Saturday, October 26, 2013

New Downtown Restaurant Reviews

To those of you haven't made it down to try new restaurants in the Haymarket yet, let my not-so-expert-advice help guide you when you do decide to try something new. I've composed a list in reverse order of my favorites so far. I also included their websites if your interested in more information.

5. Gate 25

Gate 25 has a upscale "sports bar" vibe with better-tasting bar food than your other favorite sports bars. We didn't have a long wait (although we went on a Wednesday night) Not a huge selection on the menu, in fact, I was expecting more. They have a variety of salads, chicken sandwiches, burgers, and even duck. The environment is very modern, but big screens still plaster the walls so you can watch your favorite sports team. There's not too much seating inside but Gate 25 is located within the huge outdoor Railyard where there is plenty of seating. Fun fact - their outdoor bar draft beer fills from the bottom of the cup to the top instead of pouring it in.

Jake ordered a pastrami burger with a salad and I ordered the Chipotle chicken sandwich. Like I mentioned before - the food was better than other sports bars but nothing fantastic. The prices aren't bad at all though. The cook put mayo on my sandwich when I asked for none - so I didn't love the place. I honestly probably would choose many other restaurants that are downtown over this one.

The only photo I found of Gate 25 was this one of the entire outdoor Railyard. Gate 25 is located on the first floor and Buffalo Wings and Rings (#3) is located on the second floor of this place.

4. Lead Belly

We went to Lead Belly with our friend Christine and her boyfriend E a couple weeks ago. Lead Belly is a "Contemporary American Pub" and is somehow related to another restaurant we like which is in FallBrook called "Toast". (I like Toast better). This atmosphere is very calm, and their drinks and beer are served in mason jars. There was not wait time here either on a Friday night.

They have a large variety of burgers that they make. Jake's burger had jumbo shrimp on it, and I had a philly steak sandwich with no onion, mushrooms, or green peppers. The cook brought my meal out with onions, green peppers, and mushrooms. I asked them to take it back, and had to watch my friends eat while they picked all of that off and returned to me my cold fries and a picked a part sandwich. Don't get me wrong, the sandwich wasn't bad, but I think I should have just chosen a burger! (The rest of our dining part enjoyed their burgers!)

Who would've guessed, but our bellies ached after eating too much after this meal. (Or it could have been the fact that right after this meal - it was so stinking cold so we ran a mile back to where our cars were parked so I could make it in time before Target closed to buy panty hose for the Homecoming football game)

3. Wings and Rings

Jake and I ate here shortly after it opened up-  and boy was it busy!!  The wait time was about 30 minutes, which wasn't bad at all for a Friday night. The staff was very friendly and welcoming, and considering it was so busy, I was grateful they were smiling and still enthusiastic. We ordered Buffalo and Thai wings, fried pickles, and we both got sides of onion rings. Next time we will probably share one side of rings - we took a lot home after this meal.

This place is nothing special; it's just a variation on Buffalo Wild Wings with new sauces and better onion rings. It was good, but it's normal sports bar food. One tip I have is to avoid the BamaMama drink .... the amount of tequila in that thing brought back awful memories from a day in Mexico where I thought it would be a good idea to keep drinking Jose. (On an interesting sidenote - isn't it cool how your brain associates the specific taste from the previous encounter as highly poisonous and it literally makes you gag from one taste?)

2. Hiro 88

We were really excited to try out Hiro because we had heard great things about it. We didn't have a wait for a table, but our waitress was extremely slow. We had a two hour meal while the tables next to us had housed two couples each throughout our time there. The environment is modern and fun but we were sat in one of those long benches where people sit close together and a few small tables are in front of it so we tried not to eavesdrop on the other couples while we quietly spoke back and forth.

We tried a California Roll, fried, (crab, cucumber, and avocado) and also a Philadelphia Roll (smoked salmon, cream cheese, and cucumber).  I'm not a lover of eating fish and I enjoyed the California Roll a lot more. For dinner we tried Mongolian Beef and Teriyaki Chicken, both were delicious. 

The servings were large. I ate half of mine, and then waited about thirty minutes and decided I was hungry again, so I ate the other half. It took so long for us to eat because we refused to ask for forks when everyone else around us used the chopsticks.  We also tried a "Make it Rain" cucumber drink and a Japanese beer that tasted like chlorine.

1. Mellow Mushroom

Mellow Mushroom is a place for everyone to enjoy. The pizza is great and the atmosphere is fun and different (menu items and decor is themed around hallucinogenic mushroom highs and marijuana use) but it's done in a way that doesn't make anyone feel uncomfortable. The walls are adorned with colorful artwork and statues of interesting things. There isn't a lot of seating and this place is extremely busy. It's located immediately outside the doors of the new arena.

Here we've had one of our shortest table waits ever and also one of the longest. The first time we came here it was during one of the opening weeks and they used a Ipad system of checking people in and they would text you when your table was ready. They took our name, and then exited out of the program so they had to select one of the many "Jake's" in the system to put his phone number in. They clearly picked the wrong Jake because while others waited over an hour and a half (and some people never got called!) - we walked outside and Jake got a text right away saying his table was ready. We spotted Christine and E walking in the door so they joined us at our table. Last night, we came here with Mom and Dad and waited about an hour for a seat. Not a huge deal for a Friday night, and we hung out in a space by the bar while we waited. 

The pizza is so delicious. We've tried the Buffalo Chicken Pizza and the Mighty Meaty . A medium is perfect for two people if you want to take home a couple slices. The slices are cut extremely large and the pizza is very filling.

*We shared one of those...we didn't each get one!

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