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Chashab

Best restaurants where you live

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As I thought about what a restaurant I would create would look like, I thought I'd also ask what your top 5 (or 2 or 10) places to eat out are. Just in case I happen to wander through your ville at some point in time.

La Maison des Tartes in Fayetteville, Arkansas is on the top of my lists. My only complaint is that they don't serve dinner. Or supper. They have their own herb garden.

Brioso Brazil is a lot of fun too. But take a lot of people, and plan to eat a lot of food. The best sweet potato fries I've had, and their barbeque pineapple is fab! In Bentonville, Arkansas.

James at the Mill is more upscale food-wise, although when we were there jeans and khakis were common fare. Pricier, and an experience. The food is good, but go to make it an outing as much as for their meticulously presented dishes. In Johnson, Arkansas, just north of Fayetteville.

Wiederkehr's Weinkeller Restaurant is a cultural experience, in a building built into the side of a hill. The ceiling is very low, lighting dark and the servers in traditional Alpine dress. It was a lot of fun, although we really didn't like the appetizer we had — of cured meat rolled around something I else which I can't remember. Near Altus, Arkansas.

And if you're in our little ville of Siloam Springs, don't go without a visit to the quaint Taqueria el Rancho, and find awesome sandwiches at Fatigas (their rotisserie turkey on ciabatta is my fave).

Edited by Chashab

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If you ever come to Lincoln, Nebraska, here are some places you have to try...

Yia-Yia's - One of our fave hangout spots. Great oven-cooked pizza by the slice that's made fresh, a huge beer selection from all over the world (if you're into that sort of thing), and a very nice atmosphere. The style has become a bit more "contemporary" over the last few years, but it's still a much better place to go for a pint and a slice than any other locale in downtown Lincoln.

Lazlo's - A local microbrewery with great food and acclaimed pints. The atmosphere is slightly upscale, but still very casual, and the service is always fantastic. I highly recommend the french dip, and their "Rainbow Chicken" is also quite good. They also have some of the best fries and onion rings in town. My Bible study used to go there for pints afterwards, and it was always a great place to hang out and talk.

The Tandoor, Sher-E-Punjab, and The Oven - Lincoln is blessed with three fantastic Indian restaurants, all with their own strengths. The Tandoor is our personal fave, with a nice atmosphere and great service, but it's a little out of the way. Sher-E-Punjab doesn't look like anything special, due to its location in a strip mall, but inside, it's a wonderful little place. And their rice is fantastic. The Oven is the best-known Indian restaurant in town, and it's probably the most upscale of the three. All three have great food, so you really can't go wrong with any of them.

The Blue Orchid - A Thai restaurant that just opened within the last year or so. The atmosphere is nice and modern, maybe a little on the trendy side. The food is absolutely fantastic - I highly recommend the basil chicken and the chicken tempura - and the presentation is nice. Unfortunately, the service is very slow at times. They seem to be perpetually under-staffed, so be prepared to wait.

Venue - Very trendy, upscale restaurant/sports bar. The food is quite expensive, but it's also very, very good.

Misty's - Possibly Lincoln's best steakhouse. If you want a nice big slab of red meat, this is the place to go.

The Green Gateau - The decor is very quaint, and on the surface, looks just like the sort of place you'd take your mom to for Sunday brunch. Which I have. She loved the food. And so did I.

Edited by opus

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This is a very cool idea, but should it be in the 'Travel' section?

My section of the country is better known for its bluegrass music (the Blue Plum and Rhythm&Roots Festivals are splendid, and the Down Home is a cozy music venue drawing top quality performers). But for the hungry tour bus multitudes that arrive in the Tri-Cities region of East Tennessee, here goes:

- Cafe Pacific - I guess this is what they call Asian fusion cuisine - excellent entrees, meh desserts, solid wine list - the place to go if your workplace is picking up the tab

- Sahib's - it looks unpromising, tucked away in a Days Inn on the main strip of Johnson City, but after trying Indian food in 3 countries (though not India, alas) and numerous cities, I've had my best Indian dinner here (the lunch buffet, OTOH, is nothing to write home about)

- The Firehouse - best barbecue in Johnson City; I've heard that Ridgewood, outside of town, is superb, but I haven't made it there yet

- Tomy Thai - the smell of the city of Kingsport tells you that you're near the international headquarters of Eastman Kodak, but ooh, this is great Thai food

- Pal's - a local fastfood favorite, for takeout only - they provide 'sudden service,' just like the sign in front promises

Once I've visited Asheville, North Carolina some more, I'll post some restaurant commentary on it. The restaurant scene is much more diverse there, but alas, I don't remember the names of the splendid tapas and Chinese restaurants I've been to. Salsa's serves great Mexican food, to which the line in front attests. The Chocolate Fetish offers superb truffles to go, with intense flavorings such as lime and cayenne pepper.

Edited by Andrew

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The Santa Fe Cafe Modeled after Santa Fe's famous "The Shed," it's the best New Mexico cuisine in Seattle. Try the Blue Mesa plate "Christmas style," with a house margarita, and bread pudding baked with whiskey hard sauce, and you'll be blissfully happy for about $30.

Hilltop Ale House and 74th Street Ale House Two great pubs with a selection of ales that shows true discernment, as well as an excellent menu of full meals. Try the gumbo with a goat cheese salad. A full evening of joy for about $20.

Orrapin - Seattle is overrun with thai restaurants, and I'm trying to visit them all. Orrapin has the best phad thai I've yet enjoyed, and I've been going back there for more than ten years. Lunch combos are only $7.95.

Cupcake Royale You will believe a cupcake can qualify as "gourmet." The red velvet cupcake with real cream cheese frosting is amazing. Several bites of bliss for three bucks.

Cafe Ladro, Hotwire, and Zoka Coffee Roasters - The best coffee shops in Seattle. The lattes are so artfully done you'll want to photograph them before you drink them.

The Blue Water Bistro - Located on Greenlake, this bistro's clientele is a bit too posh for me to feel entirely comfortable, but they have fantastic breakfasts (try the "Texas Toast"), and after dinner they'll bring you an open flame and little forks so you can make s'mores for dessert.

The Celtic Swell - An excellent Irish pub on Alki beach, where almost everything on the menu, right down to the bangers-n-mash, is so authentically greasy that you'll go into cardiac arrest just reading the menu.

Chutney's - Excellent Indian food, with a great lunch buffet.

Pizza - For thick cheesy, sauce-heavy pizza with the ingredients baked inside, nothing beats Spiro's. For flatter, more traditional pizza you can grab and eat on the run, Zeek's has the best variety. Try their thai chicken pizza.

Those are the options that spring to mind first.

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Detroit:

The Rattlesnake Club is probably the most pedigreed. Jimmy Schmidt, the owner/chef, could have gone anywhere after his training, but came "home" and has turned anything he touches to gold.

What I like (I'm a more dash than cash guy):

China Ruby: hole in the wall place in fashionable Ferndale that Zagat just loves. One of my favorite places that never disappoints.

Salvatore' Scallopini: One of those pasta and salad joints that The Olive Garden tries to run out of business. You want the one in Madison Heights, about a mile east of I-75 on 12 Mile road. Forget that part of the menu. Their veal, chicken, and beef dishes are great, great, great, and cheap. Chicken Francese and Pollo Valdostana are my faves. My wife swears by the Chicken Marsala.

The Bread Basket: in Oak Park. Best pastrami in Detroit. Great corned beef. I can't bring myself to order anything other than the magisterial "18 and a half". Decent store bought potato salad too. almost tastes home made. great "new pickles".

Dott & Etta's: A soulfood institution here. No better storebought fried shrimp in the world.

Pizza Pappalis: You are lost outside Chicago and miss Giordano's, or whoever does the "best" Chicago stuffed pizza these days? This place is as good as it gets outside northern Illinois. Zagat thinks so and all the local papers too, left, right, and mainstream media.

We have a thriving Mexican community here that has been here since the 1930's. Great Mexican food all over the place. Mexican Town west of the Ambassador Bridge has dozens of restaurants and holes in the wall that serve the real thing. Xochimillco's when the 'Wings, Lions, and Tigers are winning is an experience in itself, as is the Laffayette Coney Island on Laffayette, west of Comerica Park. It's the original uniquely Detroit hotdog joint. You can usually bribe the old guy to do a fancy pour of a carton of milk for a good tip (three foot fall). Great dogs with chilli, onions, and mustard.

Detroit is the capital of Arab cuisine in North America. East Dearborn is the nerve center of Arab and Moslem population here. Almost any restaurant down there will be good. For great Lebanese cooking, Anita's Kitchen in Troy.

Of course, being in the midwest, we have various Popeye's franchises as well as White Castles all over the place.

I forgot brew pubs. Traffic Jam & Snug, home of the Motor City Brewery, just south of Wayne State's campus is the original that fought Michigan's arcane dram laws to be able to brew their own. Classy food too.

The Detroit Brewery in the downtown warehouse district. Woodward Avenue Brewery in Ferndale. Royal Oak Brewery just north of Ferndale in downtown Royal Oak.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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One of the best restaurants where Crow lives ;) :

Bailey's Chocolate Bar, their specialty is their chocolate margueritas, but I'd personally go there for the desserts and cheese! Oh, and the atmosphere and service.

Edited by Chashab

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Chocolate Margueritas? I bet that packs a punch! : ::w00tfuzz::

I'll have to check that place out. Thanks!

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Should any of you find yourselves in the tiny environs of Tiffin, OH, there's two places worth a tickle.

Now, some locals will try to get you into either Carmella's or Pioneer Mill for a nice meal. And you probably wouldn't go wrong. Pioneer Mill had a rather nice New Year's buffet, but their performance at other times is spotty; they can be good, and they can be baaaad. Carmella's is the rich folks choice for Italian-American cuisine.

So, those places are fine and all, and the local fat cats like to point them out because they make us look all clean and respectable.

BUT

if you want to go where the locals really eat (that is when they're not at Lee's Fried Chicken or McD's), you really want to get yourself into

Reino's Pizza at 73 E. Market St[. A very small, family run Italian joint. It features a decent buffet most nights, but the killer deals are the lunch specials. You have to work hard to spend more than $5-$6 a person, and the food is very fresh and tasty. They have a specialty pizza that features fresh tomatoes and basil on a hand-made crust that is insanely good for what this place looks like. Oh yeah, they also have a bar.

But, if you're looking for pub food, the other place on my list is

The Clover Club at 266 S. Washington. Another hole in the wall, this place features many, many fine beers, and one of the best poured Guinesses I've had in a while. Their burgers are first rate, succulent juicy with a pile of fresh toppings. Their fish and chips are quite tasty, and Sherry digs the Greek Salad. It's a neighborhood pub with friendly staff and great prices.

Edited by tctruffin

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Should any of you find yourselves in the tiny environs of Tiffin, OH, . . . .

Well, at least you're in the largest of the Tiffins in Ohio! As tiny as it may be, it's larger than the other two; don't :blink: as you drive through . . .

Edited by Chashab

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For those who visit L.A., if you find yourself downtown, you really need to go to Philippe's, the originator of the French Dip sandwich. It's across the street from Union Station, about a block north of Olvera St. (tourist trap). We made a stop there this week en route to a screening in Hollywood. Supper time isn't crowded at all. Lunch is a different matter, but worth a wait in line. In the past we've always had a lamb or beef dip sandwich. This time my wife had turkey dip and was very happy with it. We keep forgetting to ask (as you should) for a double dip (more au jus).

They also have an amazing wine list for a place with long tables and sawdust on the floor. You can get a glass of Duckhorn Merlot or Silver Oak Cab (retail on those is $50-90 a bottle). Those, of course, are a bit pricey glasses, but they have some wines that are cheaper that are quite adequate for a simple sandwich.

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For those who visit L.A., if you find yourself downtown, you really need to go to Philippe's, the originator of the French Dip sandwich. It's across the street from Union Station, about a block north of Olvera St. (tourist trap). We made a stop there this week en route to a screening in Hollywood. Supper time isn't crowded at all. Lunch is a different matter, but worth a wait in line. In the past we've always had a lamb or beef dip sandwich. This time my wife had turkey dip and was very happy with it. We keep forgetting to ask (as you should) for a double dip (more au jus).

They also have an amazing wine list for a place with long tables and sawdust on the floor. You can get a glass of Duckhorn Merlot or Silver Oak Cab (retail on those is $50-90 a bottle). Those, of course, are a bit pricey glasses, but they have some wines that are cheaper that are quite adequate for a simple sandwich.

I just ate at Phillipe's last week! It was good. However, I learned that there is a little dispute about who really invented the sandwich. Apparently another LA restaurant--Cole's Pacific Electric Buffet--which also opened in 1908, claims it was the first.

Anyone been to Cole's? Is it as popular as Phillipe's?

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Here are some options in the Stanford/Palo Alto/Redwood City area:

Darbar, Palo Alto: great all-you-can-eat Indian lunch buffet. Good dinners, too.

Spali, Palo Alto: a well-balanced Italian place, meaning good food, good winelist, but not too expensive.

New Kapadokia, Redwood City: great little Turkish place where you're treated like family.

Main Street Coffee, Redwood City: difficult to find, but they have fantastic breakfasts, good freshly-roasted coffee, and a kid-friendly patio out back.

MedWraps, Palo Alto: the best wraps ever.

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Had lunch in Lincoln, Nebraska last week at a little place called The Cup ("The" actually spelled with an accent, meaning "tea" in French). The best sandwich I've had eating out in a long time and fabulous baked goods! Actually a friend of mine who started it, and didn't know until the day before I was able to eat there. Uses local and organic coffee, tea, etc yet prices are comparable to similar dives. I had the tuna melt and loved it, even though it was with a tuna salad and I HATE mayo. There was lemon in the tuna. It was gooooooood! Also had a wonderful cream cake of some kind with huge blackberries on top.

25th and Randolph if you're ever in Lincoln.

Adding: Wife had a roast beef and blue cheese panini. All sandwiches are panini IIRC and served with a nice little salad of field greens with balsamic vinagrette.

Edited by Chashab

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