Mouthful of Sunshine

Satisfaction in every bite

Honestly Huge – Honest Tom’s Taco Shop

June 3, 2013
Honest Tom’s Taco Shop, Philadelphia PA
Steak and Yucca Burrito

ImageThinking I should try Honest Tom’s Taco Shop now that I have been to Tampopo since they are beside each other, I went the next day for one of their famous burritos.Image

The Steak and Yucca Burrito was incredibly satisfying. At $8 plus tax, it was huge and included not only the regular rice, beans, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, and cheese, but also creamy avocado. It really provides a smooth texture for the filling, binding everything together. The steak cubes were a little tough and the yucca cubes a little bland so next time, I would probably get chicken or sweet potato instead. Still, the quality was great and it was incredibly filling as well. 

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A New Twist on Quesadillas – Philladilla

May 2, 2013
Philladilla, Philadelphia PA
Roast Pork Taco
Philly Cheesesteak Quesadilla

ImagePhilladilla is a new food cart that frequents 33rd and Arch, otherwise known as part of the Food Truck Mecca down at Drexel. To some, a Mexican-based food cart is one too many but this one adds the cute, fresh factor… oh, and the creativity.

The Roast Pork Taco, which I got one for $3, was quite tasty. I loved the Asian slaw on top but the taco could have used more flavour, which would go well with the tender pork. The cilantro pesto was a nice twist and a very refreshing one at that.Image

The Philly Cheesesteak Quesadilla may not seem to be worth the $6 at first. To be honest, it was small and probably will not fill you up as nicely as $6 spent on another food truck. However, I liked the flavour of the tender steak with sweet onions, and American cheese. They went so well with the flour tortilla and for some reason, was a little nostalgic for me. I also loved the sweet, homemade ketchup that came with it. Overall, the menu can be limited but Philladilla is worth a try!

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Melt that Ranch – Taco Bell

March 16, 2013
Taco Bell, Philadelphia PA
Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Taco
Caramel Apple Empanada

ImageI was really hungry after a day at a show and decided on something fast and cheesy. However, they did not offer the loaded grillers at the Taco Bell on campus, which is a total shame.

The Cool Ranch Doritos Locos Tacos was decent. I could not taste too much of the cool ranch flavour as it was not that heavily seasoned. The taco shell was crispy and the ground beef, lettuce, and cheese was all decent for fast food.Image

The Meximelt was more like a beef burrito but skinnier and full of cheesy goodness. It was nice with the pico de gallo to add a tangy freshness to the burrito.

ImageFinally, the Caramel Apple Empanada was great. Crispy on the outside, the pastry was really sweet from the caramel but not overwhelming because of the acidity of the apples. The filling was piping hot and so good!Image

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Gettin’ Messy with Salsa – Chipotle Mexican Grill

February 24, 2013
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Philadelphia PA
Steak Burrito
Chicken Salad
Chips & Salsa

ImageSeeing students nearly everyday with bag after bag of Chipotle takeout was bound to wear off sooner or later. It just so happened to be National Tortilla Chip Day so by evening, I found myself in that very long bending line inside the popular dinner spot.Image

My Steak Burrito was humongous and absolutely amazing, apart from the steak, that is. The soft tortilla barely held together the cubes of marinated steak, the mound of cilantro-lime white rice, black and pinto beans, lettuce, fajita vegetables, cheese, salsa, and sour cream. The rice was quite flavorful and not over-cooked, so they had a nice texture. I asked for both kinds of beans, and both were mushy and good. The mild salsa and hot salsa was a good mix of fresh and spice. The lettuce was crispy and the cheese and sour cream added a lot of flavor. The steak was a little dry and tough, unfortunately, but the size of the burrito made it such a good deal.Image

The Chicken Salad was also very good. The chicken was not as dry despite not being the most tender chicken ever. It was flavorful, though, as were the cheese, fajita vegetables, mild salsa, and sour cream. The two kinds of beans were again great, contrasting the texture of the bed of lettuce.Image

Finally, for my Chips & Salsa, I got the mild, medium, and hot salsa. The Fresh Tomato Salsa was mild, with chopped tomatoes, onions, and cilantro among other things, was sour and refreshing. The medium one, the Tomatillo-Green Chili Salsa, had a decent kick and yet was still very refreshing and light – my favorite of the three. The hot one, the Tomatillo-Chili Red Salsa, was too much like a hot sauce it was a bit monotone and not very refreshing. The chips were freshly fried and crunchy. They were good and not overly oily either.

Coming here really had made me realize why so many students come. The price, quality, and quantity of the food are certainly worth the money!

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Ding Dong for Desserts – Taco Bell

November 14, 2012
Taco Bell, Philadelphia PA
Fresco Soft Beef Taco
Chips & Guacamole
Cookie Sandwich

ImageWith a new dessert menu at Taco Bell, it was only a matter of time before I went to sample the new features. Not only that, but it was National Guacamole Day, so chips and guacamole was only fitting.

The new Churro was freshly fried. It was not very long, but quite dense and soft with a very crispy exterior. Piping hot with a thick dusting of cinnamon sugar, it was amazing. Crunchy, sweet, and warm, for $1, it was definitely worth it. How can you possibly go wrong with cinnamon sugar and fried dough, right?Image

The Fresco Beef Soft Taco was decent. The ground beef was very flavorful and juicy but the cheese was just mediocre. The soft tortilla shell was not very big nor perfectly toasty warm. However, the pico de gallo was quite tasty and refreshing. With a citrus, tangy flavor, it provided a nice contrast to the heavy and savory taco. Image

For National Guacamole Day, the Chips & Guacamole was the perfect way to celebrate. The freshly fried tortilla chips were left out a little long but were still crunchy. The corn taste was simple yet tasty. The guacamole was served in a dressing container. It was cold but creamy from the ripe avocado. There were some diced tomatoes, cilantro, and other ingredients that added to the flavor. It was not the most spiced or flavorful guacamole but still cool and refreshing.Image

The Nachos were just the same chips but served with warm nacho cheese sauce. The cheese was gooey and flavorful. Although it tasted like processed cheese, it was still tasty and thick in a good way. It provided a nice contrast with the cold guacamole dip.

ImageFinally, the Cookie Sandwich was also a new menu item. It came pre-packaged in a plastic wrap. The two cookie layers were soft and full of chocolate chips. I love how even pre-made cookie dough is soft and chewy. It was so thick and delicious. The sweet and sugary icing filling was even better. I love the rough sugar texture and the overwhelming sweetness. It was just bite after bite of sugary scrumptiousness.

New dessert items are always nice in my opinion. Tacos and burritos can get old, but churros and cookies and icing never will. My sweet tooth was satisfied, at least for the time being. 

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Ding Dong for Nachos – Taco Bell

ImageNovember 6, 2012
Taco Bell, Philadelphia PA
Cinnamon Twists
Crunchy Taco
Beefy 5-Layer Burrito
Bean Burrito
Volcano Nachos

Taco Bell is the most convenient place to get my fill for Mexican food, especially when I am in a rush and craving salsa, cheese, and warm tortillas. There is usually a line, especially around meal times, but the service is fast and friendly.Image

It may seem odd to start with dessert, but that is what I did. The Cinnamon Twists were super crunchy and light, fried to perfection for such a light and puffy treat. The cinnamon sugar was very appealing for me. I just love the slightly spiced sweetness of it.

ImageThe Crunchy Taco was nothing spectacular but for what it costs, it is a good deal. It is one of the items on the Why Pay More menu and thus quite cheap. The taco was crunchy, as were the lettuce. The ground beef was quite juicy. I just found the cheese to be disappointing, but for something from Taco Bell, I am not expecting anything more. I loved putting their Fire Border Sauce on this taco to give it more of a kick.Image

The Beefy 5-Layer Burrito was actually quite good. I liked the gooey mix of cheese, ground beef, and beans. It was quite liquid for a burrito filling and was more like a beef, beans, and cheese stew. The flavors were decent, although I did appreciate Fire Border Sauce on this as well. The burrito tortilla was soft and warm, making the whole thing a gooey, lovely, cheesy mess.Image

The Bean Burrito had a similar filling except there was no beef. It was even more liquid and the filling literally oozed out of the burrito. I love the mashed, soft beans. They were very flavorful, especially with the cheese. It was something that was relatively simple but still very good with the warm tortilla.Image

Finally, it was National Nachos Day! I celebrated with an order of Volcano Nachos. This was absolutely delicious for something gotten at a fast food restaurant. The nachos chips were freshly fried and very warm and crispy. The red tortilla strips added to the crunch. The ground beef went nicely with the melted, gooey cheese. The diced tomatoes provided a little juicy bite and made it a bit refreshing. My favorite part was the super spicy volcano sauce. It packed such a punch but was so good when mixed with all the other flavors. Everything blended together nicely.Image

Most fast food chains in US have decent ingredients. Unlike a regular restaurant where flavors and textures are usually of concern, at fast food places, all I am looking for is care in assembling the ingredient. This particular Taco Bell does a fairly decent job in my opinion and I am glad to have this option on a busy day.

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National Day for Mexican Staple – Taco Bell

ImageOctober 4, 2012
Taco Bell, Philadelphia PA
Doritos Locos Tacos
Pinto n’ Cheese

Tight on time during the day and wanting to spend every minute studying for my first midterm, I went to Taco Bell for National Taco Day and to get something quick and convenient. I think I have only had Taco Bell once or twice before, so I was a bit out of touch with ordering.

I decided on the new Doritos Locos Tacos. It was small but still cheap, and I loved the Doritos taco shell. It was just like a Nacho Cheese Dorito tortilla chip, but bigger. The light cheese flavor was good, and the orange was pretty, too. The ground beef was quite juicy and the lettuce, tomatoes, and cheese were decent, nothing spectacular but not bad. It was crunchy and quite flavorful with the Hot Border Sauce I added on top.

ImageI also ordered a side of Pintos n’ Cheese. The mashed pinto beans were nicely seasoned and very flavorful. The small bowl of mushiness was covered with slightly melted cheese. The cheese was not exactly great, as it was not completely melted and processed cheese do not have too much flavor. The beans were nice, though, and as much as you can expect from fast food chains.

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The Standard in Mexico – Las Cazuelas

ImageApril 24, 2012
Las Cazuelas, Philadelphia PA
[Tortilla Chips and Ranchero Salsa]
Guacamole Ranchero
Enchiladas De Mole

I was super excited to come here with the Equestrian Team for our team year-end dinner as the reviews of the Mexican food were excellent. As I entered the restaurant, I forgot about the sketchy neighbourhood it was in. The place was quaint and cozy. The decor gave the place a casual, Mexican feel and I loved it. It was a very comfortable place, somewhere I can relax and enjoy delicious, quality comfort food. We had a large table upstairs in a sectioned-off area. I loved the map of Mexico on the wall and the music they played, though it was too loud to allow for easy conversation.

The huge disappointment of the night was a major problem, however. They were apparently extremely understaffed. The hostess was also our server and it took half an hour to place our orders and then another 10-15 minutes before she started bringing us cups of water. She made three trips for nine cups of water and they were three trips one after the other. Image

After we ordered, it took another twenty minutes before the server brought our Guacamole Ranchero. She did not bring the complimentary Tortilla Chips and Ranchero Salsa until another ten minutes, so we all sat there, awkwardly staring at the guacamole. It was just a lot of waiting. When we did get the chips and salsa, we all dug in. I would have preferred the chips to be warmer, but they were crispy and delicious like most freshly fried tortilla chips. There was, however, in our first basket, a stack of chips stuck together and some of the chips were a bit soggy with the oil. It just was not consistent. Our second basket of chips later on in the meal was better though. The green salsa was good. It had a very strong cilantro flavour and did not have much of a tomatillo taste. It was rather watery but refreshing and light. I wanted more heat to it, though, since it was a green salsa. I love really spiced up foods.

The guacamole was good but it was missing some acidity. More lime would have been better. The avocado was smooth and I love the strong cilantro flavour. Together with the chips, it was a Mexican classic. As we were all extremely hungry by this point, it tasted even better, though still nothing special.

I ordered for myself the Enchiladas De Mole as I saw on the reviews their traditional mole sauce was amazing. When the food finally came, after about one and a half hours of being in the restaurant, I was ready to dig in. The presentation was quite good. The sour cream, cheese, and onions garnish looked nice, as did the pyramid of Mexican rice. The beans were too close in colour to the mole sauce, I thought, but there is not much to be done about it.

After so many rave reviews, I was expecting something out of this world. I was disappointed at what I tasted. It was great Mexican food certainly, but just not as good as I thought. The corn tortillas were sort of soaked with the sauce, giving them moisture and flavour. The marinated chicken inside the enchiladas were full of flavour and quite nicely cooked for chicken. The onion garnish, however, was too strong for me. It was not sweet onions so its taste lasted too long in my mouth. I thought the cheese would be a thick, gooey layer, but what I got was powdered cheese sprinkled on top. It was flavourful by itself, but with the entire dish and not enough cheese, the flavour was lost.

ImageThe mole sauce was good, but not amazing. It had a nice smokey flavour but I could use more sweetness. I could not taste the chocolate and could barely taste any sweetness at all. The first time I ever tried mole sauce, it was really sweet. I am not expecting it to be that sweet, but in this case, I could hardly taste any sweetness. The refried beans were even in texture, quite nicely done. The Mexican rice also tasted good with the carrots and corn.

Overall, the dish was pretty good, though I will definitely try other dishes before returning to this. I also think they need to integrate some vegetables into the dish. There were no vegetable sides or vegetables inside the enchiladas. Some mixed vegetables or a refreshing cactus salad would be a really nice alteration to the dish. Right now, it is just too heavy with the chicken, tortillas, sauce, rice, and beans. 

We were all frustrated with the service, even though the food was decent. The music also did not get turned down until we were almost finished with food. Apparently, it was the day one of their Groupons expired, so there was an unnatural amount of customers. However, it is a Tuesday night and it should definitely not be like this. I did enjoy my food although I am not sure the wait was completely worth it. 

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Beats of Red Salsa – Don Memo Mexican Restaurant

February 25, 2012

Don Memo Mexican Restaurant, Philadelphia PA
Tamales de Rajas
A night out with the beats and editors of the DP. The food was great, especially the warm, freshly fried tortilla chips with the red and green salsas (and they were free!). The red salsa was hot and spicy, my favourite EVER! The green salsa with tomatillos was very light and refreshing. The freshly made guacamole were also great with lots of cilantro. I had so much chips (they were just OH SO GOOD!!!) that I did not order the planned chicken enchiladas with mole sauce. Ah well, saves me a reason to go back.
The Tamales de Rajas – I picked red salsa because I loved the spiciness of the flavour – was good. The masa was nice and had a nice, mellow texture. I’m not a fan of the potatoes inside but the vegetables were good and had flavour, although the rest of the dish (the masa, pork, and potatoes) lacked flavour as there was just not enough sauce in it. The pork was also too dry for my liking. It was not as outstanding as the chips, salsa, and guacamole that’s for sure.
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Satisfy Those Cravings – Hard Rock Cafe

December 27, 2011

Hard Rock Cafe, Las Vegas NV
Hard Rock Nachos
Cobb Salad
Hickory-Smoked Bar-B-Que Duo Combo
After seeing Hard Rock first in Los Angeles, then in Orlando, Philadelphia, and Vegas, we just had to give it a try. The music is not particularly what any of us listens to but regardless, the atmosphere is quite unique – a twist on the traditional restaurant setting, that’s for sure!
Mom was craving nachos for two days. So, to satisfy her taste buds, she ordered the nachos – I loved the cheese and jalapenos! So spicy, so nice. I prefer lots of cheese but Mom and Dad seemed to prefer the crispy, un-cheesed chips. The cheese made it soggy after a while but I liked it that way. Salsa was good but I was never a big fan of sour cream.

I had the Cobb Salad and boy it was huge! Just a regular salad, nothing too fancy. It was not bad but there was nothing remarkable.

Dad’s hickory-smoked bbq duo of ribs and chicken was, on the other hand, great. I loved the bbq sauce. It was amazing. The ranchero beans that came with it was heavenly for me. I haven’t had traditional beans like that for so long! They remind me of our early immigration days, back in my first elementary, and then the canned beans I used to get from Superstore. The ribs were so tender and perfectly done.
I don’t think we’ll go back to Hard Rock, just because their menu does not offer a lot of variety. Cheesecake Factory is definitely better in their selections. Not a bad dinner, though.
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