Monday, May 15, 2017

California Taco, Omaha NE

California Taco is an unlikely genre of restaurant for Omaha.  It is a Tex-Mex restaurant with a little spin.  The smell of the Wisconsin cheddar was unmistakable; very non-texmex.

There was a margarita machine with verde sauce and poco de guyo sauce.  Guy Fiere was on a constant loop playback.  It was charming for the first five minutes.

This was definitely a neighborhood place.  The customers acted like family.  Service was just okay.

California Taco
3235 California St.
Omaha, NE 68131

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Amato's Omaha, NE

The first thing that hit me was that it smelled just like an Italian dinner which is exactly what this place is.

Omaha's Amato's Cafe is best known for breakfast.  In fact it is the breakfast ricotta pancakes that makes this place special.

I tried them myself and can testify that they are spectacular.  They don't taste "cheesy" but still like a pancake but richer and more filling.  

Peoples from all over the world somehow know about this place.  I can see why but, I don't know how they do it.  The evidence was a well worn world map with pins for visitors from all over the world.

The atmosphere is typical diner.  The coffees cups were all from Union Pacific railroad.  I'm guessing that they like this place.  It's a little divy.  The chairs were all mismatched chairs, for example.  I kind of like it.

Amato's Cafe
6405 Center St
Omaha, NE 68106

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Akasaka - Hacienda Heights, CA

It's possible that this is some of the best sushi that I've ever had.  I had the 8-count spider roll and green tea.  The sushi roll was a cross between a burrito and a sushi roll; hearty like a burrito and had bigger chunks of food but very fresh and fine like a typical sushi roll. One roll was plenty of food.

The atmosphere was very international.  There was lots of Japanese and Chinese being spoken.  The restaurant is relatively small and it was pretty full when I was there for lunch.

Service was very good.  There was one single waiter for the whole restaurant.

Overall, I would rate this place a 9.1 mostly on the food.  

1492 Clark avenue
Hacienda heights, CA
616 336-0871

Sunday, March 15, 2015

North End Cafe - Manhattan Beach, CA

The North End Cafe was a neighborhood restaurant like so many triple D restaurants.  It's hard to go wrong in southern California.  The weather is so often so nice that the outdoor tables are almost always an option.  This restaurant was just a block or so from one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.  It 's hard to be in a bad mood here.

You order at the register, they prepare the food and it arrives at your table.

I ordered the avocado chicken sandwich and tomato basil soup.  I washed it down with a long hammer IPA.  You can read my beer review on  The basil soup was really super.  The avocado chicken sandwich was pretty good.  $28 for a soup, sandwich and beer at a place where you order at the counter was a little pricey.  

I would rate north and Café 8.5 out of 10.  The food was pretty good and the location was great but something just didn't "wow"me about this place. it's still worth checking out.

The North End Cafe
3421 Highland Ave
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266
(310) 546-GRUB (4782)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Tokyo Dog - Seattle, WA

Tokyo Dog is not a traditional restaurant.  It is actually a hot dog truck, or trailer more specifically.  What makes this special is that it is a Japanese-German fusion. The hot dogs are actually high quality German wursts given a sushi treatment.  It kind of reminds me of Guy Fieri's Tex Wasabi concept which is a Tex-mex sushi fusion.

I had the Roppongi Dog which is a good quality rotterwuerst with cream cheese, teriyaki onions and spiced mayo.   I was very pleasantly surprised.  
The presentation is kind of cool.  You're not sure if you are looking at a mutant sushi roll or what.  (It looked better when he first handed it to me rather than after I handled it then took the picture.) 
They whisk the teriyaki and mayo sauce over the top of the dog like a piece of sushi.  The bread was equally high-quality.   It was a soft keiser roll obviously from a real bakery. The hot dog and onions is a very familiar taste but, after they add the cream cheese and the Japanese spices, it takes a crazy culinary turn.

Service was pretty good, especially for a truck.  I was completely confused with their menu and the young lady in the truck walked me through it and I ordered on her recommendation. 

I caught up with Tokyo Dog outside the Starbucks building in Seattle. There were two or three other food trucks outside the building at the same time.  If you show up here then you might get some choices.
I liked the Tokyo Dog so much that I decided to review it.  I would rate Tokyo Dog an 8.7.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Coco's Italian Market- Nashville, TN

I loved Coco's.  I'm not sure that I've ever been in an Italian market outside of Italy.  There are so many great foods that come from Italy, I'm not sure why.  It was really a market, bakery and restaurant.

When you first walk in, you are in the market.  The market had all kinds of canned and jarred foods, cakes, cookies, you name it.  They also had huge jugs of Nutella with a sign next to it warning people because people have evidently dropped them before probably making a huge mess.

There are a few cold cases.  One had really delicious looking gelato, another one had meats and cheeses.  Yet another had cakes and another chocolates.  They did entice me to try a slice of one of the cakes.  More on that later.  They also had a bar with all kinds of olives, probably for take-out.

The menu was pretty extensive.  They had all of the pasta dishes that you would expect.  I'm told that their pizza is also really good.

I started with an Italian salad; spring mix, artichoke hearts, cherry tomatoes red onions, roasted red peppers, topped with a vinaigrette.  They claim that they believe in garden to table.

I ordered the vegetable lasagna.  It was served in a baked dish that was incredibly hot when it was served. There was no meat in the dish but, it was filling like there was.  From their menu, the ingredients were "pasta, mushrooms, carrots, sun dried tomatoes and spinach baked with mozzarella, ricotta and egg mixture, Romano and parmesan."  It was really delicious.

So, I went with the veggie lasagna so that I could really indulge with the godiva chocolate cake.  Wow, that was a decadent indulgence.  You can probably get that at the cheesecake factory, but this place just put me in the mood.

Overall, I would rate coco's 9.3 on a 10 point scale.  Service was also really good.  Our server was really friendly and fast.

There was also a bonus.  They had a bocci ball court outside and signs that look like they must sponsor a bocci ball league.  So, this looks like a fun place.

Coco's Italian Market
411 51st Ave N
Nashville, TN 37209
Phone (615) 783-0114

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Empire Brewing Company - Syracuse, NY

Empire Brewing Company is a great micro brewery in the Armory section of Syracuse.  The Armory District has obviously gone under a renaissance in the past few years. The area has lots of really good restaurants and at least one very good brewery-restaurant.

You descend down into the Empire brewery through a set of stairs on the sidewalk. It sits below a barber shop.  A real working micro brewery sits behind glass behind the bar. The boil vessels are copper. My bartender told me that they are very old but she couldn't remember exactly how old or where they came from.

The brewery is literally "award winning." There are award after award hanging on the walls around the brewpub. Many of which where from the Great American Brew Festival spanning over several years.

Empire brewery is a brewery first and a brew-pub second. I think that this might be the first triple D restaurant that I've been to that did not advertise the fact in any way.  There was absolutely no evidence of the food network having ever been there; no pictures of guy, no"Guy ate this" notation on the menu. Nothing.

I ordered the elk burger; medium rare with sweet potato fries. I have no complaints about the burger whatsoever. It was fine. But, the food is a second act to the beer.

The first beer that I ordered was a Black Magic Stout. You can read my Untappd review of it here.  My second beer was hey Waldorf Honey Ale. My bartender explained that the brewery has an arrangement with the famous Waldorf Hotel in new York city. Evidently the Hotel has bees on the roof of the hotel and the hotel supplies the brewery with honey and in exchange the brewery supplies for the hotel with beer. You can read my untapped review here.

I was chatting with one of the bartenders and her boyfriend waiter who are also home brewers. They were quite enthusiastic about the brewery, Their own homebrew and beer in general. So, it was a very nice conversation.

I would rate Empire Brewing Co. a 9.3.  I will go back when I'm back in Syracuse again.

Empire Brewing Company
120 Walton St
Syracuse, NY 13202