Friday, August 28, 2009

Juan’s Flying Burrito

Remember when you were a kid, enduring the dull pace of yet another day at school, longing for the free days of summer to begin?  I find that as an adult, I don’t have very many things to look forward to.  Sure, I am anxious for a week or two away from work each year or seeing a beloved local band, but it isn’t quite the same.  For some reason, it doesn’t hold the same promise of unexpected pleasures and adventure as it did when I was young.

Just recently, I began a diet that requires cutting out extra fats and carbs, eating five, small balanced meals a day and drinking plenty of water.  I am never hungry, but I dearly miss the delicious meals this city has to offer.  Fortunately, once a week, I am allowed to “cheat” and eat whatever I want for one meal.  Thursday has been renamed as my “Official Cheat Day,” and now I have something to look forward to.  By the way, it’s been two weeks, with two cheats, and I have already lost 15 pounds.

This week, I have been looking forward to a spicy “Creole Tex-Mex” meal at Juan’s Flying Burrito, and that is exactly what I got.  After work, my boyfriend and I headed over to the Magazine Street location, which is my favorite even though I live closer to the Mid-City Juan’s. Perhaps it has something to do with nostalgia (it was the first restaurant I visited when I moved here 6 years ago) or because of the funky art, the cool coffee can light fixtures, the “alternative” vibe of the servers or the chef’s singing along to old 80’s tunes in the open kitchen, but I always choose the original Juan’s.

We were seated almost as soon as we walked in the door and started off the meal with their chips, salsa and guacamole.  I am always pleased with Juan’s crunchy tortilla chips and fresh salsa. The guacamole was tasty, too, with big chunks of avocado, a nice spicy kick and creamy consistency. We also ordered some margaritas, on the rocks with salt, and were pleasantly surprised to realize it was still Happy Hour. The margaritas came in tall pint glasses and were, as the waiter aptly put, “very happy.” Actually, Juan’s is having a summer “Happy Hour Special” that runs from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday.  Now there’s an excuse to leave work earlier!

The specials board was advertising Barq's BBQ Chicken Nachos with cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole, and the waiter’s recommendation made it sound even more tempting, but I already had something else in mind. For my entree, I ordered an “Al Pastor burrito” which consists of slow-cooked shredded pork and grilled onions with pineapple salsa, sour cream, pickled jalapenos, cilantro, pinto beans and yellow rice wrapped in a flour tortilla. My boyfriend got Juan’s “Flying Burrito,” grilled steak, Gulf shrimp and chicken with cheddar and jack cheese, black beans, yellow rice, salsa, sour cream and guacamole, all rolled in a grilled tortilla.

The “Al Pastor” was deliciously sweet and spicy, hot enough for me to sip a little too strenuously on my margarita, resulting in both a cold headache and a pleasant buzz.  My boyfriend’s dish was tasty as well, overflowing with meat and perfectly seasoned. Portion size is never a problem at Juan’s...

As we rolled out of the restaurant excessively sated, we began planning our dining adventure for next week. My new eating regimen has me not only looking forward to a healthier lifestyle and continued weight loss, it has also brightened my palate for the dining experiences ahead.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Joe Sepie's

When our offices were still located in Harahan, my co-worker and I would frequently visit Joe Sepie's when it opened on the corner of Central Avenue and Jefferson Highway because the food was absolutely fantastic.

Let me tell you, nothing has changed...

My boyfriend and I decided that since we were going to see the new Harry Potter movie at the Palace Theater on Elmwood, we might as well stop and have lunch before the show.  The first place that came to mind was Joe Sepie's and I knew exactly what I wanted to eat, an Ultimate Roast Beef Po-Boy.

We arrived at the immaculately clean restaurant around 2:00 p.m. on Saturday and we were starved due to no breakfast that morning.  We ordered an Ultimate Roast Beef Po-Boy and a Fried Catfish Po-Boy, both with a side of onion rings.  The bread was fresh and chewy and the roast beef smothered in provolone was delectable.  I tasted my BF's catfish and found it equally delicious with a crisp, crunchy batter that contained fresh, flaky catfish.

One of the reasons I am such a fan of Joe Sepie's is that the owner really cares about his customers.  He asks their opinions on new dishes he creates and he goes that "extra mile" when creating simple dishes like homemade french fries and onion rings.  Who makes homemade french fries anymore?

I think Joe Sepie's could easily be about the best Po-Boy shop in New Orleans, one that really focuses on quality products and there are always cool new dishes on the menu like a Veal Parmesan Po-Boy.  I'm going to have to go back soon to try his latest creation, a Muffuletta Egg-Roll.  I know, it sounds bizarre, but I watched as one customer devoured them, relishing every bite.  He (the owner) claimed the classic Muffuletta flavors were more pronounced in the hot egg roll.  I will be back soon to give it a try!

*This was my first food review published online and when the diet began...will it ever end? Probably not.