Time for another post from my sweet hubs. I’ve said it once, I will say it a million times, my husband is the greatest adventure planner. When it is time to explore a new city he puts in work to find everything great about that city, including restaurants, this post is not about those restaurants. Today we are talking about the restaurants or meals that were discovered by accident but left an everlasting impression on both of us.
We have all had amazing meals in our lives. Whether they are homemade, at a Michelin rated restaurant, or a hole in the wall you walked by on your latest trip. Great food can be found anywhere. What makes a meal memorable though? I have thought about this a lot lately. There are these meals I just can’t get out of my mind and they always make me smile. That’s because all of these meals are associated with good times, good friends, and usually a funny anecdote. Although the food has always been great, the memory is what makes it, well, memorable. Almost all of these places I have only been to once and may be closed or in fact not great. Remember these are memorable meals and not strictly food based. On to the list.
Kentmorr Restaurant, Stevensville, MD
July of 2016 Heather and I met some friends from Zurich, Switzerland in Washington, DC. They were doing a small tour of America and meeting some of their old friends from Europe, who happened to be DC locals. For dinner one night we took a road trip to a restaurant our new DC friends love, but don’t get out much too because of its location. After renting some cars we traveled the hour or so out to Stevensville, MD and arrived at Kentmorrs, a small restaurant, and bar located on the east side of the Chesapeake Bay. Our new local friends asked if they could order for the table, a move I will never turn down, so I never even looked at the menu. I was not disappointed. Appetizers of crab dip and crab pretzel (crab dip on top of a soft pretzel) were amazing. The main dish? A large bucket of whole crabs, caked in old bay and other spices, was dumped directly on to the table. Hammers were passed out, pitchers of beer were ordered, and the next few hours were spent devouring crab, drinking beer and watching the sunset over the Chesapeake.
Dario Cecchini, Panzano in Chianti, Italy
In March of 2016, we took a trip to Europe and started off in Italy. We wanted to be off the beaten track a little bit and decided to stay in Tuscany and ended up staying at a small winery in Greve. Our host recommended we head down to Panzano, to a small restaurant for dinner one night. So we did, and we were not disappointed. Butcher shop by day, Dario Cecchini is a reservation only restaurant by night. The one-room restaurant located above the butcher shop had family style seating at 3 tables. We were the only non-Italian speakers, so we ended up at our own table. This place was a carnivore’s dream. Think 10-15 different cuts (all meat) served with wine and minimal vegetables. Every cut was brought out, shown to the tables, and then grilled over an open fire on one side of the room. All of the meat was cooked to perfection and just melted in your mouth. The finale involved the apprentice butcher (or chef, not really sure), holding up two hunks of beautifully marbled, gigantic steaks and screaming at the crowd in Italian. We had no idea what he said but cheered right along with the other Italians as if we understood every word. Fast Forward, a few months later we were back at home watching Phil Rosenthal’s PBS show “I’ll have what Phils Having.” During his Italy episode, he went to a dinner with Dario Cecchini who cooked up some of the giant steaks we enjoyed the night we were at his namesake butcher shop. Although he only speaks Italian in the show we had a wonderful conversation with him (in English) during our meal. Check out minute 41 for a peek at those steaks. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K199bfh6pEw
Charlies Pub and Grill, Ridgecrest, CA
My first job out of college took me to Ridgecrest, a small desert town in Southern California. I lived there for just over 3 years and hated it. After growing up along the beaches of Florida and attending college in the Front Range of Colorado, the small desert town of Ridgecrest wasn’t for me. I worked long shifts and as soon as my days off came I was off to LA to see Heather, always trying to escape Ridgecrest. Rarely did I eat out in town. Actually, for the first two years, I only ate at Charlie’s. About every 6 weeks my boss, who was located in Denver, would visit. As part of his trip, he would always take me out for dinner. Every single one of these meals was at Charlie’s. Overall the restaurant was fine. They made a good burger, they had a decent beer selection, and I never had to pay. The second or third time I was there the special was Thai Peanut Chicken. This isn’t something you would usually order at a pub and grill but I went for it. I loved it. To this day I haven’t had Thai peanut chicken as good as the one at Charlie’s. I went to Charlies probably 25 more times after that and they never had Thai peanut chicken as a special ever again. Knowing the Ridgecrest crowd I was probably the only person who ordered it that night.
The Martin Hotel, Winnemucca, NV
Two hours from Reno, Winnemucca is part of a string of small mining towns that dot northern Nevada. Over a century ago, Basque immigrants came to northern Nevada as part of the booming gold industry in the area. The Martin Hotel originally housed and fed these immigrants as well as the local ranchers and miners. Although the Martin is no longer a hotel, it still serves Basque food in their dining room. Basque food is delicious. A traditional meal consists of an entrée of steak, pork, or lamb with multiple sides served family style. These multiple sides include, but are not limited to soup, salad, bread, house wine, beans, French fries, bread pudding, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, seasonal vegetables, and whatever else they have in the back. The first time I went to dine at The Marin Hotel, one side option was sweet bread; fried cow pancreas and throat. All the sides are excellent, but the entrees are what you come for. My personal favorite is the lamb. If you can swing it, come with a group, drink a picon punch or an Ichthyosaur pale ale, and eat until you can’t eat anymore. The best part? Meals range from $17 to $32.
Ramiro’s Taco Shop Pacific Beach, San Diego, CA
One of our favorite weekend trips is to Pacific Beach, a small surf neighborhood in San Diego. We come to PB for the beach, the bars, and the Mexican food. Most of the Mexican Food in PB reflects the style of Baja California, but San Diego also has something strictly American; the California Burrito. Carne Asada, sour cream, French fries, guacamole, and cheese all rolled up in a flour tortilla; great after a day spent on the beach and in the ocean, or great at 2 in the morning after trying to drink Pacific Beach dry. After one of these nights, we were stumbling back to our hotel when we ran across Ramiro’s. Heather ordered up a California burrito and we walked to the beach, sat on a bench, and enjoyed the burrito as we overlooked the Pacific. Definitely not the best California burrito I have had but it was my first, and most memorable.
Next week we are heading to Cabo (for both of our first time) and need some recommendations! We are staying at a resort but always love to get out into the city and eat the local cuisine. Help a sister out! Any wonderful places that we need to see? any amazing restaurants that we need to eat at.
-Mike & Heather