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Cities to Savor

Whet your appetite for culinary exploration



Chef Andy Ricker’s famous Vietnamese Fish Sauce Wings at Pok Pok in Portland, Oregon

Photo by Jamie Francis

 

There are dozens of reasons to enjoy traveling – seeing amazing sights, reconnecting with old friends, just getting away from it all – but destination dining elevates a daily necessity to a starring role. Next time you’re hitting the road, plan a visit to these cities where outstanding dining isn’t just an element of the vacation; it’s one of the main attractions.

Portland, Oregon Boar collar meat rubbed with garlic, coriander root and black pepper, glazed with soy and sugar then grilled over charcoal and served with chilled mustard greens, and a spicy chili/lime/garlic sauce. Sounds delightfully confusing, right? Because it is. And the boar collar, known as Muu Paa Kham Waan, is one of a more than a dozen explosive Thai dishes you’ve likely never heard of, served at Portland’s famed and expanding Asian eatery known as Pok Pok. Chef Andy Ricker’s house specialty is half a dozen fresh whole natural chicken wings, marinated in fish sauce and sugar, deep fried, tossed in caramelized Vietnamese fish sauce and garlic and served with Cu Cai – which, to the uninitiated, are pickled vegetables. If you don’t order a drinking vinegar with your meal – be it tamarind, pomegranate, honey, pineapple, ginger Thai basil, turmeric, celery or apple – you haven’t really eaten at Pok Pok.

Its meteoric ascension is but one of dozens of highlights in the Portland culinary world. Anyone passionate about food knows that Portland was a food city before “food cities” were a thing. A trip to Portland requires several days, roomy clothes … and it doesn’t hurt to have some Tums and Tylenol on standby for all the right reasons.

Think Pok Pok sounds exotic? Try starting off your dinner with a flight of vodkas and cold zakuski – an assortment of cold appetizers that ranges from fish spreads and assorted caviar to house-dried beef Basturma, an air-dried beef tenderloin in paprika oil and marinated cherries. Most important, when you sit down to eat zakuski, is the toast (“Budem!”) that comes after completing each shared dish. This is just a starting point when you dine at Kachka, one of Portland’s most beloved restaurants where chef Bonnie Morales serves refined Russian dishes in a lively atmosphere.

The list of Portland’s “must eat” restaurants is extensive: breakfast at Taste and Alder or Mother’s, lunch at Lardo (there are several), ice cream at Salt and Straw, a trip to Voodoo Donuts … plus, a visit to one of the city’s dozens of food pods (think food truck cities) is mandatory. Here is a rundown of some of my other favorite food destinations worth tasting in Portland:

Bistro Agnes – Fresh off their 2017 James Beard Awards for Best Chef Northwest, chef-owners Greg Denton and Gabrielle Quiñonez Denton reimagined their second restaurant, Superbite, and reopened Bistro Agnes in its place. Named after Greg's grandmother, Bistro Agnes serves classic Parisian staples, including dishes like of Mussels Mariniére and steak frites in the heart of the West End district.

Canard – Recognized by The Oregonian as “Portland’s 2018 Restaurant of the Year” and Eater National as one of the “18 Best New Restaurants in America,” Canard is chef Gabriel Rucker’s playground. The new wine bar/restaurant set up shop adjacent to Rucker’s successful flagship restaurant and Portland staple, Le Pigeon. Canard is a more casual concept in comparison to Rucker’s other two Portland restaurants, and features dishes such as oeufs in mayonnaise and foie gras dumplings.

Enoteca Nostrana – Possibly the most visually stunning wine bar in Portland, this is the latest project by six-time James Beard Award nominee chef Cathy Whims and partner David West. An encore to Whims’ Italian restaurant Nostrana, Enoteca Nostrana opened directly next door and focuses on natural and experimental European wines alongside classic, regional Italian bites.  A two-story wine cellar shines from the middle of the restaurant – a centerpiece of glass and steel curated by wine director Austin Bridges that can hold between 2,000 and 3,000 bottles at optimal temperature.

 


 

Heirloom tomatoes shine in this fresh, crab-topped salad at Farm Haus Bistro in Fredericksburg, Texas.

 

Fredericksburg, Texas The best peach I’ve ever tasted was at the Eckhardt Orchard – an early-fruiting variety named Flavor Rich. Peach season starts in early May and lasts until around mid-August in Fredericksburg, but there are tasty reasons to visit all year-round. The rich German heritage provides opportunities for traditional dishes such as wienerschnitzel and sauerbraten.

For beer and brat lovers, Fredericksburg Brewing Company is a favorite stop. Texas’ oldest brew pub, it offers German favorites with lots of additional choices of American dishes. And the atmosphere is gemütlichkeit.

It’s hard to get more American than a “five and dime” – the vibe at Clear River Pecan Company. Pick up a kolache or turnover for breakfast; enjoy a sandwich or salad for lunch or early dinner; but don’t pass up the ice cream. Out of the 70 kinds of ice cream made here, up to 30 are available every day. Most popular: Mexican vanilla/amaretto and peach with pecan.

Farm Haus Bistro offers breakfast, lunch and dinner – good food in a most beautiful setting. Vaudeville, a downtown, basement bistro, serves “reinvented classics.” My Reuben sandwich was made with artisanal pastrami, Brussels sprout kraut and Gruyere.

For an amazing dinner, with the largest list of Texas wines, reserve a table at Cabernet Grill. Chef-owner Ross Burtwell’s fare competes at the highest level. Wine Enthusiast Magazine named it one of the nation’s top 100 wine restaurants. This is upscale dining with a Texas Hill Country casual atmosphere.

Fredericksburg is also long on extras. For sausages and cheeses, check out Opa’s. Fredericksburg Pie Company features from-scratch pies; the peach praline pie rocks. My #1 Do-Not-Miss extra spot is Chocolat. Owner Lecia Duke is the first U.S. chocolatier to master the art of European-style, liquid-centered chocolates. Find ones filled with anything from fruit juice and Texas wines to tequila and Tennessee whiskey.

There are lots of reasons to visit Fredericksburg – wine, history, shopping and scenery. But this great taste of Texas may be the best.

 


 

Seafood Palace in Lake Charles, Louisiana, specializes in local seafood such as crabs, crawfish and shrimp.

 

Lake Charles, Louisiana Let Napa have its wine trail; Southwest Louisiana has a boudin trail. This is the heart of Cajun country, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to sample good regional fare in Lake Charles. Boudin recipes vary from one cook to the next. Basically, it’s like sausage – generally pork-based, but crawfish, shrimp, even alligator can be the base – with rice, onions, parsley and spices added to the ground meat. For a real heart-stopper, order boudin balls. The sausage is taken out of its casing, battered and fried.

Some of the best boudin can be purchased in bait shops or filling stations, but unless you’re guided by a local, you’ll probably want to stick to a more conventional shopping stop. A good choice is LeBleu’s Landing in nearby Sulphur, a combo restaurant and meat market.

In Lake Charles, you can order boudin balls at Seafood Palace, but here you’ll really want to try the gumbo, the crawfish, the crabs. Lots of choices at this local favorite.

Sloppy’s Downtown has a more eclectic menu, but it’s hard to get more Cajun than their Saturday zydeco brunch. Great music, dancing and food to get your feet going and your stomach singing! They even have boudin-stuffed beignets.

There’s much more than Cajun on menus at the restaurants in the L’Auberge Casino Resort, but I couldn’t resist the Cajun Benedict at Favorites Southern Kitchen there – rounds of Southern-style corn bread topped with fried green tomatoes, sliced avocado and poached eggs, drizzled with a crawfish Hollandaise sauce and surrounded with slices of spicy andouille sausage.

Other great stops include Calla for small plates and tapas; 1910, which features local ingredients prepared with French fare and Villa for Italian favorites. For a fun, funky lunch, head for Botsky’s – amazing hot dogs with myriad choices of toppings – and Pops & Rockets Pop Lab, where they hand-make gourmet popsicles and ice cream.

Other special treats: the L’Auberge Loup Garou, a cucumber/basil daiquiri created with local Louisiana Spirits Bayou Rum, made with Louisiana-grown cane sugar, cocktails with local Yellowfin Vodka and anything created by L’Auberge’s award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Bill Foltz.

Lake Charles cuisine ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous – sublimely excellent to ridiculously delicious. 

 


 

Chef Milton Joachim offers his own creation, Oysters Joachim, at Charred restaurant in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

 

Ocean Springs, Mississippi Across Biloxi Bay from the eponymous city with its busy casinos, live oaks arch over downtown streets lined with interesting little galleries and boutiques in this idyllic little town. It is most notable for the artists of the Anderson family, founders of Shearwater Pottery, and Walter, a most eccentric painter, potter, muralist and writer. And then there’s the food – seafood, of course, and southern specialties. And some great twists on old favorites.

Charred, a steak and oyster bar, does cool things with oysters. There’s always raw, but I really liked Oysters Joachim, chef/owner Milton Joachim’s own take: fried, on a bed of spicy red onion marmalade and topped with a tarragon aioli and micro-greens. They’re served on a half-shell perched on a mound of sea salt – lovely presentation. And his steaks are all aged and seared at 800 degrees. I would love to have tried his eight-ounce ground ribeye burger with aged Cheddar and hickory-smoked country bacon jam, but when in Rome …

I got both Southern and seafood at Mosaic, with a grits cake smothered in a tomato cream sauce and shrimp. The menu is extensive, with something for every taste, including tapas and vegetarian and vegan options. Variety is the spice of their cocktails – seven different twists on a mojito and 10 on martinis.

Maison de Lu has a French flair and a beautiful patio for outdoor dining. Lunch staples are sandwiches and salads, with heavier dishes saved for dinner. The menu is not large, but daily specials add to the usual dishes.

If you’re just in the mood for something sweet, French Kiss Pastries is your spot. In addition to a wide choice of European-style pastries, several light lunch items are on the menu. Or stop at the nearby Candy Cottage for a New Orleans-style praline; they make them fresh each day.

 

 

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Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

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Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
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Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
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Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
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Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
Website »

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The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

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Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
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Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
Website »

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A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
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Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

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America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

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Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

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2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
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Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
Website »

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