Archive for the tag “Mexican”

Smothered Burritos Have Dropped! Qdoba’s Newest Item Hit The Spot! (@QdobaMexGrill)

First, I want to say that I had intended to write this post over a week ago.  However, work has been quite hectic and I’m just getting around to writing it.  😦

Just about a month ago, Abby, the Wisconsin marketing manager at Roaring Fork, the franchise group of local Qdoba restaurants, reached out to me via email to invite me try a new menu item – the smothered burrito.  Abby had done her homework and had read my blog.  She shared personal experiences that aligned with the “She Ordered What?” concept, and I appreciated her initiative and outreach.  I also invited her to write a guest post sometime, if she’s so inclined!  😉

Abby advised me that Qdoba was introducing the smothered burrito on December 8th, 2015.  She offered me two entrees, an order of chips and guacamole or queso, and two drinks in exchange for trying the new item.  I gladly obliged, and the loaded reward card arrived on December 5th – just in time to try the item as it “dropped” on the menu.  (or, that was the original plan!)


Typically, when I go to Qdoba, I order the burrito bowl because the standard burritos are packed so full of the delicious ingredients that I end up using my fork and knife anyway. So, why not just go with the bowl?  And, I love the burrito bowl, for the record!

However, when I walked to the local Qdoba yesterday (just before noon), I knew I was going to try the smothered burrito.  I walked into an empty shop and was warmly greeted by Taliyah.  I advised her that I wanted to try the new smothered burrito, and asked her to talk to me about the newest menu item.  Taliyah politely agreed, advising me that the smothered burrito is built from a smaller tortilla than the standard burrito.  Then, it’s a similar process:  choose your rice (white or brown), your meat (chicken, beef, steak or pork), and then your sauce (tangy verde, smoky chipotle cream, or bold red chile).  The other ingredients (lettuce, salsa, sour cream, cheese, etc.) are added after the burrito is rolled.

I had asked Taliyah if I could taste two of the sauces, and she graciously offered me two small cups with a chip to taste the tangy verde (made of tomatillos and mild peppers) and the bold red chile (made with toasted red chiles, with a bit of sweetness).  I opted not to try the smoky chipotle cream (creamy, with smoky chipotle peppers) this time, but I’m sure I will soon!  Both sauces I sampled were tasty, but I decided to go with the tangy verde sauce.  In an effort to keep the integrity of the taste, or maybe because I’m boring, I chose to have the tangy verde both inside the burrito and over top of it.

From there, Curtis took over and started building my smothered burrito.  He was also incredibly polite and helpful.  These are his hands at work!  I chose white rice (after an internal battle, thinking brown rice would have been the healthier option – but I wanted the cilantro in the white rice!) and chicken – with the tangy verde, of course!  I also decided to indulge and have the sour cream and cheese on top – because why not!

Curtis assembling my smothered burrito

Curtis assembling my smothered burrito

There was a bit of confusion when I went to use the rewards card to pay, but that was worked out quickly.  Alex was working the register, and just like the other employees, he was quite polite and professional too.

So, about that smothered burrito

Smothered burrito with tangy verde sauce

Smothered burrito with tangy verde sauce

I enjoyed the extra pop of flavor the tangy verde sauce added to the burrito.  It wasn’t overpowering, but it added just enough kick with the peppers.  The cool addition of lettuce and salsa was a nice juxtaposition against the piping hot burrito.  Let’s just say that the whole meal just “hit the spot”.

I’m very grateful for the invitation to try a newer menu item at Qdoba, and I was really impressed with the service Taliyah, Curtis and Alex provided me.  This might be one of the friendliest staffs I’ve come across in recent times!  Thank you all for a delightful lunch experience (you too, Abby!).

(side note:  I appreciate that Qdoba doesn’t discriminate against folks who express themselves through body art or piercings. The employees remain professional despite not always fitting the traditional image of professional appearance.)

As for the smothered burrito, I highly recommend it.  I will add a note that my male (and generally quite hungry) colleague was a bit bummed that the smothered burrito is smaller than the traditional one and that the ingredients actually inside the smothered burrito are limited compared to the standard burrito.  As long as you know that, I think you’ll really enjoy the Qdoba smothered burrito!

If you’ve tried the newest item on Qdoba’s menu, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please leave a comment.



Maiz Mexican Cantina – Ann Arbor, MI

Author’s note:

I have typically corrected people who call me a runner by saying I am “one who runs”.  But, in fact, I do run and train for occasional races – the last one being The St. Patrick’s Day 10K in Holyoke, MA (about an hour and a half west of Boston) last month.  In the wake of the horrifying events in Boston yesterday, I want to express my grief for the victims, their families, and the city of Boston itself.  The running community is such a tight-knit group, and Boston is a city filled with such pride…I have faith that the group(s) responsible for these terrible attacks will ultimately lose in their quest to break down Boston’s spirit.  #PrayForBoston


Photo credit unknown – shared from Facebook posts. My apology to the owner/originator.


One of my most dear friends changed jobs earlier this year and now works at one of our business units ~30 minutes away (in the great town of Ann Arbor, MI).  I realize that 30 minutes is not much in the grand scheme of things, but for folks working in Corporate America, a 60  minute round-trip commute (or even 30 minutes if we meet halfway in between) creates quite the challenge for meeting up for lunch.  And, Jessi and I used to have lunch at least three times a week together!

Friends…the past few months have put me in shock!  I’ve missed my one on one time with her so very much!

So, when I had the opportunity to head out to Ann Arbor last Friday afternoon, I was thoroughly excited to spend some QT with my girl.  She guided me to a Mexican place a few minutes up the road from her office.  She said that they have the best quesadillas, and who am I to argue with a friend of mine who has fantastic taste in food!  It was formerly a steak joint, but now Maiz Mexican Cantina is the patrons’ destination.

I love that Maiz uses local purveyors and local ingredients.

photo (28)

Jess and I had so much to catch up on, although we stay in contact daily via texts, phone calls and emails – that we failed to look at our menus for the first several minutes we were at Maiz.  During the second check-in (I think), our server Zach mentioned fresh made guacamole, and I pounced!  Oddly enough, I saw a segment on the news about avocados that morning, and I had been craving them ever since!  Once the seemingly small bowl was delivered, Jess and I dug right in – using the multi-colored chips to quickly consume most of the bowl. And, the bowl yielded way more guacamole than I thought it would!  I’d love to say it was the best guacamole I’ve ever had, but honestly, I ate my portion so quickly that I can’t honestly remember anything specific or special about it.  It clearly was tasty enough guac!

I started to peruse the menu, and then Jess and I laughed.  We both knew that I wouldn’t be able to figure what I would want from this expansive menu full of items I LOVE!  Jess was set on ordering the quesadilla, so when our waiter (Zach) came back, I simply asked him to please bring me his favorite dish. His response: “Okay, (to Jess) and for you?”.  Jess’s response was “I love when they don’t flinch!” (or something similar in sentiment).  Again, Zach didn’t get flustered.  She then proceeded to order the steak quesadilla.

After just enough time had passed that we’d been able to catch up on what we needed to, but not really a long wait, our food was delivered.  Jess was served her quesadilla and I was served the mixed fajitas (chicken, steak and shrimp) – along with all of the fixin’s, and rice and beans.

photo (29)

The HUGE plate of assorted meats, peppers, and onions came with three steamed tortillas, shredded cheese, shredded lettuce, and pico de gallo. In my opinion, there was WAY too much “content” for a lunch meal, so I ended up taking a to-go box for another meal (or two!).  Because…it was quite good!  (and, please note that I did make leftover fajitas for Sunday evening dinner – excellent reheated too!)

And, Jess’s quesadilla…she gave me a bite…good Lord!  So very good!  I’d certainly recommend it to others!

Our only regret? That we couldn’t indulge in a margarita while we were at Maiz!  Maybe another time…

If you’re in the Ann Arbor area and looking for Mexican fare, Maiz had delicious food, good service, and is big enough to accommodate a large lunch crowd without having a long wait.  I’d recommend stopping in for a meal at Maiz.



Lunching Mexican-style with a good friend

About two weeks ago, I wrote that I wanted to have a Mexican meal out, after having spent an evening reminiscing about my friend, Erica.  Then, allergies set in and got the better of me – rendering me useless over the past weekend.  I had made plans to go out to dinner with friends, and was so bummed to cancel my plans on Sunday, but I physically could not eat!  My throat was that swollen and sore!

So, today, I went to lunch with a friend of mine, Jess, as I often do.  Normally, we go to one of a handful of local places (mostly chain restaurants nearby the office).  Seriously, we don’t have to ask each other, we just turn right out of the parking lot and go up to “the hill” for Panera, Chili’s, Qdoba, etc.  We typically make the decision once we’re nearing “the hill”.

For some reason today, Jess mentioned that there is a little Mexican joint nearby that she had been to with another coworker.  We decided to go there – because Jess mentioned it was good food, dirt cheap, and the place is hopping at lunchtime.  As we pulled into Manuel’s (Manny’s) Taco Hut,  we noticed that the parking lot wasn’t too crowded today. Odd, but it probably worked in our favor.

We sat down, took a look at the menu, and I instantly decided that I would just let our server choose something for me.  When she came to take our order, Jess gave her order, and I told the server that I’d like to her choose her favorite meal and surprise me.  Her response?  “Seriously?  Okay!”  Then, off she went.  She was awesome about it!

Jess and I chatted about a myriad of things, mostly physical fitness (ironic, seeing as how we were intending to gorge on Mexican food!) while waiting on our meals.  Thinking back, it fit perfectly with my desire to post about Mexican dining.  My last meal with Erica and her husband was lunch at a Mexican joint in Orange, CA.  I had spent the afternoon with two really wonderful people, enjoying their company, laughing, and just having a good time with friends.  Not unlike today’s lunchtime outing with Jess – an equally wonderful person and friend.  I’m really glad we went to Manny’s  – on a whim!

A few minutes later, when our lunches were delivered, Kelly, our server, laid down a plate of “healthy food, for under 6 bucks” in front of me.

She explained that she chose the chicken chipotle wrap, which consists of chicken marinated in olive oil and chipotle sauce, with pico de gallo, black beans, and lettuce, served in a spinach wrap, and with Manuel’s rice.  She also mentioned that the chipotle sauce was spicy so, “dip before pouring”.  She was right – it had a kick to it, but I ended up pouring anyhow!

The wrap was delicious – very flavorful.  Filling, but not overly so.  And, it was also quite messy!  I certainly wouldn’t order it on a date, but in the company of a very good friend – it was all good!

When Kelly dropped the bill off, she said that this was really fun for her, and thanked us for giving her the experience.  It was so nice to see yet another server enjoy choosing a meal for one of her diners.  And, this diner definitely enjoyed the meal chosen for her!

She left us with the (inexpensive) bill, and a smile!

And, I will add Manny’s to the list of local joints we should get out and enjoy on our lunch hour!

Need your input, readers. Planning a special meal…

Last night, I received an email that triggered a ridiculous set of emotional responses.  The email had a picture of me and my deceased friend, Erica, who lost her battle with lymphoma last December.  She was 30 years old.  The email had a note that it was a great picture of the two of us.  Fast forward two and a half hours, countless tears, and numerous fond memories, and I was a total train wreck. I mean – off my rocker!

I had spent the aforementioned two and a half hours scouring Facebook photos, not only of my friend, but also  of my cousin – whom we lost to cancer as well (and who was an amazing chef and bartender – he’d probably have loved this blog).  I was sobbing uncontrollably for the better part of the night.

I couldn’t think, let alone speak, a coherent sentence, though I tried while I was on Voxer with my friend Eric (who, incidentally, is celebrating his birthday tomorrow – happy birthday, Eric!).  He was finally making his way home from a long day trip in a car that was slowly breaking down, and I was bugging him to make sure he made it home alive.  Anyhow, he thought I was drunk, and listening back to our Voxer conversation, I don’t blame him!  Not only did I have post-cry foggy head, a total inability to speak, but also had four different communications devices around me – all beeping, dinging, and buzzing.  Total Continuous Partial Attention – insane CPA, folks.

Basically, I sounded (and felt) like I was out of my mind. The only clear thought I had last night was that the last meal I had with my friend, and her husband, was Mexican at Jalapenos in downtown Orange, CA.  And, then, I thought…I want my next post to be about Mexican food.

So, readers in the Detroit area, in particular…I’ve been to a place or two in Mexicantown and I’ve been to Taqueria Mi Peublo.  What are your favorite Mexican restaurants? Which should I try?  Should I do lunch or dinner?  This is going to be a special meal, in memory of my friend, and I want to make sure it’s a good one.  Please leave a comment if you have recommendations!

And, if you wish to donate to the LL&S page honoring Erica, here’s a link. She’s the  2012 Light the Night Memorial Honoree!

Erica, and a picture of the card I sent her when she was first diagnosed – fight the good fight!

Thank you!

PS. Eric, for the record, I still don’t buy the NoHo nickname!  😉

La Condesa, Austin, TX

Walking into La Condesa

Last week, I was in Austin, TX for a business trip and I was fortunate enough to have dinner with six fabulous colleagues at a restaurant our vendor had recommended – La Condesa.  I had never been to Austin before, so I clearly had never visited this restaurant either.  I opened the menu and immediately saw a guacamole sampler which I ordered for the table.  Guac is one of my favorite appetizers!

That’s as far as I got in reading the menu though. I put my menu down, and my dinner companions presumed I had made a quick decision on dinner – and I had.  I was going to have our server choose for me and bring me a surprise.

Imagine six faces simultaneously looking right at me in the most quizzical manner!  I was riddled with questions: Aren’t you afraid you won’t like it?   How can you trust the server? What if he brings the $70 Carne Asada? And so on.

Then, my coworker asked the server to bring his three personal  favorite Ceviche dishes to the table.  Was my coworker the pot, or the kettle?  🙂

The server brought me the Chile Relleno, which was stuffed with quinoa, butternut squash, manchego cheese, tomato broth, and salsa pepita, and served over rosemary rice.  It was excellent!

Here’s a shot of a few of the aforementioned coworkers.  Thanks to Dave Morse for taking the photos.

Our group at La Condesa

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