pretty fancy. We selected a mixed greens option that came with slices of pumpkin, a type of cheese, and small pieces of a salami. Overall, I remember thinking that the salad was fine, but I loved the traditional Greek salads that we ate the entire week we were in Athens, and so it was a bit too fancy for me. I IMG_4347honestly can’t remember the salad dressing, so it wasn’t memorable in either a good or bad way.

For our main courses, I selected the chicken breast while Brian ordered the filet mignon. My chicken came on a pile of purple olives which was the only side dish. It also had a sauce drizzled on the place which was intended to be fancy, but was mostly reminiscent of the rice dish we had early. The IMG_4346chicken was fine, but I remember thinking it was a bit disappointing and overpriced. Brian’s steak came with a side  of finely mashed sweet potatoes which he liked and a few mushrooms which he completely avoided because he’s not a fan of mushrooms. Again, there were some “decorative drops” of something on his plate. We opted to skip dessert for the evening, but asked our waiter to take our picture on the balcony and he happily agreed.

Overall, my impression of the Roof Garden was good, although the restaurant was a bit too fancy for our taste and as a result, we left feeling like we had overpaid a little bit. All of that being said, we had a lovely evening and would highly recommend the restaurant if you are celebrating a special occasion and like restaurants which offer a bit fancier fare.

RestaurantReview.ElectraRoofGarden.TravelBlog

La Gloria – Mexican Street Food in San Antonio

20170812_201146My husband grew up in San Antonio, but now we live pretty far away so he has his favorite restaurants that we always have to go to when he gets to come back home for a visit. One place that I had been hoping to get to try our last couple of trips was La Gloria, because I had only heard good things about it, including from Brian. He’s been there a few times, but I never had and it was on my list. So this time we managed a visit!IMG957394

La Gloria describes itself as a Mexican street food restaurant which makes it unique from other Mexican restaurants. La Gloria is    IMG957395located in the Pearl Brewery neighborhood, an urban redevelopment of an old brewing factory, and as a result the restaurant has a very trendy, but Mexican vibe. (Note, there is also a smaller version of La Gloria in the San Antonio airport). The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating which lets you enjoy the San Antonio weather or to escape from the heat, whichever you need to do. It was a very warm day so we opted for an inside table and had a very short 10 minute wait at 6:30pm on a Friday night in August. While we waited for a table, the restaurant has quite a bit of seating in an outdoor patio area decorated with some unique large sculptures.

After being shown to our table, I had two immediate reactions. First, although we sat indoors, the restaurant was still quite warm due to the constant traffic back and forth between the indoor area and the outdoor seating. We tolerated the heat, but it was a bit uncomfortable. Second, the menu at La Gloria is a bit difficult to understand. I’m a huge fan of Mexican food and have a pretty good grasp on the Spanish language, but a good portion of the menu was very confusing to me. I suppose this is because Mexican Street food 20170812_201213is quite a bit different from regular Mexican food? Anyways, I asked the waitress for assistance and still felt quite confused, so I will attempt to clarify what I now know based on my experience. (If anyone from La Gloria reads this review, I would like to recommend creating a menu with pictures!). I also wish they would have spelled out the fountain soda choices on menu, because I might have tried one if I had known what the options were.

I was still confused at the time, but ultimately settled on a Mexican pizza with shredded chicken. Brian ordered a lava bowl with steak chili (later learned this is called the Arrachera en Adobo) which is his favorite thing from the restaurant, and my mother-in-law selected a panucho with pork (not pictured). At this point and time, I think the only difference between the panucho and a tostada is the very bottom layer. My understanding is that a tostada has a essentially a flat hard taco shell on the bottom layer. A panucho has a refried tortilla stuffed with black beans inside. Both are served with the same types of toppings and look the same from above. The only difference between a mexican pizza and a tostada is the size and the price. Mine arrived big enough to share. If I could go back in time, I would’ve just ordered a tostada so that less went to waste.

Overall, I thought that the food was pretty good, but not necessarily great. I probably wouldn’t order the Mexican pizza again, but would want to try different options. I thought the tortilla for the bottom layer was really hard. On the other hand, my husband loved his dish and he orders the same thing every time. Most, I’m still frustrated with the way the menu is presented. If the menu was easier to read (with pictures or descriptions), I might have tried a couple of different smaller plates to share. However, at the time, I just felt so lost, I picked one thing that ended up being way too much food and felt like I overpaid. I also thought it was a bit odd that my husband had to pay for extra tortillas when he took half of his chili home in a to-go box. If you are ever in the San Antonio area, I do recommend trying La Gloria. If you’re in doubt, you could always be more insistent than I am about asking for help. I liked the restaurant, and saw quite a few dishes on other tables that looked delicious and would love to try. I’m just going to have to persevere through the menu until I find my favorite dish!

RestaurantReview.LaGloria.TravelBlog

Ristorante La Grotta Guelfa – My Favorite in Florence

IMG_5057Sometimes the best restaurants that you find are ones you stumble across yourself. And that’s what happened when we found La Grotta Guelfa. However, now that I’m back from our trip, I can see that lots of other travelers agree as La Grotta Guelfa is rated as a 4-star restaurant on Google.

We found the restaurant after spending a busy day walking around Florence. We were hungry and ready to find a nice restaurant where we could sit down and rest our legs and we also didn’t want to have to go out of our way to find a place. So after crossing the    Ponte Vecchio, walking a few blocks, and turning left towards our hotel, La Grotta Guelfa was IMG_5055one of the first restaurants we found. We were a bit early for the evening rush so we had our pick of tables and sat right in front of the restaurant in the outdoor seating area. If the weather is colder, the inside of the building is also really lovely.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant is how nice the waiting staff is. They let us choose our table and seemed so easy going and easy to laugh. Brian and I started our dinner with a caprese salad to share which IMG_5061was excellent! We had tons of caprese salads on our trip through Italy and we both agree that La Grotta Guelfa had just the right tomato to cheese ratio! Also, we learned that different types of balsamic vinegar or too much balsamic can make a big difference in the taste of your salad!

For dinner, Brian decided to try another IMG_5060Florentine steak. Luckily at this restaurant they were single portions, unlike the restaurant we ate at two nights prior. He was a bit worried because they didn’t ask how he liked his steak cooked, but was pleasantly surprised when it arrived Medium Rare, just the way he would have ordered it! ForIMG_5058 a side, Brian asked for asparagus and ended up with the biggest stalks we had ever seen!

I ordered the Pasta Arrabiata for the first time in Italy and I absolutely loved it. I love foods that are spicy with a bit of a kick, so the Arrabiata with it’s blend of tomatoes, garlic, and dried red chili peppers is perfect for me. I’ve tried a few times since then to find a recipe or another restaurant, but none of them have been as good as my dish from La Grotta Guelfa.

While we dined, we were entertained by the pigeons that wandered around the restaurant stealing bread crumbs. We also talked to the waiter and learned that the building is one of the oldest buildings in Florence and that it used to be a residence.

If you’re in Florence and looking for a nice place to relax and eat a good meal, we highly recommend La Grotta Guelfa. It’s a place where the food and atmosphere fits well if you are looking for a fancy date night or a casual dinner. To read their menu and plan your visit, you can visit their website here: http://www.grottaguelfa.it/

RestaurantReview.LaGrottaGuelfa.TravelBlog