Forget Jack, Jill Wants a Snack! Jacksonville restaurants Taste Trekkers Guest Forget Jack, Jill wants a snack!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Amazing Deal Alert!! Firehouse Subs


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Firehouse Subs® has entered into a partnership with the Jacksonville Jaguars this 2014-2015 NFL season to celebrate the team’s fans. As a sponsor of the Jaguars, Firehouse Subs hopes to introduce its signature steamed sandwiches to new customers through a variety of in-stadium, radio and television programs, which will showcase the restaurant’s newest promotional offer, “Field Goals for Firehouse.” Through the offer, Jaguars fans can score a free medium sub* from participating Firehouse Subs restaurants when the Jaguars kick a field goal of 40 yards or more.

The partnership between the Jacksonville Jaguars and Firehouse Subs also supports an ongoing commitment to give back to the local community and the brave first responders who protect it. The Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation® will donate life-saving equipment to several Jacksonville-area public safety organizations during pre-game festivities at the Oct. 19 matchup against the Cleveland Browns. 

*Free medium sub with purchase of chips and medium drink. One sub per offer. Valid at participating restaurants in the following areas: Charleston, S.C., Gainesville, Fla., Jacksonville, Fla., Orlando, Fla., Savannah, Ga., Tallahassee, Fla.

About Firehouse Subs
Firehouse Subs® is a fast casual restaurant chain with a passion for Hearty and Flavorful Food, Heartfelt Service and Public Safety. Founded by brothers and former firefighters Chris Sorensen and Robin Sorensen, Firehouse Subs is a brand built on decades of fire and police service, steaming hot subs piled higher with the highest quality meats and cheeses, and its commitment to saving lives through the creation of Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation®. The founders are the real deal, the food is their creation, and the company is built upon a family of franchise operators who share their same passion for serving others. In 2014, Firehouse Subs debuted nationwide a new low-calorie menu, Hearty & Flavorful, Under 500 calories. Firehouse Subs consistently ranks No. 1 among fast casual brands in the categories of food quality, friendly service, and taste and flavor. In 2014, Firehouse Subs was ranked No. 1 fast casual chain by Restaurant Business Magazine; consumers ranked the brand No. 1 for sandwich, friendly service, and accommodating children in the Market Force Information Study; and Firehouse Subs was ranked No. 1 consumer choice for pleasant and friendly service by Technomic’s 2014 Chain Restaurant Consumers’ Choice Awards.

Quick Facts
42 states 
800+ restaurants
$10.1 million donated to public safety organizations
Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla.
Head on over to the Jaguars website to sign up!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Newk's Eatery

Last week I was invited out to Newk's in the River City Marketplace. I have been to Newk's before (on Southside Blvd), but have only been to this location once about a year ago. We went on a Tuesday night, which happens to be the same night my favorite soup is available, and double points night! You can download their app and earn one point per dollar every time you visit. Once you get to 100 points, you get a free meal!
We were immediately greeted when we walked in and placed our order at the counter. That is one thing that I love about Newk's, they have great customer service. From the front counter staff to the bus boys, everyone is extremely friendly and helpful. To me that's very important. I love to see that level of customer because I feel that not many places make it a priority anymore. Very refreshing.

For my dinner I got Four Cheese Mac and Cheese, and Loaded Potato soup. Yes, I know that's starchy but you only live once. I am very critical of mac and cheese, and I approve. It is nice and crispy on the top while being cheesy and gooey on the inside. The soup is my favorite soup of any restaurant anywhere. It has potato chunks, bacon pieces, sour cream, and green onions. I love to order a half side of bread to dip in there (along with my bread sticks of course!)


Ivan got the Pepperoni Pizza. That's another thing I love about Newk's, the menu is so diverse. Sometimes you are in the mood for soup but your spouse wants pizza...problem solved! Even though they are not a pizzeria, they still make a mean pizza! There are lots of different types and I have get to get a bad one!

Verdict: Loved it!
 There are many things to love about Newk's, so I suggest you go and find out for yourself!

Newks Eatery on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 2, 2014

San Diego ~ Special Travel Edition!

We recently had the privilege of visiting the beautiful city of San Diego for Comic-Con! The event was pretty amazing, but I was also looking forward to all of that great California food!

Las Cuatro Milpas
 Since San Diego is so close to Mexico, we originally planned on taking a trip down to Tijuana for some authentic Mexican food. We weren't able to make that happen on this trip, but that doesn't mean we didn't find some awesome authentic Mexican food anyway! I found Las Cuatro Milpas while searching Yelp and Urbanspoon. The reviews looked great, so we decided to give it a shot...and we are so glad we did! Everything is ordered a la cart, which is good for me since I wanted to try a bunch of things!
The line!! It moves fast so don't get discouraged.
 Order at the counter and they make it right in front of you.
 Pork Burrito
 Pork Tacos
 Rice and Beans. These are literally the best I have had in my life!! There were bits of egg in there and the whole thing had this amazing flavor!
 Rolled Tacos - Pork
 Homemade Tortillas. Absolutely delicious!
 House Hot Sauce. I loved this stuff. It's not too hot and had a wonderful flavor. I put it on everything I ate!

  Verdict: Loved it!!! 
It was 100% authentic and the food was some of the best Mexican I have had. If you are in the area, you have to try them out. I know that every time I visit San Diego, I will stop in more than once!!

After a long day at Comic-Con with just a couple of snacks to munch on, we were dying for some comfort food. I found Bruxie and knew we had to go there!

Bacon, Egg & Cheddar - Tillamook Cheddar, Mayo and Applewood Smoked Bacon
 This was as delicious as it sounds (and looks!) The perfect bit of comfort food. I loved how the bacon was sliced into smaller pieces since you got a little bacon with every bite.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken & Waffle - Chili Honey & Cider Slaw
The chicken was so juicy that it dripped onto the plate when you took a bite! This was exactly what I needed. So savory and flavorful. The honey gave it a little kick and was a welcome addition.

Irish Nachos - Crispy Waffle Fries With Homemade Cheese Sauce, Applewood Smoked Bacon, Sour Cream & Chives
 These fries were sooooo good! A waffle place would naturally have some waffle fries, and I was happy because I love those! The fries were smothered with cheesy goodness and almost every fry was cheesy. I could eat these as a meal...every day of my life.

Verdict: Loved it!!
This was exactly what we were craving and hit the spot. My only regret is that I didn't get a dessert waffle. Those looked so good, but we were already planning on going somewhere else for dessert so we didn't get one. Still sad about that, but there is always next time! 

 The Baked Bear on Urbanspoon 

  This is the dessert place we went to after the waffles! We were in the mood for ice cream, and this place looked perfect. Chocolate chip cookies are my #1 dessert choice, so an ice cream sandwich place? Yes please!

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Cookie Dough Ice Cream. I'm not lying at all when I say that these are the yummiest chocolate chip cookies I have ever eaten! They were so soft and chewy!
 Ivan got a Red Velvet cookie on the top, Macadamia White Chocolate cookie on the bottom, with Oreo ice cream.

Verdict: Loved it!
I mean really, what's not to love?! The cookies and ice cream were outstanding, so the combination of the two were out of this world!

Zia Gourmet Pizza

We couldn't visit California without trying some pizza. Zia Gourmet Pizza has some odd topping combinations, so we decided to give them a try. My husband and I never want the same thing, so we decided on a half and half pizza. We got half The New Yorker (turkey pastrami combined with
scallions, pepperoncinis, light cream cheese, fresh basil and topped with mozzarella), half Potato(rosemary potatoes combined with fresh garlic, scallions, feta, lean cream cheese and
topped with mozzarella). I mainly got potato because it's something that I would have never thought to add on a pizza.

 The New Yorker

Verdict: Liked It.
Everything was very tasty and the ingredients seemed fresh, but we weren't blown away by the pizzas. I do like that they take pride in their pizza and value their reputation. They told me that they do not serve chicken anymore because it tends to dry out in the pizza oven. Attention to detail like that earns points in my book.

 Stacked is one of those hip new places that you would expect to see in  California. The concept is very interesting, you pay for what you get. If you add ingredients you pay more. If you remove ingredients, you pay less. I really like that! We were seated then our waitress came over to tell us a little about the place and how to order. It was super cool that you can order on an iPad! We placed our order and it came out rather quickly. We were a little disappointed to learn that the burger is just a burger, no side items come with it. You have to order everything separate. At $10+ a burger, it really should come with something else. That was a little off-putting to tell you the truth.

I got Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese. The taste was great, but the ingredients were very sparse. I had the equivalent of one small chicken tender, and a tiny amount of buffalo sauce, bread crumbs, and ranch. I wasn't even able to taste the ranch, I just saw a tiny bit on there. When you are paying for each ingredient, that is very frustrating.

 Ivan got the Stack N Bleu, which had a pretzel bun, roasted shallot mayo, bleu cheese, applewood smoked bacon, crispy onion strings with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. He said it was a very good burger, but he really wished he had some fries.

Verdict: It was ok, but we won't be going back.
The food was good, but the value and service was not. Once we placed our order, we never saw the waitress again until we were about to leave. Someone different brought out the food and we were never given silverware or napkins. We had to hit the call button on the iPad to get someone to come over and give us napkins, and she seemed very bothered by us asking. Another issue, I wasn't sure how to tip. Who am I tipping? I did most of the work myself but I would feel like a cheap skate if I tipped less than 15%. And to top it all off, we were still hungry when we left. That is unacceptable, especially when you paid $30+ for the meal. We were thinking about ordering a dessert, but 1. We didn't want to give them any more money, and 2. I was trying to hurry and catch the sunset.
My other passion is photography. It's a good thing we left when we did, or I would not have been able to get this sunset shot down at the pier!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chicago!!! ~Special Travel Edition

There are many great things about Chicago, but the best thing is the food!!! This was our third trip to Chicago, so we had some favorites that we had to visit. The first is a place that we absolutely LOVE...

Cheesies Grub & Pub

Cheesie's Pub & Grub on Urbanspoon

This place has it all...great food, a fun atmosphere, and a full bar!! They are open until 5am so they are perfect for those late night cravings. We have tried a few different items at Cheesies, and everything is great. My favorite sandwich is The Mac, because there is nothing better than mac & cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich!

Cheese Curds - Fried Cheese curds served with ranch.

The Frenchie - American cheese, mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese sauce, classic thick cut french fries, bacon and chives on sour dough bread. Served with a side of sour cream.

 The Mac - American cheese, Merkt’s cheddar cheese and homemade macaroni and cheese on Texas toast. Served with tomato soup dipping sauce.

 The Tenderizer - Cheddar cheese, Mozzarella cheese, hot sauce, bacon, fried chicken tenders and Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce on Texas toast. Served with ranch dipping sauce.

bopNgrill on Urbanspoon

Another favorite of ours is BopNgrill near Loyola.Their menu is Korean inspired and very diverse. The Philly Cheese Steak Eggrolls hold a spot on my Wall of Fame and I make sure to get them every time we visit Chicago. They are only sold on the weekends, and when they sell out, they are gone until the next week! My husband always gets the Father Burger, as this is his favorite burger of all time. There is so much going on with it that he has to eat it with a knife and a fork!

Philly Cheese Steak Eggrolls

Bacon Cheese Fries

Father - double patty, fried egg, beer battered onion rings, bacon, sharp cheddar/American, bbq sauce, mayo.

Lou Malnati's Pizza
Lou Malnati's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

A trip to Chicago would not be complete without some deep dish pizza! We have tried a few different places, but I like Lou Malnati's the best. The crust is what sets them apart. It is so buttery and soft. I love how Chicago deep dish pizzas have the toppings on the bottom, then the cheese, then the sauce. It's different than what we are used to, but it works!

Pepperoni Pizza

Adobo Grill
Adobo Grill on Urbanspoon

Very conveniently located next door to The Second City comedy club is Adobo Grill. They are an upscale Mexican restaurant and one of our favorites. The table side guacamole is not to be missed! It is enough to easily feed 4 people, and they can customize it to your liking.

Table side Guacamole!
Guacamole. A very large portion!

Chips and Salsa

Carne Asada - Marinated grilled skirt steak, cheese enchilada, guacamole, refried black beans, molcajete salsa.

Flautas de Pollo - Two rolled-up corn tortillas stuffed with chicken, salsa verde, cheese, sour cream.

Side of rice

Urban Belly on Urbanspoon

 Urbanbelly was our best find of the trip. I was randomly searching for a noodle place, and came across them. After looking at the pictures and reviews, we decided to give it a shot. After one bite, we knew we had a keeper! I got the Urbanbelly Ramen. The ramen was so flavorful and the pork belly portion was large. The soup base was so tasty that I drank most of it after I ate the goodies out of the soup! Ivan got the Phat Rice and said it was one of the best rice dishes he has had. So many different components that blended well together. We also ordered some potstickers, and I have to say that they are the best ones I have ever had! Plus, the soy sauce that was served with them was phenomenal as well. We also got some edamame and donuts for dessert. The edamame was good, but the donuts were outstanding!! They had the perfect combination of savory and sweet.

 Pork & Cilantro - Pork Pot Stickers with Soy-Balsamic Sauce

Urbanbelly Ramen - Ramen Noodles with Braised Pork Belly, Mushrooms & Egg

 Phat Rice - Combination Rice with Ground Chicken, Pork Belly & Wagyu Beef Short Ribs

Spiced Edamame - Soybeans Served in the Pod with Szechuan Peppercorns, Ground Coriander & Fennel Seeds

Maple-Glazed Mini Donuts - with Vietnamese Cinnamon

Ann Sather Restaurant
Ann Sather Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Ann Sather Restaurant has been a Chicago staple since 1945. They are diner who merge American and Swedish cuisines quite well. We decided to have breakfast for lunch, and got more than we bargained for! I ordered the crab cake benedict with hash browns and cinnamon rolls as my side. The cinnamon rolls came out first, so we dug in. OMG! So gooey and warm right out of the oven. I couldn't believe that these were side orders. Seems like they should make these an entire meal, but I'm not complaining!! The benedict was also very good. The crab cakes had lots of crab and very little filler. Ivan got Swedish pancakes. We have never had them before, and were pleasantly surprised to learn that they are sort of like crepes. Very thin, but with lots of flavor.

 2 Cinnamon Rolls

Crab Cake Benedict – Poached Eggs, Cajun Crab Cakes and Hollandaise Sauce

Hash browns

 Two Swedish Pancakes with Two Eggs any style (we added bacon)

Viaggio Ristorante & Lounge
Viaggio Ristorante & Lounge on Urbanspoon
We were staying in Little Italy, so the trip wouldn't have been complete without some Italian food! After doing tons of research, we ended up at Viaggio. I didn't even really look at the menu. Once I saw the pictures of the rigatoni with Sunday pork gravy, I knew what I was getting!

 Breaded Mozzarella - Tomato, basil, and crispy prosciutto

Spaghetti Carbonara - Sautéed pancetta, mushrooms, onions, spring peas, parmesan cream sauce

Rigatoni with Sunday Pork Gravy - Slow cooked pork in tomato gravy served with a scoop of ricotta cheese 
Antique Taco
Antique Taco on Urbanspoon

I have had Antique Taco on the agenda for years. Somehow we just never made it there, so this trip we were determined to go! They are located in Wicker Park on a corner. The restaurant itself is a gem. They call themselves Antique Taco for a reason, there are antiques everywhere! From the tables to the decor, everything is an antique. It gave the place such a unique, hip feel.

We got a Coke, a Diet Coke, and a bit of nostalgia with these cute bottles! Also, check out the antique spool in the back. That is our order number.
We got the Chili Cheese Curds for an appetizer. I can't even put into words how good these were! The batter was very light, kind of like a beer batter. The chili at the bottom was so good that we were eating it with spoons after the curds were gone!

Pork Carnitas - Adobo Rub, Tamarind Glaze, Bacon, Spinach, Onion, Avocado, Queso Fresco.
For these tacos, the rub is what made it great.
Garlic Shrimp - Purple Potato, Black Bean, Edamame, Crispy Brussels.
These were my favorite tacos of the bunch. There were so many different items in these tacos, but somehow they blended perfectly!
Grilled Ribeye - Heirloom Salsa, Queso Enchilado, Cilantro.
Grilled Ribeye in a taco...enough said.

Kuma's Corner
Kuma's Corner on Urbanspoon
Kuma's Corner

Kuma's corner is a burger joint, but unlike any one that you have ever been to. All of the burgers are named after heavy metal bands, and they have heavy metal playing in the restaurant! Love it! The burgers are very unique and have toppings that other restaurants wouldn't dare use, but Kuma's makes it work! My favorite part, pretzel buns. I really wish that would catch on here in Jax!
(Sorry for the dark pics, it's extremely dark in the restaurant)

Metallica - Bacon, Blue Cheese, Buffalo Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion

Mastodon - Bacon, BBQ sauce, Sharp Cheddar, Fizzled Onions

Xoco on Urbanspoon

Xoco is one of Rick Bayless' many restaurants in Chicago. It is a modern take on Mexican food. The menu is mainly tortas, but there are also other items that you can get.

 Ahogada - golden pork carnitas, black beans, tomato/arbol chile broth, pickled onions

Carne Asada - Tallgrass flank steak, salsa verde mojo, woodland mushroom, homemade crema

 Churros - with a chocolate shot for dipping

I ran out of churros....

Cozy Noodles & Rice
Cozy Noodles & Rice on Urbanspoon

We were starving after a 12 inning Cubs game, so we ended up at Cozy Noodles & Rice. They are located just around the corner from Wrigley, so it was very convenient to walk there. The decor is not anything like you would expect to see in a noodle place. The walls are covered with old toys and signs. So cool! Even with the awesome decor, we weren't overly impressed with the food. It was just ok. However, the prices are extremely reasonable, so there is a trade off.

Crab Rangoon - mixture of crab meat, cream cheese, celery and homemade sauce, wrapped in thin crepes and deep ffied till crispy. Served with Cozy sweet & sour sauce

Pot Stickers - Steamed or fried wheat flour pastries filled with a luscious blend of shrimp and garden vegetables. Served with homemade sesame sauce

Lard Na - Crispy wide rice noodles topped with your choice of chicken, tofu, or beef, broccoli in delicious house gravy sauce

 Pad See Ewe - Stir-fried wide rice noodles with egg, broccoli and sweet soy sauce. Your choice of chicken, beef or tofu

Such a neat way to deliver our check!

Fudge Pot
Fudge Pot on Urbanspoon

Fudge Pot might be the best chocolate shop ever. They are located in Old Town and are open until midnight! They have many different types of goodies, but you can't walk out of there without getting the butter toffee. If you don't take my advice on anything else, take it on this. The stuff is heaven. We buy at lease 2 lbs of it to take home for ourselves, and a couple of pounds for my family/friends. Also, we have been known to have it shipped to us here in Jax. Yep, we have a problem.

Butter toffee, bottom right.

Hoosier Mama Pie Company
Hoosier Mama Pie Company on Urbanspoon

I was searching for ice cream and somehow came across Hoosier Mama Pie Company. We don't have any pie shops in Jax, so we had to check it out. The store is a very tiny store front in Wicker Park. There are like 3 tables inside because that's all that will fit. They have a display case with different pies and a menu that rotates daily. You can buy the pies by the slice or by the whole. I like buying the small pies because it's a better value. $6 for a slice, or $8 for the whole? I'm buying the whole thing!

Love the name!

Chocolate Chess

 Espresso Cream

 Hoosier Sugar Cream

Firecakes on Urbanspoon

If you are in the mood for donuts, Firecakes will satisfy that craving! They have many different varieties, and they are not your average donut. Absolutely delicious!

Honey Glazed

Old Fashioned Buttermilk

Valrhona Chocolate Iced

Flirty Cupcakes

Flirty Cupcakes on Urbanspoon

Flirty Cupcakes was the only thing we ate that was completely unplanned. We were walking around and happened to see the cupcakes in the window. We had to go in!

Me Want Cookie Dough -  A chocolate cupcake with a cookie dough center topped with a chocolate ganache.
 The Turtle Always Wins The Race - A chocolate cupcake with a caramel pecan filling, pillowed in a caramel pecan cream cheese frosting.

Cheesecake Caramel Pecan - A layer of graham cracker crust, cake, cheesecake, and frosted with a cheesecake cream cheese filling.

For The Love Of Nutella - A chocolate cupcake filled with Nutella filling & swirled with a  chocolate Nutella buttercream.

Forever Yogurt

Forever Yogurt on Urbanspoon

We are suckers for froyo, I'm not gonna lie. So when we saw Forever Yogurt while walking around Little Italy we were really excited! This place is awesome. Tons of flavors and toppings, and they have a rewards program!

This is the best bathroom sign I have ever seen!!