While I cannot say these are the best places I have ever dined, some are quite good.
Because every restaurant on the list has more than 6,000 reviews, it’s no surprise it mostly features big-city destinations over small-town spots. Los Angeles had the most spots on the top-50 list by far, with eleven restaurants. San Diego, San Francisco, Las Vegas, New York and Chicago each had five. Hawaii had four.
Here is a brief list of some of my favorite low brow (reasonably priced and casual) places:
Portillo’s (Chicago and Scottsdale)
Los Sombreros (Scottsdale)
Union Oyster House (Boston)
Merry Mac’s Tea Room (Hotlanta)
Ruby Slipper (Nawlins)
Morgan’s Lobster Shack (Truckee)
Cafe Pasqual (Santa Fe)
Nittaya’s Secret Kitchen (Las Vegas)
Point Loma Seafood (San Diego)
500 Club (Old Town Clovis)
Ben’s Chili Bowl (Washington, DC)
Uwajimaya Food Court (Seattle)
Feel free to share some of your own. I am willing to try almost anything!
It turns out two of the three places the Digital Nomad is recommending are places I have visited. Here they are:
Colombia has been squarely on my RETA beat for nearly a decade. And livable, internationalized cities like Medellín are drawing in mobile, creative, and productive remote workers untethered by the Zoom Boom.
Today, the old cartel and bad reputation that dogged this beautiful city in the days of Pablo Escobar have faded into history. But the street where he was gunned down is a bit of a tourist attraction.
They have been replaced with a hip, “must visit” city that has much to appeal to the Zoom Boom crowd.
Modern Medellin is one of the most modern and sophisticated cities on my beat. Young digital nomads huddle in trendy watering holes plotting the next Facebook or hang out at the open-air workout areas that can be found here.
The locals are warm, welcoming, friendly, and honest. They feel genuinely happy that foreigners are beginning to visit them. The Metro is quite efficient, clean and safe.
Mr. Mike, Barry the V, and I visited Colombia a few years back on a trip to Ecuador. Indeed, Medellin (pronounced Meda-gene) is a great place to visit. Public transport is great, and food (go to Pargue Llerus) is rapidly improving. And it is very affordable.
The Algarve, Portugal
If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that the Algarve is where you’ll find the most profitable real estate deals in all of Portugal.
The Algarve is indeed something special. It offers perfect weather, amazing beaches, and world-class golf. It’s easy to get there, the cost of living is low, the food is great, and it’s safe…peaceful. All factors that attract Zoom Boom remote workers.
The Algarve is the kind of place that does well in good times and bad. It attracts a huge mix of markets. It’s an internationalized destination that draws Northern Europeans, North Americans, and even folks from as far away as Asia…
In particular, I’m laser-focused on the historic town of Lagos. It’s a place where the best-in-class property is in incredibly hot demand. By getting in early on the right condos, in the right locations, we can do very well. Demand is surging, supply is scarce, and there are constraints that put serious limitations on availability.
Last year, despite the lockdown, I hear some property owners in Lagos were still pulling in gross rental yields of 7%.
Portugal is a very underrated place to visit. Though we went for golf, the culture and people are refreshing and interesting. Along the way, we went on an area wide search for vintage ports. The golf was enjoyable, and somewhat challenging. But the food and the people were absolutely the big draw. We spent many afternoons chasing down vintage ports.
I wonder why more people I know do not go to South America. The Amazon rainforest is still one of the best places I have visited. The language is not a barrier, the roads are good, and the food and wine are quite affordable and delicious. For those who say it is too much like Mexico, I guarantee you it is not! Parts of South America feel like Europe and the U.S. since they are clean, attractive, and FUN!
From Benzinga: Gone but not forgotten US based airlines. Have you flown any of them back in the day?
We’ve gathered a list of airlines that were once prominent names in the sky, of which are gone now but not forgotten.
Mohawk Airlines 1945-1972 (not that I can recall, and no, I never got the haircut either)Why it died: Labor issues and strikes forced a merger with Allegheny Airlines. Fact: Hired the first African-American flight attendant in the U.S.
Allegheny Airlines 1953-1979 (I recall a puddle jumper on US Scair that connected me to Pittsburg from Canton-Akron airport) Why it died: Rebranded as USAir, and eventually US Airways. Fact: Founded by the du Pont brothers Richard and Alexis as an airmail service in 1939.
Aloha Airlines 1946-2008 (I flew them often back in the 80s, and preferred their 10 pass tickets for a flat fee) Why it died: Chapter 11 bankruptcy Fact: Trip 243 was a regularly scheduled Boeing 737-297 flight from Hilo to Honolulu, Hawaii. In 1988, the plane was severely damaged after an explosive decompression in flight, but it landed safely at Maui’s Kahului Airport. Despite such a significant loss of integrity, the aircraft’s successful landing was unprecedented and remains so today.
Capital Airlines 1941-1961 (I recall a flight from or to the DC area and West Virginia or Tennessee) Why it died: Merged with United Airlines. Fact: Host of the world’s first TV in-flight.
Frontier Airlines 1950-1986 (I flew from Denver to KC to St Louis since I got stranded in Denver by TWA) Why it died: Bankruptcy, though the company reopened as the current Frontier Airlines in 1994. Fact: Frontier hired the first female pilot.
Trump Shuttle 1989-1992 (No comment!) Why it died: Defaulted on debt. Fact: The planes featured chrome seatbelt latches and solid-gold bathroom fixtures.
Muse Air 1981-1987 (Not that I can recall) Why it died: Liquidated by Southwest Airlines in 1985. Fact: Prohibited in-flight smoking long before it was federally banned.
Ozark Airlines 1950-1986 (Yes, from Little Rock to Biloxi, I think) Why it died: Merged with TWA. Fact: Comedian George Carlin was a spokesperson for Ozark.
Pan American World Airways (Pan-Am) 1927-1991 (Probably the best of all, to and from Europe, great food, attentive flight attendants, big roomy planes) Why it died: Bankruptcy Fact: During the 1970s, two Pan Am flights operated around the world to set or break previous around-the-world flying records.
Tower Air 1983-2000 (never) Why it died: Bankruptcy Fact: Featured in Hollywood films such as “Liar Liar” and “Turbulence.”
Eastern Airlines 1926-1991 (I remember meeting a cute flight attendant on my way to the Big Apple, where we had a whirlwind of food, theater, and fun) Why it died: Bankruptcy Fact: The company re-emerged in 2010 under the name Dynamic Airways.
ValueJet 1993-1997 (not that I recall) Why it died: A fire in 1996 was caused by the activation of chemical oxygen generators stored in the cargo hold. The fire damaged the plane’s electrical system and eventually overcame the crew, resulting in the deaths of 110 people. Fact: The company took a reverse merger with AirWays Corp after the tragic 1996 accident.
Continental Airlines 1934-2012 (I enjoyed many flights in First Class, though we often had west coast politicians on board who were real A$$holes. The airline was bailed out of bankruptcy by a guy from my hometown, Larry Hillblom of DHL fame).
Western Airlines 1926-1986 (My favorite on the west coast since they served champagne!) Why it died: Merged with DeltaAir. Fact: Champagne was offered for free for those of legal drinking age.
The saddest bankruptcy was PanAm. I think they first “glamourized” air travel back in the 50’s. My grandparents often flew PanAm to and from Japan. I flew them only once, from Rome to New York for about $99 one way!!
I recall many others: TWA, HughesAirWest, Crashcade, PSA (love the mini skirts), Northwest Orient, US (Sc)Air, Piedmont, Mesa, Republic, Rocky Mountain, Sierra Pacific, Air California, Alleghany, World Airways, Hawaii Pacific, Horizon, Island Air,
So, which airline will be next? Spirit, Frontier, ?
It seems we had many choices back then. I guess in terms of air travel, size matters.
Any natural body of inland water that feels bigger than a pond can constitute a lake. The lakes of the world vary greatly, with some sites closely resembling seas in many ways. This applies to Lake Baikal in southeast Siberia. The Unesco World Heritage Site is the deepest lake on Earth, measuring 5387 feet at its maximum depth.
Lake depth can be measured in two ways: By the distance from the surface to its deepest point, and by the average depth of the lake as a whole. The Russian lake holds the world record in both these categories. Its mean depth is 2486 feet, which is greater than the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai. If two Burj Khalifas were stacked on top of each other at Baikal’s deepest point, less than 50 feet of the top spire would poke past the lake’s surface.
Lake Baikal boasts another impressive distinction: It’s approximately 25 million years old, which means it’s the oldest lake on the planet. The depth and age of this freshwater body have allowed a variety of organisms to evolve and flourish in isolation. Half of the 60 fish species that live there can’t be found anywhere else on Earth, earning the body the title the “Galapagos of Russia.” Baikal is also home to the nerpa, the only exclusively freshwater seal species known to science.
After supporting a thriving ecosystem for millions of years, the world’s deepest lake has come under threat in recent decades. Development on the lake’s shores has resulted in pollution that harms the lake’s unique plant and animal populations. Local conservationists have fought to spare the site from some of the most concerning development projects, including plans for a nearby oil pipeline and a uranium plant, but protecting the natural wonder is an ongoing battle.I was there in May, 2014, during an unexpected winter snow storm. Hardly anyone was there, but I managed to try the local smoked omul (fish), take a boat excursion on the lake, and try some Uzbek food. The Russian food is barely edible.
Baikal was my first excursion off the famous Trans Siberian Railway. The main city, about an hour away is Irkutsk, itself a rather iconic place. All of a sudden, I found fresh fruit and veggies from Turkey for sale at the local farmer’s market. But when I went to dinner for sushi, nobody spoke English or Japanese. The staff “looked” Japanese, but only spoke Russian!
It was an experience, but probably not worth repeating. I am glad I went, but would probably not go again. This includes both Russia and the Trans Siberian Railway.
Now, with the senseless Putin war in Ukraine, I wonder whether anyone will ever visit Russia again, voluntarily?
All of you know by now that since Sheri and Mike are not traveling these days, I have embarked on my own. I have reached a point in life where the solo trip is now equal to or perhaps superior to traveling with someone. This is not to diminish the joys of traveling with an adventurous, and energetic foodie and wine connoisseur like Mike.
But when I travel solo, it seems I make more friends, talk to more strangers, and try some activities I would not otherwise partake.
Trip Savvy lists seven ways to make friends while traveling solo. Take them for face value.
Stay in a hostel
My hostel days are pretty much over, but I enjoyed my fair share when I was younger. How else would I make it to the famous Milky Way kasbah or the Red-Light District in Amsterdam? But hotels work pretty much the same, without the need to share bathrooms, or sleeping quarters. But the power of the communal meal cannot be underestimated for making new friends.
Strike up a conversation
I do this no matter where I go, even if I don’t speak the language. As you know by now, I have three Greek brothers (photo above) who have adopted me. It never hurts to ask a local where to go, what to eat, and certainly what to avoid. I ended up at a total stranger’s home for a grilled fish dinner on my first trip to Athens. We just started talking about food. Since I had nowhere to grill a fish, he offered to do it for me!!!
Go on a walking tour
Many cities offer “free” walking tours, though a small donation is much appreciated at tour’s end. Most are guided by young people, students, and young seniors. Even if I am very familiar with a city, a walking tour by a local offers a new perspective. And I met my new travel hero, Katy, originally from England, now somewhere between Singapore and Australia, on a walking tour in Bucharest (Romania) with me and Dirty Pat. She is a professional translator and travels the world 365 days a year!!! The walking tours seem to attract mostly solo travelers.
Book a small group tour
Generally, I will only do this for a cycling tour, or hire a private guide, as I did in Moscow (me in the Metro above) and St. Petersburg. Throughout most of my trips to SE Asia, Mike and I have always hired our own driver and guide. We get to set the agenda, limiting our interaction with other travelers so that we can focus on the locals. When I define small, I would say six people of less, as far as a group tour.
Meetup groups and online communities
Having tried a few, it is usually hit or miss, mostly miss. I have found most of these to be “fronts” for dating sites. But since they generally do not cost anything, why not give it a try?
Meet friends of friends
This can work really well. We met our dear friend Angela in Kuala Lumpur through our friend, Sohbee. On my last trip to KL with Mike and his son, we enjoyed several meals together, including the now famous Uncle Rani’s Organic Chicken Farm.
Take a class
I have not taken a class in a foreign country, at least that I can recall. But if you are willing to give up half a day, why not? Just keep in mind that many of these classes are expensive, and your hotel room may not accommodate the food that you prepare.
I have some better ideas, though a few might be outdated.
The internet room
How else would I meet the famous Barry the V from Cape Town (photo above), and Jason and Chun from Penang? Sadly, communal computers have been replaced by the ubiquitous cell phone.
This might be the best place to meet other travelers, solo or otherwise. Coffee seems to the beverage of choice, and certainly better than hanging out all night in a bar. Coffee shop, particularly in foreign countries, seem to be a social center for the neighborhood, just like the old days here in the US. After all, it was at a cute little coffee joint in the Garden District of Nawlins where I met Dirty Pat!
Nothing is more social than a wine tour and tasting. Or better yet, just wine tasting. Particularly in Europe, I have found the wine tours to be quite social. And finding a good wine is just a bonus!
On the plane or train
I guess a captive audience can work to either an advantage or disadvantage. I have met some interesting people on my flights. Some famous, some interesting, some barely clothed. Take your pick! I leave the outcome to your imagination.
In the queue
Whether queuing to tickets to Wimbledon, Royal Albert Hall, or beer at the Oktoberfest, this might be the best place to meet people. I stood in line for bread at Tartine Bakery in the City. Not long after, I was invited to brunch by two French ladies!
I hope you will do this at least once in your life. It will change your life in many ways!
You’ll find restaurants for dining in, some with terraces, and places to grab a quick but delicious bite such as Holy Cow (formerly Myungrang Hot Dog), whose specialty is Korean deep-fried hot dogs on a stick. Another favorite is Tanaka Ramen & Izakaya (pictured), serving flavor-packed bowls of noodles, meat and broth alongside a range of Japanese-style snacks. It’s so good – and so popular – that you might want to reserve a table in advance.
Poke, typically served in bowls topped with raw fish, originates from Hawaii so it makes sense Honolulu’s biggest shopping mall food court has excellent places serving it. At Poke & Box you can get ahi (yellowfin tuna), salmon, scallops, shrimp, octopus, chicken or tofu served over rice with extras such as pineapple, pickled ginger, sesame, seaweed, edamame, mango and spicy sauce. People say this is one of the best places for poke, full stop.
Favorite stops of ours: Yummy Korean BBQ (kalbi), Leonard’s malasadas, and soon to be, Chick Fil A. The dessert area has tasty treats like shave ice, mochi donuts, mochi ice cream, Hawaiian pastries, and traditional American desserts.
But if you want a more authentic version of a food court, head slightly west toward Foodland, and dine at the Shirokiya Village. It is the closest cousin of the famous Edo period villages in Japan (and easily found at Haneda Airport in Tokyo). You will find a wide selection of Japanese food, not just your usual teriyaki, sushi, and donburi. You will soon declare umami to be your favorite word in your gustatory vocabulary!
And make sure you take a look at your paper receipt. You may have a pleasant surprise coming to you!!
The highlight for me on Easter Sunday now? Perhaps an online Easter service, some exercise, and a nice dinner, probably lamb chops, and my favorite champagne or sparkling wine. Much has changed since my childhood. It was a highly anticipated day for many reasons back then.
As a child, I was never curious enough to ask why chicken or candy Easter eggs were delivered by a rabbit. Shouldn’t the eggs be delivered by an Easter chicken? Now, I understand that rabbits multiply, and perhaps their greater number contributed to a better and more efficient distribution system. But shouldn’t the poor hen get credit for her hard work in making the eggs?
Truth about hares or rabbits or bunnies? The rabbit has been revered even before Christian times. It was seen as a holy creature and represented fertility, and the return of Spring. But the Easter bunny is German in origin (Herr Hare??? Get it!). Sixteenth century literature portrays him/her delivering Easter eggs. Colored eggs were left only for well-behaved children. You are own your own to find out why Easter is a time for a new outfit, and an Easter bonnet. The edible bunny was also borne in Germany, originally made from pastry, not candy or chocolate.
Actually, the egg is a pagan symbol of the rebirth of the Earth and was adopted by early Christians as a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of the oldest customs is to paint or dye the eggs into colorful objects of art. In modern times, chocolate and plastic Easter eggs have replaced real chicken eggs. Folklore says that it is the Easter Bunny who hides the eggs for children to find. The real question is, where or from whom, did the Easter Bunny steal the eggs?
So, I will skip most of the religious history of Easter, the egg, and its trappings. I want to focus on the Easter Bunny. I made a vow a few years ago to no longer eat rabbit. Dear friend Donna has a wonderful, and handsome pet rabbit, named James. In his honor, I no longer eat rabbit, or even kiss a rabbit’s foot for luck. I was hard pressed one cold and dark evening in Valparaiso, Chile to find a decent meal on a Sunday night. The chef claimed he was the best rabbit chef in all of Chile. Not so.
It turns out that I should be giving up eggs for lent, as they did long ago. An egg was a special treat after a long period of self-denial. Hardboiled eggs were died red to represent Christ’s blood. The children kept the red eggs as a talisman for good health in the ensuing twelve months. Could this be the origin of the Red Egg, and Red Hat parties? In Europe, red eggs are still buried on farm land and vineyards to ensure bountiful crops, and as protection from lightning and hail.
But decorating Easter eggs is still a great tradition. As children, decorating the eggs was actually more fun that the Easter egg hunt or awakening to an Easter basket full of candy. Of course, most of the eggs spoiled, since we chose to look at them, rather than eat them. We chose our favorite color. Since there were four of us, we got three eggs each to dye and decorate. I think I always chose blue. We preferred to use the little paste-on tattoos on our legs and arms, rather than place them on the eggs.
A prize is generally offered to the child collecting the most eggs. In our small town, the egg hunt was focused on several “special eggs”. Most of the eggs were candy, but a few decorated chicken eggs were hidden. If we found one of these, a huge Easter basket was the reward. Of course, I never did find one of those, since I was so busy gathering the candy eggs. It could not have been the most sanitary of activities, in a public park, with rodents and dogs roaming the grounds. With my kids, we used plastic eggs, filled with either jelly beans, other candy, or money. Buddy does not show much interest in hunting Easter eggs.
But it was fun! Easter, much like other holidays of religious origin or significance, have become too commercialized. I wonder if you stopped ten people under the age of thirty, and ask if they knew the origin of Easter? My guess would be less than 50%. Sad but true.
Our Easter Sunday as children always started with making breakfast, then going to church. But the highlight was having Easter Sunday with our cousins, paying baseball in the yard, maybe swimming if it was warm enough, and an Easter egg hunt, followed by a nice Easter dinner by my Aunt Rosie (the great cook and baker). Those were the days!!! I miss them.
Italy finally approved the sale of Prosecco rosé as of January 1, 2021. Formerly, Prosecco’s Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC) status didn’t allow for rosés. Wineries found a work-around by labeling pink fizz as spumante, but no longer. New regulations allow for actual Prosecco rosé, as long as it’s made from Glera (the grape of Prosecco) plus 10% to 15% Pinot Noir (hence the color). The Prosecco consortium estimates that total production of Prosecco DOC rosé may climb to 30 million bottles per year; cue the cheering from rosé and Prosecco fans alike.
Top Prosecco Doc Rosés
2019 Mionetto Prosecco Doc Rosé ($15)
Very pale pink, with a ripe citrus–red apple aroma, this bottle from one of Prosecco’s best-known names is appealingly fruity without being overly sweet.
2020 Villa Sandi Prosecco Doc Rosé Brut Millesimato ($17)
This salmon-pink wine has a distinctly crisp, refreshing zestiness. Its strawberry and green apple flavors end on an appealing dry, saline note.
2020 Bisol Jeio Prosecco Doc Rosé Brut ($18)
Bisol’s Jeio rosé upholds this top producer’s high standards. With delicate bubbles and scents of toasted bread and cherries, it offers a lot of complexity for the price.
2019 Val D’oca Prosecco Doc Rosé ($15)
Founded in 1952 by 129 farmers, Val D’Oca is consistently high-quality, which is rare for co-op wines. Its lightly spicy rosé is lively and bright, with a faint toasty note.
2020 Tiamo Prosecco Doc Rosé ($16)
One of the few Proseccos made with organically grown grapes, this pale pink bottling recalls watermelon Jolly Rancher candies (but without the sweetness).
2020 Angelini Prosecco Doc Rosé ($12)
This effusively bubbly sparkler offers plenty of juicy watermelon and apple flavor and heads into a slight licorice note on the finish. Chill it and drink it all summer long.
Sparkling Wine Summer Bargains
NV Faire La Fête Brut ($19)
France’s Limoux region made sparkling wines as early as 1531. A good crémant de Limoux like this one is delightful, with smooth bubbles, pear and apple fruit, and a lightly bready note.
NV Roche De Bellene Cuvée Bellenos Brut ($18)
Crémant de Bourgogne is the sparkling wine of Burgundy. This toasty, apple-scented one is a dead ringer for a brut nonvintage Champagne, except for the price.
NV Malvirà Rive Gauche White ($20)
Malvirà specializes in Piedmont’s Arneis variety, making several excellent non-sparkling single-vineyard versions of it, as well as this vino spumante, with its earthy, toasty finish.
2018 François Chidaine Brut Tradition ($23)
This wine from Loire Valley star François Chidaine offers flamboyant quince and pepper aromas; on the palate, it’s savory, intense, and completely dry.
NV Ferrari Trento Brut ($25)
Unlike Prosecco, this classic sparkler from Italy’s Trento region is 100% Chardonnay, which gives it an elegance and crisp focus that’s hard not to love—as is the lingering, creamy finish.
2017 Domaine Carneros Brut Cuvée ($37)
This graceful, brioche-scented bottling from a top California producer isn’t inexpensive—but it can easily go head-to-head with much pricier Champagnes.
If you have never tried Prosecco rose’, I suggest starting your tasting adventure at Trader Joe’s. They have several Prosecco rose’ choices at a very reasonable price. And they are pretty good!
From my friends at Perrier-Jouet, here are some helpful hints for serving champagne and sparkling wine:
Each sip of sparkling champagne is a moment to be savored. Coming together with friends and loved ones over a glass of glimmering bubbles is a joyful celebration, and with a few expert tips you can explore the art of hosting to make your next gathering one to remember. What should you keep in mind?
How to serve champagne
The perfect temperature: a non-vintage Perrier-Jouët champagne is ideally served at 8º C, while a vintage cuvée is best served at 10º C to reveal its full complexity.
Never freeze your bottle to refresh it. This can be dangerous and may unbalance the aromas.
When opening your bottle, the goal is not to surprise, but to delight guests with a light sound, almost a sigh as the bottle is opened. This is achieved by gently turning the bottle, while firmly holding the cork.
The bottom of the bottle should be held when pouring, ensuring the label is always facing your guests.
Personally, I like mine on the chillier side. But opening the bottle by turning the bottle rather than the cork is very helpful. The label facing the guests is a bit pretentious in my humble opinion.
Here are their suggested pairings, of which I am at a total loss.
Brut with chicken breast, grapefruit, sole, white peach, turnips, and young leeks
Brut rose’ with bluefin tuna, lychee, lobster, fig, lentils and red tomatoes
Blanc de blanc with striped bass, white plum, crab, passion fruit, mushrooms and peas
Here are my pairings:
Anything bubbly goes with almost anything that I like to eat!!
Champagne pairing tend to focus on salty foods, like caviar. Since I am not a big fan of caviar, what are some alternatives. Some real gourmets suggest, of all things, potato chips!! Other closely related items would be smoked salmon and potato pancakes. I guess that is why I like cheese so much with my sparklings as well as reds and whites. Champagne works well with steak because of the acid. Champagne is richer and nuttier than red wine, and is able to cut through the fat. In fact, steak tartare is said to pair perfectly with rose’ champagne. Ceviche is another interesting pairing with champagne, but not really spicy shrimp.
For dessert, the wine, whether sparkling or still, needs to be sweeter than the dessert. This is perfect for a demi-sec with panna cotta or fresh berries. Think about Wimbledon, strawberries and cream, with a glass of champagne!