Slapfish – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Every year, a jolly, bearded (some might also say fat) gentleman leaves the comforts of his home to celebrate an event that comes only once a year. Throughout the year he’s visited good little mom-and-pop restaurants across the Land of Enchantment and rewarded them with kind reviews wrapped in polysyllabic words and alliterative phrases. On this special day, my Kim’s birthday, the bearded gentleman isn’t quite as jolly for as faithful readers know, once a year I agree to take…

Crackin’ Crab Seafood Boil – Albuquerque, New Mexico

There are certain notions people find too implausible or preposterous to believe. Case in point: during a recent lunch with my friend Bill Resnik, our waitress asked what we did for a living. Bill told her I was an actor, a premise our waitress found entirely credible—even to the point of recalling she may have seen me in an episode of Breaking Bad. When, however, I told her Bill was a porn star, she couldn’t contain her laughter. She practically…

Down N Dirty Seafood Boil – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Seafood boil in the Duke City! If the notion conjures visions of heading to Tingley Beach and embarking on an unappetizing repast of catfish, trout and silvery minnows boiled together in a large pot of green chile seasoned water, you’re in for a treat. As of September, 2013, it’s possible for expatriates from any of America’s coastal regions to indulge in authentic seafood boil…and it’s very good. If you hadn’t heard about Down N Dirty Seafood Boil, it’s because Albuquerque’s…

Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar – Monterey, California

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream.” ~John Steinbeck Cannery Row, 1945 During basic military training in the Air Force, several of us who could speak multiple languages were asked to take the Defense Language Aptitude Battery (DLAB), the test the military services use to measure aptitude to learn a foreign language.  Fewer than five percent of people who take (or…

Joe’s Seafood, Prime Steak and Stone Crab – Las Vegas, Nevada

“Stone crab is probably what God eats every night of the year, but in Florida we mortals only have it from mid-October to mid-May…” Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter by Blaize Clement Whether or not stone crab is really what God likes for dinner might make an interesting literary debate, but there’s no disputing that ordinary and not-so-mere mortals have loved the captivating crustaceans of citrus country for nearly a century.  In 1913 Joe Weiss discovered that stone crabs were…

Desert Fish – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

If you were entertaining a visitor from Seattle or Portland, would you take them to Long John Silver’s, Captain D’s or even  Pelican’s to show them how the seafood in land-locked Albuquerque measures up to the seafood in those two bastions of fresh, succulent seafood?  Not likely!  You’d probably want to take them to a restaurant which showcases New Mexico’s red and green chile.  For some reason, however, during business trips to Seattle and Portland, my well-intentioned colleagues insist on…

Pelican’s Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

The remonstrance from a group of my foodie friends was vocal and animated when I contended that good seafood in the Duke City dining establishments not only exists, some of it borders on greatness.  One ardent detractor asserted that good seafood in our landlocked community is as rare as a good steak was on Gilligan’s Island.  Another argued that only at Pappadeaux, a national chain, could good seafood be found while a third reminisced that in the 1990s there were…

Mabel’s Lobster Claw Restaurant – Kennebunkport, Maine

What comes to mind when you think of lobster?  A rare treat or special event meal?   A delicacy?  Would you believe some cultures still consider lobster “the cockroach of the sea?”  There’s a scientific basis for that.  Neither fish nor mammal, lobsters are arthropods, closely related to the lowly insect.  Like the insect, lobsters belong to the invertebrate (lacking a backbone or spinal column) family. Today you have to pay dearly for an excellent lobster meal, but that hasn’t always…

The Clam Shack – Kennebunkport, Maine

The late George Plimpton was a pioneering journalist who garnered much of his acclaim from competing in professional sporting events then recording the experience from an amateur’s standpoint.  From pitching against the National League prior to an All-Star baseball game to quarterbacking the Detroit Lions in an intrasquad scrimmage, Plimpton momentarily lived the dream of every would-be professional athlete. Today, it seems every network and cable channel has a competing reality show in which an unabashed combatant or group of…

Maine Diner – Wells, Maine

How do you know when a restaurant has really made it?  Is it when that restaurant is recognized by national publications as one of the very best diners in the country?  Or when celebrities go out of their way to dine at its tables?  Is it when more than five-million people have been warmly welcomed at its doors?  When neither rain, nor sleet nor the most stern and frigid of Maine winters can dissuade visitors? The Maine Diner has achieved…

Woodman’s of Essex – Essex, Massachusetts

If you can imagine what New Mexico would be like without green chile or the South without barbecue, you can understand what New England would be without fried clams.  Like our beloved green chile, fried clams are an iconic food, so much so that they are almost synonymous with states like Maine and Massachusetts in which they are harvested and sold.  It’s almost a wonder the license plate mottos in at least one of those two states isn’t “The Fried…

Union Oyster House – Boston, Massachusetts

The Union Oyster House, in continuous operation since 1826, is not only the oldest restaurant in Boston, it’s the oldest restaurant in continuous service in America.  In fact, it’s housed in a building which predates the American Revolution.  Union Street in which it is situated was laid out in 1626 and while there are no municipal records documenting the Oyster House’s construction, there is more than anecdotal evidence that it was built as early as the 1710s. A major landmark…

Kingfish Hall – Boston, Massachusetts (CLOSED)

“Endorse what you love.”  That’s the message NASCAR driver Tony Stewart delivers to Eric Estrada, Carrot Top and a host of other candidates the stature of which usually grace Dancing With The Stars and other dreadful reality shows.  If the television commercial is to be believed, what Stewart loves is Burger King, the fast food sponsor who supplanted Subway on the hood of his car and which is now paying for Stewart’s love. What it seems celebrities, including celebrity chefs,…

Crab House at Pier 39 – San Francisco, California

Every town has them–the touristy attractions every out-of-town visitor wants to hit and locals avoid like a Lobo basketball team coached by Ritchie McKay. To visitors, these attractions represent what your town is all about and nothing you tell them will dissuade them from thinking so.  After all, your local Chamber of Commerce paints these attractions as “can’t miss” and “absolutely must see.” Generally packaged with these touristy attractions are  dining destinations that promise to deliver authentic local flavor–the cuisine…

Gruet Grille – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

In an inordinate number of the thousands of newspaper restaurant reviews I’ve read over the years, the savvy, sophisticated restaurant critic is typically accompanied to the week’s anointed dining destination by a nameless and faceless “dining companion.” In some cases, the sole purpose of the dining companion seems to be serving as a “foil” for the sage critic. Where the critic will order the most mellifluous sounding, multi-syllabic mélange on the menu, the bumpkinly dining companion usually orders something so…