June 3, 2018

Daily Eats
901 S Howard Ave
Tampa, Florida 33606

 

ilovedailyeats.com

 

 

Back in Tampa.  Holy Cow, the humidity kills me every time I go for a run here!  Thank goodness I gutted out a beautiful 5-mile trot along the bay.  The effort built a powerful hunger, and it burned a ton of calories, paving the way for an AWESOME breakfast at Daily Eats!

Our 15-hour layover started late the night prior, with a quick pint of local brew, once we got changed at the hotel.  Jai Alai Indian Pale Ale, from Cigar City Brewing, hit the spot after several hours of dodging thunderstorms, and trying to find the smoothest ride possible for the folk.  Bone tired, the captain and I made it a short night, and hit the sack after the adult BEvERage.  Waking up well rested, the weather was excellent, and with tons of time before we’d have to report to the airport, I decided to go for a run.  Heat is one thing; heat+humidity=pain in butt.  

Fortunately, I had my eye on Daily Eats since my last trip here, when the hotel doorman recommended a list of several great holes in the wall.  So far, he’s two-for-two!  Pinky’s was fantastic last time, and Daily Eats was right up there with it this time.

It was a Sunday morning, and Daily Eats had a breakfast special I didn’t see on the menu.  I forget what Kayla, my waitress, called it, but it was a whole lot of tasty food.  Basically, it was a fajita-type chicken omelet with cheese and pico.  It was served with a hearty side of home-fries and marble rye toast.  Delicious!  With all the water I was pounding to rehydrate after my run, it was a struggle to finish the plate, but I gutted through it.  

As I sat at the counter, slightly to the right of the pass where the kitchen crew created all the wonderful smelling (and looking) dishes, I was really impressed with the staff.  Kayla was keen to check up on me to see how it was doing, and refill the glass-after-glass of water i was going through.  The guy working the pass was equally impressive double checking orders before they were served.  Several times I heard him tweak the order, mostly insuring the plates overfloweth with accompanying sides.  The kitchen also looked like they were hustling, but having fun.  Kayla even made sure I had a to-go cup of coffee without me even asking for one.  Overall, the entire crew at Daily Eats made this a very memorable experience.

If you find yourself in Tampa, and you have the time, stop in Daily Eats.   There might be a wait (I was lucky I was solo so I could get right in at the counter), but it will definitely be worth your time.

Cheer!

 

 

 

May 25, 2018

 

Chamber's
705 N 1st Street
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

 

chambersphx.com

 

 

 

 

It was 100 degrees, but it was a dry heat…Woof!

I had a neat little layover in Phoenix last weekend.  There was a ComicCon going on, and folks were all decked out for the occasion.  It was so cool seeing all the different characters walking around.  I’ve never been, but I think I might try to attend one with my oldest son.  He is into that stuff, and it actually looked like a bit of fun.  I must admit though, the guy/gal in the Master Chief outfit had to be cooking inside, but he/she walked the walk with a ginormous rifle right down the street.  Bravo Zulu, Master Chief! 

Anyway, the layover was just long enough that I got to try a place that on Google Maps advertised whiskey flights. It was only a few blocks from the hotel, so I gave it a shot (Yeah, pun intended).

Chambers is an upscale whiskey bar/hangout–pool tables, nice areas to chat with a few (or bunch) of friends, and the bar.  It had a Celtic feel to it, but what really impressed me was the wall of spirits behind the bar.  I didn’t see a whiskey flight on the menu, but I also didn’t want to get crazy with the amount of alcohol I consumed; so, after a very long look at the wall-o-booze, (and a few suggestions from the bar tender) I tasted a sliver of three different spirits.

To help ‘cleans the palate’ in between, the barkeep also recommended the Ruben.  OK, not your normal neutral flavored kind of food one uses to cleans the palate…I was damn hungry.  We don’t always get a meal on the flight deck, and this trip had the captain and I flying several legs without food boarded for us.  After a long day of flying, this tasty handful with criss-cut fries hit the spot.  And yes, it actually did helped me differentiate the three whiskeys.

A while back I visited the Bulleit Distillery, or should I say the old Stitzel-Weller Distillery, in Louisville Kentucky.  I’ve always liked good bourbon, but the rye I tasted there was awesome, and so lately I’ve been exploring ryes.  (The Bulleit tour was awesome, and I’ll try to craft a post for that in a bit.)  Anyway…

The three ryes I tasted were: Hochstadter’s Straight Rye; Rittenhouse Straight Rye; and Basil Hayden’s Dark Rye.  

Hochstadtler’s had the most “peppery” taste with a hints of caramel.  The Rittenhouse was slightly less peppery and a bit lighter.  My favorite of the three was the Basil Hayden’s.  The first thing that struck me with this rye was not the pepper–I picked up hints of maple followed up by a more subtle pepper in the finish.  No “burn” like several ryes I’ve tried.  This one will end up on the shelf at my place the next time I have time to get to the Class Six store.

Chambers is a really neat place.  I hit it earlier in the day, and I think it would be a really fun place in the evening after the sun sets, so you can enjoy both the inside and outside seating.  It is definitely on the pricier side, but I guess that is to be expected with the fine spirits selection. As an added benefit, it’s also just down the street from Matt’s BIG Breakfast (see previous post), so if you make a long night of it, maybe you can get a great breakfast the morning after.  

Cheers!

 

May 5, 2018

Phillips Avenue Diner
121 S Phillips Ave
Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57104

 

phillipsavenudiner.com

 

Classic & Delicious!  Just had to get that out there up front. 

In my haste last week making the post prior to this, I neglected to publish this awesome find.  On that trip, I actually had two great layovers with super eats.

We got in late to Sioux Falls, and the hotel was packed with tons of traffic.  An Arts festival was going to kick of the next morning.  There were oodles of folks registering at the hotel, even at the late hour.  The parking lot was full of cars and trucks with trailers of all sizes.  As I would see in the morning, the focus of the festival appeared to be sculptures of all kinds (and sizes) that would be displayed along the streets of Sioux Falls.

After waking up, and getting a few minutes on the elliptical in the hotel gym (admittedly to feel a little less guilty for the pending second day in a row with a whopper of a breakfast), I hit the streets of Sioux Falls.  

One of the flight attendants had mentioned Phillips Avenue as a great night life area, and also told me that there was a great diner there as well.  It didn’t take much to find, one quick internet search of Phillips Ave, and “diner” revealed Phillips Avenue Diner…if they were all so easy to find.

I arrived shortly after opening and the place had some business, but you cold tell they were getting ready for what would hopefully be a booming day with hungry art aficionados.  The staff was bristling about and the lovely aromas were already wafting from the kitchen.  

The menu had a wide selection, and at first I was tempted by the Elvis Waffle with peanut butter, bananas, and pecans, but then I saw the Huevos Ranchero Burrito.  I love chorizo sausage, and this thing looked packet full of goodness.  And of course, I got a side of marble rye toast.  The add-on, almost did me in–it was HUGE!  The burrito was just as big on flavor as it was on size.  

Fortunately, right after finishing this monster we received word of a several hour delay in our departure time.  I normally don’t see delays as “fortune”, but the extra time allowed me to go for a few mile walk along the Big Sioux River.  It was a gorgeous day, and the river has a really well maintained walk/run/bike path.  It was just what I needed to help prevent falling into a food coma after the great meal.  

I’ve been in the Dakotas in the winter, and because of this, I generally shiver when you mention the Northern Tier.  This layover, Phillips Avenue Diner, and Sioux Falls in general reminded me how wonderful it can be without the white stuff flying around.  I highly recommend a visit.  While you’re there, stop and get a great bite at Phillips Avenue Diner.  Next time I will get the Elvis Waffle, and probably a chocolate shake to wash it down.  That will inevitably cause me to run at least 8 mile along the Big Sioux River to sweat away the guilt.

Cheers!

 

May the Forth Be With You!

Inside Chrysler House
719 Griswold Street
Suite 180
Detroit, Michigan 48226

 

eatdimestore.com

 

 

 

 

Had a somewhat short layover in Detroit the other day.  Got a chance to revisit a place I’d been to once before when I first came on with the company: The Dime Store.  It’s a short distance from the hotel we stay at, and the walk takes you past a pretty urban garden with lots of little bars and food places.  This particular place is in the 106-year-old Chrysler House building, and can be seen from the street, but you need to enter the main entrance of the Chrysler House, and then take an immediate righthand turn to get in.

On my first visit, I don’t remember having to wait, but today I only had the option of visiting during the lunch-hour (and on a Friday–ugh!).  The place was packed–a good sign!   There are several sitting areas: lunch bar, 2-4 person tables, and a little alcove with a table that probably sits upwards of 12 folks.  The wait wasn’t long (15 min), and it was a happy crowd. 

It was a Friday, several folks were getting a jump on the weekend with cocktails and other adult BEvERages.  Considering I only had a few hours until I needed to report for a flight, libations were definitely not an option for me.  The FAA has a stringent tolerance (for excellent and obvious reasons) on alcohol consumption.  In general, the regulation states you can’t consume within 8 hours of flying, and even with that, you can’t have a Blood Alcohol Content of .04 or higher.  For comparison, most states have a .08 level limit for driving a car.  In the Air Force, we had a twelve-hour rule from “bottle-to-throttle,” so that habit is still engrained in me.  Ultimately, flying airplanes is fun and challenging enough; why put yourself at a totally controllable disadvantage?  OK, enough aviation education for one post…

The Dime Store has a great menu.  All the plates being prepared in full sight of the patrons looked tasty.  I was in the mood for breakfast, but also something savory and unique.  There it was, the Duck Bop Hash!  A pile of homemade breakfast spuds, with confit-duck, spinach, onions, bulgogi, other veg with a couple eggs on top with a drizzle of Sriracha all over it.  The dish is supposed to be served with an English Muffin, but I substituted a side of rye toast. Perfect–breakfast with a twist!  

Fantastic experience overall.  Great atmosphere, with neat surroundings, and staff was a hoot.  My waiter was awesome, and a fun guy.  He helped point the two out of town gents sitting to my immediate right to an “old time” game bar and arcade.  These guys had a day to kill, and it sounded like they were up for donating a few dozen quarters in old favorites like Galaga and Ms Pac-Man.  I’m sure the arcade being in a bar, probably worked into their calculus too.  I may check it out next time — I used to spend hours playing Galaga with my wife (well before we were even dating) in a bowling ally on Saturday nights.  It’s amazing how many quarters college students could scrape up back then to do important things like play video games and drink cheep (really cheap) beer.

Next time you’re in downtown Detroit, wander over to the Dime Store.  Great place.  Lots to see and do in the area.  

Cheers!

 

 

April 29, 2018

 

Pinky's Eatery
3203 W Bay To Bay BLVD
Tampa, Florida 33629

 

FaceBook: @pinkyseatery

pinkyseatery.com

 

My apologies for not posting in a while.  Had a bit of a flying dry-spell lately.  Life on reserve can be hit or miss.  In my experience the last couple years, you’re either flying your butt off, or it’s dead (and you go stir crazy).  This last week I was able to pick-up an “open” trip, that had become available due to one of many possible reasons, so I finally have something to share.  It also provides an opportunity to tell you a bit more about airline life.

At my company, there’s a fairly straight forward trading process in place that allows folks to swap already awarded flights.  Our awarding process happens about three weeks prior to every calendar month.  If you get a month’s worth of scheduled flights, you are a “line holder.”  Line holders are typically the more senior folks in the company — approximaltey the upper 75%-ish of the pilot pool.  Seniority is based on your individual hire date.  Additionally, the more senior you are, the more sway you have in the process.  As a line holder, you then “own” the individual trips that were awarded to you — think of these trips as poker chips.  Once you have chips, you can play the trading game.  If you don’t get chips, you’re assigned reserve.  As a junior pilot (that lower 25%) you are most likely going to fall into that reserve pool, and are more at the mercy of the crew schedulers for flights.

I said line holders are typically the more senior folks because if a pilot with high seniority (let’s say hypothetically, 25-years) wants to bid a reserve schedule, they may and with certainty will be awarded it.  Sitting reserve allows her/him to sit at home and gamble that they won’t get called to fly, allowing free time to work projects (i.e. work on house, start a side business, spend time with family, watch paint dry, etc).  There’s always a possibility to get called to fly, but just as I found myself sitting an twiddling my thumbs this last couple weeks, there is a chance you won’t be called, and you don’t have to use vacation days.

Anyway, inevitably within this process gaps emerge.  These gaps are called “open” trips.  The company posts these opportunities to the entire pilot pool as they are revealed.  If over time line holders don’t trade a chip they have for the open trips, the open trips may be picked up by a reservist, the day before the scheduled flight.  If no one picks the open trip up, within 12-18 hours of the scheduled departure time, the company schedulers call a reservist and assign it to one of us to cover the gap.

I look at the open trips every day I’m on reserve because it allows me to at least have some say in what trips I fly.  It also helps me find trips that arrive and depart from my assigned base of operations (where I start and end trips) that are more conducive with my commute to/from where I live and work (I live several states away from where I work.)  Commuting is a whole other topic for another time.  I’ve blathered-on a bit now, and trip trading can be a little more complex, but I think I’ve share the general idea with you.

On to the food part of this post!

So there I was…in Tampa on a beautify Sunday morning.  We landed around 10 pm, and got a great night’s sleep.  PERFECT weather.  The day prior, I shared with my captain that I have a thing for diners, and that if he would like to tag along, he was more than welcome.  Following a little digging on the internet, I asked the doormen at the hotel if they had any favorite hole-in-the-walls.  They recommended a couple places close together.   It was getting later in the morning, and they said all were very popular with the locals.  If the primary objective had long lines, the handful of others would be good too.  Top on the list: Pinky’s. 

I had seen Pinky’s Eatery on my initial internet search, but before talking to the doormen, it wasn’t necessarily high on the prospect list.  Their website seems to be broken, and the reviews I did find indicated a change in the menu that wasn’t necessarily greeted favorably by several folks.  I’m glad I chatted up the doormen.

Pinky’s is a fantastic quaint place with warm and fantastic food.  I mist admit, the menu is short (this seemed to be the source of most friction in the reviews), but it is enhanced by additional daily specials that were displayed on caulk on the wall.  Even more important, everything was fresh and full of flavor!

I chose one of the specials, the Best Damn Benny.  My captain got the Italian Frittata.  Both were excellent!  

The Frittata, which I didn’t know, is basically an open-faced omelette.  My partner in crime gobbled it right up.  As a matter of fact he was so fast to dig in, that I didn’t even get a chance to snap a picture.  Trust me, it looked great, and with all the lip smacking, it sounded tasty too.

The Best Damn Benny was one of several Eggs Benedict to choose from.  It’s made with fresh turkey sausage that had a great herb flavor.  Not too pungent, but definitely not bashful.  The hollandaise sauce was also doctored up a bit, and was very flavorful.  The side of spuds we’re perfect.  I also got a side of Cuban bread toast to soak up the remnants that I couldn’t get with the English muffins of the Benny.  I was stuffed.

I am not sure what the reason was for the apparent menu change, but if it helped focus the chef’s attention on these expertly crafted meals, it was worth the change.  Simply wonderful!

There is a bunch to see in Tampa.  It is a vibrant city with tons of culture and fun, as well as local cigars, craft beers, and a burgeoning spirits scene.  Pinky’s is a great way to start the day, or maybe even end a long evening of fun.  Hope you get to experience it.

Cheers!

 

 

April 11, 2018

Sugar Bowl
1494 Miner Street
Des Plaines, IL 60016

www.sugarbowldesplaines.com

 

In a few of the blogs I’ve mentioned the idle time of reserve.  It affords you plenty of time for introspection, and the ability to go see things in the area.  This week I got to go way back in my childhood, and I visited a place I hadn’t seen the inside of in at least 35 years.  

As most businesses that endured over time, this one has morphed to meet the needs of the time.  One thing that hasn’t changed is the almost iconic signage outside of this establishment.  Anyone who’s been through old downtown Des Plaines can probably remember the old movie house, the Choo-Choo (and, yes I’ll review this one it in future!), the McDonalds Museum, and the Sugar Bowl.

‘Way back in the olden days,’ I remember this place more as an ice cream and diner hangout.  Way, WAY back, when my parents were dating, I understand this was the stereotypical soad-jerk-style soda fountain.  It’s changed.

Today, just as downtown Des Plaines has been renovated, this is now more family-style, sit down restaurant.  It still has a luncheonette counter, so there is a slight link to the past, but for the most part, this place is not as I remembered it–but that’s OK.  It has a great selection for breakfast and lunch, with a very tasty looking selections of pancakes and french toast.  For this visit, I wandered into the omelette selection of the menu.  

I visited the Sugar Bowl late morning, and was actually thinking of getting lunch.  Then the Gyro Omelette caught my eye.  I have never had a gyro omelette before, but it seemed to qualify both as breakfast and lunch.  Perfect.

Matched up with a side of spuds and rye toast, this omelette was really flavorful.  The sweet and savory aspects of this dish we’re very apparent.  I could taste all the flavors of the gyro (less the pita bread) within the expertly cooked omelette.  At first, I didn’t know how I was gonna like the tzatziki sauce on top, but those reservations disappeared after the first bite.  It was a great meal.

Overall, I really enjoyed going back to the Sugar Bowl.  It’s definitely is not “going home” to the establishment of yesteryear, but the food and staff are excellent.  I hope they continue to do well, and keep that historic signage prominent in downtown Des Plaines.  Next time I’m going to have the stuffed french toast.

Cheers!

March 29, 2018

Hazel's Diner & Bakery
9906 Main Street
Hebron, IL 60034

 

hazelsdiner.com

 

 

 

One aspect pilots new to a company have to deal with is a beast called “reserve.”  Until you build up seniority, you don’t get a fixed schedule of flights with known destinations, dates, and takeoff times.  You “bid” your schedule to include blocks of days that you are vulnerable to work.  The more senior you are, even as a reservist, the more sway you have in the system (over less senior pilots) to elicit the actual days assigned as work periods.  Bottom line is that when your monthly schedule comes out, as a reservist, you end up with work periods (blocks of days usually ranging from 2 to 6 days at a time) that you must be able to report to you assigned base of operations within prescribed time specifications.

After my most excellent DC trip, I found myself back in base sitting reserve.  Fortunately for me, I have tons of family and friends in the area.  A firefighter friend of mine, who also had the day off, treated me to lunch at a neat little diner and bakery not to far from his house.

Hazel’s Diner & Bakeryin Hebron, IL (Home of the 1952 Basketball State Champions — as proudly displayed on the town water tower) is a wonderfully warm and inviting establishment, whipping up sinfully delicious comfort food that is made from scratch.  You can honestly taste the love.

My firefighting buddy had a delicious looking BLT with homemade chips.  My tongue dropped out of my mouth when I saw the Sweet Potato and Turkey Hash on the menu.  And of course I had it with a huge hunk of rye.  

I don’t think we said one word to each other the entire meal–we were too busy with tastebud overload.  WOW!!  We both hit nothin’ but net from the three-point line!

The young lady behind the counter who also took our order at the table was delightful.  You could tell she took great pride in her place and the cooking.  

The case with cookies, breads, cakes, cupcakes, and donuts looked scrumptious. Unfortunately, with the gut-buster of a breakfast I just devoured, it hurt just to think about trying to eat even the smallest delectable.  Next time…and there will be a next time!

All of you in the northern-illinois area, Hazel’s is must do. It’s a pretty drive, and a great meal awaits!

Two great diners in one work period–BONUS!!

Cheers!

 

March 28, 2018

The DINER
2453 18th Street NW
Washington DC 20009

 

dinerdc.com

 

 

 

 

By far, one of my favorite places to visit (and have lived in) is Washington DC.  Admittedly, you need a sense of humor in dealing with the cost of living and traffic, but being able to walk through American history, and see the sights on a fairly easy to navigate public transportation system, is awesome in my book.  Flying in over Pennsylvania, West Virginia and North Carolina breathtaking too, when you have the weather and daylight to enjoy it.  This last trip took me back to DC, giving me a chance to explore a section of the National Capital Region (NCR) I had only a little exposure to in the past.

North of Dupont Circle, and south of theSmithsonian National Zoo,is and area I believe is called Adams Morgan.  It is a older neighborhood with several embassies, that has a vibrant collections of condos, apartments, pubs, and restaurants.  Back in the day when we lived south of the NCR, we would venture into the District for a date night.  There are some incredible steak places and bars in this area.  Definitely out of our daily price range, but not so bad that we couldn’t splurge from time-to-time and enjoy a great steak dinner (and wine).

Fortunately for me, the company put us up in the Washington Hilton that is nestled in this bustling neighborhood.  As I mentioned, the history of the area is one of the things that draws me to this place.  Not to be morbid, but in recent historic terms, this Hilton happens to be the same one President Regan, Secretary Brady, Special Agent McCarthy, and Police Officer Delahanty were shot at on March 31, 1981.  I didn’t realize it until the car service that picked us up at the airport, dropped us at the entrance near where the shooting occurred.  As tired as we were, I instantly recognized the location.  Eerie, yet interesting.  Anyway…

At first light, with warming temperatures, and no wind, I headed out to check a few prospective eateries.  What a beautiful morning!  Traveling north of the Hilton, I ended up a few blocks away on 18th Street NW.  DC was bristling with folks already coming and going to work on this glorious Wednesday morning.  Not to sound too cliche, I found myself walking up on “The DINER.”  OK, this just became a no brainer.

Fantastic classic diner atmosphere in an older building.  High, ornate ceilings, lots of ambient light beaming in from the storefront windows.  Ample seating with a L-shaped lunch bar, tables and booths.  If the food tastes as good as it smells, this is gonna be a winner.

Opening the menu, my eyes gravitated immediately to the “Benedict” section.  A few inches further down, the Greek Omelet with spinach sounded real good too.  Dang–the entire menu looked fantastic, but I kept thinking of oozing egg yoke and hollandaise sauce.  They have a Florentine Benedict version with spinach, but I had a hankering for a bit of pork as well.  Time to venture off on a hybrid course of action…

With the coffee flowing, I asked the super friendly waitress if I could have the traditional Eggs Benedict with spinach added.  She didn’t even hesitate with her, “Sure thing hun, thats the way I like ’em too.”  Awesome waitstaff–perfect!  So, with the slight modification, and a side of rye on order, we were off to the races.

Several plates went by.  One had me for a moment rethinking my choice.  I think it was the DINER Hash.  It had the eggs on top a mound of corned beef hash, but rather than throwing a wrench into the kitchen (and run the risk of upsetting the cheery waitress), I stayed the course.  I wasn’t disappointed.

My plate overfloweth!  Two perfectly poached eggs, atop spinach, ham and english muffin.  Pushing the capacity of the large plate to the limit, any remaining space was filled with perfectly fried spuds.  The side of marble rye would be a challenge, but I was up to the task.  

Overall, it was delicious — I ate way too much, but it was perfect! 

As I sat back on my stool, I had a few more hours to kill, which was fortunate so I could digest, and maybe even work off this hefty morning indulgence.  

Not to far away was a segment of a course I used to run when I was stationed at the Pentagon in the mid-2000s.  One of my favorite, the paths took me through a portion of Georgetown, along the Potomac River, around the Tidal Basin, eventually past the Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thomas Jefferson Memorials.  I wasn’t sure if I had time to run the full course, but my glutinous-guilt made me try.  I got as far as the MLK, Jr Memorial and had to turn around for time.   As beautiful a day as it was, it was very easy to lose myself in the run, but keeping my job and showing up on time for the crew van was probably the wise choice.  After a quick shower, and a look at the map showing how far I ran, my guilt was quashed.  I was ready for a long night of flying.

I really enjoy the DC area.  It offers a wonderful opportunity to see first hand many of the things you read about in grade and high school history classes.  The international aspects of this city’s inhabitants also brings with it a diversity in foods and flavors available for the pickings.  Getting around is easy, and the Metro rail  comes up under the National Mall where many epic museums are located.

Even if you fly in to Dulles (which is on the far west side of DC area), I highly recommend the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which is an AWESOME annex of the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum.  After the U.S. Air Force Museum in Dayton, Ohio, it’s my favorite aviation museum.  This annex, in my humble opinion is better than the main facility in DC.  It has a great representation of manned (and unmanned) U.S. space exploration to include a shuttle!  It also does a great job of exhibiting women in aviation, as well as early pioneers in civil aviation.  There’s public transportation from/to Dulles, so it’s possible to weave it into a trip, if you elect to have a long layover in-between flights in/out of Dulles.  I’d do it…but I’m a aviation junkie…

Long post, but I hope you enjoyed it.  There’s a lot in DC to see and love.  Hope you get to see it in person.

— Cheers!

 

March 21, 2018

 

Band Box
729 S 10th Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404

 

FaceBook: Band Box Diner

 

Howdy all!  This trip helped me find what might be the most quintessential diner so far–Band Box.

Great little place with three folks running the place (well, actually two; one was obviously a new-hire in training).  It’s nestled in an older section of downtown Minneapolis, and is a few blocks off the human-Habitrail path, so getting to it in the winter can get a bit chilly.  (Yes, I said “human-Habitrail.”  There’s a system of covered sidewalks and tunnels that weave downtown to help folks get around in adverse weather.  I don’t know much about it…yet)  Fortunately, it was only cold and not windy for the mile-plus trek I made from the hotel to the diner. 

As I mentioned, Band Box is off the beaten path in what looks like a reinvigorated neighborhood.  Lovely old architecture intermingled with new two- and three-story apartment style condos.  Several look like they were old hotels with names like, “The Drake”, and “The Elms”.  I even walked by a neighborhood garden occupying a vacant city lot.  So much charm, even in the dwindling, but chilly, days of winter.  I’ll definitely be back in the summer to see what’s growing.

Back to Band Box…

After a quick perusal of the menu, I settled in on an omelette that was actually a derivation of an item on the lunch section–the BRO Omelette.  It was a hamburger stuffed in an omelette!  Is it lunch, or breakfast!?!  Don’t care; it was Great!

This monster was stuffed with a delicious burger, green peppers, onions, and cheese.  It was also covered with a zesty “BRO Sauce” that had a sweet, slightly peppery heat.  On the side, I had a couple slices of white toast.  Simple, fresh, and tasty.

I loved watching the short order cook create his various concoctions only feet from me.  My mouth was drooling, and I kept wishing I could taste each of the delights as they were flying out to all the other customers.  After watching a few plates go by, I realized (after getting my very large omelette) that I should have ordered spuds.  They come as an additional side item that needs to be ordered with the omelettes.  Not that I could have finished the meal if I had ordered them, but it would have been nice to have them with a little of the BRO Sauce on them.

The customers were also a great part of the experience.  One of the reasons I pursued a job with the airlines, versus cargo, is a love of meeting people.  Life is a collection of perspectives.  I’ve traveled the world, and everyday I’m learning or trying to see something else through the eyes of others.  

The locals were definitely opinionated.  For over an hour after finishing my meal, I sipped on my coffee, digested my huge breakfast, and listened to their various opinions on a whole-host of local and national issues.  I enjoyed a meal of the mind, as well the body.  It was a rewarding morning on so many levels.

If you find yourself in Minneapolis, and want to visit a cute and tasty diner, Band Box is a must.  

As for me, I probably should explore the human-Habitrail the next time I layover.  It’s an ingenious way to beat the cold and see several of the businesses in downtown Minneapolis.  I’ll need to do a little homework before I arrive to get a general understanding of where I might end up.

Cheers!

March 5, 2018

Mezcal
25 W. Fernando Street
San Jose, California 95113

 

mezcalrestaurantsj.com

 

 

 

Short layovers on the weekend can be hit or miss with businesses being open.  Fortunately, the captain I flew with and I found a little gem of a Mexican restaurant that serves Oaxacan traditional Mexican fare–Mezcal.  This place reminds me of some of the restaurants and food I’ve eaten (and haven’t written abut yet) in Mexico City.

First of all, just AWESOME atmosphere!  Warm, inviting, mouth-watering aromas, great selection of food, and adult beverages. Our waiter was awesome, greeted us as soon as the hostess seated us, and got the beverages flowing immediately which helped wash down the chips and salsa.  Perfect.  The restaurant itself has a rustic feel to it with brick and iron.  There are several seating areas to accommodate various size groups, and enclosed patio area, and bar seating.

The menu had a nice variety–steak, fish, yardbird, tamales, enchiladas, etc.  From my perspective, the menu was nice because some of the selections appeared to be essentially variations on style of cooking, the protein you prefer, and how much heat you may like to include (or not to include).  I selected the Enmoladas with chicken (yardbird–slang from my AF-days, just incase your wondering about my comment above).  I guess the best way to describe it is an open faced enchilada.  It was served with rice and a side of black beans.  I chose it because the mole sauce sounded like it had a bit of pep and decadent all rolled into one–chiles, spices, sesame, almonds, pecans, and CHOCOLATE.  All of this covered a few fresh corn tortillas.

My apologies for not snapping a picture before i started to devastate this tasty meal.  The included pic with this post was several fork fulls into a very satisfying meal.  

Mezcal has a desert menu, and it all sounded great, but in what seems to be a trend lately, I stuff myself on the appetizers and main course.  

Overall, this looks like a great place to come and socialize, share a few drinks, and have a wonderful meal that isn’t the usual fare. I look forward to my next trip into Mexico to start really educate myself on the  different varieties of food available.  I so need to get fluent in Spanish…at least now I make folks laugh when I try to speak it.

When in San Jose, give Mezcal a try–I think you’ll like it.

Cheers!