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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 5:22 AM

We first came upon Little Cafe Poca Cosa many years ago, having just discovered its big-sister restaurant, Cafe Poca Cosa, which was then located in a cheesy downtown hotel. Cafe Poca Cosa has since moved to very classy digs and has crystallized its status as a beacon of creative Mexican food. Little Cafe Poca Cosa continues as it always was: a boisterous, colorful, party-time eatery. Luis Davila, who created it, has passed on; his daughter, Sandra Davila, maintains all the restaurant's unique charms and has added her own – a warm hug for just about everyone who walks in the door, friend or newcomer.

Like her father, Sandra is a character whose personality infuses the whole dining experience. She is one of those restaurateurs who seems to be everywhere, up front and in the kitchen, all the time. Her enthusiasm for the food, the restaurant, and for life in general is contagious. When we stop in one day for lunch, she shows off a really nice belt she is wearing, made of javalina and including a scabbard for a knife she "uses all day, for everything." Its handle, she notes, was made from a mesquite tree in her back yard.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa a breakfast and lunch place, and one of its specialties is juice – incredible juice, such as one amazing refresher extracted from beets, mandarin oranges, lemons, and limes. At breakfast you can dine on huevos rancheros, the eggs enveloped in vivid red chili sauce, the plate also holding rice, lettuce, and a brace of fruit: pineapple, strawberry, and watermelon. Or start the day with huevos Mexicanos, scrambled with tomatoes, onions, and chilies; or machaca con huevo, which mixes moist shreds of beef with bits of green chile in a veil of scrambled egg.

Vegetarians can eat very well here. We rarely can resist at least one order of the tamale de elote – a souffle-like swirl of corn meal, sweet corn, green chilies, and cheese steamed to comforting warmth inside a corn husk. Chile relleno is another meatless meal, served in a mild salsa ranchero redolent of tomatoes. Vegans with big appetites will want to know about the "Gigantic Vegan Tostada," which is a spill of pinto beans and seasonal vegetables atop a broad fried corn tortilla. Salsa ranchero comes on the side.

Moles are sensational. A thick mix of bittersweet chocolate, red chilies, ground peanuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds becomes a lush, syrupy mole negro that is dazzling on a chicken breast, or as part of a platter of cheese-stuffed quesadillas.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa is not just a place to eat. It is a significant presence in the community. A blackboard in the dining room lists the charities and good causes in Tucson and south of the border to which customers' donations are given: an elementary school, an orphanage, a children's breakfast program, a girl who needs an operation.
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Roadfood of the Day: Byron's Dog Haus - Chicago, IL
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chicago Dog

An all-beef hot dog is nestled under this wheelbarrow of condiments. Those peppers in the foreground are hot!
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Byron's Dog Haus...
Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, July 28, 2014 6:20 AM

Just east of the Thornton Gap entrance to the Skyline Drive in Virginia's Piedmont, Triple Oak Bakery is a charming patisserie that makes cakes and pies and coffee-companion pastries. There is no sit-down dining on premises, and no table service; but folding chairs are available out back, where customers can relax on a lawn overlooking the Thornton River while enjoying an al fresco slice of apple pie or mocha cake, baklava, brownies, or biscuits, scones, quiche, or rugelach.

The one quasi-meal available at Triple Oak is Saturday morning continental breakfast. It is as informal as an ad hoc gathering of friends and neighbors. Everybody stands around the kitchen chatting and pouring their own coffee from a large French press carafe or fetching a cup of brewing chocolate from a pretty blue pot on the stove or, best of all, making a half-and-half mix of both. To accompany the beverages, trays are laid out with cinnamon buns, chocolate espresso scones, and fresh, chewy bagels. Cream cheese, jelly, and coffee condiments are arrayed on a table, and there are a few extra chairs marshaled on the back porch, ready to be unfolded for those who wish to sit outdoors.

Did we mention that Triple Oak is gluten-free? Even if you share our love of all things glutenous, don't let that dissuade you from the consummate baked goods at this wonderful place.
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Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014

Shrimp Platter

A culinary anthropologist could pinpoint the precise location of this dish. The hushpuppies and blackeyed peas are a sure sign of the South in general. The elegant shrimp say Florida's north coast. The pink dipping sauce with a datil pepper punch is St. Augustine's
Rate this place Reviews (5) Learn more about O'Steen's Restaurant...
Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Beef

One Italian Beef, sweet and wet, with giardiniera on top
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Max's Italian Beef...
Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, July 26, 2014 3:27 AM

Not counting hot dogs, there is a dearth of food trucks in and around Danbury, Connecticut. Driver/chef Paul Mannion greatly improves that situation with his Green Grunion, a burrito van usually located in the city's Kenosia Park at lunchtime. Mannion is a local, but spent time in San Diego, where he learned just how great a burrito can be. He figured it was time to let Danburians in on the good news and started rolling in summer, 2013. I adore the veggie burrito, its well-textured flour tortilla crowded with grilled peppers, mushrooms, and onions – all perfectly al dente – along with guacamole, cheese, and pico de gallo.

Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014

Real Italian

A REAL Italian is made with salami and provolone, but of course a whole array of other cold cuts are available: ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, pepperoni, even tuna.
Rate this place Reviews (3) Learn more about Colucci's Hilltop Market...
Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, July 25, 2014 4:53 AM

Way back in the 1990s, before Starbuck's was everywhere, we spent a week in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and started every morning with wake-up drinks at a little eatery named Java on Sherman. It is still thriving, bigger and better than ever (it is reviewed here at; and the Pacific Northwest's burgeoning coffee consciousness, of which Java on Sherman was an Idaho Panhandle spearhead, has spread throughout the northwest plateau.

An hour north of Coeur d'Alene at the edge of Lake Pond Oreille, the settlement of Sandpoint is a beguiling mixture of wilderness and artiness, of thrift shops and chic boutiques, of chefs and short-order hash slingers, and of three artisan coffee roasters and several very agreeable places to drink coffee (plus a couple of Starbuck's, of course). One enterprise where it is especially nice to partake of caffeinated beverages is the Pine Street Bakery. That's because, as its name says, it specializes in baked goods, so many of which go so well with coffee and espresso drinks. Beyond whole, handsome cakes, hand-crafted breads, and lunchtime pizzas, the shelves are crowded with a vast assortment of coffee-friendly cookies, cream puffs, croissants, cupcakes, and scones (the apricot scone is a doozy!),. Danishes are particularly excellent, made with light, flaky dough and bright fruit filling.

The Pine Street Bakery is a laid-back place with a lighthearted vibe. A sign on the wall asks hippies to use the side door; counter stools are painted in rainbow colors; a flower-bedecked patio is a welcoming place for al fresco eaters, sippers, conversationalists, newspaper readers, and meditators.

And by the way, if coffee does not happen to be your drink, don't necessarily scratch this place off your itinerary. Pine Street Bakery offers high-quality Tea Forté teas and is also a wine bar as much as it is a coffee house.
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Roadfood of the Day: Crystal Grill - Greenwood, MS
Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014

Pie Case

If you sit in the front dining room, you will likely have a view of the pie case, to which whole pies are brought throughout the lunch hour and severed into slices, ready to serve. Here at the two house specialties: coconut and chocolate meringue.
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Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014

There was a lot to like about the crab cake Benedict, including very little filler in the crab cakes and excellent homemade hollandaise sauce.
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Barbara Jean's...
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