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State-by-State Guide to Good Food

3 Jan

The media seems to have an obsession with lists – top 10 ways to get flatter abs, 15 things you didn’t know you had to fix, and 20 ways to make better lists…. the list goes on (ha ha). So what better way to kick off the new year than with a list of yummy restaurants, state by state? Ok, I haven’t yet dined in all 50 states (even if you count forgettable roadside stops), so this list is incomplete. But I did want to share some list-worthy establishments I think you should try, and I’ve included dishes I’ve enjoyed at each place. I’ve included links to my reviews of some restaurants, and I’ll update this page for reviews I’ll add in the near future. Bon appetit, and happy travels!

State, Restaurant, City Cuisine What to Order
California Brenda’s French Soul Food, San Francisco French Soul Food, obviously Eggs Benedict, crawfish beignets
Connecticut Rein’s Deli, Vernon New York style Jewish deli Turkey, roast beef, mac ‘n cheese. Order a half pound of meat to take home with you!
Florida Bern’s Steakhouse, Tampa Steak, desserts, and the largest private wine collection Steak, obviously! (Exquisitely cooked to perfection every time) Grilled shrimp appetizer. Upstairs in the Dessert Room, Bern’s signature cappuccino, macadamia nut ice cream. Full review to come.
Iowa Iowa Machine Shed Restaurant, several locations Midwestern comfort food Huge cinnamon rolls (featured on the Food Network), the Cattleman’s Choice, baked sweet potato. Hearty food if you’re road-tripping through the MidWest! There’s a cute country store, and you can take photos next to farm vehicles outside.
Illinois Mercadito, Chicago Mexican Amazing margaritas, shrimp tacos
Massachusetts Atlantic Fish, Boston Seafood Calamari (ask for half-and-half grilled and fried), crab-crusted haddock, pan-seared sea bass
Maine Fore Street, Portland American, local foods Menu changes often. Order the tomato tart if it’s available!
Nevada Wicked Spoon, Las Vegas Buffet Kale and watermelon salads, poached pear…like any buffet, things can be hit and miss, but Wicked Spoon offers an awesome selection, beautifully presented. If you want to experience Vegas’ over-the-top buffets, this is the place to go.
New Hampshire Gypsy Cafe, Lincoln International Niçoise salad, enchiladas, sangria.
New York Porteño, New York City Argentinian Grilled octopus, empanadas, quinoa salad
North Carolina Curate, Asheville Spanish Tapas Butternut squash soup, grilled octopus, canelones de carne. Sit at the bar for a great view of the open kitchen.
Ohio Skillet, Columbus Breakfast/Brunch Menu varies daily.
Oregon Mother’s, Portland Comfort food Breakfast and brunch, French press coffee
Pennsylvania Tommy DiNic’s, Philadelphia Sandwiches Brisket sandwich
Rhode Island Nick’s on Broadway, Providence American Everything! Expect to wait an hour for brunch.
Texas Rudy’s BBQ, several locations Barbecue Meat! Order it by the pound. You’ll be served a whole loaf of bread to accompany it.
Vermont Farmhouse Tap and Grill, Burlington Farm-to-table gastropub Local beers and cheeses, giant onion rings (enough to share), burgers
Wisconsin Safe House, Milwaukee Pub food I didn’t actually dine here, but the experience getting into the restaurant was fun! Think secret doors and passwords…

Tomato Tarts in Portland and at Home

11 Aug

Last summer, I dined at Fore Street in Portland, Maine. They had the most amazing tomato tart appetizer with Jet Star tomatoes and a generous portion of whipped herbed goat cheese atop buttery, flaky puff pastry.

Fore Street - Tomato Tart

Info: Fore Street, 288 Fore St., Portland, ME

As my garden is quickly producing tomatoes, I wanted recipes that would make them the star of the dish. What better way to celebrate summer than with a light tomato tart, inspired by Fore Street? I did not have puff pastry around, so I used filo instead. My version is much easier to make. This large tart is enough for several appetizer servings.

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New England Lobster Rolls

23 Sep

If you’re on the hunt for lobster rolls, you’ll find plenty of “Top 10” lists raving about what’s best. Quite frankly, all the rolls I’ve tried taste pretty much the same. It’s just lobster meat tossed in a little bit of mayo, served in a hot dog bun cut a little funny. The only difference is how much lobster is packed into that bun, and how much it will lighten your wallet.

Surprisingly, one of the better deals I’ve found is the roll from the Lobsta Love Truck – pictured below on Moody Street in Waltham, but I’ve also visited it near Harvard University, Cambridge, and downtown Boston on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway. At $15, it’s packed with large chunks of lobster meat.


Barnacle Billy’s (Ogunquit, ME) serves slightly smaller lobster rolls for a whopping $18, but you get to chow down right in the heart of touristy Perkins Cove. Their ice cream is probably a better deal – those servings are very generous.


At the Lobster Shack at Two Lights (Cape Elizabeth, ME), I was rather disappointed to see such a sad, small, portion of lobster on the lobster salad. And, the paltry crab roll certainly made Lobsta Love’s roll look that much more generous:

But you don’t go to this particular lobster shack looking for great value. You go for the view of Maine’s beautiful rocky coast. And that is how you find a great lobster roll – one that comes with unique dining experience.

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