Foodie Review: Chuck E Cheese’s (San Antonio, TX)

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Why the hell am I doing a foodie review for Chuck-E-Cheese?

To tell you the truth, I don’t know. Is this where writer dreams go to die?

We’ll see.

The truth is, I randomly posted a few foodie reviews this past week on a whim, because I visited a few cool places recently, and did get some gift cards to Pei Wei, but my daily views on those were actually double of my new movie reviews. With little promotion on Twitter, they are still my most viewed blogposts a few days later, so I am testing to see if people just like reading whatever comes to mind.

So what is this bizarre place?

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This is a place I wanted to go for my 8th birthday. I still remember the story. My parents called to book the place, and it was all booked. Chuck E Cheese himself would not visit my table. We pressed on bravely, and my mother baked a fucking chocolate cake and we invited my friends and we all went there anyways.

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Things have changed since then. You buy pizza and tokens in packages (the discount is given with 80 tokens) with the mirage that this is a good deal. Most of the games in the arcade are essentially gambling games where you do various things for tickets. The biggest scores you can get is 250 tickets, if you hit 1/200 odds. If you have an extremely lucky day and somehow accumulate 7500 tickets in one magical session, beating the average of 4-10 tickets per game, what can you get? One frozen action figure that costs around $15 at Walmart.

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Anyways, back to the foodie review. We ordered a couple pizzas. This was the pepperoni pizza. Behold the weird pizza slice cuts. You can always recognized a Chuck E Cheeze pizza by the unorthodox pizza slicing; it’s almost as if the pizza cutter closes their eyes and cuts. Eating the pizza and rating it is more of an exercise of not saying if it is good or bad, but ranking it. To me, the pizza is maybe a slot higher than Cici’s pizza and frozen grocery store pizza, but a step lower than Little Caesers pizza, which I consider below the big 3 (Papa Johns, Pizza Hut, Dominos).

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Watching your weight? Chuck E Cheese also sports a pretty good looking salad bar. It was constantly getting refilled from tubs that I assume come from some food distributor. I thought the presentation was actually surprisingly clean for what I expected. Taking a quick glance around, I discovered why: The salad bar was the furthest distance from the arcade and there wasn’t a kid within 40 feet, so this was likely the cleanest area in the entire place.

So how was the food? Eh, the pizza might be a 4/10. But how was it while watching the kid running around like a maniac trying to win tickets? Eh, the quality of the pizza didn’t really matter, now did it?

If you enjoy me just blogging on anything instead of focusing on movies, like and share and leave a comment below. I have some big trips coming up and can keep sharing whatever happens.

Foodie Review: Twisted Root (San Angelo, TX)

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This is an off-the-beaten-path foodie review. Located in San Angelo, Texas, is the Twisted Root Burger Company. Nestled up against a river near downtown, this restaurant was in a prime location. The entire company sports 16 locations, mostly in Texas. For a town as small as San Angelo, the place stuck out as one of the few dining establishments with a modern touch.

IMG_3829.jpegAs soon as you walk in, you are surprised by the modern decoration. The “signage-fest” alone takes a while to scan. For those of you that follow me on twitter @Matt_M_Leonard you saw my tweet storm last month on Bob’s Big Boy … well if you look in the back of the picture, there he was, standing proudly, supervising the patrons of Twisted Root. I was only in town a few days, but quickly got a gist to what the place was about from the menu.

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The prices were pretty reasonable for a fast casual burger joint (no so much for you foot-long-hotdog aficionados). I ordered the buffalo burger version of the Western and fries. It isn’t too often that a fast casual burger joint offers buffalo, so I struck while my hunger was hot.

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While we waited for our order for pickup at the counter, we waited at this “shotgun table.” I’m not sure if this is the typical burger decoration, or if this related to the buffalo I was eating, but it was different. Screen Shot 2016-06-02 at 9.19.19 PM.png

What else was different? Instead of giving us an order number, they gave us a laminated name. I was naturally Alfred Hitchcock. Each had a fun fact of some sort. We waited around ten minutes, snacking on the complimentary pickle slices, until the names were called on the loudspeaker. IMG_3325.jpeg

There it is; behold, the Twisted Root Buffalo Western Burger. The cardboard presentation wasn’t as hip as the company might believe. A basket with a liner like you find at Shake Shack or In-N-Out would have been better. Dumping food in a cardboard box doesn’t really speak “clean” to me. Plus, the portion of the fries wouldn’t have looked so pathetically small. I mean, just look at that? It is sadder than the random piece of lettuce getting pinned by the onion slice. Maybe I’m spoiled from Five Guys going the other way and overloading me with fries (since it costs pennies to make), or the bottomless basket as Red Robin.

How was the burger? Pretty damn tasty. I hadn’t had a burger in a couple of weeks, and this was pretty delicious. I couldn’t really tell the difference between buffalo and beef, mostly because it was fully cooked. Does it beat a Five Guy’s burger? No. Does it beat Red Robin? No. Does it beat fast food burgers? Yes. If I was to make a comparison, this is sort of like when you visit a jack-of-all-trades restaurant like Applebees and order a burger. It’s going to cost about the same, even after factoring in the tip at Applebees, and taste about the same, with the random decorations in the restaurant.

At least at Applebees, they will serve it on a plate.

Foodie Review: Pei Wei (San Antonio, TX)

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The last time I had Pei Wei was around 2 years ago. I had been dining there for a couple years since living in San Antonio, and the quality seemed to have dropped over the course of around 6 months until a final straw was broken after a horrible order when our order was over-sauced and the vegetables were overcooked. You know the sight. This is if you threw in a bunch of food in a wok, and just kept layering on sauce until it reduced to nothing because you were not paying attention, and then threw on some more sauce. It was so bad that night, we stopped going, preferring a local Chinese restaurant closer to my house.

I joined twitter in February. I didn’t really know how to use it, and kind of just search through feeds to see what is going on. One day in April, I saw Pei Wei had posted something to which another person had replied (I think it was something to do with their service). I added my opinion, compacting my experience in 140 characters or less, to which Pei Wei actually tweeted back to me.

After exchanging some contact information, they asked me to explain my exact issues to which I said forget about it, it was long ago and I was lost as a customer. My time is too valuable to explain a tweet.

It didn’t matter.

In the mail around a week later, I received the $30 in gift cards to try out Pei Wei again, which was pretty cool. We decided to order a family meal this past week, and I wanted to share the results.

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 7.00.37 PM.pngWe ordered the Kung Pao Chicken, Mongolian Steak, and the Korean Spicey Chicken. IMG_4683.jpegKung Pao ChickenIMG_2711.jpegMongolian Beef

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So how was it? It was pretty tasty. The sauces were just about right this time, and I was especially surprised by the new Korean dish (limited time offer). It had just enough of a little kick to it. The vegetables all in all were not overcooked. Blended on one plate, each of the dishes complimented each other, and unlike the last time I went, I ate all the food off my plate.

Pei Wei just won me back as a customer.

With around 200 locations in the US, you can find Pei Wei in many cities. As a fun fact, I learned that Pei Wei is a fast casual offshoot of P.F. Changs, a restaurant I enjoy eating at.

For the price (total a little under $30) it was a decent value for 3 dishes and exactly comparable to the Chinese restaurant we have been ordering takeout the last couple years at. The service was fast, being ready for pickup in around 20 minutes.