Sushi O in Edison NJ

Shrimp teriyaki lunch bento box

Going out to eat with my college boy is a guaranteed trip to an Asian restaurant. There are so many different places to eat near Rutgers that we almost never go to the same place twice. We picked Sushi O for lunch because neither of us have been there.

Lunch prices were great. Less than $9 for bento boxes, and even less for kitchen selections. I went with the shrimp teriyaki bento box, which was served with edamame, California roll, fried shrimp shumai, with soup and salad to start. My son picked 3 rolls for $10.95, though I really can't imagine how filling that can be! My husband got beef teriyaki without the fixings, as he is the picky one of the family.

Despite the low prices, this place had a surprisingly romantic ambiance. I would just suggest switching off the radio pop music. The servers were pleasant, prompt, and funny.

Soup & salad included with lunch

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Manducatis Rustica in Long Island City NYC

My friend invited me to lunch at Manducatis Rustica, as she knows the chef and owner, and in general-- wanted to show me this dining gem in Queens. It was pretty quiet during lunch, because it was a weekend and because it was rainy out. I was able to explore and appreciate the space more, with its brick walls and eclectic choice of contemporary art, grounded with a very old school formality of dining. It's a place to have good food and fun.

We started with two antipasti items: burrata mozzarella served with homemade pizza bread and grilled Spanish octopus, which was buttery and tender. My friend and her husband opted for fish plates, and I enjoyed shrimp over gluten-free pasta, with asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and arugula in white wine sauce. Our seafood was well-paired with a bottle of white wine.

A perfect end to our relaxed and enjoyable meal was a round of coffee and cannoli. From start to finish, it was all just so delightfully delicious. The biggest perk was meeting Gianna, whose tag of "Come Home for Dinner," really comes from the heart.

Gluten-free pasta


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Queens Comfort in Astoria NY

"Down by Law" ... I asked for no-bun to make it gluten-free friendly

Blue Bottle coffee

My friend wanted to celebrate her last day of work and her upcoming new job, and she chose the aptly named Queens Comfort for its vibrantly kitschy and cozy atmosphere with a great selection of comfort foods. Three-quarters of the menu is made up of sandwiches, though the starters offers up some non-sandwich entree options, like the mac & cheese, which was popular with our group.

Unfortunately, my photos did not do the plates any justice. Especially when I asked for no-bun, which would've made my plate look more appetizing. I got the "Down by Law" chicken sandwich for its interesting condiment of bacon jam, combined with avocado and chipotle mayo. I would suggest using real roast chicken and slathering more bacon jam!

My daughter loved her "adult" bacon cheeseburger, prepared medium, and I enjoyed picking off my husband's plate of BBQ pulled pork and fresh slaw. Despite my low enthusiasm for my plate, I practically licked my plate clean which speaks for itself.

Just like the bodegas of olden days, this place takes CASH ONLY. It's also BYOB, so don't forget your 40, in or out of a brown bag.

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WildFlour Bakery & Cafe in Lawrenceville NJ

There comes a time in a gluten-free diet that one says-- enough is enough, I need to eat bread, dammit! Well, that day finally came, though I seriously have been really committed and alright without bread since the summer. I had found WildFlour on a search a while back, and it was time to pay a visit.

My husband and I started with our customary coffee (for me) and latte (for him), then ordered pancakes and a grilled cheese sandwich to share. My husband wasn't happy with his latte, but I was so over the moon about the food that I didn't care!

The weird thing about eating gluten-free bread is that it feels like it's going to crumble and fall apart before it makes it into your mouth. You can imagine the mind games it plays. It looks like bread, but it isn't. At WildFlour, the sliced bread for the sandwich was thick and soft, and even though it threatened to crumble, it was really good. The muhammara, a red pepper hummus with crushed walnuts, was a real scene stealer, and the plate really wouldn't have been as memorable without it. The pancakes were good, but you can tell something about it was different. Mind games, I tell you.

I do recommend WildFlour to anyone on a gluten-free diet. It has a great vibe, similar to what I look for in a place, gluten-free or not. So it's not just a run-of-the-mill bakery and cafe, it really is something special with its artisanal offerings and a cool, inviting space. If it was closer than 10 miles to my house, I'd definitely visit regularly.

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Kumo Asian Bistro in Somerville NJ

Our selection of sashimi, including salmon, eel, tuna, egg custard

Our selection of kitchen foods: grilled squid, edamame, gyoza, calamari

Our selection of specialty rolls, three types

All you can eat checklist, with spicy seaweed salad

My husband and son are particular about what they'd like for their birthdays. My husband likes steak, and my son likes Japanese food. Specifically, he likes the all-you-can-eat type, so he can order to his heart's content. 

Kumo Asian Bisto offers a kitchen menu and a sushi bar menu. Hot foods run the gamut from grilled, teriyaki, and tempura styles. The sushi bar includes sashimi, sushi, regular rolls, and specialty rolls. Keep in mind that rolls come in 6-8 pieces rolled in rice, so order with caution. Sushi and sashimi come in individual pieces.

The atmosphere of Kumo is better than most AYCE places I've been to, and the price is good ($20 per person). It was definitely a good choice to celebrate my son's 23rd birthday. The decor is bright, clean, and spacious. Service could be better, and could be faster with tea and water refills, as well as refill orders.

The area of Somerville that it is in is also bustling, so you may eye another place to visit the next time you're in the area.

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Agricola in Princeton NJ

Local artisan cheeseboard

Duck confit

Chicken paillard

My foodie friends from NYC came for a visit on MLK Day, and out of 3 suggestions I made, they picked Agricola. I had never been there before so I was happy with their choice. It was a short visit, but I was able to show them the Princeton University area and Palmer Square, as well as bring them to Bent Spoon for dessert before driving them back to the train.

We had different sized appetites, so among our group of four, we ordered: the local artisan cheeseboard, with a good selection of mild to strong cheeses; soup and flatbread; duck confit; and chicken paillard. Everyone else was pleased with their menu selections, and since I am now gluten-free, I just take them on their word. It all looked good, too, as you can see.

I loved my chicken paillard with its endive, walnut, and bleu cheese salad. My only complaint was that it had too much parsley which overpowered the dish. 

Aside from that, you can really feel the farm-to-table theme of the place-- with its interior design including different salvaged-looking wood and mason jars adorning shelves, plus the kitchen activity is made visible from the sidewalk through large windows, adding to its charm. The servers are also pretty cute with their upbeat attitudes and uniforms of button-downs with rolled up sleeves.

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Tacorito in Hightstown NJ

Chicken flautas

Burrito with your choice of meat and fillings!

Mixed grill platter, includes 4 shrimp by my daughter ate them before
I could take the photo
This is a small fast-casual restaurant on Hightstown's main street. My family and I realized that we have been missing out on authentic Mexican cuisine, not knowing this place was so close by. Since there were four of us in the group, we tried a bunch of items. There was also a good selection of gluten-free options, because Mexican food has typically gluten-free basics like corn chips and corn tortillas.

Not all the items were photogenic, but we did get: mixed grill platter, beef burrito, creamy chicken dish, chicken flautas, and chips and salsa. The entrees were served with rice and beans. I loved the rice, and just based on the rice, I want to come back and often. The burrito was generously sized and the mixed grill was also generous in its offerings of four types of meat.

Now, despite the amount of food we ordered, we finished every last bit because it was just so good. Check it out and be surprised yourself!

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