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Photo TR: Jason's Roadfood Adventures


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I know I've said it a million times, but another great update! You can't go wrong with an update that includes BBQ, pecan pie, and cinnamon bread! There really isn't any food I like more than BBQ. I just wish there were more BBQ places where I live.

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^ It is interesting how many bbq joints are hit and miss though. Some are just ridiculously good, while others are okay and some...just not good.

 

Jason, I will give you credit for braving some of those places all in the name of giving us foodies a good trip report...thank you!

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^Thanks! But I don't do it *just* to provide a good report... I do it because I love to eat!

 

In this round: Vegas, baby! My wife and I took a trip to Nevada last July, and the highlights are below. (No barbecue this time... sorry!) Enjoy!

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A few weeks later, Kelly and I flew out to Las Vegas for a few days’ vacation. By the time our plane landed and we got to our hotel, we were really hungry. We were hoping for lunch, but since it was 9:30 a.m. in Vegas, we had to settle for brunch at the Bayside Buffet at Mandalay Bay.

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The buffet itself was nice (if very expensive), but my favorite part was the filled malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts).

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Kelly has a “thing” for Irish restaurants, so the next day we made our way over to Nine Fine Irishmen in New York New York for lunch.

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“Grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize!”

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We were seated in the upstairs section, right across from this tribute made of firefighters’ patches sent in from around the nation.

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A pyramid of butter! Just like in Ireland!

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We started with the fried pickle appetizer. I prefer chips to spears, but what are you gonna do?

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Kelly got a grilled turkey Panini, which she really liked, plus some potato salad that didn’t really taste like anything.

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I got a breakfast consisting of runny scrambled eggs, corned beef hash (but not really), home fries from around the world (or something like that), ham, and a sausage that had the texture of Jell-O and tasted like feet.

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That afternoon, we took a break at Taqueria Canonita at the Venetian (I know, Mexican food at an Italian-themed resort…).

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Our table was right next to the “canal.”

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We stopped mainly for drinks, but we also ordered chips and salsa (yes “ordered”… despite what you may have heard, there’s practically nothing complementary — or cheap — in Vegas anymore). The salsa was so good, I sipped it with a swizzle stick! It was funny at the time… you can see in my bloodshot eyes how tired we were.

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We finished our snack at Canonita with the dessert of the day, which was some sort of lemon-berry pastry. It wasn’t bad. Not as good as the salsa, though.

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As we lounged at the table after receiving our bill, we watched a couple get married in a gondola.

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That evening, we went downtown to Freemont Street to partake in several things I was hoping to do, one of which was the Heart Attack Grill.

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Noted!

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They have two truck scales, one outside and one inside. If you step on one and it registers 350 pounds or more, lights flash, an alarm sounds and you get your food for free. (A large neon sign out front explains this; unfortunately, it was blocked with construction equipment while we were there.) If you hit 350 pounds while eating there, anything you order after that will be free; you’re allowed to weigh in after each burger.

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Once inside, you are dressed in a hospital gown and given an “admission” bracelet before being seated.

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This is what the bracelet says. Each burger is called a “Bypass,” from single (one patty) to quadruple (four patties).

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This was Verne Troyer’s gown.

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The walls are covered in pop culture references realigned to promote the restaurant and its celebration of all things gluttonous. Take, for example, this panoramic recreation of “The Last Supper,” with the restaurant’s founder in the position of Jesus, feeding his fast food mascot disciples.

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There are plenty of re-themed movie posters, as well.

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Da Vinci would be so proud….

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Near the indoor truck scale sits this blood pressure machine. Unlike those found in pharmacies, however, the patrons who use it aren’t checking their health…

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…they’re trying for the high score! There’s probably some social commentary in there somewhere in that more than half of the “top achievers” are from Texas.

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I didn’t exactly feel comfortable asking one of the waitresses to pose (though they’re happy to do so), but this mannequin offers a good approximation of the Heart Attack Grill uniform.

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A giant-sized package of Lucky Strike cigarettes and a large paddle hang from the ceiling. The cigarettes symbolize the largest meal offered at the restaurant, with which they are served for “dessert.” (And, yes, we’re talking about a real pack of unfiltered cigarettes, not the candy kind.) The paddle… well, that symbolizes something, too.

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Specifically, it symbolizes what happens to anyone who doesn’t finish their food. Spankings are also a (free) menu item. Really.

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The restaurant was not crowded by any means, but it still took an inordinately long time for a waitress to find our table — long enough that had I not come to Freemont Street specifically to experience the Heart Attack Grill, I probably would have left. Fortunately, when we finally were able to place our order and the food arrived, it was really good. You’re looking at a bacon-chili cheeseburger (Single Bypass), chili cheese fries (which Kelly promised me she would eat some of, otherwise I wasn’t going to order them; I’m not sure the two she had really made much difference in the long run) and a real-sugar Mexican Coke.

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By the time we were done, there was still plenty of grease to be had!

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In the end, you’re not billed for food, but for “medical services.” Notice that tax is referred to as “Obama’s cut,” although last I checked, sales tax was one of the few things the federal government didn’t lay claim to. (Stop giving them ideas, Heart Attack Grill!)

 

Up next: more unhealthy dining in Las Vegas!

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last time we were there, my German friends dragged us to a Brew Haus that was catty-corner to Hard Rock Hotel (and across the street from KISS Mini-Golf).

 

http://www.hofbrauhauslasvegas.com/

 

(called the Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas)

 

the food was very good, but super, SUPER expensive.

 

(but the beer helped).

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^ The menu looks so varied. What did you have and how much? Just curious.

 

And as for the Live Entertainment...

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The band looks rather sexy... (o;

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^ The menu looks so varied. What did you have and how much? Just curious.

 

And as for the Live Entertainment...

 

we tried various beers (all were good), and I think they averaged ~$9 each for the giant glass.

 

as for the food, I'll take my best guess as to what we had, like I said, it was ALL really good:

 

I had (I think) Sauerbraten – This is probably the most popular German Dish! Marinated “Pot Roast Bavarian Style” with Red Wine, Vegetable Strips, Potato Dumpling and Red Cabbage.

 

Nick (my partner) had: Schweinebraten- This is one Bavarian cannot live without! Famous “Munich Pork Roast” with vegetable Garnish, Dark Beer Sauce, Potato and Breaded Dumpling

 

the friends we were with had:

Münchner Weisswürste – From the Bavarian Sausage Heaven! Two of Munich’s famous white sausages (Veal and Pork) traditionaly Poached or Grilled with freshly baked original Pretzel and Sweet Mustard imported from Munich.

 

Gebackenes Fisch Filet – This is the way Bavarians love fish! Three Tilapia Filets breaded and pan fried golden brown served with tartar sauce, lemon and homemade potato salad.

 

and we shared a few of the "snacks plates"

Obazter Classic Bavarian Appetizer – A Bavarian Cheese Specialty you will love! Brie prepared with cream cheese, butter Onions, delicately seasoned and served with a freshly baked Pretzel.

 

Hofbräuhaus Brotzeitteller – Cold Cut Platter with Pork Roast, Black Forest Smoked ham, sliced Sausage, cheese, Pickled Gherkin, Onion Mustard, Rye Bread and butter.

 

we also had something with pickled sweet onions. . .but I don't see it on the menu, so maybe it was the special of the day?

 

as for cost. . . I really don't recall exactly, but I *think* the mains were in the $19-$25 each range, and the snack plates were ~$15?

 

it was all really good, but we all commented that it was not a lot of food for the cost, and as it's all really "comfort food" the gourmet prices were steep. . . .still. . we had a grand time. And they have a great gift shop in the front.

 

(and it was right across the street from KISS mini golf. . so we got to do that first)

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^Still, such a variety in choices from all of you! Very nice.

And usually, the price is a given, no matter a theme park, etc.?

 

well, I guess you could consider Vegas a "theme park"

 

we have no issue paying gourmet prices for gourmet food. . but this was comfort food (which is why I mentioned it in Jason's "Roadfood" thread).

 

next time he's in Vegas, he should check it out.

 

but yeah, if my first thought was how expensive it was, instead of "the food was really good"?. . .it was priced too high.

 

but the food WAS good!

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Hofbrauhaus rules although it isn't quite as good as the real one in Munich. Me and my Dad each won a Maß (1L beer glass) for playing quarter bounce and getting a quarter into the Maß...it was quite fun.

 

I also got a spanking there like HAG...when you order a shot of the apfel schnapps it comes with a free paddling and those waitresses don't play games when they whack you.

 

It actually hurt!

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I also got a spanking there like HAG...when you order a shot of the apfel schnapps it comes with a free paddling and those waitresses don't play games when they whack you.

 

It actually hurt!

 

Now where are those waiters when you need them?...

 

Ah right, Munich.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Hofbrauhaus looks like our kind of place! Had we known about it, we definitely would have paid it a visit.

 

At this point, I'm officially over a year behind in updating this thread, so I'll try to pick up the pace a bit... but no promises. In the meantime, here are some more Vegas eats. Enjoy!

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What better way to wash down a Single Bypass burger than with a deep-fried Twinkie! This is why the Mermaid Casino on Freemont Street has long been one of my favorite stops in Vegas.

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Except we missed the comeback of the Twinkie by about a week. Oh well, Cloud Cakes are close enough.

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For those unfamiliar with what a deep-fried Twinkie looks like… behold!

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And this is what it looks like on the inside! Notice that the cream sort of turns into a gooey custard… which, of course, is the best part!

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By this point, Kelly was dead tired and insisted we go back to the hotel. I agreed… until we passed the Golden Gate Hotel and Casino and I saw this!

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Du-par’s is a legendary small restaurant chain in Los Angeles, and I figured I’d likely never have the chance to try it, so when that chance jumped right out in front of me… well, how could I not? Even though I already felt like I was going to explode.

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A lot of people swear by Du-par’s pies.

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I mean, how hard would it be to resist a pie that looks like that?

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But resist I did, because as good as all those pies looked, the one dish Du-par’s is famous for, above and beyond everything else, is its pancakes. Even though I could eat only a few bites, they were heavenly. We took the rest back to the hotel in a box. Kelly told the waiter that we’d lost everything at the casino, and the leftover pancakes were all the food we would have to sustain ourselves for the next three days until our flight back home. He was amused.

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I also had him box up a giant Du-par doughnut to take back for the next day. It wasn’t anywhere near as good as it looked (and couldn’t even come close to touching those pancakes), unfortunately.

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After eating the leftover pancakes for breakfast the next day, we took a late lunch at Toby Keith’s “I Love This Bar” and Grill at Harrah’s, mostly because we had read in one of the freebie guidebooks that the restaurant’s menu included a jalapeno Reuben. We were intrigued.

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The walls are covered in Toby Keith memorabilia, along with various western-themed beer signs. The waitresses… again, I wasn’t about to ask one to pose, but much like the servers at the Heart Attack Grill, they had a very specific uniform. It consisted of chaps, panties, a tank top… and not much else.

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The potato salad was served in… are you ready for it? A miniature red Solo cup! You know, because one of Toby Keith’s songs is “Red Solo Cup”! Get it? Ha ha ha! Unfortunately, the potato salad also kind of tasted like a red Solo cup.

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And I’m sad to say that the Cowboy Reuben, the very reason we came to this place, was even worse. I have no idea how you go about sucking every last ounce of flavor out of corned beef and Swiss cheese, but somehow the chefs at Toby Keith’s managed it. It tasted like wallpaper paste on bricks, the bricks being the bread that was grilled into fossilization. As for the “jalapeno”… I’m sure they probably had one in the kitchen somewhere, and perhaps they were hoping its essence would somehow infuse itself with the sandwich from across the room. At least the fries tasted OK.

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That evening, we went to the Bellagio to sample its famous buffet.

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This was the line to get in… and this is just what you could see from the casino. It actually rounded the corner and continued down a very long corridor. Total “standby” time was about an hour. Which is pretty typical.

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The Bellagio’s buffet may not be No. 1 in Vegas anymore (Steve Wynn’s newest hotel, the Wynn, takes that honor), but it’s still pretty darned good!

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This was my first plate.

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I didn’t think the aerial view did it justice.

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Plate No. 2…

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…and finally, dessert!

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The next morning, we took a cab quite a long distance to check out Mary’s Hash House. Kelly wasn’t happy we spent so much money just to get to a restaurant, but what are you going to do?

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Hash House has been featured on several TV shows.

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Didn’t see Guy Fieri’s signature anywhere, though!

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Inside, the place was pretty pedestrian, and the waitress wasn’t altogether friendly or prompt. We later found out that they had just received a phone order for something like 30 breakfasts to go, and things were pretty frantic behind the scenes. Once that was taken care of, the service was much better.

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Oh well. The wait gave us time to contemplate the custom curtains.

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We also got a little bowl of partially used creamers.

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These, however, were much better than the nasty creamers. Toast at Hash House is served with your choice of exotic, house-made jams and jellies. I don’t remember each one we tried, but I know one was jalapeno-something and another was pineapple-something. They were all very good.

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Kelly raved about her egg white omelet and fresh fruit bowl.

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I, on the other hand, was not about to go to a restaurant called “Hash House” and not order hash! In fact, I decided on the Super Hash: corned beef, roast beef, ham, chicken and potatoes, all mixed up and fried, served with hash browns and fried eggs. It was exquisite!

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While we were waiting for our cab back to the hotel, we had time to check out the pictures hanging on the wall in other parts of the restaurant. How can you not love a place where Woodsy Owl has dined?

 

Up next: a return to the Mid-Atlantic for some regional and ethnic specialties.

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^ Just curious, but do you use any condiments (ketchup, steak sauce) on your breakfast plate, at all?

No matter how excellent the omelette/eggs and/or hash may be, I usually hit it with a drop or two.

 

Excellent take on the Vegas Buffet. I definitely would like to try it out once, myself.

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I loathe buffets, but everyone keeps raving about the Bellagio one. I might have to try it some time.

 

dt

 

"Bellagio", "Mirage", and "Cosmopolitan" (Wicked Spoon)

 

http://www.cosmopolitanlasvegas.com/taste/restaurant-collection/wicked-spoon.aspx

 

are the 3 best buffets in town.

 

(ones that are good, but have been surpassed by the above 3: "M resort" "Rio" and "Golden Nugget" (tho if you catch Golden Nugget on Seafood buffet night (the weekend), the food is a great value for the buffet price)

 

http://www.goldennugget.com/lasvegas/eat_buffet.asp

 

 

Ones to avoid: MGM Grand (used to be fantastic, but TERRIBLE the last two times we were in town), Flamingo (edible, but only as a last resort), CircusCircus (Cafeteria or worse food), and Mandalay Bay -- way overpriced for the quality of the food.

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  • 1 month later...

Time for another dose of Roadfood Adventures, this time in the Mid-Atlantic. Enjoy!

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Two days after returning from Las Vegas, I left for a long weekend with my parents to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. On the way, we stopped for lunch at Jake’s Sandwich Board in Philadelphia.

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And it was about time! I had tried to visit Jake’s twice before. The first time, I got there, paid for parking and found a sign saying the restaurant was closed for Memorial Day weekend? Really? Where I come from, holiday weekends are when most of the restaurants make their biggest money. The second time I happened to come during a massive thunderstorm, and there was no parking to be had at any price.

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Jake’s is known for its quality sandwiches, but also for its Five Pound Challenge, the epitome of Philadelphia dining.

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The winners get their pictures on the Wall of Shame.

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We did not come with such visions of glory. We just wanted some subs.

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My mother decided to try some fried pickles, which she didn’t particularly like, so I ended up with most of them.

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I wanted to try the “crunchy onions,” basically French-fried sweet onion petals. They were very good.

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The main reason I spent so much time trying to get to Jake’s in recent years, however, was to try its Garlic Bomb sub. It’s a cheese steak served on a roll with garlic spread, with roasted garlic nestled in with the meat, topped with French-fried garlic. Sounds like it should be amazing, right? It had no taste whatsoever. That said, I’d like to return to Jake’s someday to try the “50/50,” which a number of others ordered while we were there. And just what is the “50/50,” you ask? Why, it’s a half pork, half bacon sub, covered with melted provolone cheese and Siracha hot sauce. (Maybe I’d ask for mine without the Siracha.)

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And for dessert? Why, Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews, of course!

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That evening, after a few stops, we headed into Binghamton, NY. Our destination: Sharky’s.

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Sharky’s is restaurant divided in two, with a bright, worn counter service section in front and a dark, equally worn table service section in the back. There were plenty of locals in there when we arrived (not seen in this photo).

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My mom opted for something a little more traditional than I was after, ordering a seafood platter (but with pierogies).

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I didn’t travel all the way to Binghamton to eat seafood! First up on my plate was the City Chicken, not really chicken at all but marinated pork, skewered on a stick and fried crisp.

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But the thing to get at Sharky’s is the spiedies. And just what is a spiedie, you ask? Well, originally it was skewered chunks of lamb, marinated in spices and grilled over hot charcoal, served with Italian bread. Today, chicken has taken the place of the more expensive lamb, but the principle remains the same. They were good… but to be honest, my dad and I both preferred the City Chicken.

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The next day, after spending hours upon hours touring the National Baseball Hall of Fame (it really was neat), I stumbled upon Schneider’s Bakery in Cooperstown, NY.

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This apple cider doughnut really hit the spot!

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It’s a good thing I stopped for a snack; there was a long wait to get into our next destination: Brooks’ House of Bar-B-Q in Oneonta, NY.

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“See your dinners barbecued on our giant charcoal pit.”

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But first, let’s take a stroll around the grounds. There’s Brooks Park…

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…this nifty vintage vehicle parked outside the gift shop (which has its own building, separate from the restaurant)…

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…and the sauce factory, where Brooks’ famous barbecue sauce is bottled for sales and distribution. Not pictured are The Coop, a stand-alone ice cream stand, and the giant charcoal pit, which was closed off for rain when we arrived.

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Inside, the restaurant itself was massive.

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This homage to ESPN was part of an ongoing sports theme in the lobby décor, spotlighting mainly the New York Yankees and college teams affiliated with the Brooks family.

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Take that, foul loaf!

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The “bar-b-q” in the restaurant’s name refers not to the traditional pulled pork, brisket and ribs, but strictly to chicken, which all three of us ordered. I got mine as part of a combination dinner with pork, which I took to mean pulled pork. When it arrived, the pork was represented by a delicate slice beneath the chicken. And how was the chicken? It was… OK. I’m not a big fan of eating chicken right off the bone to start with, and this certainly was nothing like the local fire departments cook up for their fundraisers, but it was fine for what it was.

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The bucket on each table for discarded bones was a nice touch.

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My mom ordered a slice of carrot cake for dessert, which was huge. She said it was good, but she couldn’t finish it.

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My father and I, on the other hand, had no problem finishing off our crème de menthe sundaes. They were not only unique, but mighty tasty, as well.

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Along with some sauces and rubs for my barbecue-addicted friend back home, I picked up a packet of these maple-coated sunflower kernels in the gift shop to try. Let’s just say I prefer the crème de menthe sundae….

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Over the summer, I had some good Roadfood fortune occur within about a mile of my home when a grossly overpriced Italian restaurant, which operated in an old bank building, closed and became an Irish pub.

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There’s not much space inside the Pint and Pub in Millsboro, DE, which often necessitates a wait for a table. But the wait is well worth it!

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On my first visit, I tried the Scotch eggs. And what is a Scotch egg, you ask?

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It’s a hard-boiled egg covered in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. And it’s delicious! The Pint and Pub serves its version with onion straws and grainy mustard.

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Kelly opted for an Irish chicken stew with soda bread, which she enjoyed.

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I, on the other hand, stuck to tradition, ordering an open-faced corned beef Reuben. And what a sandwich it was! The Pint and Pub brines and peppers its own corned beef on site, and the effort comes through boldly in the taste.

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For dessert, Kelly ordered a pair or flavored crème brulees. She said they were excellent.

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I sampled the bread pudding, which, while not the best bread pudding I’ve ever had, was good enough that I’ve ordered it several times since.

 

Up next: The Roadfood tour travels to the Pacific Northwest.

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A few weeks after returning from upstate New York, I headed out on my final vacation of the summer, flying to Seattle, WA, with my father for a trip halfway down the Pacific coast. Enjoy!

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Following an afternoon enjoying the Space Needle, Experience Music Project and other wonders of the 1962 World’s Fair site, we took a short trip to our first Roadfood stop of the trip, Red Mill Burgers in Seattle.

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This sounds amazing, especially considering that the Red Mill is renowned for its milkshakes. Unfortunately, its milkshake machine was down the day we visited.

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The restaurant is done up in a sort of faux-’50s motif, though the old advertising clocks and signs hanging over each booth are vintage. My father would have liked to have had a number of him for his collection.

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Many of them were for soft drinks, some readily recognizable, others not so much.

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At Red Mill, you place your order at the counter, then wait for the cashier to call your name. Somehow, the day we went, they not only had several orders under incorrect names (and there weren’t that many people in the restaurant to begin with), but got my name wrong altogether. We had to show them the receipt for them to figure out what went on our tray and what didn’t. Once we got the food, however, all was (mostly) forgiven. My bacon-blue cheese burger was very good, and the onion rings were OK, as well… until they cooled off. Ain’t nothin’ in this world quite as unappetizing as a cold onion ring.

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The next morning, we began our day with a visit to Top Pot Doughnuts in Seattle.

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They have a lot of books here.

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A lot of doughnuts, too!

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Ready for the big unveiling?

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I decided on a chocolate-iced original.

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Top Pot doughnuts are know for their rough, craggy exterior. It was OK, but probably not something I’d order again.

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The raised raspberry glazed, on the other hand, was very good. My father (who also tried an original glazed) and I both agreed it was the best of the doughnuts we sampled from Top Pot.

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The doughnuts helped fuel us for a full day exploring Pike Place Market.

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Pike Place is not just a single building, but an array of buildings that comprise a mind-blowing foodie experience. (Actually, there are a lot of other neat things here, too, including antique stores, magic shops, mini-museums, live entertainment and other attractions… but since this is the food thread, I’m going to focus on the food).

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This being Seattle, there’s a lot of authorized (and unauthorized) counter-culture graffiti all around.

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Hey! It’s double-dollar food stamp day at Pike Place!

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Before getting to the buildings proper, you make your way through a small maze of pop-up tents selling knock-off purses, folk art and other flea market-esque items.

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You know you’re getting close to the main building when you see this. It’s the very first Starbucks… and there was never a single time throughout the day that it didn’t have a line out the door. I’m pretty sure I saw some people lighting candles and counting rosaries.

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This is the only place in the world that still officially uses the original 1970s Starbucks logo. Disneyland features a similar logo at restaurants serving Starbucks coffee, with the most obvious parts edited for content.

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And what goes better with coffee than cheese?

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Windows in the cheese shop allow passersby to see the cheese-making process in action.

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It’s just like the Mission Tortilla Factory! No, really, it is — especially since after watching the cheese being made, you can go inside for a free sample. The cheese curds we tried were excellent.

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Inside the main building of Pike Place, you are immediately hit with both visual and olfactory overload.

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You also are immediately hit with a crowd of roughly 80 bajillion people. Seriously, it was like this on the main floor all day long.

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Free samples abound in the market. It’s better than Sam’s Club!

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While the market includes just about anything anyone could ever want, foodwise, produce and seafood seem to be the leading specialties.

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Several booths carried these fruit logs. They were really good. Apple pie was my favorite.

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“Picked fresh daily.”

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The jumbo grilling scallops are fancy! (The halibut cheeks apparently are not.)

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When it comes to seafood at Pike Place, this is what everyone wants to see: the flying fish!

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Yes, they really do throw large fish out to customers that order them. And this is where they do it. Unfortunately, it happens so quickly that my poor little camera couldn’t keep up, so the pictures I did manage of the “flying” fish just kind of look like blurry guys holding their arms out.

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Pike Place also offers those other two necessities of life: beer…

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…and jerky. Alder is the type of wood used to smoke the jerky. It wasn’t bad. I also tried salmon jerky. I won’t make that mistake again.

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Noted!

 

Up next: More Pike Place and yet another taste of Seattle.

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that market looks amazing.

 

makes me regret even more that when we were in Philly back in June, even tho we stayed ACROSS THE STREET from Reading Terminal Market, we never managed to get in there (it was closed every day by the time we got back to the hotel)!

 

Luckily, I go visit friends in Vancouver every few years, so maybe I'll make it to this one in Seattle some day!

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