As 2015 comes to a close, I’m thinking about travel food. This year has meant on-the-road eating diversity. Some of the best food Ruth & I have had doesn’t even qualify as meals. If you’re traveling to any of the destinations below any time soon, check out these fine food experiences.
For Ruth’s birthday at the end of 2014, we dined at The Presidio in San Francisco. The Commissary promised California cuisine, like a pressed serrano ham and manchego bocadillo salad, that wasn’t as pretentious as it sounds. The Commissary, which has an especially interesting bar, was actually fun and accessible.
For a traditional steak dinner in a stockyard atmosphere, it’s hard to beat historic Cattleman’s Cafe in Oklahoma City….if you can get in.
In New Orleans, we had terrific food and drink 3 times, all by accident. In the French Quarter, we were advised by locals, the best source of eat-and-drink tips, to try Croíssant d’or at 617 Ursulines Ave. Great coffee and sweet treats in a classic New Orleans setting! Also in the French Quarter, we were steered to Central Grocery Company on Decatur Street for a traditional muffuletta. The line was incredibly long, but Ruth & I were told by many hungry regulars that it moved fast. It did. A muffulatta sandwich is, well, mmmmmmemorable. We loved Houston’s on St. Charles Avenue–atmosphere, excellent food, live music. Expect a long wait if you don’t have reservations. It’ll be worth it.
In Texas we salivated at any Whataburger, Carrabba’s, and the Nest. The original Carrabba’s is on Kirby Drive, and Ruth & I have been dining there for forever. We feared when it was torn down a couple of years ago that it would be replaced by a larger but not-as-good Carrabba’s. That didn’t happen. Buon appetito! In Fredericksburg, we dined as snow fell outside in The Nest, where I wondered how all those other people from distant places, like me, learned about this unassuming, great restaurant in an old house.
In Prescott, Arizona, we were advised to try Papa’s, a family-style Italian restaurant downtown. I used the word family because the owner treated us like much-loved relatives from the old country.
In Phoenix, make a reservation to eat at Durant’s, unless you’re a vegetarian. This downtown steakhouse has been on North Central Avenue for more than 65 years, and I don’t believe they’ve ever remodeled. They’re probably still using their original wine glasses. Enter through the kitchen with a herd of others and fall in love.
Speaking of wine glasses, last night I found a bunch of great old toasts in a new Wine Enthusiast magazine. As you have drinks at Durant’s, or the Nest, or Carrabba’s try this one. “May our house always be too small to hold all our friends.”
The rest tomorrow.