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Archive for Restaurants

::eating out:: By George! Pizza, Pasta & Cheesesteaks

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With all the time spent in Reading Terminal Market during the Philadelphia Comic Con, I got to enjoy tons of food that I had yet to try. I adore the Market.  But it is just not as convenient as all the food in our own neighborhood, so it requires a special occasion to make it down. One day when I am rich, I will make more of an effort to visit more often.

With all of us kind of craving cheesesteak goodness, we headed towards our usual spot Spataro’s only to find they were closed for the day!  The horror! Luckily after exploring a bit more, we found the back corner of the market. Neither PTB or I had ever been back there!  How had we missed this corner? With a huge neon sign guiding us overhead, we found By George Cheesesteaks and other Italian yumminess.

While we waited, I took a ton of pictures to remember everything I want to try in the future.

I’m not going to say it was the best cheesesteak I had ever had. I am not a fan of digesting animal fat at all, so when it is present in a sandwich, I cringe a little. Flavor-wise though, it was still a higher quality meat, and it was a well made sandwich. They had a huge variety, I went with the spinach, garlic, onions, and provolone.

The only other downfall to these sandwiches it the size. They are well over a foot long and about 4-5″ in diameter.

This was not a meal for one. At least not for me. Once I said something, the boys felt the need to prove me wrong. I would much rather split a sandwich and fries, but PTB doesn’t like fried onions on his cheesesteaks!

I will give George’s another try if the time comes. Overall, I was completely satisfied with the sandwich. I just wish I knew ahead of time it could feed an army. And it will take me forever to get through their endless menu and try everything. But they have tomato pie, so you know it’s good ūüôā


By George on Urbanspoon

::eating out:: Radio Maria, Champaign, Ill

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If I ever have to go to Champaign, Illinois again, I know where I will have Sunday brunch. ¬†I won’t deny, we didn’t have the best service when we visited Radio Maria. ¬†In fact, some might say it was downright bad. ¬†But it was Easter Sunday (overdue post?), and maybe the staff was slim pickings. ¬†It was really only our waiter that was bad. ¬†Anyone who walked by that was asked for something (utensils, creamer, etc), was more than happy to oblige.

Wouldn’t you forgive a forgetful waiter when a meal like this sits in front of you?

I ordered the Smoked Pork Torta. ¬†Let me just tell you…if the waiter has agreed to my non-corn wanting, it would have been perfect. ¬†But I still ate it all. ¬†The orange chipotle bbq sauce was INCREDIBLE.

PTB’s meal wasn’t so pretty, but the Masa Boat Surprise did not disappoint. ¬†It was also delicious. ¬†And the potatoes were yummy too!

This restaurant had an odd mix of Tex-Mex and Cajun style. ¬†I will happily admit, they seem to get the Tex-Mex a little better than the Cajun. ¬†We ordered Beignets for the four of us. ¬†The girls both wanting to try both the cinnamon-sugar and the powdered, so we decided on an order of each and to share. ¬†The powdered were perfect. ¬†The cinnamon-sugar… Let’s just say they forgot the sugar. ¬†Have you ever had a spoonful of cinnamon? ¬†Well, don’t go try it just because I said so. ¬†You’ll never come back.

One of our friends ordered a cajun dish. ¬†I want to say maybe the shrimp and grits? ¬†Maybe not. ¬†It was all a blur. ¬†We received three of the dishes, and then the waiter soon asked the meal-less one if he wanted anything… ¬†“Yeah, the meal I ordered…” ¬†We all assumed for a few minutes that his was still coming, until that moment. ¬†That was fun? But I promise, this just seemed like that particular waiter was the problem. ¬†Remember, I had to ask someone for cream for my coffee? ¬†Everyone else was SUPER NICE. ¬†Oh…and the creole dish, I believe it got a disappointing review. ¬†But it was rushed. Maybe if it had been prepared with our meals it would have turned out better?

Radio Maria on Urbanspoon Ok, so the moral of the story is, if you ever end up in this strange little college town, there are so many places you should go. ¬†If you are there on a brunch day, you could give this place a go. ¬†I have a few other things about our trip to Champaign that I will be posting eventually. ¬†I just couldn’t resist sharing these gorgeous meals ¬†ūüôā ¬†And if you ever have friends in the Champaign area, visit them! ¬†The town is incredible and perfect for a weekend visit.

Champaign isn’t big enough to have any Open Table or Urban Spoon listings. My defaults as a city-liver. ¬†But I did find them on Yelp. ¬†Let me know if you ever end up in this tiny town. ¬†And if you area already there and find this tiny blog… What is your favorite place?

::saturday special:: Saxbys in Manayunk

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Let’s talk about this drink for a minute. ¬†Let’s talk about how delicious it was. ¬†I don’t think it is any secret what I like. ¬†Coffee. ¬†Chocolate. ¬†Spice. ¬†Combine these three things and I am happy. ¬†Add in ice cream (ok frozen yogurt) and it is even better. ¬†Perhaps unstoppable.

Despite my love of Starbucks, I was never a huge fan of Frappucinos. ¬†Something about them (the old formula) didn’t agree with me completely. ¬†Something about them (the new formula) scares me away from even trying them again (maybe the gum?). ¬†I do love milkshakes, but it seems to be difficult to find one that isn’t giant while you are out and about. ¬†Oh! ¬†That brings up another thing I have made clear that I love. ¬†Sitting outside to eat.

This post is more of a story than anything. ¬†I haven’t tried many things on the Saxbys menu. ¬†Yet. ¬†Let’s start at the beginning.

When I worked in Manayunk (a decade ago already!), I was a regular at Bucks County Coffee. ¬†There was something special about buying my coffee from a local company. ¬†At that point the most convenient Starbucks to my neighborhood was Plymouth Meeting, so Bucks County it was… I may have even applied at Bucks once. ¬†They only hired people with Barista experience?! ¬†Really? ¬†You don’t want to train people? You just wanted Starbucks sloppy seconds? ¬†So, I worked at Starbucks. ¬†For almost 6 years. ¬†No offense Bucks, but you lost a customer because you wouldn’t hire me. ¬†Free Coffee > Local Coffee. ¬†And my Starbucks family was pretty awesome.

Fast forward to sometime in the last 5 years. ¬†Sometime since I stopped working at Starbucks, moved back to the old neighborhood, and returned to Manayunk regularly. ¬†Sometime when Bucks County Coffees closed and were quickly replaced by Saxbys all over the Delaware Valley. ¬†It was like Bucks County Coffee. ¬†The chalkboard menus were still there. ¬†The comfortable atmosphere was still there. ¬†It seemed a little less coffee-snobby and a little more modern all around snobby (Just like me!). ¬†The chai latte’s were still good. ¬†They still burned my soymilk almost every time. ¬†And really, our visits to Saxby’s vs. Starbucks in Manayunk just depended on what end of Main Street we were parked near. ¬†Then the Saxbys disappeared! ¬†What the what?! ¬†Soon we realized it was reopening down the street. ¬†Closer to Starbucks?! ¬†Close enough that we hadn’t been there yet. ¬†Until yesterday.

Today I went to Manayunk to visit a friend. ¬†We were going to bake cookies and hang out for a bit. ¬†Awesome Star Wars sugar cookies to be exact. ¬†Sugar cookie dough, however, needs to be refrigerated for a few hours before you can cut it into awesome shapes. ¬†So we had some time to kill and it was a gorgeous day out. ¬†Off we go to Manayunk! ¬†Once again Colleen mentioned the FroYo at Saxbys and asked if we had a chance to try it yet. Of course I hadn’t, so we had a destination!

I told you this was a long story.  Trust me.
This drink is worth it.

So. ¬†On our way there, I am told about the Mocha Mexicana they have on the menu at Saxbys. ¬†Of course I want the Mocha Mexicana! ¬†Chocolate. Cinnamon. ¬†Coffee. ¬†Why wouldn’t I want that! ¬†Can I have it iced? ¬†Of course. ¬†Can I have it blended? ¬†Sure. ¬†Well. ¬†Maybe. ¬†I caused quite a ruckus in the Saxbys in Manyunk today apparently.

I was all hyped up about the FroYo I HAD to try. ¬†But then, a coffee drink sounded so delightful. ¬†So I asked if they would blend my Mocha Mexicana with FroYo instead of ice. ¬†Blended ice….bleh. ¬†I like my margaritas and all other drinks on the rocks if ice is needed. ¬†Oh man. ¬†You would think this was the scariest question these girls have ever been asked. ¬†One asked the other. ¬†The other asked me to repeat. ¬†Then she went to get the manager. ¬†And I explained it to him. ¬†Maybe a little more receptive. ¬†I’m not going to lie. ¬†Maybe a lot more receptive once I mentioned I had a food blog. ¬†Name dropper? WHAT?! haha.

So began the project.  I described what I thought it should be.  Testing ensued.  Below is Sample #1.  We started without the coffee.  Chocolate Frozen Yogurt and cinnamon syrup.  It needed a bit more cinnamon kick.  Sample #2 included coffee and more cinnamon.  AWESOME.

The final beverage was a full size version. ¬†Since they started with smaller portions, he doubled the cinnamon in the final version. ¬†It was a bit too much. ¬†But it was still pretty awesome. ¬†We decided on the final cinnamon to be in between. ¬†I won’t tell you the exact number of pumps. ¬†It’s officially a Saxbys secret. ¬†But isn’t the drink pretty topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon?

I was told this would be a special drink for the Summer at Saxbys in Manayunk. ¬†Maybe it will be named after Not Just Take Out? ¬†I have big goals! ¬†I will create a new recipe for them every week if they let me name them all ¬†ūüôā ¬†I do miss working in a cafe. ¬†Almost all the time. ¬†I especially miss concocting ridiculously awesome recipes. ¬†So long story for a short summary:

The team at the Saxbys in Manayunk is pretty cool. ¬†They aren’t afraid to try new things if you don’t give up ūüôā ¬†They do already have a huge menu though, so maybe you don’t need to be as obnoxious as I am/was. ¬†It is a super roomy space, so if you are looking to hang out for a bit, it is a way better option than Starbucks. ¬†They have a ton of outdoor seating which I adore!

They have a new Summer beverage! ¬†I can’t tell you for sure, but it might be named “Not Just Take Out” ¬†or maybe they’ll name it the “mrs ptb”? ¬†It is chocolate frozen yogurt, coffee, and cinnamon. ¬†It is pretty awesome. ¬†A perfect balance of smooth coffee, creamy chocolate, and spicy cinnamon. ¬†YUM!

Thanks to the manager (I think?) Scott for trying it out until it was perfected!  Now go try it yourself.  Saxbys Manayunk is located at 4343 Main Street, Manayunk, Phila, Pa, 19128.  Call for their daily hours.  267-323-2257

If this isn’t close by, check out their website to find a location near you. ¬†Maybe my recipe will go INTERNATIONAL. lol.

And lastly, one more awesome thing about Saxbys.  Check out the plastic to-go cups:  They are made out of corn, so they are biodegradable.  Very Cool.

::my favorite:: Margarita

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Happy Cinco de Mayo! ¬†I decided to celebrate all week. ¬†I started with #MargaritaMonday. ¬†I don’t want to say this is *the best* margarita in Philadelphia (I haven’t had them all), but it is my favorite. ¬†Really, when it comes to food, can’t we all agree, it is personal? ¬†Being my favorite margarita is all that matters to me. ¬†And that is what this site is about. ¬†Me and the stuff I like to stuff my face with.

Derek’s in Manayunk has been a go-to for me for quite some time. ¬†We became somewhat regulars once we moved into Philadelphia since it was so convenient. ¬†Easy weeknight dinners, Sunday brunches, and even Christmas dinners. ¬†The menu was consistent, the bread delicious, and the one occasion with bad service, forgivable. ¬†I love being able to sit outside on a less frequented end of Main Street and enjoy some perfect Summer weather. ¬†When I discovered the back patio, it made the Derek’s experience that much better. ¬†Although, we had the bad waiter again on our first visit to the back patio, it was not nearly as bad and more funny than anything.

Once Derek’s became our default restaurant, I started looking through more of the menu, and I discovered the daily specials on the back. ¬†What more could I ask for, $5 margaritas, mojitos, and quesadillas on Mondays. ¬†I had to go.

That margarita. ¬†What can I say? ¬†It is the perfect color, the perfect balance of limey goodness and tequila-y awesomeness, and the perfect amount of salt. ¬†And seriously people, if you are ordering a blended margarita….you are not ordering a margarita. ¬†BTW, last time I checked, Derek’s won’t blend it.

So the moral of the story is check out Derek’s on Main Street in Manayunk. ¬†It hasn’t been called Derek’s for 19 years, but chef & owner Derek Davis has run this location for that long. ¬†They revamped their menu in the past year and the changes do not disappoint. ¬†In fact, I would almost say, they needed to, something was going on and they may have been losing steam. My interest was revived. ¬†But the margarita did not change. ¬†And that makes me oh so happy. ¬†And it doesn’t hurt a restaurant in my book when the owner stays involved, sometimes even taking your drink order ūüôā

Derek's on UrbanspoonOne other awesome thing about Derek’s: they are on Restaurant.com. ¬†There are restrictions, but saving money never hurt anyone. ¬†And then you can make your reservation on Open Table, my other favorite restaurant related site ¬†ūüôā

**I was not paid or compensated in anyway for this post. ¬†I simply love this margarita. mmmmm…now I want one.

::fun food:: Citizen’s Bank Park’s Bull’s BBQ

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I love to go to sporting events. ¬†WHAT?! ¬†OK, yeah….not entirely true. ¬†I love to eat at sporting events. ¬†Ok, I guess it is a combination of both, because it isn’t like I have any desire to go to a football game. ¬†I would have been more willing to go to the Sixers this year if they weren’t begging us to go. ¬†Dear Sixers: ¬†Having to sit up top in an empty building is dumb. ¬†Discount the lower level seats if you want attendance. ¬†I don’t want chicken fingers from Chickie’s & Pete’s that badly…

The Phillies, however, can get us to attend many games throughout the season. ¬†It helps that it is outside, and we will probably only go if it is gorgeous. ¬†Well – if it isn’t gorgeous, we won’t stay very long. ¬†I’m willing to wait in line for crab fries that I could get at Chickie’s & Pete’s anytime. ¬†But will I? ¬†No. ¬†In fact, I have NEVER been to an actual stand alone Chickie’s & Pete’s. ¬†Don’t worry Phialdelphia – I don’t actually think of myself as a Philadelphian. ¬†Don’t curse me for saying that I have never been. ¬†I did try to go once…come on people – who gives a 4 hour ¬†wait time? ¬†Who do you think you are? ¬†The Cheesecake Factory?

Anyway! ¬†Last night was Opening Night at CBP. ¬†Luckily, unlike last year, it did not snow. ¬†But the temperature did drop and the game was going mighty slow, so we (read I) did not last past the 5th inning. ¬†Luckily we were able to get home in time for the end of the game. ¬†Once again this year’s tickets came with food money. ¬†LOVE IT! ¬†I have been on a barbeque binge since we experienced some of the best barbeque I have ever had in Illinois. ¬†So our food money went towards a dinner in the sun before the game at Bull’s BBQ.

Being the genius that I am РI thought we would create our own sampler with 3 sandwiches.  But forgot to mention that I wanted the sampler size sandwiches.  So here we go.  Two full size Pulled Pork Sandwiches and a full size Roast Turkey sandwich.

These sandwiches are not to be messed around with.  This is not painfully hot bbq.  It is just the moistest pulled pork possible ever.  These are truly sandwiches you need a wide open mouth and both hands for.  And even then you are dropping most of it.

I don’t need any fanciness. ¬†We left the hot peppers and other nonsense for the rest. ¬† The turkey sandwich….ahhh the turkey sandwich. ¬†I couldn’t doo it. ¬†It was simply too much meat:bun ratio for me. ¬†Once I had help to devour the skinny half you see below I couldn’t take it. ¬†My exact quote was “There is too much meat. ¬†You would need two more buns for all that meat.” ¬†Are you done laughing now? ¬†Don’t get me wrong, it was delightful, I just need bread with sliced turkey. ¬†Couldn’t do it.

Next time maybe we will give in and get half a roasted chicken or the massive kielbasa (the bull dog).

Bull's BBQ on UrbanspoonAt least we will know not to get three full size sandwiches for two people.  All I could say towards the end of my half eaten, half spilled everywhere, second pulled pork sandwich was meat pile.