Restaurant Reviews

  • North Shore Hawaii Part 5- The End

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    I couldn’t post about the good eats here on the North Shore and not mention this food truck…. The Haleiwa Beachside Galley. Their Kalua grilled cheese sandwich knocked us off our feet! We also had some of their bowls and other dishes and we loved them all. I wish we had time to try out more of their food. This truck is hidden behind umbrellas so it is hard to see off the street. It is right next to Sharks Cove Grill (can’t miss it… right across the street from Sharks Cove). Seriously people.. stop here.. you won’t regret it! Forget about the food trucks with all the hype. They don’t deliver good food but hidden gems like this one sure does!

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    Also in the town of Haleiwa is Lanikai Juice. This place makes good acai bowls (but didn’t beat Haleiwa Bowl) and makes fresh juices. A great stop if you want to take a “healthy” break during your stay here. 

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    So many of you told me I HAD to try Opal Thai in Haleiwa! Here I am with the owner… such a nice guy! This guy and his restaurant is practically famous! He told me he moved here from Northern California and started with a food truck. *On a side note… you know my huge restaurant recommendation in San Francisco, The House? He used to work with the chef there! He couldn’t believe I not only knew about the restaurant but that it is one of my absolute favorite restaurants ever!

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    When you sit down (Be prepared for a wait. The place is small and hugely popular!), they give each of you a menu. I don’t know why they bother because Opal, the owner, asks what kind of food you like and dislike and he orders for you. Some people are bothered by that, but I loved it! That’s service people! Everyone has different tastes and he brings what he thinks you will like best. I wish more restaurants were like that!

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    This was by far our favorite dish! We kept asking him what it was and he wouldn’t tell us until we had eaten it. Good thing because it was stingray! Had I known that beforehand I am not sure if I would’ve enjoyed it as much. It was amazing with an array of different flavors dancing in your mouth. 

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    This noodle and seafood dish also won our hearts over. We ordered too many dishes to show them all to you but these are two great examples of his food. Opal Thai definitely did not disappoint!

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    Well folks… that’s all she wrote for now! This was our first time to visit the North Shore and to say we loved it is putting it mildly. The home, beaches, food, people, weather and all it had to offer was perfection! If you have never been…. You should! The memories made here are priceless. Until next time… Aloha friends!

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  • Hawaii 2014 North Shore Part 4

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    Prior to coming to the North Shore, I didn’t care for acai bowls of any kind. They just didn’t thrill me. My family all loves them but me? Eh! Enter… Haleiwa Bowl’s acai bowl. Man… I couldn’t get enough! I drove here almost every day to get my bowl fix! I tried almost every acai bowl on the North Shore and this is the only one I loved. Huge recommendation people!

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    I had a lot of people recommend this place to me! Come to find out.. the owners go to the same church and same ward I was attending every week. They own their own farm and use all their fresh produce here at their bakery/ restaurant. This is located in the town of Haleiwa.

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    This is a loaded turkey sandwich… they only use freshly baked turkey. They bake their own bread (lots of choices to choose from) and as I said before, use the produce grown on their farm. So good! They are also known for their smoothies (we had their peanut butter smoothie and it was out of this world good!) and their sweet baked goods. 

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    There is a beach in the North Shore called Turtle Beach because there are a ton of sea turtles that hang around the shore of the beach. It was amazing! We couldn’t believe how many turtles were there! I highly recommend you stopping by this beach. You can’t miss it. Just look for the beach with a ton of people standing on the shore looking into the water. That’s what caught our attention every time we drove by. So glad we finally stopped to check it out for ourselves!

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    Every Thursday from 3-7, is the Haleiwa Farmer’s Market at the Waimea Falls park. Admission is free and there are some good grub to be had here! Unfortunately when we went we weren’t in the least bit hungry but I had to try a poke bowl that they custom make to your liking. Wow… it was the absolute best poke I have ever had! Definitely check out this place. Great grub, great produce and lots of others things to check out. 

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    While we are on the subject of poke.. we heard the best poke on the island was at a market up in Kahuku called the Superette. Don’t be afraid when you see this market. It looks very old and run down on the outside. I was pleasantly surprised when I walked in to see a sparkling clean market on the inside. Anyhow, we bought a couple of containers of two different kinds of poke they make. It was good, but not the best in my opinion. Poke is a popular thing in Hawaii… so it’s fun to try different kinds while visiting. 

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    While in Kahuku, right next to Kahuku Grill… there is a little take out window for Mexican food. We decided to try a couple of things on their menu while we were waiting for our food at Kahuku Grill (don’t judge… we were on vacation people!) We had a burrito and a couple of tacos and they were so good! A couple that was eating their food told us this was the best Mexican food on the island. I believe them! So if you get a craving for Mexican food.. head over here. You wouldn’t think twice about eating here because it is just a small take out window… but once again… looks can be deceiving! The also have a food truck that they run in the day… and come here in the evenings. Nice people… and yes, they are Mexican. Authentic!

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    Let’s talk hikes! Pictured above are my kiddos after our hike to the Manoa Falls .This is an easy hike that most anyone can do. It’s a beautiful hike and not far from Waikiki. 

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    Here we are on another hike I recommend to only “some” of you! We hiked to the Mauanawilli Falls. You can jump off a 50 foot cliff into the falls. Crazy? Yes. Did I do it? No! But all my kids did and they loved it… although they all admitted that it was pretty freaky and scary to jump from that high up. Is that why I only recommend it to only some of you? No. If you don’t like to get muddy… this hike is not for you. If you don’t like to be eaten alive and end up with at least 50-100 bug bites… this hike is not for you. If you can’t hike long and somewhat far… this hike is not for you. Truth be told… this hike was not for me… but I did it for my family. YUCK! Did they love it? Absolutely, positively loved it. Oh the sacrifices a mother makes!

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    Eaten alive… I tell you!

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    If you haven’t heard of Leonard’s Bakery, you haven’t visited the Main Island. This place is famous for their malasadas (a Portugese doughnut without a hole, and can be filled with different fillings) Leonard’s is supposed to have the best around. We, of course, had to stop by to try them. Now… I have to first tell you that I am not a doughnut lover. I know.. weird. Even as a kid I didn’t like them. So I am not a good judge with these things. But if you find yourself  in Honolulu, stop by here and give them a try. Especially if you are a doughnut lover! By the way… why is there two different ways to spell doughnuts? Donut or doughnut? Weird. 

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    I will end with this beautiful picture from my balcony of a magnificent sunset. What a way to say farewell to another great day!

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  • Hawaii- North Shore Part 3

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     One of the best things about renting a home are the extra rooms you have… so you can invite more guests to be with! My dear in laws and darling niece came to join us for a while. We were so excited to spend time with them! It only seemed appropriate that I greeted them with leis to show our love for them and excitement of their arrival. My oh my those leis smell amazing!

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    Our sweet daughter, Hadley flew in from her humanitarian trip to India. (We won’t talk about the 30 plus hours it took to fly here!) She spent a whole month there and fell in love with the people. We are grateful for the opportunity she had to serve. Makes your heart grow in ways like none other! We were all so excited to see her again! Not a bad place to reunite, eh?

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     While in on the other side of the island we decided to eat in Honolulu. This place was recommended to us by good friends that lived on the island. It is a true “locals” place off the beaten path away from the tourist spots. It serves “local” dishes… which means it is pretty heavy and filling food. If you are looking for local dishes, I definitely recommend this place! We enjoyed it!

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    I sure enjoyed this place and their tasty fish tacos!

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    The steak burrito my hubby had was also a winner! Our whole group enjoyed whatever they ordered. I hear some people feel like it is a Cafe Rio knock off but not as good. As for me… I would go back!

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    We had to try the Famous Ted’s bakery. Here is a sampling of what my mother in law bought one morning. Some things were better than the others. Grandma’s are the best… always supplying sweets and treats! 

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    My favorite thing Ted’s Bakery makes is this Chocolate Haupia Cream pie. Honestly… nothing else here was that good to me. I tried a lot of their pies and cakes. Maybe I am too picky?

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    There are so many places to hike on this island! My hubby and I took off for a “little” hike not far from Sunset Beach and came back about 3 1/2 hours later! We had fun getting lost on this beautiful and lush island. 

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    We rented a two man kayak and a couple of paddle boards for the month that we were here. Between swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding and kayaking… we definitely never got bored at the beach! We just couldn’t get enough of that amazing Hawaiian water.

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    And last but not least, are photos of our favorite place… Seven Brothers. It was ridiculous how many times we ate here! Funny thing is … we never tired of it!

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    Look at those huge onion rings in that burger! And that messy sauce… perfection!

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    Could you get tired of eating this? Never! Good thing we were very active on this trip!

    Until next time…..

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  • Hawaii 2014 North Shore Part 2

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    I love it when one of you give me a recommendation for food. Thanks to Andrea Schvaneveldt I found this tiny food trailer! Actually I drove by it many times and missed it because it is so small! I finally spotted it one day… thankfully! It is right by Sharks Cove on the ocean side (I was looking on the opposite side of the street). Pictured above is Ryan, the owner and the nicest guy around! Man oh man alive, I wish all sandwich places served sandwiches with their quality, organic, fresh produce and fresh, unprocessed meat! With my first bite I knew this place was something special.

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    This is my favorite… fresh turkey and bri with all the fixings. He also puts on an amazing sweet yet tangy spread on the bread. The best sandwich around! I also loved his chicken curry salad… so good I tell you!

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    On sundays we attended an LDS ward on the island. The people there are so kind, welcoming and loving! Such a sweet spirit felt there. Sundays for us just isn’t right unless we go to church!

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    After church we drove to the LDS temple to walk the grounds. It is so beautiful!

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    On the temple grounds is a visiting center that we also had to opportunity to go to. All are welcome and I highly recommend it!

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    In Kahuku, there is this cute cafe that serves panini’s, salads, smoothies and some desserts. They grow everything on the land and offer tours too. 

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    Our trip got perfect once my sweet hubby flew in to join us! Taking a month off was not an option for him, but luckily he was able to join us for the last half of the month! Of course almost the second he got here, the kids and him ran out on the beach to hit the volleyball around. I couldn’t resist taking this shot of “my people” from the top balcony… that’s happiness right there!

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    A huge tourist attraction on Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center. I cannot tell you enough how great this place is! We had such a fun, fun time! Worth every penny!

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    My kiddos trying to light a fire at the PCC. The entertainment here is top notch!

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    A moderately easy hike for those interested is the hike that takes you to the top of Diamond Head. This is one of the many views from the top. Just look at that view!

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    Here’s one of the views from the back side. I love when you get a “prize” at the top with views like these!

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    After our hike we decided to reward ourselves with amazing burgers so we headed to Seven Brothers in Laie. Seven Brothers is the restaurant the Hanneman family owns along with Kahuku Grill. They offer almost the same menu but not exactly. Seven Brothers makes ice cream shakes that are unreal… they are so good! You have to make sure to order one! They only offer vanilla and chocolate, but trust me when I tell you they were the best vanilla and chocolate shakes we have ever had! Pictured above is the Cowboy burger and crazy fries. I loved them all but I think this one was my favorite.

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    A shot of another one of their amazing burgers. You can’t go wrong with any burger you decide to order. My hubby ordered a different one every time we came and loved each one! I don’t think we have eaten so many burgers in our lives, but we couldn’t resist coming back for more!

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    They also make another amazing dessert called peanut butter rolls. Basically dinner rolls with an amazing peanut butter sauce served with ice cream, coconut and chocolate sauce. Yep…. we fell in love with this one too. I have to tell you that once we went to Seven Brothers, we preferred it over Kahuku Grill. We found their food to be cooked more consistently… and come on… those shakes that they offer just calls our names every time!

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    You simple cannot come to this island without visiting the famous Hanauma Bay. It is a protected marine life conservation area that is stunning! Just look at they water! Perfect place for some awesome snorkeling!

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    Another must visit is to Pearl Harbor. There are quite a few places to explore here. Our first stop was to the USS Missouri. What a great piece of history to be able to learn more about.

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    We also had tickets to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, but right before our time to go on the ferry, the wind kicked up and they closed it. We were still able to visit the museums and watch a film about that tragic day in our country’s history. If you haven’t been here before, it is a must stop.

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    One night when we finally got around to getting dinner… most places had closed down. We headed into the town of Haleiwa and found this Thai food truck open so we decided to try it. FYI… it was just ok. 

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    To end on a happy note… this food truck in Pupukea is amazing! It is just down the road a bit from Foodland. We absolutely loved their Coconut Curry Quinoa, Spicy Tuna Quinoa, and their BBQ Kalua Pork Quesadilla. That pork quesadilla blew us away! We went back several times!

    Man… writing about all this amazing food makes me hungry! Oh how I miss these places! Stay tuned for part three….

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  • North Shore Hawaii 2014 Part 1

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    This past summer our family spent the month of July in Hawaii… the North Shore to be specific. We had never been to this part of Hawaii before but it was highly recommended to me as I was searching for a place to stay for the month. I can now see why people love it there! I have so much I want to share with you for those of you that might want to come here in the future. I will be doing several posts to cover everything I want to share with you. 

    We rented an amazing home on the beach that is pictured above. The beach is Log Cabins and is next to Ke Iki beach and Pipeline. As you can see from the picture the water in North Shore is calm in the summer. Good thing because that is exactly what I wanted… calm, serene, warm and beautiful water. This beach was especially perfect because it was practically empty with the  exception of our family. Now that’s paradise!

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    Here is the picture of the back side of the home we stayed in. A wrap around porch on both levels and ocean views from most rooms. 

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    If we weren’t on the beach, this was the most popular spot to hang out. Reading… napping… snacking… just relaxing and looking out on that beautiful ocean. 

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    Here’s the upstairs porch which had a daybed type of bench. Another perfect reading or napping spot. 

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    The kitchen met most of my needs as a cook with a Wolfe range and oven and a Sub Zero refrigerator. And of course… more ocean views!

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    There are two master bedrooms upstairs and both have that stunning ocean view. Sleeping with the sound of softly crashing waves is music to my ears. Heaven I tell you!

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    In addition to the two master bedrooms, there is an additional guest room with a queen bed and this kids bunk room that has SIX built in wall bunks! It also has a big flatscreen TV, X box, foosball, lockers and a large desk. My kids loved it!

    The whole home has hard wood floors and stone floors in the bathrooms which I loved. No gross carpet! And all the walls and ceilings are white wood paneled… a Pottery Barn look and feel. 

    So many of you inquired about the information on this home we rented so I decided to show you a bit of it and give you the link to their site for more information. It is privately owned by two local Southern California families(the nicest people!) and they have not started renting it out until spring of this year. Lucky us!

    Here’s the link for those of you that are interested. http://www.Kewaena.com

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    Now it’s time to talk FOOD! The North Shore is all about food trucks. I am not a huge fan of food trucks as most of you are but I did find some seriously amazing ones that I will share in my posts. This here is the famous Hula Dog. To be fair, I am not a hotdog fan, so I got the veggie dog and found it bland. I took two bites and tossed it. On the other hand, my kids (My son and his new wife is pictured above)… all five of them loved it as well as their lemonade. Their buns are huge!

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    Matsumoto’s shaved ice is a very popular and famous place on the island. There is always a long line out the door so you bet I was excited to try it! We were all so disappointed with this place. The shaved ice was not fine and fluffy and the syrups were not great either. I seriously cannot understand why people flock here and love it. Sorry but it was a “Jenny fail”.

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    Another hugely popular but a “Jenny” fail was the Giovanni Shrimp food truck. It really wasn’t anything special. My kids all agreed. I don’t get the hype about this truck.

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    Right by Giovanni’s in Pupukea (there is a food truck plot) is a Korean type of bbq meat truck. That was not Korean BBQ people… a poor imitation. Not recommended!

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    Ok… so enough with the negative (hey… I have to be honest with you all about how I feel… right?) and on to the winners! In the same food truck plot (I call it a plot because there are literally a bunch of food trucks on a plot of dirt) there is a frozen yogurt food truck called Ono Yo.This is their only location and can I tell you that I have never had frozen yogurt this good! I mean.. we had to come here daily! They tell me their yogurt is made from greek yogurt so I don’t know if that is what makes the difference but whatever it is… they have a winner! After talking with a lot of people, I found that I am not alone with my over the top love with this place. It is worth the drive no matter where you are on the island of Oahu. Really! My favorite is their tart (I don’t like tart yogurt at any other place) and fruit flavors topped with fresh fruit. Their guava flavor is not served often, but man… it is beyond delicious so make sure to order it if they have it the day you go!

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    Also in Pupukea is a place called Kahuku Grill. Man… their burgers and crazy fries are out of this world good! It is owned by a local family and they know how to put together some incredible burgers!

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    The above is the Shem burger that is loaded with guacamole. Hand formed juicy patties that are freshly ground daily make such a difference!

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    Also at Kahuku Grill is this…. Banana Bread Sundae. I about died when I took my first, second, third and so on… bite. Moist and flavorful banana bread, coconut and vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce. Simple but not to be underestimated in it’s greatness. The mother of this family bakes this bread for the restaurant every day! Way to go Mama Hanneman!

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    Not in the mood for a burger? They also offer coconut shrimp and fish plates. We couldn’t get enough of this place!

    Part two coming soon! 

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  • Miami Getaway and Good Eats Part 1

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    Every year in January, my hubby comes to Miami for a conference and I get to tag along and have an indulgent week of R&R at the beach, spa, amazing restaurants and beautiful hotels like this one. This year we stayed at the FountaineBleau. One of the nicest hotels in Miami. Don’t mind if I do!

    IMG_5777The beaches in the Miami (We stayed in South Beach) are beautiful! Beautiful fine sand, clear warm water and gorgeous weather for most of the year. I love that they have beach service in front of the hotels. Padded beach loungers with covers, umbrellas (upon request), beverages and food. Not bad, huh? 

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    One of my favorite restaurants in the area is Ola. It is a fantastic, creative, delicious restaurant that combines the amazing flavors of a lot of the Latin countries. It never disappoints! We usually go with a very large group of clients of my hubby’s but this year it was just the two of us. 

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  • Maui Eats and Fun Part 2

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    With so much going on I have not had a chance to finish sharing you with you all the rest of my Maui Trip post by post. So much good food and fun to share with you! So here we go…

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    Let’s start with my favorite place in all of Maui…. Ululani’s! And here is the crazy thing… I don’t really like shaved ice!  That is, until I came here. I am seriously obsessed with this place! It is a daily addiction when on this island. 

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    It is an obsession with the whole family. They have so many flavors and we all have our own favorites. My personal favorite is the filipino lime and passion fruit over a scoop of coconut and a scoop of macadamia ice cream. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! We tried the top recommended shaved ice places on the island and no one even came close to this place. Make sure you stop here and remember…. I warned you about how addicting it is!

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    I heard about this place and had to try it. It is a casual outside eatery that sits by the ocean and the prices will make you happy… very reasonable unlike most places on the island. I will go over the best dishes we tried. If you can’t tell by the name, they serve mostly traditional Hawaiian type food. 

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    The lighting was terrible so sorry for the poor quality of the photo. This is their Korean BBQ ribs (aka Kalbi) and being a Korean I know good kalbi. This did not disappoint!

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    If you are a garlic fries lover like we are you want to order theirs! Yum!

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    Oh my… their poke was one of the very best poke we have ever had! Order this? Definitely!

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    Their highly recommended pineapple upside down cake was so good I am showing you a blurry photo of it. Get it… that’s all I have to say. 

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    The next morning we headed to The Gazebo for breakfast and found a 45 minute line. A wait is standard for that place but we were too hungry to wait that long so we headed a cove or two over to The Sea House. 

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    Just look at the beautiful bay this restaurant overlooks and sits on! This restaurant gets five stars on their view and atmosphere.  Ok…. on to the food!

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    Their chicken butter lettuce wraps made the grade and makes for a great starter.

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    This is the Polynesian Chopped salad and oh my goodness… I want to go back for this alone! See that edemane puree on top? Yum!!

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    As simple as this stir fry looks, it was delicious! Another winner.

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    And last but not least, are their fish and chips. My in laws love fish and chips and they were ooooohhhing and aaaaaahhhing  with each bite. I would make a pretty good guess that this is a definite pick for you fish and chip lovers! On a side note… my son really wanted fried rice (a common dish eaten here on the islands) so he ordered it of course. It was tasteless and bland. Bummer for him!

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    After breakfast we decided to go for a drive on the other side of the island that none of us have ever explored before (past Kapalua). We heard there was fabulous banana bread to be tried over in those parts, so off we went! The road is very, very, VERY narrow in parts (as in only one car can travel on it at a time) and we hit a jam up as there was traffic coming from both directions (and to make things more interesting, there were no guard rails on the narrow road with a drop off hundreds of feet below! Yikes!). Lucky for us, an impatient native got frustrated with us tourists messing up with his commute so he directed everyone and got the jam cleared up and everyone on their merry way. *Another side note, two of my kids were pretty much freaking out looking out the window down the drop offs. They thought for sure we were going to go over. This drive is definitely not for the faint of heart! I thought it was a great adventure!

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    After all that drama… we finally arrived at Julias… the banana bread shack! My true opinion? I wouldn’t drive 2 minutes for this bread. Not sure why it is so famous. Maybe for the fun adventure of finding it? They did have an awesome dried coconut candy type stuff though. 

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    Later that night, we headed to this place in Whaler’s Village in Kaanapali. Truth be told, the other restaurants had too long of a wait and this one didn’t, so we gave it a shot. I know that is never a good sign but we had a good experience here. 

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    I wasn’t very hungry so I ordered this starter plate of roasted Brussels Sprouts Milenase. It was divine! My father in law looked over at my plate and asked what I ordered and when I told him brussels sprouts, he wrinkled his nose in disgust. I asked if he liked brussels sprouts and he told me his mom used to make them when he was a kid and made him eat the disgusting little things. Ha! I told him brussels sprouts have come a long way since then and asked him to give it a try. He couldn’t believe these were the same things he was forced to eat as a kid. Preparation is key in all things!

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    Another starter (can you tell none of us were very hungry this night), that was very good was their poke. We love a good poke!

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    Their burger also did not disappoint! We didn’t try any of their pasta, but we would definitely come back here. Another fun and food filled day on the island. Truly paradise!

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  • Maui Eats and Fun Part 1

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    I am going to first talk about this trip starting with LAX (Los Angeles Airport), our departure location. Why you ask? Because I want to talk food. I forgot to take a picture of the place, but here are some of my kids enjoying their breakfast we grabbed pre- flight. They are smiling because they love the food! LAX has a great eatery called Lemonade (I think it opened sometime in 2012) and what a welcome treat that is from the standard airport food. I keep hearing that airports are getting all these great restaurants, but it seems that we are always in the terminal that does not offer anything great. Not this time! Yay for Lemonade in the LAX airport! FYI.. we flew Delta and is it close to their gates (It is located in terminal 5). The only bummer was that they were only serving breakfast, so I couldn’t order lunch to go to eat on the plane. 

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    Hello Maui! Ahhhh…. a week of sun, fun and relaxation. We were so excited!

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    We arrived just in time for lunch so we headed for Mala in Lahaina. We went there last year for brunch and it was fantastic (I highly recommend going there for brunch, which is served Saturday and Sunday from 9:00-3:00)! Mala sits on the water and you often can see the turtles swimming among the water and waves. My kids were in heaven with all the turtle sightings last year. Unfortunately we didn’t see one turtle this year while eating there. Our waitress said it is hit or miss. No matter what time of the day it is. Oh well… at least we had great food!

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    We started with their signature appetizer, seared ahi bruschetta. It is very good, light and fresh tasting. 

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    I ordered their Chinese chicken salad with a ginger vinaigrette. It was also very good. I would order it again on my next visit.

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    Our son ordered the special of the day pizza with fresh burrata, figs and olives. It was tasty!

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    The kids wanted the snap peas as a side to share. You order them mild, medium or spicy. We went medium and they had a bit of a kick to them. Wow…. they were amazing!

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    Another highlight was their garlic and cheese flatbread. I love anything with garlic and this was full of flavor!

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    After lunch we headed for our hotel. We stayed in Kaanapali. Gorgeous!

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    At the far end of Kaanapali beach is Black Rock beach. It is a great place for snorkeling and my kids favorite thing… 

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    Jumping off Black Rock! That’s my Hanson taking off like a bird. My kids could do that all day.

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    That evening just my husband and I went to dinner on our way to pick up our college aged daughter from the airport. We went to Honu (means turtle in Hawaiian) which is right next to Mala. They are owned by the same people. They have some great food and after flying for so long I wanted to eat light so I wanted another salad and they have some good ones. 

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    They start you out with some fried chickpeas. They are delicious!

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    This is their Gado Gado salad. It has quinoa, kale, a ton of veggies, tofu and is served with a coco peanut sauce. I liked it but my daughter did not care for the salad dressing. It definitely has a middle eastern taste to it. 

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    Their Kale salad is also very good. It is served with a wonderful lemon vinaigrette that has a slight sweetness to it. You can order it with Ahi or the fish of the day. Their ahi was so fresh and good.

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    The next day as we were driving to Lahaina, my hubby said, “I wonder if that chicken those people grill and sell off the side of the road is any good? It smells amazing and we pass by them all the time!” I have never noticed it once, but I immediately said, “Let’s go!” We have never pulled off to the side of the road to eat anything someone was grilling off the street before, but hey…. why not? Huli Huli chicken did smell amazing!

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    This is what they grill their chickens on. And they spray them with their secret marinade. They charged 10.00 for half a chicken a la carte or 8.00 for a quarter of a chicken, rice and corn. 

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    Their were 8 of us (We spent the week with my hubby’s sweet and wonderful parents and four out of our six kids.), so we ordered five half chickens which was actually a bit too much food. We were so hungry, so we went big. They wrap it in foil and you grab napkins and plastic forks and go at it. It was so good! Extremely tender, flavorful and the marinade was incredible. If you see Huli Huli chicken grilling off the side of the road… don’t be afraid to stop. We were glad we did! Check back for more posts on our trip. It was a wonderful week of fun activities and lots of good food that I want to share with you in case you are lucky enough to be in that neck of the woods!

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  • Las Vegas Restaurant Review 1

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     My sweet hubby and I took a quick two day trip to Vegas recently. I am not a big fan of Vegas like so many others are but wow, they have a plethora of amazing restaurants! Now that right there is enough to win my heart!

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    This was our first stop after arriving just in time for lunch. We ate here last year or so and it was amazing. Some of the best tapas I have ever had. Julian Serrano is located in the Aria hotel. 

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    This is my favorite thing on the menu. This is their beef tenderloin and cheese crostini. Trust me and order this of you ever have the chance to eat here. Lots of good flavors going on with this gem. 

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    Their mushroom risotto is perfection. We couldn’t get enough. 

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    This is their stuffed dates. Our waiter recommended this and it wasn’t up our alley. It was overly sweet and we couldn’t taste much but the sweet dates.  I also do not recommend their paella. It was probably one of the worst paellas I have ever had. Funny, because they do so many things so good. 

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    We ordered their pistachio tart for dessert. It was ok. And it wasn’t a tart! I am kind of bugged by restaurants that think they are being creative calling something a particular dessert when it is clearly not. This is a perfect example. I actually don’t care for any desserts here (and I think I have just about tried them all). I would eat here and go elsewhere for dessert. 

    With that said, they have many other wonderful dishes to try on their menu, which by the way is pretty big. Their spanish tortilla is fantastic and they put a twist on it by wrapping it in a puffed pastry. I can’t remember everything we ordered the first time we were here, but we ordered a lot of food and I remembered being so impressed with their dishes. On another note, this restaurant is a very busy and loud place at dinner time. The typical Vegas scene. The nice thing about a tapas restaurant is that you don’t have to watch your portions. You leave feeling not overly full, just satisfied!

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    For dinner we decided to go to Mesa Grill after hearing rave reviews from others that have eaten here. It is located in the Caesar Palace Hotel, not the Caesar’s Forum Shops (important information for parking).

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    We started with their blue corn lobster tacos. WOW. They did not disappoint! Yes, they are that small… they are under their “starters” so we will excuse the size. Except once you bite into them, you will wish they were much, much bigger!

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    This was another amazing appetizer. Their Cremini Mushroom Quesadilla. I cannot recommend this enough! 

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    Sorry for the blurry shot! Sometimes the bread bowl is worth mentioning and we loved the variety of breads they served. We went through two of these because we simply could not resist! I love me some good bread.

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    This is their Rough Cut Tuna Nachos. I know…  it does not even closely resemble nachos but they were very good. 

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    We ordered their Green Chili Cioppino for our main entree. The waiter recommended it and it fell way short. At these prices, it is even more disappointing to eat something that you would rather not eat. Which we pretty much did… that is… not eat it after tasting it. 40.00 down the drain. Win some, lose some.We also ordered their signature side, Roasted Corn. The flavors were good, but it was clearly made with frozen corn. Really? At a restaurant of this kind and price range, shouldn’t they use fresh corn? I definitely think so. For that reason I do not recommend it. The texture of frozen corn fell way short. 

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    Here we go again… this is what they call their Banana Cream pie. Another recommendation from our waiter. It was not good at all. The cream was pasty and grainy. Being that this was a recommended dessert, I would pass on dessert here too. I am so disappointed when restaurants focus on their dishes but not put enough emphasis on their desserts. I for one love desserts and find it a perfect ending to a good meal if it is done right. After all… we want the calories and splurge to be worth it, right? 

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    Lately when we have come to Vegas, we have stayed at the Trump hotel. If you are not a gambler and want to avoid all the smoke, this is the hotel for you. No casino… no smoke… no racy pool scene. Just up my alley! And the rooms? We have stayed in the corner suites and they are big and beautiful. And it is located right across the street from the Fashion Place mall! Not that I like to shop or anything. (I know… ya right!) The food here in the restaurant off the lobby is fantastic. Amazing Croque Madame’s for breakfast. Great bruschetta’s for lunch. We also had a salad and seared ahi. So good!

    2013-10-03 17.45.58For our last dinner we went to Samba Sushi. I went to this place in Miami last year and died over the food. It is a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian food. Such a great combination of flavors! I was so excited to learn that they opened up a new location in Las Vegas! This place is located in the Shops of Palazzo.

    2013-10-03 18.05.09 We started with these Yellowtail Crispy Taquitos that is served with a wonderful aji panca sauce. It was amazing.

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    Another highlight is their Sea Bass on skewers Robata with Peruvian corn. It was so amazing, but as you can see the portion size leaves you wanting for so much more! 

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    This Mushroom Toban- Yaki was another unforgettable dish. It was so good and so original. We also ordered some sushi rolls, but they were just like pretty much any rolls you would get at a good sushi place. Not that that is a bad thing, I was just looking for something different from the ordinary. I wouldn’t order rolls here again because of all the amazing fusion food they have to offer. I am not sure if the menu varies a bit from location to location (There is one in Miami, Las Vegas and New York City). But I think I preferred the one in Miami. They seemed to offer more dishes. I very much enjoyed my meal here though.

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    Before we headed for home, I wanted to find the Bouchon Bakery that is located in the Venetian hotel. I haven’t had a chance to try this bakery yet and I wasn’t going to let this opportunity pass me by. 

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    To my utter delight I found that they pride themselves on their Kouing Aman. It was very good, but Les Madeleines in Salt Lake City has them beat. It was a close second though! My hubby agreed.

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    This is their strawberry and custard like filled pastry. So good. We also tried their croissants (Wonderful with a buttery crisp exterior), tropezienne (a brioche pastry filled with strawberries, diplomat cream and topped with streusel) and their chocolate chip cookies. It was all very good. Their cookies are the flat and crispy type, which is not my favorite kind of cookie but we all like our cookies different… don’t we? 

    So there you have it. Two food filled fun days! And… it was worth it!

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  • Utah Eats 5, and That’s a Wrap!

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    The day has finally come…. my daughter’s birthday (which we have been celebrating all month!) is finally here. Boy did we eat well for the big day! We started out with a fabulous lunch at The Black Sheep Cafe in Provo. It is a fusion of Native American, Mexican and good ole American food. In my opinion.. a perfect combination! I have to mention that when we arrived (which was at noon… lunch started at 11:00), the waiter informed us that some of their most popular items on the menu were not ready yet and would not be ready for another hour or so. I was so perturbed by that I almost left. Really?? An hour after you open, you still do not have some of your main selections and appetizers ready? He assured me there was still plenty of items I would love, so lucky for me I stayed! That was so true that I want to go back to try the items that were not ready yet.

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    This is their Navajo taco. Yes… it was as good as it looks! It is made with their house made fry bread topped with pulled pork and and taco fixings. It is not for the faint of heart. Or one that is eating “light.” We loved it!

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    Look at their house salad. What a great and creative presentation! It was served with a fantastic vinaigrette. 

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    Now this… was the favorite of the whole Evans clan. We inhaled it in nothing flat! It is their Green Chili Stew. They married the perfect spices, vegetables (including squash and corn), tender pork and cheese. I don’t know how they managed to make a chili so amazing, but it they did… big time! 


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    They also serve pretty good burgers on their house made flatbread. The meat is tender and they offer a variety of burgers with different cheeses and toppings. You also can choose regular or sweet potato fries (both of which are great!) or their street corn which I also loved. I have to also mention their cilantro lime rice is worth getting. Loved it!

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    For those of you that know me, you know I am a water only girl. I do not care for soda, juices or anything else. Boring, I know… but it is what it is and I love my water! With that said, my family ordered this… their house made cactus pear lemonade. The waiter told my kids to trust him on this one… so they did. And man… it is worthy of mentioning here. It is really, really good! With one order, you get that whole bottle! So my kids each had their own bottle… no need for refills here! Definitely worth trying… I think you will be hooked!

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    Now I mentioned that this day was my daughter’s birthday, so yes we did more than just eat! Provo has a place called the Provo Beach Resort that has a flow rider that is a lot of fun for the kids and adults alike. My boys went to a flow rider in San Diego that has a beginner and advanced flow rider. This one was a perfect intermediate level. My girl was happy to just body board while our boys wave boarded. You pay per session which lasts 1 hour and costs 20.00 plus a first time 5 dollar waiver fee. Their older sister also took them to a trampoline place called Lowes (also in Provo) and they loved that place as well. The kids in Utah are back in school ( I love that we southern Californians don’t go back to school until September), so my kids practically had they place to themselves. Who wouldn’t love that?

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    Dinner was at one of my favorite places in Utah… Communal. Another great place that uses local produce, meats and cheeses. My girl is happy to be here too! Their menu is changes every time we visit. I am always excited to see and taste what they are serving.

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    They started us out with maybe one of the best rolls I have ever sunk my mouth into. And coming from someone who prides herself on MY amazing rolls… that is saying a WHOLE lot! 

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    We will go straight to the main entrees. We ordered a lot of starters, but let’s get straight to these or this post will never end! This is their braised short rib. Tender and delicious. 

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    Roasted Chicken. Pleased the whole table.

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    Skirt steak. Tender and so good!

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    Pork belly done right. It seems everyone is doing pork belly. I have had 

    poor, mediocre and great pork belly. This falls under the great category. 

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    We ordered a few sides. This here is their roasted corn and it was fantastic! We also had their potatoes gratin and mac cheese. We thoroughly enjoyed all three. 

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    For the big finish, we ordered the peach cobbler (peaches were hard, not sweet or ripe inside the cobbler), a lime and strawberry sorbet (both were excellent) and this carrot cake with vanilla ice cream. I am a hard critic on baked goods and this made the grade. It had a nice caramelization on the outside but they managed to keep the cake moist on the inside. It was a fantastic meal that we thoroughly enjoyed. Their staff are always so nice and the service has always been great. We have always had a wonderful experience here and always enjoy the wonderful food! Communal is always a must stop for me when I am in Utah. 

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    Now I already told you I am a crazy person when it comes to eating. Lucky for me, my family knows me all too well, so they weren’t too surprised (well maybe a bit) when, on our drive back to Park City I wanted to stop here. Dairy Keen is actually a fast food place that also has a drive thru and is very well known for their milkshakes. They are located in Heber, which is right on our way back to PC so I couldn’t resist stopping here for a major indulgence!

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    I am sorry I did not get great shots of the different shakes we got. We dove right in before I remembered to take pictures! Except for this one… a snickers shake…. only because it came later. They have soooooo many flavors it is hard to decide what to settle on! I ended up with banana cream pie and oh my… I was in heaven! It had crushed Nilla wafers mixed in with all the banana ice cream goodness. I think everyone had a different favorite. The have so many flavors, you are sure to find something you will fall in love with. Their shakes are nice and thick…. the only way I like them. I am sure I couldn’t wait to unbutton my pants after this day! I hope you get a chance to try some of these amazing places the next time you find yourself in this part of the country. At least you will know of some great places to try and what great dishes they have to offer. Happy Eating!

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