Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hidden Treasures- Dallas

Zaguan Latin Cafe and Bakery is DEF my favorite restaurant in all of Dallas. It's wonderful! The one I always go to is on Oak Lawn in Uptown literally around the corner from my aunt and uncles house and I have yet to make a trip to Dallas without eating there. It offers a wide range of Latin American dishes that are sure to satisfy everyone in your family!

When you first walk in you will see two big glass show cases filled with every Latin bakery you could think of and even some you did not know about. The greatest thing about this place is that it is Latin Food, meaning there is a dish from just about every country in Latin America. It's not just Colombian food or Argentinian food, its all that and more! From the Breakfast (which is my favorite), Lunch, Dinner, Specialty Cakes, Sweets, and Breads.
The food is great! My favorite thing to eat, especially for breakfast, are cachapas. This is a traditional Venezuelan dish sold as street food and made from corn, these are sweet, and they are flattened like a bigger thicker tortilla and filled with any ingredient you can think of. For breakfast I like scrambled eggs, cheese, black beans, plantains, and salsa. This way I get sweet and savory in the same bite! For lunch they fill them with either beef and cheese or chicken and cheese. They also have arepas which are to the Venezuelans and Colombians what the tacos are to Mexicans. They are a sort of sandwich also made from corn. This is what I had for lunch filled with shredded beef and tastey melted white cheese, that tasted to me like panela or queso Oaxaca.

The eating damage had already ensued here
 Other dishes include pabellon, empanadas, milanesas, aroz con pollo, hallacas and much more. Some of their breads and sandwitch options are ham and cheese cachitos, guava and cheese bread, dulce de leche cheese bread, and so on... The choices just gets more and more tastey.

aroz con pollo
Something that I recommend trying are their "aguas" or "smoothis" which are made from fresh fruit and mostly there is no sugar added because it is not needed. In the latin culture we drink a lot of "aguas" which means "waters" and they are basically just water of fruit, agua de guayaba (my favorite), agua de mango, agua de sandilla (watermelon). They are delish and great for kids! My 2 year old cousin Wesley Bird or "Birdie" loved her agua de sandilla. And her rice, and her beans...

So  next time you are in Dallas go check out Zaguan!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hidden Treasures- San Antonio

                             



San Antonio holds a great secret, even though if you are from San Antonio it is no secret. This place is Chris Madrid's.
I have searched high and low and have yet to find a burger place quite like this one. Chris Madrid's is a San Antonio landmark! It opened in January of 1977 as a burger and taco place but the burgers were such a hit that they lost the tacos all together. The atmosphere is unlike any other with indoor and outdoor seating and a bar. The windows in line are filled with bumper stickers (we added a bumper sticker from my Uncle's Campaign for congress so look for it! Its blue with white writing and says "Tucker Anderson Republican for Congress"). The walls have t-shirts hanging, news articles and more to look at while you wait. One trip I saw a bio on a famous chef who runs one of the nicest restaurants in San Antonio and all he talked about was Chris Madrid's! 
You stand in line, order your burger, get your number and find a seat, be mindful, this place is always crowded but that is part of the fun! If you show up and there is a line out the door don't worry! I have never seen anywhere as organized and good at moving people like Chris Madrid's. When they are really crowded employees will take peoples order from the line and you never have to wait too long. Even if you are in line for 30 min it won't take more than 10 to get your burger.


The options are few and that is because there is no need for a big menu, the burgers are amazing! The crowd favorite is the Cheddar Cheezy. It is a delicious burger with cheddar cheeze oozing out the sides! The patty is peppery, the bun is the right size to get your mouth around and the toppings are fresh. The fries come separate and are the perfect size for sharing.





So if you are in San Antonio visiting or live there and still have not gone you HAVE TO CHECK IT OUT! This place is an institution and you won't be disappointed I promise!

Chris Madrid's is located on Hollywood and Blanco and their website is http://www.chrismadrids.com/.

Monday, October 11, 2010

State Fair of Texas

Everything is bigger in Texas so, everything has to be bigger at the Texas State Fair! Just ask Big Tex:

Cotton Bowl Stadium and Big Tex are the symbols and center of Fair Park in Dallas, Big Tex even talks! Equipped with his boots, cowboy hat and Texas accent why would he not be the perfect symbol for such a location as Fair Park? Late September through mid October the festivities begin! Rides, Auto Shows, Livestock, and yes, lots of food!



The State Fair is the deep fried capital of Texas for sure. The most famous being Fletcher's Corny Dogs, the birth of all corny dogs. These are def over the top! With a semi sweet cornbread coating and a hot dog in the middle, these need no mustard or ketchup.


Although there are many attractions at the fair most people come for the food. Because of this, Big Tex Choice awards were born in the 2005 fair year. It is a competition between the concessions at the fair and must be food the fair has never seen. Past winners have been: Viva Las Vegas Fried Ice Cream, Fried Coke, Fried Latte, Texas Fried Cookie Dough, Chicken Friend Bacon, and this years Fried Beer™ andTexas Fried FRITOS® Pie !



Fried Beer
 For more details, tickets, attractions, past food winners, dates and more check out their website at: http://www.bigtex.com/sft//index.asp

Monday, October 4, 2010

Wrapping Things Up in Tokyo

When it comes to eating in Tokyo I have 3 pieces of advice, 1) eat where the people are, 2) be a tourist and 3) try everything!
Eat where the people are means, if you are hungry and you are walking around trying to find a place to eat go in somewhere that is crowded. The reason I have not specifically named the places I have eaten (besides Vampire Cafe and other theme restaurants I will talk about soon) is because I don't know the names. If there is even a visible sign it is all in Japanese. If you see a place that looks hoppin, it is because the food is good! This has not failed me once. Around 6 pm here in Tokyo the locals begin to get off work and go straight for food and drinks. This will allow you a window between 6 and midnight (you don't want to miss your subway home) to mix it up with them and eat where they eat. Something I recommend for late drinks and "finger goods" are these small stand up bars. The idea is to stand at a small table, drink, eat, get a little loud, and hang loose . They are a lot of fun, the food is amazing, and they are always packed.


fried octopus balls at a standing bar in Tokyo 


Be a tourist means, go to places that are recommended in travel books, online or on TV. See what is popular in Tokyo and go check it out! This is where I discovered the 3 theme restaurants I visited, Vampire Cafe, Ninja Restaurant and Cat Cafe. The Ninja Restaurant was amazing! When you walk in you are greeted by a hostess who claps her hand and a ninja appears from the wall! You are led through a maze of narrow corridors where you come upon a small surprise, I wont give too much away. Once you are inside the dining area it is a wonderland of dark stone halls, ninjas, private dinning rooms, green smoke, and calming fountains. Our table was in a private room, closed off with beautiful thin wooden sliding doors. We took off our shoes in order to sit in the traditional room of bamboo floors and padded chairs on the floor, they even offered you arm rests! We had a beautiful view of green smokey tunnels under the walk ways above and a bamboo fountain. The food matched the ambiance, pricey and delicious! We had duck carpaccio, octopus, and beef cheek disguised as a fish.




























The cat cafe was not really a "cafe" more of a place
to go play with cats and have a drink and maybe a snack. But they are very famouse here in Tokyo and if you are a cat person  I reccomend you checking it out. It is cheep and a good way to pass an hour in the afternoon.


video

And try everything means, try everything! I am not big on seafood and that did not hold me back in Japan. The people here live on seafood and me being such a food person, how could I say no? Well I was pleasantly surprised. I ate delicious shrimp at a restaurant from Okinawa (I really and truly recommend the food from Okinawa, esp their signature pork dish! It is by far the best thing I ate on my trip), spicy squid with onions at a restaurant on the street, octopus at least 3 different ways, sushi, and so much more. So even though you are sure you don't like something, try it anyway. One ingridient, such as shrimp, is prepared in comepletely different ways in different countries, you may end up likeing it. So say yes, take a bite, and if you don't like at least you tried it but, I'm sure you will like it.