State Fairs are often an afterthought. A relic of times past when most of us lived in rural areas and guessing the weight of a pumpkin was the best entertainment of the month. They offer variations on the same rides, foods and entertainment that you find at your local Memorial Day Carnival or County Fair and, I mean, how many people even go to those? But the Minnesota State Fair is so far from an afterthought that it seems to be on the minds of Minnesotans for the 50 weeks of the year in which it is not in operation. Plans are made, new foods are devised and longed after; then, just like that, it’s over again. This year, however, the Unvegan paid a visit to see how it would all stack up.
The space between fast food burgers and gourmet burgers is a crowded one. Over in Portland a spot called Killer Burger did so well in that space that they decided to set up shop in Scottsdale. Scottsdale is oh so different from Portland, but hell, I’ll take any new burger spot outside of a vegetarian patty specialist.
I have a hard time driving by burger places regularly without paying a visit. And yet, Lush Burger in Scottsdale evaded my belly for too long. This would have to be remedied and so I made my way there. I was amused by the naming of the burgers on the menu, ranging from Jay Does ‘Shrooms to Hello….?!?! Can Anyone Get Me A Bacon Cheeseburger Around Here?!? with amazingly lengthy descriptions.
Traveling for work can sometimes take you to big cities with tons of food. And sometimes it can take you to places like Idaho Falls, Idaho. It’s a place with a surprising amount of options considering the airport only has three gates, but, I mean, still. So on my first night there I went straight to a restaurant within a hotel, which is usually not a good plan, but I had read good things. It was called Bee’s Knees.
Where I come from, microbreweries are known to have good food. But, as I have learned, many parts of the country (perhaps all except Oregon?) are much newer to the micro or craft brewery concept and have focused much more on the beer than the food. Arizona, though, while new to the union and pretty new to brewing seems to have struck the right chord. Perhaps it’s because there are so many damn people here from Michigan, but whatever the case I was eager to get myself a non-media meal at SanTan Brewing Company ( you can check out the media one here).
You probably wouldn’t expect Phoenix to be the most Italian of cities. After all, there is not Little Italy and the Mafia is more of an East Coast thing. Yet, Phoenix definitely has some homegrown Italian favorites and Babbo is one of these. Babbo invited me out to its Scottsdale location for a hosted dinner and I took them up on the chance to check it out.
Sometimes burgers build up a reputation. Whether by winning awards or word of mouth, it happens. This happened to Aioli Burger in both ways. Yeah, it won some burger battles, but also people told me about it and that doesn’t happen as much in Phoenix as it did in LA and Pittsburgh, so I figured it had to be real. Plus, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that I got a taste of Aioli Burger at the Scottsdale Culinary Fest earlier this year. Basically, the hype was real.
Scottsdale and breakfast go together like peas and carrots. Well, assuming those peas and carrots are nowhere near me. But having breakfast near me is good, so it became time to check out Ncounter in Scottsdale, its third location after presumably finding success in Tempe and Phoenix. I’m not sure what the “N” stands for, but the rest of the name is descriptive of the ordering style of the restaurant, so that made sense.
Everybody just looooves the Fox Restaurant Group in Phoenix. But can there ever be too many Fox restaurants? I headed to The Greene House in Scottsdale’s Kierland Commons in my continuing quest to find out. The Greene House is a modern American restaurant showcasing things like salads, sandwiches, fish and chicken. As in most similar situations, my eyes went right for the burger.
It’s really hard to say enough good things about pub food, but I’m about to say some more. Because for my last meal in Salem, I made my way to the Olde Main Street Pub in the hopes that this Irish place would have food fit for an unvegan. After a bunch of seafood, beef and pork, it was time to taste the what Salem had to offer from the poultry realm.