(Top to Bottom) Colorado State Capitol Building with the gold plated dome to commemorate the Colorado Gold Rush, sunset over the Rocky Mountains, gates outside the US Denver Mint (if you see a "D" on your US coins, it was produced here - oh yeah!), and a shot of Downtown Denver from the cool Peaks Lounge in the Hyatt Denver Regency)
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Oh, Denver... our NFL nemesis city (go Bolts). We visited the Mile High City in July of 2008 for a work conference. We didn't know much about the city besides the Broncos, Nuggets, and Rockies. However, after doing some research, I found that the Denver Mint, State Capitol Building, 16th Street Mall, LoDo (lower downtown) and Elway's in Cherry Creek were a few places that I wanted to visit. We only stayed a couple of days here, so there wasn't much time to really go out and sight-see.
Upon arrival at the Hyatt Denver Regency, we ventured out to the 16th Street Mall for lunch. It's not an actual brick & mortar mall, but 16 blocks of restaurants, fast food joints, and retail stores. It reminded of 3rd Street in Santa Monica, CA. Tons of tourists, locals, and teenagers like to hang out here. Of course, we like to avoid the popular chain restaurants, so we stopped at the Rialto Cafe to see what goodies they can offer us.
The restaurant was dark and pretty quiet. There were a few people at the bar, and hardly anyone in the main dining room. Still, we gave it a try, and we were glad we did.
Yum in the tum... I ordered the Tuna Salad Melt and a side of cole slaw. The melt came with juicy tomatoes, avocado slices, Tillamook cheddar cheese, on a grilled French baguette. I loved how the cheese melted over the tomatoes.
Mike had the Warm Roasted Chicken sandwich with a side of creamy whipped potatoes. The sandwich came with sundried tomato pesto, romaine lettuce, cheese on a toasted ciabatta roll. Overall, the lunch was delicious, and we liked our server who gave us tips on what to do in Denver in terms of nightlife. He's a DJ and he mentioned the Church, this popular club. Unfortunately, our clubbin' days are over, but that was nice of him to tell us about it.
When we took the LONG bus shuttle ride from the airport to our hotel, we passed by a restaurant that looked interesting to me called the Rocky Mountain Diner. First of all, in San Diego, there's only one real diner that I know of, Studio Diner, so seeing the word "diner" on a sign made me want to go. I did research on the hub's laptop in the hotel room, and it was walking distance - yay!
The website states that Rachael Ray was here in 2006 filming "Tasty Travels"- haven't seen it, guess I missed it!
I found the best fried chicken I've ever had - move over Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. It's here at the Rocky Mountain Diner, where their motto is "Nothing could be finer than dinner the Diner!" (sound familiar? Think Bubble Boy on 'Seinfeld').
I ordered the famous Pan Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes & cracklin' gravy, mixed vegetables, fresh biscuit & honey butter, and Nana's slaw. It takes 25 minutes to cook, and I had no problem kicking back and waiting for the crispy half chicken to greet me at the table. It melted in my mouth because the meat was so juicy and the skin was so crisp.
The hub got the buffalo meatloaf with brown onion gravy, mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, biscuit, and a salad. He made it a combo meal because he had some of my pan fried chicken too. I know, we could have shared! Every bite was delicious. We each had a Stewart's soda, root beer for me and grape soda for him, to wash it all down and shared a slice of freshly baked apple pie for dessert.
Sam's No. 3 is another joint that we noticed as we walked the city. It also looked like a traditional diner because it got my attention with all the vibrant colors. We came here for a light lunch on our last day in Denver. They are known for their breakfast, not to mention their fabulous weekday early bird specials before 10:00 AM.
As you can see, Sam's No. 3 has been here for quite a well, since 1927. It was very busy for lunch, and we had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. The restaurant had lunch counter, a soda fountain, booths and tables galore. I loved the vibrant energy of Sam's.
I was craving something simple, but comforting. Sam's No. 3 prides themselves on their Red No. 3 Chili, and on their Coney Island specials. I ordered a Coney Dog that came with an all-beef dog, their Red No. 3 chili, onions, and mustard with a side of french fries.
My husband loves breakfast at any time of day, including dinner. He ordered the Pancake Sandwich, which came with two eggs (over medium), two buttermilk pancakes, and three sausage patties.
I love this picture. Not only because of my husband, but it's a photo of Sam's No. 3 back in the days.
Our final dinner in Denver, CO, consisted of a cab ride to Cherry Creek, CO with Cory, our co-worker friend to Elway's, John Elway's steakhouse. There's an Elway's restaurant in downtown where we were, but we wanted to visit the original on our last day.
We arrived before the dinner rush started. Our friend, Kevin, is a huge Broncos fan, so we wanted to get him a souvenir from the restaurant, maybe a pic with John Elway himself? J/K - unfortunately, he wasn't there.
Cory and I both had the Smash Burger, cooked medium with all the fixings, red onion, tomatoes, pickles, and romaine lettuce. The bread tasted fresh, and the ground beef patty was perfectly cooked and well seasoned. We all shared the traditional steakhouse side dishes of au gratin potatoes, macaroni & cheese, and sauteed asparagus. Delicious.
Mike had the 'fall off the bone' short rib. It's not the best picture of it, but it was so moist and flavorful.
For dessert, I had the warm chocolate chip cookies. Oh, so yummy! It was under-baked so that it was chewy in the middle and the chocolate chips were still warm and melting.
Mike had the cheesecake lollipop. It was the perfect bite and just enough to satisfy his sweet tooth after dinner. Elway's was worth the short cab ride to Cherry Creek. The food was top notch, and we think that John Elway should give himself a great big pat on the back.
It was a quick, satisfying trip to the Mile High City. I'd love to have that pan fried chicken once again. With that, see you next time, Denver!
L to R: Flowers at Jackson Square (see the Andrew Jackson statue in the background?), New Orleans' famous Cafe Du Monde, Byron Scott and I (my favorite NBA player of all time), and end of mass at St. Louis Cathedral
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New Orleans, Louisiana, is such a culinary place to be. I was excited to try home style Cajun & Creole cookin' and traditional french cuisine, and at the same time indulge in chicory coffee & fluffy beignets. We were there for a work conference (actually, the hubby had a conference - I tagged along for the ride) in March of 2008, almost 3 years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed a majority of the city. We stayed in the French Quarter, the touristy part of the city, just a few blocks away from Bourbon Street.
We arrived on a Sunday evening, which surprisingly most restaurants closed at 9:00 PM or earlier. After getting settled in our hotel room, we went out to search for grub nearby. Since Bourbon Street was down the block, we wanted to see what it was all about. Without going into details, I can see how it can be fun for those who want to party and just enjoy life. Most restaurants in the French Quarter were closing already, like Brennan's, Palace Cafe, ACME Oyster House, so we decided on a spot on Bourbon Street, called La Bayou Restaurant. It was open late, and we were hungry!
We both started off with a cup of chicken & andouille gumbo, and each got a po' boy. Mine had fried oysters, and he got a shrimp po' boy. Way to start off with a traditional po' boy, right?
WRONG! Truthfully, both po' boys were just OK. Bread - eh, nothing to write home about. The shrimp had a funny after taste, and the oysters were so-so. Overpriced for something simple like this, but hey, it's a restaurant ON Bourbon Street, very tourist-friendly, and open later than others. The gumbo was pretty tasty, though. It was the perfect temperature, and the flavors meshed very well. I should have gotten a bowl of the gumbo instead. We also had hurricanes with our meals too. We spent way too much for the quality of food here. We kicked ourselves for not meeting Lynn and Abel at Mother's.
We stayed at the New Orleans Marriott, which was fabulous, spacious and every staff member was friendly. In the morning, I ordered the tastiest breakfast via room service (yes, I was lazy), and man, it was worth it!
This is the "Broken Yolk Egg Sandwich with Cheddar Cheese on Sourdough". I was sold immediately after I read the description on the menu. Can't beat that with a bat - especially when it comes with bacon and ham. It was served with a side of cinnamon apples and hash browns.
Here's a little side tidbit about me. I only eat Heinz ketchup. None of that Hunt's, Del Monte, or even a generic brand - watery, too dark, yuck.. no thanks. The only non-Heinz ketchup I will eat is the McDonald's fancy ketchup, but that's only with McDonald's fries. I know...I'm weird.
The famous and original Cafe Du Monde is located in the New Orleans French Market, right across the street from Jackson Square. I took a walk one brisk morning and ended up here by accident. This original Cafe Du Monde was opened in 1862 at the very same location. Cool, huh? Even cooler... it's open 24/7, except on Christmas Day.
I waited until the next day before I got delicious, fresh beignets with Abel, Amanda, Jameson & Mike.
The five of us all had puffy beignets, coffee, and hot chocolate. Seating is first come, first served, and it's always packed. You kinda have to stand around, and "park" behind tables that you think are going to get up and go. The service is quick, and there's just way too much going on here (in a good way). Beignets are deliciously perfect, though!
You're not going to believe this, but this is the most absolutely delicious thing that I have ever eaten. Here, in New Orleans, Louisiana - located in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, is a restaurant called Drago's Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar.
They are famous for their CHARBROILED OYSTERS. Think combination of garlic, butter, herbs, and what... parmesan cheese? Yes. Oysters over an open flame with this combination of flavors.
This was our last night in New Orleans - our special dinner. We ordered a dozen charbroiled oysters as an appetizer. I tell you, the next time we come here, I'm ordering a whole dozen just for me. They're THAT delicious. They serve it with crusty french bread so you can sop up all that buttery herby goodness.
For our main course, we each had a whole Maine lobster stuffed with angel hair pasta and seafood.
Funny, because he got the Lobster Marco, which is with shrimp & mushrooms, and I had the Lobster Empire, with oysters & mushrooms - the same type of seafood we each got with our "just ok po' boys".
Our lobster dishes were served with drawn butter. It was surprisingly not heavy at all, as heavy as it sounds with words like pasta, cream sauce, butter, and lobster. Oh, yeah... we made sure that all that lobster was removed and put in our stomachs. Oh, Drago's... how I miss thee.
During our trip, we also enjoyed an andouille sausage po' boy & nachos at the New Orleans Arena when the Hornets beat the Bulls 108-97 on St. Patrick's Day (Reggie Bush & Kim Kardashian were in attendance), a fancy dinner at Brennan's with work colleagues & architects where we had our first taste of turtle soup and table side Bananas Fosters (where it was created in 1951 by Paul Blange), and an outstanding bleu cheese burger at 5 Fifty 5 inside the New Orleans Marriott.
We do miss the city, and hope to visit again soon - this time going to Mother's Restaurant, Commander's Palace, to Drago's again *DROOL*, and to hopefully meet my favorite all-time NBA basketball player, Byron Scott -- if he doesn't get a coaching job somewhere else, like Sacramento. Boo!
Disneyland....the happiest place on earth. I guarantee you that this won't be the only post about a restaurant inside the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA, including the exclusive Club 33 (it'll be a long one - still working on it). We have annual passports, and we will never get tired of visiting at least four times a year. We love to visit during the holiday season to see all the decorations.
I bring to you one of the BEST tasting meals that I've ever had at Disneyland.
We stayed on property, so we woke up early to have breakfast at Cafe Orleans. Cafe Orleans is located in New Orleans Square somewhat across from the Royal Street Veranda, where they sell gumbo and chowder in bread bowls.
Are you ready for this? My husband got the andouille sausage benedict, and I ordered the Mickey Mouse beignets. Heaven. Delicious-ness.
I mean, creamy hollandaise over crispy, but mealy andouille sausage, perfectly poached eggs and traditional english muffin? I was SO jealous that I didn't get this, but believe me... the next time we had breakfast here, we BOTH got this, and even shared the beignets. Oh wow, I didn't even get to the beignets yet.
Cute, Mickey shaped beignets dusted with tons of sweet powdered sugar, served with two sauces, raspberry and vanilla. They were delicious. Slightly crisp on the outside, and nice & warm in the inside. I had a cup of coffee with them, so it was like having "coffee & donuts".
There was a gentleman across the way who saw that we ordered these. He asked for only one because the server brought him one on a small saucer. Shortly after I took pictures of our dishes, he took out his camera (much fancier than ours) and took a picture of his single Mickey beignet. I was stoked that he took pictures of his food too. His pic probably didn't come out blurry like mine - haha.
Although they were simple flavors, I loved every bite and is one of the best tasting meals in the Resort. Sadly enough, Cafe Orleans doesn't serve breakfast anymore. We visited in March of this year and tried to make reservations for breakfast, but that was the news they gave us. Boo!
We can always dream, right? We'll always check back with them, pretending we didn't hear what they told us in March. I'll keep you posted... *wink*
L to R: Casa Del Mar Bed & Breakfast (our room had our wedding theme colors, chocolate brown & light blue), Stearn's Wharf, sunset on over beach near Harbor Drive, and Santa Barbara Mission built in 1786)
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For our first anniversary in 2007, the hub and I took the Amtrak from San Diego to Santa Barbara, about a 5-6 hours train ride. We supported the "Santa Barbara Car-Free" campaign, and received great discounts at our bed & breakfast, Casa Del Mar, and on our train tickets. It was worth it, and without a car, we walked around a lot so that was a big check off our list for 'exercise'.
After we got settled in our cute little cottage/bungalow, we headed off for din-din!
Brophy Bro's was shown on Rachael's Vacation on the Food Network, but I didn't see that episode until recently. Our friend, Kira, recommended it to us, and we sure glad we went!
Brophy's is not located on Stearn's Wharf. We made that mistake by walking way over there, when it's actually super close to our B&B. The wait time was about one hour because we requested outside seating, but it was worth the wait. We sat patiently on the harbor, people watched, and relaxed outside of the restaurant. We even watched fishermen unloading a huge ol' load of sea urchins. Somebody near us said, "Oh, look, they caught lobster." Wha??
On to the fried delicious-ness....
Oh yes, I absolutely love fish n' chips. These, I have to say, were ranked pretty high in my book for the crispiness of the beer batter, the flakiness of the cod, and the crunch of the cole slaw. Yum... I was in heaven! It seriously was perfecto. One of the best, Jerry - the best!
The hub got the fried scallops plate. He loved it. Oh, I forgot to mention that we both started off with a cup of the creamy clam chowder. A cup of chowder from a seafood restaurant is an absolute must!
The service was great. The restaurant is really small, but quaint, and very crowded. Definitely has that "dive" feel and it seemed like a lot of locals frequent the place after work for a beer. The community college is right across the street also, so there were some college kids hanging out as well.
Gosh, aren't you craving fried goodness right now? I am!
Because we were "car free", I found walking tours online - our big hike was to the Santa Barbara Mission. Before we headed off, we heard about a place called Sambo's for breakfast.
Sambo's, originally opened in 1957, is located just right around the corner from our bed & breakfast on West Cabrillo Boulevard, the street that runs parallel to the ocean. We opted for a table outside to people watch, and to be near the ocean. Ahhh, sounds relaxing huh? It was!
I love a good ol' plate of NY steak (medium) & eggs (over medium), extra crispy hashbrowns, and white toast to dip into the runny egg yolk - delicious!
Mike loves omelets - he ordered the Santa Barbara omelet which had avocado, bacon, cheese, and a side of pico de gallo & sour cream. Both of our meals were delicious, pretty straight forward, and a good hearty way to start the day.
After walking more than eight miles through downtown Santa Barbara (State Street), Alameda Park to visit the turtles, and up hill to the Santa Barbara Mission, and BACK... it was definitely time for lunch.
One of the local magazines at our B&B had a listing for Norton's Pastrami. What, our favorite cured meat?? This place was calling our name, for sure!
Located in downtown, right off of West Figueroa, we went in the little tiny sandwich shop. It only has a few tables, but because we were there on a weekday, it wasn't busy at all. The owner named the shop after his dog, Norton - at least that's what I remember from sitting and checking out the place. Although, I did just read on Yelp that they switched ownership in 2008.
We split a traditional pastrami on rye, onion rings, and a couple of Dr. Peppers to cool us down after a long walk. The split charge for a sandwich was almost as much as another whole sandwich - OK, not that much, but I remember it was significant!
The sandwich was very good - the pastrami was grilled and shaved very thin. The rings were fresh cut, and fried perfectly. The ranch dipping sauce they gave us was warm on a very hot day, so I didn't touch it. Like I said, I absolutely love a good pastrami sandwich - some of the best I've had is at Miracle Mile Deli in Arizona (had one here in Coronado, but closed down *sad face*) and Carnegie Deli in NYC. This one was pretty good, but not high up there in my list. However, I would give it another try though! Maybe a pastrami reuben this time... yum, sauerkraut.
Our last meal in Santa Barbara had to be on the water, and because we stayed true to being green and find a place that's close proximity so our feet won't fall off, our choices were limited. Stearn's Wharf had the Santa Barbara Shellfish Co. (too informal), Longboard's Grill and The Harbor Restaurant (both really touristy).
There was a restaurant that we noticed near Brophy's - Chuck's Steakhouse. The sign had a cool tropical feel to it. The name Chuck's sounds like a simple name for good food, especially a great steak! Chuck's originally opened in Waikiki, HI in 1959 and then made it's way to different US states and Guam.
The atmosphere was interesting to us because the majority of the seating is outside, including the hostess stand. We were sat right away next to a huge party which consisted of older men & women - looked like an anniversary party. You can see their heads in the picture above - ha!
The service wasn't the greatest because they were understaffed, and busy attending to the large party next to us. We were minuscule and didn't exist until the large party didn't have any more requests. We were OK about it - we just laughed it off and enjoyed each others company. Our food finally arrived and here we go...
Mike ordered the lobster bisque which tasted like tomato soup. I mean it was alright, but we expected it to taste like lobster, ya know? I ordered the Caesar salad and it tasted like a Caesar - yay for that!
We both ordered the teriyaki ribeye steak, his cooked medium rare, and mine cooked medium. It was cooked perfectly and very tasty. The teriyaki rice was way to salty, and I'm glad that I had the steamed vegetables as a back up (get the potatoes!). For dessert, I had something that I knew I'd enjoy... a dish of strawberry ice cream and a vanilla pirouette (those delicious wafer things that are rolled up like cigars), and Mike had the creme brulee. An OK experience at Chuck's Waterfront Grill (front of the menu says this) or Chuck's Steakhouse. Try not to sit next to an extra large party!
Overall, we had a lovely first wedding anniversary trip to Santa Barbara. It was a very quick weekend trip, but enjoyed every minute of it together - oh yeah, especially when Mike almost stepped on a homeless person sleeping in the bushes on our way back from Chuck's.
Now, who doesn't love a good hot dog? OK, I know... not a lot of people do because of "what's in it", but hey... eat in moderation, kosher all-beef is delicious and what's a ball game without a red hot? C'mon now!
Summer 2006, the hub and I took a road trip to L.A. and did the sight-seeing touristy thing. As long as I have lived in California (um, all my life), I've never had the chance to see L.A. like how others outside of the state see it. He's from Arizona, so that made two of us. I knew for sure that one of our stops HAD to be Pink's - the infamous Hollywood hot dog stand since the 30's.
We actually found parking in the lot on a beautiful weekday late afternoon, and there was only a few people in line. Dude, I wished there was because the menu was a lot for me to take in. Yes *ahem*, I didn't do my research. And, below is only half of the menu!
I got the nacho cheese chili dog, hubby got the chili cheese dog, side of onion rings, and couple bottles of grape and orange soda. Mmm! By far, it was certainly a delicious snack.
The service was super quick and everyone was friendly. You could tell though that they don't mess around, like "you have to keep the line going so, figure out what you want" type of deal. I'm kicking myself for not taking pics of the very small eating area inside Pink's where the celebrity signed photographs are put up. It was pretty busy with diners inside.
Definitely a trip worth making... if you're in the area!
I found the best darn burger in San Diego a while ago. But, could there be more out there? Let me know.
Burger Lounge Danny's Palm Bar & Grill Hodad's Jayne's Gastropub **WINNER** JFAT Neighborhood O'Brothers Burgers Red Fox Room Rocky's Crown Pub Smashburger San Diego The Corner Bar & Grill The Counter The Lodge at Torrey Pines Tioli's Crazee Burger The Waterfront Bar & Grill The Restaurant at The Pearl Urban Mo's Western Steakburger Whisknladle