Food, Glorious Food

Almost two weeks ago, Lisa of Lisa Writes... tagged me with this restaurant meme. I was immediately excited because food is a bit of a hobby with me. I love planning menus, I love trying new recipes, I love going shopping, I love cooking. And eating out? That just takes the hobby to a whole new level. You mean someone is going to cook for me? While I do nothing but sit and bask in all the aromas wafting around the eatery? It's pure bliss.

The rules, as such, are as follows:
1. Link to the name of the person that tagged you.
2. Include state and country you live in.
3. List top 5 favorite local restaurants.
4. Tag 5 other people and let them know they've been tagged.

I've already fulfilled rule number one. (I love crossing things off my list.) And if this is the right place to say so, Lisa's blog has become a new must-read for me. Her thoughtful, intelligent and funny observations about life ground me and make me laugh at the same time. Her writing reflects that she seeks to know God with all her heart, and I always leave her blog encouraged to press in and press on. You can't say that about everyone.

Now, on to rules two through four -- which will henceforth be known as "guidelines." I can tell you I currently live in Minnesota, in the good old United States of America. But as I believe I've mentioned before, I currently live in a small town that has very limited dining options. Read: We have two mediocre chain restaurants and a whole lotta fast food. Neither are what I call "good eats."

So I'm going to name five restaurants I love to visit when I return to various cities around the country where I've lived in the past.

1. Cafe Latte in St. Paul, MN
I first stumbled across this gem when I was interning at a TV station in Minneapolis. A reporter and photographer I
frequently worked with suggested this place for lunch -- and I've been hooked ever since. Their chicken salsa chili is renowned. I've even learned to make it at home. Their homemade breads, fresh salads, innovative soups and decadent desserts are mouth-watering. (Try the Turtle Cake. Or choose from that day's selection of cheesecakes.) When I lived in California and would return home to visit the family, a stop (or two) (or three) at Cafe Latte was a must before I headed back to the airport.

2. Hash House a Go-Go in Hillcrest, CA
I love breakfast, so any place that specializes in morning food is tops with me. The motto at Hash House, as it's affectionately known, is "Twisted Farm Food." And truly, the inside of the cafe looks like a farm as imagined in the mind of a gay man who hasn't left San Francisco since 1986. It's all stainless steel and metal farm implements and funky waiters. But the food? To die for. And the portions? Also to die for, as everything is served on a platter that's about two feet wide.

My favorite breakfast at Hash House is the farmhouse scrambler that mixes hardwood smoked bacon, avocado, onion and Swiss cheese with about half a dozen eggs. (At least, that's what it looks like.) My second favorite breakfast is the mango-coconut flapjack, which is at least 12 inches in diameter and tastes like Hawaii. And then I don't eat the rest of the day. Really. But it's worth it.

3. Miguel's Cocina in Point Loma, CA
Some of the best Mexican food on the planet, which is saying something considering San Diego is right on the border and boasts at least 12 million taquerias. Miguel's serves some of the best salsa and white sauce I've ever tasted. Their shredded beef is divine, whether consumed in a taco or on a salad. And the ambiance is perfect -- right on San Diego Bay, overlooking some sailboats and the random Point Loma crowd. When I worked at a Christian college very near Miguel's, my waistline suffered.

4. Pat and Oscar's in San Diego, CA
Two words: Bread. Sticks. Amazing, garlicky, warm, crispy breadsticks. The first time my husband and I ate at Pat and Oscar's (or just Oscar's, as it was known back then; Oscar put his wife's name on the store to celebrate a significant wedding anniversary), we walked up to the counter and ordered a pizza, a BBQ chicken dinner, a Greek salad and an extra basket of breadsticks. For two people. We then sat down outside (all San Diego restaurants have outdoor seating) and waited for our food to arrive. The breadsticks came immediately. We were hooked immediately. We ate the whole basket. And took the rest to go.

I feel I must asterisk this pick with the note that, for a time, I was completely sick of Pat and Oscar's. We ate there every Sunday after church with our Sunday school class, and by week 65, I was getting tired of BBQ chicken and breadsticks. But now that I can't get them anymore, a stop at Pat and Oscar's is always at the top of our list when we return to San Diego. Because absence makes the heart grow fonder.

5. Willow Street Pizza in Willow Glen, CA
My husband and I lived right around the corner from this adorable little restaurant during our time in Silicon Valley. My first fixation was their wood-fired Thai Chicken Pizza. Then my sister started waiting tables there, and she turned me on to the Grilled Pesto Chicken Sandwich, topped with fontina cheese and served with homemade garlic fries. Then, I moved on to the Garlic Chicken Pizza, piled high with bacon, chicken, spinach, caramelized onions, roasted garlic cream sauce and Parmesan.

And ... OK, wow. I'm getting hungry. This is somewhat torturous for a pregnant lady who eats every hour on the hour right now. Maybe I should stop. Before I start waxing eloquent on the chain restaurants I love but don't have access at the moment -- like Jamba Juice and In-and-Out Burger and Rubio's.

So let me tag Sara at Miller Moments, Michelle at Military Mommy, Sarah at In the Midst of It (who just blogged today about many yummy breakfasts she's producing in her very own kitchen). And then, to go outside of the continental U.S., how about Michelle at Scribbit and Kailani at An Island Life. Because I'd love to hear what's popular in Alaska and Hawaii.

Bon appetit! And have a great Fourth of July!


  1. Yummy! I second Miguel's and Hash House! Yumaroo! : ) I could drink the white sauce at Miguel's with a straw and I am not even joking. Part of the benefit of being stationed here.

    I agree about the Pat & Oscar's breadsticks, but their other food was just ok. We have one within walking distance to our house but have only eaten there maybe 4 times in 5 years.

    Thanks for the tag! I already did this meme back in May. Just click on meme's under labels if you want to see my picks. : )

    Hugs & hope your summer is super fun!

  2. what a well traveled food list you have! :)

    i'm drooling over the breadsticks...i love my carbs..


  3. I'll meet you at Hash House. That omelette sounds soooooo good. I love breakfast food!

  4. Ohh!!!! Sign me up for the breadsticks!!!!

  5. Hash House a Go Go cracks me up! What a great name.

    And thanks for the tag, I've posted about my favorites before recently but I'll see if I can't come up with something more to say about it.

  6. You are making me hungry too!

    It's a funny thing actually....I was just heading over to your blog to say...

    You've just been tagged! I hope you don't mind. ((Hugs))

  7. Yum! Thanks for playing along--and the words of encouragement too. I'm so glad our blog paths crossed!