ELI’S BBQ

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3313 riverside dr.
cincinnati, oh

“$5 sandwich, $8plate”

when i say that eli’s barbeque should be on the weekly summer to-do list, i’m not wrong.

eli’s operates as a cash only bbq joint and on a summer night you can expect a line halfway down the block. once inside you hear the sounds of an old record player and you can finally open up your byobeverage. once you order, make your way outside and take a seat at the picnic tables or spread out a blanket and sit in the park. the wait is something you expect and learn to love. your food won’t come out right away, but this gives you a chance to make yourselves comfortable and relax. this is one of my favorite places to bring friends in the summer because you just kick it with your favorite beer and good company.

ON THE TABLE
pulled pork sandwich: the perfect
rib tips: you know- the smothered and covered crunchy, fatty, tasty bits
cheese macaroni: always
best baked beans: usually
creamy southern coleslaw: can’t eat without it

 

ISALITA

341a e. liberty street
ann arbor, mi

i have an affinity toward cilantro and lime, margaritas and mexican beer. and in ann arbor, there is not better place. i’d spend my mid-afternoon and early evenings here, more than anywhere else in town. the aesthetic is somewhat homemade: baskets for lampshades, copper bar top, simple and thrifted decor.

ON THE TABLE:
la casa margarita: best basic marg around
tecate with salt & lime: mexican beer/margarita’s sister
*peel n’ eat shrimp*: by far my favorite item on the menu. cajun spiced shrimp tossed with peanuts on a bed of hot jalapeño cornbread. it is perfection. available during limited times, worth the wait.
short rib huarache: a shortrib mexican flatbread with incredible flavor
nachos: i recommend with the added meat, which is seasoned with spices including cinnamon- an unexpected zing!
queso fundido: easy, scrumptious sharable. with chorizo or with veggies, the fundido is served on a hot cast iron skillet with warm tortillas.

if you don’t love mexican style food, this place is not for you. but anyone who doesn’t even like melted cheese doesn’t deserve to go out anyways.

 

frita batidos

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117 w. washington
ann arbor, mi
same things, different places.

it wasn’t til ann arbor that i tried cuban inspired street food! frita batidos  is a sight for sore eyes. white painted brick, long white painted painted picnic tables, bright lighting, plus pops of green and red from the hot sauces and limes.
a frita is a cuban styled burger (spicy chorizo, shoestring fries, and a soft egg bun)
a batido is a tropical milkshake made with fresh fruit, crushed ice, and sweetened milk – with or without rum- but who would dare to get it without rum? really.

ON THE TABLE:
coconut rum batido: fit with a festive umbrella, always
garlic cilantro fries: with garlic mayo
frita: fish with lemon-scented mayo, tropical slaw and cilantro-lime salsa
loaded plantains: plantains, black beans, Michigan sharp cheeses, cilantro-lime salsa, avocado spread & crème fraîche

i have yet to try the dessert menu, but how can anyone go wring with churros dipped in chocolate or plantains covered in cinnamon?
cheers!

Gjelina

1429 abbot kinney blvd.
venice, california

where dreams are made! in need of a late afternoon pick-me-up, we ventured to venice for gjelina. gjelina had the BEST patio i have ever experienced. vines flowin’, bottles poppin’, and good vibes appreciated. the intentional fixturing in this was splendid. the lights! the chairs!  and oh, that bathroom sink! we sat out on the brick patio with sunshine beating down. it was everything we needed.

ON THE TABLE
greens: tuscan kale, bread crumb, shaved raddish, fennel and parmesan
pizza: gruyere, carmelized onion, fromage blanc and arugula
beer: avery white rascal

a beautiful place to start an evening of california shenanigans.

Longman & Eagle

2657 n. kedzie ave
chicago, il

a plane ride from LAX, a train ride from O’hare, led me to logan square to meet my bearded love for a comeback dinner!
it could have only been the best homecoming ever after a long day of travel and snacks. longman & eagle took the cake as we wined (cocktailed?) and dined inside the loveliest of establishments.

ON THE TABLE:
dante’s paradise: aperol, cocchi americano, fresh grapefruit, steigl radler, float of chichicaba mezcal & habenero shrub
order of the red eagle: blanco tequila, r&w orchard pear, fresh lime, peychauds, ginger beer
old fashioned: buffalo trace bourbon, cherry & orange & old fashioned bitters, demerara sugar, citrus zest
fava bean agnolotti: house made ricotta, morel mushrooms, white & green asparagus, pea tendrils, parmesan brodo
kentucky fried quail: foie gras enriched corn bread, southern braised green beans, red bean-bacon puree, sausage gravy
we also shared an amazing braised pork shoulder dish that is no longer on the menu. it was savory, beautiful and extremely delectable.

please please i want to go back, and stay

S E N A T E

1212 vine street
cincinnati, ohio

an ode to the “let’s try them all!”  mentality that comes after a couple tasty margaritas from across the street, ends us up at SENATE next to a food writer for the New Yorker. zigzagging across vine street on a cold spring night, we capped our evening with some tasty cocktails.

AT THE BAR
mario lopez: foie gras infused cognac, figgy sauternes, black pepper tincture & pistachio simple syrup
sazerac: rye whiskey, peychauds bitters, lemon & pernod rinse
tequila olde fashioned: cazadores blanco tequila, brandies cherries, orange & grapefruit bitters
gin paloma: grapefruit, tanqueray, soda & st.germain
kokomo: housemade coconut milk, mt.gay rum, chartreuse, love
kitten fizz: st.germain, tito’s handmade vodka, simple syrup, raspberries & soda

it was one of those times that each cocktail led seamlessly to another. may it have been the strange ingredients or the natural effects of alcohol, we made it to and through all but one. don’t worry, we’ll come back for it! cheers!

it’s been a while!

traveling has been sparse and restauranting in grand rapids, michigan has been repetetive. thus, a lack of tasty inspiration.

gaia: still has my favorite chocolate almond coffee and vegetarian breakfasts;
marie catrib’s: remodeled herself and became a cheese monger’s paradise;
stella’s: still has my favorite jalapeño stuffed burger;
rowster coffee: has the best $7 soy vanilla late in town; and : best happy hour in grand rapids.

cheers!

BakersField OTR

1213 Vine St.
Cincinnati, Ohio

there is never a wrong time for tacos and margaritas.
nor a wrong time to wait patiently for them.
in celebration of hunger, adventure, the real over the rhine and a toast to 6 months,
we said yes to queso, guacamole, multiple fresh margaritas and more than one of every taco on the menu.

Frogs Leap Public House

44 church street
waynesville, north carolina

within the smokey hills of north carolina lives the farm to fork  FLPH. for spending time in the south for the very first time, i felt at home at this place with dolly parton and amos lee filling the atmosphere. there was also a tin ceiling, country linen napkins, an open kitchen and the smell and sight of the wood fire oven.

as a starter, we were served the most precious petite biscuits and cornbread with regular and sweet potato butter in a little tin can. we ordered our drinks: (golden monkey beer, a fine pear: grey goose, absolut vanilla, rosemary, honey, lime, ginger beer. on the rocks) and ate the cute little cornbread muffins while we orchestrated a perfect southern meal.

ON THE TABLE:
sea salt fries: truffle aioli
grilled brasstown beef meatloaf: smoked mac & cheese, braised local collards, tomato jam
artichoke, goat cheese, and thyme stuffed chicken breast: parmesan grit cake, grilled asparagus, lemon pepper jus
sweet potato creme brulee with a sea salt crust

it was simple, sweet and southern. what could be better?

maude’s liquor bar

840 W Randolph
chicago, illinois

we dined late at maude’s. followed the stairs up to our table, surrounded by black painted brick walls, candles, and crystal chandeliers. seating was tufted and the wooden tables were well oiled. the lighting was so dim, most senses focused on taste, all the while listening to the likes of arcade fire and beach house throughout the night.

ON THE TABLE:
bibb lettuce salad: fine herbs & sherry dressing
classic lyonnaise salad: escarole, farm egg, grilled smoked pork belly & toasted brioche croutons
chicken liver mousse: shallot marmalade & toast
pommes frites: garlic aioli
gnocchi a la parisienne: red wine, fine herbs
blackened brussel sprouts: brown butter, parmesan
scottish king salmon: brown butter, almonds, haricot vert

we had a table red to start, then a white chardonnay once the brussels sprouts hit the table. all the plates came sporadically leaving room for surprise and forthcoming. one could only imagine how fulfilling and delightful this french meal was.

french press coffee followed the meal along with creme brulee, almond chocolate ganache macaroons and chocolate, sea salt mousse.

and it was there at maude’s that i decided french cooking will forever be my favorite.