9 Things You Might Not Know About Moe’s Southwest Grill

The relatively young fast casual restaurant (it's been around since 2000!) focuses on fresh ingredients and a distinct personality.

1. THERE IS NO "MOE."

The name originated as an acronym for “Musicians, Outlaws and Entertainers,” a meaning that’s reflected in the music and music-related artwork at Moe’s restaurants. In 2010, Moe’s even held a contest to scout musician look-alikes (calling for anyone who’s a “dead ringer for a dead rocker”) to be featured in portraits on the walls.

2. MANY OF THE MENU ITEM NAMES ARE POP CULTURE REFERENCES.

Let's give 'em something to taco 'bout #NationalTacoDay

Posted by Moe's Southwest Grill on Sunday, October 4, 2015

You don't have to be well-versed in pop culture side-gags to order from Moe's, but it might add some laughs to your meal. The burritos, tacos, and even salsa names include subtle references to Seinfeld (Art Vandalay), Caddyshack (Billy Barou), and The Usual Suspects (Who is Kaiser Salsa).

3. MOE'S LISTENS TO THEIR CUSTOMERS.

Along with the more recognizable TexMex fare on the menu—like nachos or tacos—Moe’s features the Stack: two crunchy corn tortillas filled with beans, cheese, pico de gallo, Moe’s Famous Queso, and either meat or veggies that are then wrapped in a soft flour tortilla and grilled. The Stack originally debuted in 2011 and was supposed to be a short-lived special. However, a group of dedicated fans created a Facebook page beseeching Moe’s to bring back the Stack. So Moe’s did, re-introducing the item as a permanent feature on the menu in 2012.

4. YOU CAN FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR LUNCH FROM MOE'S.

In addition to the clever food names, Moe’s distinguishes itself from other fast casual restaurants with fresh and healthy ingredients. There are no microwaves, freezers, trans fats, or MSG at Moe’s. The chicken is cage-free and steroid-free, the pork is grain-fed, the steak is grass-fed, and the tofu is organic. There are also over 20 different gluten-free ingredients and the grilled vegetables are prepared on a separate surface from the meat to accommodate vegetarians. 

5. THERE MAY NOT BE ANY FREEZERS IN MOE'S, BUT THERE CAN BE MOE'S IN YOUR FREEZER.

In 2011, Moe’s partnered with BJ’s Wholesale Club to release a line of prepared foods including empanadas, tacos, and even their popular guacamole.

6. MOE'S TAKES ENVIRONMENTALISM SERIOUSLY.

That’s evident in the food they serve but also in the buildings that they serve it out of. In June of 2011, a Moe’s in Williston, Vermont became the first restaurant of any kind in the state to earn an LEED Silver certification. The local franchisees took two years to build a restaurant that makes use of LED lighting, energy efficient cooking equipment, locally-sourced building material, low flow sink aerators, low flow toilets, waterless urinals, and an advanced air conditioning system that should reduce energy consumption up to 22 percent.

A few months later, a location in Atlanta became a 2 Star Certified Green Restaurant®.

7. THEY LET A FAN DESIGN ONE OF THEIR SALSAS.

In 2012, Moe’s had a contest that asked fans to “Raise the Salsa Bar” by submitting their own recipes for expert and fan judgment. The winner was Cheryl Gallowitz, a veterinary technician from Newberry, Fla., who called her creation—popular with friends and family—“Three Bears Salsa.” There’s nothing too outrageous in Three Bears—diced tomato, onion, red pepper, green pepper, tomatillo, cilantro, pickled jalapenos, red wine vinegar, sea salt and lime juice—but that just might be the secret to success.

“I think it just had a lot of ingredients that everyone was familiar with,” Gallowitz said at the time. A year after the contest, Moe’s featured Three Bears Salsa at their restaurants for six months.

8. MOE'S IS GROWING FAST.

Earlier this year, the 15-year-old Moe’s opened its 600th location in Salt Lake City, the first in Utah. With 70 scheduled openings in 2015 alone, that number has long since been surpassed. Also this past year, Moe’s was voted into the top spot for a Mexican food chain by consumers in Restaurant Business Magazine.

9. THERE'S A MOE'S OF THE FUTURE.

It doesn’t have any holograms but it does have charging stations at the tables and a designated line for mobile and online orders. In September, the chain opened their first “Moe’s of the Future” in Roswell, Ga. to serve as a testing ground for layout, culinary offerings, customer service practices and operation procedures without impacting all 600-some restaurants. Other debut upgrades include all-digital menu boards and a larger visible prep area.

12 Strange-But-Real Ice Cream Flavors

ipekata/iStock via Getty Images
ipekata/iStock via Getty Images

I scream, you scream, we all scream for … horse flesh ice cream? Okay, so maybe “we all" don’t. But some people do. A lot of people, in fact. Lobster, foie gras, and ghost pepper, too. Next time you’re craving an ice-cold cone, why not step out of your vanilla/chocolate comfort zone to try one of these 12 strange-but-real ice cream flavors.

1. Horse Flesh

There are two dozen attractions within Tokyo’s indoor amusement park, Namja Town, but it would be easy to spend all of your time there pondering the many out-there flavors at Ice Cream City, where Raw Horse Flesh, Cow Tongue, Salt, Yakisoba, Octopus, and Squid are among the flavors that have tickled (or strangled) visitors' taste buds.

2. Pickled Mango

As one of the country’s most decorated ice cream makers, Jeni Britton Bauer—proprietor of Ohio-based Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams—is constantly pushing the boundaries of unique treats, as evidenced by her lineup of limited edition flavors, including last summer's Pickled Mango (a cream cheese-based ice cream with a slightly spicy mango sauce made of white balsamic vinegar, white pepper, allspice, and clove) and this year's Goat Cheese With Red Cherries.

3. Corn on the Cob

Since opening Max & Mina’s in Queens, New York in 1998, brothers/owners Bruce and Mark Becker have created more than 5000 one-of-a-kind ice cream flavors, many of them adapted from their grandfather’s original recipes. Daily flavor experiments mean that the menu is ever-changing, but Corn on the Cob (a summer favorite), Horseradish, Garlic, Pizza, Lox, and Jalapeño have all made the lineup.

4. Foie Gras

New York City's OddFellows takes the "odd" in its name seriously, and has become synonymous with experimental flavors. Since opening their doors in 2013, they've concocted more than 300 different kinds of the cold stuff—including a Foie Gras varietal.

5. Pear and Blue Cheese

“Salty-sweet” is the preferred palette at Portland, Oregon-based Salt & Straw, where sugar and spice blend together nicely with flavors like Strawberry Honey Balsamic Strawberry With Cracked Pepper and Pear With Blue Cheese, a well-balanced mix of sweet Oregon Trail Bartlett Pears mixed with crumbles of Rogue Creamery's award-winning Crater Lake Blue Cheese. Yum?

6. Ghost Pepper

“Traditional” isn’t the word you’d choose to describe any of the 100 ice cream varieties at The Ice Cream Store in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. They don’t have vanilla, they have African Vanilla or Madagascar Vanilla Bean. But things only get wilder from there, and the shop’s proprietors clearly have a penchant for the spicy stuff. In addition to their Devil's Breath Carolina Reaper Pepper Ice Cream—a bright red vanilla ice cream mixed with cinnamon and a Carolina Reaper pepper mash—there's also the classic Ghost Pepper Ice Cream, which was featured in a Ripley's Believe It or Not book in 2016. Just be warned: you'll have to sign a waiver if you plan to order either flavor.

7. Bourbon and Corn Flake

You never know exactly which flavors will appear as part of the daily-changing lineup at San Francisco’s Humphry Slocombe, but they always make room for the signature Secret Breakfast. Made with bourbon and Corn Flakes, you’d better get there early if you want to try it; it sells out quickly and on a daily basis.

8. Fig and Fresh Brown Turkey

The sweet-toothed scientists at New York City’s Il Laboratorio del Gelato have never met a flavor they didn’t like—or want to turn into an ice cream. How else would one explain the popularity of their Fig & Fresh Brown Turkey gelato, a popular selection among the hundreds flavors they have created thus far. (Beet and Cucumber are just two of their other fascinating flavors.)

9. Lobster

Don’t let the “chocolate” in the title fool you: Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in Bar Harbor, Maine makes the most of The Pine Tree State’s most famous delicacy with its signature Lobster Ice Cream, a butter ice cream-based treat with fresh (again buttered) lobster folded into each bite.

10. Creole Tomato

The philosophy at New Orleans’ Creole Creamery is simple: “Eat ice cream. Be happy.” What’s not as easy is choosing from among their dozens of rotating ice creams, sorbets, sherbets and ices. But only the most daring of diners might want to swap out a sweet indulgence for something that sounds more like a salad, as it the case with the Creole Tomato.

11. Eskimo Ice Cream

If you happen to find yourself in an ice cream shop in Juneau, remember this: Eskimo ice cream—also known as Akutag—is not the same thing as an Eskimo Pie, that chocolate-covered ice cream bar you’ll find in just about any grocery store. Though the statewide delicacy has usually got enough fresh berries mixed in to satisfy one’s sweet tooth, its base is actually animal fat (reindeer, caribou, possibly even whale).

12. Cheetos

Big Gay Ice Cream started out as an experimental ice cream truck and morphed into one of New York City’s most swoon-worthy ice cream shops, where the toppings make for an inimitable indulgence. One of their most unique culinary inventions? A Cheetos-inspired cone, where vanilla and cheese ice cream is dipped in Cheetos dust.

Why Do People Get Ice Cream Headaches?

CharlieAJA, istock/getty images plus
CharlieAJA, istock/getty images plus

Reader Susann writes in to ask, "What exactly is the cause of brain freeze?"

You may know an ice cream headache by one of its other names: brain freeze, a cold-stimulus headache, or sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia ("nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"). But no matter what you call it, it hurts like hell.

Brain freeze is brought on by the speedy consumption of cold beverages or food. According to Dr. Joseph Hulihan—a principal at Paradigm Neuroscience and former associate professor in the Department of Neurology at the Temple University Health Sciences Center, ice cream is a very common cause of head pain, with about one third of a randomly selected population succumbing to ice cream headaches.

What Causes That Pain?

As far back as the late 1960s, researchers pinned the blame on the same vascular mechanisms—rapid constriction and dilation of blood vessels—that were responsible for the aura and pulsatile pain phases of migraine headaches. When something cold like ice cream touches the roof of your mouth, there is a rapid cooling of the blood vessels there, causing them to constrict. When the blood vessels warm up again, they experience rebound dilation. The dilation is sensed by pain receptors and pain signals are sent to the brain via the trigeminal nerve. This nerve (also called the fifth cranial nerve, the fifth nerve, or just V) is responsible for sensation in the face, so when the pain signals are received, the brain often interprets them as coming from the forehead and we perceive a headache.

With brain freeze, we're perceiving pain in an area of the body that's at a distance from the site of the actual injury or reception of painful stimulus. This is a quirk of the body known as referred pain, and it's the reason people often feel pain in their neck, shoulders, and/or back instead of their chest during a heart attack.

To prevent brain freeze, try the following:

• Slow down. Eating or drinking cold food slowly allows one's mouth to get used to the temperature.

• Hold cold food or drink in the front part of your mouth and allow it to warm up before swallowing.

• Head north. Brain freeze requires a warm ambient temperature to occur, so it's almost impossible for it to happen if you're already cold.

This story has been updated for 2019.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER