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.

3 Delicious Mac and Cheese Dishes You Need to Try

A mac and cheese burger
A mac and cheese burger
Mental Floss Video

Is there a more comforting comfort food than macaroni and cheese? If you love mac and cheese—and wish you could include it in every meal—these recipes are for you. Chef Frank Proto, Director of Culinary Operations at the Institute of Culinary Education, has cooked up three creative recipes that use macaroni and cheese as their main ingredient. For a cheesier cookout, try Chef Frank’s fried mac and cheese burger buns; for more upscale dinners, try the mac and cheese stuffed peppers; and for a perfect party appetizer, we recommend the bacon-wrapped mac and cheese. These recipes transform the classic comfort food in surprising ways—and they’re perfect for revitalizing leftover mac and cheese.

Chef Frank's Classic Mac & Cheese Recipe

Ingredients:

1 Box Elbow Pasta
4 ounces (8 tablespoons) butter
3-4 tablespoons flour
4-5 cups milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 pound American cheese
1 pound cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook elbow pasta to desired doneness.
  2. Heat butter in a sauce pot over medium heat.  Add the flour until you get a wet sand consistency. 
  3. Cook over low for 3-4 minutes stirring frequently. 
  4. Add the milk and the garlic and let come to a simmer. 
  5. Lower the heart and let cook for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Add the both cheeses and whisk until combined.
  7. Add the cooked pasta and coat well. 

Mac & Cheese Burger Buns Recipe

Ingredients:

Macaroni and Cheese
2 Eggs
1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Bread Crumbs
Burger Patty
Lettuce
Tomatoes
Condiments (ketchup or mustard)
Vegetable Oil

Instructions:

  1. Refrigerate mac & cheese for two hours.
  2. Use a ramekin or a cup to cut out burger bun shape.
  3. Add flour, egg (beaten), and breadcrumbs to separate bowls.
  4. Dip mac and cheese buns in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs consecutively, covering on both sides.
  5. Turn stove on medium high heat and add oil to pan.
  6. Fry mac and cheese buns until golden brown on both sides (about 30 seconds to a minute).
  7. In a separate pan on medium high heat, grill burger patty until it reaches desired doneness.
  8. Build your burger: Add burger patty, lettuce, tomatoes, and your favorite condiments to your mac and cheese burger patties, then dig in!

Bacon-Wrapped Mac and Cheese Recipe

Bacon wrapped macaroni and cheese.

Ingredients:

Macaroni and Cheese
Bacon
Bread Crumbs

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. In a pan with oil, cook bacon until cooked through but not yet crisp.
  3. Grab a muffin or cupcake tin. Line tin with bacon, using one piece per cup.
  4. Pour mac & cheese into tin.
  5. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top.
  6. Bake bacon-wrapped mac & cheese in oven for 10-15 minutes or until bacon is crispy.
  7. Let bacon-wrapped mac & cheese cool before removing from tin.
  8. Carefully remove each piece of bacon-wrapped mac & cheese from tin, using a knife to separate any stuck edges.

Mac and Cheese Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Macaroni and cheese stuffed peppers.

Ingredients:

Macaroni and Cheese
Cooked chorizo
3 Bell Peppers
Bread Crumbs
Shredded cheddar cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Add cooked chorizo to macaroni and cheese, stirring in with sauce.
  3. Cut tops off of bell peppers and remove seeds.
  4. If bell peppers cannot stand upright on their own, slice bottom to level.
  5. Pour macaroni and cheese into bell peppers.
  6. Top with bread crumbs and shredded cheese.
  7. Place on baking sheet and bake in oven for 10-15 minutes until peppers are soft.
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Cheese Made from Celebrities' Microbes Is On View at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum

iStock/bhofack2
iStock/bhofack2

London's Victoria & Albert Museum is home to such artifacts as ancient Chinese ceramics, notebooks belonging to Leonardo da Vinci, and Alexander McQueen's evening dresses—all objects you might expect to see in a world-famous museum. However, the cultural significance of the selection of cheeses now on display at the museum is less obvious. The edible items, part of a new exhibition called FOOD: Bigger than the Plate, were cultured from human bacteria swabbed from celebrities.

Though most diners may prefer not to think about it, bacteria is an essential ingredient in many popular foods. Beer, bread, chocolate, and cheese all depend on microbes for their signature flavors. Scientists took this ick factor one step further by sourcing bacteria from the human body to make cheese for the new exhibit.

Smell researcher Sissel Tolaas and biologist/artist Christina Agapakis first conceived their human bacteria cheese project, titled Selfmade, in 2013. When a chef and team of scientists recreated it for the Victoria & Albert Museum, they found famous figures to donate their germs. Blur bassist Alex James, chef Heston Blumenthal, rapper Professor Green, Madness frontman Suggs, and The Great British Baking Show contestant Ruby Tandoh all signed up for the project.

A display of the human-microbe cheese at Victoria & Albert museum
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Once the celebrities' noses, armpits, and belly buttons were swabbed, their microbiome samples were used to separate milk into curds and whey. The curds were then pressed into a variety of cheeses: James's swab was used to make Cheshire cheese; Blumenthal's, comté; Professor Green's, mozzarella; Suggs's, cheddar; Tandoh's, stilton.

The cheeses are being sequenced in the lab to determine if they're safe for human consumption. But even if they don't contain any harmful bacteria, they won't be served on anyone's cheese plates. Instead. they're being kept in a refrigerated display at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Museum-goers can catch the cheeses and the rest of the items spotlighted in FOOD: Bigger Than the Plate from now through October 20, 2019.

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