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City secrets --- your hometown's best kept secret

 
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 6:13 am    Post subject: City secrets --- your hometown's best kept secret Reply with quote

Have you ever read the City Secrets series, which are compilations of the personal recommendations of writers, critics, artists, and producers for cities such as London, Rome and New York?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/1892145073/qid=1126674385/sr=8-4/ref=pd_bbs_4/002-0049718-3520818?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

In the spirit of City Secrets, please tell me where you live and name one or two of the best-kept local restaurants, shops or spots of interest that only the locals know about.

I'm from Pasadena, CA and one of my city's best kept secrets is a family owned torta restaurant called Yahaira's Cafe located in the Playhouse District. They serve wonderful carne asada and chicken tortas (Mexican sandwiches) on freshly baked bread, as well as quesadillas and salads.

Another city secret is actually located in South Pasadena (an adjacent city) --- Nicole's Gourmet Foods. Fortunately for me, Nicole Grandjean is a French restaurant supplier and cheese importer who sells to the public in a charming French grocery store. One can't help but salivate at her homemade pates and her free cheese sampling on Thursday nights.

Check out her online cheese guide at her web site:

http://nicolesgourmetfoods.com/home.htm
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I work in Chicago, but live just north of the City, in Evanston. I could never do Chicago justice in terms of its hidden gems, mostly because it's too hard to drive into the City to find them. But in Evanston, we have two wonderful restaurants where I've never seen anyone but locals. One is called the Stained Glass Wine Bar and Bistro. The chef is young and Latin. My wife is a little bit older, but also Latin, and so they really get along well. He is creative without being over the top, and only uses fresh ingredients according to the season. Best of all, at least for me, is that one of the owners is a wine expert and fanatic. He arranges flights of wines that he's found, often with whimsical names. It's great fun to try a flight of three before dinner, then settle on a glass to have with dinner. The other restaurant, which is two doors down the street from Stained Glass, is called Merle's Rib House. It has the best ribs I've ever tasted, and I've tasted a lot of ribs.
But wait, there's a little more. I try to sample beer from every microbrewery in every city that I go to, and in Chicago, Goose Island Brewery is still the best. We recently stopped at Bell's in Kalamazoo Michigan, and that one makes the top five. We are going to need to go back to spend serious time there, and give Bell's its proper ranking.
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harpospeaking



Joined: 13 Sep 2005
Posts: 194
Location: San Diego, CA

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 11:01 pm    Post subject: Thanks for sharing! Reply with quote

Thanks for the city secrets for Evanston! Sometimes the best kept secrets are just outside the major cities. I've never been to Chicago, but my mom and I are trying to make good use of our frequent flyer miles and take a trip somewhere in the US next spring. I'll have to give Chicago and Evanston a look. Very Happy
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Pockymonkey



Joined: 02 Aug 2005
Posts: 63
Location: Northfield, MN

PostPosted: Wed Sep 14, 2005 11:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chicago Bear,

I have close family in Evanston and visit them often over holidays, yet I confess I've never really explored much of downtown Evanston. Your recommendation gives me two places to try next time I'm in the area - thanks! And I agree, Goose Island Brewery is among the best I've ever tried.

I'll post a few recommendations for Binghamton and the surrounding region:

In Binghamton, there's a lovely little restaurant called Whole in the Wall, which serves natural, organic food and the best, hands-down mushroom soup I have ever had. I actually don't even like mushrooms and will actively avoid them in most dishes, but I order this soup every time I go. It's a small little place - it can't possibly seat more than 40 people, yet it has served a whole galaxy of celebrities (mostly musicians it seems), including Bob Dylan and REM.

Ithaca has a lot of good places to eat, some of them-like Moosewood-quite well known. But my favorite (and among locals too) is Sunday brunch at Dewitt Cafe, located in the old high school, which has been converted into some speciality shops and bookstores. Brunch is Sunday only, no reservations, and often there's a line. Great omlettes (my favorite is the one with avocado, aged cheddar, and cilantro salsa), and really decadent sweet brunch items: mascarpone and walnut-stuffed french toast, pumpkin waffles with warm apple compote, and lemon souffle pancakes with fresh blueberries. Add the Sunday newspaper and it's a heavenly morning.

And finally, Cooperstown, the home of the baseball Hall of Fame, has a Belgian-style brewery just outside of town. Brewery Ommegang brews traditional Belgian-style beers and they are excellent. They offer tours, tastings, and their grounds are just beautiful (their operations are housed in a Belgian-style farmhouse). They also welcome people bringing picnic baskets and eating alfresco. Nothing beats good food and drink, eaten outdoors in lush surroundings.
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trilobyte



Joined: 31 Jul 2005
Posts: 39
Location: Athens, Georgia, USA

PostPosted: Thu Sep 15, 2005 2:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Athens, Georgia I have a couple of favorites. Of course, Athens is a college town and not really a tourist destination but the places I like to go are generally lacking college students, especially the ‘frat boy’ types, which is nice.

The Grit is a great local restaurant that serves all vegetarian food. The atmosphere is a little bit alternative and it definitely doesn’t have a main-stream crowd. The food is creative and absolutely delicious!! Brunch is the best! They have also put out a cookbook. Their menu is online. http://www.thegrit.com/

My other favorite place is Big City Bread. They are a local bakery that sells absolutely the best fresh bread and pastries in town. They also have a nice lunch menu with a tasty selection of sandwiches made with fresh, seasonal, organic ingredients and of course the most fabulous bread. They recently started serving dinner on weekends, but I haven’t tried it yet. Big City Bread also has a farmers market every Saturday morning during the summer months. Although there is not a celebrity following for Big City Bread, one of my friends claims to have seen Michael Stipe (lead singer of R.E.M.) at Big City Bread. He lives in Athens, though. Big City Bread also has their lunch menu and bread selection online. http://www.bigcitybread.net/
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kohuether



Joined: 07 Sep 2005
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Wed Sep 21, 2005 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I live near Boston, and one of my favorite places is Anam Cara, a chic pub that has a great selection of Belgian beers and a quality menu- not to mention the best fries I've ever had in a restaurant...
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wasabi



Joined: 29 Nov 2004
Posts: 32
Location: Salt Lake City, UT

PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2005 7:39 pm    Post subject: Re: City secrets --- your hometown's best kept secret Reply with quote

Given my recent cravings, I'd have to consider one patisserie in Salt Lake.

Actually, it may be the only bona fide patisserie in town. We tend to (sadly) have an affinity for under-baked over-sweetened monstrosities. So when someone rolls into town and sets-up shop with traditional diminutive French pastries with exotic twists, folks end up scratching their heads.

It's called Les Madeleines. It has all manner of baked goods. But I consider the croissants some of the best in town. The owner is half Chilean, so she's even managed to put a killer empanada (beef and Vermont cheddar) on the menu.

But I think the signature item would be something called kouing aman. It's from Brittany and looks like a caramel-lacquered puck. Fleur de sel-butter doughs spiked with sugar. One bite is like cake, candy, and custard. It makes me see the point in chemistry Wink
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Thu Dec 15, 2005 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd have to say one of the most beloved shops in Saugerties is Krause's Homemade Candy. Personally, I compare every piece of chocolate I eat to theirs, including their sugar-free fudge, which tastes better (and not at all sugar-free) than most store-bought and homemade fudge I've had. Another town favorite is Dallas Hot Weiners, sure to be full of high school students at lunch time during Regents week (state final exams for all you non-New Yorkers). If you ever go, be sure to order the original dallas dog with cheese fries Very Happy Very Happy . It's always entertaining to see out-of-towners ask what's on them (top-secret sauce, onions, mustard)!

http://www.krauseschocolates.com/
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woodstocker- I'm surprised not to hear you say Bread Alone. I have Daniel Lederer's cookbook and it makes me sad that I left the Mid-Hudson long before he and his wife set up shop.
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ahh well I guess I take it for granted that great bread is but a short ride away! I actually live in a neighboring town, but there's a satellite store about 2 minutes from my house in uptown kingston! Bread Alone also retails their products in several of the local grocery stores, so anyone can grab them, even if they are slighty more expensive than going directly to the store- price of convienence, you know. Most of their baking is done in their Boiceville location, which was the first shop (I believe that's in the book(?)). Alas, if only I weren't at school on Long Island I could indulge in the perfect loaf...crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and liberally smeared with butter. Now that's my idea of heaven! I always thought Daniel had it right when he named his shop after Bread, cuz really, what else does a person need?
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rainey, I just googled Bread Alone and you can order online! There's a minimum of 6 loaves, but really, since you're going to want to eat them all at once (if you're anything like my family), it won't be a problem. They also freeze well and are perfect for sharing. Everything that I've had is great, especially the peasant and sourdough, but that's me.

http://www.breadalone.com/ (order button is on the top corner)
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woodstocker,
Isn't Saugerties the home to a garlic festival?
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woodstocker



Joined: 08 Dec 2005
Posts: 224
Location: kingston, ny

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 3:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

why yes indeedy Saugerties is home to the Hudson Valley Garlic Fest, held every year, rain or shine, for the past zillion years on the last full weekend of September. BTW, the festival is staffed entirely by volunteers, many of whom belong to the town's Key Club, which is the high school division of Kiwanis Club, and the money raised through admission fees goes straight back to the community. As a person who has worked my fair share of fests, Cantine Field can get pretty crowded, so if you ever plan on making the trip upstate, I advise that you get there as early as possible. Not only will everyone be in a better mood (generally), but you won't be surrounded by 10,000 other people!
http://www.hvgf.org/default.asp

Funny how you forget all the obvious things going on around you. Anyways, Garlic Fest isn't so much a "secret" as a time for the locals to hide from all the out of town drivers and the backed up traffic. Wink

I just have to state this, even though its my personal pet peeve, if anyone is going to come, please stop at the stop line in the center of town. Yes, I know sometimes it can't be avoided, but the streets are too narrow for trucks to come around the corner if you don't. One of the (dis)advantages of living in an old town. And by all means, you MUST come into town to try some cheese fries after all that garlic ice cream!
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Erin



Joined: 18 Oct 2004
Posts: 1654
Location: Within view of Elliot Bay, The Olympics and every ship in the Sound

PostPosted: Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

woodstocker,
It sounds like Upstate feels the same about visitors that we do in the Hamptons. Out here the summer is called "100 Days of Hell". During that time our population quadruples, as well as speed traps and checkpoints. I promise to be nice to your town, when I visit the garlic festival.
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