Word of Mouth: February 5th 

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Jeff Stickley, City Weekly reader and unpaid food reporter, sent this after traveling to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans with his wife Debbie: We never had a bad meal in New Orleans. Even the dive bars on Bourbon Street were good. I had an alligator “po’ boy,” washed down with an Abita beer, and highly recommend it. The onion rings at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville are marinated in Crystal hot sauce, which they tell me is the local favorite. They were great. I got some restaurant recommendations from an acquaintance who lives in NOLA and tried to go to some of them. But he neglected to tell me to pack a coat and tie. It turns out they won’t let you in with a U of U windbreaker!

At the Intercontinental Hotel, I had a Knob Creek bourbon-marinated steak with jalapeño mashed potatoes, and it was out of this world. Mandina’s Restaurant was a great old place with a big bar, all wood and brass, and nothing but locals. No credit cards or checks—cash only. I ate catfish (almandine, no less!) and my wife had shrimp (which I am convinced comes with everything in NOLA. It was like the Gump movie: “We got boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, grilled shrimp …”). I’m truly convinced that you cannot have a bad meal in New Orleans.

Here’s the word from the City Weekly staff:

John Saltas: Mother’s Restaurant in New Orleans: Ham & eggs, sausage & eggs, biscuits & gravy, “debris” sandwich, jambalaya, gumbo …

Christopher Westergard: I have never been a fan of pancakes, but that changed once I tried the blueberry pancakes at the Vertical Diner. All the food at Vertical is amazing, but the pancakes are little pieces of heaven. No matter what time of day it is or what else I order I always add a blueberry pancake with real maple syrup on the side. They also offer chocolate-chip or banana pancakes, which are equally amazing. Vertical Diner has changed my life; I hate to admit it, but I am now one of those “breakfast any time of the day” people.

Kathy Mueller: May I suggest giving Freewheeler Pizza a try? They have delicious sourdough crust as well as whole wheat. They cook up some of the yummiest specialty pies around. Picture this: the perfect crust, not too thin, yet not too doughy, topped with feta cheese, sautéed onions, tomatoes and gyro meat. That’s the “Greek Supreme.” Their Carbonara is to die for, too. They also do a grilled veggie thing with asparagus, spinach and all kinds of vegetable goodness that is pretty amazing.

Nick Clark: “Apr%uFFFDs-ski Row”: I love going down 72nd South after a day of skiing. Stop by the Porcupine Pub & Grille (where my co-worker Derek Carlisle moonlights as a server) for a pint and some fantastic nachos. Then head down to Epic Casual Dining (where you can find me serving a few nights a week) for a great after-the-mountain filet mignon. Finish out the evening with another pint or two from the Bohemian Brewery.

Brandon Burt: Now, everybody loves Cucina Toscana. Not only are patrons constantly in danger of receiving a big bear hug from owner Valter Nassi, but everything on the menu surpasses delicious. Unfortunately, I can’t afford to eat there as often as I’d like. However, it’s nice that my favorite menu item is one of the least pricey entrees: The spaghetti Carbonara is, quite simply, fantastic.

Holly Mullen: Even when I think I’ll step out of my appetizer comfort zone, I can’t visit either of Ali Sabbah’s Mazza restaurants without ordering a round of muhamara—which the menu describes as a traditional Aleppan (from Aleppo, a city in northwest Syria) dip made with walnuts, pomegranate, molasses, toasted bread crumbs, olive oil, roasted red bell peppers and spices. It’s ground to a paste and served with romaine lettuce leaves for wrapping. A nice, colorful change from hummus, and it’s equally good on Mazza’s plump, warm pita bread, too.

Brookelle Gaztambide: While testing out Tiburon Fine Dining in Sandy, I experienced one of the best meals I have ever eaten at a restaurant. I ordered the ahi tuna, which was seared perfectly and served with pineapple-fried rice. Everything had so much flavor; it was really wonderful!

Jamie Gadette: I’m addicted to the pasta salad at Carlucci’s. The secret is in the vinaigrette, which is just heavy enough on the balsamic to add spice without the gross, gooey factor that mayonnaise-based salads typically bring to the taste buds. That plus a few black olives, red onions and tiny mozzarella cubes keep me coming back for more.

Andrea Moore: I love Costco’s frozen pastas. I usually feel like I’m cheating if I cook with something that just needs a little defrosting or warming up to be good, but this is my exception. I get their four (or is it five?) cheese tortellini, excellent with whatever sauce you choose. I also just discovered another delicious pasta: the squash and cheese raviolis. They have a very nice squash flavor and the cheese isn’t something that started out as a powder; it’s actual cheese. I cooked these with spinach, mushrooms, onions and sun-dried tomato pesto, and my meat-loving husband really liked it; he even went back for seconds. Costco, you have won me over once again.

Eaten anything especially tasty lately? Memorable? Weird? Bodacious? Let us know by e-mailing tscheffler@cityweekly.net.

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