10 Aug 2010 @ 5:15 PM 

Mexican food is by far one of my favorite “categories” of food. From time to time, we venture out to South O to check out some of the more “authentic” Mexican restaurants, and we have a couple of less authentic, more tex-mex-y type places around where we live. We are always looking for new places to try – and just happened to find one the other day that we hadn’t known about.

While we were out looking for a new/different place to eat yesterday, we stumbled on Salgado’s Mexican Grill, near 90th & Fort. (It’s in the shopping center where the Shopko is. Formerly Julios, Matt’s Grill, and possibly several other random things.)  Going into the restaurant, it reminded me of most of the other middle of the road Mexican restaurants around here.  Somewhere along the line of Julios or LaFondas, is what I expected. 

We arrived around 12:15, and were seated quickly in an empty section.  Upon perusing the menu, the OC and I were both stumped.  We wanted one of everything.  Salgado’s offers a mix of more traditional Mexican fare, along with Americanized versions of many dishes, and even burgers.   OC kind of twisted it up by having traditional Mexican tacos, but with ground beef and chicken fillings.  (This seriously bummed me out, as I was hoping he’d get asada and carnitas.  Darn him.) 

I went the white girl route with the Burrito Gringo.  People…what they didn’t say on the menu is it should be burrito gringoS.  Plural.  As in there is no way one person can finish that burrito in one sitting.  WOW.

Ok, the food – rather than the standard chips and salsa, Salgado’s serves chips with a selection of salsa, beans, and a spicy pico de gallo.  All of these were good – very spicy on the salsa and pico, but the beans were a little bland (fixed this with salt).  The tacos were great – all they were missing was a slice of lime, which was requested but never delivered.  The dish was two ground beef and two shredded chicken tacos in corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, and radish slices.  Flavorwise, they were awesome.  My burrito was also fantastic, and I ate about 1/3 of it before being completely miserably full.  It was filled with beans, rice, and ground beef, and smothered in melted cheese and sour cream.  TOTALLY wonderful. 

The best part – the burrito bigger than my head was $5.99.  OC’s tacos were 7 or 8 bucks total – can’t remember if he got them as a lunch special or a la carte.  Either way, still cheap.  The horchata they offer….wasn’t memorable.  It had a really perfumey taste I don’t love, but it wasn’t bad.  Service was decent, but a little flighty. 

We will definitely go back.

My rating?  3.5 Napkins, brought down only for service.   If I could give it a 3.75, I would.  Very tasty food, very affordable, decent service (not great).   All in all, good, authentic-ish, Mexican food!  Give it a shot.

Rated by: TheCriticalWife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2010 @ 05:15 PM

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 29 Sep 2008 @ 3:20 PM 

Ok, since I finally remembered how to log into this thing, I’m going to write the first official Omaha Critic post written by The Critical Wife!  (Yes, you may applaud now.  ;-)  )

Early last week, I was driving in the area of 108th and Q, and noticed a sign for a restaurant I had not seen before.  The sign advertised “Cuba Linda”, a Cuban restaurant.  Fantastic!  My husband LOVES trying new restaurants and also loves Cuban food, so this would be a great choice.  Well – Sunday afternoon rolled around and we needed to find a place for a late lunch/early dinner.  We had a kiddo attending a birthday party at Zzzap! Laser Adventures, which is almost right across the street from the Cuba Linda restaurant, so it all seemed fortuitous that we give the restaurant a try.

When we entered the restaurant, I was impressed by the amount of time and attention that has gone into decorating the place.  Now, don’t get me wrong – it’s a very homey type of decoration.  The walls are painted the colors of the Cuban flag, the seats are draped with seat covers and tied with bows.  It’s just all very pretty and homey.  The bar in the corner is even more festive, and I’m sure, were I not pregnant, that a lovely Cuban cocktail would have really hit the spot!

From reading the menu, it seems that Cuba Linda has been in business since 1997, but it must have been at a different location.  In searching online, it appears that the current incarnation opened in March of 2007, so the restaurant does have some history behind it.  It was, however, new to us!

For our meal, we ordered a starter of chicken empanadas, which came out quickly.  I giggled a little bit at the use of ketchup lightning bolts to decorate the plate – but my giggles were soon replaced by groans of ecstasy.  Yes, my friends, they were THAT good.  The dough of the empanadas was fried crispy, and dusted with sugar.  Inside, the shredded chicken mixture blended with potatoes, green olives, corn, and some kind of seasoning, and it was all just truly lovely together.  I also have to admit, just a bit of ketchup with the empanada was exactly the right flavor!  It was fantastic. 

For the main course, we ordered arroz con pollo, seafood paella, green plantains with shrimp, and a Cuban pork sandwich.  My only complaint with any of the main dishes is that the rice in the arroz con pollo and paella was dry, but the flavor of everything was really good.  The arroz con pollo is served as yellow rice with spanish olives and onions, with a stewed chicken leg.  It is served in a combination platter with sweet plantains and a fried egg omelette.  The seafood paella, similarly, came stuffed with seafood – mussles and shrimp and all sorts of yumminess, along with the sweet plantains, refried smashed plantains (not sure what these were called) and the omelette. The green plantains are the fried sweet plantains, mashed, and then refried, with a red sauce and shrimp on the top.  Omaha Critic liked the green plantains, but the kids ended up just picking off the shrimp. The Cuban sandwich was stuffed with pork and cheese, and also was very fresh, hot, and tasty.  Of all of the dishes, the Cuban sandwhich was probably the easist for the kids to enjoy, as the flavors weren’t off their radar at all.  The plantains threw them a little!

The one thing we noticed about the restaurant as we sat enjoying our food was that literally EVERYONE around us was speaking Spanish.  At the time we were there, which was about 4 pm on a Sunday afternoon, there were two other tables with patrons, and another table at which either the owners or their friends were sitting.  There was conversation around the restaurant between the different tables, which gave the place a very friendly feeling, as if a bunch of good friends were just sitting around enjoying a meal. 

As far as prices go, Cuba Linda seemed fairly reasonable.  The appetizers ranged from about $3 to $7, and the main courses ranged from about $8 to $15.  Our total before tip for four entrees, one starter, and five drinks (non-alcoholic) was around $47, which we don’t consider to be too bad.  We all left quite full, and everyone, even our children, enjoyed their meal. 

I will complain slightly that we didn’t try the desserts, a grave error which WILL be rectified the next time we go!

Our server was very efficient and friendly, and although Spanish is obviously his primary language, he made every effort to make sure he understood our English.  We felt a little disappointed we couldn’t participate in more of the discussions going on in the restaurant, but it was fun to watch and listen to everyone else interacting.  Having the only English in the place spoken only at your table does make you feel that you’ve stepped into another world for a litte while!

Pluses: The food is a huge plus, everything was very tasty.  Service – our server was fun and friendly.  Ambiance – It’s obvious the owner has put a lot of time and energy into making the little homey restaurant look nice.

Minuses: Like I said, the rice was pretty dry.  The tables are fairly close together, but the restaurant is small.  I would imagine on a Friday or Saturday night, if the place is really busy, that it could feel really crowded.

Overall Impression:  I loved it.  It had a great atmosphere, and great food, and we will definitely go back again!  My rating overall is a solid 3.5 napkins, leaning toward 4. 

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 29 Sep 2008 @ 03:25 PM

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 22 Aug 2008 @ 11:01 PM 

Yesterday was a rainy, icky, ugly day.  (At least in the morning.)  It was a day of discouraging personal news and the weather seemed to match our mood.  We went to a friend’s house and chatted about lunch.  Since my friend lives near mid-town we wanted to find something close.  That is when my wife suggested the Lithuanian Bakery on 74th and Pacific.  Hex (Our friend) and I didn’t care.  It was close and they supposedly had a Lithuanian Torte which we were all in love with so we shrugged and climbed into the Critic-Mobile.  I took it out of stealth mode and dove.

We pulled up to this old strip mall that had (or is) the site of McKenna’s, and in the corner was this little bakery.  The sign was half gone from the wind storms we’ve had here recently.  I think all it said was “Lithu”.  Anyway, it left me sad that they had not repaired it or at least taken it down.  So we walk in and see a counter full of pastries.  To the right, a set of shelves with various “old world” treats.  To the left was a small and unassuming dining area.  The three of us take a seat and start perusing the menu.

I have to admit, their menu is small.  It’s unassuming, uncomplicated, and unpretentious.  It is what it is.  A small shop selling some great food.  I ordered the “combo plate” that knackwurst, bratwurst, sauerkraut, and a potato salad.  My wife ordered the kielbasa plate and Hex ordered the Pastrami sandwich.  It wasn’t the prettiest food I’ve eaten, but the portions were good size and the flavor was spot on.  The sausages that I sampled had a very smooth and consistent texture and married very well with the mellow sauerkraut.  My wife’s kielbasa reminded me of sausages that I’ve had from small butcher shops in south Texas.  Very tasty and a little smoky.  Hex claimed that her pastrami and swiss was the best one she had ever had.  It was interesting, because it was one of the ugliest sandwiches I have seen.

Our server was attentive, and seemed to be proud of her little shop.  She was eager for our approval and lit up when we talked about how good it was.  We finished off with a slice (My wife and I shared while Hex had her own) of chocolate Lithuanian torte.  It was very flaky and done perfectly.  I wish I had a nice espresso or a cup o’ mud to go with it.  It was very rich and well prepared.  I will definitely go back for more.

Pluses: Good food at a very reasonable price.  The Sauerkraut wasn’t overpowering and was an excellent accompaniment to the sausages.  Our server was friendly and attentive.

Minuses: I wanted more sauerkraut on the plate, presentation needed a little work, and the sign out front needs fixing.

Overall Impression: I want to go back again and again.  I loved it.  I have to rate it fairly against others, so it won’t score on the high side.  The food took me back to my mothers cooking (when she took the time to do it like her mom).  The torte was to die for and I wanted to eat ALL the pastries that they had in the case.  Everyone was nice and friendly.  I went early on a Thursday so I don’t know how much business they do.  I would hope that after reading this you go try them out.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 22 Aug 2008 @ 11:13 PM

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 26 May 2008 @ 11:12 AM 

Do you like Vietnamese food?  I do.  I like it a bunch.  I have been a fan of Kim San and Saigon for years.  I was wandering around West Omaha looking for a place to eat.  I had the family in tow and we wanted to try something different.   We drove past what used to be the shell of the old “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger” out on West Center road.  On the building was “O Mai”, hanging on the wall.  My wife looks over at me and says “Oh, hey.  I got a mailer on that place and I wanted to try it.”

Not being one to deny my wife anything and liking Vietnamese food myself, I pulled into the back of the building.  We meandered the wooden walkway in between the two buildings toward the front.  We noticed that there was a crew dismantling the remains of the old “Moe’s” that was recently closed.  Then we looked left into O Mai’s.  We noticed it was empty, save a lone child sitting at a table eating.  We looked at the open sign then looked at each other, wondering if it was really open.  We opened the door and let ourselves in. 
I had been into the place when it was “Cheeseburger Cheeseburger”.  It was the quintessential 50’s, retro-look wannabe.  Now, the gleaming chrome was replaced by earth-tone greens and yellows.  It was elegant and pristine.  It was very clean and nice.  We stood looking around and soon we were seated. 

We ordered appetizers and drinks and waited for a while.  Eventually they came out and brought our appetizers.  It was a little awkward because they didn’t take our order until after we were finished eating our appetizers.  Now…   We had a few kinds of spring rolls and a fried roll of some sort.  There was also squid in the form of a calamari (fried).  Oh my god.  They were so good.  I REALLY loved the Calamari and they had a bbq pork spring roll that was just awesome. 

So after we put in our order for our dinner, we started the long… arduous wait for our food.  I ordered a seafood, tomato, noodle soup (No, I don’t remember which one..  Look at the menu.. Sheesh)  Once of my daughters ordered this noodle dish, the other ordered Pho, and my wife ordered this grilled chicken dish.  The older boy ordered fried rice and the other ordered a seafood pho.   Now, as we sat there, some guy walks in.  We’re sitting at our table, the only people there, and some very large man, walks in, doesn’t wait for anyone to seat him, and takes a slow leisurely stroll around.   Ok, it wasn’t leisurely.  It was freaking creepy!

So this guy takes a seat and the waitress gets him all settled in.  My wife and I actually got shivers from this guy, but we blew it off and went back to our own conversation.    So we waited there. Our food started coming out, one plate at a time.  Me, then two kids, then another…   I mean it REALLY took a long time.  5 of the 6 dishes came out.  Our fried rice was at least 15 to 20 minutes from the first dish coming out.  The waitress tried to play it off, but 15 minutes is 15 minutes.

That being said, and the service being slow… The food blew me away.  My noodles were cooked perfectly, the soup had great flavor and was very much on my radar of flavors.  My wife’s chicken, was so awesome, I wanted to take it and run off with it.  My daughter’s noodle dish was so good.  It was cooked perfectly and the vegetables were cooked but crisp. 

So, back to my soup:  I have had allot of seafood soups from Asian restaurants in my life.  One thing I always had problems with was the randomness of the fish bits, and the funky shrimp.  This time?  The flavors melded together and there wasn’t anything funky in it.  It tasted great and I sucked down the entire bowl.  After that, I turned my attention to all the dishes the kids didn’t finish.  The Pho that my daughter was eating was excellent.   There were a different kind of noodle with her dish that had a great flavor.  The meat in the Pho was tender and flavorful.  My youngest son’s Seafood Pho left me wishing I had a full order of that as well.  So..  That being said… and the service what it was…  I now have to officially rate this place.

Pluses:  The food was fantastic, the best Vietnamese food I have ever had.  Elegant and delicious, and left me wanting more.  The décor was beautiful.  The new chairs really fit with the theme and the place was spotless.   The prices were awesome and you got a great value in each meal.

Minuses:  The service was slow.  Not bad… just ridiculously slow and having your dinner for a family of 6 come out piecemeal was frustrating.

Overall Impression:  This place is a diamond in the rough.  This is one of those well kept secrets of Omaha.  I ask that you take a moment to go in here and eat.  Keep this place open.  You will not be sorry for the experience.  I am hoping they can pull it together and become one of the great restaurants of Omaha.  I plan on going back as many times as I can!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 26 May 2008 @ 11:12 AM

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 30 Oct 2007 @ 4:26 AM 

It’s been a while since I posted anything.  I have been out to eat a few times recently and I have yet to actually SAY anything about it.  So much for being an ACTIVE critic.  That being said, I managed to go to Saigon recently.  It was on a Thursday and my wife was out of town.  I decided to take the gaggle of kids out for dinner.  As it so happens, they yet again couldn’t decide what they wanted for dinner.  Some were kicking around fast food and as usual, the youngest was whining for Sushi.  Not that I mind eating at Hiro, but I wasn’t (and don’t tell Sammy) in the mood for Sushi.  So as we were driving around, I decided that I hadn’t been to Saigon in a long while.  It was time for a re-visit.

If you have never been too Saigon in Omaha, it had to have been a diner at one point.  The layout screams greasy spoon.  It has been retro-fitted with bamboo and other interesting oriental lanterns and pottery.  The interior is a nice avocado and the tables are rattan.  Not bad.  It gives you an idea that you’re not in for typical “Ameri-Oriental” fare.

 Please understand that I had the demolition crew with me, so at least 25% of my attention was diverted to “sit down”, “put that down”, “stop that”, and “Do you want to go sit in the car?”.  So, I am going to ease up on some things this time around. (Not too much mind you.  I still have to protect my culinary integrity.)  Let the review commence!

As I pull up, I notice that there are a few cars there.  For me, I have noticed that Saigon is never that busy.  There is always someone there, but the place is never teeming with full tables.  Yeah, tonight was busy.  Busier than I have seen in… in…  well, ever.  Every section had at least 2 or 3 tables with people in it.  So I stand there with the kids waiting to be seated.  It took a bit as I saw the only waiter in the place running back and forth between tables.  When he had a moment he came and sat us.  He handed us menus and he was gone.  We then waited.

We then waited some more.

Finally he came over.  He took our drink order and I kind of slid my food order in.  I ordered 2 orders of Vietnamese egg rolls and an order of spring rolls.  The kids, if I remember right (I should write this down) ordered Pho, Seafood Pan Fried Noodles, Some beef dish, and Shrimp Fried Rice.  I ordered the “74 B” which is their curried squid.  After I said that, the waiter suggested that I order some calamari.  As he put it “We have really good calamari.”  Sure!  Hit me with an order.  He entered his order into his PDA and off he went.  Then we waited.

After some time he showed back up with 4 cans of soda, ice in glasses and my very weak iced tea.   The waiter left and more people began to filter in.  I watched him seat people and dart in and out of the kitchen.  We waited some more.  Eventually, an order of spring rolls, an order of calamari and a single order of egg rolls came out of the kitchen to our table. (Yes, as a matter of fact I did order two.)  The troops and I attacked in full force.  The poor squid never knew what hit them. ;)  The squid was lightly battered, crisp, and hot.  They were served with a peanut sauce that was fantastic.  The spring rolls, were tasty and when fueled with the sauce from the calamari, were real good.  You could tell that they were made earlier in the day as they were not quite fresh.  They weren’t bad by any means, but they had that “I have been exposed in a fridge for a little bit” texture to them.  I’m a little bummed because I never got a chance to try the egg-rolls.  The kids nuked them before I got a chance. (Hence why I wanted 2 orders…)  My drink was empty and my appetizers were gone.  What did I do next?  I waited.  I waved him down once and got another tea, but then I got to wait some more.
Eventually the food came out.  It smelled divine.  I love curry and I adore squid.  Here we are and I had two awesome things mixed together.  I have to say I was ecstatic.  It was a brown sauce, with a mild curry overtone.  the sauce reminded me of a curry/beef/oyster sauce with a little sweet to it.  It blended perfectly with the onions, rice, and squid and by the time I was done, I wanted to lick the plate.  What I tasted of the kids food was very, very good. 

Overall impression: I liked it.  Ok, I loved the food.  It’s reasonable and the portions are good.  The decor is eclectic, and it’s pretty clean.  It’s been around a while so they must be doing something right.  When you look around, there were several oriental families there, so the food must be right.

Plusses: The food was very good.  The portions were good size and I felt I got a good value.  The sauce lingers in my mind and I want to go upstairs and make squid and curry because of it.  It was very tasty.  They server was very friendly without being annoying.  The kids loved the food too.

Minuses: There was a single server that was running his butt off.  I think he was a little overwhelmed.  This caused the service to be SLOW and I had to knock off some points for waiting and having to ask for my tea refilled.  If the service had matched the food, I would have given the place a higher rating.


~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 30 Oct 2007 @ 04:33 AM

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 24 Aug 2007 @ 3:36 AM 

We went Outback tonight….

Outback Steakhouse (Near 132nd and Center)

Ok, *cracks knuckles* lets take a stab at Outback Steakhouse and give them a review. Today was kind of an off day for me. I had a bad experience with traffic at the middle school (That’s an entirely different rant!), I was then late, so I decided to pick up breakfast for my team, and got stuck in drive-through hell at a local fast food place. This put me to work 15 minutes late so I skipped lunch and tanked up on water to keep me occupied. Couple this with a hectic day at work and you get a cranky man.

So roll into dinner time. The weather has turned as foul as my mood. I have a headache because I skipped dinner, I’m cranky, and I have a boatload of hungry children. We drive around looking for someplace to eat, and I drive past a few “family staples” but want something different from the usual, and I end up at Outback.

It’s about to rain and we get a good parking spot and zip on in. The greeter was nice enough, and then we hit the hostess. Amazingly enough, there wasn’t a line or even a wait. I must admit that we have eaten at Outback several times and it was never outstanding and the food was typically mediocre. Never bad food, just never blow your socks off good.

So we’re seated quickly and our waitress immediately comes over for our drink order. As soon as she has our order, she’s off. She returns with our drinks and a loaf of customary bread. She takes our order and is quickly off again. So, as I am famished and ready to eat one of the kids, we attack the bread. No sooner had I sliced the last two pieces, another loaf with butter is put in front of us. I had to do a double-take on the waitress, as my service at Outback had never been that prompt ever. So we start in on the other bread, and my oldest son makes one of his favorite noises…. *slurps empty glass sound* I was about to tell him to stop, when our waitress shows up again with drinks in tow. (Again with the double take)

So now we’ve had our bread, and 2 rounds of sodas. So we sit looking at each other and then starts the ‘Outback wait for your food shuffle‘. I had ordered prime rib, with the “seasoning and sear”, steamed veggies, and green beans. My prime rib was ordered “as rare as they can”, but showed up between medium-rare and medium; which was fine. It’s not like they can custom cook every order. So, oddly enough I go after the green beans first. They just looked fantastic. The flavor on them was awesome and the steamed veggies were fresh and still had a snap to them. It was a far cry from the nasty Cali-blend that most places serve. It was really good. Then I cut into the prime rib. It was very tasty. It was tender and with the “a jus” and horseradish, it was divine. Our waitress came back once during the meal as well as the manager to make sure that everything was ok and cooked right.

We wrapped our meal with the youngest, finally passing on half of his kiddy burger. That is when the tide turned on our night. So far, it had been pretty good, a mostly solid experience. We looked around for our waitress. (Insert the sound of Jeopardy’s final answer here) She was nowhere to be found. We sat….. and waited…. What seemed like an eternity soon passed (more like 10 minutes) she finally swings by, with check in hand, looking flushed. As she asked us if we needed anything else she clumsily slid the check on the table. We decline and I pick up the check and start looking at it. She begins to clear the table as I’m digging in my wallet. I must have looked mad or something, because she took one look at me and shuffled off. So, I put my money in the little check folder and set it on the table…. and wait…. Did I say we waited? After a period of time I started to look around, and she’s at a table behind us gabbing. I look at my oldest daughter and give her “the look”. I turn around and the waitress is gone. I was getting impatient at this point and do the “looking around” thing trying to make eye contact with her…. Eventually she sneaks up on me: “I’ll be right back with your change.” I just had her keep it and off we went. Tip was about 18-19%, give or take a buck.

Overall impression: I would say it was a wash on service. The food was good and the place was clean. The booth was well maintained and the menus that were bound to the table were clean and free of pens, crayon, food, and drink. If I could have gotten a solid performance out of my waitress, I would be rating it higher.

Minuses: The kitchen was a bit slow as well as the waitress took forever after the meal.

Pluses: The food was very good, the service before and during the meal was great. I say overall, it was a fair-plus experience.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 24 Aug 2007 @ 04:02 AM

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