It could be said that it is a little dated, but it is an historic site with charm and grace that serves wonderful food and a great experience for large or small groups (even thousands!).
San Gria at the table:
It could be said that it is a little dated, but it is an historic site with charm and grace that serves wonderful food and a great experience for large or small groups (even thousands!).
San Gria at the table:
Flo’s – 788 E. Baseline Road, Tempe, AZ 85283
Great Happy Hour 3-7pm Daily, with 1/2 price for most Appetizers and Adult Beverages. A variety of Chinese, Thai and other SE Asian dishes. Very reasonable priced and the Happy Hour pricing makes it downright amazingly affordable.
For appetizers, we loved the Shrimp Skewers with tasty peanut satay flavor dipping sauce, lettuce wraps with chicken which were similar to PF Chang’s flavor profile, Thai Calamari & Chilies – lightly panko battered with chili flakes and dusted with nice Singapore seasoning mix, Shu Mai Dumplings with a soy Hoison dipping sauce were very tasty and basic crab puffs with plum sauce and spicy mustard. You could make a great meal for 1 or a group from these and other offerings on the appetizer menu.
But we wanted to try more so we did and here is what we found:
Moo Shoo Pork – Very tasty & traditional, maybe a little sweet, but fresh vegetables and egg. The pancakes fell apart too easily but the Moo Shoo (their spelling!) was delicious.
Ma Po Tofu – Fresh veggies with fried & firm Tofu cubes everything very fresh, but the sauce was a bit bland, so we dumped some of the soy dipping sauce on it and cleaned the plate.
Soy and Garlic Eggplant – This had the best sauce, with bits of green onion, sweet Red Peppers, cilantro and more with big and small pieces of stir fried, almost charred eggplant. This was great, the only thing was the smaller pieces could have been a little firmer as they were almost cooked to mush, though the larger pieces were perfect, but all in all the dish was great and well received.
Twice cooked pork – the only disappointment as it had bacon in it, though it was not listed in the ingredients on menu, and the sauce was already salty too.
I had a delicious cold draft Sake – Hakutsuru – which went well with every thing we tried. They also had some tasty house drinks and craft beers available.
Service was great – “teamwork style” with a sharp attentive staff buzzing around the place as Happy Hour drew a very happy and hungry crowd.
For the Food Life recommends you check it out if you are ever in the Phoenix area. Their website gives you more about the history and menu.
THREE BIRDS TAVERN – St. Petersburg, Florida
Flying down to Tampa – St. Pete, Florida? Maybe to watch your team play the Rays, Lightning, Buccaneers, South Florida Bulls, or Rowdies ? If you wanna enjoy yourself at a reasonable price and enjoy TV Sports or active parlor games, Three Birds Tavern is a place I recommend you check out. Multiple dining rooms and Patio areas in a 100 Year old Farmhouse near the happening parts of the Bay area. Beautiful landscaping can be enjoyed in the wrap around and multiple faceted patio areas. Great Food and Beverage selection, with at least 6 tap handles of local beers among about 20 available. Great Wine and Liquor selection too.
Food is not just simple Pub Grub as they have put a little bit of a spin on it. You see the ownership also has a commercial kitchen/lab where they make a variety of cooking and dipping sauces or marinades called “Out of the Weeds”. The sites author, Robin also has a blog, recipes, recommends other places to go and stay and general good tidings. Like they say “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing…”
Out of the Weeds
BACK PATIO ENTRY
Rolando’s Restaurante – Hot Springs, AR 210 Central Ave, Hot Springs, AR 71901
Interested in a quick trip to and eatery in Mexico, Central America, or South America, but your stuck in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Central Arkansas? No problem, because Rolando’s is here to help. Located on the main drag, Central Ave. in Hot Springs, AR. it has many reasons for a hungry visitor to stop by. It has an interesting layout, with a fun patio, a Speakeasy upstairs bar, some banquet space and eclectic decor throughout.
And really consistent tasty food. They’re Guacamole is made fresh and presented with colorful tortilla wheels spiking out of the avocado mixture like an exotic bird. Beware if your not up for different as the salsa is made with black beans and sweet corn mixed in with the tomatoes, cilantro, jalapenos, onions, etc.. They have several delicious vegetarian dishes that you can add pork or chicken, and all the dishes are presented in mouth watering eye pleasing fashion. I also recommend the Homemade San Gria, or one of the many flavored Margarita or Martini options.
They have 2 other locations, (also Fort Smith & Fayetteville), but this reviewer has only been to the Hot Springs location. The thing I like most about them is that the food is really influenced by many different Latin restaurant styles, not a traditional Mexican restaurant at all. And let’s face it, most of the Mexican food in the Mid South is really Tex Mex, so they offer a delicious change!
Here are pictures from our most recent visit to Hot Springs:
Don Quixote’s Burrito
Shanghai Kellys – San Francisco
Ok, it’s a Dive Bar, CAPITAL “D”, but a great and cozy sports bar too. Imagine this – You’re a sailor on shore leave in 1855 to 1870’s. You are invited to a big free party on a paddlewheel steamer, named the “Goliah”, by local Nautical rascal and Bon Vivant – Shanghai Kelly . So you and 90 others show up for free booze and food. While you are singing bawdy ballads and sloshing around a bottle of party booze with a chicken drumstick in your hand, when suddenly you suffer a ‘black out’, due to the drugged party drinks. You wake up on another ship with a new captain and a new destination heading away from a ever distant Golden Gate….
Well that’s part of the legend of Shanghai Kelly’s in San Francisco.
They don’t drug the drinks there any more, but they are heavy handed with the pour and and they have lots of discount drink specials. If you go during Football season they are heavy on the Steelers fans and of course the 49ers. They serve food, a cut above dive bar food.
Take a cab and then dive in!
Legends Sports Bar – Long Beach, CA
They call themselves the “First Modern Sports Bar in America” and they may well have been one of the first of what is now a dying breed. I say that because the Sports bar chains make it hard for an independent to open and build a crowd to sustain a long run with sports as the main attraction. With the Commercial satellite subscriptions rising with each sports player contract negotiation and the relative modest residential fees coupled with the usual near impossibility of running a successful Food & Beverage business, heavy on the alcohol and its liabilities and extreme drunk driving laws.
But back to Legends: Great layout, better than average food, tremendous memorabilia, it’s party central for many major events, they have a great in house events calendar including comedy nights and Miss Grand Prix contests, and have a very loyal following for many different teams and niche sports. It was started in 1979 by Dennis Harrah, former LA Rams (remember the FIRST time the Rams were in LA?) and local businessman John Morris. It is still a great place to roll into while rambling around Long Beach business district and the range of memorabilia goes from rare to outrageous including Bobby Rahal 2001 Indy Car!
Padre Murphys – Phoenix
“Go and Sin No More!” is their motto!
They are an institution in north Phoenix that opened in 1992. Currently with 56 beers on tap, Daily Food Specials, OTB Horse and Dog racing, PPV events, Special menus for St. Pats/ Easter, etc. Part neighborhood bar, part Irish Pub, part OTB Parlor, part super sports bar, really a unique place that strives to keep up with the times and competition. They always seem busy, food is chef driven and a cut above, but it is still very comfortable during the slow times, when you can peruse their memorabilia or bet a race.
Lefty O’Douls – San Francisco
Opened in 1958, this place has been though many phases and reincarnations over the years, but continues to be a unique and enjoyable place to visit. Named after Lefty O’Doul a former New York Giant (Baseball!) who was born in San Francisco and batted .398 in 1929 and was a 2 time batting champion of the NL. He is credited with starting the Major League Player tours across the Pacific to Japan and in his career also managed the San Francisco Seals baseball team. Blessed with a friendly outgoing manner, he led a colorful life and was friends with most all the Baseball and Hollywood stars of his era which he invited to his bar & restaurant Lefty’s.
They’re renowned for their Corned Beef and with good reason – it’s delicious. They have an extensive menu and are a popular spot near Union Square for tourists and business crowd. They have a cocktail lounge and piano bar, and not anything like the new cookie cutter sports bars you see in suburbia. They do have enough TV’s to watch the game of choice, but is really cool just to hang out. This place reeks of good times and tall tales. I recommend you go in and eat some of their Corned Beef and then hang out with the locals and get your drink on, you will hear some memorable stories and meet some new friends.
Two Honorable Mentions, if for no other reason, their names:
Bub’s @ the Ballpark – San Diego, CA
Opened 1996 “Another Man’s Stupid Idea of Fun”
Lumpy’s – Salt Lake City, UT
Current Downtown location opened in 2005 – A 3 story Fun House in Salt Lake City
Great Places for Sports Fans that offer a little extra:
(Not including inside casinos or in Chicago, Boston or New York City)
Five listed this week, and Five more next week:
FX McRory’s – Seattle, Washington. This building dates back to 1906, and originally housed Seattle’s largest Wholesale Whisky business, conveniently located next door to “Madame Damnable’s brothel. It was then used for McKesson-Robbins drug manufacturing from 1929 to 1977, when it became FX McCrory’s.
The present day owner, and original partner won sole ownership of FX McCory’s in a coin flip off the Seattle Space Needle! The main bar features a LeRoy Neiman masterpiece of a FX McRory’s crowded bar scene, valued at $100,000.
FX McRory’s has over 1600 liquors and bartenders scamper up and down ladders retrieving bottles as part of their Mixologist skill set. Since 1977 they claim to have also expertly poured over 1,000,000 pints. It is quite a scene when the place is bustling, almost like being on a crowded vessel with crew scrambling up, down and around the room from practiced memory.
They are really a one of a kind place, and have great food on an extensive menu. Most impressive is they always seem to serve oysters from all over the world. Last time I visited I was handed an Oyster menu featuring 8 types from all over the worlds available catches, including local.
Silky O’Sullivans – Memphis, TN – Silky’s has been around in Memphis since the early 70’s, and boast that Silky’s is like S. Patricks day all year round, and they seem really happy about the situation. (not sure everyone would agree, as the lead singer for Flogging Molly once told me, while shakily holding an empty coffee cup looking for a fill, after waking up at midday: “Being in the band is like St. Patrick’s Day 3 hundred and Sixty Five F**king days a year!” He didn’t seem that happy about it, although after a shot of coffee and some Bushmills Irish Whiskey he did seem to be warming up to the task!)… But I digress…. Silky’s is currently on Beale Street (since 1992), housed in a location over 100 years old, a former saloon with poker and race horse room.
Silky was a great promoter, a gracious host, real Bar Business Royalty, and though he has moved on to the great green beer and Guinness soaked Drink Bucket sharing party in the sky, they still continue his Beale Street location tradition of having live goats in their courtyard pen with slide and Goat House, as their pets/mascots.
This is just a great place to watch sports and people watching sports, with live entertainment, ranging from Barbara Blue, an internationally acclaimed Blues Singer (she knows all the College fight songs too!) and also “Dueling Pianos”. You can dance, wiggle, scream and shout – go get a dozen oysters on the half shell, slosh it down with The Diver – a gallon of “Southern Fun” that has put more than just Sailors on their ass. Oh yeah you can watch sports on TV if you are not too distracted.
Located across the street from FEDEX Forum it is the epicenter of pre and post game celebration for sports and entertainment held there.
Steiners Pub – Las Vegas, NV (3 locations)
This place is a great stop for sports fans. Steiners features a 24 hour kitchen with really good food at reasonable prices with daily specials, Gambling – with Poker table top machines.– it is 21 & Over only – Only drawback is that it is a SMOKING establishment.
You Must try – the Wellington Lamb Chop appetizer – marinated and grilled – Awesome and is discounted at Happy Hour!
The bartenders are women that maintain a short but quick wit, seasoned with touch of sarcasm and personal experience of hoisting mugs to fill for guests and empty into themselves….
Mannings – New Orleans, LA
Manning’s is not in a Casino, but next door to Harrah’s, across an alley/courtyard, usually filled with heavy partying patrons, both being indigenous to the New Orleans bar and restaurant scene. Manning’s has great Sports Memorabilia from the family and friends careers, and quotes from all 3 brothers, including Cooper!, and Archie on the walls. They have a nice mini stadium area with tiered ledges in front of the largest TV. The main bar windows open to the patio area and it is a fun place to amble around, beverage in hand and see how the different groups of partiers are doing. Above average Cajun and Creole twist on bar food, they sure do let the good times roll at Manning’s. And then you can dip into Harrah’s usual Casino vortex. Oh yeah, if you are lucky you might see Archie when he is around town.
Located downtown Phoenix, across from where the Phoenix Suns play and down the street from where the Diamondbacks play, it is a pretty interesting place. Unfortunately it does not have the neighborhood component that makes a lot of Sports fan hang outs great, but it does rate a visit. The sheer amount of rare and unusual Sports AND Rock N Roll memorabilia under one roof makes for great wandering around inside with a brew. There is a unique outdoor concert & stage area that is perfect for an intimate show.
They say they are a BBQ restaurant, but being from Memphis, I have a hard time taking them seriously on this account. However, the food is usually pretty good and they feature “The Big Unit” named after Randy Johnson – a One pound, 22 inch Hot Dog, served on a full baguette! Usually served with a lot of commotion from the staff and bug eyed guests.
Definitely a place to check off your list if you are ever in Phoenix for a Diamondbacks or Suns game.
FOR THE FOOD LIFE’S “Lucky 13” Favorite Irish Pubs
– Outside Boston, Chicago, South Bend, or NYC area.
CRITERIA: No prefab pop up template ‘Irish Pubs’
MUST HAVE: 10+ year history.
BONUS POINTS: It’s In a former residence, It’s in a neighborhood, It has a “Supernatural” component, It has a legendary Irish Pub Legend as part of its folklore.
Murphy’s Memphis, TN
Category – Glorious Dive & Neighborhood Hang Out
Originally Opened in late 70’s by Russell George, who named it after his son Murphy. The first motto was “Midtown, Motown, & Monk”. This anthem was displayed in the bar & on Murphy’s T-Shirts, a St. Paddy’s day fashion staple. Murphy’s was originally just a beer bar, with a great jukebox, as Russell always had a great love and insider’s understanding of jukebox Music history, especially the rarities, and later parlayed the expertise into the infamous Ernestine’s and Hazels venture on Main in a historic brothel used to service Beale street musicians and patrons back in its 1st heyday. But the Monk story; well, Monk was a notorious Street Personality usually in Midtown or Crosstown area, who had an intimidating profile with strategic facial protrusions that were highly visible, even under his well worn fluorescent orange hunting cap. He wrapped several dirty coats around his neck on his 4’ frame, and while brandishing his orange candy cane striped cane like a drunken Musketeer, he carried both an aroma of the street as well as the countenance of the old neighbor keeping the kids off his lawn. He was usually seen waving his cane at passing motorists as he wandered in the streets, or guarding a local bartender/bookies payphone/house phone, keeping patrons away so that incoming bets could be received (anyone remember “Big Daddy’s on Madison, etc.?), in exchange for Hamburgers and Beers. But I digress….
So when Monk died, Russell was at the funeral and strategically tossed a set of Murphy’s keys (according to Russell they were an actual set of Murphy’s Keys, though no one to my knowledge ever dared dig them up to test the proclamation) into the grave as they tossed shovels full of dirt on the casket, promising to the dearly departed Monk for all to hear, “Monk, you’re always welcome at Murphy’s”. And for years Russell kept Monk’s dirty hat and cane behind the bar.
Patrons from those days would hardly recognize the place now, as Murphy’s has had a lot of work done. Full liquor bar, enclosed patio, extended raised east room, etc.. In Murphy’s early St. Patrick’s Days, Russell would remove all furniture and shuffle board game to the alley out back to make room for the overflow crowd that would extend on to Madison Ave. and the small parking lot. The day would start with Russell lifting young Murphy up on the bar, Russell pouring shots to the surrounding crew and all nighters, and then Murphy would bless the Kegs, the shots would be tossed back, and the fun would begin. Gail Stanton, Memphis model and former Playboy Playmate used to make an appearance every year.
I was lucky enough once during Cotton Carnival to share a beer with Archie Manning at Murphys’ as he was being Honored as a Cotton Carnival ambassador in early 80’s. This and other celebrity sightings are proof that Southern royalty will drop in to Murphy’s throughout the years, to rub elbows with the alcohol soaked underbelly of Midtown. ..
Casey Moore’s Oyster House – Tempe, AZ
Category – Collegiate & Neighborhood Hang Out
Employees swear they have see a “Ghost in the walk in” – It’s in an Old House @ 9th & Ash, an old neighborhood within walking distance of Arizona State University campus. Large sprawling outdoor area with picnic tables, lawn bowling, romantic nooks, and benches.
Limerick Junction – Virginia Highlands, Atlanta
Category – Neighborhood drinking hang out
Irish Olympic Boxing Team = 96
Murphys Pub – Champaign, ILL
Category – Collegiate Hang Out
Open since 1969, right off the Illinois University campus, on Green Street – the main drag. You may be lucky enough to run into the Fighting Illini Women’s Rugby Club team! Try to go toe to toe with them in a drinking game.)
McGuire’s Irish Pub – Pensacola, FLA
Category – Tourists and Locals welcome
Open Since 1977, Over One Million Signed Dollar bills on the ceiling, in Pensacola’s original 1927 Firehouse
3 Angry Wives Pub, Las Vegas NV. (in West LV area Neighborhood near Summerlin)
Category – Neighborhood Hang out, Open 24 hours a day! Gambling machines.
3 Angry Wives logo features One wife brandishing Meat Cleaver, One with Rolling Pin, and one with a Frothy mug of beer in each hand.
The Shanty – Tuscon, AZ – since 1937!!!!
Category – Neighborhood & Collegiate hang out
“ Unique Experience for the Drinking Enthusiast” – you can find retired professors reading worn poetry books, sports enthusiasts, drinking professionals and students on the 7 year plan hanging out in this amazing place!
Celtic Crossing –Memphis
Category – Neighborhood Hang Out, Soccer Fan Pub, Entertainment
It is in an Old House that still has stairway in main room. More on this later in my best Soccer Pubs story in 2 weeks.
Padre Murphys – North Phoenix, AZ
Category – Neighborhood Hang Out, Sports Bar, OTB Parlor
Truth be told, it’s named for an Irish Catholic priest that owner Tom Boyle has known since childhood. Hence the ANTHEM – “Go and Sin No More”
Silky O’Sullivans – Beale Street, Memphis, TN
Category – Entertainment, Sports Bar, Tourists and Locals Welcome – Live GOAT!
In heart of Beale Street, across the street from Fedex Forum, in 100 year old building that was even then a sprawling saloon of incredible proportions. Silky Sullivan was founder & owner who had several versions of his Tavern going back to 1973 in Overton Square district. Current location since 1992. More about Silky O’Sullivan’s in the best places to watch March Madness Next week in For The Food Life.
Seamus McCaffery’s – Downtown Phoenix, AZ
Category – Neighborhood Hang out, Sportsbar, Tourists and Locals welcome
Don’t be fooled, even though the website is impressive to point of overwhelming, just like the junky assemblage of Irish memorabilia and uniform patches behind the bar – It’s Really just a Good old Irish pub
Auld Dubliner – Long Beach
Category – Neighborhood Hang Out, Sports Pub, Tourists and Locals welcome
Ok, so now they have several of these in 3 states, but I included them because this is the original and it is a classic Irish Pub. In 2013 when in town for the TED show, “Bono” of U2, dropped in to pour some pints for the crowd.
Fibber McGee’s – Chandler, AZ
Category – Glorious Dive & Neighborhood Hang out
Unique bar shape and overhang. some serious drinking goes on here, take a cab as you will not be walking straight line when you pop out into the Arizona sunshine.
A classic “Pizza Joint”: Counter service, deli display, smells like garlic, basil, and tomato sauce when you walk in. If you tried them before 2015, it wasn’t the same quality, because I had my first experience in 2013. It was just average. Then saw they had changed hands. Since the change: Better pizza sauce, better spinach, better delivery, a make over of the room, friendlier staff, etc.. – and still really great prices.
My favorite is the Spinach Roll or Spinach “Stromboli”. It’s delicious with fresh Spinach, garlic and spices wrapped in homemade dough and freshly baked. To be truthful they usually are par-baked and in the display cabinet, and when you order they put it in the pizza oven until piping hot and serve with their homemade marinara for dipping. I like with some Parmesan sprinkled on top, but they are pretty tasty just by themselves. $5.25 and is a meal in itself.
The regular Pizza is very good too, taste like New York pizza. Individual slices are served to order, and are too big for the paper plates – pretty tasty standing, in the passenger seat, or sitting down. They have stuffed pizza for those that like that, but I prefer just the 10” Fresh Mozzarella & Basil pizza with marinara. Can’t beat it under for $10!
It’s only fair to tell you that they also have great Pasta it’s priced great too. Pasta with Marinara and Meatballs (lots of food!) with slice of Garlic Bread and a small salad with house Italian dressing for only $7.99. Honestly most people can make 2 meals out of this deal.
Oh yeah – Free delivery in Midtown Memphis area! And that’s good, because the only drawback is the parking along that part of Union can be tricky and they are next door to a Cigar lounge and Kimbrough Liquors both of whom have a following. Here is their FB:
1495 Union Ave, Memphis, TN 38104
Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana
1215 South Germantown Road, Germantown, TN 38138
Traveling to Memphis Germantown area Medical Clinics? Looking for delicious food on the go? Give Las Tortugas Deli Mexicana a try.
First, this is not your average Mexican Restaurant and certainly stands out in the Memphis area. If for no other reason for what they offer. Of course they also feature the unique personality of the Owner; Jose “Pepe” Magallanes, whose philosophy and humor is plastered all over the walls in Pictures, Quotes, Check copies, and more.
The name Tortugas comes from the Bread Loaves they bake daily, then scoop out and grill. So it is just the shell of the bread called a “Tortuga”.
You can spend from $4.25 to $17.95 on a menu item here, again, not the norm. In fact the only Tacos they serve are the small soft tacos, served 4 to an order with 2 kinds of homemade salsa, lettuce and spiced cucumber salad and hand cut tortilla chips. Each taco is then garnished with fresh avocado, lime, cilantro, sweet onion and salsa tayde.
I tell you because it’s important to know it’s not going to be like any Mexican place you have probably ever been, especially around Mid South, unless you’ve also traveled to Mexican Baja Gulf coastal towns. And there it would be a lot cheaper.
I like the Antojitos or “small plates” section of the menu. Recommend: Flauta de Huachinango – Red snapper rolled in a Fried “flute” with lime, cotija cheese, crema fresca and salsa Valentina. Also everyone likes the: Elote Con cotija y Mayonesa – Sweet corn steamed fresh rolled in lime mayo cotija cheese and crushed chilies.
Fresh Mango juiced and blended with shaved ice – very authentic, but some might consider it pricey at $4.95
I really enjoy the place, but it may not be for everyone, and as Pepe says: “Be nice or leave.” In other words he doesn’t want to hear that you are disappointed that he doesn’t have Taco Bell items!
The presentation is 1st class. The Daily Special board may offer Lobster, Ceviche, Clams, Locally raised Beef, or even Scallops on any given day. They say their food is purchased at local markets daily, instead of large food service companies. Though there is something on the wall about it not being street food, it is served in lined plastic baskets and disposable cutlery that you get at the serve yourself beverage station…so I guess they are referring to the content in the baskets…