I'm writing this
list from the sweat-inducing, sweltering porch of a pizzeria in my new town --
Houston. While I'm absolutely stoked about my new digs, home to the likes of
Saint Arnold Brewing Co., national celebrity chef outposts like Robert Del
Grande's RDG + Bar Annie up-and-coming institutions like Anvil Bar &
Refuge, I can't help but pine for what I've left behind.
The closest local
thing to a Kahn's, the venerable Spec's superstore, has plenty of Texas beer
not distributed to the Midwest -- but no Goose Island, no Sun King, no Brugge.
The hipsters at Agora coffee shop, what the far-flung locals here call a slice
of Amsterdam, are still not as hip as my friends at Monon Coffee Co. And the
first thing I thought when I hit my first Thai place here, was that the Thom
Yum at Siam Square was much, much better.
Lover, I miss you.
Here's to all our good times.
Best reason to
visit Carmel: Pizzology. Although I never felt a compelling reason to revisit
the Northern enclave after my first few treks, this changed that sentiment.
Though I admittedly hadn't been back since original pizzaiolo Rob Coate went to
Barking Dog Cafe -- and his honed dough-making technique with him -- the premium
toppings, stinky tallegio and moist, elastic Neapolitan-style 'za kept me coming
back for more. Especially with as good-looking and politically connected
barkeeps as Joshua Gonzales (@JJGonz). Did I mention the stellar beer lineup?
Best beer bar:
MacNiven's for bottles and Sun King releases; Chumley's for most other special
releases (especially Founder's) on tap. But I do have one complaint about both:
It's 2010. Can your patrons smoke outside already? It won't kill them to do so,
but it might kill me if they stay inside. As far as my anecdotal, firsthand
evidence goes; craft beer drinkers tend not to be heavy smokers -- ruins the
Best hole in the
wall: King Dragon. Cheap, tasty Chinese food.
Best Thai: Siam
Square. I probably didn't give these guys enough credit in my first, overall
favorable, review. Maybe some aspects of their cuisine are slightly
Americanized, but really, what the hell isn't? The flavors are always
well-balanced; the curries, properly hot but sumptuous; and the Thom Yum
lemongrass soup is tangy, scintillating fare.
Best new chef: Abbi
Merris, Greg Hardesty's hand-picked protégé who does more in Recess' kitchen
than most eaters know. Look for a profile on her here, soon.
Best hidden gem:
Taste of Tango. The best, most tender and flavorful skirt steak I've eaten in a
long while was here. Also the fluffiest homemade gnocchi.
thing we're missing: More good Vietnamese (besides Sandra Rice & Noodle) or
ANY Persian restaurant.
seasonals: Brugge. They constantly push the envelope with their long-aged
sours, like Spider King, Diamond Kings, Bad Kitty and more. Who cares if some
of them were accidents?
Best piece of
Denver in the city: The always-amazing-coffee'd-and-serviced Cafe
Ball & Biscuit, the pre-prohibition cocktail bar that was pretty much
formerly housed at Euphoria. Hopefully they can keep stuff in stock this time --
and all the bartenders should at least approach Zach Wilks' cocktail-making
skills (they didn't before). Brad Gates shines especially when he sticks to
Best late night
food: Chicken nuggets and PBR never tasted so good as they do at 2 a.m. at The
Sleeper hit: Goose
the Market's enoteca. It's new, but I'm surprised it hasn't been packed to the