Most people find themselves stuck in a food rut from time to time. Whether you go to the same place everyday for everyday lunch because it’s cheap and quick (yeah, we’re talking about you, downtown Subway) or just frequent the same places over and over again, most of us rarely venture out of our comfort zones food wise. Maybe you try a new place when it opens, but that’s about it. I mean, if you know the burgers are great at Jerry’s, for example, why would you ever go anywhere else, right?
Some members of the IN Staff, freelance team and even our INtern admit that we too fall victim to this routine logic. So we decided to venture out and try something new. Whether it was one our favorite foods at a new place or just a restaurant that we’ve driven by hundreds of times but never stopped at, we all had a mini-food adventure. And most of us liked the new places so much they are probably going to become part of our routines.
Tas-T-O Donuts and Sandwich Shop
By Ashley Hardaway
We all know the building: the slightly tattered, but oddly captivating nook on the corner of E Street and Cervantes. Since childhood, I have watched people ordering from its window as I got stopped at the red light on the corner. I have always meant to go and try it, after all, it’s odd that you can live somewhere almost your entire life and yet consistently experience only mere fractions of it, so this weekend I decided that for lunch I was having donuts and barbecue.
The menu hangs taped to the interior of the window, divided into the lunch and breakfast options (they open at 6:30am) and the donuts. I got a cinnamon roll, a mini sweet potato pie, a cinnamon twist donut, a chicken sandwich and a large order of fries. Grand total: $6 and some change. They make the sandwiches and fries to order so while I waited the five minutes it took to prepare those items, I dug into my baked goods. They were excellent, the highlight being the cinnamon roll that was smothered in icing and not dry at all. The woman working the cash register and I chatted while my fries were cooking. We spoke about the area and how it was changing and about soul food in general (I now have many more places on my list to try).
As we finished talking I looked out to the corner and saw many faces peering at the shop from the red light of the corner. Through their car windows you could see the curiosity in their faces, their yearning to try something new as they once again headed downtown.
And just in case you were wondering, yes, the chicken sandwich was delicious.
Tas-T-O Donuts and Sandwich Shop
801 N. E St.
Taqueria Olgy’s #2
By Joani Delezen
I’ve never met a taco that I didn’t like. I said this exact sentence recently to one of my friends (who just happens to be Mexican) and he replied with “Yeah? So that means you’ve been to Taqueria Olgy’s?” I had not and clearly that had to change.
Billed as the “most authentic Mexican fast food in Pensacola” Taqueria Olgy’s definitely lived up to the reviews I’d heard and my taco loving expectations. The food, atmosphere and even the staff are as authentic as you can get. (Our waitress even asked our table to help her pronounce “dessert.” True story.) The service is fast—like almost Taco Bell fast. And everything on the menu is pretty darn cheap, too. I think they need to add that to their tagline.
I played it safe and ordered a beef taco and chicken quesadilla. But if you want to channel your inner Andrew Zimmerman, you can definitely do that here. They have menu items like tacos de lengua (beef tongue) and, sometimes, even menudo—which is a traditional Mexican soup made with tripe (beef stomach).
Just remember when you visit Taqueria Olgy’s (which you know you will now—I mean who can say “no” to beef tongue?) that’s it’s not a Tex-Mex joint—like most of the places we have around here. So everything isn’t going to be deep fried and covered in melted cheese. But it’s still going to be delicious.
Taqueria Olgy’s #2
5222 N. W St.
By Dan Fugate
If you’ve driven on West Gregory Street there’s no doubt you’ve seen ProBoKnows. It’s the tan house with terracotta trim on the north side of the street. If that doesn’t ring a bell, maybe you’re familiar with the Ron Paul Revolution signs in the front yard. I like to try little mom & pop eateries. They often surprise with great food and a comfortable, laid back atmosphere that’s just not available at other “cookie-cutter” establishments. So, one Tuesday, my wife and I stopped in for lunch.
The place is still set up very much like a house. To the left of the foyer is a bar area with limited seating and large windows. On the right, a larger dining area with a fireplace to keep you warm and a window air conditioner to keep you cool. All-weather comfort is important. ProBoKnows has a limited, yet enticing menu. This was refreshing. I hate it when a restaurant thinks they can serve everything under the sun and have it taste good. Make a few things and make them well. We ordered the Chicken Cordon Bleu sandwich and a bowl of bean soup, both the day’s specials.
As we sat, waiting for our food, we talked. The owner’s dog came up for a visit. He was as friendly as the rest of the staff. Within a few minutes, we had a bowl of soup—with two spoons—and our sandwich. They even split the sandwich, put it on two plates, gave us an extra pickle, and an extra bag of chips. Cars and trucks drove by as their drivers searched for lunch, not knowing what a gem they were passing by. The food, it was delicious, filling, and fresh. Not a bad spot to have lunch on our anniversary. We’ll be going back again.
400 W. Gregory St.
By Stephanie Sharp
It’s a tiny, little place nestled into the side of the Carlton Palms building and is the only sushi joint in Downtown, Sumo Sushi. I brought a sushi virgin (Zach) and a hesitant recent convert (Shelby) along with my sushi-obsessed self for a rice-wrapped lunch feast.
The restaurant is small, but cozy, with a very comfortable décor—sans the borderline cheesy design flourishes that can be spotted in other local sushi places. There were only two employees working: two women, the older in the kitchen cooking and the younger waiting tables.
Our server was very accommodating to Shelby, who actually got her sushi custom rolled—shrimp tempura, cucumber, and asparagus, to be exact. Zach ordered the Volcano Popcorn shrimp. Think Bang-Bang shrimp from Bonefish Grill, but with rice. We shared edamame and shrimp tempura strips for an appetizer. I failed to convince them to try my miso soup, which was particularly rich and flavorful. I had the Volcano Roll and the Godzilla roll. The Godzilla roll was fantastic, but contrary to a comment I saw on Urbanspoon about the Volcano roll, it was way too spicy for me to handle. But then again, I’m a wimp when it comes to heat.
Overall, the food was very good and the service was great. I’m glad to know there’s a sushi joint downtown where you can relax for a bit, especially for lunch. Maybe I’m just sentimental, but I could almost taste the love in the food. It’s not any cheaper than other sushi joints, but its location is definitely a plus.
224 E. Garden St. #6
Do you want in on the Hungry Games with us? Then try one of the places in our “Eat Guide Directory”. Check in our Foursquare while you’re there and tag the Independent News. We’ll pick a winner at random and give them a prize. Contest ends July 31, 2012.