Finding the Best Conch in Turks & Caicos

This vacation couldn’t have come at a better time. As the entire country fell into a below-zero deep freeze, I was headed for some sun and heat in Turks & Caicos with my girlfriend Amy and her family.

Day 1:

We were staying at the beautiful Grace Bay Club, right on the incredible beach in Providenciales, Turk & Caicos. Upon arrival, we immediately hit the gym to preempt the impending bodily destruction. I had two missions on this trip. 1) To return with the tan of a golden god. 2) To eat as much conch – the local shellfish specialty – in as many ways as humanly possible.

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A Real Cheesesteak without the Drive to Philly at Phil’s Steaks in NYC
A Real Cheesesteak without the Drive to Philly at Phil’s Steaks in NYC

A Real Cheesesteak without the Drive to Philly at Phil’s Steaks in NYC

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I’ve spent a good chunk of time in Philly during my four years of college. Over this time, I ate my fair share of cheesesteak. No surprise there. So, when it comes to cheesesteaks, I have really high standards. I’ve eaten most of the big names in Philly and I know what makes a good cheesesteak great.

Now, I get it. Cheesesteaks are not going to be as cheap in New York as they are in Philly. And that’s a shame since it is street food and is supposed to be cheap. It’s a blue collar sandwich for the common man, but I’ve come to terms with it. However, there are still a few aspects of a cheesesteak that are musts and only a few of the cheesesteak shops in NYC have met my requirements. On the many visits I’ve taken to the mobile Phil’s Steaks trucks, they have passed my tests with flying colors.

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What to Eat When the Cronuts Run Out at Dominique Ansel Bakery
What to Eat When the Cronuts Run Out at Dominique Ansel Bakery

What to Eat When the Cronuts Run Out at Dominique Ansel Bakery

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I went to Dominique Ansel Bakery at 9:00 in the morning and didn’t get a Cronut. I wasn’t coming for a Cronut though. I don’t have the patience to wait in lines.

I don’t think this place needs much of an introduction after the absolute fervor that swept across New York, the nation, and the world over the past year with the Cronut craze. What many people might not know or perhaps will continue to ignore is the fact that there are many other items served at this bakery just as worthy of your attention and without the crazy lines.

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Authentic Czech Kolaches at Dos Gatos in San Marcos, TX

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On the final day of our whirlwind road trip across the great state of Texas and back, we departed San Antonio early in the morning to head to Austin for our flight home. While on the road we decided that we needed to make of last pit stop to fill up our bellies with something delicious to prepare ourselves for the long day of travel ahead. A quick Yelp search in San Marcos, a small college town halfway between San Antonio and Austin, revealed a well regarded kolache shop on the outskirts of Texas State University. As a fan of this Czech-Texan specialty, I knew we had to make a stop.

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Come for the Hot Dogs, Stay for the Mac & Cheese at Dogmatic
Come for the Hot Dogs, Stay for the Mac & Cheese at Dogmatic

Come for the Hot Dogs, Stay for the Mac & Cheese at Dogmatic

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*Editor’s Note: I’m sad to report that this restaurant is not longer open.

Along the Greenwich Village strip of MacDougal between Bleecker and 3rd Street, there is an extraordinary density of fast, cheap eateries and college-focused sports bars. This probably developed as a direct result of its proximity to the heart of NYU.

Even with so many choices, I still always get excited when new additions arrive. For instance, this week I was treated to the opening of Dogmatic, a diminutive, pristine, bright white, glowing shop with a small and unique menu that recently relocated from the Union Square area. The menu consists mostly of hot dogs and hamburgers and claims to make “naturally good fast food”.

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Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy
A Japanese Speakeasy Date Night Restaurant at Bohemian

Bohemian: Secret Door, Secret Phone Number, Japanese Speakeasy

I’m gonna let you in on one of New York’s best-hidden secrets. Located in the NoHo area, there’s an unmarked, members-only restaurant that doesn’t even list its phone number publicly. Even if you can manage to get your hands on Bohemian‘s phone number you’ll still need a referral to land a reservation. Seriously, when I called, the first question I was confronted with was “How did you get this number?” However, once you’ve breached their defenses and joined the ranks of their inner circle, you’ll be treated to one of the most interesting, sexy, refined meals you can find in NYC.

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Michael Goes West (Texas): Authentic Mexican Alpine Edition
Michael Goes West (Texas): Alpine Edition

Michael Goes West (Texas): Authentic Mexican Alpine Edition

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So where were we on this drive across Texas? We stopped in Texas’ Germantown Fredericksburg for a hearty breakfast and a sausage link for the road and made a quick pit stop in Fort Stockton to stretch our legs. With most of the drive to Marfa already in our rear-view mirror, we finally make it to Alpine for our lunch stop. Amy and I each researched Alpine separately, but both my source, Chow.com, and her’s, National Geographic, led us to the same results.

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