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Indianapolis in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Midwest By January 24, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

If Grand Rapids was the gentle small town reminder of my Midwestern roots and why this part of the country is just so darn livable, Indianapolis was that pause and a “huh” you drop when you step into a city in “fly over country” and are taken back by a sprawling, diverse urban landscape. Gentrification ain’t just a real estate buzz word in Brooklyn, San Francisco or Silver Lake(LA), it is happening wherever it can. Case in point: Goose The Market. Like so many places we featured in Season Two of Cheap Eats, this beaut of an artisanal butcher shop and deli was fueled by a dream, funded with modest means and holds a zip code that might drive your car insurance rates up. Or at least it did; the neighborhood that Goose calls nest(or home) is Fall Creek Place, and like the Indy food scene, its an up and comer. Being in a Midwest city, we knew there would be some iconic Meat and Potato fare to be had. But there were a few “pause and a huh” moments to be had in the form of some Asian eats that would be a stand out in San Fran, along with with some chef driven, farm to table Midwest fare that you knew was going play a lead role in your Indy diet. Speaking of diets, it’s time to put yours on pause and peep the Cheap Eats in Indianapolis.


Grand Rapids, Michigan in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Midwest By January 18, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , 6 Comments

That smile on my face(along with the best carnitas torta I have ever had) serves as an instant reminder on how happy I would be to return to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Now this is no slight against the other cities we have visited in Cheap Eats, from the no brainers like beautiful Bozeman and Jackson Hole to towns I would love to catch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals play(I’m looking at you Pittsburgh). Its just that to be frank: Grand Rapids was a head scratcher. I had never been there, let alone Michigan, which made my expectations a bit of a blank canvas. A beautiful thing it is to travel to a place you have never been, without any expectation. It allows for the unforseeable to take hold of you; like Grand Rapids rousing my dormant Midwestern roots. Unless you are a sun drenched Californian or Floridian who fusses when the thermometer dips below 65, you gotta love Autumn in a place like Michigan. Now I did log in 20 years in Los Angeles but I have never been afraid of putting on a winter coat, it’s the sunshine that always made me an advocate for Southern California. Thankfully we had a few sunny days there, certainly enough for me to summon back the Fall days of my youth, growing up in St. Louis MO. For the five days I spent there, Grand Rapids reminded me that I grew up in the Midwest by virtue of weather and environment. And as much as I feel drawn to the bright lights of major metropolitan areas, instantly bonding with all that teeming culture and diversity and forever willing to put up with the downers you hear on the nightly news reports, I am a Midwesterner by birth and rearing.  The colors of the Fall will forever feel like my childhood. Which is a lovely memory and all but add that to the aforementioned Carnitas Torta, and folks, I’m smiling all the way back to Gerald R. Ford International Airport.


Salt Lake City in Requiem

Cheap Eats, Southwest By January 9, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

I had a lot of fun opening this episode with “Cheap Eats is bringing the pepper to Salt Lake City!!” but it turns out the SLC dining scene had the heat turned up well before I arrived. Over and over, folks pointed to the 2002 Winter Olympics as a tipping point. The loosening of liquor licensing gave restaurants a boost in biz which meant diners and restauranteurs could try new things. Like many cities in Season 2 of Cheap Eats, we take advantage of an up and coming dining scene, meet excited owners, and exciting chefs. What sets SLC apart from the others is a preconceived opinion of what people might have towards both city and state. Utah is synonymous with Mormonsim/The Church of Latter Day Saints. The Fried Mormon Funeral Potatoes is about as far as we trekked into this important and historic aspect of SLC, but it is but one part of a diverse and growing metropolis. On the drive in from Idaho, my eyes floated from an In-N-Out burger sign to a mountain skyline and suddenly I got flashbacks of my days in Los Angeles. Sunshine and a relatively more arid climate than other Rocky Mountain cities certainly push towards that comparison. What I am getting at here is SLC may not be what you think it is, especially if your imaginations point toward the direction of HBO’s Big Love. And challenging preconceived notions is what I love to do. Almost as much as I love to eat and speaking of . . .


Jackson Hole, Wyoming in Requiem

Cheap Eats By January 2, 2017 Tags: , , , , , , , , No Comments

As it turns out, nature in Jackson Hole Wyoming is no laughing matter. Despite my numerous Rocky and Bullwinkle and garden-variety moose jokes, even I, was and remain still, blown away by what I and my iPhone saw in Jackson Hole. And that’s saying something because I am probably the most un mountain man to pass through these parts. Last night at a New Year’s party, I was asked if I went camping. It was probably one of the most humorous (and honest) no’s I have ever uttered. Still this is a landscape that would persuade me to become a member at REI, even if it meant spending a $1000 on equipment destined for a “like new” listing on craigslist. As far as Cheap Eats goes, my friends we have done you a tremendous service because Jackson Hole is damn expensive. Not a single restaurant we featured on this episode offered table service. And that’s not us being lazy. It’s THAT PRICEY HERE. There are a variety of reasons for this perfect storm of $$$ living: Ski Country plus tax incentives for the über wealthy, for starters. But saving money just ain’t the point here. The point is pristine mountain beauty. And plenty outdoor activities to work up an appetite. So grab a knife n fork, your AMEX(black if you got it handy) and let the Jackson Hole feast begin.


Bozeman, Montana in Requiem

Cheap Eats By December 26, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , No Comments

The natural beauty of Montana can transform the most novice photographer into a wannabe Ansel Adams. I might have a ways to go before I enter the realm of that iconic photographer but I will say that there was no shortage of scenic shots in my Bozeman roll, that’s for sure. Natural beauty was, is and will always be the draw to Bozeman. That being said, everybody likes to eat and our current food renaissance is finding its ways to all corners of the map. What does that mean for Cheap Eats in Bozeman? Definitely a shift in focus to locally sourced foods. Bringing food to the more far reaching parts of the world certainly poses challenges in food costs, so expect the word “local” to be featured prominently as a reflection of necessity. In my three city run in this part of the country, I consumed more than my fair share of Buffalo burgers, so we worked extra hard to showcase the bounty of exotic game in these parts with a freakin Elk burger. Bozeman is a growin’ and changing. And while that might rub some the wrong way, it will ultimately mean more dining options in this grand wilderness. And people eating better is always a good thing. This is a dining scene in the early stages of becoming an exciting and noteworthy one. My advice is to keep your eyes wide open because there are more than a few fancy steak and chophouse sized let downs. And some darn interesting food happening in breweries whose college kid heavy customer base could soon find themselves waiting in a line, shoulder to shoulder, with food obsessed hipsters, and possibly, the next Ansel Adams.


R(ichmond) VA in Requiem

Cheap Eats, The South By December 20, 2016 Tags: , , , , , , , No Comments

Welcome to the New South.

And in the spirit of the new, let’s get accustomed to calling it the RVA, cuz that’s how the locals do. Oh, you think this is some last second ploy from the tourism board? Then do this: type “RVA Richmond” into Google and you will get hit with all kinds of the “new Richmond”. I’m talking links to Richmond groups associated with strings like reddit, LGBTQ and TEDx. That sound new enough for you?

When it came to Cheap Eats, and really just food, one thing popped into my mind as we researched RVA: Is this the new Charleston? Long held as a darling food town of the South, the comparison of Richmond to Charleston would be inevitable though that’s more a reflection of the mutual size of the two cities in relation to say Atlanta or Nashville. Richmond doesn’t boast the same level of tourism numbers that Charleston does nor tout culinary heavyweights like SNOB or Sean Brock, but that doesn’t mean stuff like that isn’t on the horizon. Look, this is where people like me have a lot of fun: predicting the future of a food scene. So consider this post to be something akin to reporting from Florida during Major League Baseball’s spring training or, maybe a little later, like after the first month of the regular season. The hype has well been out there and now the signs of promise are starting to deliver real numbers or in this case: real entrées.