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Two Chowhound’s Road Trip (Starting in the Southwest)

Starting April 17th, Passadumkeg and Scargod (who met on Chowhound), started a road trip from Las Vegas to the coastal town of Ellsworth, Maine (Passadumkeg’s home). We spent ten days eating our way across the South and up the Atlantic coast, while traveling in a 1990 Miata. We are even still friends! We stayed with friends and relatives occasionally, along the way. Some meals were simple and some involved six people and hundreds of dollars. I researched many places that were along our trail; some we ate at, yet often we winged it. This thread will chronicle our adventures across the Southwest and then we will move to the Texas, Austin, New Orleans, South, Florida, Tri-State and finally the New England board. We will Permalink threads together so you can follow our progress. We took many photos…
This is a new experience for both of us and I cannot see posting all our eating experiences in one post and our photos are too numerous to post just four. So, I foresee a rolling dialog with posts that will include pictures of each place we ate at and other related images, while Mark and I go back and forth with our impressions of food, service and ambiance, of which we didn’t always agree. Still, we were good Chowhounds and shared and discussed almost everything we ate. Sometimes we swapped plates halfway through a meal!
My first meal was some lousy chili (at Chili’s), at La Guardia, before the flight out, but we will start when we first went out to dinner at “M” a relatively new resort (and casino), in the southernmost part of Las Vegas. It was not our idea but Mark’s brother’s wife, that we try the buffet, which is quite popular, at $19.00. With gambling charge card it went down to $17! They have seafood, some standard fare and Asian food. This includes sushi, raw oysters, planked salmon, snow crab legs, many desserts and a selection of about four wines. Wow! This sounds great till you realize that you must be there at 4PM if you want to eat by 7PM. You get a reservation to show up in the line about 45 minutes later. You then stand in a line for 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 hours before you get to eat! Is it worth it? I/we think not. The oysters were the biggest disappointment. They were not freshly shucked. They brought them out on huge trays and dumped them on the ice. They were very dirty and had an off-taste and texture, as if they had been shucked and frozen, or refrigerated for a long time. There was no liquor, or juice with the oysters. Crab legs were very good. Most fish was overcooked. It was a crapshoot, so you tried lots of things and there was lots of waste. This is abhorrent to us. People were rude, acting as if they were in a game show, where you competed for getting the food and how much of it you could eat before time was up. This was a strange environment, which I do not wish to revisit.
Drinks at the bar, "32", a draft beer bar where you can get 96 different draft beers: We sampled about five of them. Big Sky Moose Drool, Abita Amber, Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Abita Turbo Dog. I can't remember which I preferred..... all good…
We left Henderson, a suburb, the next morning before daylight. That may be the only reason we got out of the area, since they say bad things stay in Vegas…
We had breakfast in Kingman, AZ, at the Silver Spoon. We will address it in a future post.

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  1. Scargod, please keep the thread going. You gained a lot of creditability with me just for "panning" one of the Vegas buffets. They are not about good food, just making the "mark" think they got a "steal".

    1. Bon voyage! I envy you and will look forward to following this thread.

      1. Mark gets me up before the crack of dawn and we hit the road. Our first stop was to take pictures of construction of a new bridge over the Colorado River, just below the Hoover Dam. In the dark the illuminated view was incredible.
        We searched around the non-descript, Kingman, AZ for a place to eat breakfast and were finally directed to the Silver Spoon Family Restaurant, a '60's retro-futuristic diner. We both could not resist getting the special of pork and green chile omelet with biscuits and gravy. We had an awesome breakfast here. Our coffee cups were never empty. Supposedly this diner is one of the original "Route 66" buildings. It's architecture is very unique. The waitress told us the owner/cook is Greek and there is some Greek food on the menu. This is a gem, in the middle of nowhere. We highly recommend it!
        Don't hesitate to stop and seek out a local for advice. This served us well throughout our trip!

        NOTE: You can follow our complete 4,000+ mile odyssey on Google maps (user-created content) at http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...

        2 Replies
        1. re: Scargod

          Hot damn, we now know there is in fact good food somewhere in Kingman!

          Silver Spoon Family Restaurant
          2011 E Andy Devine Ave, Kingman, AZ 86401

          1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

            The green chile and pork omelet was excellent. I was in a big need of a green chile fix and it helped.

        2. Welcome home! I've been waiting to read about the trip. Can't wait to read more. Love the photos.... but the portrait doesn't do either of you justice. What a hoot.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Gio

            Mark, AKA Passadumkeg, Marco Polo, Markie, Marco Gordito, etc., has said I can post his real, beautiful mug. I am trying to retain some anonymity for the Chowhounding I do in my stomping grounds. Here we are in Austin (County Line BBQ), and one more of Hoover Dam.

            1. re: Scargod

              Oh yeah.... that's better. I can see clearly now.

              Seriously, What a fantastic time you two must have had. So far the report is just perfect for those following on your trail. I've only been to Dallas in the southern tier so I'm looking forward to the eastern seaboard leg.... that's my stomping grounds. Glad you're both home safe and sound.

              1. re: Scargod

                A couple of Fat Tires later, we are at Mark's property in New Mexico. That is a gypsum mine in the background. There were black seams of coal everywhere and stark white seams of gypsum.
                There was a horse ranch below us and I scared up a jackrabbit, but no Micky D's! We're in God's country...
                It's been six hours now, with only a beer in between; man am I hungry! It's going to be another hour and a half before we see salsa, chips and beer...

                1. re: Scargod

                  Yes, we have a coal mine on the property and lots of pinon trees right at the foot of beautiful 11,300 ft Mt Taylor.

                2. re: Scargod

                  The BBQ sliders were wicked good too.

              2. Lunch on Saturday, the 18th: We drove some three hours, till we were starving; finally settling on El Falcone, a true Chowhound kind of place. The sign is in disrepair, as were many vehicles outside, but the food was fantastic. Lots of Mexicans/Indians were eating there. We had lunch of stacked green chile enchiladas and soft tacos and washed it down with Negra Modelos. Sometimes we were so eager to eat that the value of taking a photo was lost by the time we thought of it. Oops! Starving this soon after a huge breakfast is a bad omen…

                Note the incredible 30 foot mural and Mark’s Red Miata. We met a nice Aussie couple who were also doing a road trip. That’s their real nice rental car next to us. As we left we came across the Casa Blanca Cafe, a very spiffy looking place, with nothing but upscale cars parked around it, but it was too late and we were already satiated.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Scargod

                  More green chile, yes!! Feeding my addiction. More, more, give me more.

                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                    This is the green chile enchilada, stacked w/ a fried egg. Yum.

                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      I am a green chile junkie and a New Mexican food snob. But i was not overwhelmed by any of the 3 places we ate in Ariz. or NM. Maybe we should have hit Albuquerque where I used to teach in the Hispanic South Valley. Or is it just my memory has exaggerated the wonderful flavors of green chile. I wish we had time to stop at Padilla's or even the Frontier in Alb. Now I need to return to NM for a more extended green chile feed. Maybe build and adobe on our land.
                      Go Lobos!

                      The best green chile was the bowl on the side at the Lodge.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        So, where is this place? Town?

                        TIA, Pete Tillman

                        1. re: Tillman

                          I'll answer for Pass: I believe you are referring to The Lodge, in Cloudcroft, NM, where we had some great green chiles with our Eggs Benedict (made with crab cakes). Green chiles not shown...

                  2. Dinner 18th: It was getting late and we were concerned that we might miss an opportunity for dinner if we waited till we landed in Cloudcroft, where we had a reservation at The Lodge. Seeing a Mexican restaurant in Socorro, NM, we jumped on it. At Armiljo’s Mexican Restaurant we had a modest, but respectable NM-Mex meal. The salsa was smooth and red or green and baby shit like; both were tasty. I had a good tamale, but the stuffed sopapilla, beans and rice were average. Service was OK and the food was cheap. On a Saturday evening, they were not busy. It was a good value, though not very impressive. We had the view of a beautiful sunset, with clouds and some rain off in the distance. So far we have had perfect weather!

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Scargod

                      May I just say that you paint a picture, most notably of the salsa, that sends me running from the room.....

                      1. re: Gio

                        Thanks! Which reminds me that I never had a problem with any of the food on the trip. Mark had one bad night, after eating several dozen oysters, but he quickly recovered. He slowed down for two subsequent meals. I tried to pick up the slack...
                        Pictures are of The Lodge in Cloudcroft, NM.

                      2. re: Scargod

                        I think I enjoyed the meal more than Tex. I go for the stuffed soppaillas and the regular sopapaillas w/ honey and the tamale. More Green chile, yes, yes! To hell w/ the beans and rice; who needs 'em w/ green chile in abundance? Baby shit? Naw, just salsa.

                      3. Breakfast, Sunday 19th: Rising at daybreak, we took the opportunity to take a few pictures while we waited till 7Am for the kitchen to open. They did have good, fresh brewed coffee for us as we waited. We both ordered the Eggs Benedict, made with crab cakes. I cannot say enough about the perfection of this breakfast and the almost pure crab cake.
                        Now, I am realizing that Mark is never satisfied with the menu “as usual”. He is not bashful about asking for changes or substitutions, in a nice way. It is amazing what people will do for you if you coat your requests with the sugar of friendliness and respect. In this case, Mark asked if they had any green chiles. Amazingly, out came decent-sized bowls of wonderful green chiles, which were great with our eggs.
                        I hated to leave this beautiful setting atop a 9,000 foot mountain and the comfort of a old (originally 1899) and famous hotel, who's visitors included such notables as Poncho Villa, Judy Garland and Clark Gable. The bar is from Al Capone’s place and many famous names are carved in the observation tower.
                        Still, the car, an unknown restaurant and our children beckoned. Mark has been very kind to let me drive the car in the most challenging and exciting stretches of roads. It was great driving down, out of the mountains. He has yet to flinch as I tossed his car through corners at more than twice the posted speed. The car was solid as a rock with Bridgestone Potenzas, newer shocks and fresh brakes.
                        BTW, Mark says you can tell a good restaurant by the ones that put lemon in the glasses of water... Other pics show diningroom and Al Capone's bar. We did not drink at the bar. We had our own bottle of Johnny Walker Black and per Veggo's inspiration, we have learned to "put air in the bottle"!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Scargod

                          Yes, after the drive, God Bless Johnny Walker. Scarman is a driving fool and really good at it. I think the old Miata (1990), whom I named Marisol, learned new tricks form Scargod and she likes to be spanked.
                          I'm fussy about my crab cakes and had them 3 times on the trip, but none compared w/ Maryland, Maine or even the ones I grew up w/ in NJ made by my mom. The breakfast was excellent, though and the coup de grace was the bowl or green chile. Did I mention how much I liked green chile.
                          I was last at The Lodge in '73 w/ my now deceased parents and my first wife. A special place.

                        2. Delightful posts
                          Wonderful trip
                          Great descriptions
                          I can smell the asphalt . . .

                          Looking forward to more! (and the real dirt)

                          1. You two are giving me a grin the size of Texas. Keep it coming.

                            1. This post is pretty long after you were in Kingman and probably you don't care all that much about this town anyway, but I am on Day 1 of a 12 day road trip to the Midwest and decided to make it kind of a local specialties eating odyssey. Hard to believe, but I found very little input about Kingman, AZ. I figured every little American town has its "finds," but all I found was your entry. So we had dinner at the Silver Family Restaurant (breakfast was not going to work for us).

                              There was meatloaf on the menu - my longtime favorite comfort food since childhood. I'm the product of Kansan Depression Era parents and can never resist trying one more version of this mysterious (sometimes delectable) meat concoction. Sorry to report that this was possibly the worst version I have ever tasted... sort of a combination of white bread and, well, meat, I guess. No other flavors to speak of, and the consistency was so similar to paste that it actually stuck to the roof of my mouth. It was cheap, though, served with mashed potatoes, canned gravy, iceburg lettuce salad, at just $5.69 for the senior plate. I covered it in hot sauce and ketchup and ate it anyway, chalking it up to "You never know unless you try." The all-you-can -eat fish fry looked pretty good across the aisle for just $8.99, but I didn't think Kingman would be the best place for fish. Oh well.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: shelbones

                                I hate meatloaf made with white bread! Where were you brought up/what style? My mom would put a little old biscuit and Nabisco saltines in ours. A nice texture that was never gummy!