Dining in the ‘Ham…That’s Birmingham, Folks

Good Japanese cuisine can be found at Surin West on 1918 11th Avenue South.  This Birmingham restaurant is the place to go for thai food and sushi.  For lunch try the yum yai salad with shrimp & chicken in a sweet and sour dressing, the spicy beef salad, spicy eggplant noodles, and roasted duck with red curry.  All lunch specials come with coconut tofu soup.  But if it’s sushi you want, try the kaboom maki which is shrimp tempura-like roll, dished up with a salad and a spicy curry sauce. Another good choice is the salmon skill roll.

If you love seafood, then a Birmingham restaurant you should check out The Fish Market on 612 22nd Street.  The fish is fresh and the portions are huge.  Customers can choose either grilled or fried halibut, snapper, catfish, rainbow trout, frog legs, and flounder.  Shrimp lovers can have grilled or fried shrimp, shrimp and crabmeat salad, coconut shrimp, or shrimp kabob.  Other shellfish include scallops, alligator, crawfish, and oysters. Sides include fries, Greek-style home fries, fried pickles, cabbage, lemon-butter pasta, and steamed broccoli. There is always a crowd here, so if you are doing dinner & a movie, plan accordingly.

Like Indian food?  Then one Birmingham restaurant not to miss is Taj India on 2226 Highland Avenue South.  There is something here for everyone including vegans.  For starters, try the chicken or vegetable pakora which is similar to tempura.  Entrees include lamb badami, goat meat curry, shrimp spinach, fish malabar, chili shrimp, lamb tikki masala, chicken madras, kori gasi shrimp, and lamb or chicken vandaloo.  Tandoori food is an Indian food treat and Taj India offers several entrees. Examples include tandoori chicken, tandoori fish tikka, tandoori shrimp phuljhari, and mixed grill.  All entrees are served with basmati rice.

If you enjoy organically grown food, the Birmingham restaurant to visit is Cobb Lane Restaurant on One Cobble Lane South.  Open for lunch and dinner, customers can feast on fried green tomatoes, chicken divan, stuffed pears, red tuna, warm feta salad, shrimp & grits, chicken salad, fried asparagus, and braised beef short ribs. Brunch is served here as well and features cinnamon rolls and omelets. The late world famous chef Julia Child said that the she-crab soup was the best she had ever tasted. Reservations are not necessary, but suggested, as this eatery gets crowded rather quickly.

For a beautiful and elegant dining experience, the place to go is Ocean at 1218 20th Street South.  This contemporary Birmingham restaurant was voted best restaurant, best chef, and was given four stars by the Birmingham News.  Customers can enjoy fresh seafood from around the oceanworld in such entrees as oysters, peel & eat spicy shrimp, sushi, tuna tartar, crab cakes, poached lobster chop salad, lobster pot pie, grilled salmon, and an entree called “James Brown Soul Roll” with tempura fried alaskan king crab, jalapeno, cream cheese, carrots, and cucumbers. Reservations can be made online at their website, oceanbirmingham.com.

Good Food and Fun in Boise??? You Best Believe It!

For great thai food, a Boise restaurant to visit is Mai Thai at 750 West Idaho Street.  Come for the happy hour which is Monday-Friday 5 to 6:30 p.m. and on Fridays at 9-10 p.m.  The drinks and bar food is cheap and the atmosphere is classy and relaxed. The food here is great and the service is always exceptional. Customers can dine on thai spring roll, shrimp patties, Asian chicken with lettuce wrap, lemongrass shrimp, and organic chicken balsamic salad. Reservations are accepted and can be made online at their website, maithaigroup.com/maithai_boise.

A good Boise restaurant for thai cooking is Siam Thai at 590 East Boise Avenue.  The best deals here are the lunch specials which are offered weekdays from 11-3 p.m.  Each dish comes with rice, fried or steamed, or soup. You can choose to have your entree with beef, chicken, tofu, pork, or bbq pork.  Items available for lunch include chow mein, sweet and sour, kung pao, mongolian special, cashew special, almond special, garlic special, snow white special, pad thai, pad prik pao, spicy mandarian, green curry special, pad phet hoi, pad woosen, and red curry special.

For a fun Boise restaurant to hang out with friends, check out Bardenay at 610 Grove Street in downtown Boise.  This is the place to have a cocktail and some great food.  Customers can relax with several different kinds of martinis and drinks, while enjoying such appetizers as seared ahi tuna, spicy asian plum-glazed wings, calamari, clams portuguese, fish tacos, bardenaysmoked trout spread, thai salmon cakes, satays, and chili & citrus marinated shrimp. Entrees include rum pepper steak, wild turkey bourbon pork chops, spaghetti puttanesca, and bacon wrapped beef tenderloin.  For more information, including brunch menu, visit their website, bardenay.com.

Eating Good in Chi-Town…That Would be Chicago


If you are interested in what Korean fried chicken is, then a Chicago restaurant to check out is Crisp on 2940 N. Broadway.  The barbeque chicken, Crisp BBQ, is tangier than the usual barbeque sauce. The chicken is dipped in the barbeque sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds.  The crisp-korean-fried-chickenother sauce Crisp is well known for is “Seoul Sassy.” A sweet sauce, this chicken is sprinkled with chopped green onions. Chicken orders can be half, whole, or wings.  Lighter lunches are “buddha bowls” filled with veggies, rice, and topped with a fried egg. Check out the lunch specials too.

Captain Hard Times

These are hard times, so it would only be fitting that you should make time to eat at Captain Hard Times.  This Chicago restaurant serves some of the best soul food in the Windy City.  They are well known for their chicken and waffles.  Other favorites here are the catfish, perch, macaroni and cheese, and beef short ribs.  Breakfast is served as french toast, grits, cheese eggs, pork sausage, turkey bacon, and pancakes.  They have numerous buffets throughout the year such as a champagne buffet.  Be ye forewarned: this place is always crowded.  Reservations are recommended and necessary.



There are plenty of Chicago restaurants serving sushi, but a place in town is Oysy at 50 East Grand Avenue.  Everything here is always fresh and the presentation of the food is beautiful. For suggestions, try the shrimp tempura, vegetable tempura and the spinach salad with sesame dressing.  Popular maki favorites are Oregon, Philadelphia, California Sunset, Arizona Summer, Red Dragon, Amber, Miami, Chicago Crazy, and Fashion.  Sushi comes in many varieties like mackerel, octopus, sweet shrimp, crab, smelt, squid, scallops, and urchin.  You can see their full menu and make reservations online at their website, oysysushi.com.



If you want to splurge a little at a Chicago restaurant, visit Gibsons at 1028 N. Rush Street. The wait staff is attentive and the service is great.  Start your dinner off with the shrimp with spicy marinade or the spicy lobster cocktail.  Next, live it up and order the giant Australian lobster tail with turf, which will run you well over $100.00.  If you don’t want to spend that much, try the roasted prime rib, grilled swordfish, or one of their steaks or chops.  Side dishes are excellent as well.  Favorites are creamed spinach and asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

So, as you can see, there are plenty of Chicago places to get a great meal, regardless of your budget or your taste buds.

Cheap Ethnic Eats in Albuquerque, Arlington, and Cincinnati, OH

Albuquerque, NM

el-modeloGranted, Mexico is only about a two hour drive from Albuquerque.  But to get authentic Mexican food, you don’t have to go that route.  A good Albuquerque restaurant for Mexican food is El Modelo Mexican Foods on 2nd Street SW.  If you go, be sure to try their famous stuffed sopapillas. Other excellent choices are the chile spare ribs, hojas, tamales, enchiladas, menudo, burritos, and carne adovada.  A couple of things to know about El Modelo. One, it is basically a carry-out only restaurant. Second, phone your order ahead as the wait can be 20 minutes or more at times.

Arlington, VA

Arlington restaurants are plentiful, but for great Thai food, check out Sawatdee Thai Restaurant on Clarendon Boulevard.  I love pad thai with shrimp, and they have the best in the city.  The noodles are chewy, and there is plenty of shrimp.  Another good choice is the pineapple fried rice.  If you like spicy food, they have a menu section of curry dishes. The portions are good and the service is excellent.  The decor is beautiful with Asian art, sculptures, and Buddhas everywhere.  Sawatdee Thai Restaurant is located in the Courthouse Plaza which is conveniently located at the Courthouse Metro stop.

Cincinnati, OH

There are some good Cincinnati restaurants, but for great Indian food, try Ambar Indian Restaurant at 350 Ludlow Avenue. Ambar has created some dishes that are uniquely their own.  Be sure not to miss the chicken tandoori or the chicken tikka.  Other great dishes here are the lamb vindaloo, shrimp masala, and shrimp bhuna.  For dinner, feast on their shrimp and lamb curry or the Ambar India Special which is a portion of a few dishes served on a platter.  There is a vegetarian menu section as well with such as aloo choley (chickpeas and potatoes) or malai kofta (vegetables).