The statements made on this website are the personal opinions of Laura and Diane. If we feel that a restaurant visit is not up to par, please remember it is our opinion. If you disagree with us, feel free to write us at info@newenglandbites.com.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Sam Diego's

950 Iyannough Road
Hyannis, MA  02601
(508) 771-8816

April 18, 2014

We at New England Bites love Yelp.com.  We love reading the good – and bad – reviews of local restaurants.  Often times we agree on the rating, but we were shocked when we read the rating for one of my favorite restaurants – Sam Diego’s of Hyannis.

Rated only three stars out of a possible five, this restaurant has been reviewed by 98 people.  Even worse was their Plymouth location, rated two and a half stars by 70 people.  What surprised me the most is that Mom and I have always had a great time at Sam’s.  We love the food and the atmosphere, the service is always awesome and the prices are reasonable.

So how does our opinion differ from so many Yelpers?  Read on …

YELP:  Watery salsa and store-bought chips.
NEBS:  Agreed.

I can’t disagree with the watery salsa.  Since Mom doesn’t care for salsa, I’m the only one who eats it.  I would say that it is on the weak side and very watered down.  However, it hasn’t changed since we started dining at Sam’s, so either they are using the same store-bought brand or that’s just how they make their salsa.  Mom thinks that the chips are not made in-house due to their uniform shape.  However, we both enjoy the fact that Sam’s warms up the chips before serving them.

YELP:  Non-authentic Mexican cuisine.
NEBS:  Agreed, but that’s not why people go to Sam Diego’s. (But maybe they should.)

If you’re looking for hardcore Mexican cuisine, you should do your research.  Sam Diego’s serves an Americanized version of several Mexican favorites in a kitschy, fun restaurant with plenty to look at.  The food has always been good – much better than those who compared it to Taco Bell – and that is what has kept us coming back for years.

YELP:  Bad service.
NEBS:  We’ve never experienced it.

The Hyannis location received a few comments about the less-than-stellar service at Sam Diego’s, but the Plymouth location received a lot.  When we’ve dined in Plymouth, we’ve never experienced the “pompous,” “arrogant” and “obnoxious” waitstaff that had served so many Yelpers.  Perhaps Mom and I are lucky, but the service in Hyannis – and Plymouth, for that matter – has always been excellent.

YELP:  Dirty bathrooms.
NEBS:  Always.

Sorry Sam’s.  We love you, but you need to clean the restrooms during the day.  Mom and I always use the restroom before leaving the restaurant as we have a long drive back to Fall River, and I can’t remember a time when the ladies room hasn’t looked like it was hit by a tornado.

As you can see, we did agree with what the Yelpers wrote (except for the service).  They also complained that the food is not spicy.  Mom and I have never really ordered food that was supposed to be super spicy, so we don’t really have an opinion on that.  Perhaps Sam Diego’s should introduce more authentic dishes to the menu to satisfy their customers, but the least they should do is keep the bathrooms as clean as the dining area.

Despite all of these things, Mom and I decided to have lunch at Sam Diego’s in Hyannis while we “on Cape.”  After nearly being killed trying to get into the parking lot, we quickly found a spot and were seated right away near the busy all-you-can-eat taco and chili bar.  Our waitress – whose name appeared as “Granny” on the bill – took our drink order.  We passed on the margaritas and decided to stick with Diet Pepsi ($2.65 each).

For an appetizer, we ordered our favorite thing – the Hollerin’ Jalapeno Pretzel ($4.75).  This warm jalapeno pretzel – served with a very tasty Dijon dipping sauce – is large, soft and has a gooey layer of pepper jack cheese throughout.  It was fantastic, as always.

I should mention that we were served a complimentary order of chips and salsa before our meal.  See above for our feelings on this starter.  (I should note that it has never stopped us from eating the entire serving.)

Mom and I decided to split two different things.  We ordered the BBQ Pork Quesadilla ($11.99) sans the diced tomatoes and cole slaw (Mom hates ‘em) and the Fajitas with flame-grilled chicken breast ($13.59). A male waiter brought over our dishes which were both very hot.  The tortillas came in a separate container with a lid to keep them warm.  Everything looked fresh and the quesadilla came out exactly as we asked.  We asked for two extra plates so that we could divide everything up and start eating.

The BBQ Pork Quesadilla was cut into four pieces and accompanied by a serving of shredded lettuce and sour cream (the sour cream had been forgotten but quickly retrieved by our waitress).  The pork – listed as “slow roasted” on the menu – was tender and juicy and tasted great with the cheese baked inside.  The lettuce was fresh and the sour cream was tangy and cool.  We loved it.

The chicken fajitas were great, although we didn’t taste the lime and cilantro marinade that our chicken was supposed to be seasoned with.  The chicken breast was cooked perfectly and was served over Spanish rice (we aren’t fans of rice) with a tray of black olives, pico de gallo, jack and cheddar cheeses, lettuce and sour cream on the side.  Mom and I happily sat at the table making our fajitas to taste and loving every minute of it.

Our total came to $38.12 and we left the restaurant absolutely stuffed.  Sam Diego’s has always been one of my favorite restaurants (click here to view the menu), and this visit did not change my mind in any way. 

Before leaving, we decided to stop and use the ladies room.  It was a mess, which is unfortunate and but expected since this always seems to happen here.

To the owner(s) of Sam Diego’s, we are fans.  However, you may want to take our suggestions (and the suggestions of so many others) into consideration so that you can be back on top where you belong.

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PS – It’s funny … I initially thought we were going to disagree with the Yelpers until I started writing this review.  Still, I gave it four stars on Yelp because that’s what we think Sam’s deserves based on our experiences.

Mattapoisett Chowder House

79 Fairhaven Road
Route 6
Mattapoisett, MA  02739
(508) 758-4782

April 12, 2014

After walking out of a restaurant due to the odd smell, lack of menu items and disgusting cola, Mom and I decided to head to Mattapoisett Chowder House for lunch.  The restaurant had recently closed for a day or so due to financial issues, but we were thrilled when we read about its reopening.  Especially on a day where all we wanted was a tasty seafood meal in a place that didn’t stink.

When we entered the restaurant we were at the fresh fish counter where beautiful fillets and various shellfish were displayed, along with a tank of live lobsters.  We had been to the chowder house a few times before and everything had been fabulous, so we were excited to get down to business.

We were seated at a small booth in the main dining area but chose to relocate to a table in the back by the fireplace.  Our waitress (Tesse) had brought over the two ice waters with lemon that we requested (we were off soda thanks to the other restaurant) along with two pieces of warm cornbread.  The cornbread was very dry, but that’s cornbread for you.  Sometimes it’s dry, sometimes it’s not.

For our meals, Mom decided on the medium size order of New England style fish and chips ($11.99) and we chose a half dozen clam cakes to start ($4.50).  Now for my main meal, I decided to be brave and order a clam roll ($12.99).  Now I’ve never – EVER – had a clam belly before.  The thought of it used to make me sick.  To be honest, I just started eating clam strips a few years ago.  I always had a vision of a chewy piece of belly in my mouth and it always made me want to puke.  However, my aunt Pauline raves about the bellies and has always described them as “tender.”  I decided to give it a shot.

Our clam cakes came out first and they were fantastic.  The breading was lightly crisp and buttery and the dough was soft without being too chewy.  There were plenty of clams throughout, but it was not overstuffed (which we like).  The appetizer came with tartar sauce but I like to dip my clam cakes in white vinegar, so Tesse brought some over.  It was a great starter.

When our plates arrived, they looked amazing.  I was anticipating my clam roll and so was Mom.  She wasn’t sure if I was going to take one bite and hate everything.  This was not the case.  I really enjoyed the bellies and – like my aunt said – they were actually tender!  The clam strips are much chewier than the melt-in-your-mouth bellies, but for me personally, I am not a huge fan of the “fishy” taste of clams.  My bulkie roll was slightly toasted and the fries that came with it were thick with potato. The cole slaw – which I’ve always enjoyed here – was crunchy and had a peppery vinaigrette dressing rather than mayonnaise. Delish.

Mom’s “medium” fish and chip plate came with two large pieces of fish served over a bed of fries and accompanied by a cup of cole slaw. Her New England style batter was light rather than the heavy English style. The fish inside was white and flaky and she enjoyed the fries as well.  She had wanted fish and chips all week and was pleased to finally get her fix at a proper seafood restaurant.

Tesse came over to see if we wanted dessert, but we were both stuffed.  Our total came to $31.32 which was a great price for all the food that was served.  The restroom – like the restaurant itself – was very clean. Click here to view Mattapoisett Chowder House’s large menu of seafood and other items.

Would I try whole clams again?  Yes, but because I don’t love the taste of clams, I’m going to stick with strips.  I love clam chowder and clam cakes, but that’s because the clam taste isn’t overwhelming in either dish.  It’s the same with lobster.  I’m not a fan, but I wouldn’t mind trying things with lobster added in.  That’s just my personal taste, but I would only take a chance on trying new seafood at a place like Mattapoisett Chowder House where they know what they’re doing.  We’ll definitely be back!

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