Nepal Cuisine

by Andrew Woodman on April 17, 2011

4720 Table Mesa Drive
Boulder, Colorado 80305
Nepal Cuisine’s website

Back during my return to Tandoori Grill, I was waiting in line to get their $10 lunch buffet when a fellow line waiter said to my roommate Will that “this is the best Indian buffet in Colorado,” and that he drives down all the way from Loveland just to eat it.  Turns out he’s wrong, and he does that drive frequently to end up just blocks away from a clearly better Indian (well, Himalayan) buffet: Nepal Cuisine.

Although I got the dinner buffet [$13.95 — $1 off for students], they also have a cheaper and slightly more limited lunch buffet [$9.95 — $1 off for students].  The buffet was filled with several veggie and meat options, which you can see in my plate below:

So I’m going to tell you about my the food I ate starting with the samosa at the 3 o’clock position of the plate and going clockwise.  Unintentionally this first half of my plate is all vegetarian, but I guess that’s thanks to the natural order of the buffet.

I liked the samosa because it was just a classic, crunchy on the outside yet fluffy on the inside samosa… The inside was just really consistent, too, and I liked that opposed to the chunky kind of inside.

The big green pile of saag paneer really just made me feel like a Himalayan version of Popeye, except I wasn’t eating it straight out of a can, and it’s not as surprising since the creamy, subtly spiced spinach leaves are deliciously irresistable.

That really big chip looking thing sticking off the plate is just that, padad, which is basically a thin, crunchy lentil based chip.

Upon first sight the “vegetable pakora” just looked like a potato latka.  It was pretty much just that with an assortment of vegetables (I really couldn’t put an ID to them) and spiced up Indian style.

The next one they had labeled as “potatoes & green beans” which I thought was super clever because it was actually just that, but guess what…? SPICED UP INDIAN STYLE! This one was one of my favorites, and the potatoes had that perfect yellow tint of spices soaked all the way through it, which made each bite so soft and flavorful.


Now we’re getting to the meats, which is what Popeye should have eaten to get stronger, since protein helps replenish muscle, not spinach.


The lamb vindaloo was my favorite thing on that plate.  The meat was really tender and full of the curry sauce’s flavor, which had a deep curry flavor with a slight tanginess that lead to it’s spiciness.  It was a good series of events, except when I went to get more from the buffet, they were out.  I checked again and again, and they were still out.  And yes, this is the reason for the half-star deduction.

The chicken curry was a pretty good alternate choice for those trying to avoid  a slight mouth fire.  Just a classic creamy yellow curry with chicken that literally fell apart when you just touched it with a fork.

Next and last is the tandoori chicken, which was equally as moist as the rest of the meats, but slightly crisped up.  The spices were perfect, and the grilled onions that accompanied them really just put a fantastic finishing touch to my breath.


Because they are the same distance from my house, are roughly the same price for a lunch buffet, and because Nepal Cuisine even offers a dinner buffet, I will always choose Nepal Cuisine over Tandoori Grill.  It is those reasons, and the fact that I want to say to people in line, “this is the best Himalayan buffet in Colorado, I drive all the way from 4 blocks away to get it.”


Black Cat Bistro

by Hayley Hudson on April 16, 2011

1964 13th St / Menu

Food at Black Cat Bistro comes straight off Black Cat Farm, which is located just outside Boulder. Chef Skokan picks up goods from his property daily, then cooks dishes with complex layers of fresh flavor.

Salmon Potato Latke

We shared this appetizer to start, and I could tell you what it is–two perfectly moist potato latkes accompanied by smoked salmon and a spinach puree–but I couldn’t identify what exactly made this taste so flawless. Liberal use of butter is my only inkling, but that unidentifiable, extra special “something” is usually what reveals the presence of a seriously talented chef. They have more tricks up their sleeves than the rest.

Juxtaposition of Duck

I ordered juxtaposition of duck, which further illustrates the complexities of the dishes here, because even though a whole lotta duck sat on my plate, the two types were distinctly different sensory experiences. A crispy duck leg was topped with tender, medium-rare duck breast and neighbored by quinoa, root vegetables, and spinach. Everything swam in a bit of broth, and I had to pause at several points to take note of the way flavors would slowly build on one another, like a Gobstopper candy, but buttery.

Despite the farm fare, Black Cat Bistro isn’t a barnyard. The atmosphere is upscale and the restaurant houses a confident and professional waitstaff with a deep knowledge of the dishes they serve–they clearly don’t hire just any student who happens to need a part-time job. At tables along the wall, guests sit in black couches instead of booths, which adds cozy elegance to the interior.

From the farm to the table, Black Cat artfully serves up the best. It’s slightly pricier than most Boulder restaurants, but worth the splurge for a well-executed meal.

Crepes To Go-Go

by Andrew Woodman on April 14, 2011

1326 College Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80302

This place is literally “to go,” as in even when it’s snowy and rainy outside, you have to carry your warm crepe and seek shelter to enjoy it.

I have to give it to them, this kitchen is manned by one person at a time, which is impressive if you’re the only customer in there.  Each crepe takes about 5 minutes from when you order it to when it’s handed to you (in a holster made out of a paper plate and a paper cup—some engineering! It actually works like a charm.)  It’s pretty quick… but since there is only one person working there, the lady couldn’t even take the order of the person behind me until she was completely done making my crepe.  Luckily, I was first.  If there were more than 2 people when I got there I probably would have just left.

I ordered a Turkey Corso [$5.80], which consisted of mozzarella cheese, super market packaged roasted turkey breast, tomato, some kind of poor excuse for “avocado,” and honey mustard.  The only ingredient that was fresh was the tomato, and the ingredients in general were applied to the crepe in a pretty measly portion, which is why you can barely tell what’s inside in the picture below. Although it was by no means stuffed with the savory ingredients I ordered, the actual crepe itself was soft and slightly sweet, with a crisp to the outside—pretty perfect.


Aside from the fresher ingredients I have at home, the very low ingredient to crepe ratio, and the high potential for a good wait, my savory crepe was a pretty good, yet modest snack that could get me through my day of classes.  Of course, it kind of defeats the purpose of “to go” if there is a wait…


The Buff Restaurant

by Andrew Woodman on April 12, 2011

1725 28th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80301
The Buff website

Adam Richman from Man v. Food describes the dilemma perfectly: “do I order pancakes, or eggs and bacon?”  The Buff has an even better solution: neither, you order Saddlebags.

With your choice of breakfast meat mixed into pancake batter, The Buff will give you two stacks and two eggs on top—you pick the style.  Oh and, of course there’s butter, too.  I got my Saddlebags [$9] with bacon and over easy eggs.  All of these were recommendations of my Saddlebag connoisseur cousin, so I trusted her opinion in my first experience.

After popping open the yolks and spreading it everywhere, then soaking the entire thing in maple syrup the Saddlebags feature one of my favorite combos: the sweet + the salty.  After attempting to finish this thing, I was seriously food drunk.  It could easily satisfy two fairly hungry people.

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The Buff is a very attractive place for the hungover people who want an atmosphere that is a bit classier than The Village.  If you come to The Buff, it’s not only the hardy yet creative breakfast foods that will cure you, but maybe their Mimosa or a Bloody Mary [both ¢99] could help do the trick.  Instead, I resorted to an Americano to give me a jump start before class.




by Hayley Hudson on April 11, 2011

1905 29th Street / Menu

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill is to Mediterranean food as Chipotle is to Mexican food. You’ll find a few basic ways to build your meal–among them a pita, salad, or plate–and a seemingly endless assembly line of fresh offerings to pile on top. Spring for the laffa, a wrap that uses a tortilla-like “flour round” to hold its insides together, and you have yourself  a Mediterranean burrito.

I knew I wanted Falarma, a Garbanzo-invented term for falafel plus chicken or steak, and per a staff recommendation, I ordered the plate so I could sample each component of my meal without losing anything in the mix.

Although I took the right approach for letting the individual flavors shine, things still got lost in the mix–physically. The deeper I dug in, the more surprises surfaced, and I found that anything could be lurking underneath a slab of grilled eggplant or a pile of fluffy, sweetly spiced rice.

“Falarma” Plate

This “plate” (actually a bowl) contained Falarma, lettuce, a salad of cucumber, tomato, and onion, seasoned rice, red cabbage, hummus, red chilli sauce, grilled eggplant, and pickled eggplant, which brought my creation’s total eggplant count to a solid two. Rarely does a meal contain more than one variation of the egg-shaped vegetable, and had I ordered babaganoush, mine would have had three types.

Just for fun, if someone held a gun to my head and forced me to choose only one eggplant dish, I would go with pickled eggplant. If someone asked me the same question calmly, I would also go with pickled eggplant. Here’s a closer look at the pickled eggplant since it’s quite buried in the photo above.

Don’t question the vibrant red color. Instead, enjoy the salty, tangy bounty, and imagine how much the world would improve were more things pickled. Once that’s done, keep digging through your massive bowl of goodies. This place serves up a lot of food! Of course, the fact that I ordered every menu item (except the babaganoush) probably contributed to the excess.

If pickled eggplant just doesn’t seem exciting, know that the “normal” parts of my meal–soft pita, pillowy rice, spicy chilli sauce, creamy hummus–also tasted great, even if I couldn’t always locate them.

Sushi Tora

by Andrew Woodman on April 10, 2011

2014 10th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302
Sushi Tora’s website

Their claim is “Boulder’s Best Sushi.”  Such puffery should fool no one, as Zanmai is clearly the best.  While I enjoyed most of my meal at Tora, I can still think of at least one thing that was wrong with every plate that came to our table.  A list seems appropriate:

These soy bean pods usually come out hot or chilled after being boiled in salted water, plated, and then salted again.  Thankfully, Sushi Tora’s edamame came out hot, but they weren’t only overcooked, they lacked any salt except a small useless clump on top.  Talk about mushy blandness, this is the poster child:

agedashi tofu:
Agedashi tofu is easily the best kind of tofu: fried.  It sits in a bath of traditional Japanese ingredients that make up a delicious soupy base, which you then eat together with  one of those big Asian-style soup spoons.  Sushi Tora did this pretty well, but although the tofu was cooked pretty perfectly, the fried batter was not.  I expected a crunch before getting to the healthy part, but instead sometimes it was more of just a slimy layer…  This was a pretty unappetizing characteristic for this appetizer.

nigiri plate #1—tamago, salmon, tuna and yellow tail:
Tamago is a sweet eggy cake “omelet.” Although it sounds weird, it’s actually one of my favorite things to order at a sushi restaurant.  Sushi Tora offers extremely large pieces of tamago, and that generosity made me happy; however, the tiny piece of seaweed holding it all together wasn’t doing a very good job, and this preparation made it very awkward to eat.  It made me enter that mentality where I thought: “This place seems fancy so should I keep trying to use my chopsticks? Or should I try and use my hands?”  Hands it was.  Even though eating nigiri with your hands is technically “O.K.” it still seems wrong.

The salmon and tuna were good, but the yellow tail is another story.  The yellow tail made me think twice about how this fish got all the way to Colorado, and was still “fresh.”  It tasted actually fishy, a big no-no for sushi.  Shit ain’t fresh! Not only that, one of my fishy yellow tail bites was interrupted by something hard in the (what was supposed to be) tender flesh.  That made me skeptical of the sushi chef’s ability…

caterpillar roll:
This is a freshwater eel + cucumber roll with avocado wrapped around it and a sweetened, reduced soy sauce drizzled on top.  The seaweed beneath the avocado didn’t wrap around the entire roll, which again made it a task to get the piece of roll to your mouth before it fell apart.  With the tamago practice, I was more adapted and successful this time.  The presentation was impeccably cute, which made it even more delicious to eat (notice octopus sucker eyes):

nigiri plate #2—unagi:
Unagi is easily my favorite sushi to order, and the pieces Sushi Tora served to us on this plate were just really confusing.  The freshwater eel on top was extremely hot, while the rice on bottom was extremely cold.  This polarized temperature was not the only weird and unacceptable thing that this dish featured, but the edges of the unagi pieces were extremely sharp, and were a near danger to the inside of my mouth.

smoked salmon or something (?):
A sushi chef at the bar was very nice and gave us a free salmon dish.  I guess he saw me taking a lot of pictures or something, maybe? Not only was this thing full of tiny fish bones that made it difficult to eat, but the taste of it was actually nauseating.  I’m not sure if it was overcooked, too smokey, or what… but all I know is that it made me feel awkward to receive a complimentary dish that actually made me want to barf.  I tried to avoid eye contact with the chef who handed it to me so he didn’t have to wonder why I wasn’t eating it.  My cousin Bree was significantly braver than me, taking several bites of the weird salmon before she decided that it nauseated her, too.


The idea of a fancy sushi restaurant is clearly there, but the execution of the actual sushi (and other food) is definitely not.  I’d much rather be at the less fancy Sushi Zanmai, who actually know what they are doing with their food.



by Hayley Hudson on April 8, 2011

4500 N Broadway St

I like when the name of a restaurant mimics what it serves because it lets you know you’re in for an authentic experience. In fact, one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten came from a place called “Indian Food,” where I ate excellent …. Indian food. The formula never fails, so if you go to Pupusas, I recommend trying a pupusa.

I did.


Cornmeal forms the base of the dish, so it’s like a big flat tamale that I’m fairly certain is cooked up in a whole bunch of lard. Like I said, authentic–and ultimately, delicious. They can be stuffed with all sorts of ingredients, from vegetables to meats and cheeses. I chose bean and chicarrón, which felt true to the nature of the place, though I could have taken it further and sprang for the lengua (that’s tongue, if you’re not versed in español). Maybe next time.

Pupusas makes it really easy to order a la carte, which I loved. I like variety, and I don’t always feel like committing to the huge pile of rice and beans that accompanies combination plates.

Tacos; Tamale

Neither my friend nor I had ever seen a tamale like the one pictured on the right. At first glance, we thought that certainly, it had to be a burrito. Why didn’t it look squished? Where was the corn husk? Well, the fluffy cornmeal we dug into confirmed that we had a true tamale on our hands, and my preconceived notions of what a tamale should be were shattered.

Our tacos are on the left. Mine was barbacoa, and while the meat tasted great, the corn tortilla was the real star. Corn tortillas sometimes dry out and fall apart easily, but mine bent in any direction I wanted it to with no signs of cracking. I could have wrapped a birthday gift with one, should I have gotten that urge, and while we’re on the subject, I’ll go ahead and formally request ten corn tortillas from Pupusas for my next birthday. All interested parties are welcome to send. November. 23.

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Basically, this place does some amazing things with cornmeal and lard that are worth investigating, and as a bonus, their dining room has a fountain. It doesn’t work, but it’s filled with Tootsie rolls.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries

by Andrew Woodman on April 7, 2011

1143 13th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80302
Five Guys menu

warning: if you have a peanut allergy, stay the hell away. seriously.

I don’t want to imagine the beginnings of Five Guys Burgers & Fries any other way than this:

5 best friends who all share a love for hamburgers and french fries get together and work in a kitchen that happens to be decorated only with red and white tiles.  They pump out burgers solely from their enjoyment of the process and their passionate love for the food.  They are having the time of their lives. Then one day out of no where, a man comes from the future and tells them that they must open restaurants in order to save the world. The 5 best friends have a meeting, and decide to do just that, and one after another they all quote Barney Stinson played by Neil Patrick Harris from How I Met Your Mother—”it’s gonna be legendary!”

This video pretty much sums up those 5 exclamations.

Truth be told, it is pretty legendary.  And the teamwork in the kitchen is pretty fun to watch, especially when waiting in the lengthy line of numbers full of people who will get to enjoy their food before you.  Each station—register, potato cutting, french frying, burger patties, burger prep, etc.—has it’s own distinguished features that probably come along with a good amount of stress due to the Hill’s hectic overload of customers.

Granted I went on the first day they opened, I waited in line for about 5 minutes.  I’m not a patient waiter, ever, but when I was in line there were a few things that caught my eye, and entertained me enough to help pass the time.  Giant sacks of Idaho potatoes, giant boxes of peanut oil*, and free peanuts* to munch on while deciding your order.  Pretty neat, check it:

After all of that potato/peanutty fun, I ordered a Cheeseburger [$5.79] with lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, grilled onions, and grilled mushrooms.  You order a naked burger and choose from a list of toppings, even the essentials like lettuce.  But get this: all the toppings are FREE! Even the classy ones like grilled mushrooms, grilled onions. Awesome.  I also ordered Regular Fries [$2.69]… Besides its irresistible rhyme it makes out of the restaurant’s name, I couldn’t stop myself after eyeing those fresh potato sacks for so long.  After I was done ordering I saw my first quirk of teamwork: the register dude shouted “TWO PATTIES!!” but in a way that I could almost not understand what he was saying.  That’s right, each burger has two thin patties. /^_^\

Sadly I couldn’t find mine, but here are the burgers as they get topped at the topping station (teamwork woo hoo!):

When I got my food, it was put into a paper bag.  My burger was on the bottom with the cup of fries on top.  When I stuck my hand in to get my burger out, I tried not to spill the fries, but it was pretty much inevitable that it would happen.  My hand came out greasy, but gripping a delicious feeling burger (yeah, it felt delicious).  The process of getting my burger out of the bag caused me to squish it slightly, which pissed me off, but I remedied it and everything was A-OK.  The burger was fantastic.  Here it is just as I unwrapped the foil:

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The fries were pretty good, a little soft for my liking, but still good.  My only objective problems with the fries were that they made it difficult to get my burger out of the bag, they made my hand all greasy, and there were way too many of them. I paid nearly $3 on fries that I couldn’t even finish a third of, and would have rather had the choice of getting a smaller order for cheaper.  Here are the copious amounts of fries.

But wait! There’s more!


Even with the bagging dilemma, I must say Five Guys is pretty legendary. The only reason I wouldn’t go to Five Guys to get a burger on the Hill is if there was an In ‘N Out next door.  One day… one day…


PS: If any more restaurants on the Hill start excluding my nut-allergin-friend Will by using peanut oil on everything, I’MA BEAT THEM UP!



by Hayley Hudson on April 7, 2011

825 Walnut St / menu

When I saw that this Tibetan establishment houses itself in, well, a house, I couldn’t help but feel enamored.  However, good looks alone cannot (usually) sustain a courtship, so I had to explore further before I could let myself fall in love.

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The place we were seated felt spacious but intimate. Instead of one large room filled with tables, the house’s layout distributed the dining space throughout smaller enclaves. Dare I say it had a romantic effect? Everyone surrounding us seemed to be there on a date, and when you factor in my date with Sherpa’s, it couldn’t be denied that a lot of wooing was taking place.

It executed its first move flawlessly when a server brought out Pappadum, one of my favorite Indian/Nepalese appetizers. They aren’t soft, buttery, and fluffy like naan, but cracker-like instead, drawing their flavor from aromatic cumin seeds. Dipping sauce comes in spicy, sweet, and creamy varieties, and the plate arrives free with every meal.


We were in the mood to drink wine. After sipping some Malbec, a red with fruity notes that’s smooth but not as sweet as Syrah, the restaurant became even more attractive to me. As we all know, tasty alcoholic beverages are sometimes key to successfully winning someone over. So far, so good.


For my entree I ordered Lamb Chilli, which bore traces of cumin and cloves, but combined these softer spices with an intense chilli pepper kick. As Usher so eloquently reminds us all, it’s important to strike a balance between sweet and hot. The Lamb Chilli is a lady on the street but a freak in the bed.

Lamb Chilli

During the day, the place becomes a casual lunch spot with great student specials, but at night it has more than a few suave tricks up its sleeve. Here I am a few days later with my meal still on my mind.

Well played, Sherpa’s.


Café Aion (happy hour)

by Andrew Woodman on April 5, 2011

1235 Pennsylvania Avenue
Boulder, Colorado 80302
Café Aion’s website

HAPPY HOURS: Tuesday all night, Wed-Sat from 5-6:30pm & 10-11pm
warning: heavy use of peanut oil

Tapas! Woohoo!

It must be hard for Boulder’s very own Burnt Toast to rest in peace with such an amazing establishment taking it’s place.  Although… with an executive chef coming from The Kitchen, a vintage-esque sign honoring the bookstore that used to be there long ago, and food & drink that are excitingly delectable, Café Aion does a pretty solid job in honoring this precious, relatively upscale Hill location.

It’s pretty weird that a restaurant located on the Hill can attract such a crowd of young professional foodies who come off as intimidating because eating at Café Aion is probably a step down from their normal Pearl Street dining ventures… but they are still there enjoying the excellent food fare that Aion has to offer, and are coping with their proximity to student life in order to do so.

My roommates and I happened to come here during Café Aion’s 1st birthday (April 2), and also during that day’s happy hour. Because of this, our meal was full of deals.  To my pal Will’s misfortune, every fried item on the menu is done so in peanut oil*, and he has a nut allergy… Aside from that, everything we ordered was a deal in some way or another.  I want to lay them out in all their awesomeness for you, so here you go:

I got the Aion Sangria [$5 happy hour].  It was delicious and beautiful… and even though it lacked actual fruit chunks besides an orange wedge, it still had that sweet fruity sangria flavor that I was hoping for.  Other drinks at our table were a House Infused Aion Bloody Mary w/ Aion Bacon [$5 happy hour], an Aion Margarita [$5 happy hour], and the local Avery Karma brew [$2 birthday special].  I’m not a huge tomatoe juice fan, but I had a sip of the Will’s Bloody Mary and actually enjoyed it (the bacon garnish was a pretty trendy addition, too).  I didn’t taste Matt’s margarita, but he describes it as “just incredibly brisk and smooth, but still strong… went down like lemonade.”  After my sangria, I had one of those Avery Karmas, which tasted like a typical, ideal beer.  If beer only had one category, it would be an Avery Karma.

potato chips [$2]*
Semi-thick potato slices fried in peanut oil, then seasoned with smoked paprika + cumin.  They had an extremely satisfying crunch.  The smoke paprika + cumin flavors came through as they were described on the menu; however, the salt was pretty heavy and slightly stole some of the flavor stage. GREEDY SALT!  Still awesome though, especially because they were the same color as the table. Neat.

fried cauliflower [$4]*
Even though all of things I ordered were my favorite, I have to give special attention to this cauliflower dish, as it was one of my favorites : )  The cauliflower tasted amazing by its-peanut-oil-fried-self. It has a light crunch to the outside, but a nice moist feeling to the inside, and when dipped in the the cumin + saffron spiced yogurt really, and slightly drizzled with some lemon juice, it’s really something tasty. Seriously… get this.

toasted coriander hummus [$3]
The Aion hummus is exceptional.  It had the perfect combo of smooth and airy, yet there were some chickpea chunk that gave it enough texture to have its own personality.  To help activate my keen human flavor detectors I opened and closed my lips rapidly while clicking my tongue against the roof of my mouth, and the coriander still wasn’t there.  I only had a small taste though, and because the hummus was damn good I’ll just say, “keep bein’ yourself.”

moroccan spiced pork sliders [$4]
This dish was an easy winner, and its parents should be real proud.  I expected hamburger-style sliders, but thats not what I got.  The sandwich-style was a unique thing to label a “slider,” but the juicy flavorful pulled pork really came through to not make me give two craps about sandwich nomenclature.  When I was eating it, I admit I mistaked the creamy spread as some kind of aioli, when really it was a spiced yogurt.  Either way, the “sliders” are insane.

chicken wings [$4]*
These are some 3-step wings, which means they are fried (peanut oil*), a sauce is made, and then they are coated in that sauce.  I’m not sure what the sauce was, but my mouth confirmed that it was the right sauce.  The lemon mixed with yogurt on the side offered a refreshing flavor and texture to the greasy crunch, making for some awesome wings.  Just wish I had a wet wipe for my greasy fingers.

Not that I have a lot to say about them, but these olives are really pretty:


Some other things to keep your eyes open for are the platters to share, like the half chicken [$20], or the Wednesday night deal of paella + bottle of wine [$35].  Maybe a bit of the snobbery brought on by a heavy young professional scene that makes up a big portion of the restaurants crowd can be brought back to earth by the $35 special turning into a wine-chugging, paella-eating contest.  Next Wednesday night with Adam Richman from Man v. Food? Please? You never know.

Café Aion is a great place if you like the quality that most expensive restaurants offer. You can get that same “expensive,” creative style in form of smaller tapas, try however much of the menu you want, and still have enough money to eat for the rest of the week without surviving on rice and beans (and if you are lucky, some salsa).