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One Day of Dining in Your City

The task is simple. A generic friend or relative who has never been to your city is stopping over for a one-day visit and wants to experience the best breakfast, lunch and dinner your burg has to offer. Where do you take him? What do you suggest he orders?

Lubbock, Texas:

Breakfast--Two breakfast burritos from the Burrito Tower. One with potatoes, ham and cheese, and the other with bacon, ham and cheese. All will be accompanied by their astonishing chile verde (hot sauce, not stew), black coffee and orange juice.

Lunch--Carnitas, tacos and margaritas at Cancun. When the waiter brings chips and salsa I'll put in a special request for their habanero sauce which is sheer murder.

Dinner--Chicken 65, rasam and spinach pakoras at Maharaja. We'll also drink a bottle of their Chateau St. Jean chardonnay. A pity they don't serve kulfi, although we'd probably be too full to eat any.

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  1. Pittsburgh, PA:

    Breakfast - Pamela's
    Pitcher of coffee, short-stack hotcakes, Lyonnaise potatoes.

    Lunch - Primanti's
    IC Light, Capicola and Egg Sandwich

    Dinner - Salt of the Earth
    Bourbon (Buffalo Trace, Campari, sassafras), followed by Green Flash IPA's, bottle of good Cabernet, finishing with whatever port they have.
    I'd do the tasting menu if possible, but from the current menu (and, incidentally, my exact dinner a couple weeks ago)...
    Appetizer - Octopus (chorizo, orange, marcona almond, cilantro)
    Entree - Ribeye, rare (mushroom, squash, sauce charcuterie)
    Dessert - Cheese (Taleggio, berry, pistachio, basil)

    4 Replies
    1. re: MonMauler

      Calvert County, MD (a peninsula between the Chesapeake Bay and the Patuxent River):

      I hope you have a.c. in your pick-up, first of all, 'cause you can't walk or take your boat to any of these places, unless it's for dinner. It'll be in the 90's all week--with high humidity. Again.

      Breakfast: The Frying Pan, Lusby, MD. Eggs, country ham/sausage/Scrapple (if you dare) and grits or, if it's on the menu that day: crab omelette.

      Lunch: Jerry's Place, Prince Frederick, MD. Rockfish (a.k.a. striped bass) or soft shell crabs (either can be stuffed w. crab (yes, crab-stuffed crab!), if you're really starving), kale (omg! it tastes like it's been braised in pure bacon fat and butter), baked sweet potato (you won't need dessert).

      Dinner: Someone else will tell you to buy fried chicken, but if you can, go to someone's house who has some leftover stuffed ham (regional specialty from colonial days: corned ham cut with slits and stuffed with a spicy kale-cabbage mixure, and then boiled in a big drum for a long time, usually made for holidays, but some people have it around all the time); bi-color corn on the cob and tomatoes from the Mennonites over the bridge; They're always out of limas, but when they have them they're fantastic... I swear they hoard them,--just like the rhubarb in the spring. Local blackberries and peaches for dessert. You can make cobblers and pies if you want, but they're better just by themselves.

      Come back in the R months and have some local oysters. There are a few wineries, but I wouldn't say it's anything you HAVE to try. The closest thing to local beer is Natty Bo or Yuengling. I'm partial to a Pimm's Cup in this weather--but that would probably get me beat up for admitting it in these parts.

      1. re: staughton

        I'm also from Maryland, so your post made me smile. Stuffed ham is one of the best foods in the US. And, FWIW, I love my scrapple, too. Rockfish, soft (and I must add hard) shells, all the produce -- it's really a great place to be!

        1. re: Terrie H.

          BLEEEVE, HON' !!! Yes, I was out of MD for a good chunk of 2 decades, but it's fun to be back--and the produce here is great now, even if it's not restaurant-foodie heaven like other places I've lived. It's forced me into the kitchen--and onto CH.

      2. re: MonMauler

        I'm gonna go ahead and put in my personal votes for P-burgh!

        Breakfast:
        --Gotta start at Eggs n'at. If they have their Saucy Kielbasa special, get that. Otherwise, get anything (it's all good), but make sure to ask for biscuits instead of toast. Homemade, and delicious with butter!

        Lunch
        --Head down to the Strip district for a few different things :)
        1.) Get some tacos from the stand in front of Reyna. They do have tongue for the more adventurous, but everything is good and fresh.
        2.) Follow that up by splitting a plate of either roast chicken or pork from Chicken Latino. (Pork and other specialties are only available on Saturdays).
        3.) Finally, don't forget to grab something from one of the many Chinese stalls along the way. Their giant egg rolls are a good finale.

        Dinner
        --I suggest either pizza from Dinette or Thai from Nicky's or Smiling Banana Leaf. All are excellent!

      3. San Francisco Area

        Breakfast: We'd have to start early to get to wine country, specifically, Bistro Ralph for:
        The Man O' War - fried oysters over sautéed spinach with garlic and preserved lemon. covered in hollandaise with sea urchin and salmon roe (add a poached duck egg to this). A glass of bubbly or their wickedly good strained bloody mary accompanies. Leisurely drive through the glorious valley.

        Lunch: back to the City for a Mission Crawl. We'll hit Mission Bowling Club for the Mission Burger (aged and granulated beef with monterey jack, grilled onions and caper aioli), La Taqueria for a carne asada taco, Taqueria San Jose for their al pastor and a glass of sangria, and finish up at Taqueria Vallarta for a lengua taco. Cold Bohemias all around.

        Dinner: Lers Ros for the Koh Moo Yang - smoky grilled slices of pork shoulder, served with chili & rice powder sauce; the Koong Chae Nam Pla - fresh raw prawns with chili and lemon grass with lime based salad dressing, served with sliced garlic and mint leaves; and the Phed Yang - roasted duck mixed with rice powder, chili powder and lime based salad dressing. a bottle of their 2009 Rose, Domaine De Paris, Cotes De Provence to finish off the evening.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mariacarmen

          These meals sound amazing...can I come visit you?!

        2. Okay, me and my sore tooth will play along with this fun game!

          Vancouver, BC

          Breakfast -- Red Wagon for deep fried pork belly, sub a pancake for the side of toast, go on a weekday to avoid silly lineups, or some Cantonese or Shanghainese dim sum at Dynasty or Ningbo perhaps

          Lunch -- I'd take them on a food crawl, trying my favourite dishes at a number of Asian food courts in Richmond including Richmond Public Market (pork with mantou), Aberdeen (fish in broth), Pacific Place (otak otak, curried chicken), Admiralty Court (HCR), President's Plaza (Chinese crepe), Empire Court (ostrich claypot rice) and Lansdowne (RJM)

          Dinner -- would be at Kimura-san's new restaurant when it opens for omakase

          1 Reply
          1. re: grayelf

            hmm...can I get the pork with mantou for breakfast?

            Hope the tooth is all better soon!

          2. Manchester, north west England

            Breakfast - the "full English" at Trof in the Northern Quarter. The "best breakfast" winner in a national newspaper's food awards. Bacon, sausage, hash browns, eggs, mushrooms, beans, tomatoes, toast.

            Lunch - Sam's Chop House. Start with the black pudding and bacon dish (although that might be a bit breakfasty after the full English). Follow that with lamb rump, pearl barley and pea risotto, broad beans and lamb sweetbreads. Finish with Eccles cake, ice cream and an Earl Grey tea syrup. This is the place that I would always take a real foreign visitor to the city.

            Dinner - the French restaurant at the Midland Hotel. Eat great food served classicly and formally in an Art Nouveau room, dating to 1903 (or thereabouts). From the current menu, order the mackeral to start, continue with the local duck, served with rhubarb (although we struggle to get past the Chateaubriand for two), finish with Manchester Tart, of course.

            I am assuming that my generic friend has a vast appetite and is wearing loose fitting clothes.

            2 Replies
              1. I bundle the friend/relative into the car and drive out of town!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                Trumbull, CT has no great food. There are a few fast food franchises, McDonalds and the like at the mall's food court. A bad luncheonette in Trumbull Town Center, Bruegger's Bagels and Starbucks for Breakfast or lunch.

                Poor quality Chinese and Subway for Lunch and a smattering of independent Italian-American and Pizza joints for Dinner.

                Truly nothing memorable, or that I would be proud to show off.

                But within a 30 minute drive there are great restaurants in Bridgeport or New Haven and Milford for Steak, Continental, Asian, Italian, etc.

                If we had to eat in Trumbuil, we'd be doing it at home.

                1. Bradenton, FL
                  breakfast at Cortez Cafe - 2 over easy, corned beef hash, toasted biscuit, coffee
                  lunch at Star Fish on the dock- seafood basket with scallops, shrimp, oysters, grouper, grits, hush puppies, draft beer
                  dinner - after lunch we picked up 4 pounds of jumbo stone crab claws next door at A. P. Bell fish, and dinner will be claws with home made mustard sauce, garlic bread, caesar salad, bubbly

                  Playa del Carmen, MX:
                  desayuno - El Vagabundo for huevos rancheros, fruit plate, fresh squozen OJ, coffee
                  almuerzo- La Tarraya for feet in the sand with a chilada, guac w/chips and nuclear salsa, ceviche mixto chica (shrimp, octopus, conch), grilled shrimp a la Tarraya
                  cena - La Mission for rita, whole boquinette with Veracruz sauce on the side, grilled lobster, flan

                  1. No worthy brisket joints in Lubbock?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gordeaux

                      A place called Eddie's makes the best in town. But I'd only give it 77 marks out of 100.

                    2. Chicago:

                      Breakfast:
                      Beef Khalbi and panchan at San Soo Gab San

                      Lunch:
                      Flame broiled skirt steak tacos with salsa verde and salsa negra at Las Asadas.

                      Dinner:
                      Extra thin crust pizza with spinach, sausage, and hot giardiniera- and a salad with their house creamy garlic dressing at Lou Malnati's.

                      Late Night Snack - Either more skirt steak tacos (he will no doubtedly want more of them) OR, to Ghareeb Nawaz for some dirt cheap Indian/Pakistani food. Nihari, aloo masala, chicken biryani, and a few nice and greasy parathas.

                      1. Breakfast would be Dim Sum or Pho, or both if we're feeling peckish.
                        Snack: a lemon bar at Bakesale Betty's, and then anywhere for Blue Bottle Coffee.
                        Lunch: I'm thinking that since breakfast was fairly light, we can really shake it down, so we're going to Lois the Pie Queen for another slice-of-life breakfasty meal: smoked pork chops, super-buttery grits with lots of salt and pepper; two perfect eggs and biscuits w/ peach jam and butter. Topped off with some of Lois' pie.
                        For another snack, we're heading to Genova, where we'll pick up some olives and peppers and artichoke hearts and provolone and cappicola and salami. We'll take the goods and go to People's park, where we'll people-watch and eat. Then to Telegraph avenue, where the Wild Things Are, for more people-watching while we digest and shop for music at Rasputin and check out a bookstore or two.
                        Dinner: Cafe Rouge. Sorry, Chez Panisse: I love the cuisine, but we need some perfectly medium-rare peppercorn-crusted lamb with a delicious figgy port/gastrique; your amazing wine list, and your potato gratin. Oh, that nutmeggy gratin; perfectly mandolined superthin potatoes bound w/ cream and gruyers. Oh, bliss.
                        Dessert at Ici, because that's about what we can handle; some delicious granita or gelato. Maybe a delicious ginger-lemon or 4-berry sorbet, with a few tuiles just for happy.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: mamachef

                          mamachef, you forgot to identify - OAKLAND, BERKELEY, CA!

                          Yums to your pics. especially want to do Cafe Rouge bliss with you .....

                        2. Here at the Jersey Shore it'd probably be something like: Pork Roll, Egg & Cheese sandwich for breakfast; Pizza (thin crust) for lunch; and local seafood for dinner - lobster, fluke, scallops, especially.

                          1 Reply
                          1. Las Cruces, NM...

                            Breakfast: Mesilla Valley Kitchen for a "Hangover burrito"...eggs, potatoes, chorizo, bacon, cheese, green chile...served smothered with green chile and cheese and a little cup of VERY hot chopped green chile on the side

                            Lunch: Habeneros...for some potato tacos and chile rellenos...their complimentary "welcome soup" is good, too. It's a basic sopa de fideo. Oh, and some horchata to wash it all down.

                            Dinner: This is a toss-up. St. Claire's Bistro has amazing food and the St. Claire's wine is great. I'd suggest the pasta del faro or their pot roast. Definitely a cheese platter as an appetizer to share. I really like everything I've tried there.

                            Or I'd go with De La Vega's Pecan Grill. Service can be spotty by my east coast standards, but they do have a green chile beer that I'm in love with and a great cocktail menu. I'd suggest the cucumber margarita. Pecan-crusted green chiles or their velvet soup (shredded chicken, green chile, creamy squash base, topped with tortilla strips and creme fraiche) as an appetizer, then the filet mignon or green chile ravioli as an appetizer.

                            Are we sensing a theme here? LOL

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Jackie007

                              I'm partial to Cafe Espana inside Hotel Encanto. The steak Espana and oven roasted queso anejo-stuffed jalapenos are special. Pleasant atmosphere too.

                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                I've eaten there a few times and always had really meh food and terrible service. But I know other people who've had great meals. It's hit or miss, I guess.

                                1. re: Jackie007

                                  I guess it is.

                                  I suppose you've been to Chope's in La Mesa?

                            2. Cambridge, Mass. Cheap to reasonable options.

                              Breakfast/brunch- Star & Plough for a traditional Irish breakfast. It's not as large of a serving as some of the other places around, but don't want fill up too much. Or Sofra for a lighter breakfast of a morning bun and coffee.

                              Lunch- Clover Food Lab. Vegetarian restaurant/food truck for a chickpea sandwich or pimento cheese with a side of rosemary fries. On a nice day both the Kendall truck and Harvard restaurant are a short walk to the Charles River and benches.

                              Dinner- Rendezvous for western Mediterranean inspired food. Everything that I've had on the menu has been great, but I would suggest sticking to the seafood. Lemon buttermilk pudding for dessert. Bonus if it's a Monday night when they have tapas at the bar. Or Muqueca for the dish that they are named for.

                              Drinks- For beer Cambridge Brewing Company (voted #1 brewpub on CHOW), Green Street for cocktails, or Cantab for atmosphere and music.

                              1. London is super diverse, and the way to pack it all in is to do a crawl. If paced well enough with plenty of walking, there's not going to be a huge distinction between the 3 meals.

                                Assuming it's Saturday, when my favourite markets are open:

                                Maltby Street Market
                                Split a chocolate brioche and a ham and cheese rose from Little Bread Pedlar, with coffee from Coleman Roasters. Yogurt with honeycomb from the London Honey Co. Smoked salmon, jamon iberico from the respective stalls, and then grab a custard donut from St Johns to entertain us during the walk to...

                                Borough Market
                                Split the Kappacasein grilled cheese sandwich washed down with the raspberry and pear juice from Chegworth Valley. Tasting British wines at the wine bar across from Chegworth Valley is an option is it's not too early. Finally a bar of Chuao chocolate from Rabot Estate for the tube ride to Brixton.

                                Brixton Village
                                Bunuelo at Las Americas, empanada at El Rancho de Lalo. Totally worth the detour, before taking the tube back up to...

                                Covent Garden
                                Nocciola gelato at Gelatiera, which will last long enough till the walk to Gelupo in nearby Soho.

                                Pop into the Department of Social Affairs and Coffee in Holborn for their multifaceted espresso. Grab a bite at Hiba -- jawaneh (grilled chicken wings) with lots of toom.

                                Then hit the wine sampler in Islington for a few leisurely sips of various high end stuff from their enomatic machines that we would not be able to afford by the bottle.

                                Dinner at Sedap with the kerabu salad, curry tumis fish, and sambal okra, followed by some teh tarik and nyona kueh.

                                Finally a tasting of single malts at the Britannia in Borough.

                                1. Melbourne, 75 miles southeast of the Mouse on the Space Coast of Florida.

                                  Roamn's Bakery and restaurant: Does a fine job duplicating an Army mess hall breakfast. Good omelets, decent baked goods, grits made by and for people of the south, and the best biscuits and gravy in the area. I drive by over a dozen diners to get here. Never empty carafe of coffee, also.

                                  Lunch is at Bonefish Willy's. Great view over the Intra Coastal Waterway (Indian River) and a deft hand at local seafood. Never been disappointed for over 20 years.

                                  Dinner depends on white table cloth Italian (Andiamo) old filling station location for true gasthaus German (Edelweiss) or for the somewhat adventurous, great sushi and interpretations of a variety of cuisines at Matt's Casbah. Also a very good wine list for this area as they own their own wine store across the street.

                                  Desert is standing in line at Del's for a cone or split. Local institution for over 50 years. Picnic tables are provided.

                                  1. My old stomping grounds of Nashville, TN have a lot of attractive new options, but I'd direct a newbie to two old favorites for the first two meals.

                                    Breakfast: Wendell Smith, on Charlotte Pike at 53rd across the street from Bobby's Dairy Dip. They open at 5:30 and have been known to run out of what I want by 7:30. If that's a little too "native" for you, any of the Sylvan Park restaurant locations do a fine Southern breakfast. We like the one on South 8th.

                                    Lunch: Arnold's!! If it's a Sunday, you're out of luck, but weekdays it's best to show up around 11:30. This is a classic "meat'n'three" served buffet style. Jack is carving roast beef daily (and there's a changing daily alternative, Monday's being excellent fried chicken), the vegetables, salads and pies are about the best in town, and of course the strongest beverage offered is the iced tea: sweet or un-sweet, is how you request it.

                                    A fancier alternative is Monell's in Germantown, a white-tablecloth place serving family-style meals in a Victorian mansion. You make reservations for one of the several seatings, then sit with friends if you brought any, strangers otherwise, and pass bowls of potatoes, gravy, vegetables, platters of chicken, pitchers of tea. It's not as cheap as Arnold's, but less hectic; weekday lunch is a flat $12.87 (dinner and weekends higher), and they won't throw you out until you've eaten all you want. Their website says they have a couple of other locations now, too.

                                    Dinner: City House, also in Germantown. Welcome to a new side of Nashville, a modern-style Italian-accented restaurant in a former scuptor's studio. The basement is where I want to be, with a good view of the open kitchen and guys sliding food in and out of the giant woodfired oven. Antipasti, pizzas and pasta dishes run $9-$15, meat or fish plates $22-$24. Excellent wine list, mostly Italian and some American, good beer list and a line of house-special cocktails as long as your arm. Can hardly wait to get back there.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      All noted, with interest, Will. We hope to visit Nashville next year.

                                    2. Madison, WI:

                                      Breakfast- Monty's Blue Plate Diner
                                      Breakfast sandwich (toasted sourdough, bacon, over easy egg, tomato, goat cheese) with american fries

                                      Lunch- Ella's Deli
                                      Start with an order of deep fried pickle spears, then an open faced roast beef sandwich

                                      Dinner- Bluephies Restaurant and Vodkatorium
                                      Drink: PP smash (pomegranate liquer, house infused pineapple vodka, cilantro)
                                      Appetizer: Jalapeno superbird (bacon wrapped jalapenos stuffed with chicken and goat cheese)
                                      Main course: Chicken pot pie (trust me, it's the best one ever)
                                      Dessert: Cookie dough eggroll. (enough said)

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Olliegator

                                        Is Bluephies as eccentric as its name and menu make it appear to be? The place sounds delish, but also quite outre'.