A Trip to the Pacific Northwest

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buffetbuster
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2011/12/07 14:56:05 (permalink)

A Trip to the Pacific Northwest

My girlfriend and I just returned from a vacation to Washington state and Oregon.  I wasn't planning on doing a trip report, so I didn't take any notes until the very end of the trip, so some details are sketchy.  And in quite a few places, we are walking in the footsteps of Ralph and Lori Melton, who recently took a similar trip and posted a wonderful report of their own.
 
Thursday November 24 
 
We had an early a.m. flight and landed in Seattle around 1:00PM.  A big shout out to the weather for perpetuating a stereotype, since it was pouring rain when we landed in Seattle.  Since it was Thanksgiving Day, we needed to find a place for a good turkey dinner.  The Sterns have reviewed the downtown location of 13 Coins and their second location is literally across the street from Sea-Tac International Airport.  I had called ahead of time to make reservations, but they were only accepting them for parties of eight or more.  So, we weren't really sure how busy they were going to be, but we were hoping for the best.  
 
After collecting our luggage and car, we drove the very short distance to 13 Coins, where the hostess informed us that all the tables were full, but we could sit at the counter if we wished.  Now, having Thanksgiving dinner at the counter of a restaurant doesn't sound too appealing, but 13 Coins is not your typical restaurant.  Not only do the seats swivel neatly,

they are the plushest, most comfortable counter seats ever.  I felt like I was sitting in an easy chair in my living room.  And the tall booths behind us,

with the high backs, looked even nicer.  Here is a view down the long counter,

which also shows all the dark wood.  The interior here really is attractive.
 
The menu at 13 Coins is huge, with all the comfort food classics you would typically see at a diner, plus plenty of other options like steaks and lots of Pac NW seafood.  But, with this being Thanksgiving, we both went for the fixed price 

turkey dinner.  Mariton's meal started with a terrific salad,

highlighted by the made here orange vinaigrette dressing.  I went for the creamy corn chowder,

that actually had more potato in it than corn.  We were also given a nice little relish tray

and some solid, crusty bread.  Because almost every customer was ordering the turkey and they had it made up ahead of time, we got our dinners

very fast.  Considering this was our first meal of the day, we were quite happy about this.  My vote for best on the plate was the green bean casserole, which tasted of cream of mushroom soup.  The turkey was plenty moist and we both agreed that the dark meat was better.  The only item that I wasn't particularly happy with was the yams, which tasted too candied and sweet for me.  You get a choice of either pumpkin pie or pecan pie for dessert, so we each ordered different ones.  Although both were fine,


neither tasted homemade too me.
 
The best thing about sitting at the counter was that we were able to watch the food being prepared right in front of us.  The main grill was further down than where we were sitting, but we got to see the salads being prepped.  Immediately after I placed my dinner order, we watched the young man putting a salad together and when he dumped a whole bunch of crab meat on it, I really sat up and took notice.  I asked him and he confirmed that this was Crab Louis, a favorite dish of mine.  Here are a couple of Crab Louis,

waiting to be taken to the smart diners who ordered them.  I did give some serious consideration to cancelling my turkey and going with this delicious salad, but never did.
 
There is nothing new, hip or trendy about 13 Coins, but that is partly why we liked the place so much.  The service was good and the waitress ended up being from Ellwood City, PA, which is less than a half hour from where I live.  We enjoyed our meal so much, we were hoping to make it back here before our trip was over.
 
13 Coins
18000 International Boulevard
Seatac, WA
206-243-9500 
 
When we arrived at our hotel, the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, we were given a list of local restaurants which were open for the holiday.  But, we were content to stay in and relax for the remainder of the day.  Actually, Mariton slept and I watched football.  Later on, the hotel sent up some warm chocolate chip cookies to our room, which disappeared in minutes! 
 
This was actually the first Thanksgiving Day we have traveled before and we were struck by just how many people have to work on this day.  And they do it with such grace, which I'm not so sure that I possess.  I made sure to thank everyone I encountered, so that they knew this was appreciated.  The woman at the car rental counter was typical, as she told me she was working that day so that she could get Christmas off.  I asked if she would still be able to have dinner with her family and she told me they were eating late that day so that she could join them.  So here is a big thank you to all of you who work on these holidays, so that the rest of us can enjoy our day.
 
Much more to come.....
post edited by buffetbuster - 2012/12/28 04:12:06
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    ScreamingChicken
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 15:17:50 (permalink)
    I like 13 Coins' relish tray - the sausage and pepperoncinis are a nice addition for those of us who want nothing to do with celery and radishes.
     
    Now if you're already making your plans for 2012, if you come to my house I'll only charge you $25 and will even accept your out-of-town personal check.  However, you might still have to dry dishes.
     
    Brad
    #2
    wheregreggeats.com
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 15:18:42 (permalink)
    Thanks ... My old stomping grounds ... 13 Coins IS a GEM !!!
     
    #3
    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 15:21:15 (permalink)
    Brad-
    Agreed completely about the relish tray.  I ate most of the meat (and the carrots), while Mariton went for the healthy stuff.  And yeah, no doubt that this dinner was pricey.  But for eating out on Thanksgiving, I certainly wasn't about to complain.
    #4
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 15:50:06 (permalink)
    I've raved about 13 Coins for years -- the SeaTac location. And I've always chosen the counter because of those "stools" and because of the open kitchen.
     
    I'm really jealous now.
    #5
    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 16:58:19 (permalink)
    Glad to see some other 13 Coins fans out there!
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/12/07 21:52:30
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    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 18:29:22 (permalink)
    Never having traveled or dined out on Thanksgiving, did 13 Coins have a full menu other than the turkey dinner and Crab Louis?    how about desserts, any other choices or is it different for ala carte? 
    #7
    sk bob
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 21:13:46 (permalink)
    nice job BB. keep it coming
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/07 21:51:38 (permalink)
    Thanks for bringing this up CTD.  At 13 Coins, they told us we could order anything off of the menu.  Our original plan was for me to get the turkey and her to order something else, but she changed her mind at the last minute.  The dessert case was right in front of us and they had a fairly large selection of that, too, but considering what day it was, pumpkin pie was the obvious choice.
     
    On the list of open restaurants the hotel gave us was Chandler's Crabhouse, a place listed in the 500 Things To Eat book, but I believe they were only serving turkey.
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/12/08 08:11:41
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    wanderingjew
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 08:00:41 (permalink)
    Great start, Buffetbuster
     
    I never made it out to 13 Coins when I lived in Seattle, I guess because I had my "go to" places, however I my co-workers told me about 13 coins, but filled my head with statements such as"only oddballs and wierdo's went there" I'm not sure if that means they were trying to encourage me to go there?
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    wheregreggeats.com
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 09:05:14 (permalink)
    Funny ... When I lived there, Chandler's was as close to a formula/chain restaurant as you could get ... they were part of the Schwartz Brothers group.  I'm not surprised that the hotel suggested it, but astonished it made it into any book.
    I always say, most of the time,  if you want to see the water and enjoy superb seafood ... go look at the water and then find someplace to eat.  Places like Chandler's were the inspiration for that pearl of wisdom.
    That said, I've been gone for eons and maybe things have changed.
    #11
    SeamusD
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 14:02:51 (permalink)
    My old stomping grounds also! I've gone to both the Sea-Tac and downtown locations numerous times, and was never disappointed or still hungry when I left.
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    Michael Stern
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 14:14:31 (permalink)
    The question is: did you return to 13 Coins for the hash browns???? They are some of my favorites.
     
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    CajunKing
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 16:25:36 (permalink)
    wanderingjew

    however I my co-workers told me about 13 coins, but filled my head with statements such as"only oddballs and wierdo's went there"

    Well.....
     
    Cliff did go there so maybe they were on to something  (love ya brudda)
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    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 17:27:24 (permalink)
    wanderingjew

    Great start, Buffetbuster
     
    I never made it out to 13 Coins when I lived in Seattle, I guess because I had my "go to" places, however I my co-workers told me about 13 coins, but filled my head with statements such as"only oddballs and wierdo's went there" I'm not sure if that means they were trying to encourage me to go there?

     
    bb - It's so much easier to just go left or right side...you know what I mean! 

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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/08 18:32:22 (permalink)
    Michael Stern-
    I did see your photo of those great looking hasbrowns in the review, but we never did make it back to 13 Coins.  One of my biggest regrets of the trip.
     
    WJ-
    In the review, it does say that Seattleites are greatly split on 13 Coins and I could definitely see where the hipsters would think the place was old and stodgy.  But, being old and stodgy myself, I felt right at home!
     
    CTD & CK- 
     
    wheregreggeats-
    Chandler's Crabhouse was listed in the book for one specific item, Crab Louis.
    #16
    wanderingjew
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 08:29:27 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    WJ-
    In the review, it does say that Seattleites are greatly split on 13 Coins and I could definitely see where the hipsters would think the place was old and stodgy.  But, being old and stodgy myself, I felt right at home!


     
    Buffetbuster,
     
    I certainly didn't work with hipsters back in Seattle , well some of the younger report takers thought they were because they had friends who knew friends, whose cousin's neighbors brothers in law hung out with the grunge rockers (remember I lived there at the time of the grunge rock scene) but my coworkers who told me about 13 coins were far from hipsters,  when they told me the place was full of "characters" I think a good analogy would be to compare it to going to Olneyville NY System at 2 AM
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 11:06:03 (permalink)
    Friday November 25, 2011
     
    On my previous trip to Seattle in 2006, cousin Johnny and I visited Maltby Cafe and it was one of our favorite restaurants.  I also remember it being a long drive out into the boonies to get there.  But since we were staying in Bellevue on this trip,  I was surprised we were there in less than a half hour.
     
    The building

    itself dates back to 1937.  The upstairs used to be a school gymnasium, but the restaurant is in the basement, where the cafeteria once was.  The outside of the place is covered in great looking old gasoline station signs, but my favorite sign is this neon bowling pin

    on the front of the building.  And in the parking lot is this wonderful stand alone sign.

     
    The menu here has an impressive amount of choices for breakfast and we both had a difficult time deciding what to order.  But, there was never any doubt that the meal would start with one of their famously huge cinnamon rolls. 

    To give some perspective, that is a full sized dinner plate it sits on.  The inside was perfectly soft and doughy, but the outside was a little harder than I would have liked.  Plus, the amount of super sweet icing they pile on top and on the side is staggering.  Mariton is not a big sweets person and just had a couple bites, leaving the rest to me.  I did my best, but came well short of finishing the entire thing.  Where's cousin Johnny when I really need him?
     
    After the waitress came back a third time, we finally made our decisions.  Mariton went with the Maltby prime rib omelet. 

    This very large omelet also includes, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, tomatoes, black olives, Tillamook cheddar and Jarlsberg swiss cheese.  She did like it and ate most of it, which is an accomplishment for her.  But, she did get a stomach ache shortly afterwards, which she attributed to eating it too fast.  My dish was not quite as large and was called the Bella Scramble. 

    This is scrambled eggs, with sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic, pine nuts and mozzarella and parmesan cheeses.  Sounds more like a pasta dish, doesn't it?  All the ingredients worked well together and I really enjoyed it.  On both of our plates were an excessive amount of excellent, long, thin, skin on, red potatoes.  I chose the sourdough toast, which was really good, while she had a biscuit, which was so crumbly, it disinigrated right in her hands.  You also get some wonderful homemade preserves.  Mariton received strawberry, while mine was blackberry.  We asked and were told that they also have marionberry available, but it is luck of the draw which one ends up on your plate.
     
    As if that wasn't enough food, I had noticed that another item on the menu brags of using a local made sausage called Cascioppo Brothers.  Wanting some meat with my meal, I asked for a side of it.  Instead of getting sausage links or patties, I got a bowl of already cut up slices of sausage,

    which was okay with me.  Fine porky flavor to this sausage.
     
    On the dessert page of the menu, they list marionberry pie, which is certainly something I can't get back home.  I did ask if the pies were ready yet that morning, but alas, it was too early.  Anyone ever have pie from this place?  I bet they do a great job here.  Before we left, we took a photo of the small drive-thru coffee building next door,

    in the shape of a coffee cup.
     
    My very first visit to the Seattle area was sometime in the early 90s, with my sister, mother, grandmother and two aunts.  I have long suspected that the only reason I was invited was to carry the luggage.  Anyway, we had a fantastic vacation and one of the highlights was the few days we spent in a cabin on Whidbey Island.  I was very curious to see the island again.  We drove to Mukilteo to catch the ferry on over.  This is a rather short ride, but we still got out of the car to get some photos. 

    I liked how all the water in front of us was blue and all the water behind us gray and you could actually see where the two seemed to come together. 

    It was so cold out while we were on the water, that this discouraged us from taking any more boat rides the rest of the time on our trip.
     
    So, we drove the entire length of Whidbey Island, which was unsurprisingly much more built up than I remember.  We did get off the main road a few times to check out the water and the scenery. 




    Can you imagine how cold it must have been for these divers?

     
    The northern tip of Whidbey Island ends at a place called Desperation Pass, which is a strait that seperates it from the much smaller Fidalgo Island.  The bridge

    across the strait offers some lovely views,

    although my acrophobia prevented me from getting better shots.  I did have a lead on a good place to get pie in Anacortes called Calico Cupboard Cafe, but we had to get back to Seattle, so we skipped it.
     
    Much more to come.....
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/12/09 23:59:13
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 13:43:09 (permalink)
    Friday November 25, 2011 cont.
     
    The reason that we had to get back to Seattle was that we had basketball tickets for the University of Washington at 3:00PM.  Needing a quick lunch, somewhere near the university, we chose local favorite Dick's Drive-In


    Serving up fine burgers and fries since 1954, I really like that they are open until 2:00AM every morning.
     
    Mariton stayed in the car, while I joined one of the long lines at the walk up window.  After returning to the car to eat (there is no seating here, so most people take it home or eat in the car), I snapped this photo. 

    My order was the bigger burger, known as a Dick's Deluxe,

    while she got the Dick's regular.  Both burgers come with cheese, lettuce, mayonnaise, chopped pickle and a made here delicious mustard sauce.  I believe, the only difference between the two is that the deluxe comes with two patties and the regular has one.  The best part of the burgers is you can taste how fresh all the ingredients are and at two patties, was the perfect size.  Also, do not miss the excellent french fries,

    which Dick's says they fresh cut everyday.  They are very thin and remind me of what McDonald's fries try to be.  
     
    As good as the burgers and fries are, the milkshakes are the best reason to come here.  I bought a vanilla and a chocolate, let Mariton taste them and decide which one she wanted.  She took the vanilla and I felt like I just got away with something, since who doesn't prefer chocolate to vanilla?  I drank my shake, got a taste of her's and, wow, the vanilla really was even better.  If the line wasn't so long, I would have gone back up for a couple more shakes to take with us. 
     
    On to the basketball game!
     
    Much more to come..... 
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/12/09 13:46:08
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    Sundancer7
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 14:23:31 (permalink)
    BB:  I have been to Whidby Island a couple of times and crossed the bridge to Fildago.  I believe I recall a Chevy commercial being shot there many years ago.  A great drive.
     
    The northwest is a find place to fine very good food.  I have driven the entire west coast extensively.  Great oysters in Washington and Oregon.  Huge.
     
    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
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    buffetbuster
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 14:29:42 (permalink)
    Thanks Paul.  Always a pleasure to hear from you.  And thanks to Mariton, there will be LOTS of oysters coming up!
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    ChiTownDiner
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 15:07:05 (permalink)
    buffetbuster -
     
    The Maltby Cafe choices look awesome!  I would have loved to sample both yours and Maritons!  I love Italian ingredients in an omelette, and prime rib, a no brainer!
     
    Keep it coming...great start!
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    CheeseWit
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 15:08:23 (permalink)
    LOVE Dick's! Will probably be back there end of January or early February. Cliff, as usual, a great trip report. I followed you while you traveled via facebook and now, I'm doing it again. Thanks!
     
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    pnwchef
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 15:12:24 (permalink)
    The Scuba classes do their Check out dives on Whidbey Island, I said no thanks, so I did mine in the warm waters of Mexico. Your doing a Great job showing off the State where I live, happy you had a great trip, looks like you got some sunshine....................pnwc
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    Sundancer7
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 17:42:24 (permalink)
    buffetbuster

    Thanks Paul.  Always a pleasure to hear from you.  And thanks to Mariton, there will be LOTS of oysters coming up!

     
    Look out Mariton
     
    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN

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    wheregreggeats.com
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/09 19:10:15 (permalink)
    Dick's is superb.   A Dick's Deluxe would suffice fine right now.
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    rebeltruce
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/10 07:52:38 (permalink)
    Michael Stern

    The question is: did you return to 13 Coins for the hash browns???? They are some of my favorites.



    The hash browns are some of the best I've had! Add the ham steak and a couple sunny side up......Love me some 13 coins! Sitting at the counter is a must.......
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    leethebard
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/10 08:00:21 (permalink)
    What beautiful country...great looking food, too! Thanks.
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    MiamiDon
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/10 08:48:44 (permalink)
    Nice report, Cliff!  I really love that coffee-cup place!
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    Re:A Trip to the Pacific Northwest 2011/12/12 10:27:56 (permalink)
    Friday November 25, 2011 cont.

    The University of Washington plays their home games at Alaska Airlines Arena. 

    This smaller, intimate building

    was built in 1927, but there was a $40 million dollar renovation in 2000.  On this afternoon, they were playing out of conference against Houston Baptist University.  The opening tip off:

    Due to the NBA lock out, a few ex-Huskies now playing in the NBA were in attendance and were introduced during the game.  One of them was Isaiah Thomas, who is currently with the Sacramento Kings.  While we walked around the arena at halftime, he was signing autographs in the hallway, so Mariton posed for a photo with him. 

    That has got to be the smallest NBA player I have ever seen in person.  They also have a Husky Hall of Fame in the arena and we spent some time checking out the exhibits, including one of Tim Lincecum's Cy Young awards.

     
    As to be expected, the game wasn't close, with UW winning easily, 88-65.  I spent a good portion of the first half yelling, "Go Huskies"!  Then I found out that Houston Baptist's teams are also called the Huskies.  Whoops! 
     
    For dinner, we stopped at a Roadfood place, Mike's Chili Parlor.  Great neon sign!
     
    I also liked the name in the sidewalk

    right in front of the door.
     
    Mike's is a bar, so no one under 21 allowed.  You get your choice of seats: at the bar, at one of the high tables, but we slipped into one of the comfy booths. 

    We were greeted warmly and even though neither Mariton or I are drinkers, we felt right at home here.  There are menus on each table, plus a big menu board

    behind the bar.  For a chili parlor, this place has a lot to choose from.  But, with this being our first time here, we went simple.
     
    Though tempted by the $11.00 Big Ass Bowl of Chili, I went for the $4.75 regular bowl of chili. 

    And because she is a fan of the Cincy 5-Way chili, Mariton really wanted to try the Chili Pasta. 

    We were asked if we wanted cheese and onion and of course, the answer to that it is a big yes!  And the onions are just how I like them, chopped very fine.  Sure, the chili is on the greasy side, but it is supposed to be.  I am certainly no chili expert, but I really, really enjoyed what we ate here.  Mariton ate what she could, but I ended up finishing her chili pasta.  She did really like the crunchy garlic bread that came with her meal.
     
    Sitting in Mike's, eating this fine food in a dark chili parlor, while watching the Backyard Brawl (Pitt-WVU) on tv, was one of my favorite moments of the vacation.  I just regret not trying a chili dog.
     
    It had been a long day and we were still adjusting to the 3 hour time difference, so we headed back to the hotel.  We had made late dinner reservations at Chandler's Crabhouse so I could get some Crab Louis, but decided to just stay in and relax instead.
     
    Much more to come.....    
    post edited by buffetbuster - 2011/12/12 10:32:10
    #30
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