Eat! Lansing

June 28, 2008

Famous Taco

Filed under: Burrito, East Lansing, Lansing, Mexican — dkastner @ 10:22 pm

Famous Taco
Various Locations 

Famous Taco occupies the space between fast-food burrito joints like El Oasis or Taco Bell, and sit down restaurants like El Azteco, Chevy’s or Chi Chi’s.  It’s the typical northern rendition of Mexican food that features plenty of unseasoned meat, cheese, and lettuce.  If you want spice, you can dip into the salsa on the side or have a bite of Spanish rice.  Famous Taco is nothing spectacular, but if you want a quick, sit-down Mexican meal, it’s a good place to start.  Sort of like the Denny’s of Mexican food.  $10 for a larger than average burrito with beans and rice.

June 19, 2008

Dusty’s

Filed under: American, Best of, Fine Dining, Okemos — dkastner @ 10:03 pm

Dusty’s Wine Bar/Tap Room/Cellar
http://www.dustyscellar.com
1839 Grand River Avenue, Okemos, MI 48864
Phone: 517-349-5150
Cellar hours: M-Sat 7am-9pm, Sun 7am-6pm
Wine Bar/Tap Room hours: M-Th 11am-12am, F-Sat 11am-1am, Sun 12pm-10pm 

First, I’d like to clear up some potential confusion.  Dusty’s website lists three entities under the Dusty’s name, but doesn’t do much to explain what they are.  If you’ve heard of Dusty’s and just want to eat at their popular restaurant, Dusty’s Wine Bar is your destination.  If you want a more casual, no reservations required meal, Dusty’s Tap Room is the place.  If you’re looking for unique gifts or overpriced items you can find at the supermarket, Dusty’s Cellar will be your next port of call.  If you’re still confused, just follow the directions for Dusty’s WIne Bar and you’ll find that all three places are right next door to each other.

Everyone you talk to around Lansing will say that Dusty’s is the, if not one of the, top restaurants in town.  I agree 75%.  

Dusty’s is located in Okemos, one of the upper-crust areas surrounding Lansing (because who would ever want to live IN the city?).  I was surprised when I pulled up to Dusty’s and found that it was located in a strip mall.  You don’t normally associate fine dining with brown strip malls built in the 80s, but there it was.  Before you walk into Dusty’s Wine Bar, you are greeted by a gift shop.  The wine bar itself is a moderately classy strip mall restaurant decorated with grape vines and a mural depicting a vineyard.  Just don’t look at the exposed rafters in the ceiling.  The tables are neatly presented and service is very attentive.  Some of the decor has a Pier One/World Market vibe.  On the Tuesday night I visited, it was moderately busy with about half the tables occupied by people aged 40+.

Dusty’s Wine Bar

The food presentation is well done.  The plates for some of the non-steak dishes intrigued me – they reminded me of pseudo-futuristic TV sets from the 60s.  

It was obvious that all of the ingredients were fresh and prepared on the spot.  I had a “Key lime caesar salad” that wasn’t too heavy on the lime flavor, but was very fresh and smothered in tasty parmesan and probably some of the best croutons I’ve had.  I also had a mango-marinated cut of steak that was very tender and had a great, sweet taste.  The grits that came with it were perfect.  Creamy and buttery.  

The wine list was pretty extensive and offered a well rounded variety.  The gift shop also had a selection of wines that didn’t seem to give into the catchy labels but still offered a lot of small-time brands.

The service was what you’d expect for the price, but not over the top.  

Overall, Dusty’s seems to be a good place for fans of haute cuisine who are willing to sacrifice a bit of ambience.

Bonus points: Dusty’s Wine Cellar is the only restaurant in town that accepts reservations through OpenTable.  This service is used quite a bit in restaurants in Chicago and DC (and other major cities, of course) and it’s extremely convenient.  They even have a rewards program so you can rack up points for each reservation.  

Dusty’s Tap Room

When I ate here a year ago, my mind was more on the job interview that I was engaged in, rather than the food.  I had a Guinness and a blue cheese burger.  It was quite juicy and the ingredients were of high quality.  

June 17, 2008

El Oasis

Filed under: Best of, Burrito, Lansing, Mexican — dkastner @ 8:15 pm

El Oasis Antojitos Mexicanos
Michigan Ave & Francis St 

Authentic Mexican in the middle of the Great Lakes State?  Yes, it’s true!  In true Taqueria fashion, El Oasis is in a trailer at the corner of Michigan Ave and Francis St.  Curiously, the trailer has Ohio plates.

The chicken burrito is very tasty.  The flour tortilla is very soft (extra shortening!) and is filled with spanish rice, refried beans, lettuce, queso fresco, and chicken.  There wasn’t much in the way of spiciness, but there was plenty of flavor.  Two tubs of Empanadas (caramel or apple) sit on the ordering counter.  The Empanadas are coated in sugar and cinnamon and the crust is flaky, almost like phyllo dough.  

El Oasis is perfect for a quick meal and it’s in a pretty eclectic neighborhood.  Some of the best Mexican food in town!

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