In the past few years, airports have made some real attempts to up their food games. Some have brought in popular local restaurants, while others have commissioned celebrity chefs to bring new restaurants into the airports. Gone are the days of Chili’s 2 Go being the only option, which meant that with a whole lot of spare time at San Francisco International Airport, I was able to make my way to Union Street Gastropub to grab a beer and a sandwich.
It’s hard to go wrong with bar food, but it’s usually pretty heavy stuff. So, when I entered East Park Tavern in Charlevoix, Michigan with a stomach that knew it needed to eat something for dinner, but wasn’t especially hungry, I hoped there would be something I could find. Instead of making my way to the full on entree menu, I went for the appetizers and the wings caught my attention.
It seems like just yesterday that I packed up my bags in Michigan to move to Los Angeles, but alas it was nearly 10 years ago. A lot has changed in those 10 years, and aside from housing prices and traffic much of it has been for the better. Take, for example, breweries. Michigan was littered with them and I found LA barely had one (San Diego was strong, though). Now, they are much easier to find and have even come around to serving brewery food instead of fancy stuff (I’m looking at you, Golden Road, but glad that you have also fixed yourself up!) Highland Park Brewery is one of the new entrants and I set out to test both its food and booze.
Sometimes when I go to a restaurant I get pretty torn on what to order. In times like these I lean on the professionals (aka waitstaff) to help me out. Such was the case at the Olde Blind Dog Irish Pub in Brookhaven, a suburb of Atlanta. The pub serves much of what you would expect from pub food, and I love that stuff so much that I’m inclined to eat it all up.
$25. In the real world that can get you a lot of things. You know, like 25 items from the McDonald’s Dollar Menu or a tank of gas (Prius FTW). But at The Spotted Pig in New York’s West Village it will get you a single burger (with fries though!) And that is the sole reason I set off for The Spotted Pig. As a meat blogger and burger connoisseur, I had been eying the burger for years, waiting for the chance to strike.
In Santa Barbara there’s a spot called the Public Market. It’s kind of like an upscale food court, but most importantly there is a bar that attracts Michigan fans called The Garden. It’s not your typical sports bar, and is a sort of attempt to be a beer or wine garden. Whatever the case, I was eager for some beer and a burger.
Vail, Colorado may be a beautiful place, but it is certainly not a place to go if you’re on a budget. Lift tickets are crazy expensive and the food isn’t much cheaper. But there are a couple more reasonable places in town and The Red Lion is one of them. As you might expect, The Red Lion is a British Pub and has your classic pub fare. When it came to my meal, I only really had eyes for the burgers.
San Clemente is a quaint little town on the California coast that is definitely worth a visit. And if you make it down there, you could do a whole lot worse than a visit to H.H. Cotton’s, a gastropub right in the middle of town. We wound up there completely by accident, but then isn’t that the way many great stories begin?
While the little one was distracted by football, I went ahead and ordered The Longhorn, based on my waitress’s recommendation. The Longhorn, by the way, is a burger topped with bacon, chopped brisket, crispy shallots, cheddar and BBQ sauce. As for my side, I opted for fries.
When you’re in New York, it’s probably not the best idea to decide where you are eating based on the proximity to your hotel. Yet, when I walked by Black Iron Burger, right around the corner from my hotel in Chelsea I was immediately drawn in. The place claimed to have been voted as one of the best burgers in New York, and I was in no position to disagree.
While in Sac Town, it’s advisable to check out the State Capitol. It really is a beautiful building with a sprawling grounds showing off some of the best flora of California. And just up the street from there you can find what seemed the be the coolest place in town to grab brunch: Fox and Goose. With a dingy interior and pretty sweet patio, this British Pub drew me right in.