Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Queen City's Finest

About once a month or so, my job requires me to travel within Montana for a few days. Traveling for work gives a person a great opportunity to experience, among other things, another city's fine dining. This week finds me at Intermountain's home office in Helena.

I had about a half-hour between meetings today, so I asked a couple of people in the office where I could grab a quick lunch. I got two recommendations for Taco Treat, and usually when I get confirmation from a second party, I feel like it's a pretty good option. I may re-think my standards.

Despite what you may think, Montana is not a hotbed for Mexican cuisine. I can think of several restaurants in this state that start with the word "taco": Taco Time, Taco Bell, Taco Maker, Taco John's, Taco Treat, and of course, Taco Mexico. Taco Bell is the best from that list. You'd think I would have learned by now.

The worst part of the whole experience is that I felt compelled to lie when I got back to the office and faced the inquisition from the co-workers who recommended Taco Treat to me. I tried to keep a straight face when I told them I enjoyed my lunch. I'm coming clean, Stephanie and Adam. I was not impressed. I feel like I got Punk'd.

In a brief flash of good judgment, I decided to stop eating before I came down with the first case of swine flu that came from eating dangerous Mexican food. So by dinnertime, I had regained my appetite. Feeling slightly less adventurous, I thought I'd play it safe and head to Applebee's. I haven't eaten at Applebee's in a while, but I was happy to see when I walked in that nothing had changed.

The inside still looks like it was decorated by a crew of dumpster-divers. I was comforted by walls decorated with the same tricycle, waterski, tennis racket, and poster of Marylin Monroe as I'd seen in every Applebee's in my lifetime. And it was nice to see that Applebee's is still hanging on to the birthday song. At least 15 years after every other restaurant jumped off that sinking ship, staff still reluctantly sings the dumbest renditions of the birthday song man has ever known. Obviously there are still restaurant patrons who still think that's clever, so Applebee's is forced to oblige with song.

I don't think I'm sharing anything earth-shattering when I tell you that the food is just not that good. That goes without saying. I think it also goes without saying that I'm ready for this trip to be over so I can eat at home. And maybe my life shouldn't revolve around food...nahhh!


  1. Thanks for the smile today!

    I thought your travel sense would have told you by now - to never stray into a Taco Treat. The name comes from a variation of of 'Trick or Treat'. Same idea of someone standing in a door frame throwing random things into your bag only for you to venture a guess later if you should sample their 'gift'.

    You have another day left. Try the 'ox' place. It has another adverb in front of broken ox or smothered ox...something like that. Lora took me and Randi - it was really good and it's on the way out of town.

    Sorry I can't be there tomorrow.

    Represent for Kali.

  2. It's Staggering Ox. It is good :) I still stand by Taco Treat, for this side of town. We have limited restraunts here. What can I say. The only things you have to choose from on this side of town are Taco Treat, Taco Johns, KFC/A&W (NEVER GO THERE)some bazarro mexican restraunt Melaque (DO NOT GO THERE EITHER) and a subway that is halfway to Townsend or in Walmart. Wendy's (Dont eat the chili there) and Dairy Queen too (but it's closed until summer-which could be August)
    ~Stephanie VP

  3. Your blogs make me laugh out loud (or LOL - which I refuse to use). Yes. Staggering Ox is good. The Brewhouse is good for a burger...but I don't know where you're at and if that would be too far for you to travel. And there's nothing wrong with revolving around food. I ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS check out the restaraunt selection before I travel...but I venture in to hole in the wall restaraunts when I find them because that's usually the best food. I don't know of them in Helena, but I know of a great one in Maui.

  4. Should have hit the Macaroni Grill. Yes I realize it's a chain, but it's good. Better than the Olive Garden.
    Applebees is typically acceptable to me - at least the burgers are good.
    And with the rest of them - the original Staggering Ox is great!

  5. oh dear....I hear a few of those taco places serve Grade E beef...if it looks like mystery meat it probably is!

    and as a former Applebee's employee...lets just say I haven't eaten in an Applebee's since the days of my free meals ended! and even then there were some dishes that I wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole! If people only knew what was in there food!

    i hope you find better eats soon!