Grampa’s Bakery and Restaurant: Dania Beach

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If you enjoy not gaining weight then I suggest you stay far, far away from Grampa’s Bakery and Restaurant. A Paleo dieter may actually burst into flames if they dare step foot in this place. Actually, on second thought, it wouldn’t be such bad thing if a paleo preacher burst into flames. We get it already! You eat like a caveman! You spend hours preparing meals! No one gives a shit, Encino Man…WOW. That felt good.

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Clearly, I have no interest in dieting. I eat my complimentary Grampa pastries with no guilt whatsoever and I have been eating them long before Guy Fieri showed up there in his douchey car.
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That’s right, I said complimentary pastries. They are served with all breakfast and lunch orders. It’s like a bread basket on crack. Honestly,  I would come here just for the free pastries, but that’s frowned upon.

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As we were eating here on Monday my friend made a great point about the food. She said,  “It’s so good because it’s simple”. And she’s right. Everything is home cooked in the most simple way and it is this simplicity that makes the food so delicious and comforting.

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Example A: Grampa’s French Toast. Whoever says that everything is bigger in Texas has never been to Florida and eaten Grampa’s french toast. Our omelets paled in comparison to my husband’s gigantic slices of deliciousness. This dish is made the way we expect french toast to be made. The familiarity of the flavors makes the meal even more enjoyable than it already is.

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The restaurant itself could definitely use an update but an update would just be sad. The outdated decor is part of the charm of Grampa’s Bakery and Restaurant. It’s the type of place that you can always count on to look the same. I am confident that 20 years from now Grampa’s Bakery and Restaurant will still look the same and taste the same. This makes aging a little easier for me.

Tierras Colombianas: Astoria

Tierras Colombianas was a childhood staple of mine. My father would take my sister and I here for father-daughter dates and special occasions. For approximately 15 years I have been ordering the same item off the menu, #14-the seasoned, grilled chicken breast with beans, rice and sweet plantains. Now, I’m not saying you have to order this but… Yeah, okay. That’s exactly what I’m saying. Order this and order this now.

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On Friday I celebrated my 28th birthday at Tierras Colombianas and It should be no surprise that I ordered #14, the perfect birthday meal. The #14 chicken breast is pounded thin and this thickness allows the seasoning to permeate all the way through. Once you eat chicken like this you won’t want it any other way. Inspired by this dish, I tried to tenderize and flatten my own chicken with a hammer. In case you’re wondering,  it doesn’t work. Tenderizers are worth the investment. Hammers are messy.

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The Latin flavors of the chicken are further enhanced by the side dishes. The perfectly salted rice and beans are accompanied by your choice of sweet plantains or tostones. I used to order tostones but my first taste of sweet plantains was a game changer. The sweet plantains are soft and moist, where as the tostones are dry and salty.  It is a difficult decision for the indecisive because they are both delicious in different ways. For those of you who suffer from indecisiveness, just get both. You can always start your diet tomorrow. YOLO!

Tierras Colombianas is located at 33rd and Broadway. Go check it out!

The Brick Café: Astoria

“Well, that was disappointing”, said the soggy ravioli to the under seasoned soup.

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A couple of years ago I celebrated a friend’s birthday at the Brick Café on 31st Ave in Astoria, NY. The food, drinks and service were all excellent! So tonight, when we couldn’t find parking near the restaurant of our choice, my husband and I defaulted to the Brick. We thought it was a safe bet…Wrong-o!

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The dim lighting and dark wood of the Brick Cafe is welcoming and cozy. The restaurant is split into two sections, the formal dining area and the bar. Both sections serve the same food. Since we were dressed like hobos, we decided to sit in the bar section. The bar has a great atmosphere and the drink selection is wide and varied. It’s too bad the food sucked tonight because everything else grade A, including the rating from the health department.

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The husband and I weren’t in the mood for full meals tonight. So we each had a soup, french onion for me and pea for him, and shared an order of fries and fried ravioli. Let me clear the pink elephant in the post. Yes. We have an appetite for fried, unhealthy food. Whew, felt good to get that off my chest! Okay, moving on…

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Let’s start with the soups.

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Both soups were highly under seasoned, and the pea soup was actually cold! Have you ever tasted cold pea soup? It’s not fun. Not fun at all. A good french onion soup should be salty and oozing with cheese. This one just didn’t have enough of either. It was like biting into a joy bar, when expecting a snickers. Disappointing and not worth the calories.

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The fried ravioli were the saddest part of the meal. The little guys had so much potential. They could have been something! Instead, they were soggy, little pockets of cheese. The rich filling and spicy sauce were DElicious but these flavors could not save the dish. Ah, it’s so sad when good flavors are wasted on poor execution.

And a yadda, yadda, yadda…I will only eat at the Brick again if there is a zombie apocalypse and it is the only restaurant within a 50 mile radius that I can raid for survival. Too harsh?

Afghan Kebob House: NYC

I was recently introduced to the Afghan Kebob House by an old friend from high school. This restaurant, located on 2nd Ave between 70th and 71st, is hidden amongst the lavish, over priced restaurants of the upper east side.

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The interior of the Kebob House is very dark and cave like. Really fucking cave like. Think, Jafar’s lair in the movie “Aladdin”. If you haven’t seen Aladdin, then I feel bad for you. If you haven’t played Aladdin on Sega Genesis, then I feel bad for you. If you haven’t eaten at the Kebob house, then I feel bad for you. These are all things that should be on your bucket list. You might have missed the boat on the Sega game, but you can still watch the movie and eat at the Kebob House!

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Do not let the freaky deaky darkness of Jafar’s lair the Afghan Kebob House intimidate you from dining there. The food has my two favorite “A” qualities: Amazing and Affordable. The Afghan Kebob House allows you to explore an exotic cuisine without breaking the bank AND it is BYOB. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. They will gladly serve any alcohol that you bringwithout a corking fee. This keeps the bill down and eliminates the headache of trying to fairly divide the cost of a dozen (or two) drinks. BYOB saves friendships and money. Does it get any better?!

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It does get better! The waiters do not Rush you out. In fact, they encourage you to take your time and enjoy. Next to the delicious food, this is my favorite aspect of the Afghan Kebob House and, for me, this factor can make or break a restaurant. If you rudely rush me out, I will not come back. It’s one of my many “eating out” pet peeves. Anyone living in a metropolitan area should NOT put up with rudeness at a restaurant. There are way too many options.

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Ordering from a menu that has unfamiliar items can be scuuury. That’s why I am going to tell you exactly what to order. The Aushak Ghousti: boiled dumplings filled with scallions and herbs that are topped with a mint yogurt sauce and ground beef. To. Die. For. Each bite is an explosion of flavor. Unfortunately for you,  I ate my meal faster then I could photograph it. Your just going to have to take a leap of faith and trust me on this one. Once you break your Afghan cherry,  there’s no turning back. So break that shit and break that shit hard.

Click here for more information on the Afghan Kebob House and I hope to see you there!

The [Sullivan’s] Diner: Horseheads

Two years ago my husband and I were visiting family in Elmira, NY when our 1999 Ford Taurus shit the bed. Instead of making the 250 mile trip back home as planned, we were forced to spend an extra day in good ole Western New York. I was thrilled, and by thrilled I mean pissed. I was trying hard to make lemonade out of lemons, so I put a smile on my face and said, “lets get breakfast!”
Getting breakfast in Elmira is much easier to do when you have a car. Luckily, the car shop was right next door to Sullivan’s Diner. At the time, Sullivan’s Diner was a rusting tin box. I was very hesitant to try it out but, needless to say, I was not overwhelmed with options.
Sullivan’s Diner turned out to be a pleasant surprise! The food was average and greasy, but the comfortable atmosphere offered us a nice refuge from the stress of our car problems.The place was so small that there was almost no option but to talk to other diners. Like any typical New Yorker, I usually prefer to be left alone. On this day, however, friendly conversation is exactly what I needed!

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Since that rainy day in 2011 Sullivan’s Diner has changed hands and “Sullivan” has been dropped from the name. The new owners have cleaned the place up and it looks better than ever! The metal is nice and Shiny, and the wooden edging that outlines the booths have been refinished. I’m sure the old regulars could care less about these alterations, but we visitors like them lots! My favorite addition to the interior is the marker for the water level of the Elmira flood of 1972.

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So many residents were effected by this travesty, including my mother in law who was pregnant with her first son at the time. She lost many personal items in this flood and has many a story to tell about the event. This marker is a subtle reminder of the strength of the Elmira community.
The new menu is more sparse than the original, but you can still find all of the foods that you expect at a diner. My biggest critique is that there is no fruit on the menu. Nothing! Nada! Nein! But like I said before, the attraction of this diner is not the food. It is the experience of being welcomed into a community of friendly people (who don’t eat fruit).

New York Dog House: Astoria

The humble and dark exterior of the New York Dog House make it an easy place  to miss. The food, however, is far from forgettable. Their menu is filled with a variety of playful dishes but the hot dogs steal the show! Each dog is infused with unique flavors and topped with refreshingly, unexpected ingredients. Every bite of every dog is a party in your mouth (that’s what she said) and you will NOT want this party to end.

On our first trip to the New York Dog House I got the bangers and mash. This came with three different bare dogs and the parsnip-potato mash (which are to die for! ). It is a good sampler dish because you get to taste and compare the flavors of different dogs, but eating a bunless and toppingless dog isn’t too satisfying. It’s like sending a model down the runway naked.

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After the bangers and mash experience, I was on a mission to get a signature dog! So on the next trip I opted for the luscious looking dog that you see pictured above, called the Far East. The dog filling is a blend of sweet Asian flavors that are offset by a sour pickled daikon topping. It is literally the perfect combination of flavors. So take this lesson from me folks: when in Rome eat Italian food and when in the Dog House get a hot dog!

Click here to be redirected to the New York Dog House site.

Mall Madness

Mall food courts are awesome. These cheap versions of Epcot offer a (sort-of) culturally diverse dining experience for those on a budget. In one sitting you can have a sushi roll from Japan, an egg roll from China, and a chicken roll from Italy. So many countries with so many rolls. How can you go wrong, right? Some how the Arnot Mall got this great American pleasure (and obesity enabler) SO wrong. I’m sure Super China, the star of the Arnot Mall food court, was a hopping place in 1995 but it has worn out its welcome. The man who took my order had some food left on his face from an earlier meal. This should have been enough to turn me away,  but it did not.

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There is a silver lining to this story! The Arnot mall has prepared for the potential food poisoning deaths of Super China by adding the Granite Art store to it’s thrilling selection of retailers. In this store you can pick out and design your own headstone. What a unique asset to a shopping mall! I’m sure all of the parents bringing their small children to take pictures with Santa want to make a pit stop to pick out a headstone and explain death to their kids. Bravo, Arnot. This is fucking brilliant.

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In conclusion, the Arnot Mall sucks but is super convenient if you need to purchase a sweater and a headstone for your pet.