Fumi’s Shrimp Stand (Kohuku, HI)

The North Shore of Oahu is known for several things. The primary one is surfing; during the winter months, the beaches of the North Shore such as Ehukai Beach (better known as “Banzai Pipeline”) and Sunset Beach feature large smooth swells. The area is also known for natural beauty (like Waimea Bay and Waimea Valley). But a single drive through the region will also show you that the area, particularly around Kahuku, is well known for another thing: Shrimp stands. Between Punaluʻu and Sunset Beach are a quite a few stands and trucks selling you shrimp. Some of these have quite the following, such as Shrimp Shack (Punaluʻu), Giovanni’s, Fumi’s, and Romy’s (the last three of these all in Kahuku, and the style is often called “Kahuku shrimp”). Thus, stopping for shrimp is a popular pastime in both the surfer and tourist communities. For our visit, we decided to give Fumi’s a try.

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Joe’s Grill Express (Honolulu, HI)

So, one of my former coworkers invited me to his wedding in Waikiki, and we decided it would be a good opportunity to go explore Oahu and its sights and cuisine. However, that means getting there from NH. There aren’t a lot of great ways to do that, with most every option involving either a long layover, multiple hops, or red-eye flights. Or a combination of these. Between that, and an actual snowstorm in Seattle (requiring us to wait almost an hour for what is apparently just the one deicing truck at SEA), we pulled into HNL at almost midnight. Luckily, we had known that our flight would be getting in relatively late, so that we decided that the easiest way to handle things would be to get a hotel room near the airport.

However, the area around the airport is not exactly a culinary hotbed of activity (and, quite frankly, most anything else, unless you have access to the nearby military bases). And that entire area seems to be filled with former restaurants all boarded up. But amongst the few options available, we did find one gem of a place: Joe’s Grill Express.

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13 Coins (Seatac, Washington)

As I mentioned in my previous review of Surdyk’s Flights at MSP, there are good and bad airports for layovers, at least if you are looking for good dining options. And unfortunately, SEA seems to be perpetually locked sometime in the mid-1990s when it comes to airport dining. Aside from a number of Starbucks that would be considered implausibly high in most other places (I passed three just walking from my gate back to security, this is Seattle, after all!), aside from Ivar’s Seafood Bar, the options at SEA mostly involve… Sbarro and McDonald’s (the latter being a fairly recent addition).

But there’s actually a good, non-obvious option at SEA, at least if you’ve got a layover of at least two hours: Leave the airport! In a mere five minute walk from any gates but the N/S concourses (which have the little tramway connecting them to the rest of the airport), you can not only be back through security, but outside of the airport, and in another 5 minutes of walking, you can be off the airport entirely, and sitting in the warm comfort of 13 Coins.

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Surdyk’s Flights (Minneapolis/St Paul International Airport)

One of our vacations this year was a trip to Oahu, and, quite frankly, coming from New Hampshire, there’s no easy way to do the trip. Most every option either involves multiple hops, a very long layover, or a red-eye flight. Indeed, our trip this time was BOS-MSP-SEA-HNL, with moderate layovers at MSP and SEA. And that means airport dining.

There are good and bad airports for layovers, and I’ll have to say Terminal 1 (the Lindbergh Terminal) at MSP is one of the better places to have a layover. The terminal is huge, and has more than a few good options for food and drink. Previously, I’ve enjoyed sandwiches and beer at Ike’s (including indulging in a rare pint of Surly Furious), and just about every coffee company in Minnesota (Starbucks, Dunn Bros, Caribou, …). There’s even a reasonably good burger place (TwinBurger) and a good sushi place (Shoyu). But a fairly recent addition has been an old Minneapolis favorite of mine: Surdyk’s.

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Corner House Inn (Center Sandwich, NH)

Corner House Inn Recently, I had an odd confluence of invites to an event. You see, it’s not every day when I get notices of a special event from (a) the mailing list of the Tamworth Lyceum, a small NH events center (b) the mailing list of a local distillery, (c) a notice from a […]

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My Sister’s Kitchen (Milford, NH)

A few weeks ago, we wanted to take advantage of the fresh snowfall and go cross country skiing at Windblown Cross Country in New Ipswich, NH. We figured it would also be a good opportunity to finally try one place on our hit list, Parker’s Maple Barn in Mason, NH. There was just one problem…. Parker’s hasn’t opened for the 2014 season yet, so we had to find someplace else in that area for a good breakfast. That’s where My Sister’s Kitchen in Milford comes in.

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Brookline Lunch (Cambridge, MA)

About five years ago, I was exploring the area around MIT before one of my many meetings, and while ducking down Brookline Street, passed by an unassuming little storefront on the side of a fairly industiral-looking building. But looking inside, it was a little diner, absolutely filled with students having breakfast. It looked interesting enough that I vowed to come back and try it sometime. There was just one one little detail. Brookline Lunch isn’t open on Tuesdays. And, somehow, that seems to be when the majority of my visits to MIT are. So for about two years, Brookline Lunch has been on my hit list, but it wasn’t until I had a visit to MIT on a recent very cold Monday morning that I finally had a chance to check them out.

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The Counter (San Diego Airport)

While generally I’m a fan of air travel, one of the less fortunate aspects of the experience is that most food in airports, well, sucks. Oh, there are the exceptions (like my recent review of Sora in Detroit, or Legal Sea Food in Boston, or even the Milltowne Grille at my own Manchester airport, but generally you need to be setting your expectations rather low. So when I find a place that, well, doesn’t suck, I try to write it up for my readers. In this case, it was getting breakfast at The Counter at San Diego airport that actually started the day off on a good note.

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San Jorge Tortilleria & Market (Murrieta, CA)

An important agenda item for me any time I’m visiting an area with a substantial Hispanic population is scoring a good Mexican breakfast. While my home turf in New Hampshire has a few decent Mexican places, none of them currently offer breakfast, so when I’m in an area with some good Mexican breakfast options, I have a hard time resisting a trip for a good huevos ranchero or a well-performing breakfast burrito. But while visiting Carol’s relatives in Murrieta, CA last month, we had a free morning and a strong appetite, and ended up finding San Jorge Tortilleria and Market.

Nestled in a strip mall behind a tire shop off of Madison Ave in a quieter part of Murriet, San Jorge is one of those quiet, un-assuming places. Walking inside, it’s also immediately obvious that San Jorge is putting most of the emphasis on the “Market” side of the operations (although they do a very impressive job with the “Tortilleria” part of things, with some rather impressive piles of fresh corn and flour tortillas all bagged up and ready to go). But amongst the various foods and sundries, San Jorge also has a nice food service counter, serving up Mexican breakfasts and lunches.

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Pho Lucky (San Diego, CA)

My recent travels through Southern California had us passing through San Diego several times, and that was particularly nice, since San Diego has one of the larger Vietnamese communities in the US, and thus has quite an assortment of good Vietnamese restaurants. We were particularly craving some Pho, and courtesy of my friend Dennis over at A Radiused Corner, I had rather a nice selection of reviews of local San Diego places, settling on Pho Lucky (you can read one of Dennis’ reviews here).

Pho Lucky is located inside of Lucky Seafood, just off of I-15 in San Diego’s Mira Mesa neighborhood, a short drive from Los Peñasquitos Canyon, which is one of my favorite San Diego area hikes. You won’t see the place obviously advertised, since it is actually inside the Lucky Seafood Supermarket (although, looking at the front of the market, if you go in on the left side, those doors take you directly inside). Once inside, it’s actually one of the more pleasant Pho shops I’ve been in (most Pho places seem to have all the ambiance of an office supply store), with a nice clean interior and a pleasant decor.

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