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.

What's the Difference Between Stuffing and Dressing?

iStock
iStock

For carbohydrate lovers, nothing completes a Thanksgiving meal quite like stuffing—shovelfuls of bread, celery, mushrooms, and other ingredients that complement all of that turkey protein.

Some people don’t say stuffing, though. They say dressing. In these calamitous times, knowing how to properly refer to the giant glob of insulin-spiking bread seems necessary. So what's the difference?

Let’s dismiss one theory off the bat: Dressing and stuffing do not correlate with how the side dish is prepared. A turkey can be stuffed with dressing, and stuffing can be served in a casserole dish. Whether it’s ever seen the inside of a bird is irrelevant, and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong and should be met with suspicion, if not outright derision.

The terms are actually separated due to regional dialects. Dressing seems to be the favored descriptor for southern states like Mississippi, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Georgia, while stuffing is preferred by Maine, New York, and other northern areas. (Some parts of Pennsylvania call it filling, which is a bit too on the nose, but to each their own.)

If stuffing stemmed from the common practice of filling a turkey with carbs, why the division? According to HuffPost, it may have been because Southerners considered the word stuffing impolite, and therefore never embraced it.

While you should experience no material difference in asking for stuffing or dressing, when visiting relatives it might be helpful to keep to their regionally-preferred word to avoid confusion. Enjoy stuffing yourselves.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

The Reason You Should Never Rinse a Turkey

jax10289/iStock via Getty Images
jax10289/iStock via Getty Images

There are many misconceptions surrounding your Thanksgiving turkey, but none is more dangerous than the turkey-washing myth. Raw poultry can contain dangerous microbes like Salmonella, and it's not uncommon for home cooks to rinse their meat under cool water in an effort to wash away these pathogens. The intention may be admirable, but this is a worse turkey sin than overcooking your bird or carving it before letting it rest. According to AOL, rinsing a raw turkey with water is more likely to make you and your dinner guests sick than not cleaning it at all.

When you wash a turkey in the sink, there's no guarantee that all of the nasty stuff on the outside of it is going down the drain. In fact, the only thing rinsing does is spread potentially harmful microbes around. In addition to getting bacteria on you hands and clothes, rinsing can contaminate countertops, sink handles, and even the surrounding air.

There are three main ways to lower your chances of contracting Salmonella when dealing with raw turkey: Thaw your bird in the fridge, minimize contact with it before it goes into the oven, and give it plenty of time to cook once it's in there. For the second part, that means setting aside time to pat your turkey dry, remove the excess fat and skin, and season it without handling anything else. To reduce the risk of cross-contamination, wash your hands frequently and wash the plates, knives, and other tools that touched the turkey before using them again. You should also cook your stuffing outside the turkey rather than shoving it inside the cavity and creating a Salmonella bomb.

Once the safety aspect is taken care of, you can focus on making your turkey taste as delicious as possible. Here are some tips from professional chefs on making your starring dish shine this Thanksgiving.

[h/t AOL]

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