That Food Guy
Friday, June 23, 2006
  Chepo’s Mexican Restaurant in Eagle River, Alaska

Chepo’s Mexican Restaurant, May 4, 2006
We went to Chepo’s Mexican Restaurant on Quatro de Mayo to avoid the rush. We have been to Chepo’s several times before. One of our dining companions particularly likes the Enchiladas del Mar, enchiladas made with shrimp and crab and topped with a slightly spicy tomatillo sauce and sour cream. Indeed, she likes them well enough to bring her back quite often which I think speaks well of the establishment.

Chepo’s is one bock off the main thoroughfare and drive-by customers the rarity. It has to rely on repeat customers. That it does well. Families with children are comfortable there and, if you watch the newspaper, you can clip Chepo’s coupons for some handsome discounts.
Chepo’s has the traditional Mexican restaurant decor of cacti, sombreros, serapes and faux adobe walls. The staff was busy adding balloons, flags and festive streamers in anticipation of tomorrow, Cinco de Mayo. In spite of their preoccupation with their additional duties, the staff was prompt, courteous and quite efficient.

Chepo’s menu is quite complete and offers luncheon and dinner options as well as a children’s menu. The numbered dinners and combination plates are what you would expect from the neighborhood Mexican restaurant. The dishes are adequate with ample portions, the entree being served with rice and beans. However, to glean the best from Chepo’s, you need to look at the ala carte and house specials section of the menu. On past occasions I have sampled beef and chicken fajitas and I enjoyed them very much. I did find that I preferred the chicken over the beef. The dish is large for one and most would take some home in a doggie bag (though I seriously doubt the dog will get it).

On this occasion, however, for a change of pace I tried the Chicken Avocado Salad. The fried tortilla shell was fresh and edible, not just a serving plate as I have often found elsewhere. The salad base was a small serving of sliced lettuce but the majority of the salad was spiced, grilled chicken. The salad was topped with slices of adequate portions of tomato and avocado. The salad was served dressed with sour cream. The chicken was excellent, prepared with a fajita-style marinade and grilled just tender. The tomatoes were ruby red, juicy and just perfectly ripe. The avocado was iridescent green and looked like a picture, tasty but in reality the avocado would have been better perhaps had it sat on the shelf for just another day. All in all, I enjoyed the salad and it will be a repeat order on some future visit.
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
  A Trip To The Outback in Anchorage, Alaska
Outback Steakhouse
This was my first visit to an example of this particular "theme steak house." I went with friends who had been there before and that was a good sign, they wanted to go back. The menu featured items familiar to almost all steakhouses but with a whimsical "G’day, Mate!" twist.
An advantage of going with friends, aside form the recommendation in this case, is you get to see and sample a variety of the restaurant’s offerings. My choice was the Boomerang Shrimp with an added house salad, but I was also able to see grilled shrimp on No Rules Pasta and Ribs On The Barbie. The grilled shrimp were quite spicy as is the rage theses days but the menu doesn’t give a hint. The shrimp were not "flame-hot" but in this case they were spicier than preferred by that friend. The fettuccine was al dente and the Alfredo sauce tasty. The ribs were tender and the meat came off the bone easily. My friend called them good and he said he would order them again.

My salad was a treat. It was not a skimpy, unimaginative saucer of wilted leaves as is often the case with a house salad. This was an ample salad with crisp chunks of lettuce, slices of cucumber and many slices of tomato. The dressing was ample. The salad looked good and tasted good and set me in a good mood for the food to follow.

The platter of breaded and fried shrimp was served with french fries, Aussie Chips, and portions of tartar sauce and Aboriginal Fire Sauce. The French fries are whole potato fries and had lots of small, odd shaped pieces, some with peel. Most of the fries are cooked just right but there are, as noted, a lot of hard, slightly overcooked pieces that detracted from the appeal and appearance. The shrimp portion was ample and cooked just right. The coating was slightly spicy but did not overpower the shrimp. The tartar sauce was mild and tasty and a nice compliment to the shrimp. The Aboriginal fire sauce seemed to be a sweet and sour sauce. It was a pleasant tasting sauce but not spicy-hot although I couldn’t really appreciate any sour in the sauce. It my favored of the two sauces.

The dining experience at Outback was a pleasurable one. The food was good and in ample portions. The service staff was prompt, courteous and quick; they added positively to the dining experience. Aside from the fries that I think need a little improving and perhaps a note on the menu about the spice level of the entrees, the Outback experience was favorable. Would I recommend Outback? Lets just say I look forward to going back sometime soon to sample other items on their interesting menu.

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Location: Chugiak Alaska, St Petersburg, Florida, and Friendsville, Tennessee, United States
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