The following Google reviews you are about to read are real. All of these places have been reviewed by me after visiting them, and fairly, for the people of The Google Corporation. My stunning work as a freelance critic has earned me level 5 status. There are only 15 levels. I have been singled out and awarded a free movie coupon by the people of The Google Corporation for the wonder and relevance of my unpaid criticism. I haven’t used it yet. I’m saving it for Mary Poppins. None of the names or typos have been changed to protect anybody.

 

FRY’S ELECTRONICS

This place is the golden goose of electronics. They have everything. They have stuff you didn’t know was real yet. Most of the employees know what they’re talking about and can answer questions about these technologies you’ve only dreamt of. They have wires and all kinds of things. This place is set up like an Old West corral, or a square dance hall or a ranch or something. It’s a real theme place. The theme is savings, because you will pay more if you go to Best Buy, and I guarantee Best Buy won’t look like an early 1990s LAN party come to life. It really looks like Jurassic Park Ground Control in there. Like a square-dance Jurassic Park. These are the people you want helping you with your computer. I’m talking about your older brother’s Star Trek High School friends, remember? With the hair and skin problems? Remember the one who started going bald at 18? That guy works here, and he’s a genius. Don’t go anywhere else, because you won’t find what you’re looking for, and that is my promise. Five stars.

 

NEWK’S EATERY

This is a delightful Italian restaurant. Not Italian like big bowls of hot pasta and saucy meat, this is lighter fare, like lunch and supper eat-with-your-hands options. Like a deli, but with other stuff. Noodles, you know. This food is good, too. It actually tastes like real Italian people might eat it and say things like, “Yes” and “That’s right.” I like to eat The Italian Sandwich. This is a sandwich with all kinds of hot Italian meat, cheeses, peppers, crispy Italian bread, sauce, and Italian spices. Onions. Pepperocinis. They have a toppings bar with large jars of peppers, garlic, pickled things, and breadsticks for free. (They are like very long, skinny crackers in a package of about 10. Not hot for dipping in oil, like you may be thinking. Still very crunchy and delicious with a banana pepper.) The service is warm and kind. They won’t kick you out if you go in and it’s almost time to close. I wish I was there right now. I wish I was eating The Italian Sandwich right now. Plenty of sauce. Five stars.

 

CHUY’S

Chuy’s is the Garden of Eden of Mexican food, and you will eat all the snakes you can. (It is not a buffet house.) The snake is enchiladas. The Tree of Knowledge is the happy hour beef trough. The knowledge is hot cheese. Get ready. Chuy’s has its own flavor. The flavor is salt and jalapenos. They put it on everything. If you go to Chuy’s, you will meet Elvis. He is not alive, settle down. He is on everything, and t-shirts. And you will see his face in a tortilla, like Mother Mary. Call the news station. They are obsessed with Elvis at Chuy’s. I mean Elvis Presley, not Elvis Costello. There is a foreign-themed restaurant that is obsessed with Elvis Costello, but it is Italian food. Chuck E Cheese is obsessed with Elvis Costello. And they have attractions. The attractions are 8-foot robotic mice and the stegosaurus. They play in a animatronic mouse/dinosaur jug band called Jackie and The Nightmares. Pyrotechnics. Chuy is better because it is a place of dreams coming true, if your dream was about endless beef. Go there today and start living, friend. This is Flavor Country. The flavor is salt and jalapenos. Four stars.

 

MICHAELS CRAFT STORE

“Michaels” does not sell refrigerated black forest ham pieces. Don’t go in there expecting bread pieces or a fine salad bar, either. Yes. I would be lying to you if I said to you that the stuff they sell at “Michaels” isn’t food. It is. But it isn’t very good food. Unless you like to eat paint and large picture frames. Or Twizzlers. Twizzlers they sell at the check-out as an impulse buy. More like “re-pulse” buy, gross. Twizzlers are the acrylic paint of candy. Also, this place sells holiday stuff four months before the holiday takes place. If you do not wish to see a Dracula or The Wolfman and Skeleton dancing with Uncle Sam and Mr. Menorah on Valentine’s, then stay away from this restaurant immediately. They also make up fake holidays just to sell me some more paint I have to eat. Four stars.

 

IHOP

We waited half an hour for our orders to be taken by the young man. We waited an additional hour for the food to arrive. The place was not crowded. Three other tables were seated, served, tended and turned before we saw pancake one. There was an entire, large green pepper top half and stem in my fried chicken sandwich. I was almost choked by it. The bacon was presented soggy, then sent back, then returned burnt—the ultimate irony. The fried chicken sandwich was dripping with sauce, no question, but that was the only jewel in this crown of pure international disappointment. Our meal was comped by the manager after a complaint was firmly yet tastefully lodged. The young man who was our waiter was as accommodating and apologetic as anyone who had just learned how to drive a car could be. And we were kind to him—despite his clearly overwhelming incompetence—for, though slighted by his employer’s gross negligence, it could be said that, in the words of Dante, “…our spirit, which had left us, returned.” One star.

 

TACO CASA

“Taco Casa” simply means “House of the Meat Suitcase” in Spanish. In French, it roughly translates to, “Meat Mouth House of One Thousand Grease Meats.” In ancient China, tacos were used as paper. All you really need to know is that, at this place, the suitcases are large, and filled with hot meat bites for your mouth. The tacos here are pretty greasy, but they are good and large, and filled with plenty of meat. Cheese, lettuce, sauce, you know the drill. When I look at a taco from Taco Casa, I whisper, “Que lindo eres,” which is followed by a wink of my left eye. It is true what they say in ancient China: “Taco Casa is for lovers.” I hope they mean lovers of fine tacos, because I eat here by myself usually. The sauce amount is adequate. Yes, Virginia, there is a restroom and wheelchair accessible parking. Except at this taco house, it is called Nachos del Baños. Three stars.

 

CICIS PIZZA

“United In Uniqueness” is painted on the wall of this Cicis Pizza. The thinking person postulates: If uniqueness is a uniting commonality, none are truly unique. Commonality is the very antonym of uniqueness. The brainless, contradictory adjective phrase failure of all miserable, brainless, contradictory adjective phrase failures. Thank you, Cicis Dregs Of Humanity Pizza Buffet. The dollar-and-a-half price increase your board decided to gouge from your already poverty-stricken clientele since last pure desperation brought me to your greasy depression trough over a year ago for sustenance surely went toward their Mensa dues. Extra kudos for rebranding out that pesky, elitist (and what Chomsky The Pedantic Asshole would probably call “absolutely necessary”) apostrophe from your company name’s logo. Please inform the many other Cicis associated with your illiterate diabetes conglomerate that I noticed and appreciated this shrewd push for total brain atrophy. Most importantly, thank you for filling my hemorrhaging mind, body, and soul with doughy hog semen and for the instant and inhuman regret I experienced upon exiting the Hellmouth of your debauchmentmongering obesity junglescape of pure Italian garbage nightmares and muttering to myself with a groan, out loud, “If I only had one free time travel voucher, I’d use it to go back and stop myself from going to the pizza buffet. I wouldn’t kill Hitler. I’d use it only to stop myself from eating the pizza. I don’t care if I go to Hell for my unthinkable selfishness. I hate myself more than I hate Hitler. God in Heaven, I’m so sorry.” This is truly where Anthony Bourdain ate his last meal. One star.

 

AGUIRRE’S TEX-MEX RESTAURANT

Imagine yourself in Mexico. I mean really down in there, where the flavors are fresh, exciting and unsuspected and the culture grows from a tradition of passion and authenticity. Now you’re inside Aguirre’s Tex-Mex Restaurant. Imagine you’re in Manhattan. You see a tiny place carved into the cityscape, bustling with attractive locals and glowing with warm neon light seduction. There’s an aquarium in the window with a single, massive sea fish of more colors and sparkling medallions than the very rainbow itself not even swimming around, just hovering blimp-like in the water, making St. Joseph himself tearfully displeased with his own lacklustre coat and looking right deep into your hypnotized eyeballs—her gaze is a dare to come inside. To where the fine smells are. She winks at you. “Honey, didn’t The New Yorker write something excellent about this place in Tables for Two?” you ask without breaking the intimate gaze of the mystery siren fish of your childhood sopapilla fantasies. “Yeah, I think so,” says whoever it is you’re with. (They are long forgotten and might have even ceased to be, except for their verbal confirmation of the review you read a while ago in some New Yorker.) You go inside. You bathe in desire, having instantly fallen straight into the carnival dunk tank of pure, zesty smells. The giant fish leaps out of the aquarium and shapeshifts into Santa Claus. Now you’re inside Aguirre’s Tex-Mex Restaurant. You will never expect or anywhere else taste the ingredient festival of these family recipes. Pineapple butter. Nutmeg. White wine. Saffron. Lemon mint. Dove tears. Sage, rosemary and thyme. Listen to Simon & Garfunkle and Prince. They know where to eat. Aguirre’s Tex-Mex Restaurant. Their sauce array belongs on commemorative stamps which splash the hungry tongue with flavor when licked. They await you with smiles. You wink back at the fish and whisper, “Que lindo eres.” Five stars.

 

TEXAS ROADHOUSE

Yee-harr! Come on down to the Texas Road House Of Noise! The Yee-harrinest, boot-scootinest, scoot-horse-inest, dang-blastedest, noise-noisiest noise factory this side of the Pecos! Where the jean shorts are tight as horse grins, the gravy flows like the mighty Pecos, the chicken steaks are fried in pure Nascar lube, rattlesnakes are the mayor, the women are seven feet tall, the men can fit their whole fists inside their very mouth holes to scare away the mayor, the hats hold more gallons of pure hog grease than the mighty Pecos, the moustaches grow prouder with every Nascar lap, the carpet is peanut waste, the Pecos is crawling with stray, noisy children, and the children and babies are encouraged to SCREAM AS INHUMANLY LOUD AS OH MY GOD POSSIBLE! If your body is looking to fill its salt, grease, beefsteak or noise quota, this here is sure dad-blasted the ding-dang place to come! And bring the li’l pardners along with yeh. BUT ONLY IF YOU TEACH THEM TO SCREAM EVEN LOUDER THAN THE WAITSTAFF! Yeeeeee-haaaarr!! Three stars.

 

ORLANDO’S PIZZA

So I’m eating a homemade pizza (which actually tastes like it was made from the shingles of somebody’s home) at Orlando’s “Famous” Truck Stop “Pizza” Parlour—which is quaintly swamp-nestled just close enough to the dirty freeway to still hear the rumbling traffic, but deep enough into Leatherface territory that you wonder what the meatballs are made of—when I hear a familiar Garth Brooks hit through the speakers. I’ve heard it a thousand times, but now, for whatever reason, I finally pay attention to the lyrics. My brow furrows. I drop my half-eaten shingle. I slowly look up and say, out loud, “Mother of God, has this catchy and popular country/western song always been about the brutal, premeditated murder of an adulterous wife by her jealous husband in front of her own children whose body is then thrown into the bed of a diesel truck and driven to a waiting, empty grave?” The parlour is silent. All eyes laser beam to my lonely table under the speaker where I sit stunned and instantly exposed. “Yes,” says Garth Brooks, who is now suddenly behind me eating a whole pepperoni log. (Then I thank him for finally taking all country/western songs to their logical conclusion.) When I regained consciousness, I was behind the wheel of my car. The moon was bright. How long had I been driving. How long would I drive. One star.