Category Archives: Restaurants

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JUST CALL ME MAGGIE

We all know that while ordering a drink at Starbucks, there is a chance that your name may be mis-spelled and it is funny to joke about it with your co-workers. “Oh my gosh they spelled my name with a ‘q!’! Says Jaclyn. Or, “Silly barista added an ‘h’!” claims Sara. I have known about this common mistake for years, even before I was an avid Starbucks goer. I always found it quite comical to hear coffee drinkers point it out because, well quite frankly, who cares!

Anyway, it wasn’t until last year when I joined the bandwagon and started getting my daily drink at Starbucks. I have never been a fan of coffee but immediately fell in love with Chai Tea. Mmm. The best thing is that you can enjoy it iced in the summer and hot in the winter. Perfection 🙂

I didn’t realize that Starbucks had a “lingo.” For months I would order my drink differently every day. Examples:

Tall Soy Chai Tea Latte

Tall Chai Tea Latte with Soy Milk

Tall Chai Soy Latte

I went to the exact same location every morning and the same barista took my order every day, but it got to a point that I realized I would actually get nervous to order because I was beginning to notice that I didn’t think I was ordering correctly. I was disappointed that the employees seemed to remember everyone else’s names and drink orders but it was like I was a new customer coming in for the first time every day!

Then it dawned on me. One of my roommates from college used to be a barista at Starbucks and it was time for me to ask her for help! Becky came to the rescue and quickly explained that yes, there is a lingo and if you don’t abide by the Starbucks way, you will continue to be an outcast. 😉 Becky texted me back with three small words that changed my life forever. “tall.soy.chai.”

That’s it?? I walked into Starbucks the very next day with a new found confidence. I ordered that drink and guess what, the next day they remembered, and the day after that, they remembered! And later that week I was greeted with a “Hello, Megan, Tall Soy Chai today?”

Last week, I ran downstairs to get a drink instead of going to my “regular” Starbucks spot and decided to get an iced tall soy chai (really went out on a limb and was hoping that I placed “ice” in the correct spot) and was pleased to see that the drink order was correct. Then I noticed “Maggie” clearly spelled on the cup instead of Megan. Close enough, I’ll take it 😉

Just call me Maggie

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Talk about the perfect step out of my normal restaurant routine. I feel like even as a foodie, I am attracted to the same type of restaurants time and time again. Sushi, Burgers, Seafood, Wine Bars, etc. etc. Casona is quite the experience for several reasons.

I went down to my parents in South Jersey earlier this spring to celebrate my mom’s birthday. It was a beautiful day and we were looking forward to a nice lunch and then heading over the bridge to Philadelphia to see the Seaport Museum. We had talked about going to Collingswood for a while but just had not gotten around to it. Collingswood is a cute town with a lot of shops and restaurants on the main strip, and really perfect to walk around when the weather is nice.

After looking at our options, we came along this homey, Latin/Cuban restaurant that we all agreed sounded perfect. We were all impressed with the variety of the menu. Everything from sandwiches, soups, salads, you name it. I could not help but order the Cuban sandwich. The pork is roasted in a citrus marinade, ham, swiss cheese and garlic mayonnaise. Cooked to perfection!

There was a cute shower going on in the back on the patio while we were there and it looked like a lot of fun. They definitely have a great atmosphere, something a little different than South Jersey is used to and we will definitely be back in the near future.

Congratulations, Casona, for your recognition as BEST BYOB restaurant on the Philly Hot List this past week! Way to go!

Casona, the Large House of Latin Flavors in Collingswood!

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I have a thing for Taco Bell. Not many people do, or at least not many people are willing to admit it, but I do. In high school, my sister Christy and my friend Mattie and I used to hop in my ’96 Jeep Grand Cherokee after school and go to the nearest Taco Bell for a Cheesy Gordita Crunch. Oh but wait, my love started before then! This is actually terrible but my elementary school in Charlotte served Taco Bell on Tuesdays for a year and I would bring my $.80 for a chilito whenever I was allowed. Wow! Probably a good thing they didn’t keep Taco Bell Tuesdays for too long, otherwise I am not sure what kind of physical condition I may be in after weekly indulgences since age 8.

Side note: I have to say that from an advertising point of view, they have had some genius campaigns over the years. “Yo Quiero Taco Bell,” anyone remember that? Or “Think Outside the Bun?” Hmm I’m pretty impressed.

So, let’s get back on track. So over the past few years I would say I have kept my guilty drive through visits to a moderate level. Perhaps 3-5 times a year. But then something happened. The Doritos Nacho Cheese Taco happened. Are you kidding?? Did this just fall from heaven? And how did no one think of this before? The co-branding of Doritos and Taco Bell should have happened a long time ago. It happened for me on my way home from my friend Amy’s house one morning. Yes, morning. Not one of my proudest moments, but what can I say, those Taco Bells were ringing and I could not fight the resistance any longer.

 

 

Sucker for Taco Bell

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There are many things that I miss about living in the south. Real sweet tea might be one of the top 5 🙂

When I first moved here, I was shocked when I tried what I thought was going to be sweet tea.  Nestea? No. Raspberry Nestea? No! Iced tea with a handful of Splendas? No, thank you!

After exhausting my efforts of trying to find the beverage I longed for, I heard a McDonald’s commercial advertising southern “Sweet Tea!” Of course I was excited at first, but then I was skeptical. I have tried so many teas only to be let down time and time again. Plus, even though I was at the McDonald’s drive thru almost every week with my roommates during college, those days are over and I wasn’t sure I was ready to go back 😉

It didn’t take long until I found myself in that familiar path of the drive thru and ordering this proclaimed real deal.

I have to say, I have found it! My heart is complete again. I no longer have that void in my life. And I am strong enough to order the tea without a double cheeseburger every time! Success!

Southern Sweet Tea in the North

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I definitely procrastinated when it came to writing about this particular experience with this particular picture because I’ll admit, it’s a little embarrassing. HOWEVER, I’m here to provide all of my readers with some entertainment, insight on some various foods and remain open for discussion!

So, Baked by Melissa, a genius chain of mini cupcake stores had me in love at first sight. The moment I saw the store front on 7th Ave, I knew it was going to be good. (Side Bar- I absolutely LOVE the branding of the store: clean, simple, modern, only displaying what they need to…their brilliant mini cupcakes!!)

OK so this all started when I wanted to take something in to work around the holidays for my co workers. Instead of getting a bunch of individual gifts, I was trying to think of something fun I could bring in that everyone would enjoy. My mind first drifted to donuts (boring,) then cookies (so not original,) then TA DAH! It dawned on me this was the perfect opportunity to stop in this storefront that I had passed multiple times. Baked by Melissa! I think the reason I put it off for so long was because I know myself too well, and I knew that I would quickly become addicted.

Baked by Melissa is a bakery with the right idea. Instead of walking into a bakery and not being able to decide which dessert to buy, the owner, Melissa Bushell, came up with the idea of having a huge selection of stuffed cupcakes, a tiny bit larger than a quarter, that everyone will enjoy. The best part is, you can try as many as you want and still not have too much of a guilt trip since they are so small.  They have the classics such as red velvet and cookies ‘n’ cream, but the extraordinary flavors such as peanut butter fluff, smores and tie-dye are what really set this place apart from the rest. You cannot go in there and walk out with just one treat.

Let’s just say that these were a hit at work. I was so pleased with the pricing as well that I knew I would definitely be back in the near future.

Now, for the “embarrassing” portion of this entry. When I saw the tie dyed cupcakes, I immediately thought of my friend Amy. Hi Amy! When her birthday rolled around, I wanted to send her something in DC that was unique and obviously something she would enjoy. Well I had her card and I had one part of her gift, but the embarrassing thing is that my intentions were to try and mail her a dozen tie-dyed cupcakes.

They come in nice packaging and I thought for sure it would be secure enough to send for a birthday surprise. As I was in line at the post office, I was trying to shake it around a little to “test” the box to make sure they would all stay in place for their journey to DC. I was starting to panic as I approached the front of the line because I was quickly realizing my plan was not going to work. The real pressure was that it was already past her birthday AND my hour lunch break was almost over. These little desserts were certainly not going to stay in their places in the box, let alone look anything like what they are supposed to look like once the box was opened on the receiving end.

Amy, I’m sorry but I ended up eating half and sharing half with coworkers that day. I can admit to this now because I am making a promise to hand deliver some at the end of May when I come visit you 🙂

Go to Baked at Melissas before the end of the month to try the PEANUT BUTTER FLUFF cupcake: Brown Vanilla Cake, Marshmallow Fluff Stuffing and Peanut Butter Icing. DELISH!

Um yes please!

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I have said it before and I’ll say it again: damn! That is some good calamari!

Biggies is consistently at the top of my list of favorite restaurants. We have definitely featured their amazing Thai Calamari and always fresh Ahi Tuna Tacos before, but after another great experience there the other night, I felt it necessary to feature this MUST HAVE, once again!

What is your favorite appetizer at Biggies?

Thai Calamari Never Gets Old

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Today has just been one of those really wacky, weird days. Lots of curve balls, running around, non stop! Well, non stop until the fire alarm sounded as soon as I sat down for a weekly meeting.

Im sure every office is the same in the respect that when a fire alarm goes off, there is hesitation like, “do we really have to get up?,” or “do you think it’s real or just a test?” Well we did the same thing until we heard the announcement it was time for us to all head outside. First lesson quickly learned: change out of high heels before attempting to go down 17 flights of stairs. Wow!

So it’s really such a gorgeous day and it’s not bad waiting outside bit I quickly realized I left my gym bag at my desk and it didn’t seem as if we were going back in so that was my immediate justification of not going to the gym tonight. However, a group of us headed to lucys (after we were released for the day of course) and I realized summer is quickly approaching and I shouldn’t let myself out of going to the gym that easily.

After having an amazing margarita in the nice breeze, I headed back to see if they were letting us back into macys. I was lucky to get up to my desk, grab my stuff, including flat shoes and my gym stuff, in time to catch an early bus. So I thought…

To make a long story short, I decided to grab a bite before my spin class tonight and I’m so happy I stumbled upon Toyama Sushi I’ve been here before but never had their version of the Mexican roll- off the charts!!

Spicy tuna, shrimp tempura, avocado, jalapeño, yellow soy bean sheet with eel sauce. (now you can see why I have to drag myself to the gym) Anyway, I highly recommend this roll it is ah maze ing!!

Then I finished my meal off with green tea Mochi ice cream, just learned the name tonight, and I’m leaving extremely satisfied! I love spring, and sushi and getting out early! Now I’m pumped for my spin class, bring it on!

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Pleasantly surprised with this afternoon:)

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Every morning on my way to work as I would pass by the corner of 37th and 7th, I would wonder what the new restaurant they were working on was going to be. I anxiously awaited the day they would put a sign up on this new construction restaurant. Then one day, there it was. POTBELLY. Potbelly? Never heard of it! I had no idea how much I would learn to love Potbelly in such a short amount of time.

A love so strong that I have been there 3 times in the few months that it has been opened and yet I still have no picture to show for it. This is because I would eat my sandwich before I would remember to take a picture and then it is too late!

There are so many things to love about this sandwich shop. The environment alone is so chill and relaxing that it has become one of my favorite places to go for my lunch break. There is always an acoustic guitarist playing music which really makes it fun. They do a great job of taking your order and having your food to you very quickly. A lot of people go here to pick up lunch and head back to the office, but there is plenty of seating if you chose to stay.

My sandwich of choice is the roast beef on multigrain with melted provolone cheese, lettuce and tomato. They toast it just right and it really hits the spot. The prices are incredible for the quality of food.

Apparently, this chain has been around for quite some time and I was surprised to hear that a couple of different friends of mine, from DC area and Virginia had already fallen in love with Potbelly years ago 🙂 Go find the location closest to you and see for yourself!

New to me! Potbelly NYC

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I have been going to Fire and Oak for a couple of years now and I am always impressed with the creativity and variety on the menu. I have always loved the tuna flatbread and the sushi, but they also have tasty truffle fries and salads.

During my last visit they offered a specials menu that was new to me, including Tuna Tartar. Just look at it! It’s almost too pretty to eat. Almost:)

The dish is served with fresh tuna, scallions, caviar, cucumbers, sweet soy sauce and some type of spicy mayonnaise sauce artistically drizzled over the dish.

It was aesthetically and tastefully created to perfection.

Elegant Tuna Tartar at Fire & Oak

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This title comes from the fact that I have had  the song “International Love” stuck in my head all night and only found it fitting for this post. I don’t really listen to the radio anymore since I commute to the city for work and the few times I do get into my car and have a chance to listen to the radio, there is always a new song that I can’t believe I haven’t heard yet. In this case, it was International Love. Don’t even know who it is by. Chris Brown? Neo? lol just kidding but trying to prove a point I am out of the loop when it comes to pop music these days.

Sorry for the rambling…back to what we are here to discuss, FOOD!

I love working close to so many of my friends. I also love working so close to so many different types of restaurants, not only scenery wise but the variety of food within a 10 minute walk is amazing. I am a lucky girl.

One day last week, Rachel and I had a lunch date scheduled and no plan on where to go. This is one of those situations where I told her I was up for anything, then she suggested an Indian food place not too far, and I was immediately like “why didn’t I suggest something like the Bread Factory or Hale and Hearty, the usuals.” Now don’t get me wrong. It is not like I do not like Indian food. And, I am not a hypocrite, I really do love trying new things. I have no real reason as to why it has taken me this long to try the Indian cuisine. “Sure!” was my response to Rachel’s text and I couldn’t be happier with that decision!

We went to Minar on 31st st and Broadway- it is a small Indian restaurant where a lot of people seem to order ahead and take it to go back to work. I’m glad they have a nice seating area too so we had time to take a break from our busy day and also catch up with each other. My friend Alex has been on an Indian Food kick the past year or so, so I was sure to ask her for a suggestion before I got there so I would know what to order 🙂 Good thing I did and good thing Al knows her stuff because the food was kicking. Funny thing is, Alex’s suggestion is what Rachel ordered the last time she was there so it was a sign it was meant to be.

So…what is this mystery food I speak of? Chicken Tikka with Naan bread. Wonderful. Not too spicy like I expected and the flavors were like nothing I had tasted before. It was a LOT of food and we know for next time that we can probably share the bread and rice but I was in heaven. I don’ t think I had been that full in a while!

I don’t know enough about Indian food to know if Chicken Tikka is like the “California Roll of Sushi” but I am willing to go back and try other dishes as well. Bring it on Minar!

International Love

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