Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans

 

 

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans pin

The Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans is a sight to see. This grand restaurant has been open since 1890 when it was owned by Emile Commander. Over time, the restaurant switched owners, first to Frank G. Giarratano in the 20s, then to the Morans in 1944. Thirty years later, the Brennan family took over, painting the outside the iconic “Commander’s Blue” that makes the restaurant so distinct as well as redesigning the interior, adding large windows, and putting in custom paintings. Today, the restaurant is a culinary icon for the city, serving great New Orleans staples in a high-quality environment.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans floor

The Décor 

The building is hard to miss with it’s white and teal striped siding reminiscent of a whimsical Disneyland Main Street restaurant. The inside rivals any modern fancy dining room. Old-fashioned chandeliers light the room and elegant brown and lavender walls which boast elaborate designs. The tables are all decked out with white tablecloths and a single miniature lamp. Wide open windows and mirrors help bring more light into the room while giving the illusion of an even larger space. The décor and the setting make for a great anniversary or birthday meal.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans window

The Food

The cuisine is a blend of Creole and Louisiana flavors. Patrons can try various unique dishes such as shrimp beignets and turtle soup, and of course traditional dishes such as gumbo.

The food is a bit upscale and certainly on the more on the expensive side. However, as we found out, the food is well worth the price (and the Yelp reviews agree). When we visited the Commander’s Palace, I had a Nellie, which consisted of rye whiskey, dark rum, orange liqueur, bitters and citrus and cost a whopping ten dollars! But as soon as I started drinking, I found it was worth every penny. My husband ordered a big daddy of Grand Mariner with fresh squeezed lemon and likewise enjoyed his order.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans meat

The must-try dish is their famous Commander’s Bread Pudding Soufflé with Whiskey Sauce. It is a delicious sweet dish with custard that anyone in the family is sure to enjoy.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans menu

Try it at home

There are a few recipes posted on their website for those who want to try their hand at some Louisiana cooking once they get back home! If anyone in the family has something they love, parents can ask the staff if they can track down the recipe before leaving. Of course, there are always adaptation recipes, like this one for the Bread Pudding Soufflé. But the staff is typically more than happy to give interested patrons the authentic recipe from the source.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans dessert

Reservations

We recommend making a reservation online or over the phone for those planning their trip to New Orleans. The restaurant takes phone reservations at (504) 899-8221 between nine am and nine pm daily.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans kitchen

Dress Code

There is a dress code at Commander’s Palace that families should know about before visiting. The best way to sum up the required attire is Business Casual. They specify on the website that gentlemen must wear collared shirts and closed toe shoes, and jackets are preferred. No one can wear shorts, flip-flops, t-shirt, sweatshirts, or sweatpants, and jeans are discouraged.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans dish

There is a particular environment that the staff likes to keep up down to the last detail in the restaurant. As an example, one woman on TripAdvisor mentioned that when she came to the restaurant in a black dress, the staff switched her napkins from white to black.

The surprise factor as we discovered is the staff encourages patrons to visit the kitchen!

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans bread

Location, Hours

The Commander’s Palace Restaurant is located at 1403 Washington Ave, New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130. It sits at the corner of Coliseum Street in the Garden District, close to the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line. Visitors can enjoy the complimentary valet parking service at the restaurant if they drive there.

Dining at Commander’s Palace Restaurant in New Orleans chef

The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. They temporarily closed to prepare for dinner for a few hours. The restaurant then opens again for dinner hours from 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • There isn’t a ton of room between tables, but there is typically enough room to have a conversation without shouting. Parents of children with autism might want to request a quiet table away from the center.
  • The restaurant is not necessarily wheelchair friendly. However, some tables could accommodate a guest in a wheelchair.
  • The restaurant does occasionally play live Jazz music, during brunch on Saturdays and Sundays. Parents of children for whom this might be a problem should request a table away from the performers.
  • The restaurant does offer some private dining options. These are usually for large parties, though interested families of four can reserve the Chef’s Table.
  • Some of the food items, particularly the alcoholic drinks, can take a while to prepare and bring to the table.
  • Kids with no smell sensitivities might get a kick out of touring the kitchen to see how the cooking is done.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times pin

Our autism travel experts get questions about Medieval Times quite a bit. For those who don’t know, Medieval Times is a two to four-hour long dinner/show found in nine US locations and themed after a medieval knight jousting tournament. Visitors enter a replica castle and experience a night of fighting, food, and merriment. One can see live horse tricks and falconry at many of these events.

So should or shouldn’t parents take children to Medieval Times? It honestly depends on the child.
Parents who decide to go should make sure to plan ahead and ensure their child knows what to expect.  Here is a list of factors that parents of children with autism should consider before experiencing Medieval Times.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times green

Noise

The show itself involves lots of noise, often magnified by microphones, from the actors and live animals. For example, one of the most distinctive loud noises is a whip cracking used several times near the end. The show itself also utilizes incredibly loud music. Finally, there is also the sound of the crowds to consider. There’s often hundreds of people sitting in a close, indoor space, many of whom get incredibly excited about the show. While the show isn’t consistently loud, the sounds of the crowds and the show combined can rise to surprisingly high levels.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents of children with noise sensitivities should ask for a table all the way in the back of the stadium. This table should ideally also be away from the center of the loudspeakers and “King’s Booth.”
  • Parents should bring earplugs or noise canceling headphones.

Lighting

The show does frequently use strobe lighting, as well as sudden changes in lighting and light color. The arena can change quickly from fully lit to nearly pitch dark, which can be disorienting. Throughout the show, most frequently at the beginning, lights move fast over the crowds, which can mean that people watching the show will have a light shine in their eyes at some points.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times red

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents of children with light sensitivities can have their child wear sunglasses to help with sudden light changes.
  • Children who have sensitivities to strobe lights could wear special strobe glasses.
  • Several vendors walk around the area selling light up items. Parents of children who might be afraid of suddenly being in the dark should consider purchasing one of these as a fun mini nightlight.

Food

The food at Medieval Times is a huge part of the experience. Guests eat food off of metal plates and bowls with no utensils. The Medieval Times menu usually offers tomato soup, garlic bread, half a chicken, corn, potatoes, and a pastry. However, there is a vegetarian menu as most locations, offering various meals such as bean stew with carrot sticks and hummus. Each meal comes with a tankard that “wenches” fill and refill with the drink chosen by guests as they sit down. Unfortunately, there’s nothing outside of the regular or vegetarian options regarding food offerings. Those observing limited diets or tastes might run into problems at this establishment.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times food

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Bringing a little light, or purchasing one of the light up objects sold by the wandering vendors, might be an excellent idea for parents with children who have not eaten in the dark before and might swallow a small bone.
  • Be sure to request the vegetarian option during booking for family members who need it, and ask about exactly what will be in the meal as it is subject to change.
  • Parents of children who deal with OCD or would otherwise be uncomfortable with eating food with their hands can pack plastic utensils. They should also make sure their child has quick and easy access to a napkin at all times. Near the end of the show, the “wenches” will bring moist toilettes around so everyone can clean their hands.

Crowds

As mentioned before, there are often hundreds of people packed into the “theater in the round” arena space. Guests are seated in long rows on benches, and getting people in and out of the area can take a long time. Those who have to go to the bathroom and get stuck between two people usually have to hop over the chairs, involving a lot of physical dexterity. Once seated, everyone is very close to one another and often cheering, laughing, or booing loudly.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times knight

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should sit as far back as possible. They should also sit their child at the end of the row so that the child isn’t stuck between two people and can quickly leave if they need to go to the bathroom or decompress.
  • Parents might want to research times when the tournament is less busy, as there will be fewer people there and the chances of being in a row with no other families are much higher.

Etiquette

Medieval Times is a show that involves live animals and actors. The show both lists on their website and frequently reminds patrons on the site that no one should bang their cups or throw items into the arena for risk of upsetting the horses. Some of the shows include a falconry portion where a falcon will fly over the heads of the audience members. Guests are frequently reminded that they should not reach up for the falcon as it flies overhead or otherwise confuse it, as the falcon has sharp talons. And of course, while many guests heckle the Knights as part of the show, several of the same rules of watching a theater production still apply here in regards to treatment of actors.

Taking Your Kid with Autism to Medieval Times horse

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Parents should be watchful of flighty children, particularly during the falconry segment.
  • Children should sit at the end of the row in case the parent needs to take them outside of the area for a moment to calm down.


Have you taken your kid with autism to Medieval Times? What are your tips?

 

https://youtu.be/k0NwAOwQsQY

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles sign

We were first introduced to the Yucatan-inspired Chichen Itza restaurant when our son, Steven, started studying at USC, and he happened to mention that he and his friends go there on regular basis.

So, last Sunday when we went to visit him, we figured we would try it and see how it measured up to the dishes our family had previously sampled during our many visits to Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles menu
Location

The restaurant is located in a warehouse-like building hidden in an area that looks semi-industrial near the 101 freeway in South LA. The building is part of a very quaint re-done mini mall called Mercado La Paloma, filled with eateries and Central American souvenir stores, owned by a nonprofit organization that strives to help establish sustainability in the L.A. neighborhood by providing jobs and housing for residents.
Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles shadow

For a small restaurant in a non-descript area of South LA, the restaurant has been featured several times on the local news and national stations. It has an A rating for cleanliness and has plenty of parking in front of it. There is also ample seating that it shares with the other food venues in the indoor mall.
A favorite of all the USC students and others working in the area; the restaurant can get somewhat crowded during lunch and dinner hours. But that doesn’t seem to deter the restaurant’s staff which still manages to cook and serve the orders at a relatively fast pace considering it has such a small kitchen; which by the way is open so patrons can see the dishes as they are being prepared.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles kitchen

As mentioned before, there are plenty of seats available in the well lit indoor Plaza where one can sit at the table and wait for one’s food order to arrive after prepaying at the cash register.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles seating
For guests with antsy kids that can’t wait patiently at their table; wandering about and checking out the trinkets sold in the nearby stores is a good option.
The day that we went, there was almost no line for ordering, but we could see the line moved relatively fast.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles souvenirs

The Food

The restaurant menu is rather extensive which makes for difficult choices when it comes to ordering.If you are a first time visitor and are there with friends, I recommend ordering several items to share so you can get a taste of the diversity of the dishes.

We liked that their menu, displayed over the cash register area, included a short description of dishes alongside pictures for those who had never tasted this type of cuisine before or had trouble understanding the written explanations.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles salad

The venue offers several authentic drinks that you should try – the Horchata, Jamaica, Guanabana and Aqua de Chaya.
Their appetizers include crispy fried tortilla Panuchos, fluffy corn tortilla Salbutes, Longaniza Asada, which is a smoky chorizo dish, and Kibbeh, which is a Lebanese-influenced dish of three beef cuts and bulgar wheat meatball-style patties.
The restaurant also features four types of Tamales, several different tacos filled with fish, pork, beef and chicken, and some sandwiches and sides that are perfect for lunch – all priced at under ten dollars each.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles drinks

Their main dishes are a little more pricey ( 12$-18$)  and include the delicious pork dish Poc Chuc; the suitable-for-vegetarian-tortilla Papadzules and their signature Pibil dish which is offered either with pork or chicken.
We had their Cochinita Pibil, which is delicious pulled pork, slow-roasted in banana leaves and marinated in achiote. The meat was tender and incredibly juicy topped with pickled red onions, and not surprisingly w tasted as good as its Mexican counterpart.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles chicken

The winning combination of jicama and orange in the restaurant’s orange jicama salad paired exceptionally well with our  Cochinita Pibil; so make sure you get an order to share for the table as the portion is large.
Since we were a party of five and the restaurant portions looked on the generous side, we shared an order of their Tacos de Chicharron and their Tacos de Cochinita Pibil along with their Torta de Polo Asada. The Torta that filled with mesquite grilled chicken, black beans and roasted onions with a side of potato salad chips and the homemade bread turned out to be a good choice.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles entree
Furthermore, we decided to sample all the four drinks and see which one would get our vote. Hands down the Horchata was best with the Jamaica a close second for those who like sweet beverages.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles phibil

The server who brought our order to the table was very friendly and quite knowledgeable in the nuances of Yucatán cooking. He took pride in explaining the achiote spice used in several of the dishes as well as the different types of pickled onions the chef uses.
According to our server, the way the onions are diced  (vertically versus horizontally)  affects the taste and determines whether the pickled onions will be milder or stronger.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles onions

We were pretty full by the time we ate everything but couldn’t pass over the opportunity to sample the restaurant’s version of bread pudding in almond syrup, so we took an order to go. According to our son who is an avid bread pudding connoisseur (he left no trace of it within the hour) the texture was doughier than the English version and a bit sweeter.

Yucatan Cuisine at Chichen Itza Restaurant ,Los Angeles bread pudding
Our takeaway

Overall, we had a lovely experience and were surprised not only by the excellent quality of food but by the friendliness of the staff who patiently answered my son’s questions and gave us all an impromptu, brief lesson in Mexican cooking.
Chichen Itza offers excellent value for money and diners can enjoy a satisfying meal for anywhere between $15 and $40.

You can find the Chichen Itza restaurant at 3655 S Grand Ave #C6, Los Angeles, CA.
Limited parking is available in the lot right by the Mercado, and if you find a spot there, you get your parking ticket validated by the restaurant. Grand Avenue has more availability for parking.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonalds

 

Located at 600 N Clark St, Chicago, Illinois, this Rock and Roll McDonald’s also nicknamed the 50Th McDonald’s after the company’s gold anniversary celebrations were held on the premises.

We stopped by for a quick lunch and family visit to explore the fast food museum after we had read about it in a couple of travel sites.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s street

The Restaurant

It is one of the busiest restaurants in this chain and relatively large; being able to seat up to 300 people in its two-story building about three times the size of regular McDonald’s venues.This flagship McD is an entirely free-standing restaurant boasting two drive-thru lanes, a McCafe and comprehensive dining room complete with enough parking and free Wi-Fi. It aspires to be eco-friendly and has two vegetation-covered Green Roofs.

Open 24/7, this McDonald’s menu is typical of most international branches with their usual range of burgers, chicken and fish selections,  salads, snacks, and Sides as well as their Breakfast choices and, of course, their Happy Meals for kids.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s statues

The McDonalds Museum

What makes Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s unique is their museum the second level of the restaurant features several display cases showcasing the brand through the ages; covering a range of topics from history and development of their company to their merchandise.

The complimentary museum starts with how McDonald’s has contributed to the national and international community in the form of donations to various charities both local and worldwide. Then visitors get to see how McDonald’s has branched out to many countries across the globe; Taiwan, Brazil, Argentina, Canada and China to name a few.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s escalator

The exhibits then segue into the history display starting with the first McDonald’s  opened back in 1948 all the way up to the present day. There are archived pictures and memorabilia of the very first McDonald’s restaurant along with the first franchise purchase.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s museum is divided into different sections; each is representing a decade and includes the merchandise, furniture, uniforms, décor, and even menus of that era.
Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s seating area

There are many keepsakes; from overhead lamps and lighting to uniforms, happy meal toys collectibles like Lego, Furby dolls, Disney toys, to original menus.
 There are furniture items from each decade where one can sit and reminisce, even listen to the music hits of the time, completing the nostalgic ambiance.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s wall

Our son with autism, a McDonald’s fan, got a kick of seeing the various historic menus, including the one showing the introduction of the iconic Big Mac.
As in other ‘touristy’ spots this restaurant offers items like t-shirts, hats, ties and other memorabilia in the form of key rings, curios, and other mementos for purchase.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s 70s seats

Autism Travel Tips

  • Anyone fascinated with the history of the fast food chain and their happy meal toys will find this nostalgia-laden spot delightful-our son with autism did.
  • There is an escalator between the floors which is convenient for those who are unable to or prefer not to take the stairs.
  • Those kids fascinated with riding up and down will have fun since there are lovely views of the entire facility from the second story.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s toys

  • The restaurant aims to seat and feeds customers quickly and efficiently and, generally speaking, there are no long waiting times or lines.
  • The day we visited there was a  group of teens including the birthday girl heading to a local quinceanera party, all dressed in formal wear that came in for a quick bite.
  • There is free Wi-Fi, so if your child is bored or antsy, it is possible to keep them occupied with an iPad or other handheld device and the restaurant also has plasma screens that can be an excellent source of distraction.

Chicago’s Rock and Roll McDonald’s dresses

  • As it is a busy place, the noise level can be substantial but easily blocked out by headphones if your child is noise-sensitive.
  • The menus are bright and engaging and come with accompanying pictures for those who are unable to read.There is a children’s menu as well as gluten-free options.

Disney’s BOMA :Introduce your Kids to African Foods

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Ceiling Decor
Disney’s BOMA African Food: Weird Decor
During our last Walt Disney World vacation, we had the opportunity to introduce our kids to the foods of Africa at Boma restaurant located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.

Boma’s Decor

With the largest continent for its inspiration, both the lodge and its flagship restaurant showcase the African fauna and flora in their décor.
The restaurant features an open-plan kitchen so diners can observe the working chefs as they prepare the vast array of buffet dishes offered.
The venue’s ceilings decorated with tent- like colorful canopies and the artfully positioned painted terracotta pots contribute to the African boma theme.

Furthermore, the circular kraal design of thatch-roofed huts, earthy colors; and the fragrance of exotic spices provide a fun way to introduce kids of all ages to the wild bushland of Africa.

The Mickey-engraved mismatched chairs add just the right amount of the necessary Disney-esque whimsy to the Disney’s BOMA African Food: Inside Decor

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Table DecorBoma’s Food

Boma’s dinner menu boasts an eclectic mix of ethnic flavors, but those who are not adventurous need not to worry as American and European staples are available too.For kids, that won’t try new foods: the family-friendly eatery offers a special kid food station with baked chicken legs, chicken bites, mashed potatoes, spaghetti and even macaroni and cheese.

Dinner is served in an all you can eat buffet style providing a feast for the eyes before it even reaches the mouth.The buffet layout is slightly unusual with desserts on the left, salads and soups in the middle and meats /fish dishes on the right.

For travelers not acquainted with the dishes; there are description cards in front of each, and staff members can answer questions about ingredient which is especially important for guests with food allergies.

The spices and flavor are unique and appetizing. In truth, I can say that for all of the savory dishes, there is something for everyone, even vegans, and vegetarians.The salad section was an interesting fusion of African and American salads featuring: watermelon rind salad, chicken with chili cilantro, tabbouleh, spinach and quinoa and even an apple- jicama pasta.
The Lavash flatbread with the three hummus dips and various couscous salads were our personal preference.

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Red Soup
Disney’s BOMA African Food: pap

As avid soup fans, we just HAD to try all the soups.
There were several: Coconut Chicken Curry, Carrot, and Ginger, Harira made with lentil with sausages, Zanzibar Crab, and a spicy Mulligatawny.
We tried hard to pick a favorite but decided to give all of them a standing ovation.Noteworthy is the Mielie bread – a delicious African cornbread that was a worthy accompaniment to all soups.

The entrees are probably the best introduction to African food.
The Pap; an African cornmeal grits, Fufu a mashed yams and potato mix, Bobotie: curried meatloaf-like casserole and the two stews: Karaieme Seafood with vegetables and Chakalaka a tomato based one.
There are meats of all cuts and shapes roasting on spits, otherwise known as rotisseries.
There are wood fires for authentic grilling and stone ovens for the casserole-type dishes; all prepared with the freshest ingredients depicting traditional dishes of African countries like Tunisia, Ghana, and South Africa.
The meat dishes included pork, chicken, beef, lamb, fish and seafood prepared in various styles; grilled, baked, roasted and marinated to cook over an open fire.
Don’t miss the Masai Matar: a Kenyan style pesto with pecan and roasted peppers.

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Beef

Disney’s BOMA African Food: African PieIf visitors still have room after sampling all these tasty choices; there are desserts!
From the bread and Rice Puddings to Kenyan coffee-tarts and cassava cakes, there are multiple tempting options.
The venue most popular dessert is the Zebra Domes, which are soft mini petit-fours filled with Amarula Cream –a liqueur from South Africa mousse, encased in a creamy white chocolate shell.

On the same note for those of legal drinking age; the Animal Kingdom Lodge restaurant claims to have the largest selection of African wines outside of Africa!
For those that have never tried the world famous wines the restaurant’s wine flight options are a good way to start.

Boma also offers some unique beers and cocktails.
We liked the Habañero Lime Margarita made with Tequila, Habañero Lime, as well as their Magical Star Cocktail with Organic Mango and Passion Fruit Liqueur, Coconut Rum, and Pineapple Juice.

For non-alcoholic guests like our son, the Odwalla Lemonade topped with Wildberry Foam is an excellent choice though all meals come with a complimentary soft drink selection and free refills.

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Chocolates&Cupcakes

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Desserts

Autism Dining Tips

  • We thoroughly enjoyed our dining experience at the Boma, and it was an excellent way to introduce our son with autism to delectable culinary delights the biggest continent in the world has to offer.
  • The Boma staff like to try to accommodate those who have special dietary needs so do communicate with them about what each dish contains and if you or your child can eat it.
  • Since Boma is a very popular restaurant, it is vital to make reservations up 180 days in advance unless you are willing to go at off-peak times.
  • We recommend you go off hours and bring electronics to occupy your kid since reservation times are approximate.
  • If you discover the wait time to be too long; be sure to ask for a beeper and take the time to explore the hotel’s vast souvenir store.
  • Every hour there’s a short music performance that features drums is quite loud and lasts ten minutes.
  • Ask to be seated in a far corner if your child is sound sensitive or bring ear plugs/headphones along.
  • This restaurant offers no character encounters, but we loved the complimentary tour, given after dinner, by trained staff to watch the wild animals with night goggles in the backside of the Animal Kingdom Lodge resort.

  • Disney’s BOMA African Food: Colorful Wall

Disney’s BOMA African Food: Restraunt View

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando

A cowfish is a little marine boxfish that lives in the coral reefs across the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It has little horns on top of its small face that make it resemble a cow, but it has the body and tail of a fish.
This concept of two-creatures-in-one is how the Cowfish restaurant we dined at on our last visit to Universal’s City Walk Orlando was born. The owners took two favorite foods – Burgers and Sushi – and created a new type of combined fusion dish aptly nicknamed The Burgushi!

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando FACADE

Location

The Cowfish restaurant is located in Universal ‘s revamped City Walk Orlando Florida next to several other well-loved eateries like Vivo, Margaritaville, Emeril’s and the Hard Rock Cafe.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando FISH

 

The Décor

One can feel the fun vibe the restaurant projects right from the entrance -where a giant yellow cowfish welcomes kids ( and adults) providing the perfect opportunity for a pre-meal ‘selfie.’

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando NET

Once inside, the colorful furniture and wall hangings set the mood preparing the patrons for a unique and fun experience. The restaurant is large with a layout that encompasses two levels with both indoor and outdoor seating.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando BALCONY

The outdoor area is an excellent choice for visitors who wish to enjoy the theme park fireworks while eating dinner.
The venue features an open kitchen, which means that diners can watch the chef and kitchen staff preparing the dishes on the menu.
Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando LAMP

Don’t miss the chance to say hi to the restaurant’s cowfish mascot! The fish, peacefully swimming in a giant bowl next to the hostess desk, originally from Indonesia can grow up to eighteen inches long.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando REAL FISH

Turns out, the fish is highly sensitive to noise and can be quite toxic to even other cowfish, and so it lives a solitary life.

The Food

Since this was our first visit to the chain, we wanted to get a sampler of several foods and drinks to share and enjoy.
Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando BAR

I ordered the ‘cowfish bento box’ that included a burger and sushi combo along with sweet potato fries (a restaurant staple), Thai cucumber salad, edamame and spicy tuna roll. My husband and son opted for the ‘ fusion specialty bento box’, which was similar to mine except their box came with four pieces of firecracker rolls ( quite spicy.) And of course, we had to try the famous burg-ushi.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando ENTREE

We also wanted to try their trendy spiked shakes, so we ended up sharing two different ones. Our ‘ Chocolate To Dive For’ (Vanilla Ice Cream with Amaretto and Godiva liqueur) and ‘Orange Ya Glad I’m Back ‘ (Vanilla Ice Cream, Orange Sherbet, Vanilla Rum and Orange Vodka) were a hit!

 

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando BENTO

 

The Experience

Not just about the food; Cowfish is a great interactive experience for the whole family!

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando SCREEN

When guests arrive, they are assigned a tiny fish swimming at the bottom of the virtual aquarium. As time passes, and their table is close to becoming available, their designated fish gets bigger and starts swimming to the top of the aquarium.

‘Why didn’t anyone think of this earlier? ‘asked my son with autism who was mesmerized by the game and didn’t even notice he’d been waiting for a solid ten minutes outside.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando GAMES

In addition to the video game, the restaurant supplies several old-fashioned games like bean bag throw in patio waiting area, to entertain active kids while their parents can enjoy a relaxing drink from the bar.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando ELECTRNICS

Once inside, there are interactive touch-screen tablets at the tables that give diners access to the menus and video games. The “Build-your-own-Fish” game caught our attention as a fun way to create a customized fish before watching it join others in the massive virtual aquarium displayed on the giant screens,

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando MENU

The Cowfish chain, with other branches in North Carolina, has received good press and accolades nationwide. In the Relish magazine, it made the 10 Outrageously Good Burgers Across America list, and Rachael Ray in her “Everyday With Rachel Ray” publication mentioned it as a notable family-friendly restaurant.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando DECOR

 

Autism Dining Tips

If you are visiting Universal Orlando, Cowfish is a great family-oriented place to go to after a busy day at the park.

The helpful staff was ready to answer our son’s questions, and the orders came relatively fast even though the restaurant was busy.

The restaurant offers a kids menu with the usual grub. Our son ordered a bento box although the PB&J sushi roll looked seriously tempting.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando RESTROOMS

The place is large with outdoor and indoor seating so temperature- sensitive travelers with autism can be well accommodated.

The restaurant caters to a variety of dietary needs so make sure that you communicate with the staff prior to ordering.

It has an open-plan design with high ceilings, which amplifies acoustics. If your child is sensitive to noise, bring headphones to reduce the sound.

Savoring Burgushi at Cowfish Restaurant Orlando SIGN

Is Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza Worth the Hype?

For the past several years, we’ve wanted to try out Giordano’s, a very highly rated Pizzeria chain with numerous branches city and nationwide started over 200 years ago in Torino, Italy.

The chain referred to as ‘Chicago’s Best Pizza’ has been awarded prestigious titles by renowned institutions like NBC, CBS Chicago, New York Times, Chicago Magazine, and The Chicago Tribune.

When we finally got the chance we were not disappointed!
We wandered into the Prudential Plaza Millennium Park branch on 130 E Randolph Street for a quick dinner since it was close to our hotel , Chicago’s Swissotel.

Is Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza Worth the Hype? sign

 

The Restaurant

The décor is rather simple with wooden furnishings and red and white large-checked gingham tablecloths, but the emphasis here is definitely on the food.
Giordano’s claim to fame is their deep dish pizzas and based on our personal experience rightfully so. The pizzas are made fresh to order so that the waiting time can be long; anywhere from half an hour to 45 minutes depending on the type of pizza ordered.
Our server was excellent; not only promptly answering all our son’s questions but in letting us know what to expect.

Is Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza Worth the Hype? table

We went at 6 pm on a Friday night which meant that we didn’t have to wait as long, but it got crowded pretty soon.
While we waited for our pizza, we had appetizers of bruschetta and salad; both were impeccably seasoned and delicious!

Is Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza Worth the Hype? brushcetta

When the pizza came, it was everything we envisioned it to be -the thick crisp crust with the stretchy and stringy cheese and the freshly cut tomato topping totally lived up to our expectations.

Autism Dining Tips

  • Giordano’s is open every day of the week from 11 am to midnight. It is important to know that they do not take reservations so you cannot make advanced bookings
  • The waiting times are long and even though the pizza was worth waiting for, I recommend that you go early to avoid the crowds and get served sooner
  • Prepare your child for the wait and bring along a tablet or phone to keep him/her busy.
  • If your kid gets antsy while he or she waits, they can go to the back and watch the kitchen staff prepare the dough and make the pizza!

Is Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza Worth the Hype? pizza

  • Though the Chicago venue mostly recognized for their deep pan stuffed pizza; they also serve other Italian dishes like pasta, salads, and even deli sandwiches for lunch.
  • The chain offers gluten-free crusts on the menu, so it is important to place your order accordingly and let the staff know if your child has gluten sensitivities.
  • The premises flooring is flat and even and suitable for wheelchairs.
  • The tables are pretty close together, and the noise level is high especially as the restaurant fills up; so remember to bring headphones for your child to be able to block out loud sounds if necessary.
  • The portion sizes are relatively generous, and there is a children’s menu available.
  • Do make sure that you communicate with the staff and ask questions to be sure that you have understood the menu and selections.

Is Giordano’s Deep Dish Pizza Worth the Hype? cutting the pizza

 

Thanksgiving Buffet at Embassy Suites’ Oxnard Coastal Grill

 

 

The Embassy Suites restaurant has held a special spot in our hearts for almost two decades now.
It is there we have celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, met with out of town friends; and for our children growing up it was the place to take them to play in the sand on a clean beach after Sunday Brunch.

So it was only natural that I would want to try their Thanksgiving Brunch after hearing from the manager that they had brought in a new chef and revamped their menu.

The Atmosphere

The restaurant located inside the Mandalay Beach Hotel overlooks both the hotel pool and Pacific Beach. The building is a modern spin on Spanish colonial style and boasts high vaulted ceilings. The décor in dark hues of brown compliments the multiple arch domed windows and the light tan walls.
Arriving as a party of five we called ahead and made a reservation, as we did not know how busy it would be.
We arrived five minutes ahead of schedule and were greeted by the restaurant manager who showed us to the table promptly. Our table overlooking the ocean was in the center of the large dining room but still an adequate distance from other diners to give us enough privacy.

The festive champagne buffet with tables placed in a U shape offered a blend of traditional holiday dishes along with regular brunch dishes.

Thanksgiving Buffet at Embassy Suites' Oxnard Coastal Grill Restaurant setting
The Food

We started with the seafood station that displayed poached shrimp, Baja sea scallops, New Zealand mussels and smoked salmon. We passed by the make your salad station before heading on to the main attraction – the meat carving stations with turkey, lamb and beef.

There were other entrees served; like salmon in herb cream sauce and mushroom ravioli but in all honestly we came for our yearly turkey fix, and we got it.

As dark meat lovers, we enjoyed a helping of that first dark turkey meat, but it was hugely popular with our fellow diners, so the supply was soon depleted. Somewhat disappointed we turned to the white meat, and it was surprisingly delicious – moist and very well seasoned.

Of course we had to try all the traditional sides which included roasted yams with marshmallows, lemongrass coconut basmati rice, Parmesan mashed potatoes, green beans, and stuffing. My personal favorites were the yams though I admit it was the roasted marshmallows that I shamelessly filled my plate with, along with the moist and multi-textured stuffing which is a killer recipe I wouldn’t mind stealing!

Thanksgiving Buffet at Embassy Suites' Oxnard Coastal Grill Restaurant foodThe dessert table looked particularly inviting, so we all tried the assortment of pies and cakes they offered. As one that abhors pudding of all sorts, it wouldn’t have even occurred to me to try the bread pudding. Luckily my son who happens to like the dessert insisted I sample a piece. And I can I say that I’m sure glad I did! The bread pudding made with blueberries was fluffy and unlike others that are slightly tart. In fact, it was hands down the best part of my meal.

We would have liked to conclude our meal with a specialty coffee, but as it wasn’t included in the price of $51 per person, we opted for the house coffee that was somewhat bland and not as strong as I had hoped for.
Worth mentioning was the attentive staff that began with the restaurant manager at the beginning of the meal and continued to the end with Betsy our server, who continuously came around replenishing our drinks and clearing the empty plates.
We got a kick out of meeting the new chef who was overseeing the buffet and was extremely friendly and graciously answered my questions.

Autism Travel Tips

We were grateful that the restaurant was relatively quiet and though busy, never felt crowded.

The venue is a good place to take children to, as you can incorporate a fun and sensory walk on the beach when they get irritable.

Pink’s Los Angeles Iconic Hot Dog House

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's outside

The Story Behind the Name.

Started back in 1939 as a pushcart vendor near the corner of La Brea and Melrose, Pink’s Hot Dogs is an LA institution that has been featured in many movies including the Muppets.
In fact, back in the eighties, long before I ever set foot in LA, I remember hearing about how Madonna met her then husband Sean Penn while standing in line at this very restaurant.

 

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's van

The iconic food venue, celebrating 75 years this month has expanded over time and offers their fantastic service in several other locations like Ohio, San Diego, Connecticut and Las Vegas as well as operating stalls at many southern California summer fairs.

 

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's door

The original Hollywood eatery we like to frequent was built in 1946 and is a relatively small but quaint place for diners to come and get their hot dog fix.
The indoor area walls are decorated with a growing number of photos of celebrities who stopped by and enjoyed the food.

The Venue

It’s perfect for antsy children to explore while their parents are dining while the outdoor ‘patio’ area with tables further apart and plenty of shade under the large beach umbrellas, is quieter and better suited for special needs families.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's menu

The Pink dining experience starts while waiting in line.
It moves surprisingly fast considering how long the lines can be at times.

Before you even order your food, you get to look at how the food venue evolved through the decades and choose your hot dog from their extensive menu.
Can you believe that there are 31 different varieties to choose from?
Our son with autism who hates standing in line for anything enjoys checking out the old photos displayed and chatting with fellow customers.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's more menu

The colorful menu provides not only written descriptions but pictures too.
As well as offering hot dogs, burgers( including a burger dog combo called ‘Jaws’), must try side dishes like chili fries and onion rings to go; they even have desserts.
Portions are on the large side so younger children can share a hot dog with a sibling. With prices ranging from a basic dog at just over four bucks to a three dog extravaganza that is ten dollars and change, the prices are very affordable.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's VIP

As the leading hot dog eatery in Hollywood, many of their combos are named after the celebrity that created them.My son picked the ‘ Martha Stewart’ a dog with mustard, relish, onion, chopped tomato, sauerkraut, bacon and sour cream and the ‘Ozzy’ a spicy Polish hot dog with nacho cheese, American cheese, grilled onion, guacamole and chopped tomato as his favorites.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's LOOT

Mine turned out to be the Philly cheese steak dog with grilled steak, grilled peppers, onions topped with American and Swiss cheese as well as the 9-inch stretch dog with mustard, onions, cheddar cheese topped with a generous helping of tasty chili called the “Brando,” yes, named for Marlon.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's FRONT

 

They even have Souvenirs

For the out-of-towners who wish to remember the visit, as well as the collectors among you, be sure to check out their cute souvenirs especially the pins, shirts and beaded bag in the form of a hot dog.

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's PURSE

Autism Travel Tips

What makes Pink’s, even more, unique is the owners’ dedication to helping special needs families.
Not only have the Pink family and their establishments been very active in many local charity events but their autism awareness is commendable.
During the interview with the owner, I mentioned that some patrons with autism might not be able to wait in line to order food. Both him and his lovely sister assured me that if customers call and place their order by phone a few minutes in advance, the restaurant’s  servers will ensure that the food is ready by the time they arrive so they won’t have to wait at all!

Love Hot Dogs? You Must Try Pink's WELCOME

 

Disclaimer: All or part of this experience were provided free or at a reduced cost for review purposes.All opinions are solely that of the writer and cannot be bought or swayed in any away.

 

Taking your kids with Autism to the Cracker Barrel Restaurant

As a family living in California, we officially refer to ourselves as ‘Cracker Barrel’ -Deprived since the chain doesn’t have any restaurants in our home state.
To fuel our obsession with the family-friendly chain, we make a point of visiting every Cracker Barrel restaurant we pass, even if it means in some cases driving out of our way.

Last month we were delighted to discover a branch right next to the hotel we were staying at the time, the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells and, needless to say, our kids insisted on having lunch there.
If you have never been to the Cracker Barrel and want to know what the buzz is about; here are our six reasons why we love the chain and keep returning for more.

Six Reasons Why We Love the Cracker Barrel Restaurant outside

The Price

You simply can’t beat the price for a sit-down lunch or dinner!
For under $30 a family of four can enjoy a hefty lunch or dinner with large portions, two vegetable sides orders, unlimited soda drinks and corn muffins.And if a guest isn’t too hungry, he or she can order off the kid’s menu.

The Taste and service

We just can’t get enough of their fried country cooking!
True, it isn’t very dietetic, and I probably wouldn’t recommend eating it on a day to day basis, but still; their fried chicken and apples are pretty much to die for in our book.
For a venue with such turnaround, it is pretty surprising that their staff is still always so patient and friendly.We’ve been to many locations and have yet to encounter rude, or slow service.

The Rocking Chairs

Our son saw the rockers and was immediately hooked!
In fact, the first time we ever dined at a Cracker Barrel back in Houston, Texas, he had to be bribed into even entering the restaurant since all he wanted was to sit outside and rock.
Nowadays, he looks forward to eating his fried apples but still insists on a twenty-minute stint on one of the display rockers in the front of the store either before or after a meal.

Six Reasons Why We Love the Cracker Barrel Restaurant food

The Store

The store next to the restaurant is a ‘tchotchke’ exploration cove you can spend time (and money) in.Our son with autism never gets tired of finding new items to buy and candy to sample.
The store carries most of the old-fashioned games, candy and CD’s one can think of as well as country inspired home wares and even clothes.

The Country  Decor

Perfect to occupy our son when he gets bored or antsy, the country inspired artifacts displayed on the wall have always added to our overall dining experience.The old fashioned advertisements and memorabilia are not only fascinating but make patrons feel like they are visiting older family members.

Table Fidgets

For years, our sons fidgeted with the salt and pepper shakers or squabbled in restaurants with no Wi-Fi.
But that was before we discovered the  Cracker Barrel. Nowadays, they spend their time playing with the connect four and giant chess sets available at the tables and always have a good time.

Have you taken your kids to a Cracker Barrel Restaurant?
What was your experience?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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