Category Archives: Favorite Bites

oakwood cafe raleigh nc review

Oakwood Cafe: Affordable and Delicious Argentinian Food

For the last few months a friend had mentioned an Argentine cafe to try out the next time I was downtown. For some reason, I kept forgetting to go there because I was usually meeting and eating at some of my favorite spots since eating out is less common nowadays as we’re cooking more meals at home and inviting friends over.

Great Food and Great Deals at Oakwood Cafe oakwood cafe raleigh nc review

Finally I had some free time this past weekend with another friend and we decided to try this place out – Oakwood Cafe. When we visited Saturday we arrived arrived a just a few minutes before their dinner opening and there were already some people waiting to get in. Within 20 minutes of opening they were about half filled, feeling hopeful that this meant that people loved the cafe, I went ahead ordered appetizer to dessert.

We started off with a plate their Yuca and a beef empanada. The Yuca was fantastic, just the right amount of garlic. The empanada was a good size and filled with perfectly season beef. Along with the bread at the table, we were already getting filled, but there was more to come.

My friend and I both went with the Churrasco steak (though she was wiser and went with the baby portion, I had a feeling that I needed to take some home to my husband). We had two sides to add with our meals, but alas my beloved tostones were out that night. I quickly fell in love with their plantains and black beans and all was forgiven.

I finished off my meal with some flan while my friend went with another glass of their house red. I have to say we were quite happy with the meal and even happier with the grand total of our bill. For the price of Olive Garden, we got a substantially better meal.

Oakwood Cafe’s Serving Hours

If you want to visit Oakwood Cafe, here are the hours for their service:

Monday – Wednesday

  • Lunch: 11:00am – 3:00pm

Thursday and Friday

  • Lunch:11:00am – 3:00pm
  • Dinner:6:00pm-10:00pm

Saturday

  • Brunch: 8:30am-12:30pm
  • Dinner:6:00pm-10:00p

Sunday

  • Brunch: 8:30am-12:30pm

Here is their address if you need to get directions from Google Maps or your GPS:

300 East Edenton Street, Raleigh, NC 27601

If you want to call ahead, you can reach them at (919) 828-5994.

Thoughts on Oakwood Cafe

I’d love to hear from those who have tried the cafe out. What are some of your favorite dishes? What is the best time to come in with a group (8 or so)?

thumbs-down

Least Favorite Food Chains

In May, I shared my favorite lunch places with you in the hopes that you give them a chance. Today, I’m going to turn my attention to the bottom of the list and include some plain-old restaurants and fast-food places.

Watching Where I Eat

In no particular order, these are my least-favorite national and regional chains:

  1. Applebee’s: You may have heard recent rumors that Applebee’s doesn’t actually cook much of its food in-house, but instead microwaves pre-packaged, frozen items on a regular basis. Whether or not these are founded in truth, my anti-love-affair with Applebee’s reaches back further than these developments. I find the food there unappetizing, poorly seasoned, and honestly–a bit like it came out of the microwave.
  2. Subway: I can honestly say that Subway makes the institution of the sandwich look bad. First, there’s the distinct smell that seems to permeate everything inside a Subway restaurant. Second, there’s the odd look about everything, as if it came out of a sealed plastic package just minutes ago (which in many cases, it did). Subway’s only redeemable quality is the toaster oven, which at least makes the bread and some of the chicken sandwiches okay, once in a while.
  3. McDonald’s: 20 years ago, as well as I can remember, McDonald’s used to serve decent food that kids were excited to eat as a treat and parents could stomach. A recent trip to the Mac (I haven’t been back in a while) revealed that the food is not only fast but also inedible. The fries are small, soggy, and tasteless. The burgers are thin, oddly colored, and have the obligatory pickle or two thrown in for flavor. The only thing I could possibly stomach would be the milk shakes, but then I gave up sugar, didn’t I?
  4. Hooters: I would say I go to Hooters for the wings, but I dislike chicken wings with a passion. No, I actually go because my wife likes it (the wings), but I’m always less-than-impressed at the quality of the food. It’s a nice…atmosphere…for watching sports and other things, but beyond that I find very little appeal in this restaurant.
  5. Cracker Barrel: A lot of people I know really enjoy the food at this “Southern breakfast” chain, but I never quite understood what all the fuss what about. The breakfast selections are similar to what you can get at any other breakfast chain, and I don’t really care for any of the typical Southern sides. Maybe it’s just my personal taste, but this is another chain I only go to with company.
  6. Taco Bell: Ugh, where do I start? In the interest of full disclosure, I have only been to Taco Bell three times in my life, and all of the occasions were memorable for all the wrong reasons. And that’s all I’m going to say about that…

Those six top my list–what’s on yours?

(Photo credit)

red potatoes

Summer Meals: Cheeseburgers, Salad with Avocado Dressing, and Roasted Red Potatoes

We’ve been firing up the grill more often, both for our own meals and for get-togethers at our house. This weekend we had friends from out of town visit us and we got the grill ready again. We had burgers, roasted vegetables, and a salad to complete the meal.

Cheeseburgers

Cheeseburgers are the quintessential summer entree. It’s not hard to make a fantastic burger if you have the right ingredients. keeping it simple is key.

  • Lightly mix 6 ounces ground beef chuck with a pinch of kosher salt.
  • Form into a ball, then into a 3/4-inch-thick patties
  • Grill the burger 4 to 5 minutes per side (or however long you prefer)
With some cheddar cheese and bacon or whatever you prefer, you can create a fantastic burger.

Avocado and Lime Dressing

We had a kale salad with avocado and lime dressing instead of my husband’s favorite – ranch. We wanted to mix it up and try something different. Besides tasting delicious, the dressing was incredibly easy to make.

  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2-3 tbsp water (to thin it a little bit)

You can mix it by hand or you can use a food processor.

Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes with Broccoli red potatoes

While I love fries with my cheeseburgers, roasted potatoes are just as good.

  • 14-16 small new red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • broccoli florets

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl mix the oil, garlic, and rosemary; add the potatoes and broccoli. Toss well. Transfer the potatoes to a s baking pan and roast until potatoes are tender when tested with the tip of a knife.

Thoughts on Eating This Summer

I’d love to hear about your favorite summer meals. Have you’ve been grilling more often? What has been your favorite dish so far?

Photo Credit

panera-bread

My Favorite Lunch Chains

When it comes to a decently priced and/or relatively health lunch selection, the world between the fast-food drive-through and the steakhouse has certainly seen a lot of growth in the last decade.

More and more, people I know and who are in a similar financial position (trying to be careful with their money), are turning to these lunch chains for a fast, simple, inexpensive, and many times, very healthy meal during work hours.

While our goal is to have dinner at home with the family every night, these chains also come in handy when we want a less expensive dinner out, by choice or because we just don’t have anything to eat in the fridge. 

Here are some of my favorites and a short description of what they serve up:

  1. Panera Bread: I’m a card-carrying member at Panera, in part because of its proximity to my office, but also because of the wide variety they offer for any meal of the day (their breakfast sandwiches and pastries are delicious). Lunch can include anything from a hot panini to a seasonal soup to a tasty salad. You can mix & match most items on the menu if you can’t decide.
  2. Chipotle: This is a Mexican joint known for its use of natural and local ingredients in all of their food. Their recent expansion across the country is, ironically, largely due to investments made by McDonald’s. They offer the typical Mexican fare, including burritos, tacos and rice bowls, made with your choice of meat and toppings. Their braised pork “carnitas” and fresh-made guacamole top my list.
  3. Pei Wei: This is P.F. Chang’s “fast food” arm, serving up Asian dishes that are extremely tasty and made on the spot. Most main plates come over rice or pasta, and can be topped with your choice of protein, including shrimp and a sliced/fried tofu that’s out of this world. I also recommend many of the appetizers, which include items like classic spring rolls and lettuce wraps.
  4. Five Guys: A burger joint with flare, Five Guys primarily serves up delicious burgers and fresh-made fries, custom-made with your choice of any or all toppings. Their assembly-line style slows down your burger production a bit, but the meal is well-worth the wait. They also set out peanuts in case you get hungry while you wait.
  5. Jimmy John’s: My wife introduced me to this sandwich chain, whose shtick is “freaky fast delivery.” They are equally fast in the store and offer such unusual sandwich toppings as alfalfa sprouts. Part of the appeal are the interesting lists and quotes that line the walls, and of course, their delicious sandwiches.
  6. Sweet Tomatoes: Also known as Souplantation in some markets, this is essentially an all-you-can-eat soup and salad joint, with the added benefit of a dessert and ice cream station, fresh breads and pastas, and a baked potato station. They often have coupon deals if you come with friends or family that knock a few bucks off the bill.

Are you looking for a new place to call home during lunch hour? See if one of these places is nearby and see if you like them as much as I do! Cheers!

(Photo credit)

trader-joes-storefront

More Finds from Trader Joe’s

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the newest Trader Joe’s opening near our house, and some of my favorite items to date. With the help of my northern relatives, I recently dove even deeper into the offers at Joe’s and found some pleasant surprises in the mix.

You might recall some of my favorites from the last post, including the famous “Two Buck Chuck” on which the Trader Joe’s brand is building its name. But even in locations like New York, where the sale of alcohol isn’t permitted in grocery stores, Trader Joe’s is thriving. Maybe it’s some of these other delicious treats:

  1. Organic 73% Dark Chocolate (with nuts): One of the best chocolate bars I had the pleasure of eating in under one day, but hey–it’s all dark chocolate, so hopefully it was somewhat good for me.
  2. Applewood Unsulfured Smoked Bacon: Preservative-free meats are all the rage these days, while the debate on whether this actually improves or worsens our health continues. I gave this bacon a try and was very pleased with the overall taste.
  3. Organic Mayo: Yes, even your mayo can come organic these days. And it’s a Trader Joe’s label, so you can be sure that it won’t break the bank too badly.
  4. Whole Grain Dijon Mustard: Whole grain mustards preserve the entire mustard seed as opposed to grinding it up during processing. I don’t know of any particular health benefits to using the entire grain, but the mustard has a distinct flavor, and it also looks fairly “cool” which counts for presentation.
  5. Brown Basmati Rice: My recent obsession with Basmati was taken to new heights when I discovered that Trader Joe’s sells the brown-rice version of this sweet and aromatic rice.
  6. Chapagne Pear Vinegarette: Found in the refrigerator section of the store, this tasty dressing works equally well on salads as it does in marinating meats before cooking.
  7. Organic Blue Agave: This is the specific agave type that is used in the production of tequila and originates in Mexico. The evidence that agave is any better for you than sugar is still inconclusive though, so use this one with caution.
  8. Olive Tapenade Spread: This is a delicious chunky spread that goes great over crackers or a piece of toast.

One of the cool things about Trader Joe’s is their constant rotation of product, based on the demand and the seasonality of particular items. I’m very curious to see what kinds of treats they can get me hooked on next!

(Photo credit)