The Unvegan

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Eating Like a Sconnie at Culver’s
Doing the Impossible at The Counter?
Arizona Culinary Hall of Fame 2017
One and Another Citizen Public House

‘National Chains’

Eating Like a Sconnie at Culver’s

Curds. Always.

There is no denying that much of my heart belongs in the state of Wisconsin, where I spent many summers of my life. So when Michigan loses a football game to Wisconsin, I may hate it, but I’m also weirdly more okay with it than I am with losing to just about any other team. But what does this have to do with food? Well, Wisconsin produced a fast food place called Culver’s, which is actually in Phoenix. So afters years of not being in Wisconsin, I revisited the Scottsdale location of Culver’s to see if it could bring me back to my days in Wisconsin.

A Crusty Lunch at Grimaldi’s

Nice and crusty.
Nice and crusty.

While Phoenix has Pizzeria Bianco, it isn’t exactly a city known for its pizza. This may be because pizza isn’t exactly what you crave on a super-hot day, yet Phoenix has managed to import Chicago-style deep dish through Oregano’s and New York style pizza with Grimaldi’s. Grimaldi’s does coal brick oven pizza and actually started out in New York so I was expecting it to be pretty good.

Going Dutch at The Original Pancake House

Oh hey Dutch Baby.
Oh hey Dutch Baby.

The Original Pancake House may not be a Western New York native, but it sure is a local favorite. We had it in Michigan and I always liked it, but I never exactly found it groundbreaking, aside from the smiley face pancakes they used to make. Yet, I figured it was time to revisit the old place (which, by the way, has a fish fry on Fridays) and see what it was like.

Ribs and Games at Dave & Buster’s

Here little ribby.
Here little ribby.

When you think of Dave & Buster’s you probably don’t think of food. And that’s with a good reason. The place is made for arcade games and drinking, with food as a sort of afterthought. Nonetheless, some genius friends of mine decided to head over to the Waterfront to both EAT and PLAY at Dave & Buster’s. It seemed like a mistake, and as our waiter told us that we could only order a tower of beer for more than three drinkers, this fear seemed confirmed. But we pressed on.

Waking up with Taco Bell

Waco?
Waco?

The moment I heard Taco Bell was testing markets for breakfast, I began counting down the days until I could have some for myself. Of course, at the time, there was no date to count down to because of the whole test market thing. Nonetheless, a date came: March 27, 2014. And when I arrived at Taco Bell at 11:01 am I was promptly turn sent packing for being one minute past the breakfast deadline. Somewhat deterred, I returned a week later, but this time before the clock could run out on me.

Red Robin, Green Lettuce

Ugh.
Ugh.

Casual dining chains are a weird thing. Applebee’s gets a bad rap, but somehow Chili’s seems to be immune from negativity. Then there are places like Olive Garden and Red Robin that people sincerely love. It’s a strange world. But after a few people in my life talked about the goodness of Red Robin’s burgers (myself having not eaten there since the age of 10), I found myself at one of those restaurants and in need of a burger (as always).

True Grits at Waffle House

A little breakfast sandwich.
A little breakfast sandwich.

I can probably be said that any visit to Atlanta without a stop at Waffle House is a failure. This breakfasty 24 hour diner is a staple in the Atlanta area. Furthermore, any trip to Waffle House without has browns is also a failure. Before going any further, I have to admit that I failed at the latter. Be that as it may, take this review with a grain of salt. It won’t be a bad review, but likely won’t be as good as it could have been. Also, I didn’t eat any waffles.

Smashburger Crashes into Culver

Blue skies and signs that look like GameStop.
Blue skies and signs that look like GameStop.

When the Culver City outpost of Famima!! shuttered, I lamented the loss. It was one of those places that I didn’t get to very often, but always felt comfortable knowing it was there. Then I found out that it was to be replaced by Smashburger, a fast-casual burger chain out of Denver that specializes in smashing balls of beef into burgers as they cook, instead of getting them patty-ized beforehand. The premise isn’t entirely novel, but that did not mean I wasn’t excited.

Bread on Bread at Panera

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Old faithful.

With a place like Panera, I’m fortunate to not have to give much of a back story. It’s all over the place, and there’s good reason for it. They make some great breads and soups. And they make those other things that often come with breads: sandwiches. When I trekked out to Panera in North Hollywood, it was the sandwiches I was after.