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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…

24 Hours in New York

9 Nov

Eat your way around Manhattan

pizza dough flavorKick off the day with dim sum at Red Egg in Chinatown. It’s comfortable and clean, though the decor hints at the restaurant’s alter ego as a lounge/nightclub when the sun goes down. We enjoyed a variety of yummy dumplings, Peking duck sliders, rice noodle rolls, and pan-fried turnip cakes.

Spend the afternoon shopping and wandering through the neighborhoods.  Stop by swanky kitchenware stores like Sur La Table – surely only a place like New York has a market for things like “pizza flavor”.

Surround yourself with delectable treats at Dean and DeLuca, like pastries and chocolate truffles, or gawk at impeccable cuts of meat and sashimi-grade fish.

breads at Dean & DeLuca

Stop by the Farmer’s Market at Union Square, take a studio tour (we checked out the NBC studios), visit a museum (I love the MoMA), or stroll along the Highline Park (free!)

Then, satisfy your dinnertime hunger at Bareburger (several locations). The burgers hover around $10 each, and there are tons of choices. You can also build your own, selecting from proteins ranging from the classic beef, to the more adventurous bison, elk, ostrich, or buttermilk fried chicken. Those with dietary restrictions will appreciate the vegetarian options as well as a gluten-free bun choice.

"Roadhouse" elk burger

“Roadhouse” elk burger

I ordered the Roadhouse burger with elk, cooked medium, on a brioche bun. I would definitely recommend it to anyone! The Roadhouse comes with pepper jack cheese, Haas avocado, roasted red peppers, grilled onions, bacon (which I omitted) and smoked paprika mayo. My boyfriend ordered the California burger with a classic beef patty.

Top off your burger with mustard and ketchup in cute bear squeeze bottles at each table. Fries are on the softer side but still yummy. As for the breaded onion rings, they aren’t kidding when they say “breaded” ! If you crossbreed an onion ring and a chicken strip, you might get something similar. The homemade lemonade is quite sweet but pairs well with the burgers.

"California" beef burger

“California” beef burger

Catch some stand-up comedy at the Comedy Cellar in Greenwich Village. Afterwards, grab a drink at one of the many nearby bars. My guy and I went to Vol de Nuit (148 W 4th St  Manhattan, NY 10012), a hole in the wall spot specializing in Belgian beers. We walked by its gated entrance twice before realizing it was there. The gate leads to a walled, open-air patio with a few tables scattered about. A single unmarked door at the back of the patio leads into the dark bar. A few wooden high-tops line the wall opposite the bar. Though decor is scarce, the beer list makes up for it, and they did have my favourite beers on tap, including Chimay, Kriek, and (Pawtel Kwak), and served it in the proper, bulb-shaped glass.

For a late-night snack, grab a mini pie at Pie Face (several locations). The cherry pie is stuffed with cherries. All of them are decorated with cute smiley faces. Definitely take the pies home and warm them up before eating, as they don’t heat them up very much at the shop. Pie Face also offers large brownies, but mine are better. Finally, for those who prefer to drink their calories, consider getting a pie shake!


After a full day of eating, rub your belly and congratulate yourself on successful day!

Delightful Argentinian: Porteño, New York City

14 Sep

Right near the north end of the Highline Park in Chelsea, there is a little gem of an Argentinian restaurant called Porteño. We arrived early on a Saturday evening so we easily grabbed a table in the small restaurant. By the time we left, the place was quickly filling up. And no wonder – Porteño serves delicious, beautifully plated food at reasonable prices.

grilled octopusThe signature appetizer special: grilled octopus over an arugula, tomato, and orange salad. The octopus was so tender and crisp.

IMAG1329Three empanadas: the sanjuanina with spinach and manchego cheese, the jujeña with corn and onions, and my favourite – the salteña, with beef scallions, and red pepper.

IMAG1330The jujeña: chopped corn and onions stuffed in a delicate but crispy, thin pastry envelope.

filet mignonFilet Mignon special, with asparagus spears, roasted red pepper, mushrooms, and creamed corn.

salmon and quinoaA  large tower of creamy quinoa salad, made with romaine lettuce, avocado, cucumber, grape tomatoes, string beans, served with cubes of perfectly grilled salmon.

I can’t wait to return to Porteño. I’ll have to make sure to save room next time for something off the mouth-watering dessert list!

Info: Porteño, 299 10th Ave, New York, NY, 10001, USA

Porteno on Urbanspoon

Coffee Shortlist: East and West Coast

21 Oct

Starbucks coffee lovers need not continue reading. This post is a shortlist of smooth, delicious coffees on both sides of the continent.

East Coast

New York City, NY
The City Bakery (3 W. 18th St.)
The aroma of fresh pastries and creamy hot chocolate in the middle of this bakery is so enticing. Ask for a 1/2-hot chocolate-1/2-coffee for a luxurious afternoon treat.

Boston, MA
Flour Bakery (12 Farnsworth St.)
Enjoy delicious coffee drinks on a relaxing patio near the Innovation District.

North Conway, NH
Metropolitan Coffee House (2680 White Mountain Hwy.)
Unexpectedly great coffee in cozy shop in this small, White Mountain town.

West Coast

Portland, OR
Mother’s Bistro & Bar (212 Southwest Stark St.)
Amazingly smooth French press coffee is served at one of Portland’s best brunch spots.

Vancouver, BC
49th Parallel (2152 West 4th Ave.)
Despite its bland, narrow, white and chilly blue decor, 49th Parallel is well-known among Vancouver locals for serving the city’s best coffee.

Squamish, BC
Galileo Coffee (173 Hwy. 99)
The coffee is great, but so is the view. This is the place for a morning coffee on your way to Whistler Mountain.

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