Maggiano’s Little Italy – Las Vegas, NV


Maggiano’s Little Italy
3200 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV
(702) 732-2550

This gambling and entertainment mecca probably has the best and worst of what America has to offer from a culinary perspective.  From absurdly priced, high end celebrity chef fronted establishments to the ultra cheap diners and fast food stands, there is no shortage of food in Las Vegas.  It all depends on what you are wiling to pay, the level of your palate, and perhaps even the level of success (or lack of) you’ve had in the casinos.

Strangely enough, I’ve dined at Maggiano’s in an entirely different city – Orlando, FL, just last year.  By chance, I came across it again on a hurried trip to the Fashion Mall to pick up something before jumping in a taxi to head to the airport and leave town.  I had some mates in tow who were also in a rushed state to do some last minute shopping for the folks back home, and so we dipped in for a late lunch.  As I wasn’t feeling overly hungry and did not want to feel bloated while sitting in an airplane for the next few hours, I chose just from the appetizers list.

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Tacolicious – San Francisco, CA


Tacolicious
2031 Chestnut Street
San Francisco, CA
(415) 346-1966

Sometimes just the name of a place gives you a sense of what you might expect.  At times this is good and at others, well not so.  I agree that setting yourself up for a meal like this isn’t the wisest thing to do, as its really just “judging a book by its cover”.  With no facts or proof to make a case either way.  But I suppose it builds the advice case for owners – pick a name, and research it well, before you plaster it on everything your restaurant will represent.  It could have inherent or unexpected nuances or meanings that you weren’t aware of and then its too late…

So being told by my dining mates that we’d be going to a place called Tacolicious after a long day of work, and the main chooser not someone I’ve really gone out to dinner with before this evening, I had my doubts before I even hopped into the taxi that would take me there from my hotel.  I wasn’t aware of the research or thought that went into this decision, and I had no time to do any checking of my own before rushing out to join them, so I couldn’t really complain.  From the sidewalk, it looked like nothing special.  A smallish-looking space in fact.  With just this one side with a window to glimpse inside.

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Kakao – Seattle, WA


Kakao Chocolate & Coffee Cafe
415 Westlake Ave N
Seattle, WA
(206) 833-5467

I admit freely to having some cravings for sweet stuff and giving in.  The times are few and far between though, so thankfully I’m not on a permanent sugar high like some people I know who guzzle litres of pop a day or never are without a sugary doughnut with their morning coffee, a candy bar at their work desk,  or pass on a daily dessert at dinner time. When I do crave something with chocolate as its primary ingredient, its often a dark variety bar.

Earlier in August, I was exposed to a variety of sample product from a Vancouver-based XOXOLAT ahead of a private function.  The use and dedication to serving single origin chocolates struck a chord with me, as it reminded me of what a segment of the coffee scene is like with its strive to procure ingredients from reputable and solo operations.

While on this recent trip to Seattle, we came upon the Kakao Chocolate & Coffee Cafe, located right by the Tesla showroom and an outpost of Serious Pie.  A very large and open concept space, outfitted with a mishmash of comfortable looking and more stiffer wooden furniture.  Big bright windows and high ceilings, led me to think this used to be some kind of industrial or commercial storage facility before it was transformed to the people-friendly business it is today.  While primarily concentrated on the chocolate realm, they do give ample attention to their coffee beans as well for their espresso (provided by Seattle roaster Herkimer Coffee) and the loose leaf tea on the menu is from Miro Tea.

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Stumptown Coffee – Seattle, WA


Stumptown Coffee
616 E Pine Street
Seattle, WA
(206) 324-6755

The Capital Hill area of the Emerald City is an intriguing one to go for a stroll around in.  Bars, live music venues, theatre houses, fashion boutiques, bookstores and coffeehouses abound.  I think you could spend a full day up and down the main streets of this area and get in a complete day of good eats and entertainment.  One of the most popular places to unwind and get a solid cup of coffee is Stumptown‘s location on the steeply inclined East Pine Street.

My only previous experience with their coffee was when I picked up some of their roasted beans in Vancouver’s Chinatown district.  So I was keen on actually going to one of their two cafes in this part of Seattle.  With limited seating outside and big glass windows leading inside, it was quite inviting from the sidewalk when you approach it.  Stepping inside, you are in direct line of sight with the main service counter.

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Serious Pie – Seattle, WA


Serious Pie
316 Virginia Street
Seattle, WA
(206) 838-7388

There are definitely folks out there who take their pizza seriously.  It’s no joking matter to them.  From the in-depth discussions about the best kinds of flour to use, the optimal oven environments and of course the ideal toppings to make the perfect pie, the discussion will never result in everyone agreeing on one definitive pizza as the “best”.  At foodosophy, we’ve certainly not been shy about expressing our thoughts and sharing our experiences at various pizzerias around North America as can be seen here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.  Wow, that was a lot.  And not all of them either. :)

Now from the Tom Douglas empire comes a boldly named enterprise that would apparently be an apt gathering spot for interesting gourmands willing and able to discuss all things pizza.  Serious Pie.  Just adore that name.  On this visit to Seattle, we had this particular address programmed into our minds but by shear chance, we walked right past the other location in South Lake Union, after checking out the nearby Tesla car showroom.  But keeping with our agenda, we hoofed it back to Virginia Street as we weren’t quite hungry yet after our late morning meal back at Toulouse Petit.

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Toulouse Petit – Seattle, WA


Toulouse Petit Kitchen & Lounge
601 Queen Anne Ave. N.
Seattle, WA
(206) 432-9069

Booze with breakfast. Sad but true, that was the criteria upon which some research was done as I had a thirsty companion who was riding shotgun on this trip. Trying to get our drink on well before the night game at Safeco Field, this place popped up as the sole option. Surprisingly, it also turned out its a pretty well known joint. Dodging the lineup and delaying our entry into the place with a coffee from down the street, we were able to get a pair of stools at one of the rectangular communal tables – fittingly right in front of the beautifully stocked bar.  As it said on the menu, “daytime drinking has never been so dignified, fun and guilt free…”.

There was a special pricing event going on during the hours we were here, so it did knock a few green bills off the total tally.  With a section devoted to some more uncommon creations, my dining partner and I chose from that area, skipping past the usual eggs/toast combos, that we might have otherwise chosen.  Our picks: the cured pork cheeks confit hash and the smoked salmon and asparagus hash.

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Uptown Espresso & Bakery (Queen Anne) – Seattle, WA


Uptown Espresso & Bakery
525 Queen Anne Ave N
Seattle, WA
(206) 285-3757
Mon-Thu 5am – 10pm, Fri 5am – 11pm, Sat 6am – 11pm, Sun 6am – 10pm

I’ve come to discover that one of the best things of having a base in Vancouver is its close proximity to the United States and a decent sized city that is very much like the one in B.C.   In less than three hours, you can be in Seattle, and have a chance to explore new sights and places to eat and drink, and still be able to get home and sleep in your own bed.  Can’t say I could do the same living in two major centers in Alberta like I did over the years.

First stop after arriving in town was at a breakfast place, where we got on the waiting list – to be written about later. We then walked down the street for some morning caffeine.  It was close and convenient, no pre-planning in effect.  A shame I know, given that Seattle is reputed to be a great coffee town.

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