Friday, May 10, 2013

Taqueria El Cazador 2

Me: So... we're going to eat in a bus restaurant for lunch today.
Smalls: I don't want to!

Well, we did anyway, and it was fun.

Taqueria El Cazador #2 is the bus that's parked on Governors Drive in Huntsville. They have another location at 10099 South Memorial Parkway.

We had a good experience, but you can be more prepared than I was (which is always a good thing when you have a toddler with you). Here's what you do: first, you go up into the bus. There are about ten seats inside, counter-style, facing the windows. They were mostly full when we got there at 11:45 on a Friday. Next, you order at the counter that separates the back 1/3 of the bus, which is the kitchen, from the dining area. You pay, then you get a ticket with a number. Pick up your napkins and utensils from inside. Then you go sit and wait inside the bus (we would have enjoyed sitting in the bus, but it was mostly full) or outside, on the covered picnic table. Then they call your number, and if you're outside, an employee hands you your order through a window in the bus (that was neat).

While waiting for our food at the picnic table outside:
Smalls: I thought the bus was going to be moving while we ate!
Me: Oh, well, it doesn't. It stays here.
Smalls: Why does it have wheels, then?

Smalls and I shared a chicken quesadilla plate and a bottle of water. It was $6. The drink choices are bottled water, Coke, and Jarritos. As far as I could tell, there's no kids' menu, and most of the choices were like combo plates, so I don't know if you can order, say, one cheese quesadilla or something (which is what Smalls likes at Mexican restaurants). But Smalls loved the quesadilla we shared (she said it was "forty" good--I think that's a lot).

You can eat here with your toddlers, and you should because the food is good (for grownups, at least), and it's fun to eat food cooked in a bus. But bring another adult with you, and go on a warm day, so one of you can stay outside of the bus with the kids while the other goes inside to order. It was a little tight waiting to order in the bus, and I didn't want to annoy anyone sitting at the counter/window seats. You can take the kids in one at a time if they're curious, so they can see the bus restaurant and say they've done it. But there's no room for playing around or pretending you're a pigeon that wants to drive the bus or anything. You know, normal things people want to do on buses.

Bathroom report: None.

Toddler friendliness ratings:
Atmosphere: 2.5 out of 5. There's not much room to maneuver with a toddler inside the bus.
Food: 3 out of 5. Smalls liked the chicken quesadilla, but I didn't see a way to get smaller portions. Sharing off your plate might be the way to go.

Taqueria El Cazador #2
3414 Governors Drive
Huntsville, AL
(256) 698-8682
Hours: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM Taqueria El Cazador 2 on Urbanspoon

Friday, April 19, 2013

5 A's

5 A's is a Greek/Mediterranean restaurant on 53 in Harvest. It used to be the (J)iffy Mart gas station and convienence store, but got a total revamp a year or two ago. It's also really good. Beardy, Smalls, and I have been there several times; Grandma, Smalls, and I went recently for lunch; and we've gotten take-away there once for dinner. I've never been disappointed. 
5A's is on 53 in Harvest, north of Publix.
I've gotten the traditional gyro (meat cone!), and the chicken gyro, and both are so good. The tzatziki sauce is wonderful. They do have a kids' menu, and the standout is the hot dog. Really. They slash it and grill it, and it is really better than you think it's going to be (comes out really hot, though). We've also gotten Smalls the veggie pizza, and it was too big for her to finish alone, but she loved it. Yes, Beardy and I sampled it, too. I think the crust is the same pita bread they make the gyros on (that's a good thing). 
Smalls thinks the dolmades look like... um... poop. But that's a 3-year-old's opinion. They taste fine. Let's move on. 
The hot dog is better than you think it's going to be.
Overall, this is a great toddler-friendly place. The owner is always so nice to Smalls, and the atmosphere is very casual.

Bathroom report: Clean. 2 stalls. No changing table. Bonus: you get to walk through a beaded curtain to get there.

Toddler friendliness ratings
Atmosphere: 4 out of 5 booster seats.
Food: 3 out of 5 booster seats. Healthy side choices would be better than fries only. Veggie sticks, pita wedges, and hummus?

5 A's
6297 Highway 53
Harvest, AL 35749
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10:30 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Closed Mondays

5 A's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Red Robin

Dear Red Robin, 
Thank you for having so many choices of sides on the kids' menu. 
Your friend,
Uppies and Cuppies

Smalls, Grandma, Aunt W, Smalls's cousin Jo, and I went to Red Robin for lunch yesterday. It was the last day of spring break and it was actually not raining or snowing and it's above 55 degrees, so everyone was out at Bridge Street. We had to wait about 25 minutes to get in, but it wasn't that bad. We watched Harlem Shake videos and chatted, and before we knew it, our name was called.
Just look at this: Mandarin oranges, salad, apples, baby carrots, broccoli, fruit salad. Nice.
Red Robin is loud. It may only be loud when it's busy, but I've actually never been when it's not busy, so I wouldn't know. But I couldn't hear Smalls talk, and she was next to me. It was like she was a baby  chick: "Cheep, cheep... Cheep? CHEEP!" So, that's good and bad. As Aunt W pointed out, your kids can be going crazy and no one else will know or care. Also, there's a TV in the floor in the waiting area. We got crayons and an activity sheet when we sat down. There are some kids' activities on their website, and you can look at the kids' menu there, too.

Smalls got the mac and cheese and Mandarin oranges. The mac and cheese was mostly sauce; it was meh... ok. The grown-up food is pretty good: good burgers (I like the turkey burger) and salads and chicken sandwiches.

Bathroom report: clean, two stalls. I didn't check for a changing table in the larger stall--the bathroom was crowded during the last day of spring break.

Toddler friendliness ratings:
Atmosphere: 4.5 out of 5. Casual, noisy, crayons provided.
Food: 4 out of 5. Thank you for that broccoli, Red Robin, but watch the sauce-to-noodle ratio on that mac and cheese.

Red Robin, Bridge Street
(256) 327-8530
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11:00 AM - 11:00 PM
Friday and Saturday 11:00 AM - Midnight

Red Robin on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chuck Wagon BBQ

Smalls and I just experienced our first visit to Chuck Wagon BBQ in Madison. It was Beardy's birthday, and he'd been wanting us to meet him there for lunch for a while. But you can't just show up to the Chuck Wagon. One does not simply walk into the Chuck Wagon. He had a plan--we'd snag a table right at 11 when they open, while he stood in line. At one point I texted him to let him know I wanted the coleslaw instead of potato salad. This plan was necessary, because there are only about nine tables inside (there are more in a covered patio area, but it was cold Monday), and the line is long. People start getting in line before they open for lunch. We were early enough to get a booth, (the style of which reminded me of the booths they used to have at the skating rink when I was little. Smalls did enough squirming during this meal. Thank God she wasn't on skates, too.)

I love that green cow... steer? Bull? Cow.
When the tables do fill up, it's hard to move around, especially with a toddler or a baby, and you wouldn't want to stand in line while corralling a kid. So, do what we did and snag a table and have someone in line. Or get your lunch or dinner to go and enjoy it at home.

First time I've seen jeans-butt seat covers. Also plastic covered. The fact that the chairs had pockets is still amusing Smalls.
The food is great, though. It's BBQ meats (brisket, chicken, ribs, sausage) and sides (corn on the cob, coleslaw, potato salad, beans). I had brisket and mild sausage, beans, and coleslaw (vinegar-based, not mayo). I brought a lunch from home for Smalls (which kept her busy at the table while Beardy was in line), but thought she'd like to try the sausage, which is why Beardy got me the mild one. She ended up eating about half of my sausage, bread, and some beans. The spicy sausage is good, too, and I don't even like baked beans, but I liked these. Beardy says the person serving the food (it's sort of cafeteria-style) scrapes the brisket ends into the beans all day as he serves the brisket (yeah, so the beans are NOT vegetarian). 

Bathroom report: The women's is a single (meaning toilet and sink are all in there together--no stalls). There's no changing table.

More jeans decor on the bathroom doors.

Toddler friendliness ratings

Atmosphere: 2 out of 5 booster seats (too crowded to accommodate younger kids).

Food: 3.5 out of 5 booster seats. Personally I think the BBQ is great, but the menu is limited to meats and a few sides.

Chuck Wagon BBQ
8982 Madison Boulevard
Madison, AL 35758
(256) 772-5179
Hours: 11:00 AM-2:30 PM, 5:00 PM-8:00 PM (but check their Facebook site for updates to the hours. I think they're on "winter" hours right now.)

Chuck Wagon on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Uppies and Cuppies on the Road: NYC

Smalls, Beardy, and I took a trip to New York City over Thanksgiving this year. We were a little nervous about hauling a two-year old through airports, and then around the city for a week, but the trip went great. We found an apartment to rent on instead of trying to all pack into a tiny NYC hotel room. That was good, too because we could cook there if we wanted, or go out. We did plenty of both. I carried a container of apple slices and carrot and celery sticks the whole time, just in case we ended up at a restaurant Smalls didn’t like, but mostly she did fine. Here are some highlights of our dining adventures.

Sabor a Mexico
This is a small Mexican restaurant in the Yorkville area near the apartment we rented. We went on a Tuesday night, and we were the only people there, but it looks like they do a lot of delivery and take out. It was perfectly comfortable for dining in, though. We had an assortment of tacos (very good), and shared the chicken ones with Smalls. She seemed happy with the tacos and the chips and salsa.

This is Buzz Lightyear's fist. The closest we got to seeing the Macy's parade was looking at the inflated balloons the day before the parade.
We had lunch at Old Shanghai Deluxe because it was there and it was not crowded. The restaurant was big and not crowded, so there was plenty of room for us and our coats and scarves and bags and stroller and everything. We got sesame noodles for Smalls (the ones I make at home are better) and soup dumplings, noodles with beef in broth, and General Tso’s chicken. The food was ok but not great, but it was a good place to sit, relax, spread out, and warm up at lunchtime.
Afterwards, we went to the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, just down the street from the restaurant. Smalls got strawberry, I got green tea, and Beardy got lychee sorbet (dairy free). There’s nowhere to sit inside, so walk up Bayard Street to Columbus Park to eat your ice cream. There are plenty of benches and you can watch people play mahjong and card games at the tables. Even if it’s only 50 about degrees.

This lovely elephant can be found across the street from the Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard Street.

Fatty Fish
This one was an adventure (or I thought it might be—it turned out pretty tame). Smalls and I met one of my friends from high school here for lunch on Saturday, and Beardy stayed at the apartment to watch the Iron Bowl (that’s the Alabama vs. Auburn football game. It’s kind of a big deal). So I rode the bus by myself with Smalls and a stroller, and it went fine. Someone even held the bus door open as we got out, and other passengers gave us the “she’s so cute” as Smalls nodded off on the bus ride back to the apartment. Smalls ate yakisoba (just noodles) and my friend and I ate sushi and talked for about two and a half hours. Smalls ate the noodles and put sparkly taxi and bus stickers on paper the whole time (really! I was amazed). I probably wouldn’t recommend Fatty Fish for a dinner with kids, because the restaurant wasn’t that big, but for a late lunch on a Saturday, it wasn’t crowded, so it was just fine. The sushi was very good.

Sabor a Mexico
1744 1st Ave, New York, NY 10128
(212) 289-2641

Old Shanghai Deluxe
50 Mott St
(between Pell St & Bayard St)
New York, NY
(212) 566-4884

Original Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 608-4170

Fatty Fish
406 East 64 Street, New York, NY 10065
1 212 813 9338

A couple extra:

Uno Chicago Grill
This is a chain and we ate at the location behind the Natural History museum (432 Columbus Avenue). They have a kids' menu, a huge dining room, and calorie counts on the menu.

Mole Mexican Bar and Grill
We actually ate at the UES location twice--once for dinner and once for lunch. No kids' menu, but good margaritas.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Below the Radar

Beardy, Smalls, and I went to Below the Radar last Saturday for lunch. We'd just come back from the Scottsboro Hardwood Center, and were on our way to the military surplus store, so all we needed was a good lunch to make the day truly exciting. Below the Radar is billing itself as "Huntsville's First Brewhouse," a slogan I like because that implies that there will be more. 

I checked BTR's website on the way back to Huntsville, and saw that they did have a kids' menu, and they had fish and chips, which sealed the deal for Beardy. We got there at about 11:45, and there were about four tables full, and one or two people at the bar. It stayed about like this for the whole time we were there, so it wasn't too crowded. The TV's were showing football, which made Beardy even happier. We were offered a highchair, but we just let Smalls sit in a chair. They have some barstool-height tables and some table-height tables. 

The kids' menu looks good--baked cheesy penne, grilled cheese, chicken fingers, and hot dogs. Everything is $5. Smalls opted for the grilled cheese and fries. She ate half of it there, and then ate the other half for dinner. I did the same thing with my sandwich (Cuban panini--which was very good, but I'm not sure it was Cuban or a panini.). Beardy liked his fish and chips, and the waitress offered him malt vinegar before he had to ask. The fish and chips was $11 and the panini was $10.

They have a great selection of beer, including local beer. Beardy and I tried Straight to Ale's Stop Work 689 Kolsch and Old Black Bear Cave City lager. I liked the Straight to Ale better.

Lunchtime on a Saturday felt kid-friendly, and I'm guessing their Sunday brunch and maybe early dinnertime would be, too. It may get a little too bar-like for a late dinner, though. We plan to leave Smalls with Grandma soon and find out. You know, just in the name of research.

Bathroom report: Very clean with two stalls (one is large), one sink, and no changing table.

Toddler friendliness ratings
Atmosphere: 3.5 out of 5 booster seats. 
Food: 4 out of 5 booster seats. The children's menu is good, but I'd like to see some fruit or veggie sides.

Below the Radar Brewhouse
220 Holmes Ave. N.E.
Huntsville, AL  35801

Monday-Thursday 11:00 AM-10:00 PM
Friday and Saturday 11:00 AM-12:00 AM
Sunday 11:00 AM-10:00 PM

Below the Radar Brewhouse on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Watercress at Bridge Street

I had a birthday last Wednesday, and Grandma took Smalls and me out to lunch. Because it was a special occasion, and because I needed to spend the gift certificate to Anthropologie that Grandma gave me RIGHT THIS INSTANT, I chose Watercress. Watercress is an upscale restaurant in Bridge Street, down near the Monaco movie theater. Beardy and I have been to their former location in a converted house downtown, but this was my first visit to the one at Bridge Street.

This is not somewhere I'd take Smalls for dinner, and I only chose it for lunch because it was a special occasion. The other clientele were people having business lunches, and there were no other kids. Smalls was incredibly good; the only unnecessary noise she made was RAWR-ing a little too loud when she was pretending to be a dinosaur, and she dialed it down when I told her to. And she put her napkin on her head a lot, but that didn't make any noise.

Quiet, napkiny hijinks.
If you do want to try Watercress, and want to brave it with the kids, go at lunch (or Sunday brunch), and look at the sides menu for more kid-friendly food. I packed Smalls a lunch and ordered her a side of pommes frites, which she liked a lot, of course. Pommes frites just sound better than french fries, don't they? She also ate the broccoli that I snuck onto her plate. The lunch prices are also more reasonable than the dinner prices. You can view the dinner menu here and the lunch one here.

Grandma got the shrimp and grits (mini review: the shrimp and grits at the Classic on Noble in Anniston is better), and I got fried catfish on a cornmeal pancake (looked almost as weird as it sounds, but tasted pretty good). If only they had kept that catfish bites appetizer they had downtown. Beardy and I TOLD the chef not to take them off the menu, but maybe they didn't listen to the ramblings of patrons who may have had a little too much wine.

I like Watercress, and I don't like giving it low ratings. Remember that these ratings are for those times when you have your kids with you. If this blog was for upscale restaurants to go to without kids, I'd give it much higher ratings.

Toddler friendliness ratings
Atmosphere: 2 out of 5 booster seats. Our waitress was really nice to Smalls, Grandma, and me at lunch, and she even poured Smalls' water straight from her pitcher into Smalls' sippy cup, and that impressed me for some reason, but it's just not set up for kids.
Food: 2.5 out of 5 booster seats. No kids' menu, and it's pricey, so if your kid doesn't like their fancy grilled cheese and tomato soup, you're out $10.

Lunch: Monday-Saturday 11:00 AM-5:00 PM
Dinner: Monday-Saturday 3:00 PM-Close
Sunday brunch: Sunday 11:00 AM-3:30 PM (Closed for dinner Sunday)
There's also a happy hour Monday-Saturday 3:30 PM-6:30 PM. The bar looks small but classy, so find a babysitter and try it out.

365 The Bridge Street NW, Suite 125, Huntsville, AL 35806
(256) 585-3265

  Watercress at Bridge Street on Urbanspoon