Monday, September 8, 2014

Lunch at Taqueria Los Gueros in East Rutherford, NJ

Dan and I happened to be on Route 17 and were going to stop by Panera for lunch, when we noticed an unfamiliar looking taco place labeled as "authentic."  Inside was a pretty vast menu - tacos, tortas, fajitas, quesadillas, salads, bowls, etc.  And many different types of protein available - steak, pastor, carnitas, chicken, shrimp, fish,  chorizo, and possibly more I can't remember.  Dan and I both ordered Mexican tacos - four tacos (2 meat options) with pico de gallo and avocado on corn tortillas.  Somehow they messed up my order and gave me American tacos - 3 flour tortillas w/cheese and avocado.  Mine was actually still excellent as I prefer flour to corn tortillas, but the latter is the only gluten-free friendly one.  The meat was really good - between our two types we deduced pastor and chorizo were the best.  Definitely planning to come back.  Super cheap (like chipotle pricing) but many more options.  They also had a seriously spicy salsa buffet.  Too much for me but Dan loved it.  Also they had actual Mexican people working there.  All good signs.
4 tacos Mexicanos - two with carnitas and two with chorizo

3 tacos americanos - outside w/grilled shrimp and middle with pastor.  The pastor was amazing.  They have a huge spit of the pork which they carve per order, and the shrimp were nicely charred.  Not as flavorful but still tasty esp. covered in cheese and avocado

Dinner at Smashburger in Clifton, NJ

We haven't been to Smashburger in a long time since Dan went gluten-free.  I happened to be yelping and saw a recent review that mentioned a gluten-free bun at Smashburger.  Imagine my surprise when I went on their website and saw a press release from May announcing a partnership with Udi's, which is arguably the leading gluten-free bread brand in the country.  Apparently the gf bun option is at all Smashburgers, so of course we went there and I was reminded how this is my fav burger joint after Five Guys.  I just love the bread-to-meat ratio and there is an excellent variety of toppings.  I like both building your own burger and having some pre-made ones to use or to modify.  And they have great sides, though the menu is limited.  I still haven't had any of their shakes because I feel bad consuming as much in a tiny shake as in my entire dinner.  Dan thought the bun was pretty good and seemed a little wider than the usual Udi's bun.  Definitely excited that we can continue coming back here when I have burger cravings.
Dan's bacon cheeseburger with pickles, onions, and a fried egg.  Oh and gluten free bun of course

My NJ burger - blue cheese, bacon, haystack onion straws, lettuce, and tomato. I nixed the mayo and grilled onions

Sides of sweet potato frites and veggie frites.  This was way too much food.  Should've just gotten the veggie frites

Full view of gluten free burger.  Pretty nice ratio

My NJ burger with beautiful onion bun

Semi-home-made garlic clam spaghetti

Thanks to my parents and Trader Joe's I had some delicious garlic clam spaghetti.  I chopped up some cherry tomatoes and mushrooms, then heated the clams, which are doused in garlic and butter, in the microwave.  In retrospect I should've heated the clams in a saucepan, because not all of them opened in the microwave.  But there were still plenty of clams, like an obscene amount considering the box wasn't that big.  A great quick addition to a meal.

Lunch at Gordon Biersch in Raleigh, NC

On my way home from Raleigh I discovered there was a Gordon Biersch at the airport.  GB has the BEST garlic fries, at least that's what I remember from my paralegal days in DC.  Fortunately my memory was correct, as the garlic fries + lobster bisque made for a killer combo.  I also grabbed a seat at the bar and was served within 3 minutes of sitting down, which was amazing because I was a little worried I might not have enough time to eat.  Fortunately I had plenty of time and both dishes were delicious and complimented each other.  If only there were a closer GB to me so I could eat their fries alll the time.
Bowl of lobster bisque

Perfectly hot and crispy garlic fries

The perfect combo.  Also pretty gross that I ate all of this as my first meal of the day.  Oh well it was vacation.  YOLO.