Sublime Doughnuts - Atlanta, GA

No foodie adventure would be complete without a doughnut stop. You got Voodoo and Blue Star in Portland OR. Then there's another Voodoo plus Gourdough's in Austin. Google doughnuts + your city here and you'll find places that are worth the trip. Or two in the case of Sublime Doughnuts. Two because that's how many locations there are in Altanta and I stopped by both for the one doughnut I just couldn't have enough of.

Doughnuts! Check out the Salt & Vinegar (bottom right). 

Doughnuts! Check out the Salt & Vinegar (bottom right). 

More doughnuts!

More doughnuts!

I was in town visiting one my bestest friends, Evil Bee Slayer. We met over ten years ago when we both lived in Florida. I can't believe it's been that long! She recently moved to Atlanta and I was more than happy to visit and play tourist with her, foodie tourist that is. And I was so proud of her because she was adventurous as she's ever been and we had a blast. 

Sublime Doughnuts made it on my radar for it's quirky name and tasty sounding treats. We sampled a few. OK maybe more than a few. But these aren't your normal insert-chain-donut-name-here. Those things are just sugar overkill and I usually get sick if I eat even a quarter of that stuff. When it comes to doughnuts I know it's good if I can eat more than just a quarter.

My favorites included the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and the Raspberry Filled Heart. The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup is exactly what you expect it taste like. It was soft and sweet, but not overwhelming The Peanut Butter center was smooth and creamy. It also had a very good dough to topping ratio. I know that may sound strange, but nothing drives me crazier than when there's more (usually crappy) dough in comparison to the toppings. 

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Hands down, the doughnut that literally made my heart skip a beat, the one I ate whole, the one I went back for seconds, was the Salt & Vinegar. It was the most savory, salty, and sweet doughnut I have ever had, ever. I loved every single bite. It had a salted caramel glaze with a balsamic vinegar reduction drizzled on top. I'm not usually a fan of salted caramel (blasphemy to some of you, I'm sure), but the balance of flavors was truly out of this world.

Evil Bee Slayer enjoyed her doughnuts as well. She indulged with me with going to the other location. If we can do it, then so can you. The original shop is just across the street from GA Tech on 10th St NW. Their second location is in North Druid Hills off Briarcliff Rd NE and BOTH, that's right BOTH, are open 24/7. Now head over and tell me which one was your favorite. You might not be able to pick just one, but you can sure try!

Sublime Doughnuts Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

H&F Burger - Atlanta, GA

I started making my bucket list for Atlanta as soon as I knew I going to visit. The first time I was in Atlanta was long before I was a foodie so I don't even remember where I went for food. Anytime I visit someplace again I take the opportunity for a re-do. And I re-did Atlanta right by having this delicious not so little burger from H&F Burger. 

Mighty Jr with bacon and fried egg

Mighty Jr with bacon and fried egg

H&F Burger ended up being a serendipitous adventure. I had the original Holeman and Fitch Public House on my bucket list, which is located in the Buckhead area of Atlanta. Buckhead offers lots of foodie and shopping adventures. While I was out and about shopping with my friend, we ran into the friendly folks of Mac the Cheese food truck, Tiffany and Beau Hodson. We were telling them about all the adventures on my bucket list. With so many places to see -- and by see I mean eat -- we knew we had to strategically plan when and where we would go. Since Ponce City Market was on the list they told us about H&F Burger that just happened to be there. It was on like donkey kong! 

Let's talk about that burger. For starters, you have to know the legend that precedes this burger. Once upon a time Holeman and Fitch Public House offered their burger on the menu only after 10pm and only in limited quantity. It was so delicious and popular that they finally made it a regular on the menu. Furthermore, they opened up a couple of burger stands around Atlanta just serving this deliciousness. So does it live up to the hype?

Yes, yes it does. I got the Mighty Jr, which is a single patty. You can also order the Cheeseburger, which has a double patty. The Mighty Jr was the right size for me. It had a juicy and perfectly cooked patty in between a warm soft bun. The cheese was melted perfectly, because nothing ruins a burger more than cheese that isn't melted. Of course I added bacon and a fried egg. The bacon was crispy and the egg finished off the burger with it's yummy yokiness. I savored every single bite til there was nothing left, but the wrapper.

You have to put H&F Burger on your bucket list if you're in the Atlanta area. You have no excuse not to try one because they have three locations, including Turner Field.

H&F Burger Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant 415 - Fort Collins, CO

Restaurant 415 landed on the bucket list because of an interesting dish they had on the menu, When Pigs Fly. Although I didn't end up ordering that, I did end up with a tasty lunch. I'm glad I stumbled upon 415. It has a great atmosphere, friendly service and delicious food.

Classic grilled cheese and tomato soup

Classic grilled cheese and tomato soup

Since I ended up at 415 for lunch instead of dinner I went with something lighter than the fried chicken. The classic grilled cheese sandwich was served on a deliciously crusty bread with melted cheddar cheese. I loved how the cheese itself even got crunchy in some spots. You can order it with tomatoes, but I got tomato soup instead. I always say there's a fine balance when it comes to tomato soup. It can come out like a soup or in worst cases more like pizza sauce. Restaurant 415 had a chunky yet light tomato soup that went perfectly with my grilled cheese sandwich. It's a classic combination, especially when done right like at 415. 

Other items on the 415 menu include pizzas and other hot sandwiches with the latter including soda, tea or lemonade. I ordered the lemonade and it was light and refreshing. It had a good balance of sweetness and tartiness. They also offer an assortment of salads and small plates. The When Pigs Fly is their house-made version of chicken and waffles. If I were hungrier I would totally ordered that!

If you find yourself in Fort Collins, make your way over to Restaurant 415. There's plenty of different tasty options to choose from even for picky eaters. 

The 415 Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Mabel's BBQ - Cleveland, OH

Mabel's BBQ has been on my bucket list since the day I knew Chef Michael Symon was opening a Cleveland-style BBQ joint. Almost two years in the making and I went not once, but twice in the same week the first chance I was in back in Cleveland after it opened. Mabel's BBQ sauce is a mustard based sauce and is quite different from your every day run of the mill BBQ sauces. It was delicious, especially when drizzled over the superbly tender and well-flavored meat. 

Although Mabel's BBQ does not take reservations, they make it easy to get a table. When you walk in they let you know about how long it will take and send text notifications to your cell phone. It's handy and lets you enjoy all that E. 4th St has to offer while you wait. You can sit indoors or outdoors and I opted for outdoors on my first visit. 

Mr. Beef with a side of crackin'

Mr. Beef with a side of crackin'

My all-time favorite BBQ is chopped brisket so the Mr. Beef sandwich had my name written all over it. The brisket is chopped finely and served in a hoagie style roll. The brisket was so tender and flavorful. It had a light smokey flavor from the apple and cheery wood used to smoke the meat. I loved that it was served with mayo and then topped with onions and pickles. The mayo added an unexpected creaminess to each bite. The pickles and red onions also added a crunch and some acidity to cut through the heartiness of the sandwich. 

Of course, this sandwich would not be complete without that BBQ sauce. It's different because it's not the thick tomato based sauce you might be used to. When you try it on it's own you can taste the tangy bite from Cleveland's own Bertman Original Ball Park Mustard. I had bites of my sandwich with and without the sauce. By far the bites with the sauce were perfectly married together to take each ingredient to the next level.

Giant Beef Rib with more cracklin'

Giant Beef Rib with more cracklin'

Nuff said!

Nuff said!

Of course I went back two days later. And of course I ordered the Giant Beef rib since I went a few co-workers. It's made to share considering it was the size of my face. But it was totally worth ordering and sharing. It's sprinkled with pastrami spices, which I didn't even know was a thing. It was fall of the bone tender and smokey with tons of flavor. Everyone enjoyed a bite, or two, since there was no way I was finishing this on my own.

In case you didn't notice, I ordered the same side both times, the cracklin'. Let's be honest. How often do you get the opportunity to order cracklin' at a restaurant instead of just grabbing a bag at your local grocery store? This is most definitely not that and as soon as I saw it the menu I couldn't help myself. If you're somehow unfamiliar with crackin', just know it's fried pork skin and pretty damn delicious. But it gets even more delicious when it's made and served fresh. It was delightfully crunchy and had a great salt and vinegar flavor. As if it couldn't get any better, it's served with a side of Lawson's chip dip, a Cleveland staple. I'm a fan of onion dip, but Lawson's was just on another level. When you combine it with the salt and vinegar cracklin', it's heaven in chip form. I could order just this and eat it all...day....long.

Needless to say, you gotta make your way over to Mabel's BBQ in Downtown Cleveland. Period. It's worth the wait with the delicious meats and sides. The outdoor patio is beautiful and great for people watching. 

Mable's BBQ Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Flip Side - Chagrin Falls, OH (Cleveland)

Although I've had Flip Side on the CLE bucket list for some time, it took me a while to make my way over. I have to really be in the mood for a burger, especially when I'm traveling. It's just a lot of food to eat. So when the hankering for a burger finally came around I had to make it to Flip Side. Located in the beautiful Cleveland suburb of Chagrin Falls, Flip Side is an awesome burger joint with lots of different options to top your meat and your fries.  

Shawn's Burger

Shawn's Burger

I had hard time choosing a burger for the evening. Everything on the menu just sounded mouthwatering delicious. You can oder the Simplicity Burger if you're looking for just lettuce, pickle and tomato. I was craving more, like bacon and eggs. Lucky for me the Shawn's burger satisfied both requirements and then some. Underneath that perfectly fried egg was bacon, melty provolone cheese and grilled onions. The words I would use to describe this burger include awesome, fantastic, burgerlicious and eggcellent. I ate every, single bite. The burger was juicy and tender. The bun was not forgotten and  given the perfect toast treatment. I don't know if their mayo was anything special, but it sure tasted that way. All in all, it's one of the best burgers I've ever had and I consider myself a burger connoisseur.

Tripled cooked fries with mushroom gravy

Tripled cooked fries with mushroom gravy

Instead of ordering individual sides you order sides to share. Luckily I was with one of my foodie adventure buddies and we gladly and happily shared these fries that were covered in a mushroom gravy. The fries were delicious and perfectly cooked - crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. Other topping you can order include chili cheese or BBQ brisket with pickled jalapenos. Yeah, totally. 

Flip Side burger is your burger place to go. If you can't make your way into Chargin Falls, you can check them out at 6 other locations including The Flats in Downtown Cleveland. Come hungry and with a group of your closest friends and you'll leave with a happy belly.

Flip Side Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Casa del Pollo - Lake Oswego, OR (Portland)

Although Portland OR is a foodie haven, venturing into the burbs can be quite a treat. I was in Lake Oswego for work and stayed locally since it was a quick trip. After a long day in the office the last thing I wanted to do was battle traffic and parking in Downtown. (Besides, I'm going back later this year...) I had to think long and hard about where I wanted to go because think of whatever you want and you'll find it. I picked Casa del Pollo because of it's close proximity and excellent reviews. It was my first time having Costa Rican food and it was fantastic. 

Smoked chicken

Smoked chicken

Casa del Pollo is located off a main street in Lake Oswego, Boones Ferry Road. It might be easy to miss because it's a small place. But just keep an eye out for a little red house. There's more parking than you think and it's a cozy, welcoming atmosphere. There are tons of pictures and memorabilia paying homage to Costa Rica lining the walls. The service was super friendly. I didn't know what to order and everything just looked so damn delicious. I went with the recommended smoked chicken with black beans and rice. Holy smoked chicken, Batman! It was moist with a crispy skin. The pickled carrots and onions were a nice touch by adding some acidity to compliment the smokiness of the chicken. 

Tres leches

Tres leches

Even though I practically devoured my meal, I couldn't say no when they offered dessert. Under all that whippy goodness was a delicious tres leches cake. Made with three different kinds of milk, hence the name, it was light and refreshing. I couldn't stop eating it and had to force myself to step away from the fork.

Check out Casa del Pollo on their website here and your mouth will start to water, I promise! They are staying on the bucket list, especially since The Prof and I consider ourselves "Portannuals" for visiting Portland pretty much every year. You will also want to try them on more than one occasion. The menu is filled with so much good stuff. No worries if you don't have enough time to dine in. Simply call in an order and they'll have it ready for you. 

Casa Del Pollo Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Lucile's Restaurant - Fort Collins, CO

Although The Prof and I were in Denver on vacay, we were actually there for a work trip in beautiful Fort Collins, CO. Fort Collins, also known as FoCo, is about an hours drive north from Denver and is a quaint town that's home to the Colorado State Rams. It's a great weekend getaway with so much to do that I couldn't do everything I wanted. I was able to get in a few hours of shopping along with a delightful lunch at a long time local creole and Cajun restaurant. I was excited to put Lucile's on the bucket list and they delivered on lots of flavor and lots of food!

Sweet potato crab bisque

Sweet potato crab bisque

As I waited for the rest of my lunch party to join me, I had a chance to peruse the daily specials menu that was written in colorful chalk on a blackboard right next to the door. My eyes were immediately drawn to the sweet potato crab soup. I've had sweet potato soup before and this was punched up with super flavor. It was thick and creamy and uber comforting for a warm late spring day. It was also filled with chunks of crab throughout each bite. I loved every single spoonful!

Corn bread

Corn bread

One of the highlights of lunch was the cornbread. I got a side just for me with my soup, but the whole table got corn bread to share. It was the most perfectly cooked corn bread you could ask for with it's sweet corn flavor and moist texture. I also loved the little jam that was served along side. And of course I dipped some of my corn bread in that delicious soup. Made my entire meal that much better.

Sausage sandwich with red beans and rice

Sausage sandwich with red beans and rice

The Prof enjoyed his meal as well. He ordered the andouille sausage sandwich with a side red beans and rice. It was a plateful of delicious food so he was pretty happy. The sausage had a good spice to it and was dressed with some mustard. The red beans and rice was tasty traditional side to have and complimented his overall meal. 

Zydeco salad

Zydeco salad

As if salads couldn't get any bigger, one of my lunch friends ordered the Zydeco salad. The Zydeco is a bed of greens topped with bulgar wheat, sautéed mushrooms, feta cheese, smoked pecans, and then drizzled with a raspberry vinaigrette. Bulgar wheat is a great grain option. It takes on flavor easily and can be added to different recipes for texture and meatiness (without the meat). My friend enjoyed the salad because it was fresh, light and nicely balanced. It looked amazing!

Lucile's was a great bucket list destination. There are several locations if you can't make it to Fort Collins, such Denver and Longmont. You'll find a menu filled with delicious options for Cajun and creole food. Even if you're not into spicy things like I am, you're going to find something you'll enjoy. 

Lucile's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Pari Indian Cuisine - Chesterland, OH (Cleveland)

Pari Indian Cuisine is a hidden gem in the Cleveland 'burbs, especially if you're on the hunt for authentic Indian food. There aren't very many places I haven't been considering I'm in Cleveland just about once a month. I was surprised I had never been to Chesterland (pronounced Chester-lyn from what I can tell), but I'm so glad I ventured out there. Pari is relatively new, opening up sometime late last year. If you're looking for an authentic and delicious dinner filled with flavor, this is the spot for you. 

Shrimp & scallop korma

Shrimp & scallop korma

My friend and I were excited to try a new adventure, especially with Indian food. I've been to a couple of Indian food places in Cleveland, but this is the first one I actually wanted to write home about. We both ordered the shrimp and scallop because we were in the mood for seafood. I got the korma while she got the curry version. We asked what the difference was between the korma and the curry. Although a korma is a curry, the spices and base used are different. The korma was milder and was more of a tomato based sauce. It was milder than the curry, which suited me just fine. But even my friend liked both the korma and the curry even though she favors more spice. It smelled fantastic and I couldn't possible eat all of it. That worked out because it was even better the next day when I ate it in my hotel room. I'm totally going back and bringing as many people with me that will try a new adventure.

Vegetable samosa

Vegetable samosa

Of course we couldn't just have curry. I've loved samosas since the first time I tried some at this random Indian place in Gainesville, FL. And every samosa I've had since then has tasted a little different. It's a cross between an eggroll and a dumpling with Indian spices mixed throughout. I liked the samosas at Pari. They were perfectly fried and had a nice mild flavor. As with most samosas they were served freshly fried and hot so it's a good idea to sliced them open and let out a little of the heat before you take a big bite. And take advantage of dipping them into any sauces they serve.

Rice

Rice

Naan

Naan

No korma or curry would be complete with rice and naan. I am addicted to the naan. We shared an ordered of buttered naan and it was pure naan heaven.

Definitely give Pari a try if you're in the east Cleveland suburbs. Chesterland is about 20 minutes directly east from Mayfield Heights off Mayfield Road. It was such a pretty drive too, one that makes you forget you're in a big city. 

Pari Indian Cuisine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Biju's Little Curry House - Denver, CO

When I think of comfort food there are a few dishes that make the short list. Curry is most definitely on that list, especially curry as good as the one from Biju's Little Curry Shop in Denver. I love how easy Biju's makes it to enjoy the flavors of southern India. Whether it's your first time having curry or simply your first time at Biju's you'll know exactly what you're getting and it's delicious!

Coconut Curry Chicken

Coconut Curry Chicken

You're welcomed into the curry shop with the delightful aroma of curry wafting throughout the space. I was already hungry when I walked in and just got hungrier the moment I stepped inside. I ordered the coconut curry chicken bowl. You can get it mild or spicy depending on the garnishes you put on top. The bowl starts with a biriyani, which is a rice mix typically made with various spices and mix-ins. For this bowl it was a cashew and date biriyani. From there it's topped with lentils and the coconut curry chicken. I'm not usually a fan of coconut curry, but this had a mild coconut flavor that was complimented by the toppings. I finished it off with a dressing of herb yogurt and a cilantro and mint chutney. Be prepared to come hungry because you get a huge bowl that tastes better the more you eat it. It seems like a lot of flavors, but they really do balance each other out. The herb yogurt adds nice freshness along with the cilantro and mint chutney. You can order extra hot spices to get it your heat level.

The show stopper, which I do not have a photo of so use your imagination, was the bread. Sure you can have your typical bread, but Biju's offers a different treat, one that I've never had before. It's called chapati and essentially looks like a tortilla. But given that this is a southern Indian establishment I knew it wasn't just a tortilla. In fact it wasn't anything remotely tasting like a tortilla. Not only was it super soft and fluffy, but they added some sprinkling of deliciousness that made this the best tasting unleavened flatbread one could ever have. Even if you're not a curry fan, try the chapati. But if you are a fan, then you gotta give Biju's Little Curry Shop a try. You'll find curry bowls with both the vegetarian and carnivore in mind along with some pretty delicious bread.

Biju's Little Curry Shop Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Catbird Seat - Nashville, TN

The Catbird Seat. Every time I sat down to put my experience here into words I struggled. It was such an amazing dining experience filled with great service and flavorful dishes. I keep reliving those moments in my mind and it's one of those once-in-a-lifetime adventures I will always remember. If you're in Nashville, put The Catbird Seat on your bucket list. Right. Now.

Because you have to do some planning to score a reservation. The Catbird Seat is a 22-seat open kitchen restaurant and reservations are available a month ahead at a time. They are also only open Wednesday through Sunday. I almost thought I couldn't make it since Wednesday was pretty much the day I could go and I couldn't find an open spot at first. I got lucky and snagged one right when I needed it.

From the moment I walked in I felt like a VIP and the friendly service just kept coming. Although they do offer wine pairings specially selected for each dish, they offered me celery soda and sparkling water. Some places can make me feel bad for not ordering the alcohol, but I'm not just a huge drinker. The Catbird Seat was so chill about it and I was able to try something new. The celery soda smelled like celery so I wasn't sure how it would taste. It ended up having a mild celery flavor that was balanced by a lemon-lime citrus flavor. It was light, refreshing and delightful.

As you can see every dish was a small plate so I felt satiated but not full afterwards. It was enough to give you that perfect bite of some pretty interesting flavor combinations. Every time I would think "This dish is my favorite", the next could come out and top it. You definitely have to be open-minded to a foodie adventure. The Prof would not have enjoyed this as much being a "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. You don't even order anything. You just sit and watch the magic unfold in front of you. Each dish gets served by Executive Chef Ryan Poli himself or one of his fantastic team members like Rob, Colby or Jonathan (or Josh...I can't remember). They give you a rundown of what special ingredient they got a hold of and how they made what you're about to enjoy. It was such a great way to see my food come together within a few feet from where I sat. Watching the crew was like watching a synchronized kitchen dance as they worked their way around each other and on to the next course.

I'm still at a loss for words on how to describe each and every dish in detail because everything was just special and spectacular in their own right. I'll share one example though, the spaghetti. Sounds normal, right? Get this, it was a seaweed spaghetti topped with a scallop bottarga and a yuku kosho. You're probably thinking, what on earth could that be. Trust me when I say it smelled amazing and looked amazing. The spaghetti was made with seaweed flour and had a tender and familiar bite to it. The scallop bottarga was a sprinkle of crispy scallop shavings on top of the spaghetti, similar to bread crumbs, but scallop bread crumbs. Then as if my mind couldn't be blown enough, the yuku kosho was this cirtus-soy flavored sauce that brought everything together. And that was one out of 10 dishes plus the "cookies" in the end. Seriously ah-ma-zing.

You have to, like in a bad way, check out The Catbird Seat at least once in your lifetime. I'll admit it was a little pricey, but in comparison to similar pre-fixe places, it's a steal for the ultimate foodie experience. Even as a table for one I felt part of the action and two hours later I wondered how time flew. But time always flies by when you're having fun. 

The Catbird Seat Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Nudi Noodle Place - Portland, OR

One of my favorite places to visit is Portland OR and I am lucky enough to travel there just about once a year. It's truly a foodie's heaven in earth. All you have to do is think about what you're in the mood for and you will find it within a stone's throw from where you stand. After a rather long travel day I didn't quite know what I wanted. I also didn't have a chance to make a bucket list before heading out since this was a short work trip. Randomly I stumbled upon Nudi Noodle Place and I found my total happy place. And with a name like Nudi Noodle how could it not be awesome.

Lak Sa

Lak Sa

Nudi Noodle Place is located in Woodstock, a neighborhood southeast of Downtown. From my short drive there straight from the airport it looked like a hip and cute area with lots of different places you can try. It was a beautiful sunny day, an anomaly for Portland, and Nudi had the perfect outdoor patio to enjoy both the weather and the small feast I ordered.

That egg!

That egg!

One menu item caught my eye almost immediately: the laksa. It's noted in the menu as the #1 favorite dish and all the reviews I read seemed to say the same thing. I took the plunge and ordered it without really knowing what it was. 

Laksa is a coconut curry soup made served rice noodled and sliced pork. It was rather delicious! I liked the subtle coconut flavor present throughout the dish. It was brothy soup, but with slightly more bounce and texture. The rice noodles were tender and the cilantro and green onions added a fresh bite to every spoonful.

My favorite topping were the fried shallots. I would add a little bit of fried shallots to every dish if I could. It was crunchy and had a nice earthy, sweet, savory flavor that enhanced the overall umami of the dish. Ok, I admit, I lied right then. The fried shallots were my favorite, but that's only if you don't count the egg, which is a no-brainer favorite. I mean look at it! That egg, along with every other goodness in this bowl, just made the entire dish comforting and tasty.

Although it is known as a rather spicy soup dish, I was able to keep the spice toned down to my liking by removing some of the chili's. For those that like a good kick, you would simply leave it and mix it all up together. I had never ordered anything like this before and I wasn't sure what to expect. I'm glad the menu didn't say it was spicy because I'm not sure I would have ordered it. Just goes to show that you should have an open mind when out for an adventure -- something I have to remind myself from time to time.

Everything on the menu sounds delicious. I was going to try their ramen, of which they have three different kinds. If soups aren't your thing, you can try a "dry" noodle dish or make your own rice bowl with your choice of protein and flavored rice mix. The The service was quick and friendly and made the whole experience that much better. I know you will love Nudi Noodle Place.

Nudi Noodle Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Butcher's Bistro - Denver, CO

I knew we would be going to a Rockies baseball game while we were in town. I wanted to find a place within walkable distance to the stadium. Luckily The Butcher's Bistro was not only close, but had great reviews across the board. Although I missed out on a couple of items I was hoping they still had on their seasonal menu, I ended up with something beyond my expectations. AND, my vegetarian friends, let this be a lesson to you about not judging a restaurant by it's name (OK, maybe not completely). My bro-in-laws GF was able to find a couple of items that she enjoyed sans the meat. But if you're a hearty meat eater like I am, then you're in for an awesome experience at The Butcher's Bistro.

Charcuterie Platter

Charcuterie Platter

Craft Sausage

Craft Sausage

Since they offer a seasonal menu I had to try the charcuterie platter, which is simply different kinds of cured meat to enjoy with bread and sometimes other accoutrements. In case you're wondering - like I was the first time I ordered such a thing - it's pronounced "SHärˈko͞odərē". In case that still doesn't help I pronounce it like shar-koo-der-ree. All you really need to know is that if you see this on the menu you're getting lovely platter of meat. On my mine there was ox tongue and chicken liver pate. I will fully admit I am not a huge fan of liver, but I was in an adventurous mood. I'm glad I tried it because I finally found a liver dish I really enjoyed. It had a very smooth texture and was easily spreadable on the crackers. The ox tongue was delicious and tender. It had a nice earthy and beefy flavor without being too overpowering. I've had ox tongue before and I will continue to have it every chance I get. To finish off my platter I also had a prosciutto, which is always a delight with it's salty goodness. The whole platter was my dinner and it was more than enough to satisfy my craving. The Prof also enjoyed his Craft Sausage plate, which ended up being a grilled kielbasa. He loved the mustard and the pickles that came with because they enhanced the smokiness from the sausage.

Fries!

Fries!

We shared a plate of these delicious fries. They were perfectly crispy on the outside while being pillowy soft on the inside. I loved the audible crunch from every bite. And the sauce! I don't remember what it was exactly, but it was yummy. I almost couldn't stop eating the fries because of the sauce. It was the perfect size to share between a table of four.

My BIL's GF and I also ordered the heirloom tomato that was topped with a goat cheese foam and pesto. It was interesting because although the white topping looks solid, it wasn't. It had a very subtle goat cheese flavor that  enhanced the freshness of the tomato. It was a great amuse bouche, another term I recently learned, which simply means a single bite size appetizer. Pronounced something like "amooze boosh". I love these little bite size appetizers because when done right it gives you a great small bite so you have plenty of room left over for everything else!

The spinach croquettes were a great way to round out the meal. They were perfectly fried and had a great crunch on the outside with a creamy center filled with goat cheese and served with a mustard aioli. The aioli had a nice spicy bite to it that balanced out the richness of the goat cheese. 

Heirloom Tomato

Heirloom Tomato

Spinach Croquettes

Spinach Croquettes

We all enjoyed our dinner at The Butcher's Bistro and I think you will too. It's a small, cozy location so be sure to make a reservation. We got there about an hour and half before the game, which game us more than enough time enjoy the food. In fact we got done with enough time to go down to the local retro arcade, the The 1up. I couldn't have asked for a better pre-game experience. The service was fantastic and our server did a great job explaining everything and answering all of our questions. They look forward to "meating" you so you really should put them on your bucket list.

Butcher's Bistro Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Uncle - Denver, CO

Ever since I discovered my official addiction to ramen I can't get enough of it. I'm on a mission to find the best ramen I can find wherever I go. I almost went to one when I was in Fort Collins, but instead ended up at Uncle in Denver. The Prof and I were visiting his brother and he wanted to take us to one of best ramen places he had heard of Denver. I'm so glad we went to Uncle because it was just what I wanted from a warm bowl of soup. 

I'll usually preface a ramen post by saying that this is not your college ramen. Although I do still eat that from time to time -- no judgement please -- nothing truly compares to freshly made ramen. Uncle is located in a trendy area of Denver where there are lots of cute houses and restaurants. It's a small cozy place and on warmer days it looks like they have an outdoor patio.

Uncle has five different kinds of ramen you can order, one of which is a vegetarian option. I ordered the Chashu, which was made with a shoyu broth and topped with pork belly (you'll notice I love the stuff), snap peas, radish and egg. I've noticed ramen broths tend to have lots of flavor and Uncle's is no different. The shoyu broth had a nice depth of flavor from what I'm sure is hours of simmering goodness. The snap peas were crisp tender and added a fresh crunchy bite. The noodles were tender and perfectly cooked. The radishes, green onions and sprinkling of sesame seeds rounded out the dish. I would definitely go back to Uncle if I lived in Denver. 

That egg!

That egg!

Pork belly bun

Pork belly bun

My favorite part is always the egg. As soon as I cracked that egg open it was yummy and runny, just the way I like it. I almost ordered an extra egg, but The Prof just gave me his. It's blasphemy that he doesn't like eggs, but that just meant more yummy runny eggy goodness for me and my bowl. We did share an order of the pork belly bun, which was simple and delicious. The pork belly was tender, the bun soft and fluffy and paired nicely with some fresh veggies.

Uncle should be on your bucket list if you find yourself in the Denver area. Be prepared for a wait since they are quite popular and in a small location. We waited for about 45 minutes for a table even though it could have taken up to an hour. The wait times may change once the patio opens up and you can always grab it to-go, which a lot of people did while we waited. The service was fantastic and fast for how busy they were. Loved it and can't wait to have more ramen!

Uncle Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Peg Leg Porker - Nashville, TN

BBQ had to be on my bucket list as soon as I knew I was headed to Nashville. I know, you Nashvillians are probably saying its hot chicken that you need to have. I don't disagree necessarily, but I'm not a huge fan of "hot" anything. Don't fret - it's not that I'll never try it. Just not this time. Instead this time I went to Peg Leg Porker and if this place isn't on your bucket list add it right now. You're in for some delicious BBQ and sides to match!

Half rack pork ribs

Half rack pork ribs

Someone asked me what the difference was between Nashville BBQ and Texas BBQ. While I find (found) both to be delicious in their own right, there was a difference. Texas BBQ depends on where in Texas you're referring to. After all it's a huge state. Generally speaking I would say it's more saucy and wet. Nasville BBQ is less about the sauce and all about the rub, as you can see.  

I ordered the half rack of ribs and it was fall-off-the-bone tender. The dry rub added a nice smokey and sweet flavor overall. There was a bottle of BBQ sauce available but it definitely wasn't the star. The ribs stood up on their own based on how it was treated and rubbed down.  

Mac and cheese

Mac and cheese

Cole slaw

Cole slaw

But sometimes it can be all about the sides and Peg Leg delivered on that front. The mac and cheese was super ooey gooey cheesy and it stayed warm and hot til I finished it all. The cole slaw was sweet but mostly tangy with lots of crunch from the veggies. They were both great sides to already great ribs. 

Peg Leg Porker

Peg Leg Porker

Peg Leg Porker is located Downtown in an area known as The Gultch. I will say I was amazed to see how much new construction was going on in Nashville. I knew it was a growing city, but didn't realize just how much it's actually growing. If you're a transplant or a local, you should give Peg Leg Porker a try.

Let me know what you think the difference is between Nashville and Texas BBQ. 

Peg Leg Porker Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Denver Biscuit Co - Denver, CO

I watch a lot of food TV so it's no surprise that my first introduction to Denver Biscuit Co was on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network. My first visit to Denver was unfortunately so short that I wasn't able to visit then, but my bro-in-law just moved there so I made sure he tried it and reported back. Needless to say it was pretty damn good biscuits so of course I was going there for a whole week. The Prof and I joined my BIL and his GF for a mid-morning breakfast. It was the ultimate breakfast experience and one that you should definitely have on your bucket list. 

Biscuit cinnamon roll

Biscuit cinnamon roll

I thought I already knew what I wanted, but I'm so glad my BIL's GF was there to suggest we share the biscuit cinnamon roll. Let's start with the biscuit. It was light and fluffy and flakey and perfectly biscuity. It was a solid foundation, vessel if you will, for the thick and creamy glaze, which had a nice balance of sweetness. Believe it or not I could have had extra glaze on this bad boy. Not to mention it was huge! The four of us shared this single order and we couldn't finish it all. It's definitely a shareable starter roll, as it should be. Good friends make sure to share good food, always.

The Dahlia on a biscuit french toast

The Dahlia on a biscuit french toast

Breakfast heaven

Breakfast heaven

Bacon!

Bacon!

I did my research ahead of time so I already knew that The Dahlia was my biscuit this morning. It's made with homemade sausage, apple butter, a fried egg and maple syrup. The sausage was tender and full of flavor with a spicy bite. I knew it would be a little spicy, but it's breakfast sausage. No breakfast sausage is really worth it's salt without a little kick to it. Even with the spiciness, the apple butter balanced it out by adding a sweet touch of flavor. The maple syrup also add another layer of sweetness to that perfect biscuit bite. And let's not forget the fried egg. Add a fried egg to anything and it's an automatic win in my book. I can't forget to mention that I did boost the already yummy biscuit by ordering it on a biscuit french toast. Instead of "just" having one of their already fantastic biscuits, it was made yummier by getting dipped and fried french toast style. Yum! It was a complete breakfast platter in biscuit form. Although I did order a side of bacon. I couldn't help myself. It's bacon. Having that for breakfast is always a given, especially if it's locally made and perfectly crispy without being overdone.

Three Run Double with a ham steak

Three Run Double with a ham steak

The Franklin

The Franklin

My BIL ordered the Three Run Double, which is simply a delicious biscuit served with a side of eggs made your way and your choice of protein: a ham steak, the aforementioned sausage or bacon.. The Prof had one of the most popular sandwiches, the Franklin. To their already delicious biscuit they add buttermilk fried chicken, belly bacon, cheddar cheese (I promise it's in there somewhere) and then smothered in your choice of sausage or mushroom gravy. The Prof's not a huge fan of mushrooms, so sausage gravy it was. Everyone loved what they had and I was happy to cross off a successful and worthy bucket list destination.

Although you could take my word for it, Denver Biscuit Co should be experienced first hand. They have three locations in Denver so you can easily find one close enough to you. Their biscuits are some of the best around and they offer different options so you're sure to find something that meets your fancy. 

Denver Biscuit Company Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tocabe - Denver, CO

Whenever I get ready for big trip somewhere, my bucket list is usually one of the top 3 things I work on immediately. I Google this, Yelp that, Open Table here, Trip Advisor there, etc. Although I am the resident foodie in my household, The Prof comes up with a few good spots from time to time. Tocabe was definitely one of those spots during our recent trip to Denver. The Prof saw it on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives on Food Network so I knew it had to good, but really he had me at Native American food. I can honestly say I had never had it and I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I walked away with a full stomach and Tocabe with a new fan. I imagine you would be too.

Indian Taco with shredded bison

Indian Taco with shredded bison

With a simple menu, it's easy to get exactly what you might be looking for when you walk into Tocabe. With it being my first I took a moment to ask questions about the different proteins they had - ground beef, grilled chicken, ground bison, shredded bison. No fret my vegetarian friends, they have veggie options as well. I landed on the shredded bison because I've only previously had bison in steak form. The bison was nice and tender and had a smokey flavor to it. It wasn't spicy at all, which is good for someone like me. I topped it with some veggies, a little bit of cheese and a side of the corn salsa. Everything was very fresh and delicious.

The best part for me, hands down, was the bread itself. It was warm and soft and had a hint of sweetness that brought the entire taco together. It's not like a tortilla although it serves a similar function, but was completely different and far superior - I would go that far. I could have eaten just the bread, all by it's lonesome. But I had some pretty tasty toppings to go along with it so I was happy in the end.

I'm glad the The Prof put on it on his bucket list. He didn't have to twist my arm to go, but I would have missed out on an awesome foodie adventure. Tocabe has a couple of locations in Denver and is definitely worth the stop.

Tocabe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

 

Pho Thangs Cafe - Cleveland, OH

Although nothing warms me up better than a nice, steaming hot bowl of pho, that's not the only thing I'll order when dining at a Vietnamese restaurant. If you see grilled pork on the menu, then you're in for a tasty treat.  Pho Thangs Cafe is super convenient in Downtown Cleveland right off 9th St and Superior Ave. They are open at 11am so it's great spot for lunch and, my favorite, they are open until 10 or 11 at night so you can get your late night comfort food fix.

Grilled pork

Grilled pork

I love the grilled pork. It's a simple dish with just pork and steamed rice, but it has so much flavor. It doesn't matter which Vietnamese place I've gone to, but I've never been disappointed by the grilled pork. Pho Thang's definitely hit the spot. It was perfectly grilled and tender. It's served with a side of fish sauce that I drizzled on both the pork and the rice, which added a nice tangy and sweet flavor. At least tangy and sweet for my pallet - I know not everyone will feel the same way. I encourage you to try it because it really does add some great flavor to what you're having. 

You should put Pho Thangs Cafe on your short list. It's a great place to try Vietnamese that has fast service and good food.  

Pho Thang Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Urban Farmer - Cleveland, OH

I cannot tell you the number of times I've tried snagging a reservation at Urban Farmer only to find out I'm too late and it's sold out. I made it my mission to try them one way or another. My opportunity finally arrived. Urban Farmer is located in the lobby of the Westin hotel in Downtown Cleveland and I just happened to be staying there. I booked my reservation at opentable.com and counted down the days. Although they are known for steaks, don't be mislead. Urban Farmer is one place you should have your breakfast or brunch short list. With a simple menu filled with simple fresh ingredients you're going to walk out very satiated.

Golden Waffle with gala apples, candied bacon and Ohio maple syrup

Golden Waffle with gala apples, candied bacon and Ohio maple syrup

I ordered the Golden Waffle. On the surface pretty simple, almost plain Jane. Truly, don't let looks deceive you. The waffle was fluffy, moist and soft. Just what I was looking for. What sparked my interest were the toppings -- and thinking about it just now makes me want breakfast for dinner.  For starters there was the gala Apple "jam" in the center. It was thicker than applesauce and had a great mild sweet flavor. Sweet without being too sweet and very tender. But the yummy goodness didn't stop there. The candied bacon - I mean it's bacon, but then it's candied! It was smokey and sweet and perfect. I honestly could have had just that for breakfast. But it was served with a side a local Ohio maple syrup and butter. I didn't realize maple syrup in Ohio is such a big thing. Apparently you can go on tours of local maple farms and see how the syrup goes from tree to table. The syrup was also sweet without being too sweet and was a nice compliment to that perfect bite of everything.

Located in the lobby of the Westin in Downtown Cleveland

Located in the lobby of the Westin in Downtown Cleveland

Urban Farmer is the place to go for a simple and delicious breakfast. I do want to go back and actually try a steak, which is hear is amazing. I've also hear that sometimes you may be able to find a spot at the bar even if the place is sold out. I recommend making reservations as soon as you know you want to this try place...and I know you do.

Urban Farmer Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Hodges - Cleveland, OH (part 2)

It’s not news these days that Cleveland has a vibrant foodie scene. From local chef favorites Lola to Greenhouse Tavern and Alley Cat Oyster Bar (still on the bucket list) to Blue Point Grille, you’re a stones throw away from pretty much your pick of a food adventure. Since our Opening Day plans got postponed due to weather, we took it as an opportunity to go exploring and my friend and I ended up at Hodges. I had been there before a couple of years ago and I was ready to try it again. I’m so glad we did because it definitely hit the spot.

Mac and cheese, yes please!


Mac and cheese, yes please!

Since it was lunch I wanted to wanted to keep it light....OK maybe not so much light since I did order pasta. Maybe simple is a better word. It wasn't exactly lunch at three in the afternoon, but it definitely wasn't quite dinner yet. Either way, what I had was absolutely delicious and I would have it for lunch or dinner and lucky for you it offered both times.

It looks like a straight-forward mac and cheese, but it had some unexpected ingredients that really took up a notch. Let's start with the pasta because all good mac and cheese has to start there. It was cooked al-dente and had a nice bite to it. It's called a strozzapretti and it's kind of a cross between a penne and a corkscrew without being perfectly rounded. It was a good shape to get all the cheesy goodness coated all over.

Of course once you have the mac, next comes the cheese. I am a huge fan of pasta tossed with some mascarpone cheese because it adds such a creaminess to the pasta. Mascarpone is the same cheese that tiramisu is made with and it really does make an excellent pasta sauce. The mascarpone was mixed with goat cheese and it made a fabulous cheese sauce. The tartness from the goat cheese and sweet creaminess from mascarpone was a divine combination. I ate the whole bowl and my friend, who's been out with me a few times, knows I don't normally finish off my meal unless it's just that good. 

And I'm not done. Hodges could have left it at just that, but they also tossed in some chopped dates and poblano peppers. Not only was this mac and cheese tarty and creamy, but it had a nice balance in flavors with the sweet dates and mild peppers. Every single bite was just delicious. 

In writing this I just realized the last time I was at Hodges was the last time I tried to go to an Indians game that also got postponed due to weather. Either I'm destined to not see the Indians play or enjoy awesome food at Hodges whenever I try. Whatever reason you have, make it over to Hodges. They are just around the corner from the popular E. 4th Street and offer fantastic food.

Hodge's Cleveland Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

The Black Pig - Ohio City, OH (Cleveland)

During my last visit to Cleveland I was finally able to enjoy with it a friend. We both traveled to participate in Opening Day ceremonies for the Cleveland Indians. Even though the game eventually got cancelled due to cold weather we still had a great time seeing the city and meeting new people. I was super excited because I finally crossed off The Black Pig from my bucket list. We went for lunch and it was absolutely amazing. You have to, have to try The Black Pig next time you're in Cleveland.

Pork Frites

Pork Frites

We went for lunch, but I was tired and hungry. I took the 5am flight, which meant getting up at 3am. I had a hard time deciding between the Pork Frites and the Braised Pork Belly. They both sounded so good. I asked my sever for her recommendation. She asked how hungry I was and that's when she pointed me towards the Frites. Holy frites and pants! I'm almost at a loss for words to describe how wonderfully delicious this meal tasted. 

Best fries ever!

Best fries ever!

Pork confit says, "I'm ready for my close up". 

Pork confit says, "I'm ready for my close up". 

Let's start with the foundation. The fries were delightfully crispy yet soft. They were the perfect vessel to pick up everything that on the plate. Seasoned well and cooked exactly as I would expect. Topping the fries was not just any pork. Oh no mon frere. It was pork confit. I've had duck confit but not pork confit. Confit is simply is a method of cooking and preseving a protein in it's own fat. In this case the pork was slow cooked in it's own pork fat and then cooked again. Since it's slow cooked the first time around the pork retained a lot of moisture and flavor. The browned and charred bits and pieces added even more flavor. Hands down the best part of this dish was the pork. But we're not even done yet.

The fries are mixed with an out of this world gravy that was silky smooth and delicious. It was served with just the right amount of gravy to give you enough of an earthy bite without smothering the dish. And lets not forget the fried EGGS! Not just one, but two of the yolkiest eggs ever. Every bite was a perfect bite of potatoes, pork, gravy and egg. I would come back for this again and again....and again. 

IMG_7771_Fotor.jpg

My friends also enjoyed their selections. They both ordered the Black Pig burger which is a beef patty served with a shallot Jam, mushrooms and brie aioli. One of them said it was the best burger he had ever had. Weather you're looking for breakfast delights or a damn good burger, you gotta check out The Black Pig. It's located in Ohio City in a very cute neighborhood. It's easy to get to from downtown and just a few blocks away from the West Side Market. You won't be disappointed. I promise!

The Black Pig Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato