01 January 2017

best of 2016

2016 was a rough year for many folks.

Life has a tendency to throw curveballs when all we want is an predictable straight forward toss. 

This year reenforced the lesson that happiness is found less in the types of pitches we get (or even the way we hit off them) but rather from the team we get to play with. 

During the year I got to spend time with people I haven't seen in a long time. I nurtured friendships new and old. It felt great. I needed their support and to feel their camaraderie more than I knew at the time.

As is my custom, here is some photographic evidence of me doing my best to hit home runs while I still have innings to play. If 2016 taught us anything, it is that life can be unpredictable. #gocubbies

Thanks to all who made it an unpredictably special year for me.

PS this is the last year I am posting a photo recap on this blog. I am moving all my photographic ventures into Instagram and my new photo portfolio website

10 May 2016

Food Stuffs

A friend at work asked me where my favorite places were to eat in Utah/SLC Valley. I figured I would post it for other interested parties. After 15 years in Utah, it is about time I settled on my fav's. While this isn't a comprehensive list, its a decent list for the adventurous consumer of calories.

Utah Valley Food Recommendations

1470 N State St, Orem, UT 84057
Best a la carte sushi in Utah Valley. The service is mixed as they sometimes have just a few staff running tables, but the fish is consistently better than other sushi bars in town. Also this place is open late if you are in the mood for a midnight snack. They also have more traditional Japanese fare than other sushi places around if you are with someone who is keen to more authentic Japanese fare. I feel like I am cool to say that now that I have two Japanese stamps in my passport.
Dishes to order - Leprechaun roll, Dynamite roll, tempura veggies

Sushi House
705 South 500 East, American Fork, UT 84003
If you are in the mood for eating copious amounts of sushi, this is a good bet. Do not be fooled by the Denny’s like ambiance. They have a wide variety of rolls and the fish is pretty good. Don't bother with anything else on the menu. They have especially decent salmon rolls here. Best to go when you have 8+ other people who like to eat sushi and share rolls. Group consumption is almost always the best way to eat sushi.
Dish to get: All you can eat Sushi. 

Indian Food
Bombay House 
University Ave - Provo
Robert Redford said this was his favorite Utah restaurant. There is a good reason why. 
Dishes to order: Lamb Saag, Chicken Coconut Korma, Tikka Masala curries (do not get this confused with the Chicken tikka, which is good but not the same)
*Don't go to this place on Friday/Saturday night or you will inevitably fight the crowds. Ordering out is a good way to go. Call 25 minutes ahead and they will have anything you want ready to go.

India Palace 
100 W Center St - Provo
Just a small step down from Bombay House quality, but less crowded and the proprietor Amrik is the man. He once literally delivered Indian food to my apartment doorstep because my deathly ill friend asked him to. He won my heart and my stomach with his 'all the rice you can eat' policy that even extends to filling up your rice dish so you can fill up your take home box. Best lunch buffet in the valley M-Th 11-2PM. My friends and I have certainly funded his 401k single-handedly over the years. I kid you not when I say I have spent hundred of dollars here. Worth every penny.
Dishes to order: Chicken Makanwala, Paneer Masala, Chicken saag
*Note - they opened a location in South Jordan that is just as good.

Mexican Food - Tacos
Brasas Tacos
2448 N University Pkwy, Provo, UT 84604
Best tacos in Utah Valley. Two locations to choose from, but the north Provo one is the best one by far. Best avocado sauce in the valley (free at the salsa bar).
Dishes to get: Carne aside tacos, mulitas

Mexican Food Dine-In
Maria Bonitas
171 W 800 N, Orem, UT 84057
Fast service and super friendly staff. The food is pretty good and there is quite a variety. Somewhat on the expensive side, but you get what you pay for. Best horchata around. Also if you are with family/friends who are willing to go sweet, order a Strawberry colada. It is a party in your mouth. House salsa is decent and gratis. The best part of this place though is when Maria comes and gives you a hug and calls you 'mis champions.' I swear the woman is ADHD, but turns out it makes a great server!
Dishes to order: Enchiladas poblanos, Fajitas, sugary bebidas
*Note - super busy on Friday/Saturday nights. Saturday lunch is the optimal time to go to avoid crowds. A bit on the expensive side since they upgraded their facilities.

Thai Food 
Thai Village
208 W Main St, American Fork, UT 84003
Quiet little house that is converted into a Thai restaurant. Generally very quiet but not many frills. Open late 10PM. 
Dishes to order: Curries are generally the way to go here. Red or green curry is the best depending how much spice you life. A lot of people also like the chili chicken or the Pad thai, but I would stick with curries. Good vegetables. 

Thai Drift 
1655 N State St, Orem, UT 84057
This place is not much different than other thai places except it is usually clean and well kept. The one major difference is they have the best panang curry around. If you do not like that dish, this place is decent but not a standout otherwise. Their veggies are good and the portions are fair enough.
Dish: Panang Curry (their pumpkin curry isn't too bad either)

Other Tasty Ethnic Food 
400ish Center St Provo (across the street from the Covey Center)
This place serves Kolaches. Sweet and savory types, but this is considered a breakfast place.
If you don't know what that is, ask any Texan or Czech. They are basically a delicious filled bread. This place is packed around 730-9AM but they make everything fresh each day and close when they run out.  This place is very unique, and super tasty. No tables inside so order to go or sit outside with the rest of the bums on Center street.
Things to order: Any fruit kolache, (if they have peach you are in for a special treat), get the kolache with cream cheese if you can, any egg kolache Ive have there is tasty, sausage and gravy is stick to your ribs tasty but heavy.  

Bruges Waffles & Sandwiches
50ish Center St Provo 84606
This place was open in SLC for years and they finally expanded. Best beligan waffle in Utah. Get one with chocolate baked in. They have decent fries as well with lots of fun dipping sauces (which is very common in Belgium). If you have a teenage boy who has high metabolsim, tell him to get the Machine Gun and watch the messiest meal to ever grace his hands/lips
Dish to get: Waffle with cream and raspberries (chocolate baked in of course) with speculous (you will thank me later). Samurai dipping sauce is pretty tasty for fries. 

American Food
336 S Main St, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
All around great food. Heavy food, but super tasty. Their buns are homemade and delicious so whether you get a chicken sandwich or burger it will still be top notch. Their beer-battered fries are the best french fries in Utah Valley. I may or may not have fallen in love with a girl while eating them. They make a decent gluten-free bun if your friends have food allergies. They are also one of the two best Southern food restaurants in the valley so consider this if you want cajun dishes. They also have salads if not everyone you are eating with wants to go into calorie coma afterwards
Dishes to get: Cheesesteak (watch out it has a little kick), JalapeƱo Chicken Ranch sandwich (grill the onions), Po Boy Sandwhich, Beer battered fries

Trellis Cafe At Thanksgiving Point
3900 N Garden Dr Lehi, UT 84043
This place just does lunch, but it is a decent sandwich shop. Sweet potato fries are the best part.

Bam Bam’s Barbecue 
1708 S State St, Orem, UT 84058
Best beef in the valley. I have never had anything here I didn't like. Every once in a while the proprietor will have a sale of wagu beef brisket that is melt in your mouth. Authentic Texan barbecue with proper sauces and sides.
Dishes to order: meat.

Craving's Bistro
25 W Center St, Pleasant Grove, UT 84062
This place does Grilled Cheese. Well it does salads too, but if you are going out for a salad, you either need to go to Zupa's or seriously evaluate your life.  This place is loaded with cheesy goodness, but I suggest you bookend this meal with foods high in fiber. You have been warned.
Dishes to get: Monte Cristo and loaded fries. Tomato basil soup smelled good...

Cafe 300 
465 S University Ave, Provo, UT 84601
Best breakfast in Utah Valley. Period.
Dishes to order - French toast (2 pieces is a full meal), omelettes are top notch, get the home fries as a side.

Sugary Treats
Eliane French Bakery
1750 S State St, Orem
Authentic french bakery. If you are into pastries, this is the place for you. The one downside is that they close early (6PM so either pick something up on the way home or forget it). 
People rave about their chocolate cigars, but the Napoleons are the surest bet.

Porters Place 
4 W Main St, Lehi, UT 84043
Cool rustic ambience. This place is located a stones cast from where Porter Rockwell lived and just down the street where he killed a man who unloaded two handguns on him (and missed). 
The food isn't bad, but its not anything to write home about. The sugary soda drinks on the other hand are the thing to get here. They have specialty drink list that is more than a dozen deep with some very cool combinations. A few of them do not have dairy if you have allergies, and most of them are carbonated.
Drinks to try: Skull Valley, Diamond Lil

The Chocolate - Dessert Cafe
212 S State St, Orem, UT 84058
Only sweet things here. Come here to try some quality cakes. Be warned, there are better places for cup-cakes though. Women with a sweet tooth will be in heaven after a slice of cake or splitting a Cazookie. Diabetics will be on their way to heaven after more than two bites as everything here is pretty rich. They have decent cookies as well if you are not into cake, but the best I've tried are the seasonal ones.
Things to try: Cherub Chocolate Cake, Brooklyn Blackout (dark chocolate), Macarons or Peppermint bark cookies (only in the fall), Cazookie (ice cream and a warm chocolate chip cookie)

Extra Credit (if you are ever in SLC)

Lone Star Taco - best taco shop in Utah. Order the adobado or carne desperada. They also have proper fish dishes that taste like you are on a beach instead of the rocky mountains. Watch out, their burritos are the size of a small child. Go hungry.
2265 Fort Union Blvd, Salt Lake City, UT 84121

Settebello Pizza - best pizza in the state. Thin crust napoletana style. Tastes almost as good as it does in Italy.
260 South 200 West, Salt Lake City, UT 84101

Pirate O’s - my favorite of all deli's and cheese closet (besides Tony Caputtos) in all of SLC/Utah Valley. They only serve lunch except on Fridays/Sat till 6PM. Go inside and turn to the left, the deli is in the corner. Their grilled panini’s are divine. Don’t be fooled by the nonchalant exterior. This place is magical. 
11901 S 700 E, Draper, UT 84020

**Disclaimer - these places are even tastier when you invite me along to come with you. 

27 December 2015

best of 2015

2015 was an eventful year. I got to spend loads of time with my family and revisit some places that are especially dear to me. While I'm pretty stoked about becoming acquainted with 2016, its predecessor will be a challenge to match. Here are some visuals to go along with the memories. Here's to the blessings of life! - Walker