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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Latin Soul Grille Food Truck

I took a trip out to the new Jax Food Truck Court last week. I was excited to try the new Puerto Rican truck, Latin Soul Grille! Jacksonville is in serious need of Puerto Rican food, and I'm happy to say that they are a step in the right direction!

I am a big fan of the Jibarito thanks to Gourmet Aviator, so I was thrilled to see one on their menu. I got the Pork Jibarito with chips. I do have to mention that the chips were a bag of chips, not homemade like I thought they would be. The sandwich, however, was amazing! It was actually 2 sliders, but that is just fine with me. The pork had a ridiculously good flavor and the tostones had really tasty seasoning.


I also tried the Yellow Rice with Gandules and the Tostones. While the tostones were delicious, the rice was a little underwhelming. It was good, but I wanted more flavor. It was a little too bland for me, but maybe I caught them on an off day.

Verdict: Loved it!
If you like Puerto Rican or Latin food, give them a shot! They are very authentic and absolutely delicious! They are a great addition to the food truck scene and I hope they are here to stay!

Latin Soul Grille on Urbanspoon

Cabana Grill --- And a contest!!!!

Cabana Grill (menu here) opened in Mandarin recently, and I was invited to a special blogger lunch to try them out. Ever since I heard they were coming, I was very interested. They are from the same people as Pollo Tropical, so I knew they would be good!

Let me start by saying how awesome the restaurant is. All of the decor is authentic Mexican pieces, and they even commissioned a photographer to go down to Mexico and shoot street photos! As a photographer myself, I can really appreciate the awesomeness in that! Another really cool thing is that they make all of their salsas and sauces in house daily. Nothing is delivered in cans, it's all fresh veggies. All tortillas are always made fresh to order, and you can really taste the difference (more on that later!) They have a window next to the registers where you can watch the magic happen, which I love. To me that means they have nothing to hide and it's very respectable.

Now, on to the food!!
They have a salsa bar, and I tried almost everything on it. You can't go wrong. I will warn you though, that salsa verde is so spicy that it made my throat close. True Story.

 We were treated to a few different menu items - Steak Quesadilla, Shrimp Quesadilla, Chicken Taco, Steak Taco, Mexican Potatoes, and Sopapillas. Everything was really really good! The Steak was tasty and the chicken was real grilled chicken pieces. The shrimp was my favorite. They use small shrimp, but you gets lots of them. I like that way better than one or 2 large shrimp. The Shrimp quesadilla was very cheesy and had a very nice flavor.
These things are like crack. They are little pillows of awesomeness. Do yourself a favor and order them. You can thank me later.
 
I liked this place so much that I took my coworker Michelle with me again 2 days later! On this trip I got the Taco Plate with  Shrimp Tacos, Cilantro Lime Rice, and Black Beans. Once again, it was delicious! I really enjoyed the flavor of the sauce in the tacos and the rice and black beans were great additions to the meal. With the tortillas being made fresh to order, that really gives it something extra. They were light and flaky...unlike a ready-made tortilla!

Michelle got the Chicken Tortilla Bowl.  She also really enjoyed her meal and mentioned how great the bowl tasted and how fresh it was. The bowl was loaded high and was a very good value at $5.49.


Verdict: Loved it!!
I don't know what is going on with the negative reviews I have seen. Everyone I have talked to likes this place, so all I can ask is that you go there and form your own opinion. All I can think is that they have only been open a week, so I'm sure they have had a few bumps in the road. I have been there twice now and I love it. The food is super fresh and the employees are very friendly and attentive. I will be back for sure...hopefully during happy hour (from 4-7) when the margaritas are $1.50!!

Contest Alert!!

 I have 2 gift certificates to give away! Leave a comment and let me know what menu item you are excited to try. If you have already been, let me know what you got and how you liked it!
(If you are having trouble leaving a comment, I'm also accepting comments on my Facebook page)
Winners will be announced on my Facebook Page on 12/26/14, so make sure you go like it!

Cabana Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 5, 2014

BurgerFi

I'm always looking for good burgers. So when I heard that BurgerFi was opening in the Town Center I was eager to try it. They are located right next to Black Finn in a stand alone building. The decor was very modern and sleek and the concept is fast casual.

This was our spread!


 I got the Breakfast All Day Burger, which is Natural Angus burger, American cheese, hickory bacon drizzled with maple syrup, fried egg, hash browns, grilled diced onions, and ketchup (mine was sans onions and ketchup). I really really really liked this burger! It was huge and very reasonably priced. I loved the flavor combination and it was different than anything I have had elsewhere.

 

My husband got the Brisket Burger, which is (a double) natural 28 day dry aged ground brisket, Swiss cheese, blue cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles and BurgerFi® sauce. I took a bite and it was very juicy and tasty. The brisket was very good, but I think my burger was better!


We also got the Cry & Fries, which is onion rings and fries...aka the best of both worlds! We got our fries topped with Parmesan Cheese & Herbs and aioli. Really though, we didn't think the aiolo did anything for the fries. I would have much rather have had a side of ranch to dip them in. Still, they were good. The onion rings were my favorite though. They were very thick and easy to bite through.


I wasn't expecting to have dessert after all of that...until I saw this


So you know what we did....


OMG that custard was AMAZING!!!

Verdict - Loved it!
BurgerFi is a great addition to the Town Center. The prices were reasonable and the food was great! They also have really cool food combinations, like the 1/2 & 1/2 burger. It is a Angus burger and a quinoa burger. Sounds really interesting!
BurgerFi on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 27, 2014

Marlin Moon Grille

We recently took a trip out to the beach to try Marlin Moon Grille. My friend Samantha is a waitress there and has been telling me how great the food is. We finally made it out there, and now we are mad that we waited that long!! The restaurant is located in the spot that Taco Lu recently vacated. We visited on a Wednesday night and they were pretty busy. Even though there were a lot of tables, the service was really good. Samantha came around and checked on us frequently. She was great, and I'm not just saying that because I know her!
We tried a few different appetizers. The first was the Tuna Nachos. They can be summed up in one word, amazing!! The description is Sesame Crusted Tuna on Won Ton Chips with Seaweed Salad, a Sweet Teriyaki Drizzle, Spicy and Wasabi Cucumber Aioli. I loved the teriyaki drizzle, That's not something that you would normally think to put on there, but it works!!

We also tried the Shrimp and Grits, which is Sharp White Cheddar Grits with a Tasso Ham and Holy Trinity Sauce. It is no secret that I love shrimp and grits...and I approve of these 100%! The shrimp were huge and the dish had such a bold and delicious flavor.

For our entrees, I decided on the Crab Cakes. I love crab cakes so I was very eager to try these. Well I was not disappointed at all!! These are seriously the best I have had in Jax. There were large pieces of crab and very little filler. The crab cakes were served with hand cut fries, which were also very good. They were crispy and salted nicely.


My husband got the LaTeDa Pasta (which was hilarious listening to him try to pronounce). It had Shrimp, Lobster, Lump Crab, Shittake Mushrooms and Asparagus in an Asiago Cheese Cream Sauce tossed with Ribbon Pasta. I tried a little bit of it and it was ridiculous good. He was also raving about it for a long while.


Verdict: Loved it!!
If you are looking for a great special occasion place, you should definitely consider Marlin Moon Grille. The food was very fresh and the service was great!!

Marlin Moon Grille on Urbanspoon

Papi Chulos

My friend Angela (who I have known since 1st grade!) told me about Papi Chulos recently, so we decided to go out there and check them out. The restaurant is located on Touchton Rd, where Urban Flats used to be. We sat down and started looking at the menu, which is huge, and ordered drinks. Now I'm going to get this out of the way first, because it tainted my whole meal...my drink glass was dirty. Like dirty dirty. Like someone's drink was in there previously and it wasn't washed, dirty. And the worst part is that it wasn't noticeable until after I drank a little bit of the drink. The only way to describe how this feels is to use an 80's quote....grody to the max!! The waiter gave me a new drink but I was grossed out about it for the entire meal.

Now that that is out of the way, on to the food! They brought out chips and salsa, and I ordered some queso. We really liked the salsa, it tasted super fresh. The queso was also really good. But really, can queso ever be bad?
 

I decided on a few different things, the first was Chicken Flautas. I am always looking for flautas, so I was so excited to find them here. Well I ordered chicken, but I got beef. I ate it anyway because I am not opposed to beef, but I reallllllllly wanted chicken. Still, it they were very tasty and I enjoyed the guacamole and sour cream that came on the side.

My second item was the California Dreamer taco, which is Mahi (beer battered or blackened). nappa cabbage slaw, cilantro, pickled red onions, avocado, cilantro lime sauce, pico de gallo and cotija cheese. I actually ordered mine without the red onion, but it came on there anyway. I scraped it off and moved on. The taco was absolutely delicious!! One of the best fish tacos I have ever had. The fish piece was huge and very tasty!!

I also ordered a Carnitas taco. The pork was very flavorful and juicy. I thought it tasted great!

I also ordered some Fried Plantains thinking I was getting tostones. What I actually got was sweet plantains. They really need to update their menu or add a description, because fried plantains are tostones, period. I am not a fan of sweet plantains, so I can't really judge this one. Angela liked them, and said the sauce on there was really good.
  



  Now, here is Angela's review!!

 Hi I'm Angela, an old school (literally) friend of Jill & lover of all things foodie related. I was immediately intrigued by the Papi Chulos sign I saw on Southside but surprised to discover that it was a Mexican restaurant considering the "Papi Chulos" term is more associated with other Spanish speaking countries, but back to the main subject... the food! I ordered the Flight which was a sampler of all three of their ceviches (again, not really something you find at a Mexican place!). Papis Ceviche was a combo of mahi mahi, scallops & shrimp. I failed to taste any scallops but it was very citrusy and not too bad. Probably my least fav though! The second was Mango & Mahi ceviche. My mango pieces were partially frozen which took away from the dish. Very citrusy tasting. The last & my fav bc I LOVE avocado was the Shrimp & Avocado ceviche. It was an even mix of both but also an almost overwhelming citrus taste. I really enjoy ceviche but I feel all three of these lacked flavor. It felt like the star was the citrus instead of the seafood! However their menu held other tasty treats that Jill sampled so I would definitely go back!


 Angela also ordered a Chelada, which is Beer with clamato and lime juice. She really enjoyed it!


Verdict: Liked it
 The food was really good and they had a variety of different menu items. They are still new so they have to work out the kinks, but I think they have potential. If you are in the area, give them a shot!
Papi Chulo's on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Blind Rabbit

I have heard nothing but good things about The Blind Rabbit, and I have had lots of friends tell me I needed to go there, so we did! They have 2 locations, one at the beach and one in Riverside. We visited the Riverside location since it was closer to home.

 We decided on the Poutine for our appetizer. For those of you unfamiliar with a Poutine, it is Hand-Cut Fries, Pork Belly, Tasso Ham, Cheese Curds, and Gravy....aka delicious! The gravy had a very nice taste and the fries were crispy.

I got The Holick Burger for my entree. It had a Sunny Side Egg, Intuition Braised Pork Belly, Tomato, Arugula, Homemade Bread & Butter Pickles, Lemon Aioli, on a Brioche Bun. I thought the burger was very good, but it didn't really need the pork belly. I don't think it did anything for the burger and it wasn't very flavorful. However, the rest of the burger was great. I got mac and cheese on the side. It was very creamy and the topping was crunchy and flavorful.

My husband got the Blues Burger, which had Maytag Blue Cheese, Caramelized Onions, Lettuce, Tomato, Homemade Bread & Butter Pickles, and a Brioche Bun. He has been craving a good burger and said that this one hit the spot! He got fries on the side.

Verdict: Liked it
We really liked everything and were pleasantly surprised. We didn't try any whiskey on this trip, but  they have a very large whiskey menu for those who are interested. While the prices are not outrageous, they are a little higher than some burger places in town. Still, I think it is definitely worth it. We plan on visiting again soon!

The Blind Rabbit - A Burger & Whiskey Bar on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tropical Smoothie

When you think of Tropical Smoothie you don't think about them having food. I mean they are a smoothie place after all! Well we took a trip out there for dinner to try out a few different menu items. I wanted to try a few different things so we got 4 different items and shared everything. 

We tried one of their limited time menu items, Spicy Mongolian Steak Bowl. It had Steak, red & green peppers, baby spinach, scallions and noodles with sesame seeds and Spicy Asian BBQ Sauce. To be totally honest, we did not like this at all. It came in a plastic container which immediately gives the impression of a microwave meal. It actually tasted like one as well. I was expecting a nice, fresh steamed noodle dish, but this tasted and looked like it came right out of a freezer.


Next up was the Buffalo Chicken Wrap. It had Chicken, Low-Fat Mozzarella, Tomatoes, Romaine, Buffalo Sauce, Light Ranch in a Toasted Flour Tortilla. I actually ordered mine without the tomatoes, but the wrap still had them in there. It wouldn't have been so bad if it was a few, but it was loaded with them. I ended up picking them all out and moving on. The actual taste of the wrap was very good, but it didn't have that much chicken in there. It was more tomatoes than anything.


Our next wrap was the Thai Chicken. It had Chicken, Wontons, Carrots, Sesame Seeds, Romaine, Thai Peanut Dressing in a Toasted Flour Tortilla. I hate to say it, but we weren't a huge fan of this one either. Just like the buffalo chicken, there wasn't much chicken in the wrap. However, there were tons of carrots. 


Our last item was the best of them all, Chiptole Chicken Club Flatbread. It had Chicken, Pepper Jack, Bacon, Romaine, Tomatoes & Chipotle Mayo on a Toasted Flatbread. We really liked the bread, and it had a very nice flavor to it.


Verdict: It was ok.
It's not that anything was bad, it just wasn't what I was expecting. I could see Tropical Smoothie being a great place to swing by for lunch if you are in the area. I really liked the flatbread and I would like to go back and try some of the other ones that they offer. 

I intentionally did not review any smoothies on this trip. I have had them before and they are great, but I wanted this review to be on the food only.

Tropical Smoothie Cafe on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 29, 2014

Corner Bakery Cafe

I was lucky enough to attend the pre-grand opening celebration at Corner Bakery Cafe this past weekend with the Yelp crew. The restaurant is located on Bonneval Rd and JTB. It is in a great location that is easily accessible from 95. They have indoor and outdoor seating and lots of parking. 

We were treated to a sampling of many different menu items, and they were all delicious! Here are the goods:

Buttermilk Pancakes - So light and fluffy!

Anaheim Scrambler - Scrambled eggs, tomatoes, green onion, bacon, and avocado. The avocado was what really made it special. They also have a breakfast panini with the same ingredients!
 

Pesto Cavatappi - Grilled Chicken, pesto cream sauce, sprinkled with bread crumbs. I might or might not have grabbed seconds when they offered.

 Zesty Chicken Tortilla Soup - Chicken, corn, black beans, and roasted poblano peppers topped with tortilla strips. Just a little bit spicy and a lot yummy!

Turkey on Pretzel -  Smoked turkey with shaved red onions, tomatoes, caraway Havarti cheese and stone-ground mustard-mayo. I really liked the bun. It was very soft and even had some salt on it!

 Chicken Pomodori on Sourdough - chicken, fresh basil and spinach, oven-roasted tomatoes and provolone cheese with pesto mayo. So many great ingredients all melted together!

Cheesecake Brownie. Just look at it. You know that thing was good!!

Verdict: Loved it!!
I can't wait to go back and try some other menu items, especially the desserts!



Corner Bakery Cafe on Urbanspoon