On the recommendation of a friend, Gabriel and I decided to stray from our go-to Mexican place, Mi Pueblo, to try something new.
We were happy to see that chips and salsa were complimentary since Gabriel has been known, historically, to walk out of a few Mexican restaurants where they charge extra for this staple.
We told the waiter that we are pescetarian (and then explained what that means) and asked him for suggestions. It turned out there were quite a few good choices for us on the menu- and most under $12. Sounds good to me!
I ordered the seafood Chimichanga (stuffed with shrimp, lobster, crab meat, portabella mushrooms and mixed cheese. Wrapped in a Garlic Herb Tortilla with Cilantro Sherry Cream Sauce, salsa and guacamole) but asked that it not be deep fried as the menu described it. He said that was no problem and told us both we had 2 options for the beans, but then corrected himself and said only one was vegetarian and that he would make sure that’s what we’d both get.
The food came out quickly and looked awesome. We each started with a taste of the beans which were a little on the salty side, but pretty tasty anyway. Gabriel offered a taste of his beans to me- and I said, we got the same ones, didn’t we? I then noticed that his looked totally different and called it to the attention of the waiter. He immediately looked embarrassed and said they looked different because apparently someone in the kitchen didn’t get his message that we both wanted the vegetarian option. Gee thanks…Gabriel was pretty pissed that he’d just had a bite of beans cooked with pork. The waiter apologized- sort of, but really just blamed the kitchen staff instead of taking responsibility for it.
Other than that, the meal was really quite good. My chimichanga had tons of flavor from all of the different types of seafood and big pieces of portabellas. The rice was not cold or overcooked (one of the only things I don’t like about Mi Pueblo) and the salsa and sauce that I asked for on the side was fresh, full of fresh, pureed cilantro (which I LOVE) and very flavorful.
Overall, I thought this was a great lunch with plenty of options for us non-meat-eaters and I will definitely be happy to go back.
When I opened the bag of ‘crunchy noodles’ and found VERY stale ones instead, I was worried that this was a bad sign about the meal I was about to eat. Luckily, this was the ONLY part of the meal that I wasn’t impressed with. This little restaurant has turned out to be a very pleasant surprise in Lakewood Ranch. Most Chinese restaurants around here really stink..but the food served here (except for the crunchy noodles) is SUPER fresh, cooked to order, and quite delicious. My husband and I order take-out frequently from Happy Dragon and have been consistently satisfied with everything we’ve tried. Nothing is drowning in sugary, over-seasoned sauces or oil. They take a lot of pride in serving only fresh ingredients- nothing from a can or frozen….so while you may be bummed that there are no baby corn or black straw mushrooms, I am happy knowing that the ingredients they cook with are the same as the ones I’d choose to use at home. I especially love the shrimp and eggplant in garlic sauce and the Mei Fun with vegetables. YUM. This is a great go-to place when you want Chinese food without the typical ohhh-I-wish-I-hadn’t-eaten-that feeling that usually comes an hour later. BRAVO Happy Dragon..We will see you again soon!
When Gabriel and I arrived for dinner at Thai Spice and Sushi, there were 3 booths and one table filled. All of the other booths and tables were empty. Our host began leading us to a table for 2, smack in the middle of the restaurant and we asked to instead be seated at one of the booths for 2 people. He paused, uncomfortably, and told us he had to go check with his manager. Huh? The manager came back and said, “I’m sorry but we need to seat you at a table.” I asked, “Oh, are the booths all reserved?” and she replied “No, but we need to evenly divide the work of the waitstaff, and the other waiter already has 2 booths to wait on. ” I was a bit taken aback by her response and pushed further asking, “What if suddenly 4 other parties come in for dinner, you will eventually seat people in those booths, right?” and she confirmed. She then told us that one of the other booths of people looked like they might be finishing up and we could wait for their table. Am I in the twilight zone? What kind of weirdo service rule is she following, especially in a fairly new restaurant where she should be trying to create a welcoming environment. Anyway, we really didn’t want the middle-of-the-room table so we decided to wait the 10 minutes it took to sit at a booth. This did not bode well for whatever was to follow.
Luckily, when we WERE finally seated, we quickly learned that our waiter was awesome. He was polite, funny, kind and knowledgeable. That *kind* of made up for it, but honestly, this manager really needs to re-think her approach.
We decided to share a few things including the basil fresh rolls (which had fresh veggies, basil and shrimp inside), the Thai salad with peanut dressing, and the shrimp Pad Thai. I thought the rolls and salad/dressing were all awesome..The Pad Thai was so-so. It actually had kind of a ketchup-y flavor to me. I know some recipes call for ketchup, but this was just too much…and it overpowered the whole dish. It wasn’t awful- just definitely not the best example of Pad Thai I’ve had before. When the waiter told us that the chef is actually FROM Thailand, I couldn’t help but think it was a shame that the recipe he or she learned was clearly not an authentic one.
Overall, our experience here was okay. As fantastic as our waiter was, the initial refusal to let us sit where we wanted really bugged me and may sway whether or not we go back. They do have some great sounding lunch specials on their menu and it might be worth one more shot…Have you been? What did you think?
We’ve lived near here for almost 2 years and had never been to El Lago Ranchero before last week. We wanted to use a coupon we had for our old standby, Mi Pueblo, but it was closed. Still craving fajitas, we decided to give El Lago a shot, despite the fact that we’d heard it wasn’t that great. We were happy to find them open on a late afternoon and were seated immediately.
Our waitress was fun and friendly, and brought us our drinks right away (including a sample taste of a margarita for Gabriel) as well as a basket of chips and salsa. We ordered the shrimp and veggie fajitas for 2, which came with sides of rice and refried beans, tortillas, and all of the typical toppings: cheese, sour cream, tomatoes/cilantro/onions, lettuce and guacamole. Everything was tasty, fresh, and was served quickly.
Granted, we didn’t order anything particularly complex, and it’s hard to really mess up fajitas too much, but we really enjoyed it. It’s definitely more Americanized Tex-Mex than authentic Mexican food…but there’s nothing wrong with that in my book. The shrimp were fresh and cooked well, the vegetables were fine, not over-seasoned or over-cooked, and the bill was very affordable.
We will surely go back!
Apparently my friends are always slightly nervous when they are the ones picking the restaurant we are meeting at. It made me laugh to hear that, but I guess I can see why since you never really know what I’ll think of a place. Luckily for this particular couple that Gabriel and I were meeting up with for lunch, they pretty much always pick winners.
Station 400 is a couple of miles from where we live and we’d been meaning to try it. We met up for lunch and I was immediately impressed with the cute, train-themed atmosphere, complete with a model train periodically circling the ceiling in full view. The menu was full of great sounding choices and I knew it would be a tough decision being that brunch is my favorite meal of the day (unless you include dessert as a meal). It seems a shame when a restaurant only offers breakfast and brunch and overlooks the more lucrative meal of the day by closing before dinner time, but I suppose they know what works for them. Before I even ordered, I’d already assumed everything would be great and was thinking about what I’d pick the next time we came in. It was 1pm on a Sunday, and we’d woken up fairly early, had breakfast, and taken a yoga class, so by the time 1:00 rolled around, I was ready for lunch type foods. I was tempted by the truffle eggs benedict, the blueberry stuffed, almond crusted, croissant french toast (WOAH) and the salmon caesar salad, but wanting to stay on the healthy side, I ultimately ended up choosing the portobello sandwich (YUM) with a side of cucumber/tomato olive salad. Gabriel had the open faced roast beef sandwich with blue cheese, caramelized onions, horseradish and parmesan fries on the side and my mouth watered as I convinced him to share both meals. Both were excellent with fresh ingredients, perfectly paired ingredients and manageable portions. Our friend’s dishes also looked awesome, and I had to sample Rachel’s amazing sweet potato fries. Neil’s fried green tomato BLT also looked amazing and I made a note to myself to order that one on another occasion.
The incredible looking homemade muffins (with flavors like maple/bacon, strawberry/lavender and peach/ginger), cake and pastries looked too lovely to ignore and we decided to share a cinnamon roll to finish off the meal with something sweet and special. The icing on top was a rich, cream cheese based gooey treat, and the bun itself was crisp, cinnamony and clearly fresh-baked. Just like the entrees, this was wonderful and left us wanting more- even though we were totally full.
Clearly, we’d have to return frequently to try all of the tempting plates they offered. Good thing they are close and super reasonably priced with almost everything under $10. We will absolutely and positively be back soon.
Gabriel and I were house hunting today and found ourselves starving for lunch and in an area that didn’t have many restaurants around. We turned the corner and found The Ranch Grill and figured we’d just go there and hope for the best. We were seated right away in the mostly empty restaurant (it was a pretty odd time for a meal) and before we opened our menus, I decided to check out Yelp.com for reviews. Uh oh. 1.5 stars. Not good. We were too hungry to care and decided to disregard the poor ratings since only 3 reviews had written entries. Generally speaking, unless there are 20 of more, I don’t really take the ratings to heart. I figured I would just have to see for myself.
The menus had a lot to offer, and after asking our friendly waiter about side salads, we were informed that we could add a side garden or caesar salad for $2 to the $8 appetizers we planned to order. Perfect. We chose the chicken quesadillas and the chicken cordon bleu bites to share and each ordered a garden salad.
Everything came out quickly, and I especially liked the slope-y, lopsided bowls that the salads came in. The apps were presented in a colorful and appealing way, looking and smelling delicious. My bleu cheese dressing was noteworthy with it’s large chunks of cheese, and the salad ingredients were very fresh and crisp. The chicken bites were hot and melty and although there wasn’t a ton of chicken in them, the honey mustard dipping sauce added a nice flavor and coolness to the cheesy snack. The quesadillas had great texture contrasted by the creamy, cool guacamole and sour cream and we gobbled every bit up, including the diced peppers that adorned the plate.
Overall, for $20 we had a great lunch and had already planned to return…This plan was reenforced when later on in the day, when I looked at their Facebook page, I just so happened to find a dealsaver.com deal for $10 for $20. What a weird coincidence…Well, better late than never. I immediately purchased the coupon so that we could return for a repeat lunch someday soon. Very satisfying indeed- and even more so for half the price!
As a pizza loving NYer, I was a little hesitant to place an order for delivery with Pizza Mia tonight. It’s been rough finding a decent slice here so far, and I doubted that tonight’s meal would be any different than the other fails thus far. It was, however, pouring rain, 8:30pm, and my boyfriend and I had both just gotten home from work- too hungry and tired to think about cooking or going out.
Having seen a post on Facebook a few nights ago about Pizza Mia and the fact that they deliver in this area, we decided we might as well give it a shot. We had ingredients to make salads to go along with our pie, so we went ahead and called in our order after trying to place it through their online ordering system which did not work properly.
We ordered a small pie; half cheese/sauce and half veggie deluxe with meatballs. The veggie deluxe included onions, green peppers, artichokes, mushrooms, tomatoes and spinach. After printing out a $3 coupon from their website, the order came to around $15.00- quite reasonable in my opinion. 30 minutes later we heard a knock at the door and were pretty psyched that even in the torrential rain, the delivery time was that quick- and that the driver easily found our somewhat hard to find front door around the back of the building we live in. We gave him a $20 and sat down to eat.
Though it wasn’t exactly hot anymore, it was still mostly warm and we were hungry enough that we didn’t really care. I took my first bite. WOW! What a totally pleasant surprise. This is not Florida pizza! This is actually pretty NY-y! How exciting. We will definitely be repeat customers. Thanks Pizza Mia!
Gabriel and I had breakfast here yesterday. It couldn’t possibly be more convenient as it’s less than a mile from where we live. We were seated in a comfortable booth right away and a VERY smiley and friendly waitress came to bring us menus and a delicious pot of hot coffee. We were a little surprised that the coffee, though it’s served in an unlimited-refills pot, is charged per person, not per pot. Next time we might opt to share one mug 🙂
I ordered the ‘Caps Etc’ for my breakfast and asked for the english muffin to be served dry, and the roasted crimini mushrooms (HOLY YUM!) to be prepared with half the amount of cheese they’d normally use. I ordered my 2 eggs poached and a small fruit salad on the side to share with my honey bunny.
The food came out super fast and looking delicious. It was all exactly as I’d specified and everything tasted great. I even liked the little homefries which aren’t usually my favorite.
The prices were pretty reasonable- except for the per-person coffee price of around $2.50 each. My one cup didn’t really justify that…but Gabriel did end up getting a cup to go which I guess made up for it. My entree was around $8 and the little fruit salad an extra $3.50.
We’ll be back for sure!
AH! Finally, A great place for sushi that isn’t ridiculously overpriced AND has excellent quality fish, creative rolls and great service. The bonus here is that it’s less than 5 minutes from my condo AND they are open for lunch with great deals for around $10.
Gabriel and I went for dinner with another couple here a few nights ago and were really happy to have tried it. We shared a bowl of perfectly cooked edamame, some awesome cold sake (they do not have a full bar which was the one downfall) and 6 different maki rolls. We also ordered some tamago sushi and some scallop sushi. Everything was spot on. This is the first sushi place in the area that I will definitely go back to aside from my current favorite, Ichiban. (https://bigforkinmouth.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/ichiban-2724-stickney-point-rd-sarasota-fl/) This was only slightly more expensive- but we did have drinks here, so I felt that $30 per person for dinner was totally reasonable. I left feeling full and happy 🙂
The service was fantastic and we all really appreciated that no one seemed to mind that we lingered to chat long before we ordered and long after we finished eating.
Hooray Jpan! Just another reason to love living in Lakewood Ranch. Give it a try!
Gabriel and I enjoyed a fun dinner with another couple here last night. Although I’m not really a sports bar kind of person, this restaurant feels much classier and less sporty than I expected based on the reviews I’d read ahead of time. Yes, there are tons of TVs playing various games, but the feel is more upscale and less rowdy that I would have guessed.
Luckily, our friends had a couple of great tips for us. The first was that if you check-in on four square, you get a free fried-green tomatoes appetizer. Cool! We jumped on that. The other VERY important tip is that the amazing bbq-butter-topped rolls, which do NOT come automatically, ARE free and available and absolutely worth asking for. YUM.
I ordered a frozen strawberry margarita to sip and it was delicious; refreshing, sweet- but not overly so, and the perfect amount of alcohol that didn’t totally overpower the drink. The fried green tomatos were a bit slow to come out, but when they finally did we gobbled them right up. They came with a tangy ranch dressing to dip in, and the slices were thick cut and super crunchy.
For my entree, I ordered the shrimp and grits- something I would not normally choose but it sounded interesting. I also ordered a side of green beans and thought it was odd that it did not automatically come with a vegetable when just about all of the other entrees did. The grits were unreal. Super cheesy and with generous bits of bacon, it was NOT at all a light dish. I still can’t believe I ate the whole thing- it was so rich and filling, but tasted so amazing that I couldn’t stop myself. The shrimp were a bit too sauce-covered, and I think they could have used half the amount instead of drowning them in sugary flavoring that they really didn’t need. I thought my meal was excellent, but really felt that the menu was lacking. I would have ordered a healthier shrimp option if there had been one- but the choices were basically salads or super indulgent entrees and sandwiches.
The meal ended with the waiter bringing over hot washcloths to wash our hands with…Nice touch! I thought the prices were totally reasonable and I would definitely consider going back…next time, I will plan to be more mentally prepared to indulge than I was this time.