Where to begin? I've lived within walking distance of this place for the last two years, and when I move I am going to sincerely miss it. Their cakes are good, but I'm way more into their breakfast options. As a big breakfast person, I know I can trust them to have delicious pastries (their croissants are damn fine) and pretty good full breakfasts. The coffee is okay, nothing to get really excited about. But the hashbrowns? Oh. My. God. So few places have such creamy hashbrowns. They put my homemade hashbrowns to shame.
I will say, though, that it's disappointing that I can't just order a side of hashbrowns and some bacon without having to order an actual menu item. They get points off for that, as far as I'm concerned, but that's really my only complaint.
tl;dr: Solid breakfast, awesome pastries, and HASHBROWNS.
Oh man, this place. I knew it well growing up. Between this store and the Kaybee Toys in the mall, I was pretty much set for toys, whether it was Transformers or, well, mostly Transformers. And, when I got older and the Internet wasn't as awesome as it is today (think AOL, and Amazon before you could buy everything from a toaster oven to child slaves), this Toys R Us stocked the scale models I started becoming addicted to. It was, in fact, how I came to discover that there were all kinds of Gundams to be found if only you know where to look.
The last time I stepped foot in this store was over a decade ago. I came back recently to look for toys for my niece. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was the smell, like there were tires stocked somewhere in the building. It was the most familiar things. As much as the store's layout changed over the years, that smell stayed the same, and I couldn't help but feel right at home.
Like anyone who chooses to go to Arby's, I love Arby's. It's excellent eating, but this place just doesn't live up to the already low bar set by most fast food establishments.
My love affair with this location burned pretty hot at the beginning. Orders were fine, the food was delicious. I would've given it four or five stars then. Things were really great, but everybody has their honeymoon phase. It wasn't long before Arby's found out that I was cheating on her ... with different Arby's locations. After being with other Arby'ses (yes, more than one), this one on El Camino started looking less attractive. A little less hygienic, a little more frumpy and dated in the way she dressed. When she saw my eye had turned away from her, she started getting hostile.
It had been months since I went, because the last time I saw her, I swear she tried to poison me in a fit of jealous rage. Trying to communicate with her made me feel like I was in a 90s stand-up bit about going through a drive-thru with the shittiest intercom. But this last time she really let me know how she felt: lukewarm potato cakes.
It's almost like she thought I wouldn't notice. "SCHKEMEALSHHHZK?" she said.
"No, baby, just the potato cakes," I replied.
When she handed them over, the look she gave me said it was through. I didn't believe it. I couldn't. And then I ate the potato cakes as I drove away. Some of the other Arby's I've been with, they've run out before I could get my hands on those sweet cakes. They're all, "Sorry, baby, but how about some curly fries?" And I can only say, "I'm not ready for that kind of commitment." I'm not jealous or anything -- I can understand running out -- but lukewarm potato cakes? That shit is popular, so popular they should be coming to you as hot as they come out of the fryer. Damn. There's no excuse for that, unless you're trying to give a memorable sendoff.
I'm sorry, Arby's at the corner of Bernado and El Camino. I guess it just didn't work out.
Le Boulanger is just a short jaunt from work and on the way home, so I end up here more often than not when I'm in the mood for a sandwich. It's definitely in the middle for me. Ordering online is really convenient and faster if I remember to place the order ahead of time, but it can be a crapshoot for getting your exact order if you want to switch bread or have things left out. Depends on the day and who's manning the station.
I haven't made a full round of the menu, but Le Grand Roast Beef and the Bay Shrimp are standouts. Their BLT is okay--disappointing for a place specializing in sandwiches Le Club is okay too, if you're in the mood for a jaw workout. The Italiano is a clear winner for me so far, with the meat, cheese, and veg components all brought together by a tangy vinaigrette. Everything comes with chips and a pickle, which I can take or leave depending on the sandwich. I'm not a fan of how they wrap the pickle with the sandwich, though.
It's interesting to dine in, especially if you sit in the main area looking into the bakery. I stare through the glass as if Xzibit were there beside me, inviting me to watch them making bread while I'm eating bread. But I'd just as soon order online and avoid mixing memes with mortadella.
I haven't been to Pizz'a Chicago for dine-in, but their delivery is excellent. Place the order online and wait for the call to confirm. Even on their busiest nights it's usually only 45 minutes to an hour for delivery, and for decent pizza it's worth the wait. It helps too that their delivery guys are really friendly.
The calzones are awesome. I'm not so much a fan of how the grease and the tin foil they're wrapped in tends to make the crust soggy on the bottom. They're packed well, though, and are the perfect size. The sauce that comes with them for dipping borders on perfect and makes up for any flaws they might have otherwise. I wouldn't hesitate to say they've got the best calzones in Santa Clara. The pizza is pretty good, too.
Yan Can isn't the greatest place I've ever been to, but it's got a lot of things going for it (not including the built-in opportunity to wittily criticize it in the manner of "Yan Can't"):
1) Location. When I woke up from that blackout, it was the first thing I saw. I was hungry, and I couldn't believe my luck that I'd ended up outside an Asian fusion place. And all that without having to find a parking space at the Rivermark. (I mention this because the Rivermark has a clause that any time you mention it, even in passing or in giving directions, you need to complain about the parking).
2) The serving sizes are good. Like I said, when I woke up from my blackout, I was really dang hungry. The Korean BBQ Beef was exactly the sort of thing I needed, the perfect size so that when I finished, I was satisfied but not stuffed to the breaking point. I've been to places where they offer too much food to eat in one sitting, but only enough more that it either goes to waste because it isn't worth saving, or you eat it all and regret it later.
3) The ratio of meat to vegetables in my favorite dish(es). Sometimes a guy just doesn't want vegetables, you know? I've had enough food where a good half or more is vegetables, and the places skimp on the meat. Really, depends on the dish, but the Korean BBQ Beef was spot on, offering enough meat that even if I don't eat the cucumbers and tomatoes I don't feel unsatisfied or, more importantly, ripped off.
4) The food left me feeling good enough that I didn't seek medical attention for that blackout. So far, so good!
5) The spring rolls. They're crispy and fresh and my god I would almost order them to eat on their own.
Yan Can is a good place to eat. It's not the first thing I'll think of when I need to grab a bite, but it's definitely a great place to wake up in front of when you're feeling hungry.
Man this place was tasty and left me with that satisfied but not full to bursting feeling. I like that in a burrito and/or taco. I'm not picky, really, so we'll say burrito AND taco.
We get a different truck coming by every day at lunch, and their burritos don't match up to Taco De Oro's. Service at the other truck is better, but eh, it's a truck. I don't need service, I just need a bigass burrito filled up with meat and rice and beans and
Yeah, sorry. Kind of trailed off there while I was thinking about the tacos. Definitely worth the trip if you're in Silicon Valley and don't have a decent taco truck nearby.
This place definitely exceeded my expectations, given a good chunk of the reviews here. It's a buffet, with all the same risks and disappointments and pleasant surprises you should expect from a buffet. There was way more variety in the foods than I expected, from the usual buffet standards like General's Chicken to things like crawfish, pizza, a sushi bar, and Mongolian BBQ. The fried rice was definitely high on rice and low on fried, but it tasted good, and tasting good is my number one criterion for judging a restaurant.
I think the biggest surprise was the veiled threat I received in my fortune cookie. "Enjoy yourself while you can."
Now I know where the crazy in their name comes from.
America's roast beef? Yes, sir!
So there I was, arriving in Minneapolis after hours on an airplane in front of some poor, sad Californian who would NOT stop chatting up the elderly couple sitting behind him, playing at various times the absolute fool ("How cold does it get in the summer? Is what I'm wearing fine?") and the less absolute fool ("Would I be able to catch a bus there?" "There" being some city about 50-60 miles south of the airport). All I'd had to eat that day was perhaps the most lackluster Burger King burger I've experienced, which was incidentally consumed as quickly as possible to make the experience end all the sooner, at the Phoenix airport. I needed, desperately, something to eat--but first I needed to get out of the city and on my way north, to my final destination.
Food didn't enter my mind again until the lights of the Twin Cities were behind me. And when it entered, the first thing I thought of was Arby's. While there ARE Arby's restaurants in California, they certainly aren't as numerous as in my memories of Minnesota; and so it was that I struck upon the craving for Arby's that had been building and building inside me for many months.
Yes. ARBY'S. The restaurant that was infamously cited in the Simpsons episode "Das Bus" (5F11) as a measure of starvation: "I'm so hungry I could eat at Arby's."
As I drove through the night, I was taunted by visions of juicy folds of shaved roast beef, held intimately close by golden, toasted buns. I could imagine unwrapping the foil, seeing the sparkling sesame seeds, taking the sandwich's weight into my hands... I could already smell it! And the fresh, hot potato cakes I would order to complete this meal... Would they be as good as I remembered? The crisp, golden crust giving way to the steaming, creamy, starchy insides...
Just when I was about to go crazy in the dark of night, a shining light appeared ahead of me -- a shining red light, in the shape of a cowboy hat. Lo, thought I, this was the oasis I sought! The Arby's off of 169 in Elk River!
It was late, and the place was slow, but still I pulled into the drive-thru and placed my order. When it came to me, sealed in its paper bag, it was all I could do to not tear it apart to reach the treasure hidden inside.
Ravenous, I ate as I drove. The sandwich, the potato cakes, the Dr. Pepper with which I washed them both down my gullet - all of it was glorious. Simply glorious.
Oh man, I wish this place had been open when I still lived here. I probably never would have moved away. I found out about it courtesy of their website and was flabbergasted at such an unlikely location, so close to the places I grew up.
It's not exactly the same as the Betty's Pies up off of Lake Superior, but it's close enough to be a fine substitute if you lack the gusto and/or moxie to make the long trek up to and through the North Shore. The interior felt a lot roomier than the original, and was definitely accommodating for the lunch rush on the day I went.
The major difference between this location and the one in Two Harbors is in the menu. This location's menu includes breakfast items (did I mention I wished I still lived close enough to give it a full sampling?), and the burgers they make here are actual hamburger, and not the (salisbury) steak burgers served further north. But the pies -- the pies are what really matter, and I can't say that they disappoint here.
Just a word of advice: avoid the cream pies with a meringue crust (the Orange Chocolate, for example). They come to you as a mess on a plate, and while tasty, are not exactly overwhelming. But that's a flaw of the pie's design and not of Betty's preparation, so I can hardly deduct points for that.
Not as must-go as the original, but, as I said, a worthy substitute to making the journey north.