Celebration – Dallas, Texas

To adventurous restaurant patrons, the term “foodie” is often used with derision to connote someone who won’t eat somewhere unless Zagat’s has proclaimed it fork worthy. In theory foodies won’t boldly go where Zagat’s (or in the absence thereof, the local fishwrap) hasn’t gone before. Chowhounds, on the other hand, are (at least by definition) adventure eaters who blaze new trails and traverse the deepest, darkest regions under America’s spacious skies for undiscovered treasures. Sometimes the twain does meet and…

Joseph’s Table – Taos, New Mexico (CLOSED)

When chef and owner Joseph Wrede launched Joseph’s Table several years ago in Ranchos De Taos,dining patrons and pedantic critics alike were ready to beatify him (a culinary Saint Joseph). In 2000, Food & Wine magazine named him one of the top ten chefs in America, extolling his use of locally grown organic produce in “surprising, sensual ways.” The London Times called him “the voice of modern American cuisine.” Even Food Network luminary Bobby Flay came calling during a visit…

Hap’s Pit Barbecue – Phoenix, Arizona

Good barbecue in Arizona? You’d better believe it! Hap’s Pit Barbecue is one happening barbecue joint, one that its proponents believe its name is short for “happiness because that’s what it elicits from its diners–that and audible exclamations of “wow” and “yum.” Hap’s is a perennial listing on Phoenix magazine’s coveted best restaurant list and the only Phoenix barbecue establishment to earn a five star designation from the Arizona Republic newspaper. If you’re looking for national credentials, it’s been raved…

Pinnacle Peak Patio – Scottsdale, Arizona

To a lexicologist like me, the word pinnacle has connotations of “the highest point of development or achievement.” In other words, it’s synonymous with ultimate, apogee, culmination, peak, summit, zenith, climax or apex…and those are just the synonyms (a word along with Thesaurus for which there are no synonyms) off the top of my head. At 3100 feet in elevation, Pinnacle Peak itself is one of the more prominent landmarks in North Scottsdale. Whether seen under a star filled night…

Buckhorn Saloon – Pinos Altos, New Mexico

In 1859, 49ers returning home from California discovered gold 7000 feet above sea level among the tall pines (Pinos Altos) north of Silver City. Rampant lawlessness, an anything goes attitude in the pursuit of gold and frequent raids by marauding Apaches made prospectors lives exciting to say the least. The Buckhorn Saloon, circa 1985, offered respite and sustenance in the form of alcohol, entertainment and food, three things still available in this true Old West town. Walk into the saloon…

Carrabba’s Italian Grill – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

This usually means a meal at one of those copycat national chains I avoid like the plague. Although I don’t generally write about such restaurants (if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all), being a good team player, I do (sometimes begrudgingly) participate in outings to these purveyors of mediocrity. It never fails to amaze and amuse me to see throngs of diners doing their best imitations of Pavlov’s dogs as they line up to consume what…

Chilacas – Albuquerque, New Mexico

In the vernacular of the cannabis consuming culture “rollin’ fat ones” means something entirely different than what it means at Chilacas where a “fat one” is a giant flour tortilla stuffed with your choice of Spanish rice or cilantro and lime spiked rice; black beans, posole or refried beans; your choice of meat–spiced beef, carne adovada, barbacoa, pollo; salsa or red or green chile; cheddar cheese or sour cream and such additives as lettuce, tomatoes and onions. All of these…

The Keg Steakhouse – Chandler, Arizona

A Canadian steakhouse in the silicon desert city of Chandler, Arizona? You bet! In fact Canada’s most renown steakhouse has made expansive forays into the United States with restaurants in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Washington among its more than 80 restaurants in North America. Founded in 1971 in Vancouver, the Keg Steakhouse is a cut above many American dining establishments, particularly in terms of service. You won’t find stereotypical Canadian ambiance at the Chandler location, much of whose walls…

Nopalito Mexican Restaurant – Las Cruces, New Mexico

Enter the front room of this converted Baptist church and you’re greeted by white washed walls on which are inscribed significant dates in the history of Las Cruces. One notable date is July 1st, 1964, the date in which the Gallegos family launched their first restaurant venture–Nopalito’s. So popular did that restaurant become that it moved to a larger location, the aforementioned site of a former church. It also expanded to another site. I first became acquainted with Nopalito’s when…

Outpost Bar & Grill – Carrizozo, New Mexico (CLOSED)

Much of the seemingly desolate 60 miles of desert topography separating San Antonio, New Mexico and Carrizozo, New Mexico is steeped in history–more specifically the history of “the bomb.” The Trinity site on which was tested America’s first atom bomb lies somewhere between the two relatively nondescript Old West towns. It stands to reason, therefore, that the brilliant scientists who built the forerunner of the nuclear age at least occasionally found recreation and sustenance in or near those towns. True…

Korean Barbecue House – Albuquerque, New Mexico (CLOSED)

For dining patrons in the know, the 2002 closure of the Fu Shou House was one of the most heartrending moves in the Duke City restaurant scene. In the Korean B.B.Q. House, Fu Shou was reborn. While the Fu Shou proprietors don’t own the Korean B.B.Q. House, they did hold court in the kitchen for a while after the restaurant’s launch crafting the delicious entrees for which they were renown. Another chef now stewards the kitchen, but has maintained the…

Memphis Championship Barbecue – Las Vegas, Nevada

To barbecue fanatics, a restaurant named Memphis Championship Barbecue is as intriguing as Memphis in May, the annual world barbecue championships in Memphis, Tennessee, an event which has been called the “Superbowl of Swine.” With a name like that, the restaurant has got to be great! Proprietor Mike “The Legend” Mills is an unprecedented three-time world champion of that esteemed event (Memphis in May, not the Superbowl). He was called “the competition crushing, restaurant-owning Grand Pooh-Bah of barbecue” in the…

Kokopelli’s Restaurant & Cantina – Sandia Park, New Mexico

Perhaps the most ubiquitous symbol of the ancient Anasazi culture is Kokopelli, a hump-backed, flute playing figure commonly found in petroglyphs and pottery throughout the Southwest and as far away as South America. Regarded as the universal symbol of fertility for all life–be it crops, hopes, dreams or love–Kokopelli might have been relegated to obscurity to all but cultural anthropologists, however, with the emergence of Santa Fe’s modern culture, he has become universally known. Today Kokopelli paraphernalia has come to…

Commander’s Palace – Las Vegas, Nevada (CLOSED)

When it comes to accolades, there is perhaps no restaurant in America which has been as venerated as the original Commander’s Palace in New Orleans. From being named the best restaurant in America three times by Food & Wine magazine to being named Zagat’s top New Orleans restaurant for 13 consecutive years (1988-2002) and counting, the Commander’s Palace is truly in a class of its own. The comfortable climes of the Aladdin Resort and Casino attempt to duplicate the original’s…

Vote Daily to Help the Food Bank Through 10/5!

Please visit www.walmart.com/fighthunger through October 5th, 2014 and help Roadrunner Food Bank earn a $60,000 grant. The Roadrunner Food Bank is competing with about 130 food banks across the U.S. for the grant. Your DAILY vote during Hunger Action Month could help the Food Bank and several of their food pantry partners. The key is to vote every 24 hours and keep them at the top of the leaderboard. The top 50 food banks with the most votes on October…