The Hungry Man Eats

60 Pounds Lost and Going Strong

I’m now down to 210 pounds now, nearly 60 pounds down from my peak two years ago, just 20 more to go till I hit my goal. My original goal was 200, but because of the success I’ve been having I decided to lower my goal to 190.


Eat fewer calories than you burn and you will lose weight, if they tell you otherwise, it’s just a lie. Simple, but not easy. Humans are predisposed to enjoy eating calorie dense food, in the early days of humans you did not always know when your next meal would be, so when you had calorie dense things to eat, you ate plenty. Great for the days of hunting down woolly mammoths, not that helpful in modern times. We now have too much food too easily available that we eat too much of. Don’t even get me started on how much of the food is wasted amongst the excess.


The modern food chain enables you to eat whatever you want, whenever you want it and as much of it as you want. You’re never far away from something edible. There are so many people, companies and other interests whose sole purpose for existence is to sell you more food. Millions of dollars are spent every year to make food that you will eat, enjoy and buy more of and millions more are spent trying to make said food so appealing that you will buy even more than what you have in the past. Food addiction is a thing, and these people would love to be your dealer.


The modern system will keep you from starving, but it won’t keep you from becoming obese and unhealthy when you eat too much. The system is stacked against you if weight loss or maintaining a healthy weight is your goal.


How have I lost my weight? Simple, I ate less, but going from eating too much to eating enough less to lose weight is not easy.

Two things have to be going on to have success above and beyond just eating less.

  • Be as satisfied as you can with what you are eating.
  • Handle your cravings.


Briefly, being satisfied means that you ate enough at a particular meal or snack that you don’t feel like you didn’t have enough to eat or shortchanged yourself. Handling your cravings means when you do have that irresistible desire to eat something counter to your goals, that you can work it in to your plan or blunt it with a better alternative.


I’ll go into greater detail about these in future posts.

Something else that is helping me is a diminished appetite. That can be caused by doing a good job with the two points listed above, but I should give most of the credit to the Wellbutrin I take to manage my depression. Not only does it provide a boost to your energy, but it also is well known to be an appetite suppressant as well.

That diminished appetite is also making me care much less about what I eat, thinking about and eating food is taking up far less time and effort than I think it ever has in my life. If I was to put desire for food on a spectrum, it would look like this:

On one end of the spectrum is meticulously planning every meal out and being excited for the arrival of the next meal, always trying to eat something delicious and often a lot (too much) of it.

At the other end of the spectrum is not caring at all about what your next meal will be and simply eating to make the hunger vanish for a while. I always had the picture in my mind of the person who is happy with a bowl of cereal for dinner even though they have plenty of time and ability to have something more involved and interesting to eat.

On a scale of 0-100 with the cereal for dinner person being a zero and the excited food person being 100, I was an 85 a few years back, but nowadays I am a 20-25.


So now I’m putting the hammer down and trying to reach my goal by the 4th of July. To help with that I started Nutrisystem around three weeks ago, I think I have lost eight or nine pounds since then, and that includes several days of travel not on the plan and some days where a splurge occurred. If I was being super strict with myself on the plan, I’d likely be another half dozen pounds less. I have mixed feelings about going on a plan like this, it’s not cheap and I’m planning to be on it for only a few months, but I go into more detail about that in another entry.

On a separate note, this blog turned five this month! I’ve been a slacker over the past two years or so, but it’s hard to write much when you’re not in the mood. Better to post nothing than to post crap. I do hope to post a lot more in the days ahead.

Now 59.7%

It’s been way too long since I posted last, but the only thing less interesting than seeing no new posts in over half a year is talking about why you haven’t been posting in over half a year.

The good news is that contrary to what happens with most blogs where somebody talks about losing weight and then goes silent for a while is that I have still been losing weight, 20 more pounds down since last November which puts me over halfway to my goal of losing 67 pounds to get down to 200.

What’s been working for me?

  • Decreased appetite, I can thank the Wellbutrin for this mostly, but I believe that I have a better control now over my cravings and find it easier to make better choices and eat less.
  • Fewer carbs, I have made a concerted effort to reduce carbs from my diet. I used to have pasta and rice based meals several times a week usually with other somewhat unhealthy things piled on top. I have swapped out the pasta from those meals for bases of zucchini/squash and/or kale, and made healthy switches to what I put on top, usually using tilapia or chicken with tomatoes, peppers, olives and other healthier yet savory toppings. As for pasta, I limit it to one night a week, usually on a Friday if I am around at home. I will make a generous size meal of pasta with spaghetti sauce and Italian sausage and enjoy it guilt free as I know that was my carb bomb for the week.
  • More fruits and vegetables, see above about the veggies, also I have more dinners now where I make a meal size salad and it is the main course. Regarding the fruit, I try to resort to using it as my main snack between meals, no particular fruit, just whatever I have around.
  • A better default “I’m not that hungry but it’s time for dinner default meal”. It is bulky, healthy and not at all exciting, but tastes good(must like canned fish though). I slice up a raw zucchini/squash or cucumber and put it in a bowl, I pour in some cider vinegar and a touch of olive oil, add some salt and pepper and then dump a tin of sardines over the top of it. Even if you use a large zucchini, that plus a tin of sardines is under 300 calories for a very filling dish, just make sure you use a light amount of olive oil to keep the calorie count down(still around just 400 calories though).

Will have to keep plugging away, but with some extra effort and even smarter meal choices, I think I have a shot at reaching my goal before the end of the year.


An Exciting Website With Old Menus!

I love food.


I also love the history of food.


I was puttering around on the web recently when I stumbled across this site!


It was a fascinating article that I wish I had put the time and effort into writing, but what made me super excited was this link!!


What is this site and why am I so excited? It is the New York Public Library’s website that contains scans and transcriptions of restaurant menus dating from the 1850’s all the way up to the present! At the time of this writing (December 11, 2016) the site contains 17,545 menus with 1,332,276 different dishes transcribed off of those menus! There are 422,169 unique dishes that you can sort by date, name, popularity and obscurity.


Let’s do a test!


I am going to use the key word “scallops” let’s see what we find:


The word “scallops” appears on 1,840 different menus and is included in 3,964 different dishes. You can sort from earliest to latest date and it appears that the earliest mention of “scallops” is on the menu for the Manhattan Hotel dated April 18, 1900 appearing as “Scallops 0.35-0.6” This info is provided on a list on the right side of the page, or you can click on the scan of the menu page and peruse it yourself. Further research by looking at the menu scan indicates that the lower price (in cents) is a half portion for single service only. In this instance there is no detail as to how those scallops are prepared (but I am sure the waiter would have been more than happy to tell you). Unfortunately it appears that the menu search only goes from oldest to newest, so I can’t tell anything about the most recent appearance of “scallops” and I am not going to click to show more results only 16 menus at a time to get to entry number 1840.


You also can dive deep with the names of dishes, I mentioned above that the word “scallops” was used in the listings for 3,964 dishes. You can click on one of the dish names and it will give you more info on which menus it appeared in and it will also provide a graph of the normalized frequency per year (when and how often did the term appear in menus) Let’s use “Bisque of Scallops” as out example. That term appeared in 4 menus between 1905 and 1965 (appearing specifically in one menu per year scanned in the years 1905, 1913, 1916 and 1965). Twice it appeared on the menus for the Waldorf Astoria in 1913 and 1916, but has not appeared in any of the scanned menus since 1965 (in the Newarker at Newark Airport menu).


I have hit the motherlode here and I could get lost in this site for hours. If you are as big of a dork about food and food history as I am, run, don’t walk to this site and check it out for yourself!




Scale with big numbers

What does that number even mean and why is it the title of my entry today?


I was looking at my folder of completed blog entries on my laptop and noticed that the last time I mentioned anything about my weight loss efforts was back in May, and I wasn’t too enthused with my progress. Recently though I hit a new low weight of 247 pounds, my goal is 200 pounds and I started this whole affair at 267 pounds, so 20 pounds lost is 29.85% of my goal accomplished.


I can take some of the credit for the effort I have put in, but most of it I can credit to the drugs. Specifically the doubling of my daily dose of Wellbutrin and starting Ambien at the same time back in early September.


What are they doing well for me?



  • I actually fall asleep quick now, even with a CPAP machine
  • It seems easier to get going in the morning
  • Ambien works more quickly and effectively if you haven’t had a big dinner, so I find I eat less at dinner now


  • More energy
  • More willpower (which has helped in making smarter choices for eating)
  • Slightly diminished appetite (this seems to help with blunting cravings which have led to eating way too much at some meals)


There are some drawbacks:



  • Take it too late and it is hard to get going in the morning
  • A big dinner too late will cause it to take effect too slowly and will make you more tired feeling in the morning
  • My memory seems less sharp


  • That added energy is sometimes rather hard to focus, making me more restless and nervous at times
  • Warm temperatures and exertion make me sweat more
  • It makes me get irritated about things more easily (which is better than apathy though)


All that said, the initial burst of energy and feeling good with these medications wore off after a few weeks, so it’s now on me to keep things moving forwards since the drugs have held up their end of the bargain. They can’t do everything, I need to apply the stronger willpower and energy to reaching my goals, and for losing weight I am 29.85% of the way there.

The Yuengling Affair Makes Me Want to Drink, But I Will Drown My Concerns With More Yuengling


I tend not to discuss politics on this site even though many of the aspects of food can be political in nature, so maybe I should talk politics more as it pertains to food.


That said, it is November 3, 2016 and the dumpster fire of the 2016 presidential election will thankfully be done soon. So how does the election intersect with food? I found out a few days back that the owner of D.G. Yuengling & Son, the company that owns Yuengling brewery hosted Donald Trump’s son and said “Our guys are behind your father.”, essentially endorsing Trump. I also learned that as a result of said interaction that a number of people are now worked up in a foamy lather much like the head on a good beer and are calling for a boycott of their beer.


If you know me, you know where I stand politically, if you don’t I will devote one line of text to my opinion of the presidential election:


Trump: Bad policies, even worse human being, thoroughly unsupportable.


So what about the beer? I imagine that this is the same issue that lovers of Chik-Fil-A went through a few years back when it was revealed that the owner was against same-sex marriage and that the corporation had donated millions of dollars to organizations that had anti-gay leanings. Controversy ensued, a boycott got going and a counter-boycott was started as well. In the end, the awareness and public pressure worked, Chik-Fil-A changed their policies and donations to those sorts of organizations decreased considerably.


Again, so what about the beer? The similarity between these two events is that both companies make beloved, delicious products. Who wouldn’t want to eat a Chik-Fil-A sandwich washed down with a bottle of Yuengling? The difference? The Chik-Fil-A kerfuffle was a much bigger deal that the Yuengling affair is. Real money was changing hands to benefit groups that engaged in discriminatory practices with Chik-Fil-A, the owner of Yuengling told the offspring of a presidential candidate that he supported their fathers candidacy, and it appears that no financial support has been made. I repeat, no money, just an opinion voiced.


So what about the beer, I ask again… It came up in conversation the other day when I had joined a friend for a happy hour. The establishment had Yuengling on draft and I might get a Yuengling but that they had supported Trump. My friend seemed skeptical (about the choosing not to drink it because of the whole Trump thing) and brought up Chik-Fil-A and how they have always enjoyed it and just kept eating it anyway, the politics were a non-factor, but the enjoyment of their food was. What ended up happening? I got myself a glass of Yuengling and it was the best damn glass of beer I had in many months.


After the beer was long gone, I was still thinking about food and drink and boycotts and if any of it really matters. I have had many a Chik-Fil-A meal in recent years and Yuengling really is my favorite beer and beer company of all time and I have no intentions to stop drinking it, so my mind does take pause at the corporations political leanings, but my actions show that I would not consider those things reasons to eat somewhere else or change my selection of beer and drink an alternative.


Would anybody have blinked an eye if the owner of Yuengling if it was 2012 and he said the same thing to one of Mitt Romney’s sons? I doubt it, it would have been a political preference expressed by a business owner (a number of whom tend to have conservative leanings) and would have received minimal attention.


I kept pondering and thought at what point do you go from disagreeing about something political with a person or business and just letting that be how it is, even if you as an individual decide that you will choose not to patronize them anymore, and actively taking action that could undermine their ability (the owner, corporation or employees) from being able to pursue their livelihood to support themselves (and/or their employees)? I decided that the organized boycott was one of the things that be that inflection point, as well as the modern ability to review a place or a business online and provide a poor review or negative opinion that does not reflect a real engagement or patronage of that business.


I do believe that an organized boycott can and should be used as circumstances warrant (which isn’t all that often) and that the whole Yuengling affair doesn’t rise to the occasion (but if you as an individual choose to not drink their products, I have no issue with that).


Then I remembered what had been bugging me and why I mention the part about the ability to pursue one’s livelihood. Do you remember a pizza joint in Walkerton, Indiana called Memories Pizza? They were briefly a big deal back in the spring of 2015 when the family that owns the place was asked a hypothetical question about whether they would cater a gay wedding. They said, no they would not as it was against their religion. Word of their opinion go out quickly and the dogpile began online and on places like Yelp where tons of people expressed their distaste with the restaurateur’s opinion. The owners soon feared for their safety and closed the restaurant soon thereafter. I believe that the restaurant owner’s opinion was completely wrong too, but as a result of their opinion, they lost the ability to pursue their livelihood. So who is the actual problem here? The people who had a distasteful opinion about how to run their business (which was expressed in an interview where they supported Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (which is a bullshit law that lets people discriminate and then hide behind religion as an excuse)), or the people who piled on and destroyed their ability to pursue their livelihood? Frankly I have more distaste for the faceless hordes on the internet that ruined their business than the people with the repugnant opinion. One thing that still happened afterwards was a Go Fund Me campaign was started to help the restaurateurs, and it raised $840,000 on their behalf, so they didn’t really come out of it all that bad, but they still lost their ability to pursue their livelihood.


To wrap up, feel free to choose alternatives to businesses that don’t share your views, think hard about whether a boycott is the right way to address a difference of opinions and if you screw up a law abiding individual or businesses ability to pursue their livelihood, then you are the bad guy in the situation.

Protein Powder: Not Just For Building Muscle


For a change, I have something positive to report. I have managed to lose about 5 pounds since my last post. Still a long ways to go, nearly 60 pounds still to go.

I have been trying assorted things, some of which seem to be working better than others and a number of which I think will require some modification as I continue to lose weight.

Now the idea that I will go into detail about today I have no idea how useful it may actually be or whether it is even scientifically sound or not, but so far I appear to be getting some benefit from it.

To step back briefly, I was seeing a nutritionist, or several of them to be precise. Not all at the same time, but one after the other. The place I was going to was having a challenging time keeping nutritionists in house, so I saw three different ones over the course of almost a year. I received a lot of useful advice that would be even more useful if I acted on it with any consistency. At this point I think I will get more mileage out of using all the advice received from my committee of former nutritionists than seeing nutritionist number four.

To get back on track here, nutritionist number three had the recommendation of “Eat more protein and fewer carbs!” So I got myself a cookbook or two that had high protein low cab recipes, one of which had some excellent advice along with the recipes. One of the things I started doing was removing the carb side I would often include with some of my dinners (rice, potatoes, pasta or bread) and replacing it with an additional vegetable or a side of cottage cheese. Ok great, that’s a good thing to do for a full-fledged dinner. But what about the other meals? Or the times when you need to eat but are too tired/depressed/lazy to whip up something formal?

Protein powder to the rescue!

I had been aware of protein powder for quite some time, from hearing about it being used as a supplement to a smoothie to give it some added protein to those people who drink lots of the stuff mixed up in things to add bulk. Me, I just wanted more protein in my diet.

So how am I using it? I will add some to a smoothie when I actually make one, but I generally use it as a meal replacement beverage, but only on those days where I am feeling too lazy or down to have a real meal, and never ever in place of dinner.

My preparation is almost too simple. I have a cup that can hold around 18 ounces of liquid, so I add 2 ½ scoops of powder (using the scoop they supply), I add hot water to the cup (enough to try to mix the powder up so that it can dissolve) and then whole milk for the rest of the cup (leaving enough room for some ice cubes to help it chill). They recommend blending or shaking the drink so that it mixes well, but because I can be lazy about it and really just don’t care, I just stir the thing to death. Even if you do that, you will still get protein powder clumps in your beverage, so be it.

I did come up with a clever variation to this, instead of water, brew up a cup of coffee and use it in place of the water for a nice jolt of caffeine. Protein and energy all in one place! Or, if you are lazy, use regular instant coffee, it still is better than no coffee.

So far, I have only used the stuff shown in the picture at the top so I can’t compare it to anything else for how good it actually is. I got mine on Amazon for $17.97 for a two pound container, and it seems like a pretty good deal for two pounds of it.

Anyhow, that’s one of the things I have been working on for trying to lose weight, give it a try if you want…

Calories Consumed < Calories Burned = Weight Loss


How simple is that?


Given the obesity epidemic in America, and really the world, not simple at all.


The problem is primarily on the consumption side of the matter, it seems like everything in the world is aligned so that you are going to take in more calories than you burn off, I can’t do justice to that topic here, so I will talk about that in greater depth some other time.


Funny to say, but it has never been a better time to be overweight and obese and wanting to lose weight. Why? We are currently in a golden age for fitness tracking and monitoring what we eat thanks to all of the apps and personal fitness wearables that didn’t even exist ten years ago. It took serious effort to track what you ate, the calories and nutrients you consumed with said meals and the calories you burned off by exercising.


I use the Lose It! App to track my food and it syncs up with other apps and my Fitbit to track things like sleep and exercise. It bases your daily calorie allotment on the weight you are currently at, your goal weight and how many pounds per week you want to lose. As things stand right now my numbers are as follows: I started tracking my weight at 267 pounds, I am currently 264 pounds. My goal weight is 195 pounds and I want to lose 2 pounds a week. To do this, my app says I need to be eating 2137 calories per day at this weight to lose 2 pounds a week. To keep up that pace of weight loss as you lose weight, your calorie allotment will go down accordingly. 2137 calories is a lot of calories, I looked it up and to maintain my current weight I would need to eat 2836 calories a day, that is an awful lot of calories per day on average that I am apparently consuming. Those 3 pounds lost? That is over a 13 month period, so that speaks volumes to the effort, or apparent lack of it that I have put in.


Thing is, I know from what I have been eating that my good days are close to (but above usually) that calorie goal. The problem is that I may have five good days in a typical week, but the bad days undo anything positive from those good days, so the week is a wash, or perhaps even a caloric surplus.


Solution: Make the good days better and eliminate those regular bad days.


Now I have oversimplified this a bit to make a point. There is a bit more to it than calories in being less than calories out. I haven’t touched on things like exercise, the quality and types of calories you are consuming such as carbs vs protein vs fat based calories. These things can make a difference in how quick and sustainable your weight loss can be. As long as you are consuming fewer calories than you are expending, you will lose weight and good things will happen.


What’s that? Starvation mode you say? We will talk about that sometime in the not too distant future in greater detail, but for now I will say about it: It is real, but the drop in metabolism is not significant enough to interfere with your weight loss goals.


So many things that I can talk about but so little time, of course I will have even more to talk about once I actually start to lose weight on a consistent basis.

Depression + Weight Loss + Food Blogging = Recipe for Disaster

Sad Pizza :(

So, I just noticed that I have only three blog posts in the past eight months. I also don’t really weigh much less than I did a year ago when I got my bloodwork done for the first time in years, discovered I had sky high blood pressure and started seeing a nutritionist. On top of all that I have been taking anti-depression medications for around 14 months now and I have a hard time discerning how much they have actively helped. Also I am now 40, yay.


In retrospect I should have expected something like this, I do a lot of reading on things pertaining to depression and how to get past it (or just live with it as it seems) and one thing I discovered is that depressed people don’t write much while actively depressed. I know why this is, having been this way more often than not these days, when you are depressed you don’t feel like doing much of anything let alone plonking yourself down behind your laptop and writing out 750 or so barely adequate words about the latest restaurant you went to when all you really want to do is say something like “Eat a Beef Wellington or eat Lucky Charms for dinner, I don’t care, because we all die in the end anyway.”

So let’s count the problems:
• I just calculated my BMI right before typing this out and it’s 35.4, anything over 30 is classified as obese and anything over 25 is classified as overweight. If I want to get down to 24.9 which is the highest possible measure you can have and not be overweight, I will need to lose 79 pounds.
• What pisses me off? I did this once before. In the fall of 2000 I weighed 272 pounds, but by the spring of 2003 I had dropped over 70 pounds and consistently weighed 197-199 at that time. Even as recently as the spring of 2006 I was briefly below the 200 pound mark. Ten years later, almost all of that work has gone to waste.
• Medications: I used to be proud that I needed no meds, not even a multivitamin because I was healthy. Now, I have to take five different medications, two for depression and three for cholesterol/high blood pressure.
• Moderate sleep apnea, certainly because I am overweight, which means that you need to have a stupid machine blowing air into your nose while you sleep so that your airway stays open properly so you don’t stop breathing.
• Not enough exercise: Although these days experts say that around 80% of a person’s weight loss can be attributed to healthy eating, exercise still plays a bit of a role, and has other health benefits above and beyond losing weight. But it is hard to get your rear in gear and be more active when you are…
• Still depressed: You don’t want to do anything, you don’t have the energy to do anything, and you don’t care that you don’t want to do anything or have the energy to do anything. I could have another whole blogs worth of material on how insidiously crippling and destructive depression can be. Like most people who are battling it, I am never in as good of a mood as I appear to be, and I don’t like to talk about how poorly I actually feel because there is no point in doing so, there is nothing that can be done or said by anyone that will help.

This is where I would normally go and have some more bullet points where I point out the good things and what is going right, but there aren’t any. It’s not a total wasteland, I have been working on reducing my carb intake and bumping up my protein intake, not easy with all the sugar out there. The springtime will hopefully bring more opportunities to get active and have more fresh local produce available.
I want to get writing more frequently again, I was something I enjoyed doing in the not too distant past, and I do have ideas rattling around in my head, but the execution of getting something from my brain to the screen is such a challenge these days. I just hope I can post more frequently, and this and life for that matter becomes enjoyable again.

Chili’s Burritos and Procrastination


We have reached the point now though where I have let nearly five months slip by without posting anything, which is a crazy long time to go between posts in the blogosphere. Now I am resisting the temptation to half-ass this post because right now I feel that posting just about anything is better than letting another day go by where I have posted nothing. This is actually a good way for me to feel surprisingly, but given the depression I have been fighting for a while now, for the longest time I had zero interest and motivation in posting anything, let alone half-assing it.

A while back I wrote about dining at Chili’s and how I had high hopes that their other main dishes would be an improvement on the one I had. Since that occasion I have let nearly ten months and about a half dozen trips to Chili’s occur. An interesting recent development that also had me deciding to wait just a bit longer to write again about Chili’s was the late summer addition to their menu of burritos.

Up until this point, one of my knocks on Chili’s was that they didn’t have as much of a variety as I would have preferred on the “Mex” side of the “Tex-Mex” continuum, though that may just be my personal complaint as they have things like tacos, quesadillas and fajitas on their menu already.

Their burrito offerings include:
• Grilled Smoked Chicken Burrito
• Smothered Prime Rib Burrito
• Smothered Smoked Chicken Burrito
• Smothered Carnitas Burrito

Of these choices the only one I have had is the Smothered Smoked Chicken Burrito. Now the elephant in the room of a question when it comes to discussing burritos is: “How does it compare to Chipotle?”

As I did not have the grilled option which would be the only option you could pick up and eat as you would with Chipotle, I can’t really compare with them. A better comparison would be how it measures up against an Enchilado style burrito from Baja Fresh. Now none of the burrito options from Baja Fresh really match this burrito from Chili’s, but the Burrito Ultimo and this burrito both contain rice, so they would be the closest in similarity.

 So let’s dive in and compare and critique:
• The Chili’s burrito was more generous with the chicken than the Baja Fresh burrito, but the pieces of chicken in the Baja Fresh Burrito were bigger.
• The Chili’s burrito has little in the way of veggies, they add pico de gallo as one of the fillings, but Baja Fresh includes green peppers and onion.
• Spiciness: Not much with the Baja Fresh burrito, but you can add as much or as little of their sauce options from their sauce bar to compensate. The Chili’s burrito has more kick to it with their smoky pasilla-honey chile sauce not just included as one of their fillings, but also as one of the ingredients they top it with.
• The Smotherings: Not a fan of the Baja Fresh sauce they use to smother it with or the cheese they use, it almost has a burnt bitter flavor. The Chili’s toppings taste much better (“Smothered with sour cream sauce & melted cheese. Topped with pasilla-honey chile sauce & chopped cilantro.)
• Sides: The Chili’s burrito comes with a cup of black beans on the side, the Baja Fresh burrito comes with a side of pico de gallo and some tortilla chips (that are usually a bit soggy from the sauce and cheese they smother it with). Personal preference here, I like the black beans from Chili’s myself, but sometimes they come out rather watery and it is more like a bean soup.
• Price: The Chili’s burrito as ordered cost $11.69, the Baja Fresh burrito with chicken usually costs under $7.00 and making it Enchilado style is usually $2 more.

My summary to all this is that the Baja Fresh burrito is a good bit cheaper and you can customize your sauce options more, but that the Chili’s burrito tastes better, almost exclusively because of the smoky pasilla-honey chile sauce. I think it tastes better than any of the sauces you can get from Baja Fresh.

So to wrap all this up, if you are in a Chili’s and want a burrito instead of the other Mex style offerings, by all means go for it! If you are not in a Chili’s and have a craving for a burrito, you can likely find something you will enjoy that costs less from some other place, go there instead…

Longhorn Steakhouse: Eating There is Never a Mis-steak


Tilapia and Grilled Shrimp with Mac and Cheese

Tilapia and Grilled Shrimp with Mac and Cheese

I recently had the good fortune to eat out at the Longhorn Steakhouse, indeed I have been there multiple times over the past three years or so. I am not the sort of person who goes and gets the same thing at a restaurant every time I go, so I have had the opportunity to try a variety of their meals.
In my opinion, to compare where I think Longhorn Steakhouse fits in in the grand scheme of steakhouses you may have tried, I would slot them in one step above Outback (with higher prices to match) and two steps below Ruth’s Chris (pricy, but you get the quality that you are paying for).
Enough chit-chat, how was the food? Let’s take a closer look at those dishes that I have tried as well as others I have dined with:


Wild West Shrimp: I have had this twice, once on its own as an appetizer and once more with the Best of Longhorn Sampler. I was one of the first things I ever tried from Longhorn, and gave me an excellent first impression (even though it wasn’t steak) as prepared on its own, I was impressed with the spicy crispy coating that was enhanced by the cherry peppers. It had more kick than you would have expected from a steakhouse appetizer, but was not so much spiciness that you found yourself going for your drink constantly. The portion was large enough that you could easily have this dish in the place of an entrée. The ranch dressing was a good compliment to the shrimp, I would not have thought of combining the two.

Best of Longhorn Sampler: This combines the Wild West Shrimp with their Grilled White Cheddar Stuffed Mushrooms and their Firecracker Chicken Wraps. In this setting, the shrimp did not shine as well when I had it, the coating was not crispy and the shrimp seemed smaller. The stuffed mushrooms were generously stuffed with cheese as well as floating in a “creamy blend of four melted cheeses” The picture online does not show the ocean of cheese than flows into every corner of your plate, even in the places where you do not want it (like forming a pool for your chicken wraps as well as seeping under the dish on the plate the shrimp sits in), that said, the cheese tastes good and the white cheddar they use is actually rather sharp. The chicken wraps stood out here, going well with the avocado –lime dipping sauce they also serve with the sampler (I think I even prefer this sauce to dip the shrimp in). For only $10.99 this would also be a good substitute for an entrée.

Primetime Burger: At $13.99, it is pricy for a burger, but it has a lot going on. It is a half-pound beef patty with shaved prime rib on top of that along with sautéed onions, mushrooms and Swiss cheese too. You also get small cups of au jus and horseradish sauce along with it. In theory this sounds excellent, in reality it tastes excellent, but reality will also bring you a messy, self-destructing burger with all these fillings and sauces. The bun just can’t handle all this stuff so be sure to have a fork at the ready. A note about that bun, it has a really cool looking Longhorn logo branded in the top of it. It looks cool, but it smells weird and tastes awful. You have been warned… I almost forgot that the parmesan garlic fries are top notch with this burger, you will not be leaving any behind.

Flat Iron Steak: It is a cut of sirloin that has been marinated in…something? It’s hard to tell exactly what as this marinade is rather lacking in flavor. That said, it still makes for an adequate cut of sirloin, but of all the dishes I have had from Longhorn, this one is the least impressive, and it is not one I would recommend, but if you must get it, the rarer the better, otherwise get a plain sirloin with a topping/sauce, or step up to a higher cut of steak.

White Cheddar & Bacon Stuffed Filet: Speaking of higher cuts, we now move to the filet. I have had this dish twice. The first time, I believe that it was on one of their promo menus with two other stuffed filet options for a bit lower price than what it goes for now, and I could also swear that it was bigger back then. The second time I had it was after it joined the regular menu, still tasty but smaller and over the $20 mark. By all means if you like bacon and cheddar and a filet mignon, go for it! But if you are in it simply for the filet, you would be happier with…

Flo’s Filet: I personally have not had this dish, but whenever my mom goes to Longhorn, she gets this dish every single time. Of the filets she has had over the years at different restaurants, she says that it is the best one she has had outside of the ones they have at Ruth’s Chris.

Brown Butter Lemon Tilapia & Grilled Shrimp: I am one of those difficult people, take me to a steakhouse and you will find me getting something from the seafood section of the menu rather often. “Why get the fish when their specialty is steak?” Two reasons: I really like seafood and usually the seafood quality is as good as the steak quality at most steakhouses (steer clear of the chicken dishes though…) Tilapia is not a very exciting type of fish, mildly flavored and undistinctive, it is the Toyota Corolla of seafood, reliable and not too pricy. It’s what you do with the tilapia that makes or breaks it. With this dish, everything came together well, the brown butter lemon sauce complimented the fish without overpowering it and the rice below soaked up the excess sauce. My only complaint was that the shrimp that top this dish were over-seasoned, and by that I mean way too much salt. If it was just a cook with a heavy hand, no big deal, but if the shrimp are that way again, than I will have to call it the main flaw in an otherwise great dish.

Longhorn Salmon: Do you fear cooking fish at home? Worried that it will make your place smell fishy? Afraid you will overcook and ruin it? If so, then this salmon dish is for you. The salmon is cooked well, the bourbon marinade is delicious and one I would buy if I saw it in the grocery and it does not cost too terribly much (7 oz. $16.99, 10 oz. $19.49) But if you are ok with cooking up some salmon at home, get a sauce you like and cook it up in your own kitchen for half the price. You can easily create your own version of this one at home, choose another dish.

Chocolate Stampede: They say that you may need a friend to share this one with. They are not lying about this. This is one of the biggest desserts that I have seen in a chain restaurant. That said, it is only $8.49, so split two ways it is only $4.25 each, add a third person to the plate (there will still be plenty for everyone) and you are now under three bucks a person. It is rich and the dark chocolate parts are as dark as they look. Unless this dessert is your meal, bring friends.

Brownie Sundae: For some reason it is not listed on their website, so I have no link to it, but this is one of the best desserts I have ever had. They use two Ghirardelli chocolate brownies served warm and topped with hot fudge and vanilla ice cream. Those brownies are the perfect amount of moist, really really dark and chocolaty and when the ice cream melts on top and below them in the dessert glass, it makes for heaven on earth. My words simply cannot do this dessert justice, if you want dessert at Longhorn, get this one!

Random Thoughts and Quick Points:
• Their side salads are above average for a chain and their croutons are uniquely flavorful.
• The mac and cheese you can get as an upgraded side is almost too cheesy ad rather salty.
• Their service pacing is almost always too fast, I guarantee that if you get the side salad ahead of your main course, your main course will come out before you are halfway done with your salad.
• Usually a good dish to try that tells you how good a steakhouse is would be the prime rib. I have not tried the one at Longhorn yet. I promise to rectify that error as soon as possible.
Don’t want to spend an arm and a leg at a fancy steak place, but want something better than a Sizzler or an Outback, Longhorn will fulfill your needs.
Hungry Man Eats Score 85/100

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