The Sawtooth Club – Ketchum, Idaho

Our server Kara (who resembles a much more attractive Maggie Gyllenhaal) reasons that The Sawtooth Club is the number one restaurant in the country.  That was news to me so I asked how she arrived at that conclusion.  Her reasoning is that the Sawtooth Club has been the highest rated restaurant in the Sun Valley for five consecutive years.  The Sun Valley is currently rated the number one ski resort in the country.  Ergo, one highest rated restaurant plus one highest rated ski resort equals the best restaurant in the country.  That’s akin to fuzzy math, but Kara is so cute I was almost inclined to agree with her. From the balcony of our rental in Ketchum, Idaho we could…

Yellow Brick Cafe – Twin Falls, Idaho

In the Air Force, when you’re stationed at a base overseas, service members receive an orientation on how to comport ourselves (behave) in that country.  We’re cautioned about cultural do’s and don’ts.  We’re introduced to American terminology and conduct our host country members might find offensive.  Above all, it’s emphasized that we are ambassadors for the United States, that our behavior reflects on our country.  We’re admonished not to perpetrate the “ugly American” stereotype that some countries have about the fruited plain.  If you’re not familiar with the term, here’s how Wikipedia defines it: “Ugly American” is a stereotype depicting American citizens as exhibiting loud, arrogant, demeaning, thoughtless, ignorant, and ethnocentric behavior mainly abroad, but also at home. When my…

Blu Pig BBQ & Blues – Moab, Utah

For many of us barbecue is a noun as in “a social gathering at which barbecued food is eaten.”   For others it’s a verb (to roast or smoke food over wood using smoke at low temperatures over a long cooking time).  For the most passionate and devoted, barbecue is a way of life…even a religion.  That religion is practiced by large and small congregations in both outdoor and indoor temples throughout a portion of U.S. Highway 61.  The hymns wailed and warbled by choruses of angelic voices are the reason that portion of U.S. Highway 61 is known as the “Blues Highway.”  Rivaling Route 66 as the most famous road in American music lore, the portion of U.S. Highway 61…

The Frontier Restaurant – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Most college and university areas have at least one restaurant that transcends the “student hang-out” label to become a popular dining destination among all demographics, whether or not the diners matriculated at the nearby institution of higher learning. In Albuquerque that dining destination is the Frontier Restaurant. In its fifty plus years of serving the Duke City, the Frontier has gone beyond providing the quintessential college eatery experience. Some contend it may well be THE quintessential New Mexican restaurant. Serving Albuquerque since February, 1971, the commodious, barn-like Frontier Restaurant occupies half a city block (quite remarkable considering it started out as a small, one room eatery), seats more than 300 patrons and features an impressive gallery quality art collection which…

Dr. Field Goods Kitchen – Santa Fe, New Mexico

At first contemplation, Dr. Field Goods sounds like a strange name for a restaurant. To the lexicologist in me, it brought to mind the Hippocrates missive “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” To the white-coat-syndrome suffering, borderline iatrophobe in me, the name sent shivers down my spine. To the gastronome in me who finally realized the emphasis is on “field goods” and not on “Doctor,” the name elicited a curiosity that wouldn’t be sated, especially after an effusive recommendation from the Lobo Lair (good luck finding the specific post). As you’ve probably surmised, Dr. Field Goods is all about using fresh, local ingredients (“field goods”), a farm-to-table approach which delights the locavores among us who prefer…

Rex’s Hamburgers – Albuquerque, New Mexico

From 1988 through 2005, Rex’s Hamburgers stood practically alone in offering Duke City consumers an alternative to the homogeneous gobble-and-go offerings of deep-pocketed fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s. Rex’s earned and retained the hearts of Albuquerque diners for nearly 20 years. During its halcyon days, it garnered the long defunct’s Abq magazine’s “Best of Albuquerque” honors for several consecutive years. The reason Duke City patrons were so loyal to Rex’s was because Rex’s was at the diametric extreme opposite of the chain restaurants. Whether ensconced in a strip mall or housed in a single tenant edifice, Rex’s offered real sit-down service at a relaxed and reasonable pace. Moreover, it served hamburgers the way they are intended to…

Turquoise Desert – Rio Rancho, New Mexico

A 2016 online survey conducted by Statista asked 719 adult respondents “What is the maximum length of time that you would drive to a place to eat?” More than half (51-percent) of the respondents indicated they would travel 16 to 30 minutes to a restaurant. The limit for another 26-percent was 30 minutes to an hour.  Only five percent said they would travel more than one-hour.  Even the most prolific driving diners don’t have anything on David Schuler of Mississippi.  To sate his cravings for his favorite pizza in Massachusetts, Mr. Schuler drove over 1,400 miles and through 16 states.  Even that distance pales in comparison to humpback whales who travel as much as five thousand miles to get their…

Duke City BBQ – Albuquerque, New Mexico

During a 2016 campaign event in Phoenix, Arizona, Latinos for Trump founder Marco Gutierrez warned that if the country did not adopt tighter immigration standards as proposed by Republican nominee Donald Trump, there would be “taco trucks on every corner.”  For many of us, the only conceivable retort was along the lines of “what could possibly be wrong with that?”  Tacos (Mexico) have become as American as pizza (Italy), apple pie (England), French fries (Belgium), hot dogs (Germany), peanut butter (Ancient Inca and Aztec civilizations) and barbecue (Caribbean).  These foods may not have been invented in the good ol’ USA, but we’ve adopted them.  They’re part of the fabric of what makes this country fat…er, great. It’s likely that if…

Fatburger – Isleta & Espanola, New Mexico

To its detractors, there are a lot of things about which to criticize California, but even detractors will give the Golden State its due when it comes to a national obsession–the hamburger.  California is the state that gave America McDonald’s, In-N-Out Burger and my favorite, the Fatburger. (My Illinois in-laws will remind me with proud vehemence that the “original” McDonald’s restaurant location (launched on April 15th, 1955) was in Des Plaines, Illinois, but the “first” McDonald’s hamburger stand operated out of San Bernardino in 1954.) To some readers, my declaration of Fatburger being my favorite California burger may be seen as heretical, the schismatic raving of a mad man and proof that your humble blogger is a moron.  I’ve had…

Circle T Burgers – Belen, New Mexico

The year was 1958.  The average American wage-owner’s income was $4,650 per year.  A Ford automobile cost between $1,967 and $3,929.  Milk was $1.01 per gallon.  Bread cost 19 cents a loaf and a can of Chef Boyardee spaghetti went for 19 cents a can.  First class US postage was raised to 4 cents after having held at 3 cents for more than a quarter-century.  A gallon of gasoline cost 24 cents. In 1958, the United States had two-thirds of the world’s 47-million television sets and many of them were tuned in to Gunsmoke, Father Knows Best, Dinah Shore and The Jack Benny Show.  France gave the world the disposable Bic pen (which very few people under 20 have even…

Java Joe’s – Albuquerque, New Mexico

“I hate chile powder.” ~Tuco Salamanca Breaking Bad, Season 2 Duty-bound to make himself available to the citizenry of the fledgling United States, newly elected president George Washington spent the night in so many private homes and inns that “George Washington Slept Here” remains a real estate cliché and tourist draw centuries later. Perhaps the closest similarly celebrated landmarks in the Albuquerque metropolitan area are the filming sites for the 16-time Emmy Award-winning television series Breaking Bad. Never mind that Albuquerque recently celebrated its Tercentennial–three hundred years of history. History is not what visitors want to see. They want to see the Duke City of Breaking Bad. Albuquerque, which itself became a character in Breaking Bad, is the home of…