Yesterday I stumbled across a really neat show on the Food Network - Diners, Drive-thrus, and Dives. This guy goes around the nation finding little out of the way spots with awesome food. One of the shows yesterday was devoted to hamburgers and I nearly drooled myself into a coma.
Anyway, I suppose you're asking yourself what this has to do with writing. Not much really. I guess the topic could be stretched to recognize the fact that writers are everywhere, they travel a lot for signings and conferences, and they always need to eat - so why not share the knowledge of the good places to eat.
In my former workaday life, I was an outside sales rep - manufacturers' rep to be specific - and aside from covering southeast Michigan (and the Upper Peninsula), I had to travel around for sales meetings with the manufacturers we represented, plus I had to go to Vegas every year for the one big trade show. (Sounds like a blast, but it was a lot of work.) Additionally, I've lived in 5 different states, and I've traveled some for personal reasons. With all that traveling and moving I ate a lot in a lot of places.
So without further ado, here is a list of some of the best foods I've eaten and their locations. (Don't shoot me if you go looking and they're not still there. I haven't been to some of these places in a while.)
In the panhandle of Florida, delicately perched over the Apalachicola River where it empties into Ochlockonee Bay is a place called Angelo's. The history of the joint says that because the counties nearby were 'dry', they built the restaurant over the water so they could serve alcohol with their meals. (The river itself, it seems, was in a 'wet' county. No pun intended, but sometimes the truth is punny.) Anyway, this place serves the best of everything seafood (okay, not everything, since the whole time I lived in FL, I couldn't get a decent plate of crab legs) and I would particularly recommend their amberjack and their scallops. Oh, heaven. If you're stuck in Tallahassee for any length of time, it's worth the drive - even if you have to rent a car to get there.
Also, in Tallahassee is a little, out of the way place called Albert's Provence. They advertise the menu as French Mediterranean. A bit pricey, but worth every penny. Nice atmosphere, great food; friendly staff.
If you're ever in the Salt Lake Valley and looking for a classy, upscale restaurant, try Tiburon in Sandy, UT. I used to live up the street, and although I couldn't afford to eat there regularly, I was treated to an awesome meal once. Looking at a dining guide just now, they say the average price on the menu is $28 a plate. I believe it. I got their New Zealand Elk and it was $38, but man oh man was it the best. Actually, everything we ate was incredible.
Also for a great meal in SLC, check out The Wasatch Grill. (Their website only shows the address for their Murray location, but they used to have a place on E 2100 S, that was tops for atmosphere and friendliness.) Anyway, anything you eat there should be great, but I loved their Teriyaki Pasta and their Chicken/Halibut plate. Oh, and their kabobs.
I lived in a suburb of Chicago briefly. It was one of those years I'd rather forget, but some of the places we ate were spectacular. For instance, Bob Chinn's Crabhouse. This place is probably the reason why I am dissatisfied with almost every other plate of crablegs I will ever order anywhere. When you get a crableg that as big around as your arm and almost as long, you can never go back. Plus, try a pitcher of MaiTais and one of their two-inch thick steaks. Of course, we always had to wait 45 minutes or longer for a table (they didn't used to take reservations for parties smaller than 6), but if you were lucky you could catch a glimpse of one of the Chicago Bears players eating there. I'm drooling again. Damn it.
Another nifty treat in the Chicagoland area is Zin Mi Japanese Steak House in the suburb of Morton Grove. It's one of those nifty little places where they seat you around one of several large cooking stations, and they cook your meal in front of you. The chefs do little tricks with their spatulas and it's great fun, but even beyond that, it's great food.
For a great meal in St. Louis, give Mike Shannon's Steak & Seafood a try. I haven't been there in fifteen years, but damn, it left an impression. The steaks were tender and tasty, the appetizers were to die for (I could live on appetizers, btw), but the high spot of the meal was the Upside Down Apple Pie. Knock you to your knees goodness with a scoop of ice cream. I'm tellin' ya.
I won't even start on Vegas - so much good food, so little time. But I do have to give a shout-out to the guys and gals at Sergio's Italian Gardens. Every year we had a rep dinner there, and every year the place was great. The food was always spectacular, the people were always fun and friendly. I really missed the last year I was in the business when the manufacturer in question changed locales for their meeting.
Lastly, I'd like to take a moment to remember my lost comrade and dinner delight... The Awesome Wet Burrito from Entre Amigos Restaurant. In researching this post today, I discovered the restaurant no longer exists, and therefore, The Awesome Wet Burrito is no more. :heartfelt sigh: You shall be missed, my friend.
Of course, there are other places where I've had awesome meals. I can't even remember the names and locations of some of the places. Like the little greek place that served the flaming cheese and the key lime cheesecake, or the little restaurant in some tiny town where the soup was so incredible you could cry.
Your turn: Tell me, where are some awesome places you've eaten?
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