Food Review: Olé Eatery in Branson, MO

Branson has a new authentic Spanish tapas restaurant! And it is better than I imagined. Here’s the breakdown:

 

ENVIRONMENT

While we will cover the incredible food, we must first talk about the environment. In a shopping mall, Olé Eatery is nothing fancy.

It is broken down into two rooms; one is where you order and pay at the counter. The other is the dining area, which is large and open.

This atmosphere does not set the scene for the incredible food we were about to have. With the meal I had here, I would expect a romantic, date-night type of atmosphere instead. It definitely needs sprucing up.

 

FOOD

The menu can be found here on their website. It is full of four different paellas (Spain’s national dish) and many tapas, or small shareable dishes.

Paella Negra: $21.89
Description: “Black Rice” Spanish rice cooked with squid ink with shrimp, clams, calamari, and scallops.

I lived in Spain for a summer, studying, and I had my fill of paella. It’s safe to say my expectations were high. I almost got the traditional Paella with chicken and Spanish chorizo, but I asked the man behind the counter which paella was the most flavorful and he suggested this one.
While I’ve had squid ink pasta and found it pretty bland, this perfect dish was anything but bland. There was so much flavor! The rice was cooked perfectly and it was saucy, not one dry bite. The seafood was cooked perfectly. The garlic aioli and fresh herbs that topped it off gave it a fresh bite. I LOVED this dish. It was the most flavorful, delicious paella I’ve ever had. Also, while the serving appears small, it was very large. Drew and I could barely finish it all.

Chicharron: $9.29
Description: crunchy pork belly with sweet chili aioli

While this dish was good, it was my least favorite. Fried pork belly is always good and they fried it well, it just was a little dry and could use more of the chili aioli.

Patas Bravas: $5.49
Description: Potatoes with Spanish Salsa Brava and lemon oil

I did not want to get this. I wanted the ham croquettes, croquetas españolas, but they were out. So, I went for one of the cheaper menu items. I was not disappointed! While they are no ham croquettes, they were cooked well enough they had a crunch and the sauces were delicious.

Churros: $5.49

Churros in Spain were my favorite thing to eat.  Well, except the dulce de leche gelato. In Spain, you would typically get a “hot chocolate” with your churros. However, it was not regular hot chocolate. This was thick, like a melted chocolate bar. You dip the churros in the “hot chocolate”. It’s just how it is done.
So, I was a little disappointed to see the small amount of chocolate drizzle over the churros and a small dollop of what seemed like chocolate icing on the side.
While the churros were good, they weren’t anything unique. Next time, I’ll try the guava empanada.

 

OVERALL

I loved this meal. The paella was the best paella I’ve ever had. Hands down. The tapas are super fun, too. I can’t wait to try their croquetas españolas next time if they aren’t out. The staff was very kind.  The atmosphere is the only thing that could improve. The food is way too good to be in an environment that doesn’t do it justice.

Food Review: Tallgrass Bar and Grill in Harrison, AR

Wow! I’m going to start by saying this is the best restaurant I have eaten at in Arkansas in a looong time. This eclectic spot has so many healthy, beautiful, DELICIOUS options. I wish I could eat every meal here. So, let’s dig in.

 

***Before you get too excited, this restaurant is NOT open on Saturdays and Sundays. Only Monday-Friday, so plan accordingly.

 

ENVIRONMENT

This adorable restaurant is connected to the newly named “Almond Branch”, which sells Patagonia attire, and lots of health-centered items like vitamins, herbs, local soaps, etc. Both this shop and Tallgrass face away from the street and have a huge parking lot that allowed our camper to drive through. Thank you!

The interior of Tallgrass is so modern, clean, and adorable. There’s lots of little details that really spruce the place up. For instance, this little succulent garden that floated next to our table was so cute!

You order at a counter and then find a seat and they will serve your food to you there. I must say, I was so impressed with their cleanliness. They are definitely concerned about keeping their staff and customers healthy. Thank you, again! Each time someone brought out food or cleaned a table, they changed their current gloves for new ones. If you need a refill, they bring you a clean glass because dirty ones aren’t allowed in that area. I’ve not seen such close attention to cleanliness detail and I so appreciate it!

 

FOOD

The menu is pretty large and it took me a good 15 minutes to decide what to order, because I wanted it all. You can find their menu on their facebook page here.

Overall, for lunch and dinner, there are many pita sandwiches/ gyros, tacos, burgers, regular sandwiches, many delicious looking salads with homemade dressings, and pita pizzas. It must be noted that the pitas are house-made, as much as many other menu items.

What did we get?
1. The Berkenstock Plate, $7.50: house-made sundried tomato hummus, broccoli, cucumber, tomato, avocado, and feta with seasoned crispy pita chips.
We took most of this home since there was so much else we got, but it was delicious. Best pita chips I’ve ever had. they were so flavorful!

2. Cup of the soup of the day (pumpkin chicken chili), $3: This came with a couple of those delicious pita chips and the chili was divine. It was creamy and not too spicy at all, but with a rich pumpkin flavor and tons of shredded chicken and blended in beautifully. I loved it. I even tried to make it at home the next day, but my version can’t touch theirs! This was also a very heft bowl for $3!

3. $1 side salad with fresh greens, tomatoes, and choice of house-made dressing. I went for the ranch, which I regretted. It tasted more like greek yogurt than a ranch. However, their pesto vinaigrette sounds delicious and I’m going for that one next time.
And who else sells a fresh salad with field green and tomatoes this size for $1??? No one. This is amazing.

4. Lemon Chicken Gyro and fries, $13: Sun dried tomato hummus, lemon pepper chicken, tomato, onion, cucumber, lettuce, feta, and tzatziki sauce.
I saved the best for last. This gyro was absolutely perfect! It was massive, first off. The pita was grilled, so it stayed crispy through the entire experience. Nothing peeves me off more than soggy bread. Not a problem here! The chicken was flavorful and so juicy and tender. The veggies and tzatziki sauce were of the perfect amount. I swear they made this gyro just for me.
The fries are fresh cut and seasoned, but they weren’t my favorite. They were a little soggy and greasy, so most of those were left uneaten. Next time, I’ll request a different side, but I will always order this gyro.

 

OVERALL

I loved my experience here. I left full of house-made, healthy, absolutely delicious food and enjoyed my hummus plate later that evening, with those delicious crispy pitas and veggies.
The staff was so kind. The place, even the bathrooms, were immaculately clean. And for the food I got, it was surprisingly cheap. I can’t find a place like this around Little Rock that is so fresh for these costs.
Go check this place out if you’re in the area on a weekday and let’s encourage them to be open on the weekends!