Food Journey


When I was 22 years old I remember my first real food adventure was when I went to Spago in Beverly Hills. Wolfgang Puck came by my table and I told him the soup I was eating was the best I had ever had in my life. He laughed and said, "You're still very young. You have many great meals in your life ahead of you".

And while Spago remains what I hold in regard as the best meal you can eat anywhere still to this day, Wolfgang Puck was right, I have since eaten some really awesome meals. Below is a quick collection of my experiences and reflections about the more notable ones - some famous, some unknown, some good, and some bad. I will hopefully continue to update this list as I travel.


California

Beverly Hills - Ultra-Fine Dining - Spago is the best meal I've ever had. My review here. The best part was the desert. Mindblowingly good.  

Palm Springs - Old Hollywood - Melvyn's Restaurant was Sinatra's favorite local place to eat. While the food was good, the restaurant has passed its glory days and takes itself way too seriously. My review here

San Francisco - Crab at Fisherman's Wharf - Famous for the crab stalls there. They kill the live crabs for you on the spot. I thought it was an overrated tourist trap. There is better seafood elsewhere. Go for the experience, not the food.

San Francisco - International Food - SF is the mecca for international grub. The crispy chicken at Sri Thai Cuisine is one of the best things I've ever had the pleasure of eating. However, for my favorite SF international spot check out the Mandalay Special Noodle at Mandalay SF.

Florida

Orlando - International Food - When I hear the words "Disney World" I usually cringe, but their International Food & Wine Festival at Epcot is really well done and the food experience is perfectly executed. My review here.

Idaho

Statewide - Berry Pies - Great berry pies are found in most local diners. My favorite berry is boysenberry. The small local diners have the best pies, but the regional cafe Shari's has some good pies as well.

Illinois

Chicago - Chicago Style Hog Dog - I've had hot dogs in NYC and hot dogs at Chicago. I think Chicago dogs are better. The Chicago Dog at America's Dog is my favorite. The pickle spear is what seals the deal for me on why I love it so much.

Chicago - Deep Dish Pizza - Gino's East is my favorite. Chicago has great bread because of the water they use from Lake Michigan. I've been to all of the big pizza names in Chicago and here's my full review.

Kentucky

Louisville - Hot Brown Sandwich - Kentucky's favorite "sandwich" is not really a sandwich, but it is delicious regardless. The best place to get one is at The Village Anchor.

Montana

West Yellowstone - Wild Game - The elk tenderloin was a great change of pace at Serenity Bistro. The menu was a great local fare of some foods that are hard to find outside of the region.

West Yellowstone - Cold Weather Food - I love a good beef stew and a slice of pie. I loved the Outpost. Huckleberry seems to be the local berry pie of choice. 

Nevada

Las Vegas - Fine Dining - There are tons of fine dining places in LV. My personal favorite is Top of the World at the Stratosphere. Great steak and an even better rotating view of LV from up above.

New Mexico

Albuquerque - Green Chili Sauce Enchiladas - I tried them at El Taco Tote and thought they were great. However, since El Taco Tote is just a fast food place I'm sure there's probably a better restaurant that's known for green chili sauce.

New York

Buffalo - Chicken Wings / Beef on Weck - In Buffalo, wings are called chicken wings, not Buffalo wings. They're bigger, juicier, and just better. Combine that with the local version of a roast beef sandwich, called "beef on weck" and you have a great meal. I tried the "Taste of Buffalo" at Danny's Restaurant which has both wings and a beef on weck, served to perfection.

New York City - Best Deli - I thought Katz's was far better than Carnegie. A pastrami sandwich, matzo ball soup, and a chocolate egg cream is a great combo. My review of Katz's here.

New York City - Hot Dogs - I've been to Gray's Papaya and to Papaya King. I prefer Papaya King's hot dogs, although Chicago hot dogs are better than anything in NYC. The papaya drink at Papaya King is on of the best drinks I've ever had, and the knishes (potato cake) are good as well.

New York City - Bagels - Ess-a-Bagel is the best bagel I've ever had...toasted with strawberry cream cheese. As good as the bagel was I liked the ambiance of a busy Manhattan breakfast spot.

New York City - New York Style Pizza - It's far better than Chicago's deep dish pizza. Just make sure you go to a place that has coal fired ovens - they produce a better, crispier crust. John's Pizza and Lombardi's are my top picks, but the best of the best is Di Fara in Brooklyn.

New York City - Best Ambiance - The 21 Club is an expensive but tasty place to eat. It was by far the coolest and sexiest place I've ever eaten at. This prohibition era former speakeasy wreaks with more history than most museums. 

New York City - Best Burger - The Brindle Room is a quiet little place located in East Village that has a burger so good that it will forever change your life. You will never look at burgers the same way again after eating here.

Ohio


Cincinnati - Ribs King - The Montgomery Inn has the best ribs I've ever eaten anywhere. This place is a legend and a must stop for any BBQ lover.

Cincinnati - Cincinnati Chili - Skip Skyline Chili and go to Gold Star for a 3-way and a cheese coney.

Cincinnati - Grocery Store - If you want to visit the biggest and baddest grocery store in the country go to Jungle Jim's.

Oregon

Portland - Doughnuts - Voodoo Doughnut has some great one-of-a-kind doughnuts. My favorite is the bacon maple bar. It's a doughnut with bacon that just somehow works.

Eugene - Fresh Salmon - If you can get past the fish market smell, picking out some salmon and getting it fried fresh on the spot is great. There are many great places anywhere in the Pacific Northwest with the Eugene Fish Market being the place I tried. 

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia - Cheese Steak - The long line is worth the wait to score a wiz wit and a Yuengling at Jim's Steaks. They have the best cheese steak in the city in my opinion. My full review and all the city's big name cheese steak places here.

Philadelphia - Pork Sandwich - DiNiC's pork sandwich was rated as the "Best Sandwich in America". I just think it is the "Most Overrated Sandwich in America". My full review here.

Philadelphia - Crab Fries - Fries with crab seasoning are actually pretty damn good. Especially with hot cheese dipping sauce. You can get them at Chickie's and Pete's.

Philadelphia - Food Market - Reading Terminal Market is the best food market I've ever been to. It is also home to one of the best desserts I've ever had: a Termini Brothers cannoli. 

South Carolina

Myrtle Beach - Seafood - Both Carolina's have great seafood and southern hospitality. You can't go wrong with eating just about anywhere, but New York Prime is a great spot for a high quality steak and lobster.

Tennessee

Memphis - BBQ Pork Ribs - Corky's has great wet ribs, and even better sides. Rendezvous has great dry ribs also an awesome atmosphere. I prefer Corky's. My in-depth review here. Still not the best ribs I've ever had - an honor that goes to Montgomery Inn in Cincinnati.

Texas

Amarillo - Steak - I thought The Big Texan Steak Ranch was nothing more than a showy, tourist trap with overcooked cafeteria-quality steaks. My full review here

Austin - BBQ Beef Brisket - It was a three hour wait for what turned out to be the best brisket I've ever eaten at Franklin's. This stuff was so good it did not need (and you wouldn't dare add) sauce. My full review here.

Austin - Turkey Melt Sandwich - I drove 3-1/2 hours to eat the turkey melt at Aussie's VolleyBar. It is that damn good, and the sandwich isn't even on the menu anymore. You'll have to request it special. The bread is what makes this sandwich so delicious. 

Dallas - BBQ - Pecan Lodge has the best BBQ in North Texas and beyond. Get there early and get a giant beef rib. 

Dallas - Fried Food - The State Fair of Texas arrives each October and has an overpriced offering of weird fried foods. Here's what I tried.

Fort Worth - BBQ - Smokeys Barbeque is my favorite local BBQ joint. Ribs, brisket, beans, buttered bread, and buttermilk pie is my favorite. Here's my review.

Houston - On the Water - At Babin's Seafood House the view is cool, but the lobster bisque is better. It's like rich, buttery nectar of the gods. 

Lockhart - BBQ - This city is known as the BBQ capital of Texas. I've been to all of the local BBQ spots: Kreuz, Smitty's, Blacks, and Chisholm Trail. I think Black's is the best, but it's still not as good as Franklin's in Austin. My full review here.

West - Kolaches - Halfway between Fort Worth and Waco is the Czech Stop. A must stop for me (and all Texans) on all road trips for a delicious snack. The jalapeno-cheese kolache is my favorite, but there are many to choose from. 

Utah

Salt Lake City - Fry Sauce - I tried the local condiment of choice at Arctic Circle and found it strangely addicting. My review here.

Wisconsin

Statewide - Cheese Curds - I've tried this regional dish fresh and deep-fried. I prefer fried. You can get them pretty much anywhere in Wisconsin. I had them at Gus's Drive In located in East Troy.

Statewide - Frozen Custard - This stuff is like a more sugary, buttery, version of ice cream. It's mainly found in colder climates because of its low melting temperature. My favorite spot for frozen custard is Culver's. They're a regional fast food chain that offers a different featured frozen custard flavor every day.

United Kingdom

London - Fish & Chips - Albannach has a proper fish & chips that's served in a pretty swank looking restaurant, but the price is quite expensive.

France

Paris - Cafe - Caf√© de Flore has a lot of history and is great for people watching. It's a beautiful spot to relax. I had the onion soup and it was freaking great.

Paris - Brasserie - Brasserie Lipp has one of the best steaks I've ever had. The b√©arnaise pushed it to the next level.

Paris - Hot Chocolate - The best hot chocolate I've ever had was at Angelina's on the right bank.

Paris - Macaroons - Pierre Herme is known for their macaroons. They're tiny, they're tasty, and they're expensive. I ate a box with about $60 worth of macaroons in about, um, 10 minutes.