Archive | United States RSS feed for this section

Tally’s Silver Spoon (Rapid City, SD)

As mentioned in our previous review of Vertex Sky Bar, both before and after our Centennial Trail backpacking trip, we stayed in downtown Rapid City at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson. Looking at the various options for breakfast, a simple look out the hotel window showed us that there was a very popular breakfast spot right across the street: Tally’s Silver Spoon. Even at 8am they had a healthy backlog of diners waiting out front for breakfast, so we decided to check it out.

Continue Reading ...

Vertex Sky Bar (Rapid City, SD)

After a week of recovery back in New Hampshire, we found ourselves quickly heading out again to Rapid City, SD, to rendezvous with friends from Fitpacking for a hike along South Dakota’s Centennial trail. We were hiking the northern third of the trail, from Nemo SD to Bear Butte. Before we rendezvoused with our hiker colleagues, we spent a night at the historic Hotel Alex Johnson downtown. Built by its namesake Alex Johnson, a railroad baron with the Chicago and Northwestern Railroad, it’s an interesting old grand hotel, and supposedly haunted by multiple ghosts. While we didn’t encounter any such hauntings on either of our visits (we stayed there after our trip as well), staying at the hotel has another nice perk: access to the Vertex Sky Bar, their rooftop bar.

Continue Reading ...

Mon Kou (Attleboro, MA)

As I discussed in my 2018 review of House of Wu, there was a nice mid-20th century tradition toward Tiki culture, combining Americanized Chinese food and other Asian cuisine and Tiki-style cocktails in an over-the-top Polynesian theme. The result is a mix of cultural integration, cultural preservation, adaptation, preservation… as well as more than a little improvisation and occasionally appropriation, but there’s an entire two generations of Americans that grew up with this sort of joint. But while there’s been a recent resurgence in both cocktail culture and Polynesian cuisine, the last few decades haven’t been kind to a lot of these older venerable restaurants, and many in New England (Chicopee’s Hu Ke Lau, Worcester’s Ken Chin, Woonsocket’s Ho Kong, Lynnfield’s Bali Hai) have shuttered in recent years, and a few of the others like Wind Tiki in Webster, MA falling to other fates like structural fires. So it’s important to enjoy some of the places that still remain, like Mon Kou in Attleboro, MA.

Continue Reading ...

Carlita’s Cocina (South Royalton, VT)

Prior to the pandemic, one of my more regular spots to visit in Vermont was South Royalton. It has several great places we like, including First Branch Coffee/Upper Pass Beer and Worthy Burger, but between reduced operating hours and fewer social gatherings, we hadn’t made it over that was as often. Early in the pandemic, we had noted the opening of Carlita’s Cocina, a primarily Mexican-themed food truck, operating in the large parking lot opposite Vermont Law School. When I had to reschedule one of my periodic Red Cross blood donations to the Sharon Academy, that gave me a good excuse to go on a short hike up to Kent’s Ledge, and then meet up with my friends Rick and Sarah to finally try out Carlita’s.

Continue Reading ...

The Cluckin’ Cafe (Pittsford, VT)

During the pandemic, one of the things we started doing, due to spending a lot more time making dinner at home, was investing in a wine membership from one of our favorite Vermont wineries: Lincoln Peak. But they are located outside of Middlebury, and as the old New England saying goes “ya can’t get there from here,” at least not without a lot of driving down back roads. So even in the peak of pandemic shutdowns, we’d relatively frequently drive across mid-Vermont to pick up from their winery in New Haven, VT, which took us through several towns we don’t normally visit, like Rutland, Pittsford, and Brandon, VT. Throughout these drives, we’d often drive by a place that opened in 2020: The Cluckin’ Cafe in Pittsford, VT, and early this year, we were finally passing by when they were open, so we stopped and checked it out.

Continue Reading ...

W.A. Frost & Co (St. Paul, MN)

Back in December, I was invited to the University of Minnesota’s Department of Mechanical Engineering to give a talk on some of my autonomous drone development work. I always love these sorts of visits, since they are a chance to keep caught up with what the University is up to… as well as having an excuse to visit some old friends and favorite food haunts. Indeed, it’s become a bit of a running joke that on most of these visits I end up going to Al’s Breakfast, often multiple times. But they also take me out to dinner. Last time, it was to a new-to-me place, Cafe Biaggo, but this time, it was a return to a long-ago favorite of mine, W.A. Frost & Co in St Paul.

Continue Reading ...

Shame & Regret (Colorado Springs, CO)

As I mentioned in a few reviews, Colorado Springs has been a semi-frequent work travel destination for me for a few years now. Originally, I’d always stay at The Antlers, which is a fine hotel, but starting in 2019 Hilton opened up a new Hilton Garden Inn on North Cascade a few blocks north of there. And, I’ll admit it, in the case of hotels loyalty programs seem to work well for me, so most of my trips now have me staying there. In 2019, I was taking a shortcut out of the hotel to E Bijou Street, and found myself instead in a small alley off Bijou, staring at a bright neon sign for the recently-opened Shame & Regret Cocktail bar, and felt compelled to check it out (heck, it’s one of the best cocktail bar names I’ve ever seen).

Continue Reading ...

The Skirted Heifer (Colorado Springs, CO)

Much like my review of King’s Chef Diner, I’ve had a handful of places that I had started reviewing around Colorado Springs, but deferred publishing once Covid hit, preferring to wait until I could make sure I could follow up and revisit them to check up on how they are doing. One of these places is The Skirted Heifer, a burger joint which I’ve visited on several trips to Colorado Springs. Now, with visits on my 2019 and 2021 trips, I can confirm things are well at the Heifer.

Continue Reading ...

Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen (Colorado Springs, CO)

Most of the time I’m in Colorado Springs, it is because I’m visiting the United States Air Force Academy for work. While during non-pandemic times, if you can ever swing a visit to their Mitchell Hall dining room, it’s a sight to behold, with them serving the entire student body in 30 minutes in a giant dining room (the only similar experience I’ve had was dining at the Naval Academy’s King Hall). But during these pandemic-restricted times, the primary dining option for visiting researchers is… Subway. My Academy host agreed that this was sub-par, so every day we headed off-campus to try out some different dining options. And in this case, we headed out the North Gate to the nearby shopping center for some Cajun food at Momma Pearl’s Cajun Kitchen.

Continue Reading ...

The Carter Payne (Colorado Springs, CO)

In my previous review of Bonny & Read, I discussed how I had asked several good bartenders and waitstaff around Colorado Springs for what other places they’d recommend, and several places all percolated to the top of everyone’s list, most notably the above-mentioned Bonny & Read, and The Carter Payne. I hadn’t been aware of The Carter Payne on my previous visits, but at the time it was still a bit of a startup. Located about a block and a half SE of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, The Carter Payne is located in a former AME Church. Original opened in 1897 as the Payne Chapel (after Daniel Payne, one of the AME church’s founders) and later renamed after the Carter Brothers who moved to Colorado Springs from Philadelphia, the Church outgrew the chapel in 1987, moving to a much larger building in NE Colorado Springs. After a period of time hosting various offices, events venues, and satellite church operations before getting refurbished in 2016 as The Carter Payne, a shared vendor space.

Continue Reading ...