Guy Fieri’s Vegas Kitchen and Bar – The Quad, Las Vegas, NV

To start off, let me say that I really like Guy Fieri. He has come a long way from when he first won Season 2 of the FoodNetwork Star into a mega million marketing whirlwind.  I am happy for him…I really am.  In spite of all his fame, he still remains the humble, affable, goofy person that everyone so thoroughly enjoys watching.  His personality is somewhat disarming. Even if you find him a bit annoying at first, he quickly grows on you. But what I really respect about him the most is that he embraces the haters. There is no snootiness, no bitterness.  He calmly accepts the fact that some people may not like him nor his food. Having said this…

I really dislike Guy’s food. From the food on his shows to the food served at his restaurants, I have come to experience a horrible twinge in my gut every time I imagine eating it. I know that I have stated in my blog’s mission statement, that I would focus on the positive and only share something that is good, or at least noteworthy.  His restaurants are definitely in the noteworthy category because he is a celebrity chef, and there are hordes of people who want to try his food. Love it or hate it – people seem to fall into one of these two categories.

You will hate his food if you are the type of person who enjoys fine dining and has an expectation of complementing flavor profiles that are simultaneously simple, yet complex.  You will love his food if you are the type of person who makes dinner using every possible ingredient found in your refrigerator. Or if you love to eat at Applebee’s or TGIFriday’s. Or if you are from the Midwest. Then you will think that his food is some of the best shit that you have ever had. I will let you read my review and let you decide on your own if you feel hungry or want to hurl.

The theme at his Vegas restaurant is a lot like his tv personality and show, “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives”. Over-the-top is an understatement. It is as if he took all the gimmicky dishes that were ever featured on his show and then combined them in one form or another into similar dishes at his restaurant.  Each dish is almost like a cliche on the palate.

Peruse the menu and you will find tons of catchy names. Take for instance, the Dragon’s Breath Chili Cheese Fries.  Made with his signature Dragon’s Breath Chili, it is a monstrous beast of a dish, meant to be shared. They are pretty liberal with the chili which is paired with waffle fries, cheese sauce, pico de gallo, sour cream, and cheddar cheese. It is the love child between nachos supreme and chili cheese fries – exciting for some, horrifying to others.  Contrary to what the name implies, it is not that spicy so you can tackle it without any trepidation.  The dragon’s breath is probably a reference to what your breath will smell like in the morning.20140821_230145

The Mac n Cheese Burger is another monstrosity that incorporates mac n cheese piled atop a bacon cheeseburger. Although the mac n cheese was good, it gets lost in the flavor of the burger.  It is gluttony for gluttony’s sake. The plate is a hot mess with stuff just hanging out everywhere like a hippo trying to fit into a bikini. The garlic brioche bun is excellent and adds some dimension even though there is a lot going on in this burger. Accompanying fries are an eclectic mixture of waffle, shoestring, crinkle cut, and thin chippie ones.20140821_231158

Th Motley Que Sandwich is filled with pulled pork, citrus slaw, pickle chips, onion straws, and BBQ sauce atop a pretzel bun. Guy pulled out every trick in the book to make this one. The only thing missing is a scrapple patty. The slaw is a bit on the sweet side and gives a nice vinegary contrast. What I really enjoyed were the sweet bread n butter pickle chips. It gave a change of pace to the texture as well as the flavor.20140821_231246

So it is up to you to decide whether or not you want to visit Guy’s restaurant for the foodie freakshow or if you just love this type of food.  Since they are still relatively new, service is a hit or miss. It was a very bad miss on our trip there.  But be forewarned, the food is a bit overpriced even by Las Vegas Strip standards with burgers running about $20.

Bill total = 1 appetizer, 2 burgers, 2 drinks, tax, tip = $62 ($31 per person)

Website: http://www.thequadlv.com/restaurants/guy-fieri

Guy Fieri's Vegas Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Two Saucy Broads – Fullerton, CA

OC TOP 100: DISH #26 – PIZZA DOUGH APPETIZERS

It’s hard to dislike anything that is made with pizza dough.  Compound that with a catchy name for a restaurant such as Two Saucy Broads, and most surely, some sort of magic will ensue. The moment you are seated, you are greeted by a server who states that she will be your broad for the evening…if only picking up women in real life were so easy. The money I could have saved from buying all those women free drinks…sigh. I wonder how the male servers introduce themselves?

Fortunately TSB delivers beyond just a catchy, cute name.  Their real talent lies in their ability to transform the humble pizza dough in magical creations of gustatory art.  Albeit, the pizza is really good here too, but pales in comparison to some of their appetizers. Their most popular is the Hunks of Burnin’ Love which aptly describes tomato, bacon and cream cheese nestled inside of pizza dough.  It comes to your table piping hot and will burn the entire inside of your mouth with liquified cream cheese that feels like it is at the temperature of the sun.  Don’t let their initial innocuous look fool you.20140805_190902

A cutaway shows their scalding deliciousness. The tomato with cream cheese produces a nice juiciness rounded off by a smoky taste of bacon.20140805_191508

Along the same lines of their dough creations are their Garlic Knots, which are pretty self explanatory.  Ample amounts of garlic along with a buttery goodness make them hard to put down. A dunk in the pizza sauce make them almost better than eating a pizza.20140805_190922

And if you want something close to pizza, but not exactly pizza, their Pinwheels are a great option as they have a good amount of pepperoni intertwined in between bread, that results in a  crispy, salty, meaty delight. You can opt for spinach as a filling also.20140805_190910

A newer edition to their lineup are the Firecrackers which incorporate Sriracha infused pepper-jack cheese, bacon, jalapeños, garlic, and red pepper flakes.  This dish is spicy but still enjoyable.20140805_190858

Of course, the pizza and pizza dough sandwiches here at TSB are also very good, but I never seem to make it past the appetizers.  Their new location next to the Fullerton Police Station is much larger and more accommodating than their previous location. Expansion is a good thing – it shows that they have a serious fanbase.  There is also outdoor seating across from the restaurant, which most people opt for as the interior of the restaurant can generate some serious heat from the ovens running non-stop.

Bill total = 5 appetizers, 1 beverage, tax, tip = $24 ($12 per person)

Website: www.twosaucybroadspizza.com

Two Saucy Broads Pizza on Urbanspoon

Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar – Packing District, Anaheim, CA

OC TOP 100: DISH #25 – GRILLED CHEESE SANDWICH

The grilled cheese sandwich used to be such a simple snack or after school treat that your mom would whip up in the kitchen if you were hungry.  A simple slice of bread, some Kraft processed cheese slices, and a little bit of butter to add flavor and help things prevent from sticking.  But somewhere along the line, the simple grilled cheese sandwich grew up and became a sophisticated dish that stands on its own.

Black Sheep  epitomizes the evolution of this simple dish.  They are fairly easy to spot in the Packing District.  All you have to do is follow your nose towards the rich buttery scent or look for their signature black sheep on the counter.20140809_131021

Their formula is rather simple in concept – add artisanal bread, cheese, and meat.  The result is a very adult and complex version of something that we loved so much as children. The #2 is comprised of Manchego cheese, Jamon Serrano, and quince paste. It is a great combination of salty and sweet.  The bread is swathed in whipped butter then grilled in a press with the aforementioned ingredients.  It is a hot melty mess that will scald the innards of your mouth as you try and prevent yourself from stuffing it all in at once. The buttered bread is so good, that it will remind you of the Sizzler toast that you just could never get enough of.20140809_131005

“The Man” is simply put, salami and cheese. Salami when heated up has a certain richness to it, especially if it is of good quality. The bread produces that wonderful crunch while remaining soft on the inside.20140809_131014

Those who are not grilled cheese aficionados may balk at the price of these sandwiches which run just under $10 a piece, but quality comes at a price.  Additional selections are available and occasionally some sell out.

Bill total: 2 sandwiches, 1 drink, tax, tip = around $21

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/blacksheepgrilledcheesebar

Black Sheep Grilled Cheese Bar on Urbanspoon

Black Sheep GCB - Anaheim Packing District, 440 S Anaheim Blvd #213, Anaheim, California.  (714) 533-3850

Joe’s Italian Ice – Anaheim, CA

OC TOP 100: DISH #24 – JOE LATTI

If you had ever found yourself driving along Harbor Blvd near Disneyland, you may have noticed a peculiar building with striped awning that had a long line of people next to it.  Most likely, this was Joe’s Italian Ice.  A stand-alone Italian Ice place seems a bit unusual and definitely unexpected in regards to its overwhelming success. But I will admit to having seen with my very own eyes, people waiting to order Italian Ices in the rain.

Fortunately, Joe’s has opened up a newer second location closer to the Magic Kingdom that has more ample parking as well as a little room for seating.  This provides some degree of respite from the elements – especially if you insist on having your treat when it rains.

Although well-known in Philadelphia, there are not a lot of places that serve Italian Ice in California. It actually pre-dates the whole California fro-yo craze.  Far from trendy, it has been a stable treat for those familiar to it.  For the uninitiated, I can only aptly describe the treat in the following manner – pretend that a magical candy fairy peed in the snow, and then you were to scoop up such snow and eat it.  Deliciously sweet, somewhat artificial tasting, but also somewhat not, it is a flavor explosion undiluted when compared to any dairy based creation, but at the same time equally refreshing. You are guaranteed to suffer from brain freeze if you do not pace yourself.

Who can resist a treat with flavors named Smurf Poison, Monstermash, or Bananadana? Fortunately, you can taste samples of any flavors before you buy so you are guaranteed to get something to float your boat.  My personal favorite is the Bada Bing Cherry. It has a natural cherry flavor and tons of bits of real cherry in it.  Order it as part of a Joe Latti and you get some soft swirl added to the mix.  You can select between vanilla, chocolate/vanilla swirl or orange/vanilla swirl which amazingly tastes like an Orange Creamsicle. The soft serve is very light and not so sweet that it tastes more like whipped cream. If you feel rather creative you can get a cone dipped in chocolate, orange candy shell, or blue candy shell, as well as nuts., sprinkles, etc. Dreyer’s ice cream is available for those who cannot part from the traditional, too.DSC_0019

Of course, there are a ton of flavors to choose from.  They have over 50 different flavors with at least 15 in rotation. And if you are feeling especially decadent, you may order the 2.5 gallon size. Their Mango flavor is pretty good and is something that we usually end up getting quite often.DSC_0022

If you do end up going to Joe’s, be prepared to wait in some long lines, especially in the evenings during the summer.  Or you can go when it rains and get a 2 for 1 special.  Besides their Italian Ices, you can select from sundaes, shakes, and floats.

Website: http://joesice.com/

Joe's Italian Ice on Urbanspoon

(Original location on 12302 Harbor Blvd in Garden Grove)

Tortas Sinaloa – Santa Ana, CA

OC TOP 100: DISH #23 – AGUAS FRESCAS

Translated, aguas frescas, literally means fresh waters.  They are punch-like drinks usually made with fresh fruit that can be quite refreshing.  Many places that sell them will have large jars displayed in a colorful array from which the liquid is ladled out of as you order it.  I imagine it is like drinking from a rainbow. On the left, is the Cantaloupe, which is quite refreshing since there aren’t many other drinks with that flavor. In the middle is Jamaica, a Hibiscus based punch that tastes like fruit punch. On the right is Horchata, a milky creamy cinnamony delight made from rice.  There are many other flavors such as Mamey, Strawberry with Milk, Orange, Pineapple, Lime, and Fruit with Milk. But I would tend to veer away from the Pineapple and Orange, as they tend to resemble watered down versions of the juices. Just don’t get the medium sized as you get almost twice the amount in large for about 25 cents more. And since they are made with real fruits, it doesn’t have a cloyingly artificial taste.

But tortas are the true specialty here.  It’s a good thing that the Sinaloa region is known for something more than their drug cartels. I decided to be brave and tried their Picosito. It is filled with carne asada, cheese, tomatoes, and avocado. They warned me that it would be super spicy. My first few bites into it definitely proved to have some good heat, but then I noticed that the heat level kept getting stronger and stronger.  I lifted up the bread to see what could possibly be so freaking hot, and then realized that what I had thought were grilled onions were actually grilled habanero peppers. Holy Mother of God! The pain was unbearable. At this point tears were streaming down my face and I had fluid coming out from nearly every orifice in my body. I paid my bill in a rush and ran to the Baskin Robbins across the parking lot to get some ice cream to alleviate the burn. It took a full 30 min before the heat subsided to more manageable levels. Needless to say, Part Two hit me later on that night.  The lesson here is simple…don’t order this torta unless you are some kind of masochist.IMG_0241

The Vegetarian torta is by far more innocuous. With tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese it is much better when doused with their spicy red salsa.IMG_0242

There are also Tacos here if you are not in the mood for tortas. They are pretty decent street cart tacos.IMG_0278

I was only able to get a small sampling of their tortas, as there are many many more in various combinations of different meats and fillings.

Website: www.tortassinaloa.net

Tortas Sinaloa on Urbanspoon