Hello Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Syracuse!

Dinosaurs are often associated with big and bold and thus it just seems appropriate that one of the biggest restaurants as well as one of the boldest in terms of making a name for itself in Syracuse is named Dinosaur Bar-B-Que!

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que first started off in 1983 as an idea among three friends at a motorcycle gathering in Albany, New York. Founder John Stage and his friends wanted to offer good bbq to their fellow bikers and made a mobile concession that they brought to various motorcycle shows, fairs, and festivals throughout the Northeast. Fast forward to 1988, where the mobile concession stand became a full-blown restaurant in downtown Syracuse, New York. Through the years Dinosaur has been making bold waves via being showcased in various magazines and the Food Network. Now Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has eight additional locations: Rochester, New York, Harlem, New York, Troy, New York,Newark, New Jersey, Stamford, Connecticut, Brooklyn, New York, and Buffalo, New York.

Traveling to Syracuse, I knew instantly that I had to try this iconic bbq joint and did not hesitate to go to the original location on one of my nights there. Known for super long waits, I was pleasantly surprised to have no wait when I arrived! (Can we yell success and yay!!) The place was definitely crowded with eager foodies like myself but it didn’t take long for me to start of my savory meal here.

To start off I tried Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s famous Fried Green Tomatoes.

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The Fried Green Tomatoes come in either 3 pieces or 5 pieces and are served with a side cayenne buttermilk ranch. This was the perfect starter to my meal. I loved the juicy green tomato that was fried to golden perfection. The Pecorino Romano cheese on top was a nice touch and the cayenne buttermilk ranch was a great dipping companion.

For my main meal, I decided to try a variety of some of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s best offerings by getting a combo plate.

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My chosen combo plate consisted of St. Louis ribs, chicken wings and bbq brisket with jalapeños along with corn bread, simmered turkey neck collard greens and mashed potatoes. This was one hearty and very fulfilling plate! The St. Louis ribs are dry rubbed and slow smoked and lightly glazed with Dinosaur’s original bbq sauce  It was no surprise to have the meat fall off the St. Louis ribs. Very tender it came off with one flick of my fork. Equal in tenderness was the bbq brisket. The BBQ brisket is also slow-smoked and then hand sliced and flavored with pickled onion & jalapeno relish. It is topped with sliced jalapeno and just has the right amount of spice. The chicken wings were also delightful and had very good flavoring. These chicken wings are spice-rubbed, pit-smoked and grill finished. I loved dipping it with the original BBQ sauce as well as blue cheese dressing. All of the meats went well with the side of collard greens and mashed potatoes.

Dinosaur’s meats are already quite tasty by themselves but if one wants even more flavor; there is a variety of sauces and rubs that you can smother and sprinkle all over.

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Sensuous Slathering is more of their traditional BBQ sauce that has just the right amount of sweet for my palate. The heat starts with the Garlic Chipotle Pepper Sauce and the Mango Tango Habanero Hot Bar-b-que Sauce. Dare if you can handle the heat with the oh so hot Devil’s Duel Habenro Hot Pepper Sauce. Lastly there is the Cajun Foreplay Spice Rub for a little more heat. (How hot can you go?_ 😉

If it does get a lot hot…have no fear because aside from savory meats, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que also has some sweet treats! They’ve got Chocolate Ice Box Pie, Peanut Butter Pie, Dino Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie and Sweet Potato Pecan Pie.

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The Sweet Potato Pecan Pie was my dessert of choice and I fell in love with at first bite. The sweet potato itself was so soft and practically melted in my mouth. I loved the toppings of pecan pie. Both the sweet potato and pecan were the perfect pair for one another.

Just like Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s namesake of dinosaurs, this place definitely is big and bold in terms of their offerings. Their foundation is fresh, homemade and high quality and as they say they “WFDA” or “We Don’t F** Around.” Big and bold indeed. It was one intense and delicious trip here.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Syracuse.

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Hello Stonefire Grill Torrance!

Stonefire Grill is all about community and family. First started by sisters Mary and Maureen Harrigan in 2000, this fast-casual dining concept quickly grew to nine Southern California restaurants and now it’s opening up its 10th location in Torrance, California.

I recently had a chance to check out the newest location and quickly became a fan. It is the perfect restaurant to enjoy good eats and good times with family and friends.

Stonefire Grill has quite an extensive menu that has items every one in the family can enjoy. They’ve got pizza, sandwiches, pasta, signature salads, grill items and more. There is some thing for every taste bud.

I started my meal here with their chicken tortilla soup.

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The chicken tortilla soup is garnished with jack cheese, cilantro, avocado and tortilla chips. The small is a pretty fulfilling bowl that is sure to warm your heart and your tummy. They’ve also got a large that is perfect for sharing.

Speaking of sharing, perfect sharables are items from their grill section. From chicken to meat and seafood, Stonefire Grill’s grill items are slowly cooked overnight and finished over a live mesquite fire for their sauces. Each item is made to order and comes with a salad (Garden Caesar, Cartwheel or Greek), a small side item and 2 freshly baked breadsticks.

The breadsticks are Stonefire Grill’s signature item and is one that should not be missed when coming here.

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Breadsticks are freshly made and come out so soft and warm. Marinara sauce and buttermilk ranch are available as dipping sauces. I tried it with buttermilk ranch and instantly fell in love.

It was hard not to be full after the soup and breadsticks but I just had to save room for their grill items. My personal favorite from the Grill menu was their boneless chicken breast and tri-tip.

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The chicken can be garnished with mesquite bbq or lemon garlic. I chose to get my dish with lemon garlic. It was one of the tastiest chicken dishes I have ever had. The chicken  was perfectly tender and I loved the lemon zest it was flavored with. There were also small chunks of garlic on top that added a nice but subtle garlic flavor.

As for the tri-tip, one can get it with mesquite bbq or pepper garlic topped with gorgonzola butter. I chose to get it with mesquite bbq. Just like the chicken breast, the tri-tip was a winner. The beef cut was lean and every thing about the meat was on point. It was flavored perfectly and matched well with my side of garlic mashed potatoes.

The grill menu is not just about meat however because one can also enjoy some items from the sea. The Meditteraean sea bass is a Stonefire Grill favorite.

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It comes with sustainably farmed Branzino with fresh lemon, olive oil and red chili flakes and is served with a bed of farro salad. It’s a beautiful, healthy plate.

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The Farro Salad comes with farro, caramelized onions, basil, parsley, green onion, walnuts, parmesan, lemon and olive oil. I liked the mixture of ingredients. Each truly stuck out and enhanced the farro fabulously.

It doesn’t end with the savory items here however because Stonefire Grill has some awesome sweets as well!

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Their desserts are made from family recipes and are prepared every morning. They’ve got their signature carrot cake, cheesecake, fudge brownies and cookies. Each item can be served as a half or as a full.

The carrot cake was my personal favorite.  It was so moist and complete with walnuts and creamy cream cheese frosting. The heavenly cheesecake was indeed heavenly and nicely topped with fresh blueberry sauce. The fudge brownies were also great. Soft and chewy, it was chocolate bliss.

The food is something everyone can enjoy and it’s a great place to share some good meals. I also noticed that everyone at Stonefire Grill was pleasant and willing to give a hand; just like family. In fact when I came, tip proceeds went to the Pediatric Therapy Network. This place truly is about the community.

Stonefire Grill has it’s grand opening in Torrance tomorrow, February 6.

For more smiles, please see my Yelp review on Stonefire Grill Torrance.

Hello Veggie Grill Winter Menu!

Love!

Two and a half years ago I got invited to a special pre-grand opening of the Veggie Grill in Torrance by Veggie Grill co-founder Kevin Boylan. I have loved Veggie Grill ever since they first opened their doors. 8 Yelp reviews for the El Segundo location and 3 for the Torrance one, my love for this place is pretty evident.

Within the two and half years though, I’ve pretty much tried almost everything on the menu. My favorites are the Santa Fr Crispy’ Chickin and Thai chickin’ salad. I truly love the old menu but really was hoping for some new stuff! Therefore when it was announced they had some new offerings via a new Winter Menu, I was pretty excited. I was even more excited when I learned that via downloading the new Veggie grill app, one can get a treat for one free Winter Menu item. (After downloading the app, there is a button labeled “love” and from there is a voucher for a free meal!)

Veggie Grill’s new Winter Menu consist of over ten new items that include new sides and starters like mini wraps and Yukon gold fries, new bowls and plates like herb roasted vegetable bowls, quinoa salads and BBQ. These items are great in price, with the mini wraps starting at $3.50. Veggie Grill really worked to have items on this new menu that are more affordable to the everyday consumer.

The other day, I got to try some items from the Winter Menu and redeem my free meal via the app/love button ❤️).

There are two new bowls that are being offered. They have a Bombay Bowl and a Harvest Bowl. Both are filled with herb roasted vegetables. One of the big differences between the bowls lies in their sauces. The Bombay bowl has a cilantro/green curry sauce with coconut milk and the Harvest bowl has a miso gravy. I love curry and was quite intrigued to see how Veggie Grill would fulfill my curry love.

The moment the Bombay Bowl was presented, I instantly did feel some love for this new dish. A bowl with very appetizing looking plating was presented in front of me. It was filled with lots of herb roasted veggies, grains, steamed kale, cannellini beans. It was drizzled with cilantro/green curry sauce with coconut milk and topped with almonds and hemp seeds.

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The love for this dish did not end however with it’s presentation because taste wise, it was equally as impressive. Crunchy cauliflower, savory kale, crispy almonds and a slightly spicy curry sauce instantly gratified my tastebuds. Aside from the cauliflower, I liked how there was a variety of different herb roasted veggies. There were some turnips, broccoli and mushrooms mixed in there! The cilantro green curry sauce was nice and thick. The touch of coconut milk added creamy texture. It definitely fulfilled my curry cravings. The Bombay Bowl is now added into my list of favorites at Veggie Grill.

The Harvest Bowl is the second new bowl on their menu. It had field roast sausage, herb roasted veggies, super grains, porcini mushroom and topped with miso gravy and hemp seeds. I liked the tender and tasty field roast sausage in this dish! It’s the first sausage offering I’ve tried from Veggie grill. I was also a fan of the soft porcini mushroom!

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Aside from the bowls, I tried the new BBQ “Steak” sandwich. For my sandwich side, I chose another new offering, the Yukon gold fries.

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The BBQ “Steak” sandwich was packed with Veggie Steak in tangy BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, chipotle ranch and coleslaw. The Veggie steak was soft and tender. The BBQ sauce added a sweet kick. The coleslaw and chipotle ranch added even more flavor.

The Gold Yukon fries matched the sandwich perfectly. They were thick skinned potatoes. It’s classic old fashioned steak fries. Dipping it into the chipotle ranch gave it a nice touch.

Aside from the Gold Yukon fries, I noticed they now also offer the onion rings as a side! I love how you can now add this to your meal. Their golden brown onion rings have a perfect crisp and a tasty buttery like batter. It will go well with any item on their menu.

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It’s another visit to Veggie Grill in the books and I love this place even more. The new Winter menu items are amazing and equal the previous entrees in deliciousness. Thank you to Veggie Grill as well for the love they gave with a free entree via the app! Love!