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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Taco Bell - Pacific Shrimp Taco

  Are you old?  Do you like to dance?  Taco Bell has something for you!  That's right, now Taco Bell is offering a free glass of pop to all seniors.  (I'm assuming that high school and college seniors need not apply)  Yep, nothing better than sugar water (essentially cotton candy in a cup) to put some pep in your step, and get you off your feet and dancing!

  Ok, in all seriousness, it is nice that they are offering something free to the older folks, but couldn't it have been an actual food item off the value menu?

  I paid a visit to one of the many local Taco Bell locations a few days ago, since I had a coupon for a free crunchy seasoned beef taco with any purchase.  Unfortunately, the coupon said no photocopies, so I can't provide a printable scan here.  The coupon itself was interesting because of how it seemed to stress the fact that it was 100% beef with seasonings.  Of course, you can't be 100% beef if part of the mixture is seasonings.  I'm guessing that the coupon was damage control to help shape public perception after the recent lawsuit filed by some folks who believe they can prove that Taco Bell is only using about 50% beef in their beef tacos.

  Hey, free is free in any case, and I hadn't eaten at a Taco Bell in some months, so I gave them a try.  In addition to the crunchy beef taco, I ordered a Beefy 5 layer burrito, as well as a new addition to the menu - the Pacific Shrimp Taco.  The latter is an interesting mix - seafood and Mexican.

  The beef taco was crunchy and beefy, with loads of lettuce, tomato and cheese that elevate it a bit above the unremarkable.  Adding some sauce makes it a decent choice for a buck.  The Beefy 5 Layer Burrito, also a buck, is a fantastic deal, however.  I think it has become my new favorite on their value section of the menu.  It has loads and loads of cheese, and I think it is about twice as hefty as the taco as far as filling you up.

  I had mixed feelings about the Pacific Shrimp Taco.  That's it in the right rear section of the food photo.  Although the advertising seems to show a crunchy taco, and my receipt definitely shows that I purchased what I wanted, I received something with a soft wrap.  I'm thinking now that I probably got the Pacific Shrimp Burrito put on my tray by mistake.  Unlike the marketing photo, the shrimp were buried so deeply that I thought perhaps I had been given a completely different item, but I finally found them.  The taste was excellent, with ranch sauce and quite a bit of tomato bits.  However, I felt it was perhaps a bit overpriced at $2.80, because it was not very filling.

  One of the more interesting discoveries I made while visiting was in the sauce department.  For about the last decade, I've never used any of the sauces when I ate at Taco Bell.  I guess I already think of the food as spicy, and evidently I was thinking that there wasn't any reason to add more spices.  However, this time I was looking at the sauces and decided to try Salsa Verde and Fire Roasted.  Surprisingly, I very much liked both!  Neither was hot at all, but they had excellent flavor.  The Verde has a tangy sweet taste, while the Fire Roasted has an appropriate smoky tomato flavor.  Good job to these guys for coming up with a couple of sauces I would like to have at home.

Copyright 2011 Dayton Dining

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Larosa's Pizzeria

  Back in 2002, the regional chain Larosa's opened its first Dayton area location in Centerville.  Today there are 5 locations in the Dayton area.  The focus is on pizza, but they also serve hoagies, pasta, soup and salads.

  Prices tend to be a little higher than most area pizza places.  I had never been in a Larosa's previously, so I was curious how the quality and experience would stack up to some of the other places I've visited.  The restaurant was very clean, neat and well lit inside.

  We ended up ordering a couple of pizzas, plus a Philly Cheese Steak sub, (hoagie), which I was able to add on to our order at a small discount - $5 instead of $5.99.  I was very impressed with the hoagie, which was one of the better tasting hot subs I've had.

  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a photo of our pizzas before we ate them, so I have no close up to offer this time.  The pizza experience here was decidedly mixed for us.  Toppings were a highlight, with excellent quality, freshness, and especially quantity.  No skimping on toppings in this place!  However, the crust was another story.  1 of our two pizzas was fine, with a decent, crunchy crust.  The second, for whatever reason, had loads of oil on the tray which had soaked into the bottom of the pizza, making the whole thing a soggy mess.  I have no idea why they would have put globs of vegetable oil on the pan like that, but the resulting sogginess of the crust was very, truly disappointing.  This is not to say that we didn't enjoy the pizzas.  We were hungry, we ate more than half of that they gave us, and we took home the rest to eat later.  If this ever happened to me again, though, I would definitely ask them to take the soggy pizza back and make it again.

  Because of this incident, I hesitate to recommend Larosa's.  I think we would have to eat there again to see if this sort of thing happens often.  As it stands right now, I would probably give Larosa's a conditional 6.5 out of 10 review, with the rating going up a notch if the "crust incident" didn't repeat itself on a followup visit.  If any of you have eaten at this establishment, I would be very interested in hearing if you have had a similar experience here.


Larosa's Pizzeria
5 Dayton area locations
hours: Sun.-Thur. 10:30am to 11pm    Fri. & Sat. 10:30am to Midnight
how it got started:

copyright 2011 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Arby's Angus Three Cheese & Bacon

  I made a quick stop at a local (Englewood) Arby's store to try out their new Angus Three Cheese & Bacon sandwich.  I'm not sure exactly whether to call it a sandwich or a sub - I guess it is actually both.  It comes in at about 9 inches in length, so it is not exactly a foot long.  I also took one home and weighed it, and it was a grand total of 9 ounces.

  These are being sold for $4.99 each.  Normally that would not entice me at all, because Subway has an increasingly wide variety of foot longs for 5 bucks.  However, Arby's is also sending out buy 1 get 1 free coupons, which lowers the cost of this sub to a more palatable $2.50 each, so I decided to give it a try.

  The Angus Three Cheese & Bacon is filling enough.  If you have a big appetite, you might need to add another of the sandwiches from their value menu.  You can tell from the photo that the color of the roast beef varied quite a bit.  At first I wondered if the meat had all been cooked through completely, but then I figured that natural, non dyed beef does vary in color from cut to cut.  It is NOT all a uniform dark red color, like you see at some of the local supermarkets.

  Yes, I could taste some cheese in there, but it was not a huge amount of the flavor.  It certainly wasn't slathered on like the photos imply! The bun was buttery tasting, and I have to admit that I really wasn't expecting the almost overwhelmingly strong taste of black pepper.  Now I certainly enjoy the taste of black pepper, especially when I fry up some bacon at home.  I don't remember where it was, but once I had bacon that had been marinated in some sort of black pepper, and I loved it.  Now I think I would miss it a bit if my bacon didn't have some on it.

   Speaking of bacon, I could definitely tell it was in there, but again, not a lot.  I guess when I do get around to making BLT's at home, which is rarely these days, I end up using quite a lot of crunchy bacon.  I didn't feel anything crunchy in there when eating this.  That would have made my day- finally finding a place with crunchy bacon on a sandwich, but I guess I'll keep looking.  There was plenty of the roast beef, of course.  I couldn't tell any difference between the "Angus" variety on this sub, and the regular roast beef sandwich I ate right afterwards.  However, I did add a little bit of their "horsey" (horseradish) sauce, and a bit of their barbecue sauce, to slightly lessen the overwhelming black pepper flavor.

  With the coupons, it is a decent, though not spectacular deal.  I found myself wishing that there were more toppings, such as lettuce, banana peppers, tomato, etc.  It seemed a bit barren as far as toppings go.  (I think I've been spoiled by Subway)  One thing I know for a fact is that if you love a strong black pepper taste and beef, you will enjoy this sub.  If you're not a big black pepper fan, you might want to try a different sandwich.

Copyright 2011 Dayton Dining

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Buy 1 Get 1 Free coupons at Chick-Fil-A & Spaghetti Warehouse

  Buy 1 Get 1 free deals seem harder to find than they used to be.  Here are a couple of the nicer coupons I've seen lately.

  The first has B1G1 12 nuggets at Dayton area Chick-Fil-A locations:

  The second has B1G1, your choice of either Lasagna or Spaghetti at Spaghetti Warehouse:

Copyright 2011 Dayton Dining