Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tropicos Breeze in Greenwood

Impromptu lunches sometimes turn out to be fingerlicking good. We were in the Greenwood area on Saturday when we decided to have lunch at Tropicos Breeze based on the reviews for their delicious pupusas. We couldn't find the menu online so we called to ensure they are vegetarian friendly.  And they so are! One bite and we realized that these people cook traditional Salvadorian food with great expertise and lots of love.

The decor is very plain. Very bright, lots of place to sit, TVs to watch and plenty of patio seating for the sunny days. They have lots of parking space in the rear.

The waitress was very friendly and was happy to accomodate out customizations. There are plenty of vegetarian appetizers that one can choose from. But, the only vegetarian entree is the Chili Relleno. Here's what we got

We started with the Maracuya, a passion fruit drink.  It was cool and refreshing.

Maracuya @ Tropicos Breeze

Jalapeno Cheese Pupusas -  Pupusa is a Salvadorian dish that is made of thick corn tortillas stuffed with different kinds of fillings. This one here came filled with Jalapeno and Cheese.

Jalapeno Cheese Pupusa @ Tropicos Breeze
It came with a Salad on the side that I was not very fond of. But the Pupusa was relished with hot sauce. Extremely delicious. I was trying these for the first time and I love these.

Pastelitos - Folded and fried corn tortilla filled with veggies! Wow! Very creative and so very yummy. I ignored the Salad on the side, yet again. Didn't look very appetizing.

Pastelitos @ Tropicos Breeze
Baliadas - Flour tortillas filled with beans, fresh cream cheese, avocado and eggs. Again, I was eating this for the first time and another winner. Absolutely loved stuffing.

Baliadas @ Tropicos Breeze
Platano Frito - Fried plaintain served with beans and cream. The plaintains were nice and sweet. Very moist and soft inside and crispy outside. Another delicious item on the menu.

Platano Frito @ Tropicos Breeze
The Pupusa was so good, we had to get another. This time Zucchini, Jalapeno and Cheese! It's not listed on the menu, but the waitress was happy to accomodate our creation. Needless to say, it was another big hit.

On the whole, a great place to try the most delicious Salvadorian food! The service was quick and the waitress very friendly. A must try in the Greenwood area!
Tropicos Breeze (FKA Mi Chalateca) on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

42nd Street Bistro @ Long Beach, WA

A cute Parisian bistro came to mind when we stepped into this warm and inviting cottage buzzing with waiters juggling plates of Beignets and mugs of Coffee. The food is gourmet and smack worthy. We got there at 10:00 am and were promptly seated at the only vacant table. The tables were closely placed, the cutlery fine, tablecloth linen and there were kites hanging above our heads.

All breakfasts are served with fried red potatoes and toast. They have quite a few vegetarian options.We picked the Greek Vegetarian Omelet - A three egg omelet folded over feta cheese with fresh Roma tomatoes and fresh basil. Coffee was ordered.

It was delicious. Basil, feta cheese and roma tomatoes are meant to be together.The potatoes were a little scanty and the whole plate is just enough for one person.

We saw the waiter waltz by with a plate of fried pastry adorned with powdered sugar that screamed "Eat me!" and so we ordered one too. Who can resist Beignets?  The New Orleans famed fritters with a hint of spice....yum. It came with a spread of cranberry, marrion berry and walnuts. If I could be like the French women who never get fat, I could eat one now.

While this place is a cafe during the day, it turns into a bistro at night, serving American dinners. The service was fast. I highly recommend eating at this restaurant when you are in the Peninsula. Yes, especially for their Beignets.

42nd Street Cafe on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Surfer Sands @ Long Beach, WA

My affair with Surfer Sands didn't last very long, but was a memorable one at that. A cute little shack in Long Beach, WA that makes amazing Sandwiches where the bread is homemade and the fillings are out of this world. If you want a quick lunch, then this is the place to go. One orders at the window and eats at one of the picnic tables outside, in the shade.

It all started with the smell. The smell of grilled Sandwiches. If you are a Sandwich lover like me, you will know what I am talking about. While the smell made me stagger to the window to place my order, one bite and I was blown away. They have killer vegetarian options to tantalize the tastebuds of even the most finickiest eater.  We ordered the Shark Attack - Grilled tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, pineapples, cashews, raisins and provolone cheese.

First time I have had nuts and raisins in my Sandwich and I must say I am nuts about it! While they make innovative Sandwiches, it would be nice to have a choice of bread. The hoagie bun kind of bread is not very appealing. At $7.42 plus tax it is a bit spendy but then they make gourmet Sandwiches. And one could ask for any Sandwich to be made into a Salad! Add a smoothie or chips and make it a meal! I recommend giving this place a try. You will love it!
Surfer Sands on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Djan's Thai @ Wallingford

A cute little restaurant in an adorable little house serving big portions of delectable Thai food, kind of sums it up. The chic interiors with paper place mats, beautiful flatware and fancy cloth napkins gives it a stylish bistro-ish feel. While the soft lighting and the candle lit tables scream "date nights", it is a great place for group dining too. It is supposed to be a kid friendly place except for the fact that they have only two high chairs and a few booster chairs (sans the belt) that reminded me of potty seats. What they lack in high chairs they make up in the food. Spicy food.

We were in a big group, so obviously the service was a little sluggish. But the waiter was very prompt with other requests. Like that one time when A asked for hot sauce on top of the five star burn-my-ass spicy food. When the food arrived, it was totally gobblesome.

 For starters A and I got the Veggie Curry Puff  - Thin crepes filled with onions and potatoes.  Served with cucumber sweet & sour chili sauce. The description says crepe but it was more like a fried dumpling. I would easily relate it to the Indian Samosa. It was excellent and not a wee bit spicy. My little one loved snacking on the potatoes.

Veggie curry puffs
For the main course we got the Djan's Fusion Noodles - A blend of Pad Thai and Pad Khee Mao in a spicy stir-fried version. Thin rice noodles with egg, bean sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, jalapeno and fresh basil leaves. We asked for tofu, of course. For a change, five star spice level IS that spicy!!

Djan's Fusion Noodles

The blend of my two favorite Thai dishes has to be delicious, what? Spicy and flavorful I couldn't stop eating.

The Sauteed Eggplant said "Eat me!" so I had to order it. Deep fried eggplant stir fried with tofu, bell peppers, carrots, soy bean sauce, white pepper and basil leaves.

Saute Eggplant @ Djan's

 The Eggplant was so tender, juicy and succulent. The basil leaves are what made the dish extra special. The portions were big and we boxed half the food back home and it made a great lunch the next day. 

They have a private room upstairs for parties that one can rent.They have parking too. With great food, service and ambiance, Djan's is a sure winner. 

Djan's on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Kauai Pasta @ Lihue

What a find! Our last dinner in Kauai was at this cozy little Italian restaurant in Lihue. They have another location in Kapaa but this was closer to where we stayed. This somewhat smallish place is usually packed for dinner. Tourists, you see? And locals as well. The dark, warm, cozy interior is typical of any gourmet Italian restaurant.The food was great and at the same time not too spendy.

For starters we got the Garlic Buttered Grilled Sweet Corn - with garlic aioli, parmesan and crushed chiles. The corn was very juicy and grilled to perfection. The flavor was out of this world. It was quite filling too.

Grilled Corn @ Kauai Pasta
We got a side of the Kalani Farm Field Greens - Kauai fresh farm tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and balsamic vinaigrette. Fresh, nutty and crunchy!

Salad Greens @ Kauai Pasta
Pesto Pasta was called for. Fettucini tossed in Kauai basil & Italian parsley,  blended with macadamia nut, Parmesan and Olive oil. I twirled my fork through the pasta, took a bite and instantly knew I was in an authentic Italian restaurant where they take food seriously.
Pesto Pasta @ Kauai Pasta
Most of the pastas can be made vegetarian. The waiter was friendly and catered to our needs promptly. He offered to split the pasta for us into two plates and the picture above is just one of the plates. That shows the portions are big!

On the whole, Kauai Pasta is a great little authentic Italian restaurant on the Island. It is a must-try if you are craving Italian!
Kauai Pasta on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Duke's Canoe Club @ Lihue

We are a big fan of Duke's here at Alki Beach and love the Duke's at Waikiki and were thrilled to have a Duke's right where we stayed, at Mariott Beach Club in Lihue. It was our regular hangout for a late night drink while strolling the beach in the wee hours.
Why this place was perfect? Well, for one, it was on the beach. Second, it was on the beach. Third, it was on the beach! You could listen to the waves, go in bare foot, sit outdoors and just have a ball! There were big screen TVs for the TV junkies. The waitresses were friendly and very attentive and it's always packed. Heck, everyone wants to hang out at Duke's.

We had lunch on one day. The Grilled portabello mushroom sandwich. - ciabatta bun with pesto-goat cheese, grilled tomato and roasted red balsamic red onion

And the waitress offered to make a veggie version of the Grilled Turkey, Bacon and Avocado Sandwich with Avocado, green sprouts, tomato, Swiss Cheese, Watercress, honey mustard sauce on a multigrain bread. Both came with crispy waffle fries.

They never go wrong with their creations. The friendly service and the laid back atmosphere along with scrumptious food makes one want to eat here again and again!

Duke's Kauai on Urbanspoon

New York Street Food Scene

Aloo Puri Cart @ 39th st & Avenue of the Americas

An Indian family travels all the way from NJ everyday and sets up this cart at 39th st & Avenue of the Americas. They are open Mon - Fri 9am to 5 pm. They serve indian veg and non-veg platters for $6 /$7. My favorite is their Aloo Puri. The lady rolls out the puri stuffed with daal and fries it upon order. It comes with a side of two subzis (veggies) - aloo (potato) gravy and channa (garbanzo beans) masala and a lahsun (garlic) chutney. At 2 for $3 or 4 for $5, it is dirt cheap! The puris are fresh, hot, fluffy and delicious. The gravies were okay, could be better. The chutney was fantastic and was more than enough to eat with!

Somewhere near the ferry terminal to Staten Island we came across this Falafel Biryani cart! Made a perfect spicy lunch on the go!

And a mobile Frozen Yogurt truck! Only in NYC you get to see all you that wish existed, I tell you.

In Little Italy there was this Cannoli cart that had a wide variety of fillings in the holy cannolis! We tried the Pistachio. Yummy!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Traveler's Thali House @ Seattle

Sometimes it's Bastoncini Noisette.....other times it is a nice big Thali laden with ramekins containing various colorful, delectable dishes to feel all's well with the world. Thali is very popular in the Indian subcontinent and the contents vary from region to region. The most popular is the unlimited Rajasthani Thali at Rajadhani.

When words reached my ears about this Vegetarian Thali place atop Beacon Hill, a trip to the south side of the town was mandatory. We trekked up the hill to the purple house that houses the restaurant only to see it closed. It's noon, isn't it? Darn! The wait staff was courteous in letting us in while the kitchen was still being set up. The floor had food strewn hither tither. The table was worthy of a wipe. The high chair was dirty. Obviously, they had just opened and were yet to clean the place. I wanted to make an about turn and head out. The wait staff was cool about the mess and cleared it all as though it was a no biggie.

Okay, to the food.

We ordered a Deluxe Thali ($20). They have Thalis in different sizes. The contents are a pre-fixe, though. The Thali menu changes once a month. With the Deluxe comes a Soda / Chai. A ordered Soda. Water was all I wanted, but again, the waiter brought me a complimentary Chai to cheer me up. May be he knew I was a little grumpy with the messy surroundings.

While we waited for the food, we looked around. It was a bright day and they were laying tables out on the lawn. One side of the cafe was for selling tea bags, basmati rice, incense sticks, cook books et al. Somehow, the place screamed Dalai Lama. All I needed was my yoga mat and a "Om Om" music in the background to get me started with my meditation. We decided to pacify the rumbling stomach with a plate of Samosa. Served with a mint chutney and a sweet chutney, they were uber delicious.

The Thali catwalked to the table at about the same time. With it came papad and roti / naan.

While the contents of the Thali were fantastic, the roti / naan wasn't very fresh. For one, they are not made in house. They are frozen and heated up upon order. So, it kinda lacks the fresh Tandoor taste. The aloo gobi, malai kofta and daal were out of this world. Very homey food. The kind that will never bother your stomach how much ever you eat! Here's a picture of the menu that describes the Thali -

Then came the dessert - Saffron Kheer and a couple of milk sweets.

Oh, did I mention that it is an all vegetarian place? If you are in the area, this is a must - try! Just for the amazing Thali!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Harissa Mediterranean Cuisine in Seattle

Harissa is a warm, vegetarian friendly, inviting restaurant in a small neighborhood, serving Lebanese food at its best. With excellent service and amazing food, this is a show stopper! There is a nice little bar as you enter and a quaint dining space with table linens, potted plants, et al.

It happened to be a bright and sunny day and we were escorted by the man in black to the beautiful patio. The clear blue skies above us, the wooden decor of the patio and the Arabic music playing in the background transported us to the Mediterranean land.

Walid brought us menus and water. Not a huge menu, but they have interesting options like Stews, and Lebanese Tomato Salsa .We asked for Walid's Combination plate - A generous portion of the four most delicious appetizers of Harissa; Hummus, Eggplant Salad, Labneh and Walid’s Tomato Salad.

Walid's Combination Plate
The Eggplant Salad was off the charts. It was more chunkier than Baba Ganouj and paired well with the rustic pita bread. The pita bread was soft at the right places and crisp at the edges, very similar to the tandoori naan.The hummus was a little grainy as opposed to the creamy ones I have had at other restaurants. Lots of garlic in everything. The labneh was so creamy that my eleven month old smacked her lips and asked for more! I mean, who can resist herbed cream cheese? Walid's tomato salad was like a Lebanese Salsa with crunchy walnuts. The plate was polished off in no time. The pita was a little inadequate, though. For the price, it would be nice to have the pitas coming. Just because they were so nice.

Next was the Spanakopita - Oven baked fillo dough stuffed with fresh spinach, chopped onions and feta cheese served with tzatziki sauce.

Spanakopita @ Harissa Mediterranean Cuisine

It came with a very flavorful Lebanese Pilaf and Fatoush (Lebanese Salad) on the side. The entire plate was topped with garlic sauce. I must make a note to ask for more garlic sauce on the side the next time. It was fantastic. The salad was fresh, the rice was flavorful, tzatziki sauce was cool and refreshing and the spanakopita was out of this world. I wish they had a buffet lunch on weekends; I could then devour endless Spanakopitas.

It is a little pricey but the food justifies the cost.We were so stuffed we couldn't order desserts We are so going back to try their Stews. And the Spanakopita! I highly recommend this place to other Mediterranean food lovers like me. And hey, this place is very kid friendly. So is Walid :)

Harissa Mediterranean Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lombardi's Pizza @ New York City

One cannot go to NYC and not eat the famous NY style Pizza at the hundred year old America's First Pizzeria. No kidding, Lombardi's was established in 1905 and is the First Pizzeria in the whole freaking country! It has been the best Pizzeria in the US for more than hundred years now!

The restaurant looked small from outside, but when we ventured in it was quite roomy. There were two floors and we were escorted to the basement floor. Of course we had to wait for half hour before we were seated. Long, long lines. The tables were packed so close to one another like blueberries in a plastic carton. Naturally, no high chair here either. We were used to it by now. Baby on lap was the only way to eat at this ancient Pizzeria. But that didn't stop us.

They only make two Pizzas. The White Pizza - Mozzarella, Ricotta, Romana cheese and oregano, basil, black pepper and garlic infused oil. and the Original Pizza - Fresh mozzarella, san marzano tomato sauce and topped with romano and fresh basil. One can add any number of toppings for $3.00 each. We ordered a half and half of the White Pizza and the Original Pizza.

The Pizza came out in a snap and at the same time it wasn't too hot to burn my tongue. The ingredients were fresh and flavorful in both the Pizzas. The crust was neither too thin nor too thick, the typical chewy NY style. The Original Pizza was more lighter than the White Pizza. The ricotta cheese was a little too heavy for me. While the Pizza was great, it was not outstanding. I mean, we could get this in other cities too. But of course, this is the first Pizzeria in the US. So the credit goes to them!

Lombardi's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Szechuan Gourmet @ New York City

Ooh la la! Hot hot hot!! On our last day in NYC we were looking for some place near our hotel for a quick lunch and thus ended up at Szechuan Gourmet. The food is as lip numbing, spicy and greasy as Szechuan food should be and we thoroughly enjoyed indulging in the above mentioned threesome.

A nice casual lunch spot in Midtown Manhanttan, that's always bustling with people, mostly Asians! That's a good sign, what? The waiter could speak good English and we had no trouble in communicating our vegetarian, no meat instructions. The decor is plain. Well, I was looking for a quick lunch and didn't care too much about the decor.

For starters we got the Steamed Vegetable Dumplings. Very tasty!

Steamed vegetable dumplings @ Szechuan Gourmet

Spicy spring bamboo shoots - Whoa! Watch out for this one. Very spicy. Very very spicy. It is eaten cold like a salad. The seasame oil, ginger, soy sauce and other spices impart such great flavor.

The Dan Dan noodle was not listed on the menu. But all the reviewers on yelp recommended trying it. We asked the waiter if they have Dan Dan Noodle and he said "Of course and it is vegetarian!" A bowl of hot steaming noodles in a spicy broth was brought over right away! I could have one bowl now.

Dan Dan Noodle @ Szechuan Gourmet

For the main course we got the Veggie trio in spicy garlic sauce - String beans, asparagus and eggplant tossed in spicy garlic sauce. Ordered a rice on the side and dug into the greasy goodness.

Veggie tripo in spicy garlic sauce @ Szechuan Gourmet
Everything we ordered was fantastic and there are tons of vegetarian options to choose from. The ones with a delicate stomach are better off requesting a milder spice level. The service was quick and efficient. If you are craving Szechuan food, this is the place to go to!

Szechuan Gourmet on Urbanspoon
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