Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Free Pancakes!

Today is IHOP's National Pancake Day! Today until 10 pm, everyone can get a free short stack of buttermilk pancakes. No purchase necessary! IHOP asks customers to donate any amount of money to go to Children's Hospitals. Free pancakes and supporting a good cause? You can't lose! Empty your piggy banks and head over to an IHOP near you.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Howdy Y'all!

I just got back from a visit to Texas, and you know what they say, everything is bigger in Texas! I mostly visited Houston but I also took a road trip to San Antonio. Texans know how to eat and I made sure to try as many local places as I could. Giddy up for a Texas sized blog and learn why Texas is the #1 state for obesity in America!

#1 reason kids will love the food in Texas...

Texans think vegetables are beans, potatoes and bread!

One of my all time favorite places in Houston is Dylan's Candy Bar. It is the best candy store in the world! Dylan's has Texas sized candy like huge jawbreakers and 5 lb. gummy bears. There is even an ice cream store inside with flavors like pancakes and syrup. For some weird reason they won't let you take pictures in the store but I managed to take just one. Or two:) You know how I love Icee's, look what I saw...

I tried Icee squeeze candy and it tasted just like an Icee! How do they do that?

Look what they have in Houston!!! For those of you who watch Cupcake Wars, this is owned by the judge Candace Nelson. I made my Uncle pull over for these delicious treats! There was a line going out the door and when I got my cupcake I could see why. I tried a Black and White cupcake which is chocolate cake with cream cheese icing and it was moist and flavorful. Now I know for a fact that Candace Nelson knows what she is talking about.

Another one of my favorites in Texas is Luby's.  Lubys is a yummy cafeteria (yes, like in school) where elderly people without a lot of money can get great food. I want to get the word out there that Luby's should be for everybody! This is legit Texas comfort food! They even have that hospital blue jello. To get the true Texas experience, I ordered fried chicken, mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese and it was delish. They have a lot of choices like pie, pudding, and anything you can think of that is cooked in oil or butter. Or lard. I just learned what that is and you don't want to know.

 Blue Bell Ice Cream can only be found in the south. It is creamier than normal ice cream and they have flavors that I don't see a lot like fresh peaches and homemade vanilla. You can find this served all over Texas and it is really good.

Now this just screams Texas - Fried Pickles!!! They sound disgusting, but they are actually REALLY good! The moisture inside of the crispy breading is to die for, but if you eat too many you will probably get sick. You can get them in a bar that I wasn't allowed into called the Porch Swing Bar. While I was waiting for the pickles, my Uncle and I played a friendly game of put the metal disk into the hole. Let's just say he owed me $10.00.

El Tiempo can claim "The Best Fajitas Ever!" (claimed by ME). Queso cheese dip is huge in Texas and you can find it everywhere. It is a creamy american cheese dip that is the perfect partner for one of El Tiempo's freshly made chips. I swear on my dead fish that I could eat a whole bowl of that heavenly dip. They also have the best fajitas ever. Fajitas in Texas are a state obsession and I know why. They are amazing! I think they do something to the meat (hopefully not cook it in lard) because it is really juicy and tender. It is served on a platter heated by a flame. This platter has shrimp wrapped in bacon, shrimp, chicken and steak. And a bowl of melted butter to dip the meat in. Tex-Mex is my absolute favorite and there is no place better to get it than actually in Texas. At El Tiempo.

Texas BBQ. My Texas sized blog just isn't big enough to cover the topic. There is a big difference between plain bbq and Texas bbq. Texas bbq is meat that is smoked with a dry rub but doesn't have sauce. Goode Co. is definitely the best place to find Texas bbq!  The meat is smoky, juicy and flavorful. It even tastes like it might be healthy. You can get bbq sauce on the side if you are like me and like to have it on the meat anyways. We tried brisket and turkey and they were both amazing.

Another place to stop in Houston is The Breakfast Klub, and don't be mistaken by the movie. This restaurant specializes in one thing, chicken and waffles! It sounds odd, but this might be the best combo on earth. Their fluffy belgian waffles really compliment the chicken. This chicken is not any normal chicken, it is the most juicy fried chicken I have ever had. They put just the right combination of spices into the breading and it makes it mouth watering. I have heard that this is Beyonce's favorite place to eat in Houston and I can see why!

Have you ever heard of kolaches? I hadn't either, but kolaches are either a sausage or type of meat or cheese inside of a sweet bun, sort of like pigs in a blanket. They are from Europe and are mostly Czech, but for some reason you can find them all over Texas. Texans go crazy for these and I would certainly swoon for another one. We tried a couple of different places and I think Christy's has the best dough.

We took a road trip to San Antonio, and on the way stopped at an EPIC convience store off of the freeway called Buc-ee's.

Buc-ee's is like 7-11 on steroids. It might be the best convenient store in the world. They house make their snacks like different jerkies and "beaver nuggets" which are the most sugary Sugar Pops you can imagine. Look...

Buc-Ee's must be like a state monument because there was a line of cars to get in. There were even school buses of kids going there on a field trip! I would like to go here for a field trip. Kids can learn about really important things like what it tastes like if you mix grape soda with orange soda. Buc-ee's also sells toys like slingshots. My mom bought one for my sister and already regrets it.

I love Texas. I love visiting family, places like the Alamo (or as I call it, "El Lamo"), and I love how people there talk. Most of all I love the food in Texas and you will too. After a week of eating "vegetables" and fried food it is time for me to eat something healthy. For the first time today I finally tried my mom's kale chips. After a week of Texas food, I actually "liked" them y'all! I am off to eat something healthy, and I don't mean a slice of bread. In lard.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Old School Kool

Today I went to Lunchbox Laboratory in downtown Bellevue and my experience left me with mixed emotions. You can see the sign for Lunchbox Laboratory from the freeway but it is really hard to find on the streets nearby. It is inside an office building so my first impression was that it wasn't very cool.

On decor of restaurant, I give it a 4. It definitely had a retro theme and they did a good job decorating the entire space. When you first walk in there are 5 lava lamps. Only three were working and they were really small so it seemed like a waste of an effort.

 There was orange lighting everywhere and that gave the place a really cool effect. They had old school lunchboxes all over the walls. I didn't recognize any of them except John Travolta on a Welcome Back Kotter (whatever that is) lunchbox. I only know John Travolta because my dad has a collectible doll sorry, action figure.

There were charcoal brown walls and I thought they were very lucky because the space had a really great view. This is the part that really confused me... my friend and I were the only kids in the whole place! There were only adults! "Lunchbox Laboratory" made me think that this was supposed to be for kids, but I guess it is more for adults to remember what it was like when they were kids.

On friendliness of staff towards kids, I give it a 5! All of the staff were really cool and stylin with swag! They were wearing backwards lids, saggy jeans and flannel tops. They were super chill and seemed happy to be there. Our server offered my sister to hang her picture she colored on the wall because she said it "looked pretty." Ummm, I can't say I agree with that statement! Since my sister kept "messing up" on her work, they happily brought her the same coloring sheet 3 times. Overall the staff was just really nice, gold star for you! 

On service speed, I give it a 3. When we walked in there they told us there was a 20 minute wait! Thankfully it only took 11 minutes. There were lots of people waiting outside the doors. When we finally sat down, the food took about 10 minutes after we ordered which seemed average.

"Homage to Dick's Deluxe" burger...

On taste of food, I give it a 4. They have Kool-Aid! I ordered the original flavor Kool-Aid which was sort of like fruit punch. It was sugary and delicious. It reminded of me of when I go over to my friend's house, the only other place in the world where Kool-Aid is provided. I love Dick's so I ordered the Homage to Dick's Deluxe burger. It came with a beef patty, american cheese, bacon (not on the real Dick's deluxe!), onions and "top secret" sauce. There was way too much special sauce, bacon and onions, It tasted GREAT but they went overboard on the condiments. The meat was moist and juicy with the cheese melted into it. The bun was delicious and perfectly baked, but the bottom bun was soggy because of all of the juice from everything else. Next to it was one pathetic shred of lettuce, an end piece of tomato (who likes an end piece?) and one slice of a pickle. Are you supposed to put that on your burger? It was enough to fit on one measly bite.  


The french fries were super thin and came out hot. They got cold very quickly, but they were delicious. They were crispy and salty and I couldn't stop eating them.

On appearance of food, I give it a 2. The food was served on fancy white plates but I think it would be WAY better if they actually served them in lunchboxes. The "top secret" sauce was pouring out of the burger all over the plate. The burger was actually falling apart and I had to eat it with a fork.   

On price, I give it a 2. The Kool-Aid was $2.50, and everyone knows Kool-Aid is actually really cheap. My burger was $13.99. For a burger? This place is definitely for grownups because kids wouldn't spend this much money on Kool-Aid and a burger.

Lunchbox Laboratory earned a final score of 20/30. The only things on the main menu are burgers and shakes. The kid's menu is a bit different but actually sort of lame. Look...

The most famous burger they have is called the "Dork Burger" but it is definitely NOT for kids since it is made out of duck and pork. Kids should definitely try this place mostly for the Kool-Aid and shakes. You can see what it was like when your parents were kids. From what I can tell, people mostly carried metal lunchboxes. My mom said she had a Strawberry Shortcake one when she was my age. Strawberry Shortcake was around when she was a kid? Who knew?

Lunchbox Laboratory on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 5, 2012

What's Shakin' Bacon?

A reliable source told me that Jack In The Box has an unadvertised bacon shake! This shake is underground, is not on the menu, and unless you know about it you would never know that it is there! Sort of like ordering "animal style" at In-N-Out. I knew instantly that I had to try it. I went to Jack In The Box and sure enough, it exists! It looks like a normal milkshake, but the taste is definitely not normal.  It is a vanilla milkshake with bacon syrup in it and let me be the first to tell you not to try it! You can taste the smokiness of the bacon and it literally triggered my gag reflex!

 The world is obsessed with bacon. My Uncle Matt puts it on everything. I have to admit I like it too but not as an artificial flavoring! Artificial flavorings are often gross, especially banana flavoring. Ick.

There are really only three main things I took away from this experience...
  1. Bacon flavoring is gross.
  2. Just because it isn't on the menu doesn't mean it's good.
  3. This would be perfect for vegetarians!
Emily and bacon sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G, first came love, then came marriage, then came...

Next time I am at Jack In The Box, I'll stick with the tacos.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Grand Opening!

Today is the grand opening of the Bellevue Lunchbox Laboratory! For those of you who haven't been to the Seattle location, Lunchbox Laboratory has old fashioned comfort food for kids and adds a modern twist. Kids will love their burgers and shakes, even corn dogs and tater tots. I can't wait to go there and see the new location. Stay tuned for my review this week!