Eats

California
Carmel By The Sea - Carmel, CA:
Dametra Cafe dametracafe.com
My wife and I visited Carmel for the third time, it is just the most relaxing place around.  While there we were lucky enough to decide to have lunch at Dametra Café.  Their slogan is “Like nowhere else”, and that is so true.  When we walked into the café we were immediately greeted with friendly smiles and handshakes from the owners of the restaurant.  We felt like family and were off on the right foot.  The service was fantastic, our waiter was attentive to our questions and pointed us to the sampler plate which easily feeds two.  So off he went with our order, and as we sat enjoying the décor and conversation, one owner picks up his (guitar) the other a drum and along with one of the chef’s they start playing music.  Someone at one of the tables started to clap to the song and then the whole restaurant is clapping along, truly something I will never forget.  The food rolls out right on time, and the experience continues to exceed our expectations.  The combo plate had a variety of meats, hummus with pita bread, and baba ghanoug.  There is really only one way to describe how we ate it, we devoured it.  Literally one of the best meals I have ever had.  Dametra Café had it all, truly friendly relational people, live music, ambiance, and with all of that delectable food.  Rarely can you find all of that in one place, if you are in Carmel By The Sea, make sure you stop in an visit these folks.

Santa Monica, CA:
Father's Office fathersoffice.com
This hipster establishment with open seating and the menu posted on the wall was a true local feel for me.  It was slightly confusing when we came in, but the bartender was observant to see I was clueless and kindly talked me thru how everything worked.  You order at the bar and basically sit where you can find a seat.  Oddly enough we sat down next to a gentlemen who has cousins in my hometown in Indiana, and the conversation continued with him giving us great advice on what the locals do to have fun in L.A.  Once I decided on what to partake in I went up to the bar and placed my order.  The Office Burger it was.
Sonoma, CA:
Fremont Diner thefremontdiner.com
After a three year wait I final was able to experience the Fremont Diner in Sonoma.  The first time we drove past, we had already eaten and had to pass, and then the following year we were visiting during Christmas and they were closed, so you can imagine my excitement when we called, they were open, and we were ready to eat.  As the name states it’s my perfect diner setting with an open kitchen, bar seating as well as table seating, and decorated in an old fashion farm yet urban trendy feel.  As you wait, you can get your picture taken in the photo booth and take in the sounds and smells of the grill.  Once seated we were greeted by our bubbly, clever, and very enjoyable waitress.  What a hoot.

Since it was after 12 pm on Saturday we had to choose from the lunch menu, and so I narrowed it down between the chicken n waffles and the whole pork. But before I decided which to get I started with an appetizer of cornbread.  After a tough call I went with the whole pork with mac and cheese and was not let down.  I am not exaggerating when I say it was the best pulled pork sandwich I have ever had, tender and just the right amount of, not to overpowering, BBQ sauce.  It was also topped with coleslaw which I am not normally a fan of, but the combination really worked for me.   



Colorado
Silverton:
Thee Pitts Again www.theepittsagain.com
Silverton named for “silver by the ton” is an old mining town in southwestern Colorado.  They are known all the way out here in this one paved road town for their pulled pork, but I decided to mix it up and take the cashiers advice and try the Chop sandwich.  This hearty meal is comprised of a three meat combo of pork, beef, and ham.  Really nice change of pace from my normal go to of pulled pork.  I would suggest visiting Silverton during the Fourth of July (best firework display in Colorado) and make your way over to Thee Pitts Again and try this place out for yourself.

Hawaii
Oahu: 
Eggs N Things-Waikiki, HI, Oahu
One of the best breakfast joints we have found in our travels around the islands.  I would highly suggest the Macadamia nut pancakes, and Tiffany had the French Toast with bananas and Macadamia Nut Whipped Cream.  This place would be a Social Cargo MUST!!!

Ted’s Bakery-North Shore, Oahu
If you have a sweet tooth like we do, this is the place for you.  Some of our favorites are the Chocolate Haupia Cream Pie (this is the one that made them famous), Pineapple Macadamia Nut Cheese Cake, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cream Pie.  Is there anything better in life than Hawaii on a sunny day with a Haupia Pie on Sunset Beach?

Ola at Turtle Bay-North Shore, Oahu
When we go to the North Shore we love staying at Turtle Bay.  This restaurant is located at the resort and is right on the beach.   The perfect setting for a romantic and relaxing dinner with your significant other.

Kauai:
Tahiti Nui-Hanalei, Kauai get the #5 pizza you won’t regret it.  Tuesday’s and Thursday’s night great live band.

Bubba Burger Hanalei, HI -   www.bubbaburger.com

Jo Jo’s Shaved ice-Kauai
Simply said, you haven’t had shaved ice till you have been to Jo Jo’s.   

Maui:
Aloha Mixed Plate-Lahina, Maui get the Loco Moco!!

MALA-Lahina, Maui


ILLINOIS
Chicago:
Toast - Lincoln Park
Quartino - State and Ontario - www.quartinochicago.com
Goose Island - www.gooseisland.com

INDIANA 
Carmel:
Bub’s Burger  - www.bubsburgersandicecream.com


Noblesville:
Uptown Café
Asian Grill

NEVADA
Las Vegas:
Battistas Hole in the Wallwww.battistaslasvegas.com
EVERY time we go to Vegas we visit Battistas.  This is our kind of place, from the outside very unassuming, but the inside is warm, friendly, welcoming, and screams old Vegas.  The meal is three courses with all the white or red table wine you can drink.  For $10 extra you can share your entree and still get the wine, soup/salad, bread, and cappuccino.  This is the way to go because the portions are overwhelming for one person, and no one takes left overs back to the hotel right.  Don’t miss the accordion player too, what a treat.



Goodspring, NV:
Pioneer Saloon: www.pioneersaloon.info
The Pioneer Saloon is actually right outside Vegas in Goodspring, NV.  If you are looking for a true old west experience this is the place.  There are gunshot holes in the walls from an old gun fight, and the place is haunted.  If you like karaoke go on a Thursday or Sunday.  We went on a Sunday night with a group of friends and had the time of our life!!!  We walked in the door, the entire place of twelve people turned around, and hollered HEEEEEYYYYYYYY!!!  What a welcoming bunch.  If you are luck you will meet Gregg and Mama Kat with their big brimmed cowboy hats, spurs on their boots, and friend smile and hand shake.  By the end of the night we felt like family.  What an experience.


MICHIGAN
Kalamazoo:
Papa’s Italian Sausage:
I was introduced to this gem by one of my salesmen on a sales trip to Michigan.  It is now a regular stop for me anytime I am near Kalamazoo.  The Italian sausage is unmatched, love the small - hole in the wall feel, and the people are warm and welcoming. 

Ann Arbor:
Krazy Jim’s Blimpy Burger - www.blimpyburger.com
If you haven’t put the pieces together yet, I spend a lot of time in Michigan on business.  This was a spot that was on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.  Hands down the best burger I have ever had.  The ordering processes can be stressful, don’t order the wrong way or you will get scorned by the grill master.  The numerous fix’in choices combine to make one mouthwatering burger.  

NEW YORK CITY
Hills Country Chicken - www.hillcountrychicken.com
We just happened upon this retro diner on our last trip to NYC.  A friendly staffer suggested we try a little of everything, and he did not steer us wrong.  We tried both receip’s, Hills Country Classic and Mamma El’s I would suggest you do the same to get a taste of both flavors.  That wasn’t all we had, we also tried the Texas Tenders and the hand cut fries.  Everything was delicious.

UPDATE!   VISIT #2 to Hills Country Chicken:
What we ordered: Pig Picken Peanut Butter Pie
We have been to Hills Country Chicken before, but we decided to make another trip back for a little snack after a few hours of shopping.  During this visit to Hills Country Chicken we ordered a Chicken Tenders (which happened to be even tastier than before) and a Pig Picken Peanut Butter Pie.  If you love peanut butter and bananas, then I guarantee you will love this.   Take it from us, this pie is tasty enough to make Elvis roll over in his grave!
 

IL Posto Accanto: - www.ilpostoaccanto.com
This place is fabulous.  Before our last trip to NYC, I did a little bit of research to try to scope out some new hot places to dine.  I fell upon an article in the NY Post that mentioned how Patricia Field is a known regular to this Italian joint.  Being the big Sex and The City Fan that I am, I thought well...if Pat Field likes it then we will too.  It is a lovely - very intimate restaurant with low lighting and limited seating.  We had a small wait but it was worth every minute.  The staff was very friendly and attentive.  You must meet the owner Beatrice - she's Roman!  She is an absolute sweet heart.  IL Posto Accanto serves delicious homemade pastas and breads.  I hear they have a killer Sunday Brunch too!


Katz Deli: www.katzdeli.com
Hands Down - a NYC MUST!  Brace yourself for chaos before you go!  ...BUT trust me it's worth it.  There will be a line...there almost always is, but it goes quick and the food is delicious.  Study the menu and be prepared to know what you want to order before you get there.  The guys working the line, aren't messing around.  When they're ready for you, you need to be ready for them.  Gotta keep the line going!  Order the Katz's Corned Beef and pickles.  You'll thank us later!

La Gazzetta at Villa Pacri : - www.villapacri.com/lagazzetta
55 Gansevooort St. - NY, NY
This restaurant is located in the Meat Packing District (MePa) - It's Italian on a modern/chic level complete with a fantastic wine/pasta/dessert menu.  I ordered the Gnocchi Pesto.  It was the perfect helping for one person.  The Gnocchi was smothered in creamy Pesto, just the way I like it - mixed with delicious roasted red peppers.  Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  Jeff ordered the Penne Pomodoro and it met all of his expectations.  We finished off dinner with a Bellini Parfait and that was a good way seal the deal.  We left feeling Fat, Happy, and in Love.


Sarabeth's - www.sarabethscps.com/
40 Central Park South - NY, NY
We fell upon this lovely eatery one morning while sight seeing.  It looked charming but we had already had breakfast, so we headed back the next day and it was so good that we returned two days later.  The menu is complete with your favorite classics and new versions of traditional dishes.  The first day, Jeff ordered the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with a side of home fries and coffee.  It was so good that he begged me to break our rules of not eating at the same place twice.  ---esp in NYC where there are amazing culinary adventures around every corner.  I said no, but later agreed to go back.  From the outside looking in these Lemon Ricotta pancakes, look like your usual flap jacks - but they're far from it.  There is a hidden, creamy, zesty lemon surprise waiting to welcome you at first bite.  Can pancakes be refreshing?   Yes, they most certainly can be.  The Lemon Ricotta pancakes are an absolute must try!   ...And, that is what Jeff ordered BOTH days during our stop at Sarabeth's.  I on the other hand ordered something different.  The first day, I was in the mood for something "Fall"....though I don't think it's a seasonal dish at Sarabeth's, I ordered the Pumpkin Waffle.  It was a delightful fluffy waffle doused with raisins, pumpkin seeds, strawberries and whip cream.  It had a mild pumpkin flavor - nothing too overpowering but definitely filing.  I was stuffed when I left.  Thankfully, Sarabeth's sits on the southside of central park, so when we were done, we were able to go stroll off some of our breakfast in the park.  The next time we went I ordered Eggs Benedict.  I am an eater.  I love food, I love trying new things, so how is it that I have lived 32 years of my life and not experienced Eggs Benedict until now?  It's a mystery to me, but what better place to experience it for the first time then Sarabeth's?  It arrived to my table picture perfect and tasted equally as good.  There are actually two versions on the menu.  The other one has Salmon on it.  The hollandaise sauce was to die for.  Good food isn't the only thing Sarabeth's has to offer.  If you sit outside you are easily entertained with beautiful views of Central Park, runners, horse carriages, NYC traffic, and tourists.

Stanton Social: www.thestantonsocial.com - (good hipster people watching joint!)
This place is so chic.  It has a rather large celebrity following.   When we went, John Mayer was dining two tables down from us.  The food is great.  Since this place is so popular - you should expect a long wait.  There is a hot little bar upstairs - so head up there and have a drink.  Enjoy the ambiance as you wait to be called.  It's a small plate restaurant so this gives us an excuse to try lots!  - We don't like to leave hungry.

S'mac serves up Mac and Cheese pretty much any way you can image.  It is a quaint, little, hip restaurant that specializes in nothing but macaroni and cheese - and in my opinion - they have nailed it!  This is a great stop to carb up for lunch while out doing some NYC shopping or visiting museums.
UPDATE!   VISIT #2 to S'mac:
What we ordered: The Sampler Platter
This is a great thing to order if you just can't make up your mind.  You can get a taste of almost everything - all at once.  Great for sharing!