Lawrence, KS: Mighty Tasty Tex-Mex … And Reasonable Too!


Mighty Tamales
1801 Massachusetts St
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone number: (785) 218-6948
Prices: $$$$
We stopped by on a whim after learning of the existence of this new Mexican eatery on the LFK for DUMMIES Facebook page. 

Located in the VFW Post building across from the Dillons supermarket on Mass Street, the owners, Justin and Kristy, opened this location after outgrowing their popular tamale delivery business.


The menu is limited for the time being, including pork and chicken tamale dishes as well as roasted, stuffed Poblano peppers that are TO DIE FOR. They offer rice and beans as well as daily specials (street tacos, enchiladas, quesadillas, and so on), but word has it that their menu will soon be expanding to include guacamole and more traditional Tex-Mex entrees. The adjacent VFW bar has a full assortment of drinks, beer, and wine to accompany your meal.

Their prices are extremely reasonable and I felt a bit guilty for paying so little for such an abundance of delicious, quality, well seasoned food. They could probably raise their prices a couple bucks per dish and still offer an exceptional value.

I will return soon to try their new menu and update my readers in more detail as this new restaurant grows and flourishes.

CombatCritic Gives Mighty Tamales An Initial And Very Solid 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Read Chris S.‘s review of Mighty Tamales on Yelp
https://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.js
Mighty Tamales Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mighty TamalesMighty Tamales

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Lawrence, KS: Mighty Tasty Tex-Mex … And Reasonable Too!

Key Words: Lawrence, Mighty Tamales, Tex-Mex, Mexican, University of Kansas, KU, Kansas, University, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”


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Bentonville, AR: Fred’s Is Still Good, But Needs Improvement


Fred’s Hickory Inn

1502 N. Walton Blvd
Bentonville, AR 72712
Phone number (479) 273-3303
I reviewed Fred’s last autumn and gave them fairly high marks. We returned for our Spring 2016 golf outing and to Fred’s, where we eat two nights in a row every trip as stipulated by the event dictators, I mean organizers. Anywho, these two visits were a bit different. On a Friday and Saturday night, when Fred’s should have been packed to the gills as they were in the Spring, you could shoot a cannon through the place without hitting a soul.
Katlin, our server both nights, was superb. Friendly, efficient, and from Chicago, she went above and beyond with one exception (to follow). I had the lasagna again on night one, coming with a side salad which was small, but fresh with romaine and a couple cherry tomato halves with bleu cheese dressing on the side, that was it, plain, simple and underwhelming. The lasagna was as good and bigger than I remember. A few of my buddies ordered it on night two after seeing mine and inquiring about the quality, all raving about the great size and flavor.
The problem arose on night two with my order of Grilled Chicken ($14). Coming with a side of my choice, I chose spaghetti Bolognese once again because someone on night one had said how good it was and had to see for myself if it was better than 4 months earlier. It was not. First, the grilled chicken consisted of a single half of a breast for $14, not a (full) “breast” as the menu indicated. It was small, overwhelmed by the side dish, but grilled well, tender and tasty. The Bolognese sauce had not been sitting in a warmer for hours as it had last time and it was fresh, but it was not like any Bolognese I have ever had. There was little if any ground beef to be found and I was not the only one to notice it. Big chunks of tomato, little seasoning, no milk or pancetta (bacon) and very little meat, not a traditional Bolognese (my Italian mother-in-law who lives in Naples, Italy calls it “Ragu”), not even close.
When we brought our disappointment to Katlin’s attention, she quickly ran to the back to get us more of the meatless sauce, but that did not help and even after sharing our dismay with the quality of the extra sauce, all that she said was “they didn’t use much meat today I guess”. That was an understatement. For a large group that eats at Fred’s four times a year, spending close to $4000.00 on food and drink and tipping very, very well, I would think there would have been an apology and possibly an offer of a complimentary dessert or some other form of remorse. There was not.
Again, nice place, decent prices, good food, although a very limited menu, and very good service. Katlin was big hit with the boys and I am sure she made out quite well in the tip department. The general manager recognized me from our last visit (and review), but never stopped by to greet us, ask how our meals were or apologize for the terrible Bolognese, which I found a bit odd, particularly for a group that drops $600 to $1,000 per visit.

CombatCritic Downgrades Fred’s Hickory Inn To 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better! 

Six Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!

Read Chris S.‘s review of Fred’s Hickory Inn on Yelphttps://www.yelp.com/embed/widgets.js

Title: Bentonville, AR: Fred’s Is Still Good, But Needs Improvement

Key Words: Fred’s Hickory Inn, Fred’s, Fred, hickory, inn, Bentonville, Arkansas, Bella Vista, bella, vista, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”


Lawrence, KS: Pizza Shuttle Stands For ZERO INTEGRITY And Earns A Spot On My "WALL OF SHAME"


Pizza Shuttle
1601 W. 23rd Street
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 842-1212
I will not waste my time reviewing a business that totally lacks integrity, so I will ignore the food, delivery, etc. at Pizza Shuttle and focus only on the matter at hand … fraudulent business practices.

I ordered two 14″ one-topping pizzas online from Pizza Shuttle (through Eat Street – where I was automatically directed) at a price of $15.18 (including $1.38 for extra cheese on my pizza). 

My wife is allergic to tomatoes, so I asked for olive oil on her pizza instead of tomato sauce, a request that every pizza place we have ever ordered from has gladly and “free”ly complied with. With tax at $1.45 and delivery at $1.50, the total came to $18.13 as you can see on my receipt and order confirmations (online and email) below.

As you can clearly see, the online and email confirmations listed a total of $18.13 including tax and delivery, but when the Pizza Shuttle driver arrived he stated the total was $22.25, an additional $4.07 “due to my wife being allergic to tomatoes and substituting olive oil for tomato sauce”. Nobody bothered calling to inform us of the ridiculous $4+ upcharge and when the driver called the manager to confirm the discrepancy, the manager merely stated “that’s the way it is, it’s Eat Street’s problem, not ours”. 
I paid the driver the extra $4.07 (because it was not his fault and he does not get paid enough to argue with irate customers) and tipped him an additional $1.75, stating “your tip would have been much larger if your manager wasn’t such an a**hole. Tell him to read my review on combatcritic.com and on Yelp … it won’t be pretty!”

Never again, Pizza Shuttle or Eat Street, once and I am done. 

CombatCritic Gives Pizza Shuttle And Eat Street 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME FOR ZERO INTEGRITY … Nuff Said!

One Bomb Equates To:
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!

Pizza Shuttle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato








Title: Lawrence, KS: Pizza Shuttle Stands For ZERO INTEGRITY And Earns A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME”

Key Words: Pizza Shuttle, pizza, shuttle, delivery, fraud, EatStreet, eatstreet.com, Lawrence, Kansas, 23rd, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Lawrence, KS: Great Idea, So-So Execution


Pie Five
2500 Iowa St
Lawrence, KS 66046
Phone: (785) 551-7170
Prices $$$$
Had to try Pie Five because I had never heard of it and it looked interesting. Great idea, so-so execution. Skimpy with the “all you want” ingredients and small (10″) pizzas for $7.50, about the size of my outstretched hand.

For an extra $3, I got a salad which was decent, but also skimpy on the carrots, onions and tomatoes, and a drink. You can get dessert or cheesy breadsticks ($1 extra) instead of salad if you like.

It’s a cheap meal, but don’t expect to be too impressed by the quality or quantity. As my Italian grandma would say, it was “mezzo-mezzo” (so-so).

CombatCritic Gives Pie Five 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:


“Continue Mission”


Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube
Pie Five Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic
View my food journey on Zomato!



Title: Lawrence, KS: Great Idea, So-So Execution

Key Words: Pie Five, pie, five, 5 pizza, pizzeria, fast, food, Lawrence, Kansas, Iowa, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Kansas City, MO: Pretentious, Rushed, Cold, Dark, Cramped, Pricey – Garozzo’s Was Mezzo Mezzo (So-S0)


Garozzo’s Ristorante 
(Downtown)

526 Harrison Street
Kansas City, MO 64106
Phone: (816) 221-2455
Website: garozzos.com
Prices: $$$$


First, let me apologize for the quality of the photos in this post. Garozzo’s is so dark there was not enough light to take a photo without a flash or the external light source I normally use and I did not want to disturb our fellow diners so that I could take a decent photo … sorry!

We have been to Garozzo’s several times, but this was the first in about four years and since I started this blog. The food was always good, a bit pricey, but solid Italian food in a nice, but too dark and pretentious atmosphere. I say pretentious because the food screams “mom and pop” Italian restaurant, not upscale, fancy shmancy with servers (mostly waiters) dressed to the nines and with attitudes to match. 
This visit was no different. Good food, a room too dark to read the menu, a table too small to hold our food and drinks, and a waiter that was courteous, but all business, and a bit too eager to get rid of us and earn some extra tips. When you drop a C-note for dinner for two, you should not be rushed through your meal. We were.

I will not use the server’s name, but we were quickly welcomed, being the first diners at 5:30pm on a Tuesday after attending the closing for the sale of our home and celebrating with a nice dinner out. My wife and I were talking, but the server seemed eager to take our order, interrupting our conversation to ask what we wanted to drink. I asked for water and a bottle of their house cabernet sauvignon ($24).

After bringing our drinks, again interrupting our conversation, I ordered a stuffed artichoke as an appetizer (antipasto) and for entrees my wife requested the Tortelloni Gina and I the Veal Parmigiana. I asked the server if the dinners came with salad and pasta (in my case) as I seemed to remember salad coming with the entrees the last time we were there. I was either wrong or they had changed their policies because the server told me that a salad was “an additional $4”. The veal did come with a “small serving of pasta with Maggie’s Sugo” I was told.

My wife and I returned to our conversation, but about five minutes later I realized that we had not ordered our salads, my mistake, so I asked my wife to get our server’s attention, which she quickly did. I said, “I’m sorry, but we forgot to order salads”, to which he replied, “well, I already put you dinner orders in, but I can take care of that with the kitchen”. My wife ordered the Insalata Caesar ($4) and I the Insalata Santa Teresa ($4).

The cabernet was actually quite good, from a California winery they prominently feature on their wine list. The artichoke ($10), stuffed with seasoned breadcrumbs, steamed, and topped with garlic butter, quickly arrived and we dug right in. My grandmother used to make similar stuffed artichokes, except she used olive oil instead of butter and added small chunks of salami, but these were very good with tasty stuffing and large tender leaves. We were not even halfway through eating our artichoke when our server arrived with our salads. As a former waiter myself, there is nothing that pisses me off more than a server who brings the next course when we have not even finished the last, but I bit my tongue because it really did not matter that much because the salads were not going to get cold while sitting on the table, which they did for another 10-15 minutes while we finished our antipasto. The table, by the way, was so small (like all of the tables for two) that the server had difficulty finding space for our premature salads.


My wife then started eating her Caesar salad, waiting for her favorite part, the heart, while I polished off the last few leaves of the artichoke. She finished her salad, which she said was “nothing special”, in the interim and I, after the server cleared a few plates, then started eating mine. About halfway through my salad, which was good, with Romaine lettuce, red onion, chunks of goat cheese, Dijon vinaigrette, and topped with sliced roasted red peppers, but unremarkable, the server arrived with my wife’s Tortelloni Gina. That was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, so I asked our server: “Are we in a hurry?”, to which he replied, “oh, I’m sorry, let me take that away”. I proceeded to finish my salad.
Hovering, waiting for me to finish, when the server saw my salad plate was empty, he quickly swept the plate away and returned a few minutes later with our entrees. My wife’s Tortelloni Gina ($19) was filled with chicken and prosciutto, and served in a very traditional creamy Alfredo sauce with mushrooms and peas. It was hot, very large, extremely rich, and my wife, who was born in Italy, enjoyed it very much. Bravo! The server had tried to sway me away from the Veal Parmigiano (veal parmesan to you Olive Garden lovers), recommending the Vitello Spiedini Sophia Marie ($27) instead. Because I have had every other veal dish at Garozzo’s, including the veal Sophia Maria and Saltimbocca ($27), which are both excellent by the way, I wanted to try the Vitello Parmigiana ($24), my failsafe in Italian restaurants and a good indicator of the quality of an Italian-American kitchen (you will not find veal parmigiano in Italy unless the restaurant caters to Americans).
The veal was lukewarm at best, with three very small medallions topped with the house red sauce and fontina cheese, a bit odd as “parmigiana” is usually topped with mozzarella, baked or broiled, and sprinkled with parmigiana (parmesan cheese), hence the name. The sauce was very good in comparison to most stateside Italian restaurants, but the dish would have been much better had it been served hot, warm even, and with a bit more veal. The accompanying pasta was negligible and obviously came out of a bag or box. At $24 for just an entree, $30 including salad, it would have been a poor value, even if it had been served at the appropriate temperature.

I understand that it was my mistake, asking for salads five minutes after our order was taken, but our server said he would “take care of it”, as he should have. There is no excuse for bringing multiple or mixed courses, particularly in an “upscale” restaurant such as Garozzo’s. There is also no excuse for serving a $24 veal dish cold, no matter what the circumstances.

I like the place in general, but Garozzo’s would be much better if they dropped the pretenses, brought up the lights, bought some bigger tables, and lowered the prices a tad. I also believe that customers should NEVER be rushed, especially when they are paying $50 a head and up for a meal.

CombatCritic Gives Garozzo’s Ristorante 5 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Unprofessional Service, Cold Food, Darkness, Small Tables, And Questionable Value … More Bombs Are Better!

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Garozzo's Ristorante Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Kansas City, MO: Pretentious, Rushed, Cold, Dark, Cramped, Pricey – Garozzo’s Was Mezzo Mezzo (So-S0)

Key Words: Garozzo’s, Garozzo, Italian, Kansas City, Kansas, city, Missouri, CombatCritic, Italy, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, ristorante, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass


Baan Thai

741 Massachusetts Street
Lawrence, KS 66044
Phone: (785) 856-8424
Website: baanthaikansas.com/lawrence


With a love for Thai food, I had high expectations after reading the rave reviews, particularly by my friend Scott T. on Yelp who (normally) has very similar opinions as mine when it comes to food.

In the middle of downtown Mass Street (as residents of LFK call it), I had stopped by Baan Thai for a look once before and the menu seemed appetizing and reasonable, but the decor put me off as it did on this our first visit. With cement floors, orange plastic-backed chairs (which, by the way, possibly acrylic and not cheap), and little decor, the inside is not warm and inviting, at least to my taste.

Josh, our server, was very nice, efficient and professional, but the dishes came out one at a time. Josh said it was because they are “made to order”, but are most decent restaurants making food to order, bringing appetizers out together and entrees all at the same time?

First, the Pot Stickers (6 for $4.95) came out. The pork, cabbage, and onion dumplings were deep-fried and served with a soy-based dipping sauce. They were good, but were more dumpling than filling. We waited for 10-15 minutes for our Chicken Satay (4 for $6.95) to arrive, so when Josh asked me a question about my entree, I inquired about our second appetizer. He scurried to the kitchen with little explanation and after another ten minutes, our satay finally arrived. The marinated skewers of charbroiled chicken were accompanied by the traditional peanut sauce and cucumber salad, and were also pretty good, but both were overpriced by about a buck and would have been much better together as I like to dip my pot stickers in the soy AND peanut sauce.

My wife’s Pad See-Ew ($9.95) was next to arrive. The rice noodles were stir fried with egg and broccoli with enough spices to make the dish tasty without being too hot as my spouse cannot tolerate food that is too spicy, a pitfall of most Italians. She loved it and it was plentiful, but eggs, noodles, and broccoli are not a good combination in my book.
My Gang Massaman Curry ($11.75) arrived 5-7 minutes later. Massaman curry is one of my favorites and I have had it at many Thai restaurants. This was far from the best I have had although the curry was flavorful. The coconut milk based curry, traditionally simmered with beef, was not nearly as thick (a bit on the watery side) as any other I have had and the potatoes were not cooked quite enough. When Josh had come out to ask me about my entree earlier, he had asked if I minded having “sliced” beef rather than “boiled” beef, assuming that he meant that the beef had not been simmering for 60-90 minutes in the curry sauce as should be the case. Even though I agreed, the sliced beef was plentiful enough, but was a tad on the chewy side, not tough or grisly, but not as tender as it should have been. The yellow onions were tender, but the boiled peanuts were a also bit too raw.

My wife and I were both excessively thirsty later that evening and I had stomach cramps, a potential sign of MSG being used. I later checked their website and menu and there was not a claim of “No MSG” that I could find, so it you have a sensitivity to it, I would definitely ask in advance of ordering. I am not saying that they use MSG, but our symptoms were consistent with ingestion of the additive/flavor enhancer, so if they do not use it, they should say so on the menu.

Our meal was good, not great, the prices fair, the servings generous, and the service efficient, but compared to other Thai/Asian Fusion restaurants, including Zen Zero just up the street, this one was very “middle of the road”.

CombatCritic Gives Baan Thai A Very Average 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Baan Thai Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Title: Lawrence, Kansas: Middle Of The Road Thai On Mass

Key Words: Baan Thai, baan, Thai, Thailand, curry, Lawrence, Kansas, Mass, Massachusetts, street, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Gresham, OR: Relatively Hoppy With This Burger And Brew Experience


The Local Cow
336 N. Main Street
Gresham, OR 97030
Phone: (503) 489-5116
The Hoppy Brewer
328 N. Main Street
Gresham, OR 97030
Phone: (503) 328-8474
Good burgers and fries with a brewhouse nextdoor. What more can you ask for? Sit on the patio between the two and have a Local Cow burger and fries and a couple craft beers from the Hoppy Brewer … HOOAH!
I had a cheeseburger ($7.50) with bacon ($2) and sauteed onions ($1) for a total of $10.50. It came with fries which were paltry and uninspiring. My friends had a burger and Mount Hood Wedge ($9) and we got some beers from the adjacent Hoppy Brewer.
My burger was good, but at 1/3 pound, not particularly overwhelming and the fries were few and far between, closer to a garnish than a side. $9 for a wedge of iceberg lettuce with some cherry tomatoes, bacon bits, and balsamic vinaigrette was a tad excessive and would have been a much better value in the $5 range.
The Hoppy Brewer had some nice drafts, but the Porter from the fridge at less than $5 a pint was awesome and $5 well spent. They were knowledgable and helpful, delivering quality brews at reasonable prices. The brews from the Hoppy Brewer sealed the deal, otherwise this would have been a 5 or 6 bomb experience.
CombatCritic Gives The Local Cow And Hoppy Brewer 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

“Shits & Grins”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

The Local Cow Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!













Title: Gresham, OR: Relatively Hoppy With This Burger And Brew Experience

Key Words: Local Cow, local, cow, Hoppy Brewer, hoppy , brewer, beer, hamburger, Gresham, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits and Grins”

Eureka, CA: Good, Authentic, Mexican Food In A Mall Food Court … Go Figure


Los Gallos Taqueria

3300 Broadway Street, Suite 612
Bayshore Mall Foodcourt
Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: (707) 443-4631
Prices: $$$$


Good, authentic, reasonably priced  Mexican food in a mall food court. Go figure.

I had difficulty finding this place until I realized that it was in the Bayshore Mall food court. As you are looking at the front of the mall, the food court is inside the glassed-in area between the middle and left end of the mall. You will find Los Gallos immediately straight ahead on the right.

Wanting to sample a variety of Mexican staples, I ordered the guacamole and chips  ($3.75), a carne asada and a carnitas taco with cheese ($2.50 each), and a cheese and onion enchilada ($2.50) ala carte. The guacamole was fair at best, obviously from Sysco or cut with yogurt or sour cream and with too many tomatoes which are cheaper than avocados, a trick many restaurants use to same money.

The tacos were authentic and tasty with two medium size soft corn tortillas each, sliced grilled steak/pork, onion, cilantro, salsa and cheese (actually, cheese is not authentic on tacos, but I like it) with plenty of meat. The enchilada was also very good with a zesty red chili sauce, with plenty of cheese and diced onion.

For under $12, I ate very well and, with the exception of the guacamole, the food was good, not great, and plentiful. I am always amazed that most Mexican restaurants cannot seem to make a decent guacamole because it is very simple to make and at 50¢ to $1 per avocado, the profit margin is still 300-400% using only avocadoes and no fillers. See my post for an excellent guacamole recipe!

CombatCritic Gives Los Gallos Taqueria 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Los Gallos Taqueria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato







Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Eureka, CA: Good, Authentic, Mexican Food In A Mall Food Court … Go Figure

Key Words: Los Gallos Taqueria, los, gallos, taqueria, taco, tacos, Bayshore, Eureka, California, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Eureka, CA: If You Are Hungry And Want Italian, Marcelli’s Is The Place For You


Marcelli’s Ravioli & Sausage Factory

1323 5th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: (707) 442-1213
Prices: $$$$

If you are hungry, you will not be when you leave Marcelli’s. The prices looked a bit high at first glance, but once the food started arriving, I understood why. My $15.95 Ravioli included not one, but FIVE courses: antipasto, soup, salad, entree with garlic bread, and dessert.

They have been in the same building for over 80 years, handed down from generation to generation. The interior has a classic 1950’s diner look with a cheesy Italian flare. The place must have had a lunch counter originally because, although still there, it now serves as their bar.
My young server was very friendly and attentive, happily answering questions and ensuring my next course came out as soon as I was done with the last. As I mentioned, I had the Ravioli dinner with an equal mixture of beef, cheese, and spinach ravioli, 12 in all and handmade on-site.
But first, I was brought a small antipasto with two fried beef ravioli, two slices of salami, a Tuscan pepper, a baby carrot, and a slice of celery. It seemed rather sparse, but I still was not aware that there were four more courses to come, so that was probably a good thing. It seemed odd that a basket of bread did not accompany the appetizer, so I asked if I could get some bread. After a surprised look, as if nobody had ever asked for bread before, she asked if I wanted it toasted or not and went in the back. What she brought me was a slice of thick, white bread, the kind they make Texas toast with. All righty then!

Next came the soup, then the salad. The bowl of soup was actually quite big and tasty, not needing extra seasoning as is the case at most places. The salad came out of a bag (see recommendations below), but was fresh and the bleu cheese dressing was very good, homemade I was told, by one of the owners.
The ravioli were good, but on the small side with much more pasta than filling. The Bolognese sauce looked more like a meat gravy (it looked browner than it does in the photo above), but it was tasty nonetheless. The accompanying garlic bread came out of the same bag as my untoasted Texas toast, but it was also well done considering. The serving size would have been disappointing had I not had an appetizer, bowl of soup and a salad beforehand, but at $6.99 for the ala carte version, it would appear a little lean.
I was stuffed! Then my server asked me what kind of ice cream I wanted. Ice cream too? Yes, chocolate, vanilla, and spumoni as a matter of fact. I decided to go all in and ordered the spumoni, which was actually quite good, not tasting like it came out of a gallon container, which it likely did.


In all, I was somewhat hesitant at first after perusing the menu and seeing the prices as well as the noticeable lack of clientele, but I am glad I stuck around. Far from the best (or worst) Italian food I have had, my meal was pretty damn good and a good value.

Recommendations: 
  1. Serve a decent baguette-style bread, in a basket, with meals
  2. A very small serving of marinara sauce or dressing should accompany the appetizer as the fried ravioli were a bit dry
  3.  Put a door on the kitchen so guests cannot hear your conversations and see you taking the salad out of a bag
  4. Make the ravioli a little bigger, roll the dough a little thinner and increase the fillings a tad, even if you need to charge a little more
  5. Let people know on the menu that dinners also come with dessert and stress the fact that they will be getting a FIVE-COURSE meal
  6. Join the 21st Century and get a website, even a simple one, and a Facebook page at the very least. People these days want to see your menu, hours, and some photos before committing to a meal. And for God’s sake, DO NOT use a Facebook page as your website like a lot of businesses do. It does not convey a professional image.
CombatCritic Gives Marcelli’s Ravioli & Sausage Factory 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Menu

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

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Title: Eureka, CA: If You Are Hungry And Want Italian, Marcelli’s Is The Place For You

Key Words: Marcelli’s Ravioli & Sausage Factory, Marcelli’s, Marcelli, ravioli, sausage, factory, Eureka, CA< California, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians:  S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Yachats, OR: Her Name May Be Swiss, But Heidi Can Cook Italian … BRAVO!


Heidi’s Italian Dinners
84 Beach Street
Yachats, OR 97498
Phone: (541) 547-4409
Facebook Page: Heidi’s Italian Dinners

Prices: $$$$

Not a rousing welcome to begin with, I’ll spare you the details, but the evening rallied on and I was a fan by night’s end. Heidi’s is a cute, but somewhat nondescript building inside with a nice garden that happens to overlook the Yachats River Estuary, adjoining the massive and majestic Pacific Ocean.

I stopped by on Tuesday, but they were closed, seeing a woman I suspected was Heidi watering the plants, She was friendly and helpful, but obviously had better things to do than chat with me. I made a reservation for the following evening.

I had a table next to the window with a partial view of the estuary and ocean less than 100 yards away. Everyone was friendly enough, but matter of fact with little interaction. I ordered the Caesar Salad ($4) the Lasagna ($17), and a bottle of local IPA ($4.50).
The Caesar was proceeded by an array of garlic bread slices and grilled polenta on which to nosh. The salad was of medium size and well done with three croutons scattered about. I saved some of the polenta and garlic bread, utilizing it on the salad and adding a bit of texture to the dish once the croutons were toast.
The lasagna was the coup de grâce. Heidi obviously comes from Italian descent because this was as good as any homemade lasagna I have had, including my mom’s (sorry mom) and my grandma’s among several others. When there is no need to add grated parmigiana (parmesan to Americans) to a pasta dish, it is properly made. Not large for the $17 price tag by any stretch, even though delicious, it would have been a better value in the $10-$13 range (taking the location and view into account) or $14-$17 if the salad were included.


CombatCritic Gives Heidi’s Italian Dinners 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … Mor eBombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Heidi’s Italian Dinners
Heidi's Italian Dinners
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:


Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Title: Yachats, OR: Her Name May Be Swiss, But Heidi Can Cook Italian … BRAVO!

Key Words: Heidi’s Italian Dinners, Heidi, Heidi’s, Italian, dinners, Yachats, OR, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, lasagna, pasta, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”


Portland, OR: I Adore Bargains And French Food, So I Loved Chez Machin!


Chez Machin

3553 SE Hawthorne Blvd
Portland, OR 97214
Southeast Portland – Hawthorne, Sunnyside
Phone: (503) 736-9381
Website: chezmachin.com
Prices: $$$$


Chex Machin is a small place in the Hawthorne neighborhood of Portland, my two friends and I were the only diners at 5pm on a Sunday so we got all of the attention we required even if it was unenthusiastic.
Happy Hour runs from 3 to 6pm with a $3 cup of French Onion Soup, $6 Escargots and $5 Off bottles of wine. We got two orders of escargot, a cup of soup and a bottle each of a red Bordeaux and a white Riesling ($23 each after discount). We also ordered a Brie en Croûte ($9.95) off of the main menu as well as a Salade Lyonnaise ($9.95). The escargots were tender and full of buttery, garlicky goodness, but the server seemed to be hoarding the bread, bringing out tiny soup cups with 4-5 thin, small slices of baguette at a time. The brie, in puff pastry, was served with a berry compote and was tasty, but a bit underwhelming for the $10 price tag. The onion soup was good, but not the best I have had with more bread than cheese and the Lyonnaise salad scrummy with a poached egg on top of lettuce, crispy slab bacon, and croutons. 

We decided to order three different entrees in order to taste a bit of each. I had the Boeuf Bourguignon ($15.95) and my friends ordered the Steak Marchand de Vin ($24.95) and Chicken Cordon Bleu ($15.95). The chicken and steak came with green beans, but mine came solo although I did get a Salad Maison ($3) off the Happy Hour menu that was very good. The 10 ounce flatiron steak was tender, cooked a perfect medium, and served with a delicate burgundy cream sauce as well as au gratin potatoes and sautéed green beans. The cordon bleu was also very nicely done and the dijon cream sauce was the perfect accompaniment.

The waiter was efficient enough given that fact that we were his only table, but a bit stuffy for such a relaxed, casual bistro. The three of us ate and drank very well for the $141, plus tip, I paid for dinner. Oops, I forgot to tip the waiter … just kidding! He was rewarded handsomely even if he was lacking a personality, giving him the benefit of the doubt considering that he was young and probably had a long Saturday night.

CombatCritic Gives Chez Machin 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … They Would Have Received My Top Score Had The Waiter Been Slightly Friendly … More Bombs Are Better!
Nine Bombs Equates To:



Chez Machin
Chez Machin
Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Title: Portland, OR: I Adore Bargains And French Food, So I Loved Chez Machin!

Key Words:  Portland, OR, Oregon, French, Chez Machin, chez, machin, escargot, Hawthorne, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH! = “U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Yachats, OR: Drift Inn And Try To Find The Front Desk Or Someone Who Cares … Good Luck!


Drift Inn
124 Hwy 101 North
Yachats, OR 97498
Phone: (541) 547-4477
Prices: $$$$
I found the place on Airbnb and the price was right at $50 per night, but the room was the size of a large closet and the reception I received upon arrival and in the restaurant’s bar was inadequate.

There is no reception for the hotel, so I had to find a server in the restaurant to show me to my room. It was small, but semi-functional with a queen size bed (that took up most of the room), a TV and DVD player, and a small table and folding chairs. When a single chair was unfolded, it was impossible to move or store anything in the room except for under the bed (which I did).

The reservation said “bed and breakfast”, but when I inquired with Gretchen, who I assumed was one of the owners/managers, she said “it was a mistake”, but grudgingly giving me a coupon for coffee and a muffin for ONE of the three mornings I was staying there.

The food in the restaurant was overpriced and the bartender (and co-owner), Ernie, was a rude jerk. Required to sit at the bar even though tables were available (because I was alone I guess), I tried to make conversation and ask a question about the local draft beers to Ernie, but he was either too busy or too important to respond. The guy is a bit of an ass**** and the food was mediocre, so I do not understand why they are so busy. Must be Ernie’s jovial personality!

I stopped for a beer on my way back to the room after eating at Heidi’s Italian Dinners (where the food was good and the reception friendly BTW) one evening around 9:15PM and after being there for about a half hour (it was 9:45PM) I asked for a final draft beer before going to my room, but was told rather rudely by Ernie that they closed at 9:30 and it would not be possible. No “last call”, a crappy attitude, and a bar that closes at 9:30pm … what kind of place are they running?

In all, it was a cheap, very small place to stay, but they obviously do not care about hotel (and I use that term loosely) guests, focusing on keeping locals happy and drunk. Yachats was a quiet, lovely, small town and I had much warmer receptions at other bars and restaurants nearby where I spent most of my leisure time and money.

Combat Recommendation: Call Gordon Ramsey and have Hotel Hell come and give you some tips on how to properly run a hotel, restaurant and bar.

CombatCritic Gives Drift Inn 3 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Three Bombs Equates To:

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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Yachats, OR: Drift Inn And Try To Find The Front Desk Or Someone Who Cares … Good Luck!

Key Words: Drift Inn, drift, Inn, Airbnb, in, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, bar, Yachats, Oregon, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: SNAFU = “Situation Normal, All Fucked Up”

Eureka, CA: La Patria Means "Homeland" And Boy Is It Nice To Be Home Again!


La Patria Mariscos & Grill Restaurant

1718 4th Street
Eureka, CA 95501
Phone: (707) 407-3848

FINALLY, after 8 years of mediocre Midwest Mexican food, I found a real Mexican restaurant and I had to return to California to find it!
La Patria is unassuming and simple with 8-10 tables, one waitress, one cook, and great food. As soon as I sat down, a small (complimentary) bowl of refried beans topped with cheese arrived along with freshly made chips and both red and green homemade salsas. Draft beer is $3.50 and an order of guacamole is $3.95.

They have everything you would expect, including carnitas, carne asada, fajitas, tacos, rellenos, enchiladas, tostadas, burritos, tamales and so on, but they had a few things I had not seen before in 59 years of loving Mexican food. Gorditas and sopes, both coming in a baked masa (corn meal) enclosure, the gorditas more like a round sandwich and the sopes similar to a tart pastry shell. Both are filled with refried beans, cheese, guacamole, lettuce, tomato, and your choice of meat (carne asada, carnitas, shredded or ground beef, and chicken among others – fish, shrimp, lamb and goat are $2 more). 
For $10.49 you get your choice of a soft taco, crispy taco, super taco, enchilada, chili relleno, tamale, burrito, tostada, gordita, or sope (choose any two – any meat) with rice and beans. I had a super taco (a large, fried flour tortilla filled with shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, cheese and guacamole) and a gordita with carnitas. The super taco shell was a bit greasy, not surprising as flour tortillas do not deep fry quite as well as corn, but it was massive, filling and delicious. The gordita was excellent, not greasy at all with the crispy masa halves filled with carnitas and the other yummy ingredients.
The place is simple, the service excellent, the food delicious, and the prices very reasonable. What more can you ask for in a Mexican restaurant … FINALLY!

CombatCritic Gives La Patria Mariscos & Grill Restaurant 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:
“U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


MENU


Title: Eureka, CA: La Patria Means “Homeland” And Boy Is It Nice To Be Home Again!


Key Words: La Patria Mariscos And Grill, La Patria, la, patria, Eureka, California, CA, Mexican, 4th, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Portland, OR: Do Not Miss This Swiss Delight In The Quaint Northeast Alberta Neighborhhod


Swiss Hibiscus

4950 NE 14th Avenue
Portland, OR 97211
Northeast Portland, King
Phone: (503) 477-9224
Website: swisshibiscus.com
Prices: $$$$

Located in the up-and-coming, trendy Alberta neighborhood of Northeast Portland, I was surprised by Swiss Hibiscus’ appearance, expecting an older chalet-style building adorned with flower boxes and Swiss flags, but it is housed in a small modern, multi-purpose building a half block off of the main Alberta Street drag on 14th. The restaurant is small with only six or so tables inside (seating around 25) and another three or four outside (if the Portland weather cooperates), bringing the maximum seating to around 40 diners. A reservation is a must during prime hours and can be made by calling the number above.

We started with the Swiss Fondue ($24) shared among three of us and there was plenty to go around. A blend of Swiss cheeses, white wine, and kirschwasser (a clear German cherry brandy), heated in a traditional fondue pot and served with plenty of chunky French bread pieces. It was a bit pricey, but delicious and as good as any fondue I have had.
For entrees, my friend’s wife had the Emince Zurichoise ($14.50), thin slices of pork sautéed in a mushroom cream sauce reminiscent of Zurich and accompanied by handmade spätzle. Each entree was preceded by a cup of soup de jour (a creamy potato leek) or house salad with their signature dressing and their crusty, piping hot French bread.

My friend Mike ordered the special of the day, Chicken Valaisanne ($17.50), two chicken breast halves smothered with sauteed tomatoes and onions and melted raclette cheese perched atop a bed of spinach and accompanies by their famous rösti, crispy Swiss hash browns infused with bacon and onions … YUM!

I had the traditional Wienerschnitzel ($14.50), breaded pork cutlets sautéed in and topped with browned butter. I ordered a side of the Zurichoise mushroom cream sauce ($2) for my schnitzel and rösti, a wise choice because it made for a perfect combination similar to the Rahmschnitzel sauce I have enjoyed in Germany on many occasions. The cutlets were smaller and thinner than most I have had, but after the fondue and soup, I was quite glad that they were not of the traditional behemoth variety and was able to finish my plate.

Schnitzel Sans Gravy

Schnitzel With Gravy

A delightful and fortunate find on Yelp, we enjoyed our meal immensely, the service was friendly and efficient, and the prices very fair for the quality of the menu offerings. The only drawbacks were the smallish size of the restaurant and the somewhat limited menu.

CombatCritic Gives Swiss Hibiscus A Nearly Perfect 9 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better

Nine Bombs Equates To:
“U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Swiss Hisbiscus Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Swiss HibiscusSwiss Hibiscus


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Portland, OR: Do Not Miss This Swiss Delight In The Quaint Northeast Alberta Neighborhhod

Key Words: Swiss Hibiscus, Swiss, hibiscus, Switzerland, German, French, Austrian, Alberta, Portland, Oregon, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Fairview, OR: Good Food, Small Portions, And Moderate Prices Left Me Fendering For More


Bumpers Grill and Bar
21935 NE Halsey Street, Suite 100
Fairview, OR 97024
Phone: (503) 618-1855
Prices: $$$$

Stopped for lunch with some friends because they had their cute little doggie with them and Bumpers has a patio where our furry little companion was welcome.
The patio was nice on that sunny Portland day with little wind and our server was friendly and efficient. I had the French Dip ($12.99), my friend had the Baja Tacos ($13.99), and his better half had a Classic Caesar Salad ($10.99) and the Parmesan Encrusted Chicken Medallions ($9.99) appetizer.
The food was good, but I was not overly impressed with the quality to portion to price ratio. The roll my French dip came on was rather small, one of the smallest sandwich rolls I have seen, especially for a $13 French dip, and the crinkle cut fries were sparse and a tad greasy. My friend’s Baja tacos looked good, but for $14 all he got were two flour tortillas with some small battered cod pieces, a slew of cole slaw, some pico de gallo, and a couple avocado slices with some tortilla chips and a thimble of salsa. His wife’s Caesar salad was not impressive at all for the $11 price and the $10 chicken was tasty, but there were only four small medallions, a few carrot sticks and some ranch dressing.
Don’t get me wrong, what food we got was pretty good, but there was not all that much bang for the buck and at $60 for lunch for three with only ice tea and water to drink, it was not an exceedingly great value.
CombatCritic Gives Bumpers Bar And Grill A Very Average 5 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Bumpers Grill & Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Fairview, OR: Good Food, Small Portions, And Moderate Prices Left Me Fendering For More

Key Words: Bumpers Grill and Bar, Bumpers, bar, grill, Fairview, Gresham, OR, Oregon, Halsey, 503-618-1855, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Dillon, CO: A Little Sunshine Goes A Long Way … There a Are Better Options In The Area


Sunshine Cafe

250 Summit Place
Silverthorne, CO 80498
Phone: (970) 468-6663

Prices: $$$$
My son, a Dillon local, recommended this place because we always go to another popular breakfast joint in Silverthorne. They just expanded, taking the space next door, so it is large enough that you will not have much of a wait. 

Standard breakfast fare, they do not have skillets and make it a bit painful if you like biscuits and gravy with your breakfast, My recommendation is to skip the order of biscuits and gravy ($8.25, including two eggs) and get a biscuit with your breakfast and a side of sausage gravy ($1.75).

My youngest son had the Classic Eggs Benedict ($9.25) and it was just that, English muffin halves topped with poached eggs, ham and hollandaise sauce. The benedict was good, but the hash browns were the star of the show. Best hashbrowns I have had in a long time … plentiful, brown, and crispy on top and hot, moist, and tender underneath. My eldest son had an omelette with green (pork) chili, but disliking the sharing of food, I was unable to try it. He said it was “good”. Too bad they do not do skillets because these hash browns would be the star of the show and make one mean skillet.
I built my own omelette ($10.12), a 3-egger with cheddar and Monterey jack cheeses, bacon, chorizo, and sauteed onions and mushrooms. It was excellent and the hash browns were the coup de grâce. I got a biscuit and a side of sausage gravy, bringing the total to nearly $12, a bit pricey for breakfast.
Words of wisdom: Offer skillets and 1/2 orders of biscuits and gravy minus the eggs in the $3 to $3.50 range or, better yet, include a side of sausage gravy with a biscuit if desired and charge a max of 50¢ … make your customers happy rather than milking us dry for every last red cent.
Next time I am in Dillon, we will be going back to our regular joint in Silverthorne where biscuits and gravy and skillets are standard fare.
CombatCritic Gives Sunshine Cafe 6 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Priciness/Lack Of “Value” And Little Menu Creativity … More Bombs Are Better!


Six Bombs Equates To:


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Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Dillon, CO: A Little Sunshine Goes A Long Way … There a Are Better Options In The Area

Key Words: Sunshine Cafe, sunshine, cafe, breakfast, Dillon, Silverthorne, CO, Colorado, Summit, county, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Castle Rock, CO: "El Korita" Stands For Good Food And Reasonable Prices … "From The Heart"


El Korita
106 S. Wilcox Street
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Phone: (303) 814-0622
Website: Facebook Page
Prices: $$$$


Good, authentic Mexican food … reasonable prices. This strip mall restaurant used to be a Mexican food market, transforming a year ago into a restaurant with a small grocery area in the front.

I had the crispy tacos with machaca ($8.99) and rice and beans. The tortillas were handmade and fried on site, not store-bought and heated in the oven. A side of guacamole cost only $1 although we did have to pay for the chips and salsa which were also fresh and made in house. My son had the beef enchiladas with homemade green tomatillo sauce ($9.99) which were were delicious and filling.

At under $25 for dinner for two, El Korita is a CombatCritic BEST VALUE and should not be missed if craving Mexican food and in or passing through the Castle Rock area.
CombatCritic Gives El Korita 8 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!




Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Castle Rock, CO: “El Korita” Stands For Good Food And Reasonable Prices … “From The Heart”

Key Words: El Korita, el, korita, Castle Rock, castle, rock, Colorado, CO, Mexican, authentic, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog, 

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! =“What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Colorado Springs, CO: Inflexible, Prima Donna Chef Rubbed Me The Wrong Way … Au Revoir La Baguette


La Baguette
4440 N. Chestnut Street
Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Phone: (719) 599-0686
Prices: $$$$

Having traveled extensively in France, I have come to love French food (we have none in Lawrence, Kansas) and have been wanting to try La Baguette since I was in the Springs for my mom’s passing and funeral in February 2015. Being my first return since then, I decided to take my son there for dinner on my last night before heading home.

Their prices were reasonable and the menu had all of my traditional favorites, including escargots, fondue, mussels, veal, beef Bourguignon, cassoulet, steak Diane and steak frites, but the side dishes were either boring or odd. For example, the veal dish, which sounds exquisite, comes with quinoa pilaf … yuck … and the beef Bourguignon is accompanied by boiled potatoes … blah, so I asked the very nice server if it were possible to substitute mashed potatoes or French fries for the quinoa or boiled potatoes. After all, we were going to blow a C-note on dinner for two, including appetizers, entrees, and a bottle of wine, so it seemed like a simple request. Well, I guess it was not because her answer was: “the chef doesn’t like substitutions, so mashed potatoes would be an additional $6”.

Six bucks to substitute mashed potatoes for quinoa, really? I was not hearing things because she confirmed it with an “I’m sorry, but those are the rules” look on her face. I was not about to eat quinoa pilaf with a lovely veal or boiled potatoes with a rich beef Bourguignon and I definitely was not paying an additional $6 for mashed potatoes, so we left. Their prima donna of a chef should think of his customers more than his vanity and pride, after all, La Baguette is a strip mall restaurant on Chestnut in Colorado Springs, not a bistrot on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Get a clue chef.

Being rather late and hungry, we stopped at Carrabba’s on the way back to Monument and blew a C-Note there, enjoying appetizers, entrees, and a bottle of wine, leaving satiated and content because they were more than happy to make substitutions without charging an extra arm and a leg. C’est la vie … au revoir La Baguette!

CombatCritic Gives La Baguette 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … The Only Reason They Did Not Get 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME Was Because Of The Nice Female Server … More Bombs Are Better!
Two Bombs Equates To
“Tits Up” 

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Colorado Springs, CO: Inflexible, Prima Donna Chef Rubbed Me The Wrong Way … Au Revoir La Baguette

Key Words: La Baguette, la, baguette, French, Bourguignon, escargots, France, Colorado Springs, Colorado, springs, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits-Up”

Dillon, CO: Dam It … Small Burgers And Hidden Upcharges Tainted This Special Occassion


Dillon Dam Brewery

100 Little Dam Street
Dillon, CO 80435
Phone: (970) 262-7777
Website: dambrewery.com


Not bad, not great. I went with my two sons who I had not seen for 6 months and, although it was a Friday night, we were seated rather quickly. Peter, our server, promptly arrived for our drink orders. We had three of their house drafts, me a Here’s Your Dam IPA and my boys a McLuhr’s Irish Stout and Sweet George’s Brown respectively ($5 each). The beers were good, but all a bit too “smoky” for my taste, smokiness must be a Dam Brewery thing – Dam it!

For dinner we went with sandwiches, me a “Rodeo” ($11.95) with a beef patty, cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and Bar-B-Q sauce on the side with French fries. The burger was very basic, small and uninteresting, likely a frozen patty of 5-6 ounces max. My youngest (soon to be 29) had the Munich Schnitzel Sammy ($10.95), a breaded pork cutlet and smoked gouda on a pretzel bun, accompanied by apple slaw, beer mustard, and fries. I tasted it and it was also nothing special. A “schnitzel cordon bleu” sandwich would have been much better, but my son seemed to like it.  My oldest (30) also ordered a Rodeo but with a bison patty ($4 Extra – $15.95), with cheddar, bacon, caramelized onions and Bar-B-Q sauce, opting to swap Mexican Beer Cheese Soup for the fries. The server asked if he wanted a bowl of soup instead of a cup and my son concurred, only to find out that the price had ballooned from $15.95 to $21.20 when the check arrived. It would have been nice to have been informed of the $5.25 up-charge when placing the order, but so you have it.

The sandwiches were decent, not great, the burger patties being a tad on the small side (± 5-6 ounces). My burger arrived with what I perceived to be no caramelized onions, so I sent it back. The server brought the dish back a few minutes later telling me that they were under the cheese while my son’s had been on top of his Rodeo’s cheddar cheese. Odd I thought, until the check arrived and I found out that I had not been charged for what I ordered (a Rodeo), but for a build your own burger ($9.25) with cheddar ($1.35), bacon ($1.35), caramelized onions ($1.00) for a total of $12.95, a dollar more than what I had ordered and what Peter had agreed to when I ordered it.
Rather than make a fuss about the unannounced upcharges, I simply deducted the amount we were overcharged from the 20% tip Peter would have received for the decent, not great, service he provided, leaving him with a respectable 16.5%. 
Server Lesson Learned: Give the customer what they order and, if you do not, inform them of any upcharges PRIOR to submitting their order, do not surprise us with unexpected charges when the bill arrives.

CombatCritic Gives Dillon Dam Brewery 6 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Unannounced Upcharges And Mediocre Food At Above Average Prices … More Bombs Are Better!
Six Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Dillon, CO: Dam It … Small Burgers And Hidden Upcharges Tainted This Special Occassion

Key Words: Dillon Dam Brewery, Dillon, dam, brewery, CO, Colorado, beer, hamburger, pub, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato, Tabelog

Translation for Civilians: G2G = “Good To Go”

Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account


TripAdvisor Inc.
400 1st Avenue, Needham, MA 02494
Phone: 781-800-5000

I was, and the operative term is “WAS”, a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor” until recently with hundreds of reviews and photos in many of the 41 countries I have visited. My reviews are honest and as objective as anybody’s opinion can be and I received hundreds of “Helpful” votes for my reviews and photos.

TripAdvisor is very selective about the reviews it posts, unlike Yelp (where I have been “Elite” since 2014), refusing to post reviews willy-nilly based on criteria only they are aware of. I think the operative answer is, if a review does not conform to a “standard” which favors the business that is paying them for advertizing, then it does not conform and is not posted.

For example, I have written several reviews that TripAdvisor refused to post, claiming that the content was “too similar to that found on the internet”. Basically, they were saying that I plagiarized my content from a website, something I have never done nor will I ever do. I may use information from a website or pamphlet as background for readers in a review or copy the ingredients for a recipe from their menu for simplicity’s sake from time to time, but never word for word and I always edit the material into my own words and style. Sometimes they simply refuse to post a review with no reason given as was the case with my review of the Villisca Axe Murder House, having submitted the review numerous times without it being published and without explanation.

TripAdvisor would not exist without the reviews of travelers, so I find it extremely self-serving and deceiving to refuse to post reviews from Top Contributors that do not conform to their paying advertiser’s demands. I put a lot of time and effort into my reviews as evidenced by the 40,000+ visitors to my blog each year and the 40,000+ views of my reviews and photos on Yelp each month. My content is original, honest, and objective as any reviewer can be, so when TripAdvisor recently refused to publish my review of Cataldo’s Italian Restaurant in Brooklyn recently (because the content “was not original” … BULLSHIT!) for the umpteenth time, I deleted my account.

The other reason I deleted my account is because TripAdvisor, as I found out, has zero integrity themselves, allowing people to post reviews whether they have been to a restaurant, hotel, destination, or attraction or not. There is no requirement to having been a customer (as Money Magazine reported in a recent issue – see excerpt from Money Magazine below) to write a review, so businesses can use robots and fake review websites to fluff their ratings, making them relatively useless. I have found during my travels to 41 countries that TripAdvisor may be good for general information about a business or location, but the ratings rarely accurately reflect the experience and now I know why.


Yelp on the other hand uses complex algorithms and your GPS location to ferret out fake reviews. They also have “Elite” members, reviewers like myself that are hand selected by the Community Manager (CM – each major metro has one, a paid Yelp employee) with several face-to-face and virtual interactions taking place between Elites and CMs each year. So if you really want to ensure you are getting a valid rating and honest review, use Yelp and sort reviews or pay attention to those only written by “Elites”.

TripAdvisor does not appreciate the countless number of honest reviewers out there, refusing to interact one-on-one with even Top Contributors. Trying to get an explanation for a decision they make or get an question answered is impossible with TripAdvisor, unlike Yelp where you get an answer from a Yelp employee every time you have a concern or question.

My recommendation: Dump TripAdvisor and download the Yelp App on your phone or tablet. You will be glad you did!

CombatCritic Gives TripAdvisor 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF SHAME” … More Bombs Are Better!








One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Adios TripAdvisor! Sketchy Business Practices And Zero Customer Support Led Me To Delete My Account

Key Words: TripAdvisor, trip, advisor, trip advisor, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, hotel, attraction, destination, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato, integrity, reviews

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Brooklyn, NY: Overpriced, Yes, But A Coney Island Institution That Should Not Be Missed!


Nathan’s Famous

1310 Surf Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11224
Between Stillwell Avenue and Schweikerts Walk 
Coney Island
Transit: D F N Q Lines – Coney Island
Phone: (718) 946-2202
Website: nathansfamous.com


OK, so they are slightly overpriced and the food is not that special, but Nathan’s Famous is an INSTITUTION in Coney Island and Brooklyn and for that they deserve at least 7 Bombs.

$5 for a hot dog is not that bad in NYC, but I never realized that Nathan’s also sells fish, burgers, beer. and many other things, pumping out food with servers who barely speak a word of English, Mandarin more prolifically, and with prices that are not all that bad.

I had a Chili Cheese Dog with grilled onions ($4.95) and my wife a Cheese Dog ($4.45), sharing an order of Bacon Cheese Fries, a heart attack in a container, and a Diet Coke … what else, when you just ate your monthly allotment of fat and calories in a few small mouthsful?

The dogs were decent, popping when you bite into them like a good, fresh, well-made dog should do. They offer complimentary grilled onions and saürkraut on their dogs along with catsup, mustard, and relish as well as plenty of napkins to wipe your puss after engulfing a Nathan’s Famous.

Glad we went, probably will not be back, but it was worth the $20 tab for a small, yet very filling, high-caloric lunch on our last day in Brooklyn.

CombatCritic Gives Nathan’s Famous 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Brooklyn, NY: Overpriced, Yes, But A Coney Island Institution That Should Not Be Missed!

Key Words: Nathan’s Famous, Nathan’s, famous, Nathan, Brooklyn, Coney Island, Coney, island, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

Brooklyn, NY: A CombatCritic BestValue … This Brooklyn Ristorante Is Well Worth A Visit!


Cataldo’s Restaurant
554 Vanderbilt Avenue, Suite 1
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Between Dean Street and Atlantic Avenue
Prospect Heights
Phone: (718) 857-6700
No Website?
Prices: $$$$

We finally found a good, reasonably priced mom and pop Italian restaurant in the NYC metro and the name is Cataldo’s!
After searching the streets of Manhattan and Brooklyn and on Yelp for a week looking for a good value, I stumbled upon Cataldo’s. It looked promising because one of the featured photos was of a delicious stuffed artichoke (below – $12) just like my grandma used to make … YUM! Unfortunately, they were out when we arrived and were not expecting a produce delivery for two days … DRAT!
When we arrived, we were warmly greeted by Vito (a co-owner with his brother) and his family. Vito and his brother Salvatore are originally from Sicily, just an hour’s drive from my wife’s hometown in Northwestern Sicily, so they know how good food should be prepared and enjoyed.
The prices are very reasonable, particularly in NYC, with pizzas and pastas in the $10-$14 range and veal (with a side of pasta) running $12 to $16. They offer several wine options in a multitude of colors and varieties with glasses starting at $6 and bottles in the low $20s.
On our first visit, we started with the insalata Mozzarella Caprese ($8), not the “traditional” insalata Caprese with mozzarella, sliced tomatoes, and basil, but a salad with a couple small mozzarella balls and sliced tomato, mostly arugula, and a few olives. I was not overly impressed for the $8 price tag. My wife ordered the Pizza Quattro Formaggio ($13), a wood-fired pie of 12+ inches smothered in four types of cheese (mozzarella, ricotta, gorgonzola and fontina) and baked to a golden brown. The pizza and Caprese are the only reason they will not get my highest rating. The pizza was good, not great, and not on the same level as true pizza Napoletana. I had the Vitello (veal) alla Parmigiana ($12), three good size veal cutlets breaded and fried, then smothered in marinara, topped with mozzarella, and baked to a golden brown. It came with a side of Spaghetti alla Bolognese, their meat sauce, which was as good as any I have had. A bottle of Chianti ($24) brought the tab to around $60 for an excellent meal, about the same price as we paid for garbage at a West Village German restaurant the night before. An excellent value!
We came back a second time two nights later, always a good sign, my wife having the Tortellini alla Panna ($12) instead of pizza and me the Veal Saltimbocca alla Romana ($16) … buonissimo! The tortellini were likely not homemade, but were very good and the cream sauce rich and delicious. The veal saltimbocca was divine, likely the best I have had, including in Rome (hence the name – Romana). Lightly breaded veal cutlets atop a bed of spinach and covered with prosciutto crudo then baked in a light white wine, butter, and lemon sauce infused with rosemary … MAMA MIA! The accompanying spaghetti was topped with the same sauce and with a little freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano on top, it was exquisite … the best $16 I have spent in a long time!

Being our last night in NYC and Brooklyn, we splurged and shared a piece of cheesecake ($5). Made with ricotta rather than cream cheese, it was typically Italian and not as sweet as its NYC cousin, but very good nonetheless.
I never did get to try the stuffed artichoke, but the food was wonderful, the service and hospitality excellent, the setting quaint and warm, and the value exceptional. We made some new friends and enjoyed the excellent food, surely to return on our next trip to Brooklyn and NYC.

CombatCritic Gives Cataldo’s 9 Bombs Out Of 10 As One Of The Best Values (BANG FOR THE BUCK) in NYC and Brooklyn … More Bombs Are Better!

Nine Bombs Equates To:
“U.S. Marine Response To A Verbal Greeting Or As An Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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MENU

Cataldo's Restaurant and Pizzeria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCritic

View my food journey on Zomato!

Title: Brooklyn, NY: A CombatCritic BestValue … This Brooklyn Ristorante Is Well Worth A Visit!

Key Words: Cataldo’s Restaurant, Cataldo’s, Cataldo, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, Italian, pizza, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

NYC, NY: "Wurst" Food On Three Most Recently Visited Continents


Lederhosen
39 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
Between Bedford Street and Bleecker Street 
West Village
Phone: (212) 206-7691
Prices: $$$$

I should have gotten the clue when all of the other restaurants and bars on the street were packed and Lederhosen only had five people inside beside the bartender/server. Unfortunately, I did not.

This was the “wurst” German food, make that WORST FOOD (if I dare call it that), I have eaten in a long, long time. The bartender warned me that the beer was sour, but so were the potato soup ($3), the schnitzel sandwich ($8), and the Jägerschnitzel ($19).

I have traveled extensively in Germany and Eastern Europe where schnitzel is a staple and have never tasted anything as disgusting as the Jägerschnitzel I was just barely was able to keep down tonight. On top of that, the accompanying fried potatoes were burnt to a crisp.

When I mentioned all of this to the server/bartender, we did not get as much as a “sorry” or an offer to make things right, only an unintelligible wisecrack from the obviously inebriated proprietor on the way out.

The only saving grace was the soft pretzel ($3) and mustard which was cheap and not bad, being the sole thing keeping this greasy spoon from ending up with a single bomb and a spot on my WALL OF SHAME.

CombatCritic Gives Lederhosen 2 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!
Two Bombs Equates To

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube
Lederhosen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: NYC, NY: “Wurst” Food On Three Most Recently Visited Continents

Key Words: Lederhosen, German, bar, West Village, west, village, Manhattan, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Tango-Uniform = “Tits Up” 

NYC, NY: Pretty "Gay", But Not Bad … Hey, It’s Their Name, I Didn’t Make It Up!


Big Gay Ice Cream Shop

61 Grove Street
New York, NY 10014
Between S. 7th Avenue and Sheridan Square 
West Village
Sheridan Square Station
Phone number (212) 414-0222
Website: biggayicecream.com


Soft serve ice cream in not 31, but 2 flavors, 3 if you count the chocolate-vanilla swirl. I asked for a chocolate cone dipped in chocolate and rolled in peanuts ($5 – I saw one when we went in, so I know I’m not “nuts” … get it?), but what I got was a chocolate cone with only the “top” dipped in chocolate and the bottom half dipped in crushed peanuts. Not what I asked for.
For $5, the ice cream was unremarkable. What more can I say? So I won’t.


CombatCritic Gives Big Gay Ice Cream Shop 4 Bombs Out Of 10 With Massive Deductions For Not Following Instructions, Boring Soft Serve Ice Cream, And Excessive Prices … More Bombs Are Better!
Four Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!

Title: NYC, NY: Pretty “Gay”, But Not Bad … Hey, It’s Their Name, I Didn’t Make It Up!

Key Words: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, big, gay, ice cream, shop, ice, cream, village, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: BOHICA = “Bend Over, Here It Comes Again” … No pun intended!

NYC, NY: Massive Portions, Decent Food, BIG LIES Earn Sarge’s A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME


Sarge’s Deli
548 3rd Avenue
New York, NY 10016
Between 37th Street and 36th Street
Midtown East, Murray Hill
Phone: (929) 267-4372
Prices: $$$$
I will be brief because a lack of integrity is a non-starter in my book, so the food is somewhat irrelevant.
We arrived at Sarge’s a little after 6pm on Monday, May 30th, 2016 which happened to be Memorial Day. Many places around Manhattan were giving military ID holders freebies on Memorial Day out of gratitude for our service, a nice and much appreciated touch. So when I read the menu in Sarge’s window (see photo above) and it said: “Dinner Special (5-9PM Everyday): Choice of Soup or Salad And Beverage (Coffee, Tea, Or Fountain Drink) – All For The Price Of The Entrée Alone”, we decided to go in. After being seated, I asked our server (see photo below) about the special because I was contemplating ordering the meatloaf entree ($18.95). She told me: “It’s Memorial Day, the offer isn’t good on holidays”. Rather than go outside and recheck the menu, I believed her, assuming I had misread the offer, ordering the meatloaf anyway. After paying the bill, I went outside and snapped a picture of the menu in question (see menu photo), proving that I was not hallucinating because it states: “5-9PM EVERYDAY” and “every day” means Monday-Friday, Saturday and Sunday, AND HOLIDAYS.

The meatloaf was massive and “OK”, my wife’s French Dip ($18.95) was expensive, but “decent”, and the cheesecake ($6.95) large and “delicious”, but our server’s deception left a bad taste in my mouth. I could really care less about getting a free $7 soup or salad and a $2 beverage included with my meal (even though my blog is called “TravelValue”), but it is the principle and an inherent lack of integrity on the part of our server that spoiled this meal.

Beside the deception, her service was “abrupt” (it is a NYC kosher deli after all), but efficient and I gave her a 20% tip, something I regretted after reading the “Dinner Special” verbiage for the second time. I do not make a habit of rewarding liars. Deceptive waitress aside, they probably would have received 5 or 6 Bombs Out Of 10, but like our founding father George Washington, I cannot tell a lie …

CombatCritic Gives Sarge’s Deli 1 Bomb Out Of 10 And A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME … More Bombs Are Better!











One Bomb Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube


Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: NYC, NY: Massive Portions, Decent Food, BIG LIES Earn Sarge’s A Spot On My WALL OF SHAME


Key Words: Sarge’s Deli, Sarge’s, sarge, deli, Manhattan, kosher, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: FUBAR = “Fucked Up Beyond All Repair”

Brooklyn, NY: It’s The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth


Hamilton’s
2826 Fort Hamilton Pkwy
Brooklyn, NY 11218
Between 5th Street 4th Street
Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Flatbush
Phone: (718) 438-0488
Prices: $$$$

As Roseanne Roseannadanna always said, “It’s always something, if it’s not one thing, it’s another” ….

It is the little things that stand out in your mind, good or bad, that shade your opinion of a place. In Hamilton’s case, it was a mere 50¢. More on that later.
We sat outside after being seated for 10 minutes before a server arrived to greet us, but when she did, I ordered a Bell’s Two Hearted IPA , but all the drafts are $6-$7, MUCH LESS than most places in the NYC metro and they have a GREAT SELECTION. I had to hunt down another server because ours was nowhere to be found, ordering a Smuttynose Old Brown Dog (also $6 on the menu), but after another 10 minutes our food had arrived and still no Smuttynose, so I reminded our server. It arrived 5 minutes later while my dinner cooled whether it needed to or not.
My wife ordered the large Salty Pretzel ($4) and a Mac and Cheese appetizer ($8). The Mac and Cheese arrived with my sandwich, but we had to remind the server about her pretzel which took an additional 5 minutes to arrive. The pretzel was good, but it was hot from the oven and too crunchy, not warm, soft, and chewy as a good pretzel should be. The mac and cheese was tasty and a decent size portion for an appetizer.
My Reuben Sandwich ($15) was piled high with “house made corned beef”, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and thousand island dressing. It was very good overall, but the house made corned beef had a slightly strange aftertaste which I could not quite put my finger on, or my tongue in this case. The accompanying potato wedges were scarce, but decent, nothing special.
When the check arrived, I have to admit that it was one of the smallest totals we have seen since arriving in NYC, but the Smuttynose was listed at $7 instead of the $6 stated on the menu. I called our server over, showed her the menu and the check, and asked her to make the correction to the $1 error. Those things happen. But when she came back, she had NOT deducted the $1 error, but had discounted the check by a mere 50¢! Rather than argue about the 50¢, I simply deducted it from her 20% tip along with a tad more for her inattention during our meal. After all, it is always the small things folks.

CombatCritic Gives Hamilton’s 5 Bombs Out Of 10 After A 2 Bomb Service and Check Error Deduction … More Bombs Are Better!
Five Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Brooklyn, NY: It’s The Little Things That Leave A Bad Taste In Your Mouth

Key Words: Hamilton’s, Hamilton, bar, grill, pub, beer, Brooklyn, NYC, New York City, New York, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: Charlie-Mike = “Continue Mission”

Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine … We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!


Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza

214 Hicks Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
Between Montague Street and Remsen Street
Brooklyn Heights
Phone: (718) 858-1010
Website: dellaroccospizza.com


BEST NEAPOLITAN PIZZA I HAVE HAD OUTSIDE OF NAPLES (ITALY), but most expensive beer I have seen in my life. I am torn on my rating for Dellarocco’s because the pizza was wonderful with a thin, soft, yet firm dough, perfectly baked with just the right amount of burnt spots from the 800+ degree brick oven. 
The service was excellent. Sabastion, our server, was attentive enough without hovering or interrupting our conversation and the pizzas arrived post haste as they should from an 800 degree oven. The decor is rather modern, sterile, and boring, not what I would expect in a Brooklyn pizzeria.
I ordered a pint of IPA, but am glad I specified a pint because Sabastion, our server, was nice enough to tell me the $6 IPA was closer to a 1/2 pint than a pint. Where we come from a pint of craft draft ale runs $4-$6, so paying the equivalent of $12 a pint is a non-starter in my book. No beer is worth $12 a pint no matter how good it is or where you are … “We’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy!” Wine is equally overpriced by the glass, although there were several bottles in the $30 range, a more reasonable investment.
The toppings on the “Dellarocco” ($16), smoked Buffalo mozzarella, broccoli rabe, sliced sweet Italian sausage, red pepper, garlic, and basil were reminiscent of pizza Napoletana, not too much, not too little. They even had olio picante (EVO infused with red pepper), the perfect accompaniment to my salsiccia e friarielli pizza … buonissimo. This is my go-to pizza when in Naples, so my expectations were not high, however, the Dellarocco was THE BOMB folks! 
My wife had the “Zucchini” (also $16) with the same superb dough topped with a wonderful zucchini cream, mozzarella, thinly sliced smoked prosciutto, and extra virgin olive oil. It was also delicious, light and flavorful with just the right amount of ingredients so you could taste each individually.
The pizzas are even the right size for pizza Napoletana (about 13 inches), unusual in the States where most places serve a 12 inch individual pie. An inch makes all the difference folks (I’ll leave it at that). Their prices are nearly three times what you would pay for a similar pizza in Naples, but this is NYC (Brooklyn actually) and I have seen prices for an individual pizza ranging from $20 to almost $30, so I do not consider Dellarocco’s pizza a bad value. The beer is a different story because I found another place in Brooklyn with several excellent craft draft “pints” in the $6 to $7 range, so stop gouging your customers and lower your beer and wine prices.
CombatCritic Gives Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza 8 Bombs Out Of 10 With Deductions For Ridiculously High Beer And Wine Prices … More Bombs Are Better!
Eight Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Dellarocco's of Brooklyn Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Brooklyn, NY: Superb Pizza Napoletana, Overpriced Beer And Wine … We’re Not In Kansas Anymore Dorothy!

Key Words: Dellarocco’s Brick Oven Pizza, Dellarocco, Dellarocco’s, brick, oven, wood, pizza, pizzeria, Brooklyn, NY, CombatCritic, Napolitana, Neapolitan, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: WTFO! = “What-The-Fuck … Over!”

Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks … Luigi’s Is THE BOMB!


Luigi’s Pizza Fresca
2401 Fairmount Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Fairmount, Art Museum District
Phone: (215) 769-8888
Prices: $$$$
The owner, Luigi, is from Naples (Italy), my wife’s hometown, so he knows how to cook proper Italian. The food is incredible, the portions huge, and the prices extremely fair.
We found Luigi’s after a short visit to Eastern State Penitentiary, just down the street a few blocks (they are also just a few blocks east of the Philadelphia Museum of Art). A simple place, it looks like a takeout pizza joint where you can get a slice and a soda and sit if you want, but the menu is much more extensive than you might think. Beside pizza, sandwiches, pasta, and salads, they offer chicken parmigiana, veal parmigiana, eggplant parmigiana, and chicken cacciatore, all $10.95, including a large side of pasta ($2.50 more for gnocchi, tortellini, or ravioli).

My wife had a panino (singular – “panini” is actually plural in Italian), the Four Season ($8.95) with prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, oregano, and basil on fresh focaccia and an order of fries ($3.50). The panino was very big and delicious, and the fries hot and perfectly cooked. The focaccia was obviously made in-house, soft on the inside and slightly crispy and perfectly seasoned with olive oil, fresh rosemary and sea salt on the outside. I ordered the Veal Parmigiana ($10.95), coming with a massive side of tortellini ($2.50 extra for a total of $13.45). The veal was the best parmigiana I have had in memory and the portion was huge (see my photos) with four good size breaded veal scallops covered with the best marinara I have had outside Italy and fresh, warm, gooey, delicious mozzarella. Then there was the tortellini, a meal in itself,  perfectly cooked “al dente” and tossed (not drenched) in a superb Bolognese (meat) sauce just as it should be. I did not think I could eat all of it when they brought it to the table, but it was so good I could not help myself, cleaning both plates by the time we were done.

The bill came to a little over $30 for the sandwich, fries, veal, pasta, and two fountain drinks, a mere pittance for a meal as good as this one. Their service and hospitality could not have been better or friendlier and the food is one of the best “values” I have experienced in a long, long time. Grazie Luigi … a presto!

CombatCritic Gives Luigi’s Pizza Fresca 10 Bombs Out Of 10 And A Spot On My “WALL OF FAME” … More Bombs Are Better …. Luigi’s is THE BOMB!

Ten Bombs Equates To:
“Phonetic spelling of the acronym HUA, which stands for ‘Heard Understood Acknowledged.’ Originally used by the British in the late 1800’s in Afghanistan. More recently adopted by the United States Army to indicate an affirmative or a pleased response.” – Urban Dictionary

“The Department of Military Science and Leadership, University of Tennessee claim HOOAH ‘refers to or means anything except no’ … Regardless of its meaning … the term is an expression of high morale, confidence, motivation and spirit.” – WarChronicle.com

“The U.S. Air Force stole ‘HOOAH’ from the Army because we were part of the Army until 1947 and rather than waste a bunch of time coming up with something new and unique, we said ‘screw it, let’s go with HOOAH’ … thanks Army … HOOAH! – CombatCritic

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Luigi's Pizza Fresca Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Philadelphia, PA: This Place Is The Real Deal Folks … Luigi’s Is THE BOMB! 

Key Words: Luigi’s Pasta Fresca, Luigi’s, , Luigi, pasta, fresca, Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania, Italian, pizza, museum, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Alexandria, VA: Sam Phao Means "Stuff Your Pie Hole With Great Food For Little Money"


Sam Phao Thai Cuisine
1019 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Old Town Alexandria
Phone: (703) 548-3736
To start, I love Thai food, so I appreciate good Thai when I taste it. Next, comparing the DC area to Lawrence, Kansas is like comparing Dom Perignon to Andre, “not gonna do it, wouldn’t be prudent”, particularly when it comes to restaurants and prices. Lawrence restaurant options are bleak at best, hardly a decent restaurant in town, but DC has an abundance of excellent restaurants and they ain’t cheap compared to the Midwest.
Enter Sam Phao, a small place in central Old Town Alexandria. I checked several menus in Old Town after a day at Mount Vernon and the prices in Alexandria (for “average” food) were not cheap. The $$ options on Yelp were running $20-$30 for an entree and we did not really want to blow another C-note for dinner (my blog is named “TravelValue” after all), then I saw Sam Phao. Their prices were very reasonable and the reviews excellent, so I hit “Directions” and off we went.
The ground floor room we entered was very small, so we were taken upstairs to a larger dining room and a table for two by the window. For starters, we ordered a Chicken Satay ($5.95) and a Crispy Wonton ($4.95). There were four large skewers of chicken satay along with the peanut sauce, cucumber relish and four 1/4 pieces of toast. The satay and peanut sauce were yummy and the toast a novelty, but it made it easy to get the chicken, peanut sauce and relish all on a fork. The six wonton had a savory minced chicken inside of the crispy fried wrapper as well as sweet and sour sauce and cucumber relish for dipping. They were excellent as well … what a great start!
For mains, my wife got the Pad Thai “J” ($10.95), thin rice noodles and mixed vegetables stir-fried with egg, bean sprouts, scallions, tofu, and crushed roasted peanuts. I ordered the Yellow Curry ($13.95) with beef, potatoes, carrots, and onion, all of them my favorites are a rare find in one dish. I was not wild about the Pad Thai because of the egg (which is optional), but it was massive and my wife loved it. The yellow curry was divine, one of the best curries i have had in a long, long time. There was plenty o’ beef, big chunks of potato, large slices of carrot, and pieces of onion along with the white rice. The curry sauce was an incredible combination of hot spiciness along with a very slightly sweet aftertaste, so I dumped the rice in the bowl of curry, instead of the other way around, and delightfully spooned the contents into my pie hole until gone … HOOAH!
At $40, including tax, for two appetizers and two entrees, we could not have been more pleased. The prices rival those of similar, but inferior, restaurants in Lawrence, so in Alexandria and the DC area, this place was THE BOMB.
CombatCritic Gives Sam Phao 9 Bombs Out Of 10, A Rare And Near Perfect Rating … More Bombs Are Better Of Course!
Nine Bombs Equates To:

Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



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Sam Phao Thai Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Alexandria, VA: Sam Phao Means “Stuff Your Pie Hole With Great Food For Little Money”

Key Words: Sam Phao Thai Cuisine, Sam Phao, Sam, Phao, Thai, cuisine, food, curry, Alexandria, VA, Virginia, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: OOH-RAH! = “U.S. Marine Expression Of Enthusiasm”

Windber, PA: Not The Best Italian I Have Had, But Well Worth The Drive


Rizzo’s Restaurant
2200 Graham Avenue
Windber, PA 15963
Phone: (814) 467-7908
Website: rizzosofwindber.com


A little over 20 miles from Interstate 70 and Somerset, Pennsylvania where we stayed in a quaint B&B, we found Rizzo’s when nothing in Somerset looked very interesting for our anniversary dinner.
Al large building in Eastern Windber, the family lives upstairs and the restaurant is downstairs. The restaurant itself is somewhat nondescript with bright lighting. The bar has a little more ambience, but we were seated in the “hallway” behind the bar, a high traffic area with little charm.

The service was friendly and efficient. I started with the house Burgundy ($4.50), coming in a small glass, it was chilled and somewhat sweet as expected of most inexpensive burgundies. My wife ordered the Fettucine Maria ($13.50), homemade fettucine noodles with broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and peas in a light alfredo sauce. The noodles were perfectly cooked, but the sauce was rather bland. My wife, who is Italian and rarely adds grated cheese to her pasta, had to resort to the shaker of parmesan (parmigiano) in order to add some flavor. I had the Veal Parmigiana ($17.95), a large and very tasty cutlet topped with a delicious homemade marinara sauce, topped with mozzarella cheese and baked or broiled until melted.

The New York Cheesecake ($4.75) was rich and delicious, as good as any I have had whether or not in was made in-house. The owner’s son stopped by to chat briefly, then brought me a small glass of homemade orangecello (orange version of limoncello) as a digestivo (after dinner drink to aid in digestion).

My only gripes were the small, inexpensive, cold glass of burgundy (I was expecting something different), no soup or salad with the meal, the rather bland fettucine sauce, and the absence of much atmosphere in the restaurant. However, for under $50, Rizzo’s was a very good value and well worth the nearly 30 mile drive.

CombatCritic Gives Rizzo’s 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!

Seven Bombs Equates To:

Rizzo's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato






Read Reviews By CombatCritic:

Yelp – Elite ’14/’15/’16

TripAdvisor – Top Contributor

Tabelog – Official Judge (Bronze)

Zomato – #1 Ranked Foodie

View my food journey on Zomato!



… And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube



Rizzo's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tabelog Reviewer CombatCriticView my food journey on Zomato!


Title: Windber, PA: Not The Best Italian I Have Had, But Well Worth The Drive

Key Words: Rizzo’s, Rizzo, Italian, restaurant, food, pasta, parmigiana, veal, alfredo, Windber, PA, Pennsylvania, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, restaurant, menu, review, Yelp, TripAdvisor, Zomato

Translation for Civilians: S&G = “Shits & Grins”

An Outstanding Lunch Value, Possibly Overpriced As A Dinner Option


Osteria dei Centopoveri 
Restaurant and Pizzeria
Via Palazzuolo, 31r, 50123 
Florence, Italy
Phone: +39 055 218846
Website: centopoveri.it
Prices: $$$$


Air conditioning on a 100+ degree day in sweltering Florence, Italy … HOOAH!

Tortellini Panna Prosciutto Con Piselli


Reasonably priced at €10 for a two course lunch, including wine, water, service and tip, this osteria (it is not spelled “ostaria”, just like pizzeria is not spelled “pizzaria”) and pizzeria is one of many value options near train station Santa Maria Novella in Florence. There are better and worse, but the food and service were pretty good and the price excellent.


Insalata Caprese

The restaurant is large and our group of six were quickly seated even though they were pretty busy. Five adults ordered off of the fixed price menu and the lone, very hungry child ordered a Margherita pizza, what else. Four of us had the tortellini panna prosciutto con piselli (ham, cream, and peas) for our first course and one had the pasta alla Sorrentina. The tortellini were mass produced, but very good, and plentiful served in a creamy, garlicky sauce with diced ham and peas. The sauce was so good that I ignored my wife’s pleas and performed “scarpetta”, cleaning my plate with the fresh, local bread and happily consuming it. The pasta all Sorrentina did not look all that appetizing, but what could we expect in Florence? There was no sauce, only a small amount of crushed tomato and a little mozzarella mixed with a lot of store-bought pasta.

Frittata di Patate


The very hungry child did not receive his pizza until after our second courses were served, but he was very patient nonetheless. A pizza lover, he was not impressed by his pizza although it looked good from where I was sitting, so 3/4 of it went uneaten. Our main courses were the Caprese salad, frittata de patate (potato omelette), and scallopine ai funghi (pork cutlets in mushroom sauce). The Caprese was decent with fresh fior di latte (cow’s milk), not mozzarella di bufala (made with water buffalo milk in the region of Campania) as you would get in and around the Island of Capri, its namesake. The dish’s signature fresh basil leaves were notably missing and replaced with lettuce, something you would never see in Southern Italy, but it was not bad at all. The frittata di patate was pretty good, although my wife did not think it was good as her friend Giovanna (from Naples) mother’s version. Giovanna had the scallopine, which she said was “so-so”, coming in a thick, creamy mushroom sauce along with green beans on the side. It looked good, but I did not taste it, so I cannot corroborate her evaluation.
Scallopine ai Funghi


We received a liter of local red wine for the five of us, five bottles of water (we had been walking in the 100 degree heat for four hours), and five after-meal espressos with the bill coming to a very reasonable €60.50 for six people, a relative bargain in Florence. The menu is basic, nothing fancy, but the food good and the value exceptional. They are quite a bit pricier for dinner, in the €25 to €40 range per person, so lunch is a major value.


My only complaints were: 1) the child did not get his pizza as fast as he should have; 2) the sparsely adorned pasta alla Sorrentina; and 3) the lack of basil on the Caprese Salad, otherwise we were quite pleased with our meal.

CombatCritic Gives Osteria dei Centopoveri 7 Bombs Out Of 10 (3.5/5 Stars) … BOMBS ARE GOOD IN THIS CASE!




Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube



Title: An Outstanding Lunch Value, Possibly Overpriced As A Dinner Option

Key Words: Osteria dei Centopoveri, osteria, centopoveri, restaurant, pizzeria, Via Palazzuolo, Firenze, Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Italy, menu, review, travel, value, pasta, wine, pizza, CombatCritic, Yelp, TripAdvisor, tourist

Florence, Italy: Good Versus Bad Equates To Average Value


  • Trattoria Il Contadino
  • Via del Palazzuolo 69-71R
  • Florence, Italy
  • South of Santa Maria Novella Station
  • Phone: +39 055 2382673
  • trattoriailcontadino.com
 Prices: $$$$

Trattoria Da Giorgo, just down the street, is closed on Sunday and was not an option after our return to the train station from a day trip in Siena, so we decided to try Il Contadino. They have decent food and lots of it with cheap prices compared to the rest of the overpriced tourist traps in Florence. Unlike many restaurants in Italy, they are open seven days a week from noon (12:00) until 10:30pm (22:30), so you can get a meal anytime you like. Arriving around 7:00pm on a Sunday night after a long day in the Tuscan sun, we were quickly seated and shortly thereafter our waiter arrived. 


That was the most efficient service we received the rest of the night because as he and his female counterpart hovered around our table in the nearly empty restaurant, making for a rather uncomfortable experience, they chatted with each other and their friends at the next table. However, when we needed something, we had to try to catch their eye rather than counting on them to notice when they were needed instead of socializing with each other.


Tagliatelle alla Boscaiola

The menu is fixed price, €9 to €12 for lunch, and €13.50 to €14.50 for dinner, a decent value for what you receive in return and there is also an “ala carte” menu if you so choose. For €14.50 (€12 at lunch) you are entitled to a ½ liter of water, ¼ liter of wine (per person/ red or white), primo (first course from the day’s menu – pasta, soup, etc), secondo (second course from the day’s menu – meat dish), and contorno (vegetable – salad, potatoes, artichokes, broccoli, etc). 

Scallopine

Tagiatelle alla Boscailola, a long, thin pasta in a tomato-based sauce with ground beef, mushrooms, and black olives was my choice as a primo. The tagliatelle were good with rich, earthy tones from the mushrooms and unlike more than a few Tuscan restaurants we have been to recently, perfectly cooked “al dente”. My wife decided to forgo the meat dish, so she ordered the prosciutto e melone (cured ham and and honeydew melon) for her primo. Being difficult to improve on sliced ham and melon, her first course was as good a most places and a fair size portion.
Risotto

For secondi I had the scaloppine ai funghi (pork cutlets in a white wine and mushroom sauce). The meat was very dry and had obviously been sitting around much of the day waiting for a customer to arrive. The sauce was good and there was plenty of it, but a few more mushrooms would have been nice. My wife had the risotto with zucchini and gorgonzola, creamy with a bit of zing from the aged cheese, it could have cooked a minute or two longer to reach the desired consistency of a classic risotto. Our contorni were patate fritte (French fries), crispy but not very hot, and patate arrosto (roasted potatoes) which, like the pork, had also been sitting in a chafing dish for far too long.

We had to remind the waiter two times to bring our wine, a local red, which was decent, lightly chilled and fruity. Instead of bringing a half-liter for the two of us, he brought a single one-quarter liter carafe five to ten minutes after our primi had arrived and another carafe, having to ask him once again, after our second courses had arrived. With so few people in the restaurant, there is really no excuse for such inattentive service.

The restaurant is clean and bright even though it is in a rather seedy part of town, but we were somewhat disappointed by the food and very disappointed by the service. When I gave the waiter my card, telling him that I would post a review on my blog, TripAdvisor, and Yelp, he said “So what? I can post a review on TripAdvisor, so what makes you different from me?” I told him that I am Yelp

“Elite”, a TripAdvisor “Top Contributor”, and have a blog averaging 40,000 views a year. Enough said.

You will have a better meal in Italy for €30 or less, several places come to mind, but in Florence, with its dearth of reasonably priced restaurants, you will not find many inexpensive options. Although our experience was somewhat disappointing, the food was not bad overall and the prices fair. So if Trattoria da Giorgio just down the street is closed or too full, Trattoria il Contadino would be a decent second choice.

CombatCritic Gives Trattoria Il Contadino 6 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better!





Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Fixed Price Menu (Italian)

Fixed Price Menu (English)

Special Menu (Dinner)

Menu of the Day (Italian)

Menu of the Day (English)




Title: Good Versus Bad Equates To Average Value

Key Words: Trattoria il Contadino, trattoria, Contadino, Firenze, Florence, Santa Maria Novella, Italy, menu, review, travel, value, pasta, wine, meat, dessert, CombatCritic, Yelp, TripAdvisor, tourist

Decent Tex-Mex In Spain … Que Paso?


Mexicano Tex-Mex
Calle Jose Maria Torres Murciano, 12, 
29603 Marbella, Spain
Phone: +34 952 866 680
Web: www.MexicanoMarbella.com
Prices: € € € € 


I saw this place on Yelp and could not resist after 2 1/2 months in Europe and NO MEXICAN FOOD. The first time I went, they were closed as it was just after 4:00pm and they did not open for dinner until 8pm (Spaniards eat late). I found myself in the area on my last full day in town, so I meandered past and sure enough they were open. 

It was about 2pm and the place was empty. It is nicely decorated inside, looking like many of their stateside cousins with sombreros and other colorful decorations adorning the walls. The owner speaks very little English, having resided in Rhode Island for a year, and his employees speak even less, but in this part of town, most of their customers are locals. A nice young lady soon arrived with some complimentary chips and chili con queso, looking like it likely came from a Tostito’s jar.

I had to try the guacamole (€5.40 – $5.85), usually a clear indication if the place is authentic or not and I have to say it was not bad. Fresh avocados mashed with onion and a little diced tomato (not very traditional) in a deep-fried flour tortilla bowl sitting atop a small lump of cold mashed potatoes. I was not sure why the potatoes were there other than to keep the bowl of guacamole from moving around, but the guacamole was pretty good, needing just a little more garlic and salt. The quality and quantity were pretty “average” compared to many stateside Mexican restaurants, and the chips were decent.

They had no combo plates and my Spanish is rudimentary at best or I would have tried a few different things, so I went with the taco plate (€7.50 – $8.10). The three taco shells looked like any other pre-fab version, not unlike many restaurants in Lawrence, Kansas where I hang out, so I cannot fault them for that. With no rice or beans, €2.50 a pop is a bit steep, but the tacos were not bad either. Containing something more resembling chili con carne than ground beef, the only other ingredient was melted cheese except for a small amount of pico di gallo on the side of the plate. Having saved some guacamole and the little bit of lettuce beneath it, I had everything I needed to compliment the tacos. The lady even brought me some salsa picante, a fiery green concoction that was very good. The tacos were a bit greasy, but the shells stood up to the moisture well and did not fall apart like many places I have been.
I also had a Negro Modelo beer (€2.90) and a tinto de verano (€1.30), so the drinks were very well priced compared to the food, which was a tad pricey, but not as bad as the many tourist traps in Marbella. I ended up paying around €15 plus tip (after my 15% discount), not that bad for a starter, main, and two drinks. The service was excellent and the staff very friendly as we attempted to bridge the communication gap.


CombatCritic Gives Mexicano Tex-Mex 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better … With An Extra Bomb Included For Effort!

Menu


As always, you can read my reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor 

Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube







Title: Decent Tex-Mex In Spain … Que Paso?

Key Words: Tex-Mex, Mexicano, tex, mex, food, menu, Marbella, Spain, Malaga, taco, enchilada, burrito, guacamole, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide

A Little Slice of Bordeaux On The Costa Del Sol


Le Bordeaux
Avenida Antonio Belon 26 
29602 Marbella, Spain
Phone: +34 952 85 80 49
Website: Le Bordeaux
Prices: € € € 


A nice couple from Bordeaux, Christine and Marc, come to Spain, open an aptly named French restaurant, and turn out some excellent, authentic cuisine using only the freshest ingredients and voilà, you have Le Bordeaux.

I love French food and in my part of the world, French restaurants, particularly good French restaurants, are hard to find. So when I spot one, I always check out the menu. Stopping to view the menu by the door one evening, Marc was very friendly and helpful, explaining why the mussels were not available (the weather is too hot) and that he only serves escargots when he can get fresh snails, so I told him I would come back.

It was July 14th, French National Day, the equivalent of our 4th of July when I did, so Christine told me that Marc had escargot available for the celebration. After bringing me the French equivalent of tapas, four small pieces of quiche, Christine took my order. Escargot (€8) as a starter, beef tenderloin with Bordeaux mushroom sauce and hand cut French fries with Bearnaise sauce (€19) for my main, and  a bottle of Bordeaux Superieur  Chateaux Bel Air 2009 (€16.50).

The escargot, six of them, were perfectly cooked, tender and succulent in the buttery garlic sauce inside each shell. Accompanied by the soft, warm French bread, I was able to soak up every last bit of garlic butter. The only problem being that Christine had forgotten to bring me the small escargot fork to pry the snails out of their shells, so my starter was temporarily interrupted … oh well, c‘est la vie.

My steak and fries arrived shortly thereafter and having fasted throughout the day in preparation for a feast, I was slightly disappointed by the size of the cut of meat, six ounces at most. The presentation was nice and the sauce delicious, a creamy mushroom sauce albeit disappointingly lacking in mushrooms. There were just three and quite small at that. The meat was tender, juicy, and cooked perfectly “medium” as I had ordered. The potatoes were plentiful, crispy and hot and the Bearnaise sauce a nice accompaniment. 

Finally, the wine was wonderful and at just €16.50 (less than $20) a terrific bargain. A deep red, it was fruity, dry, and light as a good Bordeaux should be and an excellent addition to a very good meal.

Not exactly cheap at €43.50 for my dinner, the meal was a good value. Fresh, quality ingredients professionally prepared in one of my favorite cuisines, my meal at Le Bordeaux was quite enjoyable and I recommend you try Christine and Marc’s little slice of Bordeaux on the Costa del Sol.
CombatCritic Gives 7 Bombs Out Of 10 … More Bombs Are Better! 




Menus


Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title: A Little Slice of Bordeaux On The Costa Del Sol

Key Words: Le Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, French, Marbella, Spain, Malaga, Costa del Sol, costa, sol, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide, menu

Inexpensive Drinks, Complimentary Tapas, Friendly Service … What More Could You Ask For?


El Tapy
Calle Madre de Dios, 42
29012 Malaga, Costa del Sol, Spain
+34 605 234 441
Website: eltapy.es
Prices: $$$$

Inexpensive drinks, complimentary tapas, friendly service … what more could you ask for? The appropriately named “El Tapy”, located near Picasso’s boyhood home on Plaza Merced (Merced Square) in the northern portion of Málaga’s “Old Town”, is much larger than it appears from the street. There is a maze of several large air conditioned rooms as you meander your way toward the kitchen in the back. 

Menus are on the walls and the table with cheap drinks (draft beer €1-€3 and tinto de verano €1.20) and array of Spanish foods to choose from. I ordered a tinto de verano, a refreshing summer drink (hence the name) with a mix of local red wine, sparkling lemonade, and a slice of lemon. When it arrived, the waiter also brought a small plate of paella as a free tapa. A drink and a plate of food for €1.20 … unheard of!

I made the mistake of ordering the Patatas Bravas (sliced potatoes in a spicy chili sauce – €4) and Chorizo Rojos (red Spanish sausage – €5) before my next drink (and complimentary tapa)
arrived, this time an Ensalada Rusa (Russian salad, aka potato salad). My sausage and potatoes were soon delivered, the potatoes, too much to eat for one person, and the sausages (3) were very good, but when my next drink arrived (the tintos are quite small by the way), it was accompanied by another free tapa, this time two large marinated chicken wings.

By the time I left I was stuffed, but the bill for four drinks (two tintos, two cervesas), three tapas, potatoes, and sausages came to a little over €16, quite cheap for the amount of food I received. The food was decent, the portions fair, and the prices reasonable.

CombatCritic Gives El Tapy 7 Out Of 10 Bombs … Bombs Are Good!






Read More Reviews By CombatCritic On Yelp And TripAdvisor … And Don’t Forget To Subscribe To TravelValue TV on YouTube

Title: Inexpensive drinks, complimentary tapas, friendly service … what more could you ask for?

Key Words: El Tapy, tapy, tapa, tapas, bar, Malaga, Spain, food, menu, beer, tinto de verano, tinto, verano, CombatCritic, TravelValue, travel, value, food, definitive, review, guide