Excellent, Vietnamese Chicken Fire-Roasted to Order at Cordon Bleu in Nob Hill

This is exactly the kind of hidden-in-plain-sight hole-in-the-wall I live to discover. Just a half block off the main Polk Street drag you’ll find a tiny little rather unimpressive looking shop with a bright blue awning that reads “Cordon Bleu”. No, it’s not a French restaurant as I first assumed based on the name. It’s actually a long-standing, super low-key Vietnamese joint that’s been in this location for many decades but still manages to slip below most people’s radars undetected.

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Vibrant, Destination-Worthy, Vegetarian-Friendly Burmese at Rangoon Ruby in Palo Alto

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A mere three days after my first Burmese food experience in San Francisco, I found myself in Palo Alto face-to-face somehow with another Burmese restaurant. Odd, I thought, considering I had never come across Burmese food anywhere else in the US before. But a quick bit of research informed me that the original chef from the famed Burma Superstar I had recently visited had defected a few years back to open his own Burmese restaurant in the heart of Palo Alto called Rangoon Ruby. I wasn’t gonna ask any more questions because I had already become quite obsessed with the healthy-ish, but still super-flavorful Burmese specialties and was excited for more opportunities to explore the cuisine while I was staying in town.

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Really Unusual Burmese Soup & Salad at Burma Superstar in the Richmond

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I don’t think I’m unearthing any secrets with this one. This famed Burmese restaurant in the Richmond has been featured on the Food Network numerous times and is reputed for having constant lines out the door. Somehow, when I showed up at 12:30 on a Sunday, a time when I assumed the restaurant would be at peak capacity, it in fact had no line. I was seated at a two-top on my own immediately. Amazing.

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Old-World Formality & High-End Cajun Cooking at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans
Formality & High-End Cajun at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans

Old-World Formality & High-End Cajun Cooking at Commander’s Palace in New Orleans

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When’s the last time you put on a suit to go to dinner? I can’t really remember the last time, but I think it may have been my sister’s Bat Mitzvah 10 years ago? And yeah, I was probably wearing the same suit. In my experience, I’ve found that New Orleans is an amazing place to visit whether you’re looking for great music, great dining, or great drinking. But, if you’re looking for a really special meal, there’s one very famous restaurant that seems to keep on living in a completely different, older era.

This restaurant, Commander’s Palace, is housed in a Victorian mansion right in the middle of the primarily residential Garden District neighborhood and has been a staple of the New Orleans fine dining scene since 1880. As you could imagine, many famed chefs have passed through these kitchen doors including the esteemed New Orleans celebrity chef, Emeril Lagasse.

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Super Fancy Scientifically Brewed Coffee & Fresh, Flavorful Brunch at Blue Bottle in SF

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Everyone has an opinion when it comes to coffee. I too am a bit of a snob and would rather cut myself than drink the burnt, ashy-tasting muck they serve at Starbucks. So, the San Francisco and New York based Blue Bottle has been a godsend for me. When it comes to coffee, they treat it more as an art and truly more like a science than anywhere else I’ve ever drank the stuff. This, of course, draws hoards of mustachioed hipsters who are happy to wait daily in long snaking lines, but Blue Bottle is one of the few places I’m willing to put up with it.

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Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal
Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

Vero Is Where the Palo Alto Locals Go For A Homey Italian Meal

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Located only one block from Stanford’s the restaurant-lined Palo Alto main drag, University Avenue, you will find an unassuming Italian restaurant called Vero. With its tall, vaulted, wood beamed ceiling, candlelit dining room, and open kitchen, it’s quite an inviting restaurant to spot passing by. Though most guests were dining inside, we opted for one of their outdoor seats to take advantage of the miraculously warm early-March Californian weather.

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Michael Goes West (Texas): Big Bend Park & Marathon Edition

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After Marfa, our next stop is supposed to send us southward to Terlingua and into Big Bend State Park for a river tour down the Rio Grande. I woke up that morning in our Marfa airstream trailer to the never ending clatter of rain striking our tin roof. I immediately picked up my phone and called up the folks at Big Bend River Tours to find out if our river tour would be canceled due to unsafe weather, but was quickly assured that it was completely clear down in Terlingua. Somehow, considering the fact that we’d had nothing but rain for five straight days, I found that hard to believe, but I held out hope.

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Amazing Cocktails & Asian Inspired Barbecue at Fatty ‘Cue in NYC
Amazing Cocktails & Asian Inspired Barbecue at Fatty ‘Cue

Amazing Cocktails & Asian Inspired Barbecue at Fatty ‘Cue in NYC

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

The scenario: a random Tuesday, impromptu date night, day-of, no reservations. Sure, you could wrack your brain and come up with a place, but I chose to use ScoutMob to do the work for me. For those, unfamiliar, ScoutMob is a mobile app and newsletter that provides deals at carefully hand-picked venues without having to pay anything upfront. It alleviates the risk of coupon purchasing that is often associated with Groupon and its competitors. After scrolling through the Android app, my girlfriend and I spotted Zak Pelaccio’s Fatty ‘Cue, a place we had already talked about wanting to check out. It’s settled, we walk the four blocks from our apartment over to the restaurant and are seated promptly.

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Modern American Charm at Market Table in the Heart of the West Village
Market Table Review

Modern American Charm at Market Table in the Heart of the West Village

When your parents are in town and you are tasked with choosing a spot for dinner that can handle a Saturday night table of 4 in NYC on short notice, your options are often pretty limited. Because restaurants have such restricted space and have enormous competition for popular tables on weekends, you need may need to dig deep to find something suitable. Fortunately on this occasion, my girlfriend Amy had an idea, Market Table, a place that has somehow slid under my restaurant radar until now. They did in fact have a day-of four-top table reservation available on a Saturday night.

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