Monday, June 23, 2008

Restaurant Review - Azteca d'Oro, 12403 South Blossom Trail, Orlando, FL

Azteca d'OroOn Orange Blossom Trail, in Hunter's Creek, north of the 417, is Azteca d'Oro Mexican restaurant. Azteca is part of a Northwest chain in Oregon and Washington. This is the first location in Central Florida although they also have a location in South Florida as well. Azteca d'Oro is very bright and cheerful inside with red, green, and yellow painted walls, and festively painted wooden fan decorations above each booth. Large framed black & white photographs adorn the walls. We were seated by the half-Guacamole, mole, salsa, oh my!moon bar midway through the restaurant, which has two flat-screen TVs playing sports television. As soon as we sat down, we were served fresh chips and salsa. The salsa was very tasty, mild with strong tomato and cilantro flavors. Grandpa asked for a hotter sauce and got a very hot sauce indeed. He ended up having to cool it down with the mild salsa mixed in. Grandma asked for a sample of the mole sauce and our server brought that, along with a generous sample of guacamole. The mole was thick with the characteristic chocolate and cinnamon flavor. The guacamole was outstanding with big chunks of avocado and lots of flavor. It was our server's first time being a server (he is normally a host) so I'm not sure if he was supposed to bring us a free sample of guacamole but we certainly benefited.

LB got chocolate milk to drink and the rest of us had either sweet tea or unsweet tea. Unfortunately, there were lots of mix-ups of whether the tea was sweet or not so we all ended up with sweet tea somehow.

The dinner menu is has lots of selections and I like how many of the dishes have full-color photos to accompany them. There are appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, vegetarian versions of Mexican foods (!), carne (meat) dishes, fajitas, pollo (chicken) dishes, burritos, mariscos (seafood) dishes, and then the combinations. Whew! Oh, and all of the "stuffed" menu items such as enchiladas had a choice of filling: cheese, ground beef, chicken, picadillo (shredded pork and beef), spinach or seafood. Burritos also have a choice of Chile Colorado or Chile Verde as a filling, and the enchiladas have a choice of sauce from original, ranchera, verde, crema, mole, or mazatlan. Needless to say, I sent the waiter away several times in order to read through the whole menu and make my choices.There are even dishes with lamb and some of the Grande Platos were very interesting combinations of items from all parts of the menu. Grandpa got one of the Grande Platos -- the Tres Amigos ($14.50) with Chile Colorado, a Chile Relleno, aCombo #1 with enchilada and tamalend Chile Verde. Grandma ordered a Grande Combo #1 ($9.95) with a tamale and an enTres Amigos - check out the huge relleno in the middle of the plate!chilada with mole sauce. I ordered a Grande Combo #2 ($10.95) with a picadillo tamale (the meat was shredded beef and pork) and a ground beef burrito. Almost all dinners come with rice and beans. I asked for the refried beans and the white rice but our server highly recommended the Mexican rice instead so I went with his suggestion. I also asked for it to be made "Deluxe" which, for $1.99, meant that I would get a scoop of guacamole and sour cream on the side.

The Little Amigo Menu offers Mexican kid's meals such as taco, mini-burrito, enchilada, cheese crispy (not really sure what that is!), mini-quesadilla or mini-Mexican pizza. But that's not all! There are also non-Mexican offerings for kids like the Mexi-Hot Doggie which is a hot dog in a flour tortilla topped with cheese, Cheesy Mex-andwich (Grilled Cheese), Chicken Tenders, Macaroni and Cheese, and Mexi-Bites. The Mexican meals come with rice and beans and the non-Mexican ones come with fries. All kids meals are $4.95 and come with a drink and dessert. LB ordered the grilled cheese and BB ordered the Mini Mexi-Bites which was like an appetizer combination. It came with two chicken tenders, one fried cheese stick, and one mini-quesadilla. Mexi-bites Kids meals

The kids had coloring menus to occupy them but it still took awhile fGrilled cheese kids mealor the food to come, maybe 20-25 minutes. During that time, we had to hit the potty. I was very surprised that there was only a single bathroom for the women's and a single bathroom for the men's room. I was expecting a full bathroom with several stalls in it. Especially for a restaurant that touts Happy Hour (2 for 1 margaritas and other drinks) all day long, I was shocked, actually, that there weren't more bathrooms. Geez, I'd hate to be here during a margarita party!

The food came and we were all pleasantly surprised with the sizes of the adult meals. TheGrande #2 with burrito and tamaley filled the large plates. My food was outstanding. The burrito was a long tube of ground beef stuffed into a baked tortilla and covered with cheese. The tamale was just how I like it with lots of the shredded meat and a thick layer of corn meal surrounding it. Grandpa's Chile Colorado was very tasty in a meaty and hearty red sauce. We all tried it and agreed it was excellent. Unfortunately, the Chile Verde just couldn't compare next to the red sauce of the Chile Colorado. His Chile Relleno was humongous -- I didn't know that a chili could get that big! He said the relleno was a bit spicy, which he liked. None of us could finish our meals and we all had to take half home.

Kids dessertThe boys did pretty good, each finishing about half of their meals too. I asked about dessert for the kids' meals and was told the boys get a choice of ice cream for dessert. I asked about the chocolate mousse because it mentioned that as well and the server said he could get chocolate mousse if they wanted it. BB ordered the mousse and LB finally ordered vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce after being pretty undecided. As expected, as soon as the desserts arrived, LB insisted he wanted chocolate mousse as well. Sigh. Luckily, BB just wanted to eat the whipped cream and cherry off of his and then gave the rest of the chocolate mousse to LB. I ended up eating a bit of the vanilla ice cream and then "helped" LB finish the mousse. It was really good - I am a sucker for light chocolate mousse.

Azteca d'Oro also has Little Amigo Nights on Monday and Tuesday nights where kids eat for 95 cents a piece. You can find out more info and the menu at Azteca d'Oro's website.

Azteca D'Oro on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 16, 2008

Restaurant Review - Texas Roadhouse, 1150 Blackwood Ave, Ocoee, FL

Texas RoadhouseWell, pardner, there's a new steakhouse chain in town and it's called Texas Roadhouse. There are locations popping up all over Central Florida. And, of course, the home base for this here restaurant is in... Indiana. Yeah, not Texas. So don't get the chili on the menu expecting good ole' homemade Texas chili with all meat and no beans. Because there are plenty of beans here.

And plenty of peanuts as well. Just like the other "Roadhouse" restaurants in town, Texas Roadhouse has roasted peanuts in the shell everywhere -- barrels of them while you are waiting for your table and then bucketsful on each table while you are waiting for your food. LB was particularly pleased about this part of the restaurant and now refers to Texas Roadhouse as "the peanut place".

I did like the different way Texas Roadhouse sets up the waiting area, which is huge, by the way, all covered, with inside spaces and outside spaces, benches, and the barrels of roasted peanuts, shells on the floor please. There is also a box of toys for the kids to play with. The most unusual thing is that you are not handed a beeper like in other restaurants; you are handed a card with a number on it. Then, you wait for your number to be displayed on the electronic boards throughout the waiting area - kind of like waiting in line at the deli. You can also call ahead and be placed on the "virtual waiting list", which is nice. We usually call when we are leaving the house and only have a few more minutes waiting time when we arrive.

Inside, the decor is all light wood, cacti and armadillos. In one part of the restaurant is "Willie's Corner" with Willie Nelson memorabillia - turns out Willie Nelson is part owner of the chain. Didn't know he hung out in Indiana.

As soon as we sat down, our servers produced a baskets of rolls, and took our drink orders. The rolls were wonderful, hot and fresh and yeasty served with cinnamon butter. By the time she came back with our drinks, we had to ask for another basket of rolls.

The menu is much like you would expect with salads, steaks, ribs, chicken, some seafood, and Country Dinners such as Pulled Pork and Country Fried Sirloin. There is also a coloring children's menu. One thing I really liked about the children's menu was that there are two sizes of kid's meals - Andy the Armadillo size for younger kids and then Ranger size for heartier House Saladappetites. Andy kid entrees are $2.99 - $4.79 and offer a hot dog, mac-n-cheese, mini-cheeseburgers, chicken strips, or sirloin bites. Ranger kid entrees are $5.99 - $6.99 and offer a larger size chicken strips, a 6 oz sirloin steak, or ribs. All kids meals come with a drink and a choice of a side: apple sauce, green beans, veggies, fries, mashed potatoes or baked beans. LB got the mac-n-cheese off the Andy part of the menu ($3.29) with green beans on the side, and BB chose the Ranger Ribs ($6.99) with fries. Another nice thing about the kids' menu was that the offerings wereKid's Ribs with Fries also listed on the adult menu, with prices. I don't know how many times I've had to pry the kids' menu from my little one just so I can read the menu while he is trying to color something. This way was much easier. I ordered the 6 ounce Dallas Filet ($14.99) with a house salad and loaded baked potato on the side (extra 99 cents for the loaded -- comes with sour cream, cheese and bacon bits). Apparently, there is not much vegetarian on the menu, including the sides. The house salad comes with hard-boiled egg, the green Kid's Mac-n-Cheese with bacony Green Beansbeans have bacon pieces (as I found out later) and, get this, the sweet potato jackets are cooked in bacon fat. Really! I originally wanted the sweet potato loaded instead of the baked but I found out that a loaded sweet potato at Texas Roadhouse is not brown sugar and cinnamon butter. Here, a loaded sweet potato means marshmallows and caramel. Bleech - I hate marshmallows and I thought the caramel would totSirloin Beef Tipsally drown out the sweet potato (of course this is my own opinion, you may hear marshmallows and caramel and think "Oh yeah, baby!"). Grandma got the Country Fried Sirloin with fries ($9.99) and Grandpa ordered the Sirloin Beef Tips on mashed potatoes ($9.99).

One strange (annoying?) thing is that every half hour or so, the whole staff will line dance to a country song in the aisles. I hate when Johnny Rockets does it, I hate when Joe's Crab Shack does it and now I hate when Texas Roadhouse does it. To me, it just clogs the restaurant and makes it hard to find a server if you need something.

When the food came out, EVERYTHING was huge. The plate of mac-n-cheese (Kraft) was large. LB tasted one bite of the green beans with bacon and declared that they tasted nothing like green beans and didn't eat anymore. I was worried about that. Grandma's sirloin was covered with a slightly spicy country gravy and the steak filled her whole plate. She also got anoCountry Fried Sirlointher plate with the large order of fries. She said the steak was excellent and was just like chicken-fried steak. Grandpa liked the Sirloin Tips and that was a big serving as well. BB's ribs were fantastic. Lots of meat, smoky-tasting, and literally falling off the bone. BB exclaimed, "Mom, these are the best ribs I've ever tasted," and we Dallas 6 oz Filet with Loaded Baked Potatohad to agree. Grandpa decided he would get the ribs next time. My food was good as well. The house salad was so generous that I passed the rest onto BB as I didn't want to get too full. The loaded potato was cheesy and bacony and oh-so-good. The filet looked absolutely tiny especially sitting next to the baked potato but it was done perfectly and actually filled me up. It was pretty thick so that must have been why.

Texas Roadhouse is family-friendly and a good value for the money. We will definitely come back (ya'll).

Texas Roadhouse on Urbanspoon

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