Tag Archives: United States

Shore Diner: 465 John Ringling Blvd, Sarasota, FL

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shore beet salad with grilled shrimpThis is definitely the most awesome atmosphere in St. Armands Circle for a drink and a meal. A young, hip crowd, healthy, interesting menu, and really cool decor make this feel like a true gem in the area. When you walk up the shell-covered stairs, the first thing you see is the green, living wall with the name of the restaurant and a giant set of utensils centered in stainless steel. This roof top restaurant has a retractable roof on one side, a covered middle and an open air front. Waitstaff is attractive and dressed in trendy attire, and very attentive.

We were just there for a light lunch, being that I’m getting married (!!!) in less than a week and didn’t want anything too indulgent. That said, there were plenty of choices to suit my tastes and I happily ordered a salad with beets, pistachios, grapefruit and goat cheese with the optional addition of grilled shrimp. It came out soon after we ordered, and was lovely to look at and to taste. The flavors all worked so well together, and it was exactly the light, refreshing, delicious lunch I was hoping for. I will be sure to tell all of my friends who are visiting from afar next weekend that this is a great place to visit in between wedding events! Fantastic! 

 

 

Krispy Arepas: 8196 Tourist Center Dr Bradenton, FL

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Krispy arepas, plaintains, mushrooms and garlic:cilantro saucearepas with plaintains, beans, mushrooms, avocado, tomato, cheddar and pico de gallogarlic:cilantro sauce and avo:pico de gallo saucedulce de leche cookie. dulche de leche cookie side viewWOW. Great ethnic food 5 miles from my house!?!?! I’m SO frequently surprised about stuff like this, but really shouldn’t be anymore. So far, we have found amazing Indian, Thai, Vietnamese, Greek, Mexican and now Venezuelan (although apparently it was recently sold to a Peruvian owner so there will be some changes soon) food, all within 10-20 minutes from where we live in suburban, cookie-cutter, pristine, totally non-diverse, Lakewood Ranch, FL.

We were both feeling a little bored of our stand-by dinner spots, so after a hard workout, we decided to give Krispy Arepas a try. I’d read a ton of great reviews online, and it sounded like the ‘something different’ that I was craving. We walked into the neon-green painted, brightly lit, fast food restaurant. It’s got a little flair with cute, little, real and fake painted cactuses and alpaca dolls on high-up shelves.

There were a few other people in there waiting- as we were told that fresh Arepas were being made and it would be about 10 minutes until they were ready. We asked the friendly guy behind the counter to tell us a bit about what Arepas are and he explained that they are sort of like a corn flatbread that are stuffed with various ingredients commonly found in South American countries. As non-meat-eaters, we were happy to see that the choices for us were plentiful, with plantains, mushrooms, beans, cheeses, avocados and other various veggies and sauces. Seeing how hungry we were, he gave us a small plate of mushrooms, plantains and a couple of the sauces to sample while we waited for the Arepas to be ready. It was actually more than 20 minutes later that we got the signal that it was finally time. He had felt so badly about the long wait that he also gave everyone who was waiting there a cup for free drinks…very nice of him, and that along with the snack more than made up for the long wait.

We had him fill our freshly cut-opened arepas with pretty much everything non-meat that could fit in there, and realized that we’d basically made them impossible to pick up and eat. No problem, thats’s what little plastic forks and knives are for. We sat down and dug in to the little pockets of flavor and both loved them right away. Exactly what we wanted. A big step away from the norm, and an exciting blend of new flavors. The sweet, soft plantains, the creamy avocado slices, the cool pico de gallo and the AWESOME green, garlic, cilantro sauce combined with cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms, tomatillo sauce and black beans filled the crispy, chewy corn sandwiches with wonderful texture and flavor. These LOOK like they may be too small to fill a hungry belly but nope, not at all. We were full and happy by the time we cleared our plates.

But wait, what’s that?? A fresh powered sugar homemade cookie filled with dulce de leche? Okay. I guess we can fit one of those in too. It wouldn’t be fair to write a review without a taste. Yum. Crisp powdery cookies with a creamy, sweet, salty center? Nothing bad about that.

We will definitely pay another visit soon- most likely on a Wednesday when it’s 50% off. You really can’t beat dinner for $5 a piece ($2.50 a piece on Wednesdays!!!), especially when it tastes this amazing.

Via Napoli: Italy Pavilion at Epcot World Showcase, Orlando, FL

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My honey and I went to Epcot to celebrate New Year‘s on January 1st. We did not expect to have good food there. We did not even really expect to have halfway decent food there. Imagine our total surprise when we ended up having an outstanding meal. WHAT? Amazing pizza, delicious bread, a great salad AND some of the best tiramisu I’ve ever had? WOW. I am still a bit in shock.

I had read reviews of Via Napoli– a lot of people rave about it. It’s the newest restaurant in the Epcot World Showcase and should have been impossible to get into. I read that the pizza in the take out stand in the Italy pavilion was absolutely NOT the same as what they serve in the restaurant and that it was worth the wait if possible to get a table. As luck would have it, we waited in line for maybe  a total of 10 minutes before a lovely indoor/outdoor (right on the edge of the outdoor section) table for 2 opened up.

A very friendly waiter straight from Italy came over to greet us and take our order. We joked with him about the irony of moving to the U.S. from Italy to work in a fake Italy. He explained that it was a great job where he had lots of friends who were also transplanted here from Italy to work there, and that he really loved being close to home in a sense, even though he was so far away. He also told us that he thought very highly of the food they served and that he felt it was quite authentic.

After a glass of wine and some delicious fresh bread and excellent olive oil, we ordered a salad and a pizza with artichokes, truffle oil and fontina. The salad was quite lovely with marinated mushrooms, green olives, plenty of fresh veggies and a balsamic dressing. The pizza was, dare I say, AMAZING. The crust was chewy, crisp and pretttttttty perfect and the toppings were perfectly proportioned. We polished it off so quickly and sort of regretted getting the tiny sized one even though it really was plenty for a meal along with the salad.  It also, as we came to realize, left enough room to share a wonderful tiramisu for dessert. I also had a fantastic cappuccino, complete with a delightful heart of foam on top.

The meal was not cheap, as really nothing at a Disney park is, or is expected to be. You are paying for the experience of it as much as for the food itself, but this time, I would actually say it really is worth every penny. I doubt I’ll be back at Epcot before I have a kid of my own to bring with me, but if YOU ever go, I would STRONGLY encourage you to pay a visit to Via Napoli. Total winner.

Zante Gyros: 6500 Superior Ave, Sarasota, FL

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This was one oh those ‘happy accident’ kinds of meals. Gabriel and I were starving for lunch and literally tried to go to 3 other places before we made it to Zante. The first was apparently closed that day, the second had no parking spots open, and the third was closed at this odd time of day.

We were at that stage of hungry where blood sugar has dropped, crabbiness has begun and anything is starting to sound like a perfectly decent option. We were driving around the Gulf Gate area and came up on Zante Gyros, with a sign in the window stating that their gyros were the BEST. Ok. We believe your little sign and will come in. We were the only patrons inside, but it was, as I mentioned, a sort of odd time for a meal. We went up to the counter and placed our orders. I got a chicken gyro and a side greek salad.

A few minutes later, our food was ready and looked fantastic. One bite and I was totally hooked. The chicken was fresh and juicy, the tzatziki sauce was cool and refreshing and all of the vegetables were super fresh and piled on.

The price was a little high for a take-out, casual spot, but the quality warranted it and I will definitely be back.

Miss JC Garden: 8310 Market St. Lakewood Ranch, FL

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Gabriel and I moved into our new condo in Lakewood Ranch today! We were so excited to finally get here and settled in right away. Around 9:30, we realized we hadn’t eaten dinner yet and didn’t have any groceries so we decided to see what our options near Publix were. Publix is an awesome grocery store, but we NYers aren’t used to supermarkets that close at 10pm and we had to rush to pick up some things we needed for the next day.

A few doors away from Publix, we found Miss JC Garden. In the window, we saw the sign that they serve Chinese, Thai and Malaysian food with a healthy spin. Wow, what luck! Totally our kind of place.

We were welcomed warmly and seated right away in the empty restaurant. Light, airy  crunchy noodles, mustard and duck sauce were brought out along with ice water and menus. The menus are extensive, and it took us a bit to look through and decide what to order.

We eventually settled on healthy steamed chicken and vegetables with szechuan sauce on the side. We were happy to find out that they don’t use any MSG or chemicals here in their preparation. We also ordered Moo shu vegetables that came with 4 thin pancakes.

Everything that we ordered was piping hot, fresh, full of veggies and high quality ingredients. Our 2 entrees were the perfect amount of food and we quickly ate everything in front of us. Our total came to just over $20, a very reasonable price for the amount of food we were served.

We will absolutely be back…not only because it’s 3 minutes from where we live, but also because the service was friendly and personal, the food was awesome and healthy, and the options are endless.

Bravo Miss JC Garden. You’ve impressed 2 NYers who were worried we’d never find decent Chinese food around here…We are VERY happy to be wrong about that assumption.