What’s a guy to do when he’s in Orlando for The Game? Why, reach out to the local alumni association chapter to find out where they watch football, of course! That, my friends, is how I ended up at Friendly Confines in South Orange. Tucked within a somewhat sketchy neighborhood far beyond the theme parks, Friendly Confines is actually a pretty cool bar that has a whole back room devoted to Michigan despite the Chicago-esque name.
On the way to the Palace of Auburn Hills there wis very little good food to be had. I can usually count on the Moose Preserve, which is at least relatively close. On my last visit, however, a snowstorm ruined any chance we had of taking the time to get to that lovely restaurant. Instead, we ended up at The Lodge in Keego Harbor. It had been at least a decade since my last appearance at The Lodge and pool tables seemed to have been exchanged for regular eating tables, making it easy to find one.
Independent Brewing Company opened up in Squirrel Hill earlier this year to little fanfare. Yet, it has been on my list of places to visit for no reason other than that I love independent beer. Then, when I heard they had food to go with that beer I was sold. Then when I saw how little food was actually on the menu I was unsold. But then when I saw the menu would get expanded on Tuesdays I was sold again. It was a real roller coaster ride.
In the rundown city of Tucson, Arizona there is an oasis known as the University of Arizona. Within this oasis is a spot called Frog & Firkin, which my wife remembers fondly from her days as a wildcat. So, with only one meal to eat we made our way to that oddly-named “English” Pub to see if they had anything to offer beyond nostalgia.
Once in a blue moon (or every Thursday night), The Yard in Shadyside has a burger and beer special in which you can get a Juicy Lucy (yeah I know it’s spelled wrong) and a beer for $10. This is a good deal even by Pittsburgh standards despite the fact that the burger doesn’t come with any sides and the beer selection is somewhat limited.
Station Square is one of Pittsburgh’s older buildings, having formerly housed a train station and currently housing some of the nicest stained glass in town. It also houses the Gandy Dancer Saloon, which should not at all be confused with the Gandy Dancer in Ann Arbor that was also connected in history and proximity to a railway. This Gandy Dancer is certainly nothing fancy, a bar with mostly seafood options, but since I’m not exactly a fancy man this seemed right up my alley.
After a fruitless attempt to grab happy hour down in Scottsdale town, we consulted a nifty little thing called NoWaitApp and found out we could get seated immediately at The Vig in McCormick Ranch and made our way there. The Vig seemed to be a combination of trendy and sports bar-esque food that was right up my alley. So far up, in fact, that I had to consult the waitress before choosing what to order.
Back in Niagara-on-the-Lake one more time again, we corrected the mistake of the previous visit and actually took a recommendation on where to eat. We started out with The Irish Harp, a pub with just the kind of food you would expect a pub to have. There were burgers, sandwiches, and for some reason pesky salads.
Buffalo is not a new city. In fact, it’s so old that they have a place called Ulrich’s 1868 Tavern. The 1868 means it first opened in 1868, you know, three years after the Civil War concluded and the first year of the Meiji Restoration. So the place is old, and despite some recent renovations, Ulrich’s definitely maintains the old world charm that makes it easy to picture old shipmen in the 1800s hanging out with Buffalo wenches.
In a little part of town called Allentown (not that Allentown) lies a place known to have some of the best chicken wings in Buffalo. It’s called Gabriel’s Gate, which likely has some sort of heavenly connotations. And if heaven is filled with chicken wings, I will do my damnedest to get there. It was easy to get a seat at the bar to eat and after a conversation with the bartender my buddy and I decided what to order.