The Mekong Plaza in Mesa is a great place to get real, authentic Asian food to bring people back to their roots or at least to get them away from crappy Americanized Asian food. And among those more traditional restaurants is something that doesn’t fit the mold at all. It’s called Kingo Bowl, and it has taken the concept of rice bowls with molecular sous vide.
There was a weird time in history when revolving restaurants became popular. Only one of these, at least as far as I understand, also was a Playboy Club back in the day, and that was the Compass Arizona Grill on top of the Hyatt in Downtown Phoenix. Today, it serves as kind of a throwback steakhouse, there to remind you how cool rotating restaurants once were, while trying to adapt to the modern palette.
Harbor Springs is a lovely little town up in Northern Michigan, and yet between it and Petoskey (another lovely, somewhat bigger town), there isn’t much beyond trees, condos, lakes and a couple of ski mountains. Oh, and there’s also Teddy Griffin’s Roadhouse, which has been situated there as long as I can remember. They serve up a combination of bar food, fancier European-style food, Great Lakes food and some of the most delicious bread in the world.
Persian food is a special type of Middle Eastern food, and thus I was very excited to learn that Scottsdale has its own Persian restaurant, appropriately named the Persian Room, because it’s basically one big room. With Persian food. And like any Persian restaurant worth its salt, its menu was vast and filled with all sorts of meats and rice. Essentially it was the kind of place that was made for an unvegan.
Hotels aren’t exactly known for their food. Yet, there has been a trend to try to get better restaurants into hotels and I give those hotels major props for trying. In Pasadena the dusitD2 Constance Hotel has a spot called Constance Perry’s. It’s kind of Asian, kind of American, but definitely not fusion because those dishes kind of stand out on their own.
While in Denver, I found myself at a trendy spot downtown called Hearth and Dram. It’s unquestionably the kind of name that was pulled out of the random trendy restaurant name handbook, but that didn’t change the fact that the menu looked like an unvegan dream. Sure, there were vegetables, but I liked to think they were an afterthought compared to the real food.
What do you do when combine Chipotle and Brazilian food in the city of Denver? Apparently a spot called Five on Black. It has the element of walking down the line to make an order, puts it all in a bowl instead of tortillas. Seeing as I and the world seem pretty bored of Chipotle these days, this seemed like a nice change of pace.
LA’s Koreatown is a place of legend, filled with all-you-can-eat BBQ, karaoke spots, and seedy places you’ll never know about unless you know about them. It also covers the area seemingly as big as Manhattan. New York’s Koreatown, on the other hand, covers just more than a city block and is built vertically like much of the rest of Manhattan. It is there that I went to dinner at Jongro BBQ.
When it comes to grilling (as opposed to generating energy), charcoal is king. Somewhere along the way, someone realized that this would translate into a great restaurant concept. Thus, the world was given Charcoal in Venice. Charcoal, like most BBQs, is pretty meat-centric and great for unvegans. Nonetheless, there were definitely veggie options for those who prefer not to enjoy life as much.
Brio may be a chain, but it’s the kind of chain I can get behind. After all, steaks are a central component of the menu at the place. Of course, with an Tuscan theme it’s possible to get some light pasta or something else crazy, but I am a man who doesn’t generally turn down the opportunity for a steak.