Los Amigos - Order the chicken anything!

After spending a hot, sweaty Saturday afternoon at the FSU game (which we lost, making things even worse), hubby and I were ready to scarf on some down and dirty mexican food. We found a coupon in one of those little discount books we get in the mail for Los Amigos and thought we'd give it a try. We figured if it wasn't good, at least it wouldn't be full price, right?

As soon as we walked in we saw a big sign that said margaritas were 2 for 1, and nobody had to tell us twice. These puppies were large and in charge, but seemed a bit watered down and less flavorful than those at Morelia's. But that doesn't mean we didn't slurp them with enthusiasm!

We were quickly brought out chips and salsa and let me tell you - that salsa is NOT for the weak willed! That stuff will burn your tongue right out of your head! Which is probably why we were sucking down those margaritas so fast. As soon as we could, we ordered up some cheese dip to get relief from the heat. I could hardly take a minute to snap a picture before I devoured it to try to extinguish the flames. That salsa is muy caliente! The cheese was creamy and rich and thankfully, there was no kick to it. So, the slow burn eventually started to fade.

For the main event, I ordered up Chicken Fajitas, natch, and hubby did the pick two deal and chose a Beef Taco and a Chicken Quesadilla. I have to pontificate for just a moment about their chicken. I have no clue what they marinate that stuff in, but it comes out with a red tinge to it. But never fear - it is completely savory and scrumptious! What makes it red? Is it chili powder? Is it cayenne pepper? We may never know, but you know what, it doesn't matter, you'll just love it. Even after I finished my 4 tortillas worth of fajitas, I was picking the rest of the chicken out of the pan it was that good! The refried beans were creamy and the mexican rice was moist and flavorful (with no peppers or onions added to it - amen!), making my fajitas were absolutely chow-worthy!

Hubs agreed that the chicken made the quesadilla wonderfully delicious, but he was thoroughly disappointed with his beef taco. It was ground beef that was not marinated in anything and had absolutely no flavor to it, so it was definitely a bit bland. He didn't even eat more than a couple of bites of it - and this is coming from the man who would probably eat dirt if you put a yummy sauce over it, so that's really saying something!

Overall, I'd definitely return to Los Amigos. They've got a comfortable family-type atmosphere and I didn't notice any of the stereotypical mexican-type decorations, but I didn't venture any further than our table, which was right by the front door. The prices are also extremely reasonable, and they regularly run coupons in those little direct mail booklets, which makes it an even better deal. But whatever you do, make sure you order the chicken!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B
Taste - B
Presentation - C
Service - B+
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant
2736 Capital Circle NE
Tallahassee FL 32308
*I couldn't find a website for these guys, if anybody knows it, please post it in the comments!*

Los Amigos Mexican Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Fusion Cafe - Lounge the night away

On Friday, after work, I met up with a girlfriend at Fusion Cafe for a gab 'n grub session. Honestly, I always forget about Fusion and this was actually only my 3rd visit to the restaurant in the year and a half that I've lived here. It's probably because like most of Tallahassee's non-chain restaurants, it's unassumingly tucked away in the corner of a little strip mall, just waiting patiently for you to visit. Once inside, you realize it's anything but unassuming. Decked out in deep maroon and dark grey colors, it definitely gives off a modern/urban vibe - almost like you've walked into a swanky hotel's lounge bar. The chairs are comfy and the lighting is low, which makes it easy to sit and stay awhile.

I'd had a rough day at work, so we ordered up some cocktails, pronto. She ordered the Elderflower Martini and I went for the Mojito. She fared much better than I did in the drink department. Her martini was a bubbly, sweet concoction made with elderflower liqueur and champagne with a cherry in the bottom. My mojito had no sugar (one of the most important ingredients!) and thus tasted too bitter and flat. I sucked it down as fast as I could, and moved on to a glass of their Relax Riesling, which was much better suited to my taste. Slightly sweet and crisp, it was a refreshing improvement from my lackluster mojito.

I ordered up a bowl of their She Crab Bisque to start, and was excited for it to arrive at the table. However, it wasn't much better than mediocre. It was more of a broth than a bisque and there were only about 4 lumps of crab included. It also tasted a bit sandy, which was something I might have expected from a dish made with mussels or oysters, but not crab. I probably should have gone with my first instinct and ordered the Sweet Potato Soup.

For dinner, however, I knew I'd pick a winner - I went straight for what, in my opinion, is the best dish on their menu - the Pretzel Crusted Grouper. This moist, white fish comes in a crunchy, salty, pretzel-y coating and is drizzled with a spicy mustard sauce that is the perfect tangy compliment to the dish. It's also served with sides of grilled asparagus (perfectly seasoned, I might add) and crispy herbed potato bites. I must confess, I also dip the potatoes in the spicy mustard, because, well, it's awesome and I like the little zip that it adds.

My friend ordered up the Cobb Salad with the buttermilk-dill dressing and the monster that came out looked absolutely delicious. Packed high with toppings like grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, olives, blue cheese crumbles and cherry tomatoes, it was definitely a ginormous portion. She worked at it diligently for a good 20 minutes, but made barely a dent. It would probably be a good salad to order for take-out and then split with the entire family at home. When I asked her how the dressing was she said that it was definitely not your ordinary run-of-the-mill ranch dressing, but the dill wasn't overpowering (I hate when that happens!). She seemed to thoroughly enjoy it, but, alas, wasn't able to conquer it!

As we sat and finished up our last drinks of the night, a friendly employee (I'm not sure if he was the manager or not) came over and asked us how our meal was and if we were enjoying ourselves. My friend saw through his guise and asked if he needed us to stop squatting at our table to make room for new patrons. He smiled and said that a large party was coming in and if we could just scoot to the table next to us, he'd comp our last round of drinks for us. We happily moved over, and although we didn't think our waitress would really take off that last round of drinks, when the bill came - she certainly did! Needless to say somebody got a big tip that night!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B+ (it does get a little loud once the place fills up)
Taste - B+
Presentation - A
Service - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Fusion Cafe
1225 N. Monroe St.
Tallahassee FL 32303

Fusion Cafe on Urbanspoon

Bella Bella - Bring Your Appetite!

I have to admit, it's very hard for me to want to eat Italian in Tallahassee. To me, Italian food is winter food. I just really can't bring myself to eat hot, rich, saucy food when it's just as hot outside. But don't get me wrong, I'm an Italian girl and I love Italian food, but here in Florida I've found I rarely get the craving for it. So when I do, I must act!

Bella Bella is our go-to Italian place in town. There's something so quaint and homey about it, it feels as though I'm stepping into a relative's kitchen. The moment you walk inside, the smell of marinara sauce and freshly grated cheese wafts past your nostrils. And then you just succumb to it - that overwhelming desire eat massive quantities of pasta. And at Bella Bella, massive quantities of pasta you will get!

We've learned that it's best to split meals here, as the portion sizes are just like Italian families - HUGE! All of their entrees are served with salad and fresh bread and many come with a side of angel hair pasta. I always feel like I'm at my Grandma's house where she's grabbing my wrists and saying "You're so skinny! Here, you get an extra spoonful!" And I'm looking at a mountain of food and wondering how it's all going to fit in my tummy. I think that's what all the sauce is for - to make everything slide down easier!

A friend recently recommended we try the Bubble Bread, which we had never had before, so we put in a quick order before they could bring us their regular stuff. Be forewarned - unless you're prepared to make a trip to heaven, do not order the Bubble Bread. Because this bread will take you through the clouds, past the choirs of angels and straight to the pearly gates! Imagine if you will - crispy, crunchy Italian bread, topped with mozzarella and gorgonzola cheeses and baked until everything is so ooey-gooey and bubbly on top so that it's hard to tell where the cheese ends and the bread begins. Uh, oh. I've lost you haven't I? You've already left your computer and gotten into your car and headed over to Bella Bella. Aw, shoot. Well, I guess I'll just continue and maybe you'll come back and read the rest of my review after you awaken from your Bubble Bread coma.

Next, come the House Salads. I'm not quite sure what makes their dressing so irresistible, but it's equal parts tangy and garlic-y and creamy and you just won't be able to stop mopping your lettuce all up in it. It's one of those dressings that hits you in the back of your jaw, but in a love-hurts kinda way. I believe they bill it as a homemade gorgonzola vinaigrette - but I think there's more to it than that - someone's not revealing their secret ingredient (*tsk, tsk*)!

For our main entree, hubby and I split the Chicken Parmesan. And lucky we did - you get 3 whole chicken breasts, lightly fried and topped with mozzarella cheese and dunked in marinara sauce and baked (again) until bubbly. We made a little game of trying to find the chicken under all that cheese and sauce because it was definitely drenched! But oh soooo good. Our entree came with a side of angel hair pasta with marinara sauce and our server was nice enough to put a generous portion of shaved parmesan cheese on the top. There's just something about their marinara sauce that reminds you of home - they don't try to be too fancy about it, they don't add any crazy or overpowering spices and it's not sweet (spaghetti sauce should never be sweet - blech!) - it's just like your Mom or Grandma would make it. And in my book, that's just right.

I have to apologize a bit for the quality of the pictures on this post. By the time we went out to dinner that night, it was dark out and I ended up having to use the flash in the restaurant. I hate using the flash for 2 reasons: first, because natural lighting looks infinitely better, the flash always blows out the colors and second, because it draws attention to me and I always feel like a goober taking pictures of my food in public. But I do it all for you guys - my loyal readers - so I really hope you're enjoying my posts!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B (tables are a little too close together, I don't like other people overhearing my conversations)
Taste - A
Presentation - B
Service - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Bella Bella
123 East 5th Avenue
Tallahassee FL 32303

Bella Bella on Urbanspoon

Wells Brothers - Burgers Well Done

As we headed over to Wells Brothers (aka: Monk's), we weren't quite sure what to expect. I've lived in Tallahassee for a year and a half and I've never heard boo about this place. However, I received a suggestion through email recently and so hubby and I thought we'd check it out (see...if you email me, I will listen!)

It's a small little dive on a side of town that we rarely venture, but as we pulled into the parking lot, snagged the last empty spot in the back and saw people playing Cornhole outside, we thought it had to be a pretty fun place. And we know that sometimes the best burger joints are those little hole in the wall places that are off the beaten path, so our mouths were watering as we walked inside. But I do have to warn you - if you're coming here for the service, you will be extremely disappointed.

When we walked in, one of the servers barked out that there were open tables in the front, the back and outside. But he didn't make any move to try to seat us, so we just wandered into the back and sat ourselves. Inside, there's definitely a ruckus - a loud din that permeates the echoing room. And there were at least 9 TV's in the room we were seated in alone - which, as all you ladies know, makes it mighty hard for your man to concentrate on you and not whatever game or bright shiny visual is playing on the TV.

A female server approached us a minute later and the first words out of her mouth were not "Hello" or "How are you tonight?" or "What can I get you to drink?" they were - no joke - the following: "The kitchen is running slow tonight, so you're gonna have to wait about 30 minutes for your food." Well, okay, then, so that was how it was going to be. Now, we didn't have anywhere to be, so it wasn't a huge deal for us, but I did think it was a little rude to start out with that. She could have at least eased into it a bit, right?

Although their menu boasts various sandwiches, salads, pizzas and wraps, the place is best known for burgers, so we ordered up 2 of our own creations. And with over 60 toppings to choose from - including unique things like peanut butter, green apple slices, pickle chips and sour cream - it was a bit hard to choose! Mine was a BBQ, Bacon and Blue Cheese Burger, and hubby ordered a Cheeseburger with Lettuce, Tomato and Ketchup (a true All-American classic!). And indeed we did not have to wait 30 minutes for our burgers like Miss Badnews Betty predicted, but only about 15, so we were pleasantly surprised. And where the service was lacking, the burgers were not. They were both moist and juicy, made with fresh ingredients and served on slightly toasted buns. The bbq sauce on my burger was tangy and mixed well with the sharpness of the blue cheese and the crispy bacon. Hubby must have been equally satisfied too, as his mouth stayed full until his burger was completely demolished. The fries were also very good - crunchy on the outside, warm on the inside and nicely seasoned with salt and pepper (to me, the seasoning makes all the difference).

But if I could revisit the service for just one more moment. One of my biggest pet peeves is when my drink doesn't get refilled promptly. Not only did my glass sit empty for quite some time, when my server took it away to refill it she didn't return for about 10 minutes. And when she did, she claimed that another server took my Coke and served it to someone else. So - did that mean that some other poor patron was at that very moment sucking on a straw that had my cooties all over it? I shivered at the thought.

So, if you're looking for a pretty outstanding burger, give Wells Brothers a whirl. But if you're looking for great service, don't say I didn't warn you!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - C (it's pretty much a bar scene, so it's very loud inside)
Taste - A
Presentation - B
Service - C
Price - $

Restaurant Info:
Wells Brothers Bar and Grill
1710 W. Tharpe Street
Tallahassee FL 32303

Wells Brothers

New Orleans Day 3 - Red Fish Grill

For our last meal in New Orleans (*tear*), we traveled back to Bourbon Street to grab a bite to eat at Red Fish Grill before our Haunted French Quarter Tour - because everyone knows you don't want to meet a ghost on an empty stomach!

This fun and funky little place has been voted the best seafood restaurant in New Orleans 4 years in a row, so we were ready for a treat. We quickly requested an order of the joint's signature BBQ Oysters, and were completely blown away. These babies were flash fried, tossed in a tangy-smoky-sweet bbq sauce and drizzled with their homemade blue cheese dressing. I know I keep saying this about the food I've been having in New Orleans - but these were the best oysters I've ever had in my life! I've never eaten oysters any other way but straight up raw, but these sounded so scrumptious, we just had to get some. I'm so glad we did, because they were amazing!

Next, I ordered the RFG House Salad, which consisted of hearts of romaine, crumbled blue cheese, tomatoes, roasted pecans and an apple-rosemary vinaigrette. I have to admit, this salad had the potential to be super good, but the salad dressing kinda killed it for me. It really had no taste to it at all, which absolutely infuriates me. I don't just want wet lettuce - I want it to actually be flavorful - is that too much to ask??

For our main entrees, I ordered the Coconut Shrimp and hubs ordered the Hickory Grilled Redfish with Jumbo Lump Crabmeat. Now, I know what you're thinking - I ordered a heck of a lot of shrimp in New Orleans, and you're right. I really don't know what I was thinking other than the shrimp dishes always looked the most yummy to me! These were jumbo Louisiana shrimp fried in a sweet coconut batter and served with a sweet and spicy pepper jelly sauce. The shrimp were crunchily delicious and the sauce gave them a nice zip! But I could have done without the pineapple red pepper rice pilaf. The rice was flavorless, and of course, I don't like extra fruits and veggies in my rice, so it was 2 strikes and yooooooouuuuu're OUT (of my mouth)!

Hubby's dish was lip-smacking good. The redfish was light and moist and grilled with some cajun seasoning, topped with lump crabmeat and served with a lemon butter sauce. And it was served with some veggies and really crispy potatoes. It was a dish filled with various textures and flavors with the crunchy and the soft, the spicy and the sweet, but it worked - and it was an absolute success!

Because we still had a bit more time to kill before our tour, we decided to order up some dessert. As this confection takes 20 minutes to prepare, it was the perfect choice. If you ever have the pleasure of eating at Red Fish Grill, you should definitely order their Double Chocolate Bread Pudding. My husband doesn't like regular bread pudding, but he LOVED this. It's made with dark and semisweet chocolate bread pudding, served with chocolate almond bark, and if you didn't already have enough chocolate - you could pour on some white and dark chocolate ganache. Did I mention this dessert was made with chocolate? Rich, warm, sweet and creamy, this dish was like the exclamation point on an already great meal. But I definitely needed my hubby to roll me out of there...

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering if we did, in fact, encounter any ghosts on our Haunted French Quarter Walk. Well, we started off in one of the ballrooms at the Bourbon Orleans hotel and I snapped off a bunch of pictures to see what I could catch on film. And I struck gold with the photo below. As you can see, there's a big light orb in the upper right hand corner and there are also a few smaller ones throughout (if you click on the photo to enlarge it, you should be able to see them). We were told by our tour guide that there were about 6 ghosts inhabiting this room, so I'll leave it up to you - do you think I captured a spirit from the other side?

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - B+ (chairs were a bit hard)
Taste - A
Presentation - A
Service - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
Red Fish Grill
115 Bourbon Street
New Orleans LA 70130

Red Fish Grill on Urbanspoon

New Orleans Day 3 - Maya's

For brunch on Sunday, we headed over to the Garden District, not knowing what we would find. We had no recommendations from anyone about restaurants in this area, but we thought it looked like a cute part of town worth exploring. The parking spot we found just happened to be right in front of Maya's, and so fate graciously intervened.

Billed as having Latin Fusion Cuisine, we thought, what the heck? So we sauntered in and were seated right away, as there was only 2 other people in the joint. Normally, that would worry me, since all the other restaurants we went to required us to wait in line, but I was just so hungry, I didn't really care. Our waiter quickly informed us that they were offering 2 for 1 sangrias, mimosas and mojitos, which was their signature house drink. Well, you didn't have to tell us twice - we ordered up 2 mojitos right quick! And I have to say, is that these were the best mojitos I've ever had in my ENTIRE alcohol-drinking life. I consider the act of making mojitos an art form - if there's too much sugar it's too sweet and hurts your tummy, if there's too much club soda it's too bitter and hurts your taste buds. But these mojitos were just right - cool, refreshing and lightly sweet. Ahhhhhhh......

Next, they brought us out some chips and dip. But this wasn't just any ole chips and dips - these were so yumdillyicious I could have eaten 3 baskets worth (I actually ate 2, but hey - don't judge me!). The chips were so light and crispy and the dip was made with sweet pepper jelly and honey and it tasted like the nectar of the gods! It started out sweet and then it served up a tangy-spicy kick that was uber-addictive. Let me tell ya, I was ready to tap a vein and insert an IV of this stuff!

For our main courses, I chose the Coconut Curry Shrimp and hubby superbly chose the Tuna Tartar. The shrimp came in this deliciously sweet and spicy curry (it was just a sweet and spicy meal all around!) and were served up with sticky white rice. I have to admit, my nose did start to run a bit because of the spiciness, but I loved it anyway. My husband's dish was absolutely mouth-watering! It consisted of sushi grade tuna, tomatoes, avocado, green and red peppers, all chopped into little cubes, soaked into a soy-ginger sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. You took the chips, dipped it into the heavenly mixture and then let the tartar work it's magic. All of the ingredients were wonderfully fresh and flavorful and the soy sauce was just a tad sweet, making it irresistibly yummy. We were super glad that we just happened to find a parking spot right in front of this little joint, otherwise we never would have had the pleasure of eating there!

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A
Taste - A+
Presentation - A+
Service - A
Price - $$

Restaurant Info:
2027 Magazine Street
New Orleans LA 70310

Mayas on Urbanspoon

New Orleans Day 2 - Commander's Palace

The most extravagant meal of our entire trip was at Commander's Palace. From the outside it looks as if it could be a little girl's doll house. It's decked out in turquoise and white, with columns and scalloped edges and all. On the inside, it's a grand old house steeped in all the luxury and refinement of the Antebellum Age. It's not in the French Quarter, mind you, it's on Coliseum Street in the Garden District, so you'll need to take a car or a taxi to get there. Reservations are absolutely required to visit this restaurant, and let me tell you, they are absolutely worth it! But be forewarned, you must dress to the 9's - no shorts are allowed and they prefer that men wear jackets.

Upon entering and confirming our reservation, we were walked through a long hallway lined with waitstaff (each of whom wished us "good evening") and up a great staircase to the second floor. You literally feel as though you are going to the parlor room of the great Scarlett O'Hara herself! There are crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, ornate rugs gracing the floors at your feet and plush chairs that cushion your back. You truly feel as if this will be a meal "Fit for a King" or I guess, a Commander!

We were waited on by 3 servers the entire night, and their attention to detail was impeccable. Hubby and I ordered cocktails, but we were also brought waters that were refilled after even the tiniest sip. And once our ice melted in our glasses, we were brought fresh waters with brand new ice cubes. Can you imagine??? We were really and truly spoiled that night.

So, like true Kings, we decided to make it a 3 course meal. For starters, I ordered the Peach and Walnut Salad and hubby got the Romaine Salad. The salads were absolutely to DIE for. Mine had fresh peaches, crunchy walnuts, chunks of goat cheese and was drizzled with a champagne vinaigrette. Every bite was sinfully sweet. Hubby's salad featured hearts of romaine, eggs, bacon, french bread croutons and black-pepper buttermilk dressing. It was smack-yo-lips creamy with a little spicy kick. I could have gone home right then and been perfectly happy, but things just kept on getting better.

We moved on to our main entrees, which were Cajun Spiced Mako Shark for me and Black and White Shrimp for my husband. At first, I wasn't quite sure how I felt about eating shark, but I figured, when in Rome, right? It actually tasted like a very mild white fish and the cajun spices added a nice bite to the dish (no pun intended). The shark came on top of one of the most moist pieces of cornbread I've ever had in my life. Hubby's dish was Louisiana white shrimp, topped with black pepper and parmesan cheese and served with a lemon-limey sauce and caramelized onions. The shrimp, all by themselves, were divine - perfectly plump, not overcooked and seasoned with delightful flavor. However, the sauce added a creamy, tangy little zest.

BUT WAIT - there's more! For dessert, we were treated to Creole Bread Pudding Souffle with warm whiskey cream sauce and Chocolate Molten Cake. Just when I thought I couldn't eat any more, they brought out these two beauties and I found my second wind! The bread pudding was so warm and gooey and the whiskey cream was rich beyond words. And the chocolate cake was deliciously devilish. The combination of moist cake and warm chocolate lava was so baaaad it was good, if you know what I mean.

After dinner, we were told by the valet that the mansion where the Benjamin Button movie was filmed was just 2 doors down from the restaurant on Coliseum Street. So we wandered over and took a look. Hubby proceeded to look it up on his Blackberry, and sure enough, it was the exact house! And it's for sale for roughly $3 million, if you're interested. It was dark, so the pictures didn't turn out too well, but we were excited nonetheless. It was a nice little perk to a very extravagant evening.

Tally Foodie Rating:
Atmosphere - A+
Taste - A+
Presentation - A+
Service - A+
Price - $$$

Restaurant Info:
1403 Washington Avenue
New Orleans LA 70130

Commander's Palace on Urbanspoon

About this blog

This blog is dedicated to giving you honest reviews of local restaurants in Tallahassee and the surrounding area. I won't hold any punches, you'll hear about it all - the good, the bad and the (hopefully infrequent) inedible!

This blog was written from July 2009 - August 2010 and is now retired. I currently live in Sarasota, FL...stay tuned for more on my adventures there!