BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga

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buffetbuster
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 14:34:45 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by NebGuy

Did you guys see the new owner of Stella's?

I'll give you a hint, she doesn't have a Mohawk.

http://www.omaha.com/index.php?u_page=2620&u_sid=10340552
In Roadfood parlance, she would be a great catch!
susanll
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 14:53:57 (permalink)
Love the bleu cheese salad. Did you ask for extra cheese or is that the standard?
catosaurus
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 18:26:49 (permalink)
This thread rocks!

But, I'm still waiting to find out what a Haystack sandwich is (from the Nebraska sandwich shop). Does anyone know?
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 18:27:32 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by susanll

Love the bleu cheese salad. Did you ask for extra cheese or is that the standard?


Nope, that was standard, I won't deny that the salad was good- but the Steak that came after it..blew me away....
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 18:30:25 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by catosaurus

Fabulous trip report. I really enjoy reading about your adventures and tastings! Please keep them coming. (Also, if you're ever planning something like this in southern California, give us SoCal-ites a chance to join the fun!)


I should be back on Southern California as early as next April, but remember my So-Cal motto--
NO Burgers- NO BBQ- NO Hot Dogs!
mayor al
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 18:34:42 (permalink)
CAT-
The first of the "casual" meet n eats was on Superbowl Sunday in Rancho Cucamonga in Feb. of 2004. We had over 20 RF members and friends at Woody's BBQ on Foothill that day. It was a real fun time.
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 19:17:38 (permalink)
Saturday June 21

I returned to the Highland Park neighborhood, but this time I decided to check out Common Grounds, a local coffee house with only two locations, the other being in Denver’s downtown Lo Do district. I drove this time since we were meeting Biker Jimat 10:30 am. This was a strong, full bodied cuppa joe, just like I remember the way West Coast coffee tasted. I wish I could have stayed at the coffee house and soak in the atmosphere- but we were “on a schedule” this morning.

First we drove back to Coors Field to get some exterior shots which we didn’t have time to do the evening before, we then headed over to Biker Jim’s “other concession” he runs with his wife serving up latte’s, cappucino’s and other breakfast items. We sampled some of his wares and were quite impressed.





As you can see we followed Biker Jim to El Taco De Mexico located a short distance away in the barrio. This neighborhood certainly had character and I wish I had more time to explore it.
Biker Jim’s better half also joined us as well...

El Taco De Mexico, is housed in a very simple building, basically, a taco stand, however the tacos and burritos they serve offer complex tastes and textures.





I checked out the menu display on the wall..





and ordered the El Pastor (marinated pork) Burrito - wet which means smothered in Green Chile.



Biker Jim ordered the “Cheeks Meat” Burrito




and Mrs Biker Jim ordered the Tongue Tacos.




Although TTM was there, he sat out on this meal as he is not a fan of Mexican Food.




I was surprised that the Green Chile was somewhat less spicy than what is served by it’s neighbor to the South, New Mexico, but what it lacked in spice, it made up for in flavor. I’ll admit I was somewhat hesitant to order Cheeks Meat or Tongue, but when I tried some of Biker Jim’s Burrito, all I can say is WOW- I know what I’ll be having next time.

TTM was looking for a shop to get some goodies for the Mayor and Poverty Pete. Biker Jim recommended a place in the Cherry Creek Neighborhood called Continental Deli, so off we went. Cherry Creek is an upscale (read yuppie) urban neighborhood a few miles from Downtown Denver, similar to Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza, but with a lot less architectural charm and character. We went to the deli that Biker Jim suggested, which was a “European Style Deli”. We also passed a sign for a farmers market which we walked to. As it so happens to farmers market is held practically in the Cherry Creek Mall Parking lot. TTM picked up some more items and also got some type of Sausage for himself, I forgot what exactly it was but he said it was good.

After a short detour back at the hotel, we returned to Downtown Denver. We strolled the area near the Capital, there was a festival going on, if TTM wishes, he can elaborate more about the festival.
Here are some photos of the State Capital and The City County Building.






According to TTM that’s “Frank Colorado” in front of the Capital building, has anyone ever heard of him?



Unfortunately both the Capital and US Mint which were both located nearby were closed for the weekend.

We walked back towards the downtown Central Core and strolled up the 16th Street mall, which is basically a pedestrian only outdoor mall and downtown’s biggest tourist attraction. There are shuttle buses that go up and down the mall. It was so sad to see that many of the local businesses that used to be here have been replaced by national chains. We took a slight detour through Larimer Square, a one block sidestreet off the mall housing upscale shops and restaurants in Victorian Era Buildings. This used to be Denver’s entertainment district prior to the popularity of Lo Do.

It was now approaching 4pm and we wanted to do an early dinner. TTM wanted to take a drive through of the Air force Academy in Colorado Springs prior to the triple A minor league Colorado Springs Sky Sox Game.

We walked to the Rocky Mountain Diner. A somewhat “upscale” diner with western style motif.
Biker Jim and his wife alluded to the fact that they were somewhat disappointed the last time he went there. I’ve been dying to try this place out for the last decade and had to see for myself how good/bad or mediocre it was.











I reviewed the menu and even though I already knew what I was getting




I started out with a cup of the buffalo chili which was richly infused with cumin, however the soupy chili was lacking in buffalo meat



For my main course, I ordered the Campfire Rocky Mountain Rainbow Trout with Red Chili Rice. The meal came with a biscuit which was somewhat overdone, the Trout served grilled had a luscious clean taste, but the filet was somewhat thin, this is probably the second time I've had trout in my life, the last being ten years ago and I'm not certain if the filet is supposed to be as thin as it was.




TTM ordered the chicken fried chicken which he said was good but not great. This was definetely not a spectacular meal, but would put it in the “OK” category.

After dinner, we decided to take the 16th street shuttle bus back to our car as we were in a rush to get to Colorado Springs.

There are several things you just can't make up and this is one of them

While we were on the shuttle bus, there were two young ladies around age 20 or so standing near us. Some drunk guy gets on the bus, and says to one of the young ladies "you're fat" the young ladies were quite taken aback in disbelief at what this bozo blurted out, after the guy was rambling on about how fat that particular girl was he finally got off at his stop, probably to "detoxify" or return to his homeless shelter. First of all I know what you're all thinking- No that drunk guy was NOT ME! I was just an innocent bystander. The girl who had the insults flung at her was obviously upset and teary eyed, TTM did his best to console her. Truth is this girl was NOT FAT, in fact she looked like she could have been Paris Hilton's less skinny sister.

We hit the road at 5pm, but because of the "downtown Festival" I mentioned previously, Colfax street, which was supposed to get us back on to I-25 was blocked. Once we found our way back onto I-25, we hit some fairly heavy gridlock just south of the Denver Metro area. Apparently there was some construction and there was also alot of heavy truck and RV traffic which I thought was odd for a late Saturday afternoon. We arrrived at the Airforce Academy and unfortunately they closed their gates to visitors after 6pm. we arrived about 15 minutes too late..

As we were driving through Colorado Springs towards the Ballpark, we were expecting to run into this guy.




There seemed to be more churches per capita in Colorado Springs than Italian Restaurants in Rhode Island. We arrived at the corporate namsake Security Service Field, triple A ballpark for the Colorado Springs Sky Sox. A very non descript ballpark which faces a large development of cookie cutter homes in lieu of the majestic Rockies in the other direction. Seating only 8500 people, the Colorado Springs Skysox play at the smallest venue in Triple A baseball. They hosted the Fresno Grizzlies in a very ho-hum game, so ho-hum I ended up downing a 24 oz Fat Tire Hefeweizen in record time, probably one of the best beers of the trip. I didn't realize how quick I could get "happy" after guzzling a 24 ouncer at over 6000 feet above sea level, well....TTM had to drive back to Denver. It was a no contest game, the Skysox were beating the Grizzlies and we left at the beginning of the 8th inning and drove back to Denver and called it a night as we were both flying out early the next morning, TTM to Nashville and me to Albuquerque.

TTM will most likely provide photos of the Sky Sox game, as I didn't take any on my digital.

Biker Jim's Concessions
1106 E 16th Avenue
Denver CO 80218

El Taco De Mexico
714 Santa Fe Dr
Denver CO 80204

Continental Deli
250 Steele Street
Denver CO 80206

Rocky Mountain Diner
800 18th Street
Denver CO 80202

Security Service Field
4385 Tuft Blvd
Colorado Springs CO 80922


We're almost there, I will be uploading the Albuquerque photos- that should be a two parter, with a very brief last day rant about the Airline Industry.

mayor al
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/14 20:53:07 (permalink)

Where's the photo of the girl on the shuttle bus??? Inquiring minds want to know!

Good Job Dale!
The Travelin Man
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/15 01:54:40 (permalink)
Denver Wrap-Up (Part I?)

By the time we'd reached Homemade Heaven in Ogallala, I was pretty freakin' hungry. The muffin, scone, coffee cake - whatever interchangeable coffee house snack I chose that day had long since worn off. As quick as Dale was to dismiss our new Omaha friends' suggestion out this way, I was anxious to see this place - and get some good grub. The place did LOOK promising enough, but as we all know...looks can be deceiving. Personally, I thought Dale was a little too kind when he said "Overall, Homemade Heaven wasn't a terrible meal, it just didn't live up to our expectations based on the Roadfood review." First of all...*I* didn't have any expectations, but went into it with an open mind. *I* did think it was a terrible meal. For one thing, the interior of the cabbage pocket was grey. Grey is not an appealing food color - at all. The meat-to-cabbage ratio was poor, and the end result was a considerably bland meal. After reading the posted review when I got home, the reviewer even said "A little salt and pepper helped bring out the flavors of the cabbage pocket..." That is code for "the food was bland as all get-up."

The onion rings were overcooked.


Yes, I like a crispy onion ring, too...these were not just crispy, they were poorly prepared and overcooked.


I didn't eat half my pie. For anyone who knows me at all...that should say a lot. The chocolate was a heavy pudding-like consistency, that tasted like melted Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips. The white topping had a chemical taste. This lunch approached $15 with tip - a bit much for a small-town cafe in the middle of nowhere. A lot too much when you consider how bad the food was.

Our experience sparked a renewed debate on the ride towards Denver about reviews written by the Sterns and the Roadfood editorial team versus suggestions that come from "elsewhere" - which could be reviews written by other members, suggestions in forum posts, other "outside" sources, etc. My contention was that I am still less likely to be steered wrong by a recommendation from the Sterns than I am from "someone else" and with the volume of restaurants that we covered on this trip, that played out statistically. If you were to rank all of the restaurants that we visited (somehow) in order of quality, the top portion of the list would be littered with recommendations received from the Sterns (and I use that as an overly generic term for the entire editorial staff), and the bottom portion of the list would include our suggestions from "elsewhere." The notable exceptions were the burgers in Omaha at Stella's and Dinker's (on the good list) and our miserable meal at Arthur Bryant's on the bad list.

The Fort, on the other hand, was great. I am sure that I am not the first person to discover this. As for the unidentified bread basket contents from wanderingjew's post, I believe that the muffins were some kind of pumpkin spice, which were really good (and I don't much care for pumpkin) and the bread was a ciabatta-style offering that was lightly dusted with a southwestern spice. Both were really good.

While I was waiting for our meals to arrive, I went out on their back patio to take some pictures of the storm that was approaching.





For an appetizer, I ordered the buffalo empanadas, which were excellent.


The two sauces, well, I could only label as "spicy" and "spicier." The thicker one (on the right) was powerful, but the one on the left was (I think) a citrus-y spicy. It was pretty good - and the one of which I consumed the most.


14 ounce bone-in buffalo NY strip cooked medium rare....this was a tasty hunk of meat. Given the recent debate on the NYC steakhouses that cut the meat from the bone, I would have gladly had the kitchen cook the steak with the bone-in and then removed the meat from the bone for me, as I am afraid I butchered the thing pretty good not long after this photo was taken.

More photos from The Fort....


I would have gladly paid twice these posted prices!


Doing a little better with those low-light shots.

OK, ladies...here's your shot. Remember all the times he called you fat? How about the time he corrected you on some minor point of minutiae that no one else on this planet could care about? Well....


...I hope you have your rotten tomatoes handy. If anyone would like a full-resolution blow-up copy of that photo, please let me know. I think I can pay off my student loans by selling them!

I have some more to say on Colorado, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.
Nancypalooza
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/15 07:16:45 (permalink)
LOLOLOL--nice picture Steve!
mayor al
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/15 08:59:19 (permalink)
Hey, Duffy tried to lift his leg on my monitor when this 'graphic' was displayed. Please remember this is a "Family" (and pet) friendly website!!

Thanks for the Denver wrap-up TTM, We are looking forward to the Grand Finale for both of you!
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/15 10:35:03 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by The Travelin Man

Denver Wrap-Up (Part I?)
As quick as Dale was to dismiss our new Omaha friends' suggestion out this way, I was anxious to see this


I'm not sure if TTM remembers, but this is the place that the couple in Omaha recommended

[url]www.olesbiggame.com[/url]

Yet another steakhouse. I've seen this place mentioned before on the forum with mixed comments.
I loves me a good steak as much as the next guy but we were heading to The Fort for dinner and then the Buckhorn the next day, and Homemade heaven seemed promising, obviously it wasn't, and I was obviously a little too forgiving on the review because I enjoyed my dessert. Bruce Bilmes previously indicated that the reviewers "Erica and Jon" have apparently reviewed quite a few places out in the Sacramento area. It was my impression that based on Bruce's compliments on said reviewers that they were "right on the mark", similarly to Bruce and Sue and even Chris and Amy's (ayersian) reviews here on the east coast.


quote:
Our experience sparked a renewed debate on the ride towards Denver about reviews written by the Sterns and the Roadfood editorial team versus suggestions that come from "elsewhere" My contention was that I am still less likely to be steered wrong by a recommendation from the SternsThe notable exceptions were the burgers in Omaha at Stella's and Dinker's (on the good list)


I'm going to have to throw the Buffalo Bar and Restaurant, and Ted and Wally's and El Taco De Mexico in this mix as well (I'm assuming TTM will agree with me on these with the exception of El Taco De Mexico since he didn't partake). A couple of restaurants in Albuquerque too, but that's for a later chapter.

quote:
ladies...here's your shot. Remember all the times he called you fat? How about the time he corrected you on some minor point of minutiae that no one else on this planet could care about? Well....


I never called anyone fat, I just said I don't date fat women.
The Travelin Man
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/17 09:05:52 (permalink)
Denver Wrap-up (conclusion)

Buffalo Restaurant and Bar

Based on wanderingjew's comments above, I am going to say that he liked this place a lot more than I did. It wasn't bad, it just reminded me of all the uber-touristy places that we have here in central Florida. We usually laugh at the tourists that choose to eat there? Why? Because the meals are overpriced and unexceptional, but they do a good bit of advertising with the local hotels and convention folks.


This was my plate of food. The absence of tomato (well after the tomato "scare") didn't help. On the plus side, they did have cheddar cheese and the chips were done on-site.


This was also the first place to get a little bit of pink into a medium burger. Good job.

Unfortunately, those were the only really nice things I could say about the place. The service was ordinary; the decor was "TGI Friday's"-kitsch meets the wild, wild west; and, in the end, we spent nearly $40, including tip, on two burgers, a beer, and an iced tea.



These are NYC prices (or tourist trap prices), not small-town Colorado prices.

The downtown Idaho Springs area was nice, and the lady at the chocolate shop was a wealth of local information. I hope her business succeeds. I did take one photo, especially for Al the Mayor and all the other train-o-philes...



Apparently, Idaho Springs' mining operation was made possible with the addition of the railroad that ran through town, so they have a nice train exhibit set up down near the river there.

The Coors Brewery Tour was interesting and informative. The only other brewery tour that I'd taken was the one down in Shiner last spring at the Glee Club meet-up. I would have preferred a live tour guide instead of the canned electronic device...but, there was free beer, so who could complain? I did figure out how they managed to run such an efficient operation.


They have apparently purchased a team of "oompa-loompas" from Willy Wonka!

I also caught this photo, a result of my partner-in-crime bonding with the locals. Well, they asked him to take a picture of them, which he obliged....as did I. From the overheard conversation, they may have been in the local "entertainment" industry.


For all of you that wonder, it was good to know that Dale can still work his magic on the ladies.

Buckhorn Exchange was an experience-and-a-half. I know some of you like those "perspective" shots, so this is my attempt. The newspapers are the menus.


As you can plainly see, i95 was the first to the table.

I was first to meet BikerJim and will absolutely concur with Dale - he is a first-class dining companion and a fall-down funny guy.

Jim and I decided to split one of their specialty "steak for two" meals. Needless to say, I was a little disappointed when they brought me this.



Unfortunately, I tried my hardest to shoot these with no flash, and with the extremely low light in the restaurant it was a challenge. I tried to doctor them the best I could with PhotoShop. Normally, I don't post anything but my better pictures (or at least ones that are in-focus), but I really didn't think you all should miss out on this, so I hope you get the idea. My disappoint in my own plate soon turned when our waiter brought out this platter, which I can only describe as "hunk of dead cow."


Yes, I used the flash on this one. Check out the look on the guy's face in the background!


What remains is my HALF of that steak. In the iron crock is a mushroom/onion medley that they used to cover the steak.


Said steak is also smothered in butter. You guys wouldn't have liked it.


What was most amazing to me was that even with a steak that size, they managed to cook it to a perfect medium rare. It was about all I could do to finish.


The Three Amigos....(l-r - BikerJim, wanderingjew, The Travelin' Man)


The Buckhorn, at $65/pp was the most expensive meal of the trip....and worth every penny. Also, there is no argument to be made that this is not 100% authentic Roadfood.

Watching Dale walk around the Denver Gay Pride Festival - and wondering if anyone would spot him there - was a funny experience, but we did need to make it to the Rocky Mountain Diner, as Dale had mentioned to me previously that he has been dying to go there for upwards of ten years. I was looking forward to it.

RMD sits right in downtown Denver across from the Federal Courthouse.




For the architecture buffs in the crowd.

The food....well, the food was exceptionally ordinary.

Maybe it's just that anything would have been a let-down after The Fort and Buckhorn Exchange, but this was a very ordinary piece of chicken-fried steak, accompanied by OK mashed potatoes, OK vegetables, and a rock-hard inedible biscuit.



Dale described the ballpark in pretty realistic terms, but here are the photos.




You can see the tract housing in the background.

After wondering and wondering when I would see the snow-capped mountains, like you see on the Coors can, I finally managed to get that view....


....right on the way out of town!

Epilogue

The Highlights
  • Both The Fort and Buckhorn Exchange - I couldn't pick a winner between them if I had to.

  • Hanging out with BikerJim and Mrs BikerJim

  • Continental Deli and the Cherry Creek Farmer's Market - both places had lots of locally produced goods. I could have spent hours at either place, but, we ended up running short on time at both. I bought a "spicy Polish" from one of the vendors, made locally -with chips and a bottle of water for $5 - excellent!

  • Larimer Square - in particular a place called, simply The Market. This place was fabulous - serving everything from coffee drinks, to sandwiches and hot entrees to desserts - all in a market-type atmosphere. Unfortunately, we didn't get to eat anything here as we were on our way to our pre-planned dinner, but I plan to make it back some time.

  • The "fat chick" and the drunk guy on the bus. I couldn't have written that script. But, at one point, I leaned over and asked Dale "Is he a friend of yours?"


The Lowlights

  • Well, pretty much everything else! Let's start with Homemade Heaven, which I don't think I need to recap my feelings on.


  • The plain vanilla, gentrified "Yuppieville" that we found in both Denver and Colorado Springs. Denver was "Liberal Yuppieville" and Colorado Springs was "Conservative (Religious) Yuppieville." Neither town had any particular character, and, more importantly, neither did either of the ballparks.


  • The price of ticket versus quality of seat issue at Coors Field. The seats we had were not $40 seats...especially when the people three rows behind us paid only $25.


  • Not getting to see the Air Force Academy, which was mostly my fault, as I did not call or look online to see when their visitor's hours were. Again...it's OK...I'll be back some time.


Overall, not a bad first time to Colorado. I was happy to be out of a car for a little while as I headed off to Nashville and my meet-up with Poverty Pete....up next (well, it may be before or after Dale's ABQ write-up - not sure).
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/17 09:32:28 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by The Travelin Man

Denver Wrap-up (conclusion)

Buffalo Restaurant and Bar

Based on wanderingjew's comments above, I am going to say that he liked this place a lot more than I did. It wasn't bad, it just reminded me of all the uber-touristy places that we have here in central Florida. We usually laugh at the tourists that choose to eat there? Why? Because the meals are overpriced and unexceptional, but they do a good bit of advertising with the local hotels and convention folks.


I thought the restaurant's atmosphere fit in perfectly with the town itself - which to me came across as a "locals" tourist spot. A comparable analogy would be Newburyport or Rockport in the Boston area or Bardstown, south of Louisville KY. An area well known to residents of the surrounding area but not familiar with those from "out of town" - a day trip kind of place.

quote:
Overall, not a bad first time to Colorado. I was happy to be out of a car for a little while as I headed off to Nashville and my meet-up with Poverty Pete....up next (well, it may be before or after Dale's ABQ write-up - not sure).


I've got my Albuquerque photos uploaded and edited. I'll do a brief synopsis of Denver tonight and will start on Albuquerque tommorow- I should be done on Saturday after which "I'll pass the torch"
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/17 18:14:54 (permalink)
Denver Synopsis

Best Meals

Again, no doubt The Buckhorn, and I think it slightly edged out The Fort for one reason- Pearl Onions as I indicated I'm not a fan of them


Pretty Darn Good

El Taco De Mexico was also a great meal but I think could have been elevated into an outstanding meal if I went for those Cheeks Meat Burritos. The green chile made all the difference in the world an I wish I had the opportunity to experience more since it's so prevelent in Denver.


I'm not sure why TTM would be so concerned of the tourist kitchy decor at The Buffalo Bar and Restaurant(TTM took me to the Orlando Alehouse which I thought looked much more touristy but despite that had a really good Mahi Sandwich)- this was also a really good meal, albeit somewhat expensive- but I'm not overly concerned about the cost of a meal especially if it was as decent as that- I've been to many roadfood restaurants that presented with touristy decor-some good- Tony Packos in Toledo comes to mind and some not so good like The Loveless Cafe in Nashville

OK

The Rocky Mountain Diner was kind of a letdown after waiting a decade to try the place- The Trout was good, the Buffalo Chili could have been good if it had...well alot more Buffalo meat in it and the biscuit was definetely forgettable..

Not So Good

Dead last- Homemade Heaven in Ogallala- great dessert, bad everything else.

TTM and I discussed the "Vanilla" like qualities of Colorado, I agree most of what we saw was pretty much the white side of Vanilla, the exception was the barrio where El Taco De Mexico was located. I know there are some really cool neighborhoods in Denver with a lot more character and we really just "scratched the surface" with only 2 full days in town.

I can't believe I completely forgot about The Market in Larimer Square- it's been around forever, and basically looks almost the same as it does when I first visited nearly 20 years ago.
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/17 21:05:24 (permalink)
Sunday June 22 The Land of Mañana aka Albuquerque



After a quick pit stop at Common Grounds, TTM and I headed back to Denver International Airport and parted ways.

I was heading back to the desert after a 13 year absence. It was somewhat bittersweet. The last time I was there was a brief overnight stop in 1996 to help my mother move and drive her car up to Albany NY. She initially moved to Albuquerque to live near my older brother (the middle child) back in 1987. Both have since left Albuquerque and both are now deceased.

Frustration began shortly after my one hour flight to Albuquerque. I arrived at the luggage carousel to get my luggage and as it so happens, there is luggage being loaded onto the carousel from at least 3 different flights simultaneously. Nearly a half hour passes before I’m able to grab my luggage. I then took the shuttle to the Hertz Rent a Car counter, to find out that my car “is not ready yet” but they’re more than willing to rent me a mini van for the same price in the meantime, I said “thanks but no thanks” and waited almost another half hour for my compact car.

Finally at almost 2pm I was ready to hit the road to Bert’s Burger Bowl in Santa Fe- yes? Not quite. As soon as I left the confines of Metro Albuquerque I hit the nastiest gridlock you could imagine-I got the feeling something was EERILY WRONG- I noticed there was no south bound traffic coming on the other side of I 25. A few cars in front and behind me were starting to cross over the grassy median to go back the other way- I always criticize other people when I see them trying to make a U-turn on an interstate highway, but this time I couldn’t think of a reason not to- so I did and returned back towards Albuquerque- When I returned back to my hotel later that afternoon- I found out that someone TOOK OUT A MOTORCYCLIST- hence the heinous back up.

I shuffled my schedule and went to Sadie’s in Albuquerque. I was really hungry by this time- hence another snag- despite that its now 2:30 pm there’s going to be 35-40 minute wait. I was given one of those light up pagers, ok I’ll wait, but now I’m hungry and pissed off- What’s that I see over on the other side of the parking lot?



(not my photo- got this photo off of flickr)

Blakes Lottaburger
I’m hungry, I wanted a green chile cheeseburger and I’m going for it even though I’m going to be sitting down for lunch in half an hour. I walked across the parking, my burger was actually made to order and served wrapped in paper. This was a respectable burger- it did the trick, it had enough kick to get the endorphins going.



After gobbling up my burger, I returned to Sadie’s and wouldn’t you know it the beeper they gave me went off. The place was packed, Latinos and Anglos alike. I ordered the Carne Adovada dinner. My chips and Salsa arrived. The Warm Fresh Chips and spicy salsa was very reminiscent of what was served at the now defunct M & J restaurant. I ordered the Carne Adovada Blue Corn Enchiladas which comes with beans and sopapillas. This is where the fun starts- the meal arrives- but I don’t have a fork, I asked one of the bus boys for a fork- he basically ignored me- I actually had to walk up and find another waitress to request one because my waiter was no where to be found. Also where’s the Sopapillas? My waiter actually returned with a fork and I asked for some sopapillas too. My waiter did end up bringing back one sopapilla. Ok, it was busy, but my waiter could have been more apologetic.





Considering the lack of good service, the meal itself made up for it ten fold. The heat of the meal could only be described as insatiable, a certain quality unique only to New Mexico. I drizzled honey from the squeeze bottle inside the hot Sopapilla, I thought about asking for more, but honestly between the Green Chile Burger, and the big plate of Enchiladas, I was stuffed. I sat there for a while waiting and waiting for my check, luckily my waiter was nearby when the busboy asked if I wanted more ice tea, I replied (loud enough for my waiter to hear) “no that’s ok” I’m just waiting for the check. The waiter got the hint and brought my check over. I left a 15% tip, yes it was busy, but the service could have been a little more apologetic, probably one of the best meals of the trip, but this guy was runner up for the worst service award.







After my gut- busting lunch, I checked into my hotel and relaxed a bit. I got to Isotopes Park, home of the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes early, to get a ticket and ensure a good seat. Free parking!
I took some photos of the Ballpark. Like Yankee stadium, this ballpark underwent an extensive renovation from the frame up, however this renovation took place in the earlier part of this decade. It looks nothing like its former self and now has a southwestern- art deco style.






I had some time to kill and decided to head to Central Avenue Downtown aka Route 66 to see how much it changed over the last decade and a half. What used to be a “dead downtown” has been replaced with bars and restaurants, I will definitely be returning after the Ballgame..

I returned to the ballpark. The Isotopes were hosting the Iowa Cubs. Inside the park, there’s an amazing view of the Sandia Mountains.

This was quite an interesting game, the Isotope’s fielding was horrible- the pitching was fine. Throughout the game, there were probably close to a dozen times that someone in the out field or infield dropped an easy catch. Despite all of this, to my amazement, there were only 2 errors charged against the Isotopes. The Cubs obviously won that evening.










Here's the isotope's mascot- Orbit




In between innings, we were provided entertainment by the traveling nerd “Myron Noodleman”. Apparently he goes to the various minor league parks to entertain the fans with his nerd like antics.



After the game, I returned to Central Avenue downtown. The wind was starting to pick up and it seemed like a sandstorm was a brewin. Downtown was hopping for Sunday night- cop cars everywhere to stop “the cruising” Interesting crowd- picture the Lowriders versus the University of New Mexico (UNM) Crowd I stopped at a Brew Pub called Chama River Brewing.- TTM would have liked this place- it certainly had character- it looked like someone set up a brewpub in their basement- in fact it was about the size of a basement. The only fare on the menu was a bag of chips. I was talking with the Bartender and found out that this is an offshoot of their main location, which is more “corporate” and “cookie cutter”and out in the burbs. I ordered the hefeweisen- probably the best beer of the trip.

At this point it was getting somewhat late, so I called it a night and returned to my hotel

More tommorow.

Blakes Lotaburger
6210 4th street NW
Albuquerque NM 87107

Sadie's
6230 4th Street NW
Albuquerque NM 87107

Isotopes Park
1601 Avenida Cesar Chavez
Albuquerque NM 87106

Chama River Brewing
106 2nd Street SW
Albuquerque NM 87102




kland01s
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/18 07:46:16 (permalink)
I've really been enjoying following the main trip and side trips from each of you! Great photos of food and sights! Blakes Lottaburger is my secret indulgence. Whenever I am in NM I always stop at the one in Bernalillo for a quick fix on my way to Santa Fe where I then stick to NM fare. I must try Sadies next trip, we don't spend much time in ABQ anymore but it might be worth a stay.
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/18 08:39:45 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by kland01s

I've really been enjoying following the main trip and side trips from each of you! Great photos of food and sights! Blakes Lottaburger is my secret indulgence. Whenever I am in NM I always stop at the one in Bernalillo for a quick fix on my way to Santa Fe where I then stick to NM fare. I must try Sadies next trip, we don't spend much time in ABQ anymore but it might be worth a stay.


Kland, I definetely recommend Sadie's. It was my best meal in Albuquerque. Keep in mind it seems like Sadie's is always busy, even during off hours, I just hope the service you receive was better than mine.
Mosca
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/18 11:47:23 (permalink)
I want you guys to know that this trip report is just insane. This is possibly the best thing I've ever read on Roadfood. Thank you, for doing it, for taking the pictures, and for writing about it. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/18 21:47:03 (permalink)
Monday June 23- Albuquerque

After surfing the net at the hotel computer I decided to check out 2 coffee houses that morning
My first stop before breakfast was Java Joe’s, near downtown. The coffee house itself had a nice atmosphere but I found that the coffee itself did not offer a full bodied taste.

My breakfast stop was at The Harvest Café at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. It appeared the cultural center was undergoing some sought of renovation as there was a lot of heavy construction inside the building.










I ordered the Huevos New Mexico. Eggs served on corn tortillas with Green Chili and Carne Adovada. I was disappointed that posole was no longer served with the meal. I also ordered a side of fry bread. The Main Dish was just as good as I remembered and gave me a morning “pick me up”if the coffee didn’t, however the fry bread besides being smaller than I recall, just didn’t taste the same way, first it was served luke warm at best and it wasn’t as soft and billowy as I remember, so that was somewhat of a disappointment.





After breakfast, I stopped at the local coffeehouse chain, Satellite Coffee in the “trendy” Nob Hill Neighborhood on Central (Route 66) . Obviously the atmosphere was more corporate, the coffee was slightly stronger but still lacking that “full body”.

I strolled the Nob Hill Neighborhood for a bit exploring some of the shops. I spotted a brewpub called Kelly’s which I decided I would return to visit later that evening.

Apprehensively, I made my way back up to Sante Fe, I was hoping to visit Bobcat Bite, but unlike Mr. Go with the Flow, I didn't want to be met with a


so I actually checked in advance to see if they were open and I found out they’re closed Sundays and Mondays, so I went to Bert’s Burger Bowl.





This Green Chili Cheeseburger was definitely a shade or two above the one served at Blake’s Lota burger which was also good- but this was exceptional, the dripping cheese providing a backdrop for the spicy green chiles.




Ooh and those hot crispy golden onion rings-wow!



After lunch, I walked around the plaza in Santa Fe. Native Americans are selling their wares. I looked at a few Turquoise necklaces but didn’t buy anything. Just about anything can be bartered down.













I guess this is where the original frito pie was first served





You can see the Native American's sitting and selling their wares




It looked like a rain storm was approaching so I headed back to my car. Sure enough on the way back to Albuquerque I ended up driving through some pretty heavy rain, but that was short lived, and I made it back to “Sunny Albuquerque” by late afternoon.

I decided to explore the Petroglyphs. Located on Albuquerque’s west mesa, these are etchings carved into extinct volcano’s by Native Americans. The park was surprisingly desolate and it was getting close to closing time. Being alone I was wondering if there might be a rattle snake or two lurking near me. I started to explore a two mile round trip trail . About half way through, I heard something on the ground- I didn’t know what it was- it could have been a cicada or ?????
I bolted, ok I didn’t bolt, but I ended up walking back quickly the other way back towards my car- I know- what a wuss!













Here's the Sandia Mountains






By this time, I was getting hungry again and dinner time was approaching, after a brief stroll around the University of New Mexico area (UNM) I headed to El Norteno for dinner.





My meal started off with the obligatory Chips and Salsa and also included a side of exceptional Guacomole, the salsa was good, but milder than Sadie’s.




I decided to order a Horchata- I never had one before. This rice-milk concoction tasted like a refreshing light milkshake it really hit the spot.



Still having that craving for Posole, I decided to go with that for my main meal. I got a huge bowl of thick spicy red stew, loaded with Posole and Pork. I really enjoyed my meal here.



The service was far superior to that at Sadie’s but then again there was a smaller crowd, however I think overall, Sadie’s had an edge over El Norteno, however I’m glad I made it here and I’m sorry to hear about their recent fire.

My last stop of the night was Kelly’s Brewerey and Restaurant-yet another yuppie brew pub. The difference with this brewpub was they also serve other craft brews along with their own. I’ll be honest, I don’t even remembered what I ordered, probably had something to do with the apathetic bartender, she had the personality of a wet mop. After one beer, I was ready to call it a night. I was heading back home the next day and little did I know- it was going to be FUN.

WOW- we've come a long way since "Chicken and Pancakes" haven't we??

The short final chapter and synopsis tommorow

Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12 Street NW
Albuquerque NM 87104

Burts Burger Bowl
235 N Guadalupe
Santa Fe NM 87501

Petroglyph Park
6900 Unser Blvd NW
Albuquerque NM 87120

El Norteno
6416 Zuni Road SE
Albquerque NM 87108

Kelly's Brewery
3222 Central Avenue
Albuquerque NM 87106




wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 09:54:28 (permalink)
Tuesday June 24- Albuquerque and the Hellish Trip Home

I was glad my flight leaving Albuquerque wasn't too early at 9:30am
That gave me a chance to hit my last "official" stop of the trip, The Frontier Restaurant for breakfast.



Funny, I lived in Albuquerque for 6 months right after college back in 1987, I visited at least once or twice a year through 1995 and I never made it there once. I walked in and checked the place out.
Photos and other relics paying homage to "The Duke" himself, John Wayne



Voted best breakfast burrito, by local polls, I knew what I was getting.



Loaded with eggs, cheddar, hash browns, green chile...and..for a little extra- carne adovada, there is no doubt those polls were right..

I made one last pit stop at Satellite Coffee in the university area and headed back to drop off my rental at the Airport or in Albuquerque terms "The Sunport"


The flight from Albuqerque to Houston was nothing out of the ordinary I arrived in Houston and noticed my flight to Cleveland was going to be 20 minutes late. Still no big deal- plenty of time to make my connection. It was now lunch time and I noticed a "Harlan's BBQ" in the food court- ok, I've never heard of them but I'm at the Airport and most likely wouldn't find anything better. I ordered the BBQ combo plate- brisket-ribs-sausage. And wouldn't ya know, it was a helluva improvement over Arthur Bryants 9 days earlier. Authentic or not- It wasn't bad at all..Sorry no photos

I return to the flight monitor after lunch and noticed my flight is now delayed an hour! That's not good- that means I'm going to miss my connection in Cleveland back to Providence. I head over to Continental Customer Service, and they tell me the only thing they can do is re-route me through Newark, however that flight was running late too- but even with running late, it would still get me in well over an hour before my connecting flight to Providence so I took my chances, the only catch- Instead of arriving in Providence at 9pm (so I could go to work the next day), I would be arriving at 11pm and my luggage would be arriving the next day (ok-still no big deal)...

I grabbed an Iced Coffee at Starbucks (not many choices at the Airport) and sat down since I had at least a half hour before boarding would begin, a couple of minutes later something told me to get up and check the flight monitor, my flight to Newark was "now boarding"- no PA announcements- Nothing- I dashed across two terminals and made it in time. Despite the fact that we were supposed to be taking off in like 15 minutes, the flight was unusally empty- apparently others like myself must still assume that the flight has been delayed....sure enough, eventually those people got on board, and then of course the announcement is made that the flight is going to be delayed...again...due to "weather"

We finally take off, and hit some fairly rough turbulence around the Memphis area. What was really cool was I able to watch our flight path on the video monitor in front of my seat- I've never seen that before.

I arrived in Newark, with plenty of time for my next flight. It was now dinner time- There was an "enclosed diner style restaurant" called Garden City Diner- I reviewed their menu and they had an Italian Style Hotdog served with fries- believe it or not, my biggest concern was getting served frozen vs fresh cut fries- I opted for Nathan's instead- Two Hot Dogs with Sauerkraut and Mustard and Nathan's Famous Fries- yes, it's not the original location in Coney Island but it did the trick (Sorry no photos) I then realized I began my trip with a hot dog at Midway in Chicago and Ended my trip with Hotdogs in Newark-
how ironic!

Well...the fun only gets better....right before we were supposed to board in Newark, they announce that even though our plane is there waiting for us- our flight crew is late- which means we're going to be delayed by 30 minutes. finally, we board 45 minutes late- and they announce that since we were late getting out- we're number 24 for take off...after our short 36 minute flight to Providence, I finally got home at almost 1AM- of course without my luggage.....

I ended up calling in to work the next morning to advise I would be taking half a day and coming in after lunch. The airline did call me that morning and advised my luggage would be in by 10am- luckily I'm only 4 miles from the airport!

Lessons learned
-Never allow more than one layover
-Always take the next day off from work

Frontier Restaurant
2400 Central Avenue SE
Albuquerque NM 87106

Albuquerque Synposis

I didn't have a bad meal here....

Ironically the best meal , Sadie's- also had the worst service but I'm blaming that on the fact that they were packed!

The only real dissapointment if you could call it that was the Fry Bread at the Harvest Cafe in the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center..
and the fact that I couldn't find a stellar cup of coffee...

However the coffee situation is about to change...

I found a great website (kind of like the Roadfood of Coffee) with a
forum for those looking for great coffee houses not only around the country but around the world

[url]www.coffeegeek.com[/url]

Thats it for me....

The torch has now been passed






leethebard
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 09:58:56 (permalink)
What a super job...looked at those pictures twice,,,that breakfast was something!!!!
MiamiDon
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 10:06:03 (permalink)
Bravo! Great trip report. I found myself wondering whether you were in the Newark airport while Ellen4641 was at the hot dog place, but then I realized that you got back on June 24th! Isn't it time for you to go on another trip?

By the way, where was the green chile with the Huevos New Mexico at the Harvest? Was it served on the side? That looked like a great (but filling!) breakfast, except for the poor example of fry bread.

I enjoyed the trip to the Isotopes ball park, as they are a farm team for the Marlins.
wanderingjew
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 10:17:00 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by MiamiDon

Bravo! Great trip report. I found myself wondering whether you were in the Newark airport while Ellen4641 was at the hot dog place, but then I realized that you got back on June 24th! Isn't it time for you to go on another trip?

By the way, where was the green chile with the Huevos New Mexico at the Harvest? Was it served on the side? That looked like a great (but filling!) breakfast, except for the poor example of fry bread.

I enjoyed the trip to the Isotopes ball park, as they are a farm team for the Marlins.


Don,

The Green Chili is actually served over the Carne Adovada...believe it or not, there are corn tortillas beneath the Carne Adovada and Eggs- you just can't see them....I also realized (this is my fault)
I should have ordered those eggs "over easy" versus "over hard"

My next trip is 4 weeks away- it's only going to be a weekend trip to the New Nationals Ballpark in DC and a final Homage to Yankee Stadium in Da Bronx.
mr chips
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 11:06:27 (permalink)
This is such an epic report. Thanks for sharing, Dale. What an adventure!
Michael Hoffman
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 12:05:11 (permalink)
I don't know how you stadia touring folks can stay away from Cooper Stadium on Monday, July 21, where the Columbus Clippers play in the International League. It's Dime-A-Dog night on Monday, and there'll be just a couple of more such nights during this last season for The Coop.
mayor al
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/19 15:11:00 (permalink)

Nice job, Dale. I like Mexican food a lot, but if I had used it as my main diet-entry(entree?) for several days as you did, I don't think I would have been welcomed by many of my fellow-travelers on a flight. And for sure, the aircraft would have made up ALL lost time enroute!! Just look for the green contrail across the evening sky!

OK TTM, We want to know your side of the story we've already had hints about in Nashville and the Derby City!!
Tony Bad
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/20 10:30:17 (permalink)
quote:
Originally posted by mr chips

This is such an epic report. Thanks for sharing, Dale. What an adventure!


What a great way to describe it...epic. I can't believe how many places you hit and how well documented everything was/is. Thanks for the supreme effort to share your adventures with all of us.
billyboy
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/20 11:33:48 (permalink)
Great wrap-up, WJ!! My mouth is watering for some authentic Southwestern food right now.
catosaurus
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RE: BB, WJ, & TTM June 2008 Baseball & Roadfood Saga 2008/07/20 17:56:25 (permalink)
I've so enjoyed checking in on this thread every day, hoping (and being pleasantly satisfied) when an update has been posted. It's been almost like a vacation for me. I'm extremely glad that WJ and TTM took the time to document their adventures (both in dining and sight-seeing) for us. I'll miss seeing new supplements!

I just love this website and its posters!
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