BJ’s recently released a new addition to their menu, called “Snacks & Small Bites.” The dishes range from $2.95 to $4.95 and include classic treats like macaroni and cheese and tacos, to more exotic fare like seared ahi tuna.
When I last reviewed the restaurant, one of my main complaints was the price of the food, but with these small dishes, you can pack in a lot of flavor for a pretty small price. I ordered the two mini tacos and since I already ate lunch a little while before that, the portion was great, but if you want to fill up on them, you’ll probably want to order two or three of the dishes. Even so, at $3 a serving, it won’t cost much to fill up.
My girl friend ordered the $3.95 seared ahi, which was certainly on par with the tacos. Flavorful, perfectly raw in the center and well-seasoned externally, these were quickly devoured at our table.
The tacos come with your choice of fillings, fajita chicken or barbacoa beef. While I wish you could have one taco with each filling type, both have to be the same. I chose the barbacoa beef, which was moist, flavorful and lean. Paired with a squeeze of lime juice, salsa that lacked the overwhelming chipotle flavor of the nacho salsa and a light sprinkling of cabbage, these are absolutely perfect.
Head in between 12 and 3 and you can take advantage of the $3 beer deal, which also includes their home-brewed cider. The berry cider is pink and quite sweet, in fact, it might be a bit too sweet for more people. For something a little less sweet, but better balanced, try combining the Jeremiah Red with the cider. The mix is smooth, floral, sweet and all around delicious.
In the grand scheme of things, Bj’s Snacks & Small Bites are certainly worthy of aout of 5.
May 3, 2010 by ruetheday
The Disney Food and Wine Festival that takes place in California Adventure every year is a marvelous experience, but to take part in most of the celebratory activities is actually rather cost prohibitive. Rather than spending $80 on wine tastings and $100 per plate on a few dinners, why not enjoy the festivities without shelling out the big bucks?
Here are a few tips on entertainment during the festival that won’t cost too much.
- Catch the shows. A lot of the displays and shows can still be watched for free. They may be educational or entertaining, but they still aren’t worth a bundle of cash just for the privilege of sitting during the presentation.
- Enjoy the freebies. There aren’t many freebies at the park, even during the festival, but if you see some, take advantage. Over by the bread and tortilla factory there is a booth offering taste samples of exquisite olive oils and vinegars with bread chunks to try them. If you’re so inclined to buy a few bottles, remember that you can often use a high-quality olive oil to dilute your fancy one without losing much flavor.
- Try the Festiv-Ale. Over at the Karl Strauss beer truck, there is a special blend just for this occasion. At $6.75 per glass, it’s hardly more expensive than buying a good beer at a bar. As for the Festiv-Ale, it’s a quite nice blend, rather dark with a bit of a bite and sweet, berry accents to round out the finish. Their other beers are also quite good even if they don’t quite fit in with the theme. The IPA has the highest alcohol concentration and it has all the complexity and depth that a fine IPA should have.
- Try a few wine samples. While there are package wine samplings that are rather expensive, there are also wine stands throughout the park that allow you to try a few sips for not too much money.
If you’ve been and have any more tips on enjoying the festival, please leave them in the comments!
March 10, 2010 by ruetheday
It’s been years since I stopped by BJ’s in La Mesa, but I always knew they had a great happy hour, so we headed out there yesterday to see if it was still around. As luck would have it, the restaurant’s happy hour hasn’t changed a bit. All of their mini pizzas are half price, drinks are a dollar off and appetizers are two dollars off. Of course, the prices for everything are on the expensive side, so this just means everything is reasonable instead of over-inflated.
We went ahead and ordered the piranha nachos as an appetizer and I ordered their Irish Root Beer. The nachos were good, but a few chips were burned and their salsa has always been a bit strange. The smokey chipotle flavor is just a bit off when paired with the sweetness of the rest of the flavors. Unfortunately, you can’t have nachos without salsa, so we just tried to go light on the salsa. While the chili, cheese, olives, sour cream, tomatoes and other toppings were tasty, I think I’d skip this $9.25 appetizer ($7.25 during happy hour) in the future, unless they get a new salsa.
As for my drink, the Irish Root Beer was pure heaven. With the restaurant’s own root beer, Baileys, BOLS butterscotch schnapps and Jameson whiskey, it was the perfect blend of sweet and bitter. Over all, it had a taste of a root beer float, but the sweet bite of the Jameson made it all the more delightful. At $7.75 per glass ($6.75 during happy hour) it’s a little on the pricey side, but the size and flavor made it worth the expense.
For dinner, we went for the mini pizzas. BJ’s specialties are its beers and pizzas, so I knew we’d be in for a treat no matter what we ordered, so we went for the exotic and tried the Mediterranean, with Kalmata olives, grilled chicken, tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, pesto, feta cheese, peperchinis and garlic, and the bacon cheeseburger, with ground beef, red onions, bacon, pickles, tomatoes, cheddar cheese and thousand island dressing.
Both of the pizzas were tasty, but the Mediterranean had quite a few less toppings than one would expect, although the taste was still an excellent blend of all the ingredients. The cheeseburger pizza was a treat for the tongue as the flavors of the pickles and dressing were unexpected, but entirely pleasant. I would highly recommend either pizza, particularly for the price of $5 each during the happy hour special.
I ended up with enough left overs to have lunch the next day, which meant I was too stuffed to try the pizzokie, which looked quite tasty. But, to correct that omission in our meal, I’ll be making home made pizzokies later and then sharing the recipe with you all soon.
If you get the chance to stop by BJ’s, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
I’d give the restaurant aout of 5 right now, but if they reduced their prices a bit and got a better salsa, that could easily become a 5 out of 5.