After our last blog post, it hit me that we take a lot more pictures that don’t get shared. It could be that we just ate at a place which didn’t make it into a post or we limited the pictures used to save space. Regardless of the reason though, we still want to share all the pictures we can. So with that, we now have an Instagram account.
We will be using this to post photos that we didn’t get to use from our trips as well as post pictures of places we’ve eaten at that are local. There are a lot of great places we get to go to right in our area that may not get a write up because we weren’t traveling. This gives us a good way to share these. Looking forward to our new step in the social media experience.
When we first planned this trip, it didn’t look like we would be writing a blog post for it, but we were pleasantly surprised by a random find. It was on our drive from the airport to our hotel that we passed a place with a sign I just happened to see – Fat Sal’s. The moment I saw it, all I could think of was with a name like that, you know it has to be good.
Luckily, the schedule for the trip was pretty open so we were able to head there for lunch the next day. Before I go any further, I should share a bit of information. If you’re from Jersey though you probably already know this; but if you aren’t, just a bit on what a fat sandwich is. I was first introduced to fat sandwiches when I moved to New Jersey many years ago for school. There was a break in between classes, so I went with some friends to a food truck down the block. Someone ordered me a “kitchen sink” sandwich, and when I got it, I was stunned by how much filling was stuffed into a hoagie roll. There was mozzarella sticks, an egg, french fries, melted cheese, and a hamburger patty. Later on I realized that this was a big thing at Rutgers University with the fat sandwiches at the grease trucks there. If you want to know more, check out this link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_trucks
Now back to Fat Sal’s. This is one place I would recommend studying the menu before you go. It can be overwhelming with the choices, and if you go hungry, I wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up wanting everything. For us, Sonia and I ordered the Fat Texas (which we split) with a side of onion rings. There’s a lot going on in the sandwich, and it did not disappoint. You don’t necessarily get everything in each bite, but the one flavor you do get throughout is the BBQ sauce, which made the sandwich for me. The one thing we would recommend though is eat it once you get it. Not sure if we were just taking our time, but the mozzarella sticks had cooled so it wasn’t as gooey as we would have liked.
If you’ve ever wanted to try a Jersey fat sandwich but couldn’t get to the Garden State, Fat Sal’s does the sandwiches justice. There are multiple locations for the restaurant, which are mainly in California; however, their web site also lists an Austin location.
It would only be natural to start any food post about Chicago with deep dish pizza, so we will. However, there’s not too much commentary to go along with the pictures of it, and that’s not because we have anything against it, but in all honesty, that wasn’t our focus on this trip. We knew we would go for one meal since it is a Chicago institution, but maybe on another trip, we’ll dedicate a whole post to a deep dish pizza crawl.
For our lone meal of pizza, we went to Lou Malnati’s River North location. Our meal was house salads, and then we shared the Classic. The highlight for us was the flaky, buttery crust. I’m normally not a crust person, but I couldn’t resist this one. We left overly-stuffed and thankful that we had a bit of a walk back to the hotel.
The 2nd day of our trip was our only full day in town so we tried to make the most of it. Our plan was to start with donuts, but our late start resulted in the place selling out of the one donut we really wanted to try. It’s all good though as it meant more room for other things. So with empty stomachs we headed off for our first bites of the day.
Our first stop was Cemitas Puebla in Fulton Market. Based on our research, the must have menu item is the Cemita Atomica, and it did not disappoint. For me, this is up there in my top 2 sandwiches that I’ve ever had. The sandwich comes with a grilled pork loin, a breaded pork loin and ham, so I nicknamed it the “Pig Did Not Die in Vain” sandwich. Each of the 3 meats have a distinct flavor, that when combined in a single bite lead to an amazing amalgamation of flavor. No single one outshines the other as they just blend together nicely.
The sandwich comes with cheese and a sauce as well that help enhance the flavors of the meat. As for the bun, it’s homemade and the perfect casing for the filling. It’s got a nice crunchy outside and soft inside that holds everything in place so that every bite is how a sandwich is meant to be – bread plus meat plus cheese and sauce.
Cemitas Puebla is located at 817 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607. They also have another location at 3129 West Armitage, Chicago, IL 60647.
Right next to Cemitas Puebla is Publican Quality Meats. At several restaurants in the area, you will see meats with a PQM before it. This is what the PQM stands for. They are a butcher, bakery, cafe, and gourmet market. When we passed it on our way to Cemitas Puebla, Sonia’s eyes lit up when we looked in the window, so we knew we would be stopping in on our way back. Even if you don’t need to get anything from there or aren’t hungry, you should still stop in. You’ll see why several restaurants use them.
For us, we did order from the cafe. The line for seating was and being short on time, we opted to order a sandwich to go. We went with The Big Dipper, which was wagyu beef with a sweet and spicy sauce. If you can’t take too much spice, then the sandwich will come off with a lot of heat. Sonia, who can do spicy better than me, thought it had a good spice to it, but it was not too spicy.
The wagyu beef itself was nice and tender. Each bite came apart nicely so that you weren’t forced to yank the sandwich apart with each bite. It comes with a pea shoot and carrot slaw that accentuates the spiciness of the sandwich.
Publican Quality Meats is located at 825 West Fulton Market, Chicago, IL 60607.
There are plenty of restaurants in the area, but after having split 2 sandwiches, we couldn’t eat anymore. Would definitely like to go back though and try some of the other places that we missed this trip.
For dinner that night, we chose a restaurant closer to the area where we were staying since we had tickets for the Alton Brown show that night. Dinner was at Prime & Provisions, which we picked based on some of the write-ups naming it a top new restaurant for 2015.
When we got to the restaurant, it was already fairly busy, so glad that we made a reservation. We were seated and greeted promptly with water and our waiter, Garin. Before I get into the food itself, I want to note the service. Garin was attentive and helpful in navigating the menu. He was quick to tell us any house recommendations as well as explain how they cook and serve certain steaks. One thing I really liked about him though, was that on certain questions where he wasn’t sure of the answer, he was quick to get us the answer. Definitely helps when going to a place for the first time. When ordering, he was quick with pairing suggestions and even made sure Sonia’s wine order would complement the food.
As soon as we received our starter, the manager, Rai also came by our table to introduce himself. He was just as knowledgeable as the servers when it came to the food and came to speak with us after each plate was brought. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a manager be so attentive, and it was appreciated. Thanks to Garin and Rai this was some of the best service we’ve had in a long time.
Now to the food. We started with the House- Flared Thick-Cut Bacon. If you haven’t figured out from our blog yet, we are bacon-aholics. So there was never any doubt which starter we were going with. The bacon here is served with a dark chocolate and maple syrup which balances out the pepper on the bacon. It looked like a big enough potion for 2 people, but I was wanting some more of it once we finished.
For our entrees, we both went with steaks, but I was eyeing the Boar Chop as well. Sonia went with the Petit-Cut Filet Mignon, and I had the N.Y. Strip. When the steaks came, our first impressions were that they looked overcooked. When we cut into them though, they were as ordered all the way through. The steaks come with a roasted head of garlic on the plate as well as a small container of seasonings that you can add to your steak as desired. I am a fan of steakhouses that let the meat speak for itself. Core to any meal is the cooking itself, and if you can’t get that right, then no amount of seasoning or sauce can help.
We ordered a couple of sides as well – Sautéed Wild Mushrooms and Potatoes Au Gratin. While the potatoes were okay, we highly recommend the sautéed mushrooms.
Prime & Provisions is located at 222 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60610.
For our last day, we went to Little Goat Diner, which for me was the one must for this trip. I have been a fan of Stephanie Izard since I saw her on Top Chef. There’s a reason she won Fan Favorite for her season. So for this trip, I knew I wanted to go to one of her restaurants. Luckily for us, we got a reservation for 10:00 am.
By the time we got to the restaurant, it was packed, a we were starving. We both ordered mochas and split an Ooey Gooey Cinnabun. The mochas were good, but the cinnabun came to our table a little cooler than we expected. It was still good, but we were expecting the cinnabun to be served warm. Not sure if the volume of people played into this since it was Mother’s Day, but we were wondering if the time frame from kitchen to table was off that day.
As for the meals, I ordered the Bull’s Eye French Toast and loved it. The french toast had a nice crisp to the outside with the bread itself thick enough to absorb the syrup but not too thick so that you don’t taste all bread. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly. The inside wasn’t dry at all and the breading stayed nice and crispy with the syrup. The surprise for me was that it comes with eggs in the center of the toast.
Sonia ordered the Breakfast Spaghetti ‘N Clams ‘N Crab. Unfortunately, when it came to the table, she noticed that the egg whites were still runny. It’s a personal preference for her to have her egg whites less runny so she spoke with our server, who let her order another dish.
She opted for the Kimchee & Bacon & Eggs & Pancakes Asian Style Breakfast Tasty Thing. This dish is definitely not something you’ll find at other places. It is an interesting and creative mix of flavors that result in a unique breakfast dish. Sonia was much happier with this choice.
While we stuck with the breakfast items this time, we plan to go back and try some of the non-breakfast foods. Little Goat is located at 820 W. Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60607.
The biggest surprise though for this trip may have been the Spent Grain Brownie at the Lagunitas Brewery Tap Room. Definitely recommend heading out there if you can for this dessert.
The Lagunitas Brewery Tap Room is located at 2607 W. 17th Street, Chicago, IL 60608.
For our first food trip of 2016, Sonia and I made the quick drive to Boston for some fresh seafood. Top of our list of must haves were lobster anything and clam chowder. While Sonia did plenty of research for the trip, she also got some recommendations from locals once we got there.
Our first stop once we got in was Bostonia Public House. The restaurant was within walking distance but because of traffic on the drive up, we missed our original reservation time. There were no issues moving it to later, and when we got there, we were seated quickly. The staff was very attentive and quick to help with comments and recommendations as to both food and drinks. Overall, the environment was friendly with everyone, both staff and patrons, having an enjoyable time.
In hindsight, I think we could have ordered more food items, but I think we were trying to stay light because we had a full day of eats the next day. For our meal, we pretty much shared the Spice Rubbed Pork Ribs and the Lobster Mac and Cheese.
The ribs were nice and tender, and I would suggest using the sauce provided when eating them. The sauce added a nice dimension and helped make the flavor of the ribs pop.
As for the lobster mac and cheese, it was good as well, but not what I was expecting. When I think mac and cheese, I think of the baked kind where the cheese is not too saucy and the top is a nice oven-baked crunchy and cheesy blend. The mac and cheese here seemed more like a pasta dish cooked on a stove top with breadcrumbs then added on top. The dish was still good, and for me, the lobster was perfect. It was cooked so that it was tender and the amount and size of each piece was just right so that each bite was the perfect ratio of cheese sauce, pasta, and lobster.
Unfortunately, we missed out on some other items that were highly recommended, but all that means is that we will have to go back. Bostonia Public House is located at 131 State Street, Boston, MA 02110.
Now to the real purpose of the trip – Lobster Rolls and Seafood Soups.
For lobster rolls, our 2 top choices were James Hook & Co. and Yankee Lobster Co. At both places we ordered the large roll, and both came stuffed with an overflowing amount of perfectly tender lobster. There’s a reason they give you a fork with it. That’s pretty much where the similarities end.
As for the differences, James Hook & Co. serves their roll in a hot dog bun and the lobster comes with more dressing on it. The nice thing about their roll is the size of it. With each bite, there was the perfect proportion of bread to lobster. While Yankee Lobster Co. used what seemed more like a thick piece of bread versus a roll. With Yankee Lobster Co.’s roll you also got fries and cole slaw, so that was nice.
Both places have menu items in addition to the lobster rolls, but we didn’t get a chance to try anything else at James Hook; however, the oysters seemed very popular and the clam chowder looked like a good mix of chunky and creamy.
James Hook & Co. is located at 15-17 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA, 02210, while Yankee Lobster Co. is located at 300 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA 02210.
Now for the soups! While we went in February, the weather was surprisingly warm, which made eating a lot of soup tougher. But we were able to get some.
Our first soup stop was based on recommendations Sonia received from a few locals she chatted with while at Bostonia the night before. The restaurant is Boston Sail Loft, and she was told that this was the best spot for clam chowder in Boston. Since we had missed getting the chowder at James Hook & Co., we made sure to head here during the trip. The restaurant is definitely not a place we would have discovered if not for the recommendation.
When we walked in, the place was pretty packed, but we were able to get a table in the bar area immediately. Service was prompt and our server was courteous and attentive to our needs. After a lot of debate, we both ended up ordering a bowl of the clam chowder, but in hindsight, I think we could have shared a bowl. The serving, like just about everything we had in Boston was overflowing. The soup itself was the perfect creaminess, but one thing that surprised us was the dill. It’s like no other clam chowder that either of have ever had, but the dill does take some getting used to. Definitely, the most unique clam chowder we found in Boston, well really anywhere.
Boston Sail Loft is located at 80 Atlantic Avenue, Boston, MA 02110.
For me though, the surprise delight from the trip was the Lobster Bisque at Yankee Lobster Co. I consider myself lucky, if I can see and taste the chunks of lobster when I order this soup, so what I got here was a surprise. The soup is flavorful and the amount of lobster is beyond expectations. The soup is so good, that not only would I come back to Boston just to have it, but I would consider moving there for it.
While we were fortunate enough to try a number of places this trip, I can’t wait until our next trip back there. There was so much we missed at the places we went to as well as the places we didn’t get to.
Out of all of our 2015 trips, I think Montreal may have been my least favorite. I don’t blame the city for this, but I will say that I do not recommend going to Montreal on New Years Day. Most of the city is closed on that day so what you’re left with is crowded restaurants that don’t necessarily handle the volume of people too well.
Despite that, Sonia was able to find an amazing restaurant for our final meal of that trip. The restaurant was Bonaparte, and it is located at 443 Rue Saint-Francois-Xavier, Montreal, QC H2X 2T1. It’s located inside the Hotel Bonaparte, so enter the hotel and just walk through the lobby to get to the restaurant.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have reservations, but we were able to get a couple of seats at the bar. The bar serves the restaurant menu, so it’s not a bad option if that’s all they have. We both went with the prix fixe menu, which was a nice multi-course option that left us filled and satisfied with good eats.
1st Course – we both went with the lobster bisque
2nd Course – Smoked Salmon (me); Fois Gras Brûlée (Sonia)
3rd Course – Mushroom Ravioli (me); Escargot Tart (Sonia)
4th Course – this was a nice palate cleanser of pear sorbet and prosecco
5th Course – Filet Mignon (me); Rack of Lamb (Sonia)
6th Course – was supposed to be a symphony of desserts but the restaurant let us go off-menu and order their Chocolate Grand Marnier Soufflé
Every dish we had was cooked perfectly and tasted amazing. We both highly recommend Bonaparte, and if you are ok with the price, definitely do the tasting menu. It’s well worth it.
While we are already well into 2016, there are still a few open items to take care of to close out 2015, namely our 2 end of year food trips – Hawaii & Montreal. One good thing about posting this months later, is that it lets me take a gastronomic walk down memory lane. So here we go with Hawaii. Montreal soon to follow.
Where to start with Hawaii! While we were there for only 6 days, I feel like we ate enough to last us a lifetime. There were all you can eat options for our luau and our different tours that allowed us to sample some of the more traditional foods, but the highlights for me were our brunches and dinners where we went out on our own.
Brunch on our first full day was at Aloha Kitchen. We found this through Yelp and were not disappointed. Sonia went with the Loco Moco, and I had the Kalua Pork Eggs Benedict. Both were nice traditional meaty starts for our Hawaiian food adventure. One thing we did not try though was the souffle pancakes, which are some of the more popular items for Aloha Kitchen. Will definitely go back to try one of those as they looked amazing as other customers were eating them.
Aloha Kitchen is located at 432 Ena Road, Honolulu, HI 96815.
Out of all of our finds, the one that I was probably most excited about was the food trucks, which we discovered thanks to one of the free tourist magazines Sonia picked up at while at the airport. I didn’t understand why she was picking so many of them up, but I’m glad she did.
So the area where the food trucks park is called Pau Hana Market, and it’s within walking distance from most of the hotels on Waikiki Beach. There are about 7 trucks each with different food options.
Our first stop was Five Star Shrimp, where we had the Garlic Shrimp Plate. Shrimp were nicely cooked and well seasoned. In addition to the shrimp, the plate came with rice, pasta salad, and salad greens.
After the shrimp, we decided to go for ramen at Kamitoku Ramen. Since we were wanting to try things from multiple trucks, we opted to go for an order of gyoza and one of the kid-sized ramens. Gyoza was ok, but we were very disappointed with the ramen. Based on the picture, we thought the kid-sized ramen was just a smaller portion compared to the similar full portion. We ordered the beefy wild, but it had little to nothing in it, and no beef at all.
We also grabbed a burger at Ohana Burger, but were disappointed that they had run out of the tornado potato (this was the only reason we ordered the burger plate). They didn’t mention it until after they had cooked the burger and given us fries. Had we known, we wouldn’t have ordered there. Sadly, don’t really remember anything about the burger, but that may have been because of the missing tornado potato.
Like with any meal, we ended the night with some shaved ice from Hau Nani Shave Ice . Sonia went for the mango, and I got the lychee. This was a nice way to close out the day, and would be a reason alone to go to the food trucks. Not only was there the flavored syrup over the ice, but they added a good amount of fruit to help sweeten it up. Highly recommend it.
Pau Hana Market is located at 234 Beach Walk, Honolulu, HI 96815.
Our last day in Hawaii was probably one of our better food days on the trip. We started our day with brunch at Goofy Cafe + Dine, which was a short walk from the hotel. I finally got my loco moco, which did not disappoint. Sonia went a little healthier than I did and had a farmer’s omelette that came with a taro English muffin. If you are staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village or close by to it, I would highly recommend Goofy.
Goofy Cafe + Dine is located at 1831 Ala Moana Boulevard, Suite 201, Honolulu, HI 96815.
Our last meal of the trip was at Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Market, which was convenient since it was in the food court in the resort. They have a nice selection of traditional options, meats and of course seafood. We had a tough time deciding what to get because of all of the options, so in the end we created our own combos. Sonia had the ahi poke and the giant prawns while I got the garlic shrimp and the steak. We couldn’t find one thing wrong with either of our meals, and actually regretted not trying this place sooner. Definitely, the perfect way to end the trip.
Blue Water Shrimp & Seafood Market is located in the Hilton Hawaiian Village at 2005 Kalia Road, Honolulu, HI 96815.
One last thing to note though about Hawaii. If you get a chance, go to McDonald’s and get a haupia pie. Looks like Hawaii may be the one state left where they still fry the pies.
My Top Pick of the year was a random find in Atlantic City during Jen’s birthday weekend trip in May: Kelsey’s Soul Food. A nod to Yelpers for this jewel!
We we found parking right outside despite it being just a couple of blocks from Caesar’s. We were greeted by warm hugs from Kelsey herself when she found out it was our first time.
For $20/pp, we were about to have a true foodie experience with the weekend buffet brunch. There were stations for made-to-order waffles and pancakes. We also had an endless supply of fresh fried whiting and red velvet waffles from the kitchen.
Most brunch buffet participants would have been more than satisfied with these treats, but we also had an amazing hot buffet with shrimp & grits, breakfast meats, French toast, Chicken fried steak & gravy, jambalaya, Cajun catfish, pork loin, fried chicken, biscuits w/honey, collard greens, mac&cheese, peach cobbler, bread pudding with a maple sauce, fresh fruit, and so much more! Everything was prepared with love and skill that you could taste with every succulent, well seasoned morsel!
The red velvet waffles were light and fluffy, with just the right crunch and steamy softness. The fried whiting was the best I have ever had, with a perfect, not-too-thick cornmeal crust, and amazingly non-greasy.
The place was clean and well serviced, with our beverages refilled and empty plated cleared away promptly.
During our visit, a few large after-church group showed up and we enjoyed soulful gospel singing.
This was definitely an unexpected gem in the tourist trap filled city and we look forward to going back! Even Jen, with her Southerner Palate was grinning ear to ear between bites.
We both highly recommend Kelsey’s Soul Food. It is located at 1545 Pacific Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401; (609) 344-2200. Weekend Brunch served Saturdays & Sundays from 10am to 3pm
As mentioned in the welcome post, to kick off this blog, Sonia and I are picking our favorite restaurants/meals from our travels so far this year. For me, it was a tough choice. We came across some unexpected finds as well as had amazing meals at highly recommended places; so with no criteria other that what would be the one place I would want to write about now, I had no clue how to narrow all of these contenders into a top choice.
In the end, Euclid Hall in Denver, Colorado won out. The main reasons for this are the culinary creativity of the menu items, the friendly staff and of course the food itself.
I would love to say that Euclid Hall was a surprise find for us, but it had been recommended to me long ago by friends from the area. It was recommended more as a good place to grab a drink late at night though, so the food was a pleasant surprise.
When we arrived at the restaurant, it was after brunch and still too early for dinner, so the place wasn’t too packed. It looked like there was a second level, but they weren’t seating people up there at this time. We chose to sit at the counter by the kitchen so that we could watch as meals were being cooked and plated.
Because we wanted to try a little of everything, we opted to share 2 starters and 2 entrees. For our starters, we went with the Sausage Tasting and a Simple Salad.
The Sausage Tasting is a sampler of the 4 sausages they have on the menu. It comes with one of each as well as a plate of 4 different mustards. For me, I was underwhelmed by the Chorizo, which was still good, but it didn’t wow me. The surprise for me though was the Mortadella. In my opinion it was the most flavorful of the 4.
As for the salad, it was as simple of a salad as a Simple Salad could be. It was a variety of greens with a dressing and nothing else. The joy of simplicity though is when done right, that’s all you need. The greens in the salad were fresh and the dressing was the perfect complement. I know it’s hard to screw up a salad, but it’s nice when people take the time to enhance it so that it is actually a dish on its own in your meal and not just a side.
Next up for us was the Carbonara and the Brat Burger.
If there is ever a dish that defines a restaurant, the Carbonara is it for Euclid Hall. I won’t ruin the surprise of what the pork noodles are, but if you really want to know, ask your server. Our server was so knowledgeable from how the noodles are made to the rationale as to why this dish in on the menu. Other than the uniqueness of the pork noodles, the rest of the dish is exactly what you want from a carbonara. The sauce was incredible and once we finished the noodles, we just had to ask for some bread so that we could get the rest of the sauce left on the plate. It’s that good, that you do not want to let it go to waste.
As for the Brat Burger, when we first got the burger, Sonia noticed it was under cooked. The kitchen and our server originally thought that it was ok, because the hint of pink was to be expected based on the preparation; however, once the burger was returned to the kitchen, the chef agreed that it was not fully cooked. Once we got the burger back, it was in line with the rest of the meal. The bun, slaw, meat, and cheese all are perfectly paired leading to a wonderful burger. Sonia and I halved the burger, but in the end, I was wanting the other half for myself.
Based on that unexpected meal, I definitely plan on going back to Euclid Hall whenever I find myself in the Denver area. I know I’ll be torn though on ordering some of the same items or ordering some of the other items I watched come out of the kitchen wanting to try. Anytime you are in the area, I highly recommend going here and just keeping an open mind. Your taste buds will thank you.
Euclid Hall is located at 1317 14th Street, which is right in Larimer Square, in Denver, CO.
Welcome to all our readers! Sonia and I are excited to share our adventures with you.
If you want to know a little more about what this blog is all about, check out our “About” section. To kick off our blog though, rather than focus on our most recent trip, we decided to each pick our favorite restaurant that we’ve tried regardless of where it is or on what trip.
We have 2 more trips left this year – Honolulu and Montreal and would love to hear any suggestions from you on where to eat at either place. Just let us know by adding a comment on our “Reader Recommendations” section. Oh, and don’t forget tell us what dishes we should order for when we go there. If you have suggestions for other locations, please send those in at well. You can always find an updates list of our upcoming trip on the right hand side of our blog posts.
So, welcome again and remember to travel happy and eat happy whenever you can!