Melt It! in Pasadena refers to itself as “A Grilled Cheese Co.” I’m not sure what else would have been expected from a place called Melt It! (except maybe like fondue or a ton of patty melt options, which are basically just grilled cheeses with burgers in them anyway), but I was eager to see what kind of twists this place would make on the old standby.
Tacos tu Madre was blowing up all over the social media a few months ago with amazing-looking burritos that seemed to represent a new level of delicious fusion. Thus, I had to give the place a try and had my best opportunity when out in West LA. They were out of a couple things, but this didn’t impact what I had in mind. There are a number of options and they are all available as a burrito, a taco or a bowl.
Route 66 is one of those legendary American “things,” like baseball and winning wars, which helped define our country once, but have since been replaced by other American “things,” like the interstate system, football and losing wars/diplomacy. Once upon a time, the route was dotted with the best America had to offer, but now there are mostly ghost towns. Some, like Victorville, California have been propped up by continuing to be a main route. In Victorville’s case, it just happens to be right on the way to Las Vegas.
Apparently in the two years that I went missing from LA, two things that had not been popular before got, well, popular. One is avocado toast, so whatever. The other is lobster rolls, which is somewhat strange considering lobster comes from the other coast, yet not because people like pricey stuff out here. One of these lobster roll spots is Knuckle and Claw in Silverlake.
As the various neighborhoods of Pittsburgh become more and more gentrified, it’s only inevitable that the hipster vibe that inhabits Lawrenceville will make its way to other parts of the city. One of these areas is Bloomfield, where Bread and Salt Bakery has taken up business in what seems to be a back alley. Replete with a man in cutoff shorts and pizza that is charged by the pound (because obviously everyone knows how much a pound of pizza looks like), the place has become popular for its bread. Which is good, because up until recently that was about all they had to offer on their menu.
In need of some food to soak up the booze of the night before, we found ourselves at Les 3 Brasseurs in downtown Montreal. Of course, in English this translates to The 3 Brewers, so it seemed like a good place to get our fill before leaving the lovely city of Montreal. Because it seemed necessary, we started with a couple orders of poutine for the table – including one non-traditional that had pulled pork and bacon.
In a world filled with fancy brunch spots, it’s comforting to know that greasy spoons like Ritter’s Diner still exist. Because after a night filled with too many vinos, I don’t want some newfangled omelet or polenta cake, I want cheese, bacon and a side of grease. And in my head, what better place to satisfy this need than Ritter’s Diner?
On this day, it is customary to feel patriotic. After all, it is the day that our forefathers flipped the bird across the pond and said “We’re doing things our way from now on.” While we can’t exactly be patriotic in the same way anymore, there are still things we can do, as real Americans, to carry on the American dream. One (and probably the best) of these things is that we can sit in a former president’s hunting shack and eat huge burgers. That’s where Grover’s comes in.
Grover’s was supposedly once Grover Cleveland’s hunting shack (which is actually plausible because the guy was once the mayor of Buffalo). It’s over in East Amherst and looks a lot more like a dive bar now than a hunting shack. And the burgers at Grover’s are all-American. Some display excess, some display freedom and some both. Like when I showed up and found out that the burger of the week did not have grilled cheese buns, they actually made one for me anyway. Typically, it only comes with cheese, but I asked for it with bacon. Plus, it had all sorts of other vegetable toppings that come on every burger and I ordered without. I also asked for medium-rare.
Contrary to my belief based on visits to Canada from Detroit when I was a wee boy, the Great White North is not a cheap place. Gone are the days that an American dollar could be exchanged for a toonie. Instead, the US is now the place Canada looks to for cheap stuff, making it difficult for an incoming grad student on a road trip budget to eat. Yet, somehow we found our way to Joey Broadway in South Granview, a modern Canadian restaurant with a great-looking menu and Goldilocks-esque just-right pricing. Not to mention a killer patio.
As some of you loyal followers of mine may or may not know, I recently took a stroll to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro. The trip included a cook who made some pretty impressive camping food, considering porters were carrying everything. Inevitably, some of the food didn’t fit into my unvegan eating habits, but I ate them anyway, because this was not about eating what I wanted, but about survival in a sense. These were things like cucumber soup, zucchini soup and veggie sauce on pasta. No, they didn’t make we want to eat veggies, but they did hammer home the lesson that hunger truly is the best spice.