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.
Mohawk Bend in Echo Park is a scary place. No, it’s not in a bad neighborhood or perched precariously upon a cliff along a fault line. It’s scary because its menu defaults to vegan. Yes, you read that right. If you don’t want to eat vegan you have to find something on the menu with (NV) after the name of the dish. That presumably stands for Not Vegan and they were the only menu items worth looking at.
In my short visit to LA, I made my way to just about every corner of the city. This inevitably took me to The Valley and a newish gastropub called The Woodman in Sherman Oaks. The place is known for a good happy hour (with prices that are still higher than Pittsburgh), but I couldn’t quite make it in time for that. Instead, I paid for full-price beer and food like some sort of normal human.
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.
From the people that brought you Bar Bill in East Aurora, comes 189 Public House literally right next door (with the address of 189 Main Street). This Southern-influenced jazzy gastropub is a far cry from its neighbor, which might be ill-advised considering the perpetually long lines for tables at Bar Bill. On the other hand, it’s perfectly positioned to pick off those who don’t want to wait so long and want something a little bit different.
Elmwood Village is definitely one of the cooler parts of Buffalo, with lots of cool shops and restaurants. One of these restaurants is a gastropub known as Blue Monk. Where the name comes from, I cannot say, because a look at the menu might have led me to think it should be called Blue Duck (in the style of Billy Madison). That’s because half of the menu items seemed to be duck-based.
I don’t always go to Pittsburgh’s North Side, but when I do, it is for BOGO (buy one get one free) wings. And these wings were at James Street Tavern, a sort of gastropub with a jazzy theme and some actual live jazz music if you show up at the right time. I, of course, did not, but I did show up on Thursday night when the place has those 2-for-1 wings. And we went all-out with the wings, beginning with some Classic Hot Buffalo over there on the left.
Industry Public House is pretty much the first gastropub I have come across in Pittsburgh. This is shocking, because I have been here for more than 9 months and I couldn’t go more than 9 blocks in the last city I lived in without coming across one. And, as much as I tired of every new gastropub’s attempt to find unique craft beers and craft burgers, I must say I was happy to find both at Industry Public House.
While gastropubs may not be a growing industry in Pittsburgh, a quick trip to Brooklyn showed me that they are still alive and kicking. Take, for example, Black Swan, a semi-divey bar that serves a brunch that brought me in. With standard gastropub fare, I made a rare move to not go with the burger that seemed overloaded with vegetables and instead went with wings. And not swan wings like you may expect from a place with such a name.
Essentially the day I arrived in Pittsburgh, a buddy of mine told me I had to get to Meat & Potatoes in downtown. With an unvegan name like that, I didn’t exactly need convincing. Yet, when I took a look at the menu and prices I quickly realized this was a destination for when parents came to town. After all, that whole being a student thing can make eating out tough. But the parents did come, and to Meat & Potatoes we went.