The Restaurants at My End of the Universe

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My sister and I meet up every year for the Fringe Festival in Orlando and Brian’s Restaurant is our stop for breakfast. 

It’s a little diner on Orange Ave near the festival and I found it a few years ago because it claimed to have the best sweet buns in town. 

These are pretty good, but I have to say, they were better when we first started coming here a few years ago.  The last couple times I’ve been, the buns were a lot drier and didn’t seem as fresh. 

We ordered some breakfast, I got some eggs with toast & hashbrowns, she got an order of hashbrowns and my niece and her boyfriend shared some eggs and a Belgium waffle.  I had sweet bun frosting on my fingers so I didn’t take any other photos. Everything was cooked well and the total bill was $16, so it’s definitely a cost effective place to eat breakfast.  Our waitress was nice, in fact I think we’ve had the same waitress every time we’ve been there. 

It’s a good little restaurant to get a quick, inexpensive breakfast.

Brian’s Restaurant
1409 North Orange Ave
Orlando, FL

Brian's Restaurant on Urbanspoon


On Saturday, we were heading up to Hawi to go ziplining and drove though Kamuela to eat breakfast at the Hawaiian Style Cafe.  This is a cash-only restaurant that gives you a ton of food for the money.  

I ordered a loco moco, but it wasn’t as good as the other ones I had on the island. 

I didn’t like the hamburger patty and my over-easy eggs were a bit overcooked.  There was plenty of it though.

Loren ordered their Kalua Pork omelet special which came with hashbrowns and pancakes.

This was a breakfast made to be shared.  The pancakes alone were enough to feed at least 2 people and the omelette was stuffed full of pork.  The whole breakfast was under $20 and there were plenty of leftovers.

Hawaiian Style Cafe on Urbanspoon

After ziplining, we hiked down to Pololu Beach.  Beautiful views from the trail as you head down. 

Then we stopped for some Tropical Dreams Ice Cream in Hawi.  Loren had the Coconut cream and the Ginger White Chocolate.  I got the Tahitian Vanilla and chocolate.  They were all wonderful.  The only thing I didn’t like was that my chocolate ice cream had M&M’s in it and ice cream as good as this really didn’t need anything extra.

We stopped to watch the sunset before stopping for dinner.

Huli Sue’s BBQ in Waimea was our dinner stop tonight.

We split the BBQ Sampler which had pork, ribs, chicken, sausage and brisket plus two sides.  We got cole slaw and corn bread pudding and ordered a couple of extra sides as well, an Oriental Bok Choy dish and some black beans. 

Again, lots of food (this seems to be a theme in Hawaii).  The BBQ sauce had a tang to it and all the meats were pretty good.  The black beans were ok, but the other sides were better.  The Bok Choy completely did not go with the meal, but it was still tasty. 

And I had to get a piece of their famous banana cream pie to go. 

I understand why it’s famous.  It was soooo good.  I took it out to take a bite and almost finished it right there.  Smooth and creamy with a nice crust and topping.  Total dinner was $47 and there were plenty of leftovers.

We actually went back to Huli Sue’s later in our vacation after a very disappointing meal at Manago (I’ll get to that later).  We were just going to get dessert, but ended up getting some BBQ nachos as well as a slice of chocolate cake.

The nachos were good, but I just wanted some sweetness. 

Thick, rich, chocolatey goodness, in a moist delicious cake.  Huli Sue’s makes good BBQ, but their desserts are amazing.  Our little snack run cost us $17.

Huli Sue's BBQ and Grill on Urbanspoon

By Sunday, day 5 of our vacation, we were completely whooped.  But that didn’t stop us from doing some spelunking in Kaumana Cave.   It was a very cool walk through an old lava tube. 

For lunch, we headed over to Pahoa to Kaleo’s Bar and Grill.  We ordered the Tempura Ahi roll for our appetizer.

It was absolutely amazing.  This was one of the best things we ate on the island.  Crispy on the outside, with Ahi, rice and veggies on the inside.  I should have just ordered a second one for my entree.

I ordered the Chicken Katsu, but wasn’t too impressed.

The rice wasn’t cooked well, and the chicken was a little dry.  It definitely needed a dipping sauce, but the one that came with it was a bit too spicy and when I asked for a sweeter sauce, I ended up with an even spicier chili Thai sauce.

Loren was much happier with his meal.  He ordered the Mahi BLT and just raved about it.

And, what did they have for dessert?  Lilikoi cheesecake!  My new favorite dessert in the whole wide world.

It was so good.  Light and creamy with a wonderful passionfruit flavor.  I have got to find a recipe for this pie. $46 for lunch and we left with happy tastebuds.

Kaleo's Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

We spent the afternoon walking around the Lava Tree Park, McKenzie Park, and East Point, then headed back to Hilo for dinner at Pescatore’s. 

If there’s calamari on the menu, we usually order it.

Normally, the calamari we get is in rings and not quite as thick as these pieces were.  The batter didn’t have a lot of flavor, but the marinara sauce was good.

I’m always happy when they bring out the bread basket.

Loren started with a salad and I got some pasta fagioli.

They were both ok.  The soup had a nice flavor and lots of veggies in it.

I ordered the fettucine alfredo with shrimp for my entree.

It was ok, but there was a flavor in it that I didn’t care for.  I don’t know what it was, but it just wasn’t one of my favorite alfredo dishes.  Loren ordered their mahi ahi fish special. 

He really enjoyed it.  There were two different sauces on the fish and it came with a pesto spaghetti.  I had heard they had a killer chocolate truffle cake here so I got one to go.

Talk about disappointing.  I don’t know how to describe the texture, it wasn’t smooth at all.  Sort of crumbly.  The flavor was ok, but overall, it was not as good as I had been led to believe.  This was our most expensive meal on the island at $72.  We had much better meals for a lot less money elsewhere.

Pescatore on Urbanspoon


We took a 10 day vacation on the Big Island of Hawaii from May 12-21, 2010.  I had plotted out a bunch of restaurants to visit while we were there based on reviews on Urbanspoon and recommendations in the “Big Island Revealed” book.  For the most part, we had some great local food while we were there. 

Instead of making separate posts for all of the restaurants, I’m going to just break it into a few posts about our trip. 

Our flight left Tampa at 8am and we changed planes in Dallas.  We grabbed a quick bite in the Dallas airport at Dickey’s BBQ. 

For airport food, it wasn’t bad at all.  I got a roast pork sandwich and Loren got the brisket.  The mac & cheese was pretty dry, but I didn’t really expect much from it.  Total bill was $19.  Next stop, Hawaii.

Ok, so it was 7 hours to Honolulu, then an hour in the airport, then an hour connector flight to Hilo.  We arrived around 5pm Hawaii time, which to us, was 11pm Tampa time.  But we were still hungry so headed over to Ken’s House of Pancakes for dinner.

We’d read about Ken’s before our trip and it lived up to its reputation.  Lots of good food, enormous menu, and reasonable prices.  Plus it’s open 24/7 which is why we ended up eating there twice during our trip.  Their parking lot isn’t big enough for the steady flow of customers going through there.

On our first night, I ordered some potato soup to start off.

It was thick and rich and quite filling.  Then we both ordered Loco Mocos because that’s what you do when you go to the Big Island. 

Mine was really good.  Kulua pork over rice with gravy and two eggs over easy.  I can understand why people order these.  It’s a hearty meal and the pork was very tasty.  Both eggs and rice were cooked well too.

Loren got the Keiki moco which had a hamburger patty, rice, gravy & he ordered it with scrambled eggs.

He wasn’t as impressed with his.  The hamburger patty was nothing to write home about.  The pork in mine is what really made it good.

And I just couldn’t pass up dessert.  I said it was because I was on vacation, but anyone who reads this blog knows I rarely pass up dessert. 

Unfortunately, the chocolate pie had nuts on it which I don’t like.  But the chocolate, crust, whipped cream and ice cream were all very good.  For $23, we were completely stuffed. 

We went back to Ken’s two days later after our Lava Ocean Adventures boat tour.  If you go to the Big Island, definitely take this boat tour.  It was absolutely amazing.  We were about 20-30 feet away from the active lava flow.  It’s a 35 minute boat ride out & back and then they spend 45 minutes at the lava just going back & forth across the 1/4 mile field.   We actually took the sunset tour on day 3 of our vacation and we were so amazed that we took a sunrise tour on day 10 before we headed back to Tampa.  Here’s one of about 400 photos I took. 

After the lava tour, we went back to Ken’s and had dinner.  Loren got a bacon cheeseburger and I ordered the honey chicken.

Both were pretty good.  The chicken really didn’t taste like it had much honey on it though.  They do a lot of business at Ken’s and the food is pretty consistent for a diner.  Another $23 meal and we were stuffed.

Ken's House of Pancakes on Urbanspoon

For Day 2 of our trip, we started the morning with a Blue Hawaiian helicopter tour around Hilo.  It was ok, but I wouldn’t do it again.  Seeing Hilo from above was a nice perspective, but overall, I don’t think it was worth the money.  We saw some waterfalls, the volcano crater, and a little of the active lava flow.  The Lava Ocean Adventures boat tour was way better for the money. 

After the helicopter tour, we checked out some of the local beach parks, then had lunch at the Puka Puka Kitchen.

This was a cute little restaurant with only 4 tables and a little counter by the window.  We both ordered off of their specialis menu.  I got the Chicken Katsu Don Burger with fries and Loren got the Japanese Style Chicken Katsu Curry.

This sandwich was so tasty.  The chicken was fried perfectly and had a sweet sauce on it.  I was one happy camper.  And the fresh cut fries were a nice change.

Loren enjoyed the curry as well.  It was the same chicken that was on my sandwich but in a spicy curry sauce with veggies.  For $16, this was one of the most inexpensive, tastier meals we had on the island.

Puka Puka Kitchen on Urbanspoon

We spent the afternoon at the Volcano Park then headed over the ‘Imiloa Planetarium for the “Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe” show.  We ate dinner at the Sky Garden Restaurant at the Planetarium.  They had a nice buffet with a lot of different choices including shrimp, noodles, rice, salad bar, teriyaki chicken, veggies, as well as some yummy desserts including a lilikoi dessert that I just loved.  Lilikoi is passion fruit and for the rest of the trip anytime I saw anything on the menu with lilikoi in it, I had to have some.

Day 3, we actually ate breakfast at the Bed and Breakfast we were staying at, The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls.  Beautiful B&B with a waterfall on the property and a great view of Hilo Bay.  Because of the time difference, we were up at the crack of dawn most mornings and wanted to get out and about before they started serving breakfast from 8-9am.  The breakfasts we did eat there were good; eggs cooked to order, Belgium waffles, fresh fruit, and local breads. 

We spent the morning at the Hawaii Botanical Gardens then ate lunch at Reuben’s Mexican Restaurant.  Started out with some chips and really spicy salsa.

 Loren ordered the Ono Fish Tacos.

 He liked them.  Lots of veggies and the fish was cooked well.  I ordered the chicken flautas and was quite shocked when the plate came out.

 There was enough food on the plate for two people, maybe three.  The flautas were huge, plus it came with rice, beans, sour cream, guacamole, lettuce, and cheese.  It had a lot of good flavors going on.  I’d definitely order this again, but I’d have to split it with someone. 

And just because I can’t resist, I ordered the chocolate lava cake even though I was so full from lunch.

 It had a good chocolate flavor, but the problem with most lava cakes is that they get cooked too long so the inside isn’t liquid as it should be.  That was the case with this one.  It was solid all the way through. 

Lunch was $42.  Granted we got a lot of food, but I thought the prices were a bit high at Reubens.

Reuben's Mexican Food on Urbanspoon


Come Hungry

I wanted to go walk around Moccasin Lake Nature Park in Clearwater today, so I searched for a restaurant close by.  We’d never been to Lenny’s before, but it sounded like a good ol’ fashioned diner and those are the places I love to eat.  Plus, you gotta love a place that has an “Employee of the Month sh*t list” posted by the front counter. 

The parking lot was full which is always a good sign.  Luckily, it’s a pretty big restaurant, so we didn’t have to wait for a table.  The menu is huge.  I decided on breakfast, Loren went for lunch. 

We started off with the danish basket that came with my breakfast entree.

This  little basket had quite the treats buried inside.  Five different kinds of sweet goodies including a brownie, cream cheese danish, fruit danish, a cinnamon danish and another custard like danish. 

Then came the relish tray that came with Loren’s lunch.  You get two choices and we picked pickles and macaroni salad.  Both were very tasty.

 At this point, we already knew we were going to have a hard time finishing our entrees. 

Loren got the Deli Triple Threat with potato salad.

It’s three half sandwiches, turkey, pastrami and corned beef.  He said the corned beef was pretty mild, but the turkey and pastrami were really good.  And the meat was piled on the sandwiches.  The potato salad was kind of sweet.  I liked it, but it was too sweet for him.

I ordered a country style breakfast with scrambled eggs with cheese and bacon.

Loren used the bacon on his sandwich, and the eggs were very good.  I love it when you order eggs with cheese and they get it right.  The cheese was mixed in and all melted into the eggs.  Good stuff.

My breakfast also came with 4 silver dollar pancakes.

When I read silver dollar pancakes, I figured they’d be small.  These were four regular sized pancakes and they were delicious.  Light and fluffy and I was barely able to eat half of it.  And because I thought the pancakes were going to be small, I also ordered a side of home fries.

This was absolutely not what I imagined when I ordered home fries.  This dish was awesome.  The potatoes were cooked on the grill and then topped with sauteed onions.  I could have just eaten this and been happy.  Way too much food though, I barely made a dent in it. 

Now we know why the place was so crowded.  Good food, large portions, and very friendly service.   Total bill was $23 and well worth it.

Lenny’s Restaurant
21220 US Hwy 19 N
Clearwater, FL

Lenny's on Urbanspoon


One is Plenty

Watched “Throwdown with Bobby Flay” the other night and they were doing a French toast throwdown.   I’ve been craving French toast since then, so I dragged Loren out of bed and we headed over to Yanny’s in Clearwater because the reviews I read said they had the best pancakes and French toast around. 

Yanny’s is a small diner type restaurant.  Looked like a lot of locals in there.  Luckily, we were able to get a table without a wait.  While we looked over the menu, I ordered a Jungle Juice.

It had bananas, strawberries, cranberries, kiwi, and blueberries in it.  It was tasty, but the banana was definitely the overwhelming flavor in it.  I had to add some ice cubes to it because it wasn’t cold enough for me. 

Loren ordered their homemade corned beef hash. 

It also comes with 2 eggs and toast.  The corned beef hash was really good.  Lots of fresh corned beef, not out of a can, onions, peppers, mushrooms, mixed with hashbrowns.  We got scrambled eggs with cheese with it and they were ok.  I admit, I like my scrambled eggs a little mushy with the cheese mixed in, not just melted on top.  He also ordered a pancake. 

Do not adjust your screen.  That’s one pancake.  It’s huge and thick.  Not your typical light and fluffy pancake.  This one definitely has some texture going on.   We had to drench it in syrup, otherwise, it was kind of dry.  It almost had a biscuit-like feel to it. 

And I ordered one piece of French toast.

This was the most bizarre looking French toast I’ve ever had.  They cook extra custard over the piece of French toast to give it a very unique presentation.  The French toast was good, but the extra custard around the outside didn’t do much for me.  This wasn’t my idea of great French toast.  Good flavor, yes, but texture-wise it wasn’t what I was looking for.

The portions are definitely big here.  I couldn’t imagine how anyone could eat more than one of those pancakes.   We don’t drink coffee, but they were constantly stopping by the table next to us with refills.  

 Believe it or not, the whole meal was just $16.  There was enough pancake left over for another meal. 

1258 S Highland Ave
Clearwater, FL

Yanny's on Urbanspoon