Nice one, WJ!
Going up in that tram, I did feel a bit like pulling a Scooby Doo when he gets so scared that he leaps into Shaggy's arms!
I have to say, great call on Padilla's, man! I was really blown away by that place. So unassuming on the outside but just fantastic, homemade food. Right after we ordered, I went to use the restroom which was in a corner of the kitchen. Someone was in there so I waited and could see a woman turning something in a cast iron skillet and across the hall I spied two 5-gallon buckets filled with dried red chiles that were soaking (presumably in water) to be made into sauce. Both of these things made me very excited for our meal as it really seemed that a lot of care went into using fresh, local ingredients and making most, if not, everything by hand.
I loved that guacamole appetizer, especially the presentation with the chips already in it like little sharks! Buttery, creamy, spicy and chunky, just how I like it. I did like guacamole prior to this trip but for many years I had suffered through so many bad renditions that resmebled art class paste. To me, guac is one of those dishes where less is more. Not too many ingredients and the less mixing/processing the better. I first had it prepared tableside a few years ago at Rosa Mexicano in NYC and was blown away at how truly amazing it could be.
The sopaipillas with honey drizzled on top were fantastic and that dessert really was just like horchata pudding.
BB, thanks so much! The feeling is mutual and Dayna really did enjoy meeting you, Mariton and Johnny and hanging again with WJ (she had previously met he and Sandra with me for dinner at the Second Ave. Deli last November). I wish I had taken notes but I believe that my dinner choice was a combo plate consisting of a beef taco, tamale and enchilada with rice & beans, smothered in green chile sauce. I distinctly remember not wanting red as I had tried it a number of times at various restaurants on this trip and found it to be pretty intense and found myself preferring the subtler flavor of the green. Everything on this plate was really good and just tasted really fresh. I would put Padilla's on my must stop list for my next trip out here. Thanks for the great conversation WJ, BB and Mariton!
I didn't really "get" what you were saying about the neon at the Doghouse as it was light when we arrived. Once it became dark, it all made sense. I think Dayna took a shot that almost matches yours. Love, love, love that neon. Such a tiny spot in what seemed to be a somewhat sketchy neighborhood. That chili was pretty hot right from the get go. I wasn't thrilled with the flavor either. I'm a big fan of "chili sauce" style chili on hot dogs (think a wet meat sauce) and this tasted and felt closer to Hormel brand. I also had a chocolate-cherry shake which was quite good and definitely helped to cool me down.
We all parted ways at this point as we were flying back to our respective cities the next day. It really was so great to spend some quality time with you all and to be there to celebrate with Chris & Amy. I look very much forward to our next meet-up!
WJ, I have to echo what BB said about your decision to not write any more trip reports. I have phases where I get burned out and don't have any for a while and it definitely is more fun when there is lots of feedback. Given the that amount of Roadfooders who write trip reports is very small compared to the total amount of people who are members on the site, I think that it's easier for many RFers to relate and repsond to threads that they can connect with on a personal level rather than ones about trip and places they may never have been or may never visit.
I've been reading over your "Beach Bums & Bleached Blondes...", "Rocky Mountain Highs and Big Skies...", and your "Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket..." in particular many times and they never fail to inspire me. I would count myself among the many who would feel that something is lost if you didn't write them anymore but you have to do what feels right for you.
<message edited by billyboy on Tue, 08/20/13 2:00 PM>