Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cuca's in Redlands/Mentone

Foodie Baby

The first time I went to Cuca's, Mommy and Daddy were hungry and desparate for some good food. I cried in my seat so much they had to change their order to go.
The next time was great- I had an enchilada and loved it!
Then there was the time I feel asleep over my quesadilla and Daddy had to eat with one arm because his shoulder was sooo comfortable, and the time I left some artwork on the wall.
Last time they ate at Cuca's, they left me home.


Cuca's in Mentone is the second of a now chain of restaurants that began with the walk-up location on State Street in Redlands.
Nearby Redlands High School used to have open campus for lunch and that place would be crazy busy from the students running over there to snag a burrito.
My closest location is in the Stater Bros. shopping center on the corner of Lugonia/Mentone Blvd and Wabash.
Everyone I know calls it the Mentone Stater Bros. and the Mentone Cuca's even though it's technically across the street from Mentone.

The menu is your typical Mexican place for around here... refried beans and rice for sides, sopes, taquitos, tacos and burritos.
We've taken Foodie Baby several times.
They bring you a dish of tortilla chips and salsa for while you wait- we let Foodie baby have a taste of the salsa since he was begging for it- it can get pretty hot, so he's usually fine with a tortilla chip to nibble on.
I invariably get a huge dollop of salsa that is spicy and then remember there are no drinks yet, so I usually wait till I have a beverage before digging in just in case.

The kid's meals are $5.49 and include a side of beans and rice of fries. You can order a taco, quesadilla, bean and cheese burrito, hamburger, enchilada or chicken strips. I ordered an apple juice with Foodie Baby's quesadilla, which he promptly fell asleep over.
He enjoyed it for lunch the next day.

I also have ordered off of the sides menu for Foodie Baby. An enchilada, side of beans or other options can be just the right amount of food for a toddler, especially once that isn't very hungry. His cheese enchilada was dollars cheaper than a kid's meal he would not have finished, and I had water besides.
A more beginning eater could just enjoy some of the beans and rice off of your plate.
Kids eat for free on Mondays at Cuca's- one kid meal per adult entree. The kid's menu also comes with a 50% off coupon for a kid's meal when an adult entree is bought so you can also find a deal on your next visit there.

Cuca's has multiple locations, including the walk-up on State Street and a new one at the shopping center on the corner of California Street and Barton Road in Loma Linda.

One note of advice- skip looking at the website for actual menu information and just try a location (addresses are found on the website). I couldn't find any information on stuff I had actually eaten there.

No changing table
Wooden high chairs available
Seating is booths and tables, a small stroller might be accommodated in select areas
Kids menu
Kids drinks includes fountain drinks and apple juice

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A horror story for a child in a white shirt.

You've ordered the food, and sip on an iced tea while a wiggly someone played with a toy brought from home.
Stood up and retrieved the toy from under the next table over, only slightly embarrassed because it's happened before.
Someone has grabbed a knife, thrown a crayon.

The elderly couple next to you smile and wave your little one, the waitress compliments them.
You give them bread to nibble, or a Mum-Mum cracker to entertain them just a little while longer.

The food comes.
You're hungry.
You fight the urge to pick up your own fork and begin organizing your child's meal. Cut it into smaller bites, pull out an applesauce and spoon.

One thing is missing.

Silly, we forgot the bib, you say.
You reach down into your bag, and...

There's no bib.

What do you do?

We've all been in this scenario... have you found a way to work it?
Ask for extra napkins and use them to create a temporary fortress, hoping to protect the shirt from the carnage of a meal?
Do you have a special way to fold it so it doesn't bother your little one?
Or do you just deem that shirt a casualty of the dinner war?
Turn a shirt around?
Maybe you luckily have a bib in the car?
Another shirt?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jason's Deli in Riverside, CA

Foodie Baby

As you can tell from previous post, I am quite the grilled cheese connoisseur.
Whatever a connoisseur is.
This place make the best! I danced in my seat when I ate it, making the wheels on the high chair scoot away from the table. It was fun!
There's also little ice cream cones here. I ate all of my vanilla soft serve and finished the cone, or as my buddy would say, my 'ice cream and cookie'.


After going over the top family restaurants again I had a craving for Jason's Deli, so I went with a mommy friend and her son during a play date. The only one in California sits on the Moreno Valley/Riverside border in a large shopping area.
Jason's touts an healthy menu of sandwiches, soups, salads and wraps and has a salad bar with organic options.
I love getting the salad bar, which has a variety of veggies, dressings, and other items like tuna pasta and three-bean salad.
And the french onion soup- adding a cup of soup to the salad bar is only 99 cents.
The kid's menu has a variety of options, mostly standards like various sandwiches, mac n' cheese, and pizza, and as with the rest of the menu, vegetarian menu items are marked.
Both the Kidwich and J.D Pickle menus include the options of organic apple juice, organic milk or chocolate milk or a fountain drink in a sturdy plastic cup. The Kidwich menu items also come with organic apples, organic carrots, fresh fruit, chips or a pickle.
There is also a salad bar option on the kid's menu, which could be good for someone who would like a lunch of grape tomatoes, uncooked vegetables like broccoli, cucumber and carrots, edemame, dressing, and pudding (we cheated and brought a couple things from the salad bar to the table. The crackers were perfect for keeping the two toddlers entertained while waiting for their meals.)
Foodie Baby wasn't into the red pepper hummus, but his friend really enjoyed a bite of chocolate mousse and both boys enjoyed gingerbread muffins from our plates.
When the boys' food came there were extra napkins next to the plates- a must- and plates were cleared for us occasionally (we got second helpings at the salad bar.
There is a self-serve soft serve station, and the boys both enjoyed a touch of vanilla on cake cones while we had bowls with chocolate sauce.
The iced tea selection boasted four different kinds including black currant and melon pomegranate green tea.
 To the left- a Kidwich grilled cheese on whole wheat bread with a fruit side. Foodie Baby has already grabbed the first piece.
Below is a box of apple juice and a cheese pizza off of the J.D. Pickle menu.
Jason's Deli is also special because it has a gluten-free menu, including a grilled cheese on gluten-free bread (more expensive than traditional menu grilled cheese).
To navigate Jason's might require more than one adult, depending on what you order. Since I went with another adult, we both went through the cafeteria-style line together and then picked a table, taking turns hitting the salad bar while the boys chugged their juices and eagerly awaited their lunches.
Everything but the salad bar can be brought to table- you get a number to place at your table for someone to bring the food on a tray.
The room is a large cafeteria-style room with tables that seat four to sic and booths that line the room.
The highchairs are strong molded plastic with wheels- they could be hard to navigate in the crowded room (even at lunchtime, I haven't seen one yet) but are a breeze around the sides and the booth seating. A stroller could also be accommodated at the tables on the sides of the room.
The employees are busy but friendly, helpful with menu questions and greeting young children (I had one stand and talk about her son with me on her break when I had eaten at Jason's before with Foodie Baby).
Jason's Deli also offers pickup ordering and catering.

Changing table in the restroom
Molded plastic high chairs with wheels available
Most of seating is tables and chairs, strollers can be accommodated in some areas.
Kid's menu and gluten-free options available
Kid's menu items come with choice of organic milk or chocolate milk, organic apple juice or a fountain drink in children's cup

Friday, April 15, 2011

Strawlution winner!

First, another story about the straw's awesome powers, and my kid's random tastebuds.

I went to Jamba Juice yesterday and, because I rarely think things through to the end when making an impulse decision, I chose the new berries and beet fruit and veggies smoothie (there's two other flavors as well).
Yeah, Foodie Baby's in a new shirt and I got a berries and beet smoothie.
I thought for sure that it was going to be stained, but since I didn't notice how deeply red the smoothie was until I was picking it up and Foodie Baby was escaping out the front door, I had no choice.
Luckily, I had a spare lidded cup with a Strawlution straw in it, so I just dumped some of the smoothie in my cup and prayed.
Foodie Baby didn't get a drop on him and he drank two cups!
I on the other hand, took a sip, decided the lady was silly for suggesting it tasted like pomegranate (if pomegranates had a definite beet taste) and declared Foodie Baby more adventurous than me for the time being.

back to business...

The winner of the Strawlution giveaway is Lara!
And I loved her silly straw idea...
My dream silly straw would be a dolphin one with a butterfly on the nose of the dolphin. :)
Of course, I also loved the monkey with googly eyes (because that makes everything rock!) and the cute puppy (who doesn't love a puppy) and the backhoe (that would work really good for a root beer float, I would think!)
Someone get the patents going!

Remember, if you're local, a pack of ten is at Kissui for $7, and they have multiple colors! Perfect for shoving in an Easter basket (what kid doesn't get excited over straws!)

Thank you everyone who entered!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Parent's magazine top ten family restaurant for 2010

I read Parents magazine's 2011 list of top restaurants for families with relish.

Well, not relish. I don't like relish.

 (from Parents magazine's website)
Parents analyzed the calories, fat, saturated fat, and sodium on both the kids' and adult menus of more than 150 national restaurant chains. For the places with the most healthy options, we also scrutinized the quality of the ingredients such as whether there was organic milk or antibiotic-free chicken. Then we considered conveniences like call-ahead seating, online ordering, crayons to keep kids busy, and high chairs and boosters.

To my disappointment, not all of the restaurants are local, but most of them are...
Here's the ones that Foodie Baby and I have checked out, written about, or just want to go to.

Jason's Deli

There is only ONE Jason's Deli in California and it is less than a half-hour away on the borer of Moreno Valley and Riverside.

 I've been to Jason's Deli several times, but only once with Foodie Baby being able to partake in some of the menu, so I have as yet to do a post on the Jason's Deli.
The last time I ate there I gave Foodie Baby items off my salad bar plate as well as the snacks I had packed him (impromptu trip) but the portabello mushroom wrap is my favorite item on the menu right now.

The Souplantation on Hospitality Lane in San Bernardino is another place where Foodie Baby has eaten off of my salad bar plate.

When he was small, I was thrilled to discover car seat-style seats that rolled along as you picked out your items from the bar, letting a baby see what you're doing and making it more manageable than a car seat. Regrettably I've forgotten how big of a child they hold, but I'm sure a small toddler could fit.

For a Souplantation trip I recommend having more than one adult around for a small one- you still have to juggle a tray and seating after you pay, but I had a very helpful employee wank my stuff to a table for me before.

We haven't been to the Hospitality lane Red Lobster for a long time either, but Foodie Baby has had a kid's menu meal at another location and they give a sturdy lidded kid's cup with the meal He also had a helpful employee let him interact with a lobster (this was months ago, I'd love to see what he would do with one now!)

I haven't been to a Chipotle in a million years- there was a time where I happily got a burrito and ate it for 2 meals straight (anything a thousand calories needed that treatment!)

Mexican is an easy pic for Foodie Baby (as long as it isn't really spicy) and their kid's meals are free until May 1 on Saturdays and Sundays with select adult purchases

I avoid Red Robin for some personal reasons but know several people that love their burgers! You can get a balloon on the way out of the Lugonia Ave. location- we all know how cool a balloon is!

I was going to write one about Mimi's after a not-so-great experience but hesitated when I saw they were on the list. Sadly, many of the things they mention in the Parents article didn't happen (they even brought everyone else's drinks and left Foodie Baby's for last!) so I decided to give them one more chance.
If you have a light eater a muffin may be all you need there, although Foodie Baby did enjoy his chicken and veggies plate.

I've written about Panera Bread before and we love it. I recommend it, especially to eat the mac n' cheese.

The closest P.F.Chang's is in Riverside at the Galleria at Tyler but Foodie Baby hasn't eaten there yet. Like my beloved Thai places in town, it encourages family eating, so if you have an adventurous eater, they may be happy sharing a plate with you.

Do you agree that these places are the child friendliest?
Have you had any experiences at one?
Do you have a restaurant you would add to your personal 'best of' list?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review and Giveaway- Straw-lution

Foodie Baby

I love to pull out my straws from cups with my teeth. I get bored easily, I guess.
Mommy found a way around it, darn it.


Back in the early days of this blog, I Googled my way around the Internet looking for items that would be of interest to anyone that read this blog (namely, things that would make dining out or mealtime at all easier).
One of the more interesting ones I came across was a straw.
A straw, you say?
I'm sure here is where people are imagining some kind of super silly straw that somehow turns into a spork and makes the food organic and devoured with relish.
I wish.
I found the Straw-lution online and immediately though "Hey, that's cool." I bookmarked it and continued with my hectic life until I finally came across a physical package of the straws at Kissui in Redlands and bought a pack of yellow ones.
I LOVE them.
They are made to be used with packages that are drinkable and come with a plastic or foil top (that can be punched through- think Capri Suns).
They are the same size as the straws that came with Foodie Baby's take-and-toss cups (that I now usually bring to restaurants so he has a guaranteed sturdy drinking cup).
Actually, they are slightly wider- I have to shove the straw through the hole from underneath, and push aside the little teeth that are in the inside.
That can be hard, especially when you have a chewer like Foodie Baby, who likes to chew on things and makes flat ends on straws, making me have to bend it back into a circle to stick in.
One I had to do that a few times to already cracked a little on one end.

To the left is what it looks like in a cup- this is one from Chevy's (an experience I have yet to write about).

The straws are made of thick plastic, and the little things that keep it from going back through a lid are sturdy.
Foodie Baby has picked up his little take and toss cup by his teeth and the lid nor the straw has not come off.

I have tried a variety of options for using the Straw-lution (some are mentioned on the bag), including a yogurt cup.
For the yogurt cup, Foodie Baby ended up making the hole bigger, which made it harder for him to keep the straw still,but it still stayed in the cup.
(See the chewed straw?)
Another aside- this was soy yogurt. Foodie Baby chugged it.

The applesauce was a bigger challenge for Foodie Baby. The regular-sized applesauce cup with a lid was a little harder to poke a hole with, but made it through neatly. The straw, however, was too long to go straight in, so it had to sit at a sharp angle.
Which could be fine unless you're like Foodie Baby and notice how much applesauce is still in the cup you he hasn't gotten yet and gets upset.
To the left is what it looked like afterwards. Foodie Baby was satisfied with the result.
The website says that the straws are BPA-free, so don't worry that the package doesn't.
They come on four colors, yellow, pink, blue and green.
At Kissui they are $6.99 for ten, and I've only pulled three from the packaging so far (one to stay in diaper bag, one is in the utensil caddy after being washed (dishwasher safe!) and one has already gone missing in action.
So there you have it! A proven way to make dining out easier. Restaurant cup? Throw a straw in it. Pack a pudding as a treat? Got a straw for you.
Packing a work lunch? Grab your kid's straw.
Drink a pudding cup as you do errands! (OK, I'm not going to promote driving and eating. Even though I have been known to do it.)

Ready to try some? Run down to Kissui, check out the website and make sure to post a comment telling what YOU thought of Straw-lution!


I have a pick of the yellow Straw-lution straws to give away!

To enter- (please post a comment for each entry)

-Leave a comment describing your dream silly straw (mine would be a unicorn!)
-Like Foodie Baby on Facebook or say you already have
-Follow Foodie Baby on Google or say you already have

Contest ends Thursday, April 14 at midnight and the winner will be announced April 15.

Disclaimer- I purchased both the reviewed product and the giveaway.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Foodie Baby's Mexican tip

Foodie Baby

Growing up, my mommy always mixed up her beans and rice when eating Mexican food. Her friend, who had a Mexican family, teased her for eating it the wrong way. She didn't care- she though beans and rice were delicious together.
I do too! She always mixes my beans and rice for me so I can scoop it all up in my spoon. Yum!


 As long as your child can handle the refried beans and rice they serve, mixing them together makes it easier to eat both.
I've also been to restaurants that serve blank beans and different kinds of rice- I say mash the black beans up and mix them in!
Always taste test if your little one is sensitive to spices- I've been surprised at the spiciness of some rice being served! But putting in beans also helps with that as well.
Beans, rice and cheese can also be scooped in a tortilla to make a little burrito if someone is having fajitas as well.