Little’s Food Store, Atlanta, 11/9/21

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Little’s Food Store is in the Cabbagetown section of Atlanta and has a grill as well as a small shop for basics.  Right now they are not offering inside dining but there is an open lot next to it that is set with 8 picnic tables.   Located on a really narrow steet, it is a neighborhood staple and when they thought about shutting down due to the costs to fix their kitchen the neighborhood fundraised the money needed.  They also have a 15 year old cat that sits outside and when it needed vet care the community once again rallied.  It opened in 2010 and been serving burgers and selling grocery essentials since that time.  Development in the neighborhood and surrounding areas have brought in more restaurant customers than shoppers and so their shelves have less fresh produce and their hours have them open later and longer.  Their menu has burgers, dogs and sandwiches as well as sides but they do offer breakfast sandwiches.  The place is funky and food was well made using quality ingredients.  Parking is as you can find it. Continue reading

Milagro Taco Cantina, Dallas, 11/4/21

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Milagro Taco Cantina opened July 6 and is the new restaurant of Jesus Carmona in the Trinity Groves area.  Carmona had owned Tacos Mariachi which gained fame after being featured on Diners, Drive-In and Dives and spawned the opening of a second Mariachi. During spring of 2020 Covid shuttered both.  Milagro means “miracle” in Spanish which is what re-opening a Tijuana street taco spot meant to Carmona.  The place has a large patio area out front and is adjacent to a free parking garage.  Inside is a long counter where you place your order and then get a number to take to the table and they bring out your order.  The paper menus describe the options but you have to use the signs on the wall to get the prices.  Non-alcoholic drinks are self serve opposite the counter and margaritas and beers are at the counter.  Service was friendly and welcoming – it’s a fun place for a casual meal. Continue reading

MoMo Italian Kitchen, Dallas, 11/2/21

building

MoMo Italian Kitchen originated over 35 years ago and in 2017 Wende Stevenson and Aaron Gross bought it from a member of the Gattini family to carry on the tradition of Fernanda Gosetti’s (the Julia Child of Northern Italy) recipes.  Actually Wende worked at the original MoMo in 1988, but both have much experience working/managing wonderful restaurants in Dallas.  Now they have their own piece of history and continue to serve tasty Italian food in a comfortable, welcoming setting.  I have to admit, I’ve known Aaron through a number of restaurants where he’s worked and enjoy his humor and commitment to quality.  I ate a number of times at the previous MoMo and was glad to enjoy a lunch at the present day incarnation.  Service was excellent and there is a large patio out front. Continue reading

Beckley 1115 , Dallas, 10/30/21

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Beckley 1115, a wine bar and casual restaurant, opened in early October this year by longtime chef Sharon Van Meter.  Van Meter currently also works with an event space at Trinity Groves and previously served as chef at Neiman Marcus downtown and later as executive chef.  Her inspiration here was to create something welcoming, casual and affordable and I think she has done just that.  There are lots of tables outside, an adjacent parking lot and a nice bar inside as well as tables.  Frankie and I caught up with a friend there and they were happy to have us sit and visit for several hours and kept the coffee coming during a Saturday brunch.  They also offer dinner and lunch and I took pictures of the menus for you.  I look forward to going back and trying more of her dishes and visiting with all the friendly service people. Continue reading

Al’s Breakfast, Minneapolis, 10/10/21

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Al’s Breakfast started in 1950 and has 14 seats at a counter.  They are in the Dinkytown neighborhood and don’t except credit cards.   They don’t have a freezer, microwave or deep fryer because they think meals taste best prepared without them and they don’t have room.  We found the line outside when we arrived and it moved fairly well.  As customers leave someone comes out and invites the number inside that they can now serve.  If your whole party is not there when you reach the door you will be move to the back of the line.  It’s all done in a very pleasant way.  Open everyday, they close at 1:00pm.  It is reported to be the most narrow restaurant in Minneapolis with a width of 10 feet.  It is built in a former alleyway.  Prior to Covid they let waiters line up inside behind stools when it was cold, now only vaccinated are allowed inside.  The food is worth the wait and hassle.  Behind the counter are boxes of yellow cards which are meals already paid for. Continue reading

Boludo Nicollet, Minneapolis, 10/9/21

street window

Buludo Nicollet is a small storefront off a street with only a to-go order/pick-up area.  They offer Argentinian dishes that Chef Facundo DeFraia learned from his grandmother.  The local newspaper food critic named him the “dough wisperer” and indeed he is.  They now have 2 locations since opening in 2018, there were a couple of outdoor tables for eating here whereas the downtown location has indoor seating.   They offer fresh made pizzas and empanadas as well as a couple salads and desserts.  It took about 20 minutes to make our order and it all came out at once.  It is well worth visiting for pizza and especially empanadas. Continue reading

Matt’s Bar, Minneapolis, 10/8/21

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Matt’s Bar & Grill opened in 1954 as a regular burger bar until founder Matt Bristol created the “Jucy Lucy” from customer requests for 2 patties and 2 slices of cheese in the middle.  Upon eating this option he said, “that’s one juicy Lucy” and the name and legend were born.  Minneapolis now has many imitations but this was the original.  When you enter the smell of frying beef and onions engulfs you.  The burgers are made with fresh beef and filled with molten hot cheese.  They even warn you about a spurt when you get the burger.  They offer a regular burger but from the look of the grill the Jucy Lucy is the thing to get.  Fries are by full or half order.  It is cash or local check only and there are no reservations.  Parking is on the street and expect a line.  While you wait you can look around at the memorabilia and pictures on the walls.  Besides a full bar they have a number of tap beers. Continue reading

Sleder’s Family Tavern, Traverse City, 10/2/21

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Sleder’s Family Tavern, in Slabtown, is Michigan’s oldest continuously-operated restaurant. It began when a Bohemian immigrant named Vencil Sleder wanted to build a tavern where men could relax after work.  Louie Sleder (1909-1993) and his mother turned the place into a ‘good will’ business.  Prior to 1930 women weren’t allowed in the barroom with its 21 foot solid mahogany sided and cherry wood bar and 12 foot ornate stamped tin ceiling, so they entered through a special back room door.  After 1930 they opened up both rooms to all.  It was sold in 1975 to the Classens who re-finished the woodwork and added a Victorian-styled side porch that is popular for private parties.  It was sold again in 1992 to the Cairns who held their own wedding there and now their son and daugther- in-law own it.  Numerous hunting trophies line the wall, in particular the moose named Randolph that you kiss for good luck.  The history in the place is amazing but the food is good too. Continue reading

Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City, 10/2/21

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Slabtown Cafe and Burgers offered indoor and outdoor seating with a variety of burgers and sides.  Slabtown was a part of Traverse City where lumber mill workers built their houses from leftover slabs of lumber from the mills.  This place is known for their grease factor, which the owners swear by, and the evidence can still be seen on your bag of food.  They serve homemade, hand pattied burgers and fresh cut fries and were rated at number 5 on TripAdvisor’s Top Ten Burger restaurants in America.  According to that report they serve 800 pounds of burger meat a day. There are several indoor tables but also a patio that runs around the house with tables.  The inside is decorated with photos of Slabtown residents and their homes and other historical things.   Music is in the background and the place is very popular.  I was not sold on their burger nor the fries. Continue reading

S2S Sugar 2 Salt, Traverse City, 10/1/21

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S 2 S or now Sugar 2 Salt started out as Sunrise to Sunset but when the owners came together they realized it was more sugar to salt as they wanted to serve breakfast.  The menu changes with the seasons and availability.  It is located in the complex that long ago housed a mental health hospital.  They have indoor as well as a large outdoor dining area.  Inside much of the room is taken up by a bar, the front of which is a case for pastries.   A large window to the kitchen serves as a pass through also, where you can see the single chef making and assembling the plates.   It is casual and laid back with lots of signs on the walls and herbs hanging overhead.  The white walls reflect all the sun that comes in the front windows to make it quite well lit.  With a concrete floor it looked like it could get noisy if it was full.  The staff was friendly and helpful. Continue reading

Farm Club, Traverse City, 9/30/21

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Farm Club is a collaboration of several people to offer a restaurant, bakery, brewery and general store in one place on the Leelanau Peninsula.  The sales area and restaurant are in a modern barn with tons of windows that look out at the additional outside seating areas.  The brewery is on one end of the building and we didn’t go there but you can order their beer with lunch.  At the entrance are shelves of products and produce you can buy as well as breads, cookies, etc.  Light wood is on the tables, cabinets and bench seats, concrete is on the floor and music is in the background.  There is lots of outdoor seating and some tables have umbrellas.  Inside there is table service but for outside you make you order and come get it when your buzzer goes off. Staff were efficient and helpful, but the food was souless – good but not great.  Given its freshness things should have been more flavorful and some of the preparation was lacking. Continue reading

Bubbie’s Bagels, Traverse City, 9/30/21

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Bubbie’s Bagels opened in Feb. 2020  by Sam Brickman who named it for his grandmother who got him interested in cooking even though she never made bagels.  They use an old school technique making the bagels with a sourdough base and fermenting for 2 days before boiling them.  This allows them to a wonderful texture and chew. They have several kinds of bagels and cream cheese to make your sandwich or there are optional fillings of egg, tuna or lox.  You can buy one or quantities.  Masks are required and the number of people in the shop is limited, but it is one of a kind.  The bagels do have a marvelous texture and taste but there was too much cream cheese for me.  If I ever go again I’d have it plain. Continue reading

Gabriel’s Gate Restaurant, Buffalo, 9/2/21

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Gabriel’s Gate has been around for 50 years, located in one of the original Tift Row Homes built in 1864 in the Allentown District.  Inside it’s a mix of antique and hunting lodge.  Between the various objects, old wood booths, tin ceiling, lowered lighting, music in the background and stuffed heads it’s worth going to just to look around.  The large bar in the back room is solidly covered with decorations.  There is a patio when weather permits and fireplaces when it doesn’t.  But they are also a local favorite for Buffalo wings.  However, service is a huge issue and really slow. Continue reading

Swan Street Diner, Buffalo, 9/2/21

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The Swan Street Diner is an example of one of the early Sterling Company diner cars made by a Mass. company from 1936 to 1942.  Swan Street is No. 397 from  1937, featuring mahogany trim, barrel vaulted ceiling and walls of porcelain enamel.  This one was originally in Newark, NY as a diner and assembled onsite from pieces.  Since then it has had 3 owners and in 2013 Larkin Development Group purchased it, took it to Akron, Ohio and then to Buffalo for full restoration.  The interior enamel panels, bar stools and wood trim are original and the rest was fabricated onsite, trying to hold to the original design.  The Larkin Soap Company made china among other things and Swan Street was able to purchase some of the last plates and mugs made in Buffalo for the Diner.  They offer breakfast and lunch and have a couple specials.  The food is high quality and it’s a beautifully restored diner with a few original parts.  Great, friendly service. Continue reading

Acadia House Provisions, Stonington, ME., 8/29/21

front door

Acadia House Provisions is on one floor of a house overlooking the bay in Stonington, Maine.  Ryan McCaskey from Chicago opened it in 2019 as a spin off of a Michelin starred restaurant there.  It opened in the site formerly occupied by Aragosta, which moved to Goose Cove.  Outside there is a large deck overlooking the active fishing area.  Lots of windows inside also take advantage of the view.   Inside there is much painted light wood on the walls, floors and ceiling.  Art is on the walls and music is in the background to make up a very pleasant room.  They have an a la carte menu and a full bar.  Food and service are both quite good. Continue reading

F Street Station (update), Anchorage, AK., 8/1/21

exterior, 325 F Street, Anchorage, AK., 99501 / 907-272-5196

Frankie visited F Street Station almost 3 years ago and it hasn’t changed much. We saw the same chef in the kitchen and the place is very popular.  They have a number of beers, cocktails and wines by the glass and bottle.  The cheese hunk was back after having disappeared during the height of Covid, but it still wasn’t getting much action.  They offer lots of seafood and had our favorite fried halibut during our last trip and I’m here to tell you it is still excellent. Continue reading

Chugiak Cafe, Chugiak, AK., 8/1/21

drive through line

Chugiak Cafe is about 20 miles outside of Anchorage and worth the drive.  It started about 7 years ago (by my best information) in what was an old WWII barracks.  After about 3 years owner Trig Bjorklund had to expand to 2 more rooms to accommodate guests.  Then Covid 19 hit and they changed the system to drive-through only.  Tables outdoors are now set up, each set with a box of napkins, utensils and other needs and the front door is open if you want to eat inside.  However there is no staff to clean up after you or take orders, just put your trash in the convenient cans or take your food to another location.  To expedite the process a person is out front to take your order and hand it in to the kitchen who will then give it to the pick-up window.  The system works well and there are beautiful flowers and fun decorations for you to look at as you drive through the line.  Inside is a treasure trove of a lifetime’s memorabilia that is not to be missed.  Particularly the 1910 coffee roaster that roasts their coffee in small batches.  But the best part is the honest, wonderful food. Continue reading

Denali Brewpub, Talkeetna AK., 7/31/21

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Denali Brewpub is in the center of the small town of Talkeetna, nestled at the base of Denali. It is a large place with guests being those arriving by train, outdoor enthusiasts and families.  Dogs are welcome on the large outdoor patio.  Inside there is a log cabin feel with wood ceiling, walls and floor along with a large fireplace.  A bar dominates one of the several rooms and the kitchen is in back.  Lots of decorations adorn the walls, including some of the things for sale.  There is free wi-fi and music is in the background.  A large number of beers are from their brewery that is close by.  Service was good and very friendly but lunch does start at 11:00 not at 10:00 which was on the website. Continue reading

Talkeetna Spinach Bread Airstream, Talkeetna, AK., 7/31/21

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Spinach Bread has been available in Alaska for 20 years.  We found it in the small town of Talkeetna where the Airstream trailer is parked and open for business every day but Tuesday.  There are tables set up out front and a small menu to chose from.  The spinach bread is made with a spent grain bread base and then covered with a mix of cheese, garlic and spinach.  Hot sauce is optional and I advise adding it. They heat it while you wait at the window and you can see the server cut it into strips for easy eating.  It had a wonderful bread base and just the right amount of toppings.  Full of flavor and texture it was a perfect snack or meal, depending on how much you order.  With it we had the Brazilian limeade which is made with fresh limes, organic sugar, a touch of sweetened condensed milk and water.  It was slightly thick and cool with a perfect blend of sweet and tart.  There’s some good food coming out of this food truck! Continue reading

The White Spot, Anchorage, 7/30/21

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109 W. 4th Ave., 907-279-3954

The White Spot is in downtown Anchorage and even though the street out front was closed for repair the place was still packed with customers eating in and picking up to go orders. There are several tables but the best seats are at the counter overlooking the small kitchen show.  They are known for the halibut sandwich but you’ll find lots of house made, fresh options here.  The current owners have had the place five and a half years but it obviously goes way back.  An interim owner was an Italian lady that brought the place to notoriety according to the current owner.  The cook, Frank, was an amazing show to watch as he freshly breaded mushrooms, onion and the famed halibut for the sandwich all while grilling whatever.  The staff were all super friendly and it was such a fun tasty spot to have on our agenda, I recommend you try it when you’re in the area.  They are only open for lunch and breakfast (for which I could find no menu). Continue reading

Colony Kitchen/ Noisy Goose Cafe, Palmer, AK., 7/30/21

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The Colony Kitchen started in 1985 in downtown Palmer as the Frontier Café and moved to the present location in 1989 and became the Colony Kitchen but is more often referred to as the Noisy Goose Cafe.  The name is representative of the casual and conversational nature of the guests and staff.  Portions of the home-style cuisine are large and service is efficient.  The food is well prepared but on the bland side for me but nevertheless, even with Covid the place was incredibly busy.  Large groups, couples and families from all walks of life found it the place to go.  The walls are covered with stuffed birds, antlers, photos of animals and signs.  Several wooden bears are also placed around as well as a stuffed real bear and faint music is in the background.  Many windows add to the light level inside.  Outside there is a wrap around deck and a combination of booths and tables fill the inside. A scrambler option was offered as a daily special. Continue reading

Ray’s Waterfront, Seward, AK., 7/29/21

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Ray’s Waterfront is a seafood restaurant that offers views of the Seward small boat harbor and mountains beyond.  It is a large place on a couple levels, to afford everyone a view.  The walls are decorated with lots of mounted fish in between the numerous windows that overlook the water. Seward is the sight for many day cruises to go see wildlife, icebergs, etc.  They take no reservations and are fairly popular so you can expect a line to get a seat, especially now that they are short staffed due to Covid.  Music is in the background and it seemed to be a place for gatherings.  In addition to seafood they also offer chicken and beef items and there were a couple of daily specials.  The food here is good but fairly ordinary however it is made up for with the fun view of the active harbor. Continue reading

Café Beaujolais (The Brickery), Mendocino, CA., 7/23/21

indoor restaurant

The Brickery is the pizza part of Café Beaujolais’, a complex of restaurants in the artsy town of Mendocino.  On the street is Café Beaujolais, a fine dining option open for dinner and in front of the Brickery is The Waiting Room which is a coffee and pastry shop till dinner time when it becomes a lounge.  It is a bit confusing at first but we followed the path between the buildings and found ourselves in a lovely garden area furnished with an assortment of tables and a window to place your order.  The daily menu and specials are written on chalkboards that hang on either side of the order window.  Inside you can see the fired brick oven where the pizza is cooked.  They also sell beer and wine along with offering a free jug of iced water.  After you order you get a buzzer that makes a noise when you can walk back to the other window and pick up your pie.  It is a truly lovely spot with good pizza.  You can visit the Waiting Room up near the street if you need a bathroom break. Continue reading

Catelli’s Restaurant, Geyserville, CA., 7/22/21

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Catelli’s has been around since the 1930s in Geyserville, CA.  Opened by Italian immigrants, it is now run by third-generation siblings in the Catelli family.  They feature local ingredients, hand-craft their ravioli and have many local wines.  They currently offer patio and indoor seating as well as takeout on Wednesday through Sunday for lunch and dinner. Located in a two-story brick building on the main drag of Geyserville, it is a large place.  The entry room contains a long bar and the other 2 rooms have bench seating around the walls with bare wood tables  and some center tables and chairs.  Tables are set with a cloth napkin that contains the flatware.  Music is in the background, acoustic tiles are in the ceiling and windows are uncovered to the street.  Some decorations and art are placed about as well as historic photos.  Service was friendly and efficient, but be aware of numerous upcharges on innocently offered personalizations. Continue reading

Nelscott Breakfast House, Lincoln City, OR., 6/26/21

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Nelscott Breakfast House alternately called Nelscott Café is a small coastal cafe offering breakfast and lunch items. Located in Lincoln City, their patio welcomes dogs too and there are special items available just for our canine companions.  It’s in a strip of shops along the highway in what looks like a house and was started around 2009 by a couple with the names Nelson and Scott, but it has changed hands a number of times.  Inside you find a number of tables and stairs to another level of seating as well as a door to the patio.  Plenty were also getting food to-go.  A pass through window to the kitchen lets you get a small peek at the action, windows are all around, music is in the background and happy people are everywhere.  Service was outstanding – they promptly took our order and food was out quickly, which was great as we were on our way to the airport. The menu has a good selection of sweet or savory dishes but there are also specials, which were noted out front.  I would go back if I am ever anywhere close.    Continue reading

The Schooner Restaurant & Lounge, Netarts, OR., 6/25/21

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The Schooner Restaurant and Lounge is located at the boat launch for Netarts Bay on the Tillamook Coast.  The source of most of their oysters is from the bay next door and the rest of their seafood is mostly locally sourced.  During lunch we watched a number of small boats launch into the bay and clam diggers hunt for clams.  They are quite popular and there was a line when we arrived at the opening hour.  Most wanted to sit on the large outdoor deck but we chose inside where you could watch the kitchen and wood fired oven.  Indoor the bar is separate from the dining area that has a combination of copper topped tables and booths.  Service was hurried and poor – for example we were told when the server arrived that the daily special was all gone (15 minutes after they opened) then later were told it was still available but she could not change the order we placed. Continue reading

Side Door Cafe, Gleneden Beach, OR., 6/24/21

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Side Door Café is in an old brick and tile factory building.  It’s the restaurant part of the 7,000 sq. ft. warehouse also home to Eden Hall that all opened in 2000.  Family owned and run it serves New American dishes in an eclectic space decorated with many re-claimed items from other Oregon buildings.  They have some daily specials to add to the already large menu.  Their hours are shorter now and tables well spaced due to Covid, so changes may be coming in those areas. Lots of windows in the building add to the lighting during daytime and instrumental music is in the background.  The high ceiling is filled with fans and decorations are everywhere.  There were 2 large rooms, the first one having some booth seating and the second strung with little lights. Continue reading

James Hook and Company, Boston, 6/12/21

sign on building

James Hook and Co. started in 1925 with a father and his 3 sons trucking their catch to Boston.  It is still a family run business with 4 of the third generation siblings.  Somewhere along the line they developed retail outlets while still selling to restaurants and shipping across the U.S.   We visited a retail site near the water that also had a food truck on premises selling options.  Inside the little house were a couple tables to eat but mostly had tanks containing various sizes of lobsters and shelves with memorabilia and cooking supplies.  The retail counter had a number of fish and shellfish but also the lobster rolls, which they are famous for.  They come in 2 sizes and are cold with mayo or hot with butter.  Outside at the truck you could get the mayo variety and whole cooked lobsters as well as soups and some sides.  There is a large outdoor seating area to enjoy your selections. Continue reading

Earl’s Steak Sandwiches, Dover, N.H., 6/11/21

exterior (99 Oak St., Dover)

Earl’s Steak Sandwiches is family owned and specializes in shaved beef sandwiches.  Wife Mo (Maureen) Donovan works the floor, husband Jim cooks and their daughter Sophie, who is 10, makes rings and bracelets to sell in one of the booths.  Opening in October, in a location that had previously been a diner,  during the Covid pandemic they rose to the challenge by concentrating on take-out until indoor dining resumed.  The decor features a ‘vintage car theme’ with old hot rod magazines at the table and the walls decorated with oil signs and car parts.  The inside area is small, with a few counter stools, but there also is a good number of outdoor tables.  Behind the counter is a window to the kitchen where you can see, hear and smell the owner’s cooking.  One of the booths is “reserved for Earl” which is where the daughter assembles and sells her jewelry.  Earl has a photo but it is actually not a family member, they just liked his name.   They cure their own meats and make their own sauces. Continue reading

E Bar Tex Mex (update), Dallas, 5/27/21

 

building

Our last visit to E Bar Tex Mex was in 2018 and I wanted to update it as I was not wowed by the food on that visit but speculated that you had to find the items that spoke to you.  They continue to get crowds and now I know why cause I’ve found my item – Jorge’s Tacos.  The place is physically about the same except they’ve added a non-enclosed tent next to the enclosed one and their name is on a nearby parking lot to provide additional parking. Service is good, helpful and friendly. Continue reading

DanDan, Philadelphia, 5/21/21

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DanDan (126 S. 16th St., Philadelphia) serves Sichuan and Taiwanese dishes along with having a full bar.  It is a smaller place in Rittenhouse Square that also offers some outdoor seating.  Inside the downstairs has counter seating around the bar and in the window.  Upstairs are multiple tables in different combinations of sizes.  The spheres that are the light fixtures hang from the ceiling and give it a fun view from upstairs.  They appeared to do a lively takeout business but were not busy at any of the tables, but we were early. Music is in the background and some paintings are on the walls.  It is a large menu but several favorites had been suggested by local magazines and we got most of them.  This place got rave reviews but we seemed to hit it on an off day. Continue reading

Parc, Philadelphia, 5/20/21

entrance

Parc is an all day restaurant designed to represent a French sidewalk café.  It is a large, extremely popular place with inside dining in many rooms and more than 75 outdoor covered and uncovered spaces to dine.  Restaurateur Stephan Starr brought this place to a corner lot in Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia.  Inside dark wood tables are well spaced and set with red napkins to match the red booth seating along the walls.  Old wood floors are juxtaposed with elegant tile ones, especially around the large bar that was currently not in use.  On the table are a special set of directions about Covid and their policies – notably that you have just 90 minutes for your table, that you are not to move any of it and must wear a mask when not seated. We also found that they would not seat you until your exact reservation time.  It felt stiff but the lovely server soon relaxed the vibe.  The menu has a good range of things but there are even more drink options.  We got a bottle of sparkler to go with our meal. Continue reading

HUDA, Philadelphia, 5/19/21

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HUDA is “fast casual concept by Philadelphia based Chef Yehuda Sichel” who loves sandwiches. The sandwiches come on homemade milk buns and sourdough and they also offer salads. It’s a small shop with one indoor table and 4 outside ones. They do a lot of takeout. The menu uses seasonal and local ingredients and the staff were all super friendly. You go inside to place and pay for your order and then they bring it to your table. We went there for a late afternoon snack to split and it was perfect and really tasty. I’d go often if I had the chance. Continue reading

El Zarco Restaurant and Cantina, Grand View, WI., 6/4/21

front

El Zarco is on US Highway 63 in Grand View, WI.  It offers “homestyle fresh Mexican Cuisine and hand crafted margaritas. “  They have been open 4 months in a building with 2 rooms, one of which is dominated by a pool table and bar and the other having a combination of tables and booths. The website said they open at 11:00 but the sign out front said noon however, the owner was kind enough to let us come in and start early. On weekends they open earlier and have brunch options. Inside are tile floors, wood ceiling, AC, music in the background and walls decorated with photos and memorabilia. Two TVs were in the bar area but both just streamed scenery visuals and they have free Wi-Fi. Talking with the owner he asked if it was our first visit and when we said yes he pulled out 3 flavors of tequila and said we were due a complimentary shot to welcome us. He was so nice and friendly it felt like we had been coming for years. I know I’ll be back. Continue reading

Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Nashville, 4/16/21

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Arnold’s is an institution in Nashville.  Opened in 1982 by Jack and Rose Arnold, now their children run the place.  It has received acclaim from many publications like Southern Living, SAVEUR, and Bon Apetit and been featured on Diners, Drive in and Dives.  They received the James Beard Award in 2009.   It is a cafeteria style restaurant but don’t let that mislead you.   Food is made in house and in real southern style with fresh ingredients.  Their most popular order is meat and 3 sides.  The roast beef is a signature offering but the vegetables are well regarded.  We got there early to avoid the line but there is a parking lot adjacent to the building if you drive.  Presently they are only at 50% capacity due to Covid and there are less tables available. Cutlery is plastic, napkins are in a dispenser and salt and pepper are in packets as are other condiments.  They now have a bar where you can get cocktails or other alcoholic beverages but it didn’t appear to be open yet.  Servers on the line were helpful and friendly and well masked. Continue reading

Mama Chang, Fairfax, VA., 4/2/21

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Mama Chang opened early in 2019 in Fairfax, VA.  It focuses on family dishes from the Hubei province, where Peter Chang is from, ones his mother and other females in the family cooked.  There is less pepper than in the traditional Szechuan dishes.  The large interior is filled with light from the many windows and white walls.  Textured ropes hang from the ceiling, the well spaced light wood tables are bare and tons of green plants surround the room.  It feels open and spacious but a bit sterile.  Portions are generally large – we way over-ordered but wanted to try a number of the dishes.  The server was masked and willing to give advice. One note is about their to-go containers which were nice plastic dishes with good locking lids not the usual leaky styrofoam containers. Continue reading

Gris-Gris, New Orleans, 3/18/21

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Gris-Gris is in a two story corner building in the Garden district (where the restaurant Square Root had been).  Downstairs is the open kitchen enclosed by a stainless steel bar.  Many wanted to sit upstairs but I preferred to watch the kitchen action.  Music is in the background and light from the many windows filled the room.  Upstairs is a large bar and tables as well as a balcony for seating.  The staff all wore masks but the kitchen was mostly too busy to engage in much conversation with those at the bar.  The waitstaff was happy to help guide your choices and split items from the menu, which is similar at lunch and dinner. Continue reading

Local, Jackson, WY., 9/10/20

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Local is a steakhouse and bar in the historic town square of Jackson.  It has many rooms, some of which are for dinner and some for lunch and others for both.  We sat in the room with the bar counter and it had plexiglass between the seats and bar as did the booths have plexiglas between them.  The black wood tables were set off by the brown wood floor and light wood walls with mirror insets.  The booths had a padded seat whereas the bar was set with dark wood chairs with backs that were unpadded.  Music was in the background and a TV was playing in the bar area but it was muted.  We made a reservation for lunch which the website recommended but when we showed up the person at the entrance seated the 2 walk-up parties ahead of us in line to get in.  Their lunch menu was mostly sandwiches, particularly burgers and they had one special of the day (a hot ham and cheese sandwich) as well as a soup that changes daily.  Service was helpful, opinionated and efficient. Continue reading

The Bird, Jackson, WY., 9/9/20

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The Bird is a large place, located a bit out of town that opened in 2010.  Inside are 2 large rooms, one containing the oval shaped bar and outside is a good sized deck with a spectacular view of the mountains.  There are no umbrellas or heaters outside.  The bar offers all mixed drinks as well as a ton of tap beers.  The room with the bar is decorated with tap handles from those beers they no longer carry.  They are mounted on metal bars all over.  It’s mainly a burger bar but also is known for its wings.  Country music plays prominently and service is friendly.  They wore masks for the most part and limit the number of people that can be in at any time.  You must wait at the door to be let in by the server.  They don’t take reservations and are popular with locals. Continue reading

Cristinas, Ketchum, Idaho, 9/5/20

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Cristina’s was opened in 1993 by Cristina Cook, 5 years after she moved here from Italy.  She has written 2 cookbooks.  The place is open for breakfast, lunch and brunch and is using their large outdoor seating area rather than the interior.  You enter into the small salmon colored house to find a counter filled with sweet and savory foods which are available for purchase.  There were a couple room inside but outside they have a large tent complete with chandeliers over the wood deck and individual tables with umbrellas on the lawns around the house.  The white cloth covered tables were well spaced and set with white cloth napkins.  Lots of plants and flowers surround the diners.  No music is in the background.  The small menu has the daily specials written in.  Chef Cook was in the kitchen but she never came out to greet guests.  Seating was only by reservation or waiting a couple hours.  Servers wore masks, were friendly and all seemed to work together to take care of the tables. Continue reading

Tidal Raves (re-visit), Depoe Bay, OR., 6/26/20

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We liked Tidal Raves enough to come back again the next day for lunch.  Once again the view was spectacular and we were seated on a different end of the place so it gave us another perspective, too.  This day was sunnier and the waiter pointed out some gray whales that were making water spouts in the water in our view.  I thought the service was good yesterday and today’s was even better.  He was kind enough to let us order leisurely and enjoy the food and wine while we took advantage of the view.  I should have taken his photo but in these times I’m not sure how much personal handling Frankie wants or people want to partake in.  Since the virus looks to be with us for some time to come, I’ll have to figure out delicately how to proceed with things I took for granted before.  Nevertheless we were equally delighted with our lunch and highly recommend this spot if you are ever anywhere near by.   Continue reading

Gracie’s Sea Hag, Depoe Bay, OR., 6/24/20

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Gracie’s Sea Hag opened in 1963 and promotes itself as having the finest and freshest sea fare on the Oregon coast.  Gracie Strom and her husband Dic started the place but he died a few years after it opened.  From the reviews I read, she sounded like quite a character – playing the bottles behind the bar to create tunes and greeting all guests like they were long time friends.  Sadly in 2006 she sold the place and I’m not sure it has the same fun vibe, however that is hard to judge in this time of Corona virus.  It is a large place with large tables, booths on one side of the room and tables on the other.  The booths were all separated by panels of stained glass windows of sea life above the stuffed benches and got extra lighting via a hanging stained glass light fixture.  The bare wood tables on the other side are set with unstuffed wood chairs.  The floor is a mix of carpet and tile, the ceiling is of wood with exposed duct work running down the middle of the long room.  A counter at the front of the room had menus, souvenirs and a person who greets you and takes you to a table.  The other end of the room is a service area that leads into the kitchen.   Continue reading

Las Reses, Madrid, 3/7/20

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Exterior

Las Reses opened in 1964 and is set below street level.  It is spread over a couple rooms and bright with lots of red walls covered with decorations.  The floors are wood and no music is in the background.  The tables have adequate spacing and are set with white clothes which cover the floor length beige ones and large white napkins.  The staff were friendly but spoke limited English.   It is mostly a restaurant dedicated to beef steaks for which they have carts to come around to the table and show you the cuts of meat.  It is all a la carte and some of the cuts are sold by the kilo.  There were several larger parties there and it looked like they took their remainder of the meat back to reheat it after the initial serving.  Continue reading

Café Santiago, Porto, 3/6/20

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exterior

Café Santiago was a new looking and bright place, but has been in business since 1959 .  Windows to the street were on one end of the long place that reached through to the next block where there was another entrance.  A wood floor and tile walls are the room that housed the ‘lower level’ with closely spaced veneer topped tables.  Photos are on the walls.  Up a few stairs was the kitchen and a bar along with more tables.  It had a large menu but they are known for their Francesinhas – sandwich original to Porto.  It is commonly made with ham, fresh sausage and roast meat and then covered with melted cheese and maybe an egg and served with french fries. The sandwich comes in many variations and that seemed to be what most came for.  There were a combination of obvious tourists as well as some regular locals, who were recognized by the staff.   Continue reading

Cafeína, Porto, 3/4/20

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exterior

Cafeína was a medium sized place in the corner of a building and has been in business for 24 years.  Small, closely spaced tables were set with white clothes and napkins and padded chairs.  Music played in the background, the floor was concrete with a rug in the center of the room, windows to the outside were on several walls, steel beams were structural yet decorative parts of the dining room and a bar counter is at the entry with dining rooms on both sides.  Noise  was not a problem even when the room was full.  The place had a relaxed atmosphere with guests enjoying themselves and many appearing to be ‘regulars.’  The menu was a la carte but at lunch they did have a special offered that was 3 course with choices for each course.  Specials on wine were also available for lunch.  The lunch special menu was not translated but our server was happy to help with any terms we didn’t know.  Service was efficient, friendly and helpful.  The lunch menu really appealed and so we chose that option and some of their wines by the glass.   The pours by the glass were fairly generous. Continue reading

Kate’s Greek & American, Everett, WA./ 11/8/19

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exterior

Kate’s Greek & American restaurant is a medium sized colorful place on a busy street near lots of shops.  Booths are on two long sides of the space with tables in the middle.  The chairs are mostly different as are the table cloths.  Windows to the street are on one end and the kitchen and prep area are opposite that.  Above there were 2 large boards with the specials on them.  Lots of art is on the walls and much of it was for sale.  They serve only breakfast and lunch, both all day.  The server was really friendly and offered good advice when ordering. Continue reading

La Choza, Santa Fe, 11/1/19

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La Choza is the sister restaurant of the ever popular The Shed, located in the old town square.  La Choza is out of town but not a bad distance and way less crowded, but plenty of people still are there.  They have their own parking lot behind the adobe building.  The dining areas take up several rooms and there is also a large bar area.  Beams of wood line the ceilings and colorful art adorns the walls.   The tables are bare wood, there are lots of windows to the outside and a large variety of tequila, margaritas and mezcales to chose from as well as draft beers.  Service is friendly, efficient and helpful.  Portions are large and the food is wonderful, with a good amount of flavor and texture in every bite. Continue reading

Restaurant Hasenburg, Basel, 10/26/19

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Hasenburg was in a small old building with lots of wood on the walls with art above and a newish brick floor.  The bare wood tables were spaced closely and set with paper placemats and napkins.  Windows to the busy street were on one wall and no music was in the background.  Service was friendly and efficient.  They offered a lunch menu, even on Saturday, or offer their regular menu items.  We ordered off their regular menu and the food was simple but delicious.  It was really busy and they do have a couple outdoor tables. Each entree came with a house salad and sliced bread. Continue reading

Cafe 43, Dallas, 7/24/19

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Cafe 43 is the dining spot in George W. Bush Presidential library.  It is a good sized place and you don’t need to pay admission to the library to gain entrance to the cafe, but you will have to pay for parking on the SMU campus.  The nice sized tables are slightly spaced and bare dark wood set with mats.  Art is on the walls, some by Bush, and large windows look out onto the campus and surrounding grounds.  Service was attentive and very friendly and content for us to take a long visit with lunch. Continue reading

Barbec’s Restaurant, Dallas, 9/27/16

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Barbec’s has been around as long as I can remember. Located in an old Howard Johnson’s building it serves large, cheap portions of southern style food.  The service is efficient but sometimes you’ll have to ask for something rather than a waitress noticing and asking. They seem to be best known for their beer biscuits which are better at breakfast than at lunch, when they’ve been out of the oven for awhile. They offer a large menu and well priced specials for breakfast and lunch, but it is a cash only business. With the lunch specials there is a huge choice of sides to go with your entree, of which you’ll see a preponderance of chicken fried steak. Continue reading

Paris Coffee Shop, Ft. Worth, 6/10/16

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Paris Coffee Shop is a large bright space that get lots of mention as a good lunch spot in Fort Worth and you could tell by the number of people coming and going. It offers quick service and inexpensive pricing which also attracted a fairly senior crowd.  It has a large menu but most of it is covered with ads. The waitress directed us to the Daily Special menu, from which she suggested we order. Continue reading