Monday, July 25, 2016

Favorite Places in Flagstaff, Arizona

UPDATED 1/17/20: I'm on the road over 200 days a year, so in many respects, I'm a tourist in Flagstaff too! But even with that, I know a thing or two about Flagstaff, so here are my recommendations.

Here is also my Yelp collection for Flagstaff, which gets updated more often.

34 S. San Francisco
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
My (very out of date) review is here. They have three properties--Tinderbox Kitchen is a small, higher-end dining room, The Annex is a creative cocktail bar, and the Tourist Home Urban Market is a breakfast/lunch place. Owner Kevin Heinonen and his team are a very dedicated team!

107 N San Francisco St #2
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
Chefs Joe and Dara have created a lively little restaurant focusing on flavorful and beautifully plated tapas-like dishes.

16 N San Francisco St
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
A Latin American inspired menu with really good tostones (crispy, twice-fried plantains) and huevos con carne. I also like the jalapeno burger. 

Karma Sushi
6 E Route 66
Flagstaff, AZ 86001
This is a higher-end sushi place, kind of Scottsdale meets Flagstaff. In addition to sushi, I go for the tonkotsu ramen.

1312 S Plaza Way
Flagstaff AZ 86001
This is more functional sushi--not much atmosphere, but solid food and service, easier parking and a bit cheaper. This is our family night sushi.

2308 E Route 66
Flagstaff AZ 86004
Neopolitan style pizza from a wood-burning oven and good pasta. John Conley, the chef-owner, is also an all-around great guy!

2320 N 4th St
Flagstaff AZ 86004
Great brisket and pulled pork, but in reality, I go for the tater tots. No, that's an exaggeration, but the tots are incredibly good.

112 E Route 66
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Go for the chilaquiles. Be prepared to wait in line.

And because I have space...
1400 W Mars Hill Rd
Flagstaff AZ 86001
Where Pluto was discovered! Check out the restored Clark Telescope. Open both day and night--I suggest doing both if you have time. I adore this place, and it's not just because I used to work there. It speaks to my nerdiness.

Lots of activities here in the summer, and a great educational place to learn about native plants.

A good way to get a sense of the indigenous cultures of the region.

Arizona Snowbowl
I'm not a skier, but I do hit the Skyride in the summer. Ride the chair lift up Mount Humphries, but make sure to watch out for the effects of the altitude. As my son, Matthew, says, "Hydrate or die-drate!"

Out of town attractions
We have four national parks within easy driving distance: Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater, Wupatki and the Grand Canyon, of course. Get an Interagency Annual Pass and you'll get your money's worth right away. Instead of going to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, go east of Flagstaff and hit Walnut Canyon and Sunset Crater one day, Wupatki on the next, and enter the Grand Canyon via Cameron, Arizona and the East Rim. Cameron is the home of the Cameron Trading Post, which has a lot of tchotchkes and a good Navajo Hot Beef. 

Scenic railroad to the Canyon--worth doing at least once.

Sedona is also about 45 minutes away.

This post first appeared on the Alice's Restaurants blog.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Favorite Places in New Orleans

Fried Chicken Platter at Emeril's
This blog is my friend Jaye's suggestion, although my colleague, Steve, is headed to NOLA later this month. New Orleans is one of those places that you must visit at least once. Here are my faves from many trips over the years!

800 Tchoupitoulas St., New Orleans, LA 70130
Truth be told, I was terrified that I would be disappointed with this place. So many times, you go to the celebrity chef places and the hype does not match the experience. With Emeril's, I was not disappointed. The location is beautiful, service stellar, and food fantastic.
Bone Marrow at R'evolution
August, 301 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Lunch buffet at Dooky Chase

Lüke, 333 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
Part of Chef John Besh's restaurant group, August is the more formal older sibling of Lüke, the louder, brighter bistro. Both provided excellent service and well executed dishes. At August, the foie gras three ways was delicious, and at Lüke, incredibly good fried oysters and raw bar.

930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Great place to get small dishes to share, like cured meats, rabbit, crawfish pie, okra, and other down home Cajun cuisine in a modern, relaxed environment. They have a lot of local brews and truly strange cocktails. Do not try the beet juice cocktail. I don't know what I was thinking.

Restaurant R'evolution
777 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Beautifully presented food, hip atmosphere and a more adventurous menu than most places in the French Quarter.

Dooky Chase
2301 Orleans Ave, New Orleans, LA 70119
Traditional soul food from the original celebrity chef of soul food. Mrs. Leah Chase visits the dining room regularly, and while we didn't get to talk with her, we did see her hovering during the lunch buffet. Darn good fried chicken.
209 Bourbon Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Shrimp Gumbo at Lil Dizzy's, photo by Jim Anderson
I love this place and try to visit every time. It is classic, old school N'awlins fine dining. I love the souffled potatoes, turtle soup, and any of their fish or shrimp preparations. Guys must wear a jacket. Ask for the cafe brulot at the end of the meal.
1403 Washington Avenue New Orleans LA 70130
THE place for Sunday Jazz Brunch. It's an elegant, classic, well-deserved destination restaurant. Save room for the bread pudding.

Lil Dizzy's Cafe
1500 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116
Thrilled to find this locals' place: Sunday brunch here is delicious, inexpensive, and you really get a peek into local life.

Erin Rose, photo by Jim Anderson
811 Conti St, New Orleans, LA 70112
A great local bar where you meet REAL LOCALS! Incredibly good value on drinks, especially since you're only one block off of Bourbon Street, and not a single neon blended drink to be found. Once when we visited, we met retired twins from Tennessee heading to Texas for NASCAR and a local parish Justice of the Peace who sang Irish songs. So cool.

Cafe du Monde 
800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
This is the place where EVERYONE goes to get beignets and chicory coffee. It is a bit of a tourist trap, but that doesn't make the beignets any less tasty. Word of warning, do NOT wear black to this place. You will be dusted with powdered sugar, no matter how careful you are. Also, coffee refills are NOT FREE so be careful when the server asks you if you want a refill. And bring cash.
401 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70130
Classic New Orleans for jambalaya, etouffee, red beans and po'boys. Expect a line at lunch time--just get in line, belly up to the counter and order some down home comfort food. My first time, I got the oyster po'boy but really wanted the combo platter, which is what Jim had. Since then, I seem to repeat the po'boy, but Jim usually repeats the combo, so it's all good. Sharing is caring.

Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone
214 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Yes, it's been on a bazillion travel shows, but it's still pretty cool. Hard to get a seat at the actual bar, though, so be patient.

923 Decatur St., New Orleans, LA 70116
Stop here to get a muffuletta to take on the plane. (PS: Steve, the hot sauce shop is next to Central Grocery.)

This post first appeared on the Alice's Restaurants blog. All photos by me unless otherwise credited, usually to Jim Anderson because he's there eating with me.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Favorite places in the Washington DC area

My friend, Laura, and earlier, my friend, Josh, both asked for recommendations for the DC area. I gave each of them a far too long list of suggestions for far too few meals!

In no particular order, my favorite places to eat and drink in the DC area:

Off the Record at the Hay-Adams Hotel
800 16th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
What happens at the Hay-Adams is Off the Record. Go for large classic cocktails and clubby atmosphere.

selection of courses from minibar by José Andrés
minibar and barmini by José Andrés
855 E Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
minibar is a bucket list restaurant. barmini is far more affordable to get a glimpse of what's going on at minibar. Go to barmini for a creative cocktail and some noshes; go to minibar for a once in a lifetime meal.

Jaleo Crystal City
Various tapas from Jaleo
2250-A Crystal Drive, Arlington, VA 22202
Another José Andrés concept, I prefer this location (and the Las Vegas Jaleo) to the other locations. I always order a jamon, the pan con tomate, and patatas bravas. Often I'll add in the pulpo, and maybe some liquid olives.

Hot n' Juicy Crawfish
2651 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20008
Yes, it's a chain, but I like it. You have to be family or practically family to eat with me here, though. It's not pretty, but it is delicious.
1309 5th St NE, Washington, DC 20002
Great collection of local food and product vendors, and fun to graze for a leisurely lunch.

Mitsitam Cafe at the National Museum of the American Indian
4th St & Independence Ave SW
Skip right on past the "American" food station of chicken strips and burgers and browse the several different food stations representing various regions of indigenous cultures. I usually get the sampler plate, which includes your choice of four different side dishes from any region you like.

Old Ebbitt Grill
675 15th St NW, Washington DC 20005
Near the White House, this classic restaurant was long the hang out of politicos for long lunches. I think almost everyone here is a tourist now, but it still has a good classic vibe. They are famous for the Oyster Riot in November, and their oyster happy hour from 3-6 pm.

NoPa Kitchen + Bar
Lobster Cake Soup at Sushi Taro
800 F Street, NW Washington, DC 20004
Hip place at the International Spy Museum, this is a good place for cocktails and appetizers after a day of exploring the Penn Quarter area.

Sushi Taro
1503 17th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036
A healthy, but not long walk from DuPont Circle, this restaurant serves a beautiful omakase dinner, a Japanese prix fixe option.

Russia House
1800 Connecticut Ave NW DC 20009
Great for happy hour and a overabundance of vodka choices. Caviar Mondays!

Hank's Oyster Bar
1026 King Street, Alexandria VA 22314
I'm usually at the Old Town Alexandria location, where the bartenders are skilled and the oyster selection is great.

Bistrot Royal
1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria, VA 22314
Charming little French restaurant near Old Town Alexandria with an affordable three course prix fixe menu every day.

La Fromagerie
Cheese and charcuterie with wine flight at La Fromagerie
1222 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Was not disappointed when I asked the staff to select cheese, meat and a wine flight for me.

Haute Dog and Fries
610 Montgomery Street, Alexandria, VA 22314
Any of their creative signature dogs are great, and they make an amazing lobster roll. There's also craft beer and milkshakes. What's not to love?

Food Trucks near L'Enfant Plaza Metro on Maryland Avenue SW
There are always a bunch of food trucks along this stretch on weekdays, and often on weekends too. Great for when you're hungry after exploring the nearby Smithsonian museums.

701 9th Street NW, Washington DC 20001
Yeah, another José Andrés restaurant. I have a foodie crush on José. It doesn't help that I once hosted the national pledge event for his now ended PBS series, Made in Spain. He was a charming in real life as he is on television. Jim Anderson and I had a great meal of Mediterranean mezze (small plates) here that is documented here. We've since been back several times and it's always lively and great.


This post first appeared on Alice's Restaurants blog. All photos by me.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Favorite Haunts in Yuma, Arizona

Seeing Ed in Yuma (a.k.a. Ed Dibble) yesterday reminded me that I have not posted about Yuma in a long time. My business partner, Jim Anderson, and I have been traveling to Yuma for over ten years, and we definitely have places that we must visit when we are in town. So here's the list!

Coconut Curry Shrimp at River City Grill
River City Grill
600 W 3rd St Yuma, AZ

One of the nicest restaurants in Yuma, and owner Nan Bain is a huge supporter of public radio, particularly our station, KAWC. We've been eating here since our first visit to Yuma and have really eaten everything on the menu. My favorites are the roasted red pepper and tomato bisque, the coconut curry shrimp, the tequila snapper, and the pistachio crusted salmon or chicken. They are also a great option if you need vegan or gluten free options.

Previous post for River City Grill here.

Tacos Mi Rancho (aka Tacos Mi Ranchito)
188 South 4th Avenue Yuma, AZ
Tacos at Tacos Mi Rancho

I love this place. I have difficulty eating tacos anywhere else. I would love to comment on the whole menu, but to be honest, I always order a Carnitas taco on corn tortillas and then one or two other a la carte items. I've had pretty much every taco on the menu, and they are all good, and inexpensive. I've also had the chile relleno, which is okay, but I prefer ones at other restaurants. I've also had their seafood cocktail, which is fine, but I prefer the ones at Juanita's food truck. It's really just about tacos, beer, chips and salsa for me here, and I love them for it. It's not a trip to Yuma for me without a stop to see the ladies at Tacos Mi Rancho!

Previous post on Tacos Mi Rancho here.

CLOSED: Gone but not forgotten: Jack and Rosie's Steakhouse
1551 W 5th St, YumaAZ 85364

This is old school. Do NOT go here for a fancy steakhouse, or for high end atmosphere. Come here for huge traditional cocktails (nothing in a blender, please), a big steak, and a 1960's small town supper club vibe. I usually get a very large manhattan (up, in a large martini glass), and a ribeye medium rare or the fried chicken livers. Soup of the day, a piece of garlic bread and a simple iceberg salad are included. The house dressing is a french blue cheese dressing; you can get other dressings, but why? I realized as I wrote this that I don't have any decent photos from Jack and Rosie's, because it's dark and the food is pretty simply plated. Good excuse for a return visit next time, not that I need one. There are some reviewers on Yelp that clearly do not appreciate the vibe of this place--just pop more money in the jukebox and ignore the haters while you eat your perfect steak.

Tacos y Mariscos Juanita’s
SW Corner of S Avenue A & W 8th St Yuma, AZ 85364
Juanita's Campechana

Juanita's has the very best seafood cocktail in Yuma. Hands down, end of conversation. I love the campechana, which is the "everything" seafood cocktail, including shrimp, scallops, oysters, octopus and squid, and sometimes conch, depending on the day. The broth that the seafood rests in is the most delicious part. Add a little hot sauce, and it's a perfect meal on a sunny, but not too hot, day. Juanita's is a semi-permanent taco truck--it has a sign, outdoor seating, and rest rooms, but the truck drives home at the end of the day. It's also only open during daylight hours, because there's no outside lighting, and hours vary during the summer months. It's helpful if you know a teeny bit of Spanish, although on the weekends, the young man who typically is there expediting orders and busing tables can help with translation if needed. Bring cash.

Cheese crisp at Los Manjares de Pepe II
Los Manjares de Pepe II (Foothills Location)
11274 S Fortuna Rd, YumaAZ 85367

I used to go to the original location on 8th Street every trip for the Pepe Special, a tomatillo stewed pork. I still love the Pepe Special, but now I get it at their Foothills location, because it's 1) closer to the station, and 2) a little better, I think. Located at the very end of a strip mall, around the corner from the main stretch of the mall, this tiny restaurant produces excellent Mexican food. I am a big fan of the carnitas dinner as well as the cheese crisp, which I think is the best in Yuma.

Those were the old standby's. Now for some newcomers to our list:

The Patio at Desert Hills Golf Course
1245 W Desert Hills Dr, YumaAZ 85365

A new iteration of the restaurant at the Desert Hills Municipal Golf Course, this time the food is good! (I know I have photos somewhere, but I can't find them.) The jalapeno margarita is incredible, and favorite starters are the chicharron, the bacon wrapped shrimp and the stuffed medjool dates. I haven't eaten an entree here yet, because Jim and I usually get a collection of apps!

Ed's post is much more detailed than mine.

Sooo Cali Dog from the Dog Haus
Dog Haus
1651 S 4th Ave, YumaAZ 85364

The only chain on my list, and a newcomer to Yuma. Came here at the suggestion of a couple people at work, including Travis, whom we trust has good taste. We were pleasantly surprised by the variety of sausages available and the creative toppings. The Sooo Cali dog has arugula, spicy basil aioli, crispy onions, avocado, and tomato, and was delicious, if not tidy. Also, they have tater tots, which make almost everything better, and bacon, which definitely makes everything better.

By the way, check out Ed's blog. He's my go-to source for new places in Yuma.

This post first appeared on Alice's Restaurants blog.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Favorite Places in Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Pork Rinds at Sweet Potatoes
Pork Rinds at Sweet Potatoes
My pal, Nick, asked me for recommendations today for Winston-Salem, knowing that I was just there for work. Since it's top of mind, here are my favorites!

Sweet Potatoes
529 North Trade Street
Winston-Salem, NC
Very well executed southern comfort food. Owners Stephanie Tyson and Vivian Joiner pour their hearts into this place, and the food reflects their passion. The fried pork rinds are made fresh to order, so they are still crackling when they are delivered to the table. My favorites are the fried chicken, smothered ANYTHING, the stuffed trout, and the sides plate--three sides of your choice.

630 S. Stratford Rd
Milner's Fried Chicken
Winston-Salem, NC
One of the nicer places in Winston-Salem. Beautiful small plates if you want to dine on a variety of appetizers; I also love their fried chicken.

638 West Fourth St.
Winston-Salem, NC
Awesome fried pickles, extremely generous sampler pours, and whiskey flights!

575 West 5th Street
Winston-Salem, NC
The owner/pitmaster, Mark Little, plays a mean harmonica and knows how to smoke meat. Love the brisket here.
Foothills Sampler Flight (photo by Jim Anderson)

310 West Fourth Street
Winston-Salem, NC
Beautifully delicious pastries. And owner Cary Clifford is one of the nicest people in Winston-Salem. Check out their Instagram feed to drool.