272017May

Gather for Dinner

When I think of Wyoming, I think of the beautiful mountains, the vast wildlife, and the parks that maintain that balance between them. So when it comes to dinner, I wasn’t too surprised to find a place that took advantage of the abundance surrounding them. Take Gather, a restaurant in the heart of Jackson. It specializes in creating wonderful dishes with local ingredients. Some of it, as we learned, were even hand picked that morning. This was a place we all hope to stumble upon in our travels.

The restaurant itself was quite large, enough tables for all your party sizes. There’s even a bar for those waiting for a free table or even those who want a small sample of the food along with drinks. For us, there was no need to wait. The season rush hadn’t started yet. Even though one can argue Memorial Weekend kicks off the high season. Judging from the crowds, or the lack of, I think it’s still off season. But of course that means we were in luck. No reservations. Walk in. Table ready. How awesome is that?

Between the two of us, we ordered what we thought was a small meal. The appetizer made it seemed as such. But when the two main courses came out, it was larger than expected and wonderfully plated. So much for trying to eat light on this trip. Though, given the price point, most people would think the portions are small. I happened to read that in the reviews. As you’d imagined, I had that expectation when upon ordering. But I have to say, regardless of the portion size, the quality was on for the price we paid. Reasonably even, if this were in San Francisco. And yeah, I know, this wasn’t the Bay area.

Overall, it was the best meal of the trip. This is a place I’ll make sure I revisit next time I’m in the neighborhood.

Gather

72 S Glenwood Street
Jackson, Wyoming 83001
+1(307) 264-1820
gatherjh.com

Verdict: In Jackson and looking for a great place to eat? Well, this is the place.

262017May

Discovering a Pleasant Purgatory

Utah may not be known for the bar scene, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems in the town of Salt Lake City. Take Purgatory, a place where you can go for a drink, a meal, or both. They opened in 2017 nearby a mortuary which will make you think twice now about its name. But hey, if this is where I need to go to cleanse my soul then order me up a few drinks. Cause I’m going to enjoy this place the best way I can, at the bar.

That’s the main thing you’ll notice when you enter the establishment. But along the wall and toward the back, there are tables for your dining needs. And for those looking for libations and fun, well, there’s plenty of bar games inside and out in their open area. The place is full of energy. And since it’s still relatively new, you and your friends may still find room here for a get together without waiting forever to waited on. We didn’t. After we ordered, the drinks came out fast, then the food. The portions were large, especially when we were looking for small late night bites. We got toast for goodness sakes. What we got were full on dinner meals. This place was definitely not your average bar food kinda place. That’s pretty cool. Just gotta be mindful next time I order food here.

I hope this place doesn’t get too popular because I do want to come back without dealing with elbow to elbow crowds.

Purgatory

62 East 700 South
Salt Lake City, Utah 84111
+1 (801) 596-2294
www.purgatorybar.com

Verdict: Great spot for late night eats followed by drinks till closing.

122017May

Dipping Those Chewy Ramen Noodles

2pm. That’s about the perfect time, for those who hate waiting, to arrive at Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex. This was of course an additional restaurant to the one across the street. However, at this time, the original location incurred a lower health score, so I decided to try the annexed location. There was a small line at 1:30pm which cleared up after I finished lunch. And by cleared up, I meant no lines, and several open tables.

Inside, the majority of the place is dedicated to the ramen bar that surrounds the noodle chef with some individual tables off to the front of the store. At the bar, you can watch the masters in action and see how those heaping bowls of ramen are prepared. They are quite the sight – very Instagram worthy. I wish I had ordered one, but the day was a little too warm. So the final choice was the tsukemen, dipping ramen, with an additional small rice bowl. Yeah, I was very hungry. Sitting at the bar, watching things get prepared and carted off was brutal. Though, the wait wasn’t too long. That’s because when you’re the next party to come in, they will take your order outside. By the time you’re seated, all you’re doing is getting a nice cold beverage to cool you off from that LA heat.

Man I love ramen places that are this efficient.

Tsujita LA Artisan Noodles Annex

2050 Sawtelle Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 231-0222
tsujita-la.com

Verdict: Want honest to goodness noodles, then get yourself here.

112017May

Enjoying Sawtelle Nanbankan Style

If you know Sawtelle Boulevard in West LA, you may know about all the wonderful Japanese restaurants there. Well, if you head a few blocks north and turn left on Santa Monica you can find Nanbankan. A restaurant serving up great Japanese izakaya at a surprising price. While they do have your classic dishes, including your favorite skewers, they do have specials which will have you coming back for more.

It was late, 9pm to be exact. Parking was pretty easy at this hour. Inside, the place was still packed, but we had reservations and our 8 person table was at the ready. Ordering was easy, so easy we had round after round of getting as much off the menu as possible. That’s izakaya for you. And even with a party of our size, we couldn’t cover the whole menu. Probably about half of it. And only one dish was a meh while the others were pretty damn good.

The service was great. Food came out in ample time and our server was never hard to find. Oh that was perfect to keep the drinks flowing.

My only wish was for this place to be open a bit longer. Their hours from 5:30pm to 10:30pm really makes it your starting off point for a Friday night. I guess if they’re opened even later, they’ll have to deal with stupid drunk patrons like myself. But how can one resist pairing drinks with such lovely dishes. I sure can’t. I guess next time I’ll have to start right after work, a happy hour, kinda like how they do it in Japan. Oh wait a second… I see what you did there.

Nanbankan

11330 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90025
+1 (310) 478-1591

Verdict: For an affordable and delicious izakaya experience, you will want to give this a try.

282017Apr

Alba Ray’s

With what seems to be a shortage of Creole and Cajun food in the Mission, Alba Ray’s has become a welcomed addition. They have a family style meal where you can add smaller plates to sample. And actually their appetizers will give you a good range of their menu. It was almost tapas like, which was great. With our group of five, we covered most of the dishes we wanted to try. The price tag is a bit high. Very high for those who had these dishes in the South, but hey, this is crossed with California.

The service was great. Very attentive staff. Given that it’s been open for less than six months, it’s pretty awesome. They’re running a great crew here. Even handled our botched salad gracefully.

Overall, the food was good and the atmosphere was lively. The space was large enough to split the dining and bar area. So if you don’t have a reservation, you may have luck at the bar with the tables around there. But if not, enjoy their bar. It’s fully stocked with all the comforts.

Alba Ray’s

2293 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
+1 (415) 872-9409
albarays.com

Verdict: Worth a try. Come with a big group to sample more dishes.

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