Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tequila's Mexican Restaurant in North Topeka

I work at a local bar part time and I've been hearing regular customers talk about the new Mexican place near the cloverleaf on North Topeka Blvd. I had to go see what they were talking about because half of them don't even know the name of the place, just that it's new and it has Mexican food. The name of the place is Tequila's and they have an original location in the Brookwood Shopping Center on 29th Street. I have never been to that location so this is my first Tequila's experience.

I went at lunch and I believe they had just opened their doors because there was nobody else in there, but after about 20 minutes the lunch crowd showed up.

The place is large and open with booths along the sides and tables set up in the middle. The bar is in the back corner and looks to be fully stocked. There are a few chairs at the bar so people can sit there and drink, eat and watch sports. We sat in a booth.

I started off with some guacamole as an appetizer. Avocados are one of my favorite foods and so guac is definitely up there in the top 10 so I always order it when at a Mexican restaurant. This guac was good, I enjoyed it but it did need a little salt and maybe some more cilantro. The chips always came out warm and fresh with lots of salt on them so that helped but I still found myself sprinkling a little in the guac itself.

For my entree I ordered the Chef's Special Enchiladas with two over-easy eggs on top and it comes
Chef's Special Enchiladas
with rice and beans. It is $2 added for the fried eggs, but I think that still put my entire meal around $9, so I went with it. I wish the eggs would have been runnier as they were cooked more over-hard than easy, even an over medium would have sufficed. I think maybe their grill was too hot for an over easy egg because it was pretty browned. The meal was tasty, although I felt everything needed a little more seasoning, like each item was lacking something. That being said, I still ate my meal until I was full because it was good, just not "special" as the name of the item promised.

The enchiladas were made with corn tortillas, ground beef and red sauce. It was served with rice and beans. For lunch the portion was a little large, but I could see it being just right for dinner.

The atmosphere and waitstaff were friendly and inviting and the food was good. I've heard a lot of positive things about the food, maybe it just wasn't my personal favorite. Everyone in this town has their favorite Mexican spot because there are so many of them; not everyone can agree.  I'd still recommend checking it out for yourself.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Wing Fling 2016

My father in law won tickets to the Wing Fling at the Expocentre and I ended up with them, lucky me. All you can eat wings from eleven restaurants in Topeka on a Saturday sounded perfect to me.

When I walked in, the person at the door handed me a cardboard drink carrier, like the ones you get at McDonald's. That way you can just sit your container of wings in the holder and it makes it easier to carry around with one hand. I thought it was a clever idea. The guy also handed me a red ticket for voting so I could vote for my favorite wings at the end.

Mike's Bar & Grill, BBQ wing
I hit three booths first, Henry T's, Mike's Bar and Grill and the Pallette Restaurant. I've been to Henry T's many times and had their wings and they're always good.  The wings that stood out to me the most was their Christmas wings. The sauce seemed to be like a chocolate cinnamon flavor. It was more of a dessert or sweet flavor, and it was good, but when I want to eat wings, I want savory. I did like the flavor, though and the wings were juicy.

Mike's Bar and Grill had my favorite barbecue flavored wings in the whole place. Although they had my favorite barbecue wing, they still weren't my favorite wings of the whole day. The sauce was sweet and tangy and I believe they make their sauce. I went back for another one, and it was the only wing I had seconds of.

The Palette Restaurant had chicken and waffles wings. Interesting and they were served with whipped cream. Maybe I would have liked them a little more if there hadn't been so much breading on it, but the flavor was good. There was just too much breading and it made it hard to get to the meat on the drumstick. My sister in law really liked it though and she said she would eat more of them. So, it just wasn't my preference because I haven't been eating much bread or breaded foods.

Next, we went to The Burger Stand and HHB BBQ booths. The Burger Stand had an interesting take on
The Burger Stand serving up
 their PB&J wings
peanut butter and jelly. The peanut butter wing was my favorite of the two because it was like a Thai peanut sauce which was a little sweet but not too much. I love peanut sauce. The jelly, however, was not my favorite. It was sweet and extremely spicy. I tasted the sauce and knew immediately it was going to be spicy, but I still insisted on trying it. I could only take one bite and it was enough for me. I'm kind of a wimp when it comes to spicy foods so I was done.

My favorite wing of the entire day came from HHB BBQ. Their Strawbenero wing was the belle of the ball for me. I liked it because it was spicy, but not so spicy that it burnt a trail down my throat, but just enough that there was a kick. I thought it would be worse than that because the name implies habenero and those are spicy. I'm glad I still tried it despite my hesitation. It was also sweet and I could taste the strawberry so that's why the spicy wasn't so intense. I think what helped is that they were serving huge drumsticks that seemed to have a ton of meat on them. This wing stood out to me above the rest and everyone in my party agreed.  I could taste the smoke, the sauce and the chicken all together and it was just a well executed wing.

HHB BBQ's strawbenero wing
I tried all the other booths but really none of the other wings stood out to me. All of the wings were good, just nothing that I just need to tell people about. Abigail's won last year's Wing Fling but their wings were all breaded, and like I said before I'm not a big fan of heavily breaded wings so I wasn't a fan of the wings.

Overall, I enjoyed the Wing Fling and plan to return next year. I liked that it was all you can eat, although I couldn't have gone back through even if I'd wanted to, I was so full after hitting every booth. I also enjoyed being able to sample eleven restaurants at once and being able to compare wings side by side. If you like wings and eating as many of them as you want, I'd recommend getting tickets.

I'm not sure who won this year, but I believe there are various categories. Really, all the wings tasted great and I'm ready for next year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Quinton's Bar & Deli

Five years ago, or so, I wrote a review about Quinton's for the Washburn Review when I was an undergraduate at Washburn University. My experience there wasn't the best, but I did return on occasion for drinks and lunch. It was only recently that I realized I didn't have slot on my blog for Quinton's and I kept seeing their ads on Facebook for their specials, so I decided to give them another shot.

As I said before, Facebook kept running the ads and the one about their Olympic Burger really caught my attention. The burger has beer-candied bacon, Granny Smith apple slices, caramelized red onions, sharp cheddar and maple mayo. I was a little hesitant about the maple mayo because I'm not a fan of maple flavored things, but I figured with the bacon it couldn't be too bad. I've had a few sandwiches in the past with Granny Smith apples and for the most part I've always enjoyed them. Also, it's worth mentioning that I went on a Tuesday and after 5 p.m. their burgers are half price.

Since that's what kept catching my eye on the newsfeed, I ordered the Olympian. I went ahead and got it the way it comes since people build sandwiches a certain way for a reason. I figure I can at least try the sandwich the way it's supposed to be and if I don't like it, after that I can remove items. In this case it was the caramelized red onions. I'm just not a fan of onions on burgers so I ripped those off after my first couple bites.

Another ingredient I wasn't sure about was this maple mayo, which would have been pretty difficult to remove. Luckily I didn't hate it. The mayo had a maple flavor but it also wasn't like maple syrup like I had in my mind for some reason. Glad I tried it because I actually liked it -- on the burger, I don't think I could just spoon it into my mouth like peanut butter, but it added a nice flavor to the burger. My only complaint is my own fault -- I should've ordered the burger medium because I'm not a fan of well done burgers, but this one was still juicy so no biggie. I'll try to remember that next time.

What I did like was the Granny Smith apples. They were crispy and tart and added a nice contrast to smoky bacon and maple. It was a nice touch. And bacon. Bacon is always good and this bacon was thick and crispy.

The burger comes with French fries and as I've said in the past, fries are fries. They were nice and crispy, though.

I've seen where Quinton's is now going to start having bands play so I might check that out sometime. I enjoyed the burger, but it's only there until the end of this week so go get it now if you want to try it.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Monsoon.Express on College Hill

Today I tried the Monsoon.Express on College Hill. It's been open for a couple months, but it's taken me a minute to get over there even though it's in my neighborhood. I shouldn't have waited.

I remember back when this location was the Boca Cafe, and although I was sad to see it go, I'm also glad to see a new restaurant open. I like the College Hill area and hope it continues to thrive. As a Washburn University graduate, I spent a lot of time in the College Hill neighborhood, eating at the Burger Stand and checking out the Pizza Pub when it first opened. Plus, it's close to my home and that's always a plus.

Although it's called "Express" implying carryout or on-the-go eating, there are booths and a couple tables to sit at if you so choose.

The menu is pretty simple. The Tikka Tacos were the first item on the menu and stood out to me because I love tacos. Who really doesn't? I have yet to meet that person. The fact that these were tacos and not Mexican tacos had me intrigued, so I went for it. I love chicken tikka masala and that is usually what I get when ordering from an Indian restaurant for the first time. Usually, you can't go wrong with this item, but I knew from the original Monsoon Grill on Wanamaker, their tikka masala is always good.

If you aren't into tacos, there are other options. Biryani bowls are on the menu and their Express Box. The box is probably the most popular because you choose 2-3 entree items and it's served with jasmine rice and some naan bread.

But, as I said before, I got the Tikka Tacos. Soft flour tortillas, stuffed with chicken tikka masala, lettuce, sour cream and a spicy salsa of some sort. I enjoyed my choice. I had to eat it slowly because I'm sensitive to spicy foods, but have found that I like spicy as long as I take my time. The tikka is kind of a light curry with cumin, garam masala, coriander and yogurt. Garam masala is used in many Indian dishes -- it's a blend of many spices and varies by region. That's probably what was causing the heat. These tacos were pretty messy, so don't wear a white shirt like I did. Luckily, I didn't get any on my shirt, but I did get it all over my face and hands and it was a mess. I'd still order it again, though.

I'm hoping they start delivery soon, so I can sit at home and order it while watching a movie or whatever. I think that's in their plans, or so I have seen from their Facebook page.

If you are scared to try Indian food, I'd recommend trying Monsoon Express. Go get the Express.Box and try a couple entrees with rice and bread. the price isn't bad, only $7, which is better than going to a sit-down restaurant and spending over $10 on one entree you may not like. Monsoon Grill on Wanamaker also has a buffet where you pay a set amount and could try multiple menu items. Either way, go check it out and give it a shot.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Capital City Family & Food Truck Festival

The second annual Capital City Family and Food Truck Festival was today, Saturday June 11th, 2016, in Gage Park. I've been looking forward to this ever since last year when the first one ended. I knew that this year would be something to look forward to. How can you go wrong with over 20 food trucks from three different states, entertainment for the entire family and a beautiful summer day? You just can't.

I arrived early so I could get a good parking spot. For those who came later, Visit Topeka had free shuttles set up with Topeka Metro to get people from Hayden High School to Gage Park, that way people didn't have to fight for parking within the park. Smart move. Still, there seemed to be a few spots here and there so if you were intent on parking inside the park, you probably were able to.

This year, the trucks were all lined up on the same side of the road, pointing the same way so the lines were all formed easily and it was easy to figure out which line went to each truck. Last year I know there was a problem with that, but that wasn't even an issue this year. Also, because there were so many trucks, lines weren't long and wait times were short and sometimes non-existent. I hardly waited for anything I ordered, so that was nice. I've waited as long as an hour before for a food truck.

For my first venture, I tried Twisted Asian. This particular truck
was at last year's festival and was one of the first trucks to run out of food because it was so popular and everyone wanted to try it. I didn't get any then and was looking forward to trying it this time. It was the first truck I went to and I ordered something different than I originally planned because I asked the guy what he recommended. He said to get the Twisted Lomein and I did. The noodles were sauteed in what tasted like a peanut oil with cabbage, fried egg and just a little bit of Sriracha sauce on top for a nice kick. The noodles were tender and fried just right to where they weren't chewy at all. My friend Kelly got the Chicken Fried Rice and that looked amazing as well. She even let me try a bite and I think that's what I'll be getting next time, only with the pork. The fried rice is on the bottom, then it's topped with shredded meat of your choice -- they have pork or chicken.

Next, I wanted something cold and something sweet, so we went to Coffee Cake KC. I've been to this food truck in the past but that's okay, I remember loving their coffee cake and had to get more. I also tried the Baron, a frozen chocolate coffee drink that's to die for. I told the lady I wanted something with chocolate and coffee and asked her what she would recommend. She said, "The Baron," and it was perfect and exactly what I was looking for. I got my caffeine fix and my chocolate fix at the same time, while also cooling down with something frozen.

I walked by a tent where fourteen chunks of fudge of all flavors were lined up for sampling and purchase. I had to try some and I sure did -- I probably sampled six different fudges before settling on the Black Cherry Bourbon fudge to take home. This place was called Chocolate Moonshine Company and I'd never heard of it before. I was happy to sample their fudge and would love to do so again in the near future. Note to fudge lovers: Ants love fudge, too so don't leave your bag of fudge sitting anywhere because ants will swarm and steal said fudge before you blink an eye. So yeah, don't do that.

For my next meal I wanted something different. I'd been walking by this one truck all day that kept catching my eye. The name: Fine Thyme Foods. The menu featured items that seemed a little different than the other trucks I'd seen at the festival. Their Blueberry BBQ Pulled Pork had me intrigued but even more were the crepes. Made fresh inside the truck, the crepes were filled and topped with interesting flavors I just had to try. I went for the Good Vibrations, a vegetarian option. I felt like most places had pulled pork on their menu so I chose something that would be a little harder
to find elsewhere. This crepe was filled with quinoa, topped with a kale mixture and dressed with a lemon poppyseed sauce. The crepe was light, fluffy and warm and I would love to eat one just alone, maybe with some powdered sugar on it or something like that. The poppyseed dressing had a honey flavor to it that I enjoyed and the kale had a slight crunch to it. I do wish there was a little more texture to it, but overall I enjoyed it. I look forward to trying their other menu items, too.

After all this eating I was thirsty. I kept seeing people walking around with these huge cups of fresh-squeezed lemonade and knew that I wanted one as soon as possible. Later, when I looked at the temperature gage on my car it read 97 degrees, so I know I needed something cold and refreshing. The stand was called Poppin Squeeze and had all sorts of flavors for their lemonade and they sold kettle corn. I got a regular lemonade because I'm not much for the syrup that's used for flavors. Half the fun is watching them make your drink: They cut the lemon, squeeze it with a hydraulic press then add sugar, water and ice and shake it up until the sugar dissolves. Yum. It's so sweet but that's okay. As it melts it doesn't matter because the ice doesn't really water it down or anything.

I was pretty full at this point so I took a break. It was cool because a few friends and I were sitting on a curb and all of a sudden, this guy showed up and started juggling fire and doing tricks and entertained us for over 30 minutes. At one point, I looked around and saw a good sized crowd of people gathered around applauding and oohing and aahing and I felt like I wasn't even in Topeka. It's pretty cool that things like this are happening in Topeka.

After hanging out for awhile, I decided it was time to eat more food. Kelly wanted tacos so we went to Taqueria Mexico Lindo. I ordered two tacos, one asada and the other pastor, both came on fried corn tortillas topped with fresh cilantro and onion and a side of hot salsa verde. Ah, so good. The tacos are exactly what I wanted, fried but tender, stuffed with meat and cilantro, (I take most of the onions off, but leave a few). I stupidly didn't taste the salsa before pouring it all over my tacos. Bad idea. It was spicier than I would have liked it, although the flavor was undeniably tasty. I got over the spice and ate them anyway and enjoyed them still. Next time I will sample the salsa before drenching my food in it. I should know better!

For my final two stops I decided to get items to take home since I was so stuffed and it was hot. I knew as soon as I cooled down I would be hungry so I wanted to be prepared. I went to Torched Goodness, which I've talked about in the past at a different food truck festival in downtown Topeka last fall. I think I even tried them at another festival in Lawrence, KS. This time I asked for just the custard and no brulee because I can do that myself at home. I just wanted them for later. He happily obliged and sent me on my merry way. I have those beauts in my fridge for later tonight and tomorrow.

My last stop was at the bacon food truck. The name is Bacon Wagon and they're from Ozawkie. I had heard someone talking about their pulled pork donut and was intrigued. I know I said pulled pork seemed to be on every menu, but this was being served in a unique way and I wanted to give it a shot. I found out it was called the Maple Bacon Pulled Pork Donut. At first I was hesitant about the maple part of the whole thing but the guy let me sample it before ordering and it wasn't that corn syrup stuff that's sold at stores, this is real maple syrup and I can get down with that. The donut as built like a sandwich with pulled pork and bacon in the middle and the maple syrup drizzled on top. It all sounds so strange but went together pretty well. The pulled pork and bacon were smokey, the donut sweet and the maple syrup complimented both. I do think a knife is needed to eat this one, since you can't really pick it up with your hands unless you want to be sticky for the rest of the week and the bacon is hard to cut with a plastic fork. Still, I enjoyed it.

The entire festival was a fun time for me and my friends. Everyone seemed to be happy with the layout and the variety of trucks. I had no complaints and can't wait for next year. I saw where the shelter houses around the park were open to the public and those are air conditioned. That was a great option on a 100 degree day in June. I'm exited to see what's in store for next year.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Herman's Meat and Smokehouse New Location

Herman's Meat and Smokehouse has been in the Topeka area for many years and today they opened a brand-new location. I've driven by the spot for the past few months, watching the building as it was built and slowly put together. I've been anticipating its opening since last fall when it was just an empty lot with grass and wild flowers.

The building is all newly built, with a patio and outdoor seating. The inside has room for dining room with booths and tables for people to eat at. The other half of the building is set up like a deli and meat counter with an island of shelves with condiments and odds and ends, charcoal, bags of chips and much more. There's even an entire shelf that has yet to be stocked, so I'm curious to see what will go in there.

This new location opened June 6, 2016 and I decided to go on
opening day. Usually, I wait until a restaurant has been open for a few weeks before trying, but like I said, I've been waiting for quite awhile and didn't want to wait any more. I did go in the afternoon around 3:30 so I wouldn't have to deal with a lunch or dinner crowd and it was a good idea. I waited a few minutes in line before ordering, then another few minutes for my order to be filled. I'd say I didn't wait any more than 10 minutes.

I wanted to try the ribs, so I made sure to order three of those with one other meat of my choice, (pork, of course) and two sides. I chose the cheesy potatoes because I saw where someone had commented on the Topeka Restaurants Facebook page that they were on point. For my other side I chose mac and cheese, because how can you go wrong with that? The meal cost around $15, which is a little expensive for one meal, but it's barbecue and ribs at that, so I didn't mind paying the money. You can always go cheaper if you don't order ribs, and Herman's also offers family size meals where you order meat by the pound, so you can feed more people for less.

My favorites were the pulled pork and the cheesy potatoes. The pork wasn't greasy like a lot of pulled
pork can be and there weren't any huge chunks of fat or gristle I had to remove. I was able to just eat my meat and swallow it, so I was appreciative of that. The sauce is tangy and sweet, but had no real spice to it. I looked around for spicy sauce, but didn't see any, although I could have just missed it. The cheesy potatoes are different than others I've had around town. These are chunks of potatoes with bacon and cheese melted on top. The potatoes are soft and smothered in cheese with chunks of bacon throughout. The side dish is a little greasy from the cheese, but who cares? I think it's wonderful.

The ribs were smokey and tender. They weren't "falling off the bone" but I don't think ribs should be to be good, as long as they are tender, and these were. The smoke was just right and I didn't have to use any sauce. Sometimes when ribs aren't good I slather them in sauce, these needed none. The ribs also had a lot of meat on the bones so I ended up with a little over one left over for later.

The only thing I wasn't a huge fan of was the mac and cheese. It tasted fine and there was nothing wrong with it, I just probably won't order it again. The sauce wasn't creamy enough for me seems to pool around the noodles instead of stick to them. I felt like I had to spear my noodles then scoop up some sauce to get them together. That being said, it wasn't bad, just not my favorite.

The menu features your typical smokehouse items, brisket, turkey, chicken, pulled pork and ribs. They also have deli sandwiches to-order and an actual deli and meat counter. Now that the location is
closer to my house and more centralized in Topeka, I'm sure I'll be getting my raw meat there more often. I also plan to come back for the smoked meats and cheesy potatoes. I think it was worth the wait.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Wheel Barrel -- NOTO's Newest Addition

After all the great things I've been hearing since it's opening last weekend, I had to check out The Wheel Barrel. I heard they ran out of food on Saturday night and had to close early they had such an awesome turnout. Tonight they were packed as well. I hope it keeps it up. I've always loved NOTO and I'm excited to see a new restaurant open there.

The place is small and probably seats around 50 people, but there is a huge patio area outside, too, that I'm sure will fill up easily in the warmer months.

After seating ourselves our waitress came and took our order. The beer list is impressive and takes a second to take in. Some were from Kansas City, and most were a variety of craft beers.

Most items on the menu are grilled sandwiches, soups and pretzels. The charcuterie plate was what
caught my eye, but alas, they were out of that item at the time of my visit. The waitress said that's been happening a lot because they've been so busy. So we got the pretzel and cheese dip instead, which was pretty good, and they make their own cheese sauce, so it's not that fake, orange nacho cheese that usually comes with pretzels. There is also some salsa or green chili in the cheese so there's a slight kick, but nothing overwhelming, just enough to know it's there.

For my dinner I ordered the Monte Cristo with a cup of their house-made tomato bisque. As a teenager, the first Monte Cristo sandwich I ever had was battered and deep-fat-fried and I've been trying to find one like it ever since. This sandwich wasn't deep-fat-fried, it was grilled, but it was still crispy on the outside like I wanted it to be, and probably with less fat than if it were fried.  The sandwich was sprinkled with powdered sugar and served with grape jelly. Inside is turkey and gruyere cheese, which is one of my favorite cheeses because it's not Swiss cheese. I like
Swiss cheese, but Gruyere tends to be a little creamier and softer than the sharpness of Swiss. I would order this sandwich again, but first I plan to try a few others that sounded interesting.

For my side, I ordered the tomato bisque. I always love me some tomato soup, and the waitress informed me it was made in-house, so that was even more intriguing. This soup is on the menu daily, and in addition they have a soup-of-the-day. Today it was French onion soup, so I went for the tomato. I enjoyed the soup, but I do think it needed quite a bit of salt. After I added what I thought was enough seasoning, it was bangin. It was creamy, tomato-y and not that Campbell's soup crap.

I enjoyed my first visit to The Wheel Barrel and plan to return. I can't wait for it to warm up so patios open up around town. The waitstaff was friendly, the atmosphere was welcoming and the food was good. I think you should check it out, too.  Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Sunday Brunch

For Sunday Brunch, The Wheel Barrel features Bloody Marys and mimosas for $4 and a limited menu. I went with six other people and were able to get a nice table on the patio. It was a beautiful day for patio dining, too, so we got lucky.

I ordered a Bloody Mary because I can't seem to find one in this town that isn't full of horseradish and Worcestershire. This one had neither, at least that I could tell. If it did, they used just enough so I didn't taste it. All I needed to add was a little salt and it was good to go. The rim is dusted with some sort of spicy celery salt, which I wasn't a huge fan of, and it came with a lime, green bean and a whole pickle spear. I think that was my favorite part, the pickle. I'm usually not a fan of a bunch of food in my Bloody Mary, but this wasn't bad. It's when you get an olive, a pickle, a lime, a piece of sausage (yes, I've gotten sausage once) and all that other crap. I just want some spiced up tomato juice with some vodka in it, (oh and that pickle apparently).

For brunch I ordered the Breakfast BLT. A fried egg, cheddar cheese, bacon and baby greens all on brioche was a nice twist on a regular BLT. The added egg was nice and the cheddar added a nice creaminess to the sandwich. The brioche was toasted and crunchy and I loved the thick cut bacon. This sandwich I would order again.

As before, the waitstaff was accommodating and friendly. Our waitress was quick and helpful when it
came to questions on the menu.

For those of you who have children, the patio on a nice day is the perfect place to take your kids to eat. There is a playground of sorts with toys and sidewalk chalk for your little ones to take advantage of while you're waiting on your food or chatting with friends after dinner.

I think this is going to be one of my new favorite spots in NOTO.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Horizon's Hamburger Palace

Horizon's Hamburgers is back, and has been for about a week (written February 26, 2016). The lady who works the cash register says they've been busier than anticipated. In March, they will begin serving a breakfast menu, but thew owner keeps pushing the date back because they've been so busy with lunch. Hopefully, it will be here sooner than later, especially if it's gonna be as good as their burgers.

When you walk in you gotta order at the counter, then wait for your name to be called. I didn't have to wait long to order, as there was no line. Their menu is pretty basic, but basic is fine with me, as long as it's good. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, pork tenders, BLTs and other sandwiches are available, as well as some dinners such as chicken fried steak, chicken strips, catfish and more. I see they also have homemade soup and chili.

I didn't try any of that, I just went for a burger. I've never had a Horizon's hamburger so I thought I'd start simple. There are two sizes, the Horizon, which is 1/6 pound and the Sunrise, which is 1/3 pound. Each can be ordered as a single, a double or a triple. I just went for the single Sunrise with everything but mustard and onion. I also ordered some fries and my hubby ordered some onion rings so I could try those, too.

My burger and fries took about 15 minutes, but definitely worth the wait. It was lunchtime and the
burgers seem to be fresh, not frozen so I could understand the wait and I'm okay with that. If you're in a hurry, maybe grab your food to go or come back when you have some more time, or when it's not so busy. The burger was juicy, flavorful and filling. The bun is grilled, which I thought was a nice touch, and I'm pretty sure the burger isn't a frozen puck because it looked hand-formed because it wasn't uniform in shape or size, especially compared to my hubby's burgers, (he got a double).

The fries the onion rings weren't anything special, just frozen and fried. That was fine to me, but I also felt they could have changed their fryer oil, which they probably did after their busy lunch. I came in around 1:30 p.m., so their lunch rush was just beginning to slow down, but not really. Like I said, the woman at the counter told me the restaurant has been much busier than expected.

I look forward to trying their breakfast menu and a few of their dinners. It seems like the menu is
heavy with fried items, though, so I may have to wait between visits.

If you're looking for something other than a fast food cheeseburger, you need to try Horizon's Hamburger Palace. Local, fresh and tasty, that's all I need. The prices weren't bad either.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Shana Cake

A new bakery opened in Topeka last month but it's not your typical bakery. Shana Cake features allergy-free baked goods. That means that all of the products contain absolutely no gluten, wheat, soy, dairy, corn, nuts, tree nuts, GMOs, artificial flavorings or colors or preservatives. Some of the items can be made without egg, too.

I stopped in to try some of their cupcakes because I've only heard good things and of course I wanted to see for myself. I've tried the vanilla vanilla cupcake at a bridal fair a few weeks ago and was impressed that it was free of all those allergens that usually make baked goods moist, fluffy and sweet, and it was still moist, fluffy and sweet. Because Shana Cake sells mini cupcakes, I didn't feel guilty getting six different flavors, a mini loaf cake and a loaf of white sandwich bread, (OK maybe just a little).

The mini loaf cake tasted like orange and cranberry or something fruity. The cupcakes are moist and sweet, and I would never have been able to tell they were allergen free if nobody told me. The frosting is sweet, too, with a nice texture that doesn't sit on your tongue forever like some shortening-based frostings. The apple cinnamon one was my favorite. And again, no dairy. That's the most impressive thing to me.

The cupcake that surprised me the most was the Lemonade Stand cupcake. I don't like lemon, usually
White sandwich bread
but this cupcake had just enough lemon flavor that it wasn't overpowering and I could stand it. Sometimes, lemon flavored foods can be too tart for me, but this was sweet with a slight lemon tang. I actually didn't hate it. But, it's still lemon so I probably won't order it again. For you lemon fans, though, you should definitely give it a try, whether you have an allergy or not.

I tried the white sandwich bread, too. I sliced me a piece off and slathered it with butter -- I don't have an allergy, so I figured, why not? -- and bit into my gluten and wheat free bread. I was impressed. I didn't notice anything about my bread except for that it was tasty and reminded me of when my mom made bread machine bread. I think it could use some salt, or maybe some salted butter, but for a ham sandwich it would be perfect. I plan to slice it up and try it with a sandwich tomorrow or the next day.

Hoagie buns and dinner rolls are also for sale at Shana Cake but I didn't try those. I started small but I guarantee I will be back for more. I'd recommend trying these products even if you don't have an allergy because they're good. If you work with someone who has an allergy, or your children's classmates have an allergy, these are perfect to take to work or school so everyone can enjoy them. And, they're pretty tasty, too.