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Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014
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Comments (5)
Posted by Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle on Wednesday, July 30, 2014 4:20 AM

If you plan to spend time in Newport, Oregon, you plan to eat seafood. Local Ocean Seafoods is the best seafood restaurant in Newport. Ergo...

Your first challenge will be to secure yourself and your dining companions a table. This is not a large restaurant, word is out, and they take no reservations. Our first visit, on a Saturday evening, would have required a one hour and twenty minute wait. We passed on the opportunity and returned during the week, when waiting times were much more reasonable. So plan your approach: dine early or during the week, if you can. If not, you can pass the time strolling along the waterfront, inspecting the fishing boats berthed for the evening.

The menu is divided between small plates, sandwiches, and big plates, and this is one restaurant where you would do just as well to order a series of dishes that catch your interest, until you are satisfied, rather than follow the traditional appetizer/entree approach. Yaquina Bay is across the street. Let that be a clue: order some meltingly tender pan-fried oysters, either a small or large order. These are not the crunch-crusted deep-fried oysters you'll encounter in a New Orleans po' boy, but they are just as delicious in their own way.

If you like smoked fish, get the smoked salmon salad, which is a mammoth green salad so well-laced with chunks of the hot-smoked fish that every bite seems infused with smoky savor. As if that's not enough, the salad is topped with toasted local hazelnuts. Excellent fish tacos made with local rockfish can serve as a starter or an entire meal. Steamed local clams will keep you happily occupied for a while, even when the clams are gone, as you dip the accompanying garlic bread in the garlicky clam broth.

As you enter the restaurant you'll pass by the raw fish case (Local Ocean is also a fresh seafood shop). Notice how each sparkling-fresh layout is fronted by a card that not only tells you where the fish was caught, but how it was caught (hook & line, longline, etc.), and even the name of the fishing vessel from which this particular batch was procured. You can enjoy some of that provender on big plates that feature seared king salmon, grilled halibut, a whole Dungeness crab, or anything else that was hauled from the sea the day you arrived. Whatever you order, if you are a fan of thin and wispy onion rings, you must place an order for Frizzled Onions.

Our only quibble with Local Ocean is this: they would do better to exercise a little more restraint in the conception of the dishes. Sometimes, they do so much, garnishing the plate to a fare-thee-well, that the luxuriously fresh seafood can get lost in the amalgam. With seafood this gorgeous, less is more.

Dessert? There's only one, and it's a good one: a shortbread parfait featuring crumbled cookies and local berries.
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Roadfood of the Day: Saltsman's Hotel - Ephratah, NY
Posted on Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Unique Specialty

We've never seen milkweed served in any other restaurant. Not at all healthfoody in flavor, we think milkweed as prepared at Saltsman's makes the perfect springtime dish.
Rate this place Reviews (3) Learn more about Saltsman's Hotel...
Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, July 29, 2014 5:22 AM

We first came upon Little Cafe Poca Cosa many years ago, having just discovered its big-sister restaurant, Cafe Poca Cosa, which was then located in a cheesy downtown hotel. Cafe Poca Cosa has since moved to very classy digs and has crystallized its status as a beacon of creative Mexican food. Little Cafe Poca Cosa continues as it always was: a boisterous, colorful, party-time eatery. Luis Davila, who created it, has passed on; his daughter, Sandra Davila, maintains all the restaurant's unique charms and has added her own – a warm hug for just about everyone who walks in the door, friend or newcomer.

Like her father, Sandra is a character whose personality infuses the whole dining experience. She is one of those restaurateurs who seems to be everywhere, up front and in the kitchen, all the time. Her enthusiasm for the food, the restaurant, and for life in general is contagious. When we stop in one day for lunch, she shows off a really nice belt she is wearing, made of javalina and including a scabbard for a knife she "uses all day, for everything." Its handle, she notes, was made from a mesquite tree in her back yard.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa a breakfast and lunch place, and one of its specialties is juice – incredible juice, such as one amazing refresher extracted from beets, mandarin oranges, lemons, and limes. At breakfast you can dine on huevos rancheros, the eggs enveloped in vivid red chili sauce, the plate also holding rice, lettuce, and a brace of fruit: pineapple, strawberry, and watermelon. Or start the day with huevos Mexicanos, scrambled with tomatoes, onions, and chilies; or machaca con huevo, which mixes moist shreds of beef with bits of green chile in a veil of scrambled egg.

Vegetarians can eat very well here. We rarely can resist at least one order of the tamale de elote – a souffle-like swirl of corn meal, sweet corn, green chilies, and cheese steamed to comforting warmth inside a corn husk. Chile relleno is another meatless meal, served in a mild salsa ranchero redolent of tomatoes. Vegans with big appetites will want to know about the "Gigantic Vegan Tostada," which is a spill of pinto beans and seasonal vegetables atop a broad fried corn tortilla. Salsa ranchero comes on the side.

Moles are sensational. A thick mix of bittersweet chocolate, red chilies, ground peanuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds becomes a lush, syrupy mole negro that is dazzling on a chicken breast, or as part of a platter of cheese-stuffed quesadillas.

Little Cafe Poca Cosa is not just a place to eat. It is a significant presence in the community. A blackboard in the dining room lists the charities and good causes in Tucson and south of the border to which customers' donations are given: an elementary school, an orphanage, a children's breakfast program, a girl who needs an operation.
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Roadfood of the Day: Byron's Dog Haus - Chicago, IL
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chicago Dog

An all-beef hot dog is nestled under this wheelbarrow of condiments. Those peppers in the foreground are hot!
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Byron's Dog Haus...
Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, July 28, 2014 6:20 AM

Just east of the Thornton Gap entrance to the Skyline Drive in Virginia's Piedmont, Triple Oak Bakery is a charming patisserie that makes cakes and pies and coffee-companion pastries. There is no sit-down dining on premises, and no table service; but folding chairs are available out back, where customers can relax on a lawn overlooking the Thornton River while enjoying an al fresco slice of apple pie or mocha cake, baklava, brownies, or biscuits, scones, quiche, or rugelach.

The one quasi-meal available at Triple Oak is Saturday morning continental breakfast. It is as informal as an ad hoc gathering of friends and neighbors. Everybody stands around the kitchen chatting and pouring their own coffee from a large French press carafe or fetching a cup of brewing chocolate from a pretty blue pot on the stove or, best of all, making a half-and-half mix of both. To accompany the beverages, trays are laid out with cinnamon buns, chocolate espresso scones, and fresh, chewy bagels. Cream cheese, jelly, and coffee condiments are arrayed on a table, and there are a few extra chairs marshaled on the back porch, ready to be unfolded for those who wish to sit outdoors.

Did we mention that Triple Oak is gluten-free? Even if you share our love of all things glutenous, don't let that dissuade you from the consummate baked goods at this wonderful place.
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Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014

Shrimp Platter

A culinary anthropologist could pinpoint the precise location of this dish. The hushpuppies and blackeyed peas are a sure sign of the South in general. The elegant shrimp say Florida's north coast. The pink dipping sauce with a datil pepper punch is St. Augustine's
Rate this place Reviews (5) Learn more about O'Steen's Restaurant...
Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Beef

One Italian Beef, sweet and wet, with giardiniera on top
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Max's Italian Beef...
Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, July 26, 2014 3:27 AM

Not counting hot dogs, there is a dearth of food trucks in and around Danbury, Connecticut. Driver/chef Paul Mannion greatly improves that situation with his Green Grunion, a burrito van usually located in the city's Kenosia Park at lunchtime. Mannion is a local, but spent time in San Diego, where he learned just how great a burrito can be. He figured it was time to let Danburians in on the good news and started rolling in summer, 2013. I adore the veggie burrito, its well-textured flour tortilla crowded with grilled peppers, mushrooms, and onions – all perfectly al dente – along with guacamole, cheese, and pico de gallo.

Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014

Real Italian

A REAL Italian is made with salami and provolone, but of course a whole array of other cold cuts are available: ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, pepperoni, even tuna.
Rate this place Reviews (3) Learn more about Colucci's Hilltop Market...
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