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Salazar Bros. Mexican Food (Tempe, AZ)

My next stop after our trip to Mount Rainier was a much-overdue trip to visit my parents in Arizona, and this trip was the first time in several years that my brother and I were able to visit at the same time. While the primary goal is just spending time helping out my parents, Arizona is also a great opportunity to experience one of my other great loves: a proper breakfast burrito. In particular, a machaca burrito, which are extremely rare in New England. While I normally go just a short drive to

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Lifted Taco (Woodinville, WA)

After our trip to Rainier we met up with our friend Jules to tour around the area doing some light sightseeing and exploring the area wineries and distilleries. Wanting a light lunch, we were looking for a place that was dog-friendly with outside dining (due to some Covid concerns in our group), and happened across a nice little hidden gem: Lifted Taco.

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Mango Thai Cuisine & Bar (Seatac, WA)

Before our group headed out to Mt Rainier, we had an introductory dinner to get to know each other. It’s best if we avoided carpooling, and the area around Seatac has an interesting assortment of diners, beer bars, and such that you expect near an airport, as well as a few gems (like the previous review, 13 Coins). With a group that included vegetarians, vegans, spice lovers, and spice haters, there was one obvious choice that easily covers this group, and that was Mango Thai.

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Health Check: 13 Coins (Seatac, WA)

Here at Offbeat Eats, every once in a while we do a “health check”, revisiting one of our old favorites and see how things are doing. In this case, our planned backpacking trip to Mount Rainier with Fitpacking had us all rendezvousing at a hotel by Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. After going to the airport at 0-dark-30, by the time we arrived at Seatac we were quite hungry, it was lunch time, and, conveniently, our walking route to the hotel took us right by one of our favorites for airport dining: 13 Coins (our previous review from 2014 is here).

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Taco Cat Cantina (Randolph, VT)

If there’s been one noticeable change in the culinary scene around Northern New England, it’s the recent appearance of more than a few decent taco joints sprinkled around the area, like Lalo’s Taqueria in Lebanon, Carlita’s Cocina in Royalton (currently moving into a permanent storefront), Trailbreak in White River Junction, and the occasional food truck serving up some good tacos. One place that’s been on my radar for a bit is Taco Cat Cantina in Randolph, and a slight detour on our return from Lake George allowed us to finally check them out.

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The Garden Cafe at The Tiki Resort (Lake George, NY)

Our annual trips to Ohana Luau By The Lake (“The Best Little Event in Tiki”), have us doing most of our activities at The Tiki Resort. Like much of Lake George, while it’s definitely a bit rough around the edges at times, it’s more than a bit of a Mid-century Americana Time Capsule: a mostly intact Tiki-themed resort, with Tiki-themed bar, a nice pool deck, and even (during high season) a Polynesian stage show. It’s also got it’s own breakfast restaurant, the Garden Cafe, located just off the lobby.

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Johnny Boys Pancake House (Rutland, VT)

This summer we also had annual trip over to Lake George, NY for the Ohana Luau By The Lake (“The Best Little Event in Tiki”), which had us doing another nice morning drive across Vermont. We were craving breakfast, and pancakes in particular, and I realized an interesting change in Vermont over the last 20 years or so: Despite the very active, well-published, and well-earned reputation of “Vermont Maple”, Vermont doesn’t actually have a lot of pancake houses any more. When we moved to Northern New England, there were a lot of places in Vermont, but the ranks have thinned. Don’t get me wrong, there are a good number of decent pancake houses still sprinkled around Vermont, including Sugar and Spice in Mendon, VT, but even more that have closed (like Eaton’s Sugarhouse in Royalton, Blanche and Bill’s in Bridgewater), and a few more that are closing down (like Penny Cluse). This is one place where New Hampshire seems to be holding on a bit better (with Polly’s up north, Parker’s and Stuart and Johns down south being the most notable. But one Vermont place that I knew was still in business that I hadn’t yet checked out was Johnny Boys Pancake House in Rutland, VT. While it too has seen some downsizing (their original location was in Killington, their second location in Rutland is the one remaining), our trip through VT to Lake George was the perfect opportunity to stop by and finally check out Johnny Boys.

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The Refinery (Andover, NH)

This summer, after a particularly brisk and windy hike up with our friend Alex to Mount Cardigan from the AMC Cardigan Lodge, we decided to stop on our way home for an early dinner. Since our route took us right through the Potter Place part of Andover, NH, we decided it was a good opportunity to stop in and visit The Refinery.

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BlackRock Steakhouse (Springfield, VT)

At one point last summer, my friend Geoff declared “I’m craving a good steak”. Well, aside from Jesse’s Steakhouse in Hanover, NH, the general Upper Valley region doesn’t have a lot of steakhouses. But in the interest of getting out and about, and trying a few other places, this drew our attention to the other major “Steak House” in the Upper Valley: BlackRock Steakhouse in Springfield, VT.

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Blind Lion (Rapid City, SD)

Our last evening in Rapid City, after a nice walk through town and visiting Lost Cabin Brewery, we decided to check out Blind Lion, one of Rapid City’s cocktail bars and dinner spots. Blind Lion is a speakeasy, one of those hidden bars without signage that have become quite popular in recent years (I particularly enjoyed a 2017 trip to Kansas City where we visited two great speakeasies: Manifesto and Tikicat, both of which have, unfortunately, closed). And, more importantly to Offbeat Eats, Blind Lion also also offers a dinner menu, so we set off for the west end of Main Street to find the establishment.

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