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.
A long time ago in a state far, far away, I fell in love with a little something called Umami Burger. As “umami” is a Japanese word and not exactly trademark-able, it was inevitable that I would run across a restaurant using the same name at some point, but was still surprised to find a place called Umami in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Why was I in such a place? Oh, to please my wife who likes a little something called Jeni’s Ice Cream. But that is neither here nor there. What really matters is Umami.
Recently I was enlightened to the existence of the greatest wings in Pennsylvania. Surely, this is quite the claim, but Dino’s in Latrobe has no issue with making the claim on their site. Plus, a buddy of mine gave them a glowing review, having grown up in Latrobe. Their specialty isn’t actually buffalo wings, but something called Sweet and Hot.
Pennsylvania has some crazy alcohol laws. One of these is that places that sell six packs of beer also have to sell immediately consumable food. You know, like a restaurant. Clever, enterprising humans in Pittsburgh have realized that the easiest and cheapest way to do this is through selling hot dogs, so Pittsburgh is full of crappy little hot dog spots with overpriced beer. Despite the name, D’s Six Pax & Dogz is not one of these places.
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.
Possibly the best part of a road trip is not quite knowing where you’ll be sleeping that night, and not just which hotel, but sometimes which city. Somehow after a day at beautiful, if foggy Crater Lake we decided to make the trek to Eugene, Oregon to crash with a family friend. Knowing the kind of food I like to eat and the kind of beers I like to drink, he took us to McMenamins, a sort of chain of microbreweries throughout Oregon and Washington. He explained that each one was unique in its design because they typically opened up in buildings with previous tenants and worked within those confines. It was a pretty cool concept and the McMenamins North Bank in Eugene certainly had an awesome set up.
Remember when Hooters was as exciting as restaurants got? Not food-wise, of course, but ummm boob-wise. Well, those days are as dead as the Cold War. Last year I learned this firsthand at the Tilted Kilt and on my recent visit to Las Vegas the point was driven home, hard, at Twin Peaks. It was at Twin Peaks that we basically established our base camp for our time in Las Vegas. The only trouble was it was hard to concentrate on the basketball games with so much else to look at.
There is a certain awesome feeling that comes with flying thousands of miles and arriving in a place with the food comforts of home. Such is The Waterfront of Cape Town. The place has just about every type of food imaginable, and on our first day we made our way to Ferrymans for a drink and a bite.
You know that feeling when a musician you “discovered” finally gets some radio playing time? In the food world, the equivalent is finding out that one of your favorite restaurants was featured on an awesome Travel Channel or Food Network show. I’d like to say this has happened to me before, but certainly it happened to my brother-in-law in New York. While I was visiting in Brooklyn, he took me to his favorite local BBQ place, which had just been featured on Drivers, Drive-Ins and Dives. It’s called The Smoke Joint, and as soon as I entered I felt at home.
Hot’s Kitchen in Hermosa Beach recently made the news for finding a loophole in the California’s foie gras ban. And while this reminded me of the place, it had originally made the news to me a year or so ago when my buddy told me they had an awesome selection of burgers and wings. Not knowing totally what to expect of the place, I set out with the wife on an adventure and found the city of Hermosa Beach as dead as the zombie apocalypse.