Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Torchy's Tacos

My friend Martha recommended that my sister and I visit Torchy's while we were in Austin for some good tacos and inexpensive fare.  She warned us that it was only a roadside stand but that didn't present a problem for us and indeed seems like a major facet of life in Austin.  As we drove down South 1st Street we noticed plenty of places that looked like roadside stands.  Much crazier than a roadside stand, however, is what I saw when I was driving into Austin from the airport over Cesar Chavez... a hipster walking a rooster! That's right, I saw a hipster decked out in skinny jeans, plaid shirt, and wayfarer Ray Bans with a rooster on a leash.  The things I never thought I would see...

Anyway, Torchy's was in a parking lot with other trailers nearby and a large seating area which was covered and featured flat screens TV.  When my sister and I inquired about the odd (for us) set up, we didn't get much of an answer other than that Torchy's began in that very parking lot as a trailer and expanded to other locations.  It seemed strange to us to have a location that has large flat screen TVs but is outdoors with only slight covering... but maybe it's just a Texas thing.

The restaurant also had a listing of the gluten free options available but I didn't have a chance to snag a picture.  I opted for the Mr. Orange - blackened salmon topped with a grilled corn and black bean relish, queso fresco, cilantro and drizzled with avocado sauce on a corn tortilla.

In a word: delectable.  The salmon had great flavor to it, the corn tortillas tasted like Mission tortillas, and the avocado drizzle was great.  All in all, Torchy's was a great addition to our Austin trip and somewhere I would definitely visit again if I find myself near a Torchy's location.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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1311 South First Street
Austin, TX 78704 (Map)
(512) 366-0537

Monday, January 28, 2013

M Street Kitchen

This past weekend I went back to my old home and where this whole blog began -  Los Angeles.  It was a quick overnight trip to visit with old friends and catch up with everybody.  My friend LoFo suggested a few restaurants in Santa Monica since most of my friends live on the westside of the city.  After reviewing her suggestions, M Street Kitchen seemed like the best option: a restaurant with a full gluten free menu and plenty of vegan options for Vanessa.

I went on a long, beautiful walk with Whitney, Lulu, LoFo along the cliffs of northern Santa Monica when the sun was shining overhead and the views over the ocean stretched to the south bay.  We headed over to M Street Kitchen to meet up with the rest of the group after a few miles of walking and working up our appetites.

I was so happy to see the other guests Tina, Hilary, and Betty that I was a little overwhelmed and it took me some time to get through the menu.  Ultimately I went for the vegetarian tacos.

I loved the tacos!  They were deconstructed so I could prepare them however I liked; there were plenty of vegetables, plenty of guacamole, and a heaping portion of black beans and rice.

As you can see the portions were enormous and definitely enough after the long walk in Santa Monica. All in all, M Street Kitchen was a great recommendation and definitely a good lunch or breakfast spot.  It's a big restaurant with plenty of outdoor seating and a large bar attached to it to suit all of your needs. I'd definitely visit again, especially since the menu suited everybody in the party.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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M Street Kitchen
2000 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90405 (Map)
(310) 396-9145

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Salt Lick

For MLK weekend my sister and I decided to meet in Austin, about halfway between our respective cities of San Diego and Philadelphia.  Neither of us had ever visited Austin so we made sure to create lists upon lists of what we should do, where we should eat, what we should drink, etc.

Salt Lick had been on our list since the beginning although we were both hesitant to visit.  My sister and I are not meat people but, seeing as neither of us had been to Texas, we thought barbecue was worth trying.  We visited the Salt Lick after two days in Austin and battling ourselves as to whether we wanted to visit the restaurant; ultimately we decided we had to visit the restaurant.  Before we went to Salt Lick we checked out Hamilton Pool Preserve, part of the Travis County Parks system.  Hamilton Pool Preserve was absolutely beautiful and I would definitely recommend it to anybody visiting Austin.

I can imagine Hamilton Pool would be an awesome place to visit in the summer as it is naturally cool and a nice natural setting.  From Hamilton Pool the drive to Salt Lick wound throughout the Texas countryside and gave us a nice view of just how big Texas is.  Before heading to Salt Lick, however, my sister and I hiked Reimers Park with beautiful views of the Pedernales River.  I definitely recommend Reimers Park if you're into hiking, especially because the "hike" near Hamilton Pool Preserve was very underwhelming.

Needless to say we had quite the appetite by the time we arrived at Salt Lick.  Upon opening the restaurant's door we were surrounded by the beautiful aromas of Texas BBQ and we were hooked.  We sat down to the menus and quickly peered them over; I knew almost instantaneously that I was going to stick with the sausage because when I do eat meat, I don't like eating it off the bone.  My sister and I decided to split a combo plate; she ordered the pork ribs while I asked for the sausage.  When I told the waiter about my allergy he was super helpful and told me that everything on the menu is gluten free save for the bread.  With that news my sister and I were primed to go and sat patiently waiting for our food.  It was served up quickly

As you can see the portions were not small which went well with the flavors since they were also huge.  The sausage was great but what really made the meal was the sauce served with meats.  The sauce was so delicious that my sister and I even dipped the coleslaw in it!  The side of baked beans was delicious, the coleslaw had a nice zing to it, and the meat (even the pork) was great.

We would definitely go back to Salt Lick, even if only for the amazing BBQ sauce the restaurant serves up.  Next time I'm in Austin I'll definitely add this to my list and recommend it to anybody checking out the city and in search of good BBQ.

Do you love it or do you love it?
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Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood, TX 78619 (Map)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Puffins Multigrain Cereal

I remember hearing my friends tell me how amazing Puffins were years ago and I recently noticed that the brand has a gluten free options on sale at Trader Joe's.  The box advertises them as gluten free and made with "pure" oats.

I really did not enjoy the Puffins.  They were bland and flavorless.  That being said, they do have quite a few positive nutritional benefits that other cereals don't; they are low in sugar, have a good amount of fiber, and have 9 grams of whole grains per serving.  Despite all the benefits, I think I'll steer clear from Barbara's Puffins Multigrain gluten free cereal until they change their recipe and add some flavor to the cereal.
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