Chuys, Houston

I had the best steak fajitas when I was in Houston. They were so good that when I crave steak fajitas now, I am specifically craving Chuys’ steak fajitas. Chuys, a chain that started in Austin, is another one of Stephen’s top spots. Boasting a cantina vibe, deep margaritas, funky decor, and honestly fantastic Tex-Mex cuisine, this is a place that makes the Tio Lio’s or the El Torito I know a few miles away in San Diego as interesting and tasty as stale white bread.

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Oatmeal Ice Cream

Today was an unusually overcast and chilly for San Diego in mid-July and it was just as well because I have begun my preparations for my move to the United Kingdom. I will be gone for two years, so between packing winter clothes and researching bed sizes in the UK, my mom has been nagging encouraging me to use up as much of my accumulated baking supplies as possible. This means using up ingredients that are ideal for another season, like oatmeal, which I associate with apple pie, Thanksgiving, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Not wanting to just make more oatmeal raisin cookies, I opted for oatmeal ice cream, which is quintessentially summer. This cream is very subtle with a hearty texture and a refreshing lightness that cools off while alluding to the brisker months ahead of us.

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Nobhill Tavern, Las Vegas

Having driven past Michael Mina’s XIV several times while on the Sunset Strip, I was disappointed to hear that the space is now for many private events and is no longer a fully functioning restaurant. Of course, I say this as though it happened yesterday, but it’s actually been almost a year. Thankfully, Stephen and I tried out one of his Las Vegas establishments, Nobhill Tavern, and had a delicious meal with excellent service. Unlike XIV, which was supposedly marred by an identity crisis in menu (and service), Nobhill Tavern shines in its creative interpretations of classic American fare.

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Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, Las Vegas

Growing up in California (and in a Chinese family) meant that many family vacations involved Las Vegas. Chinese people love Vegas. I have lost count of the trips I have taken with my parents and the number of buffets in which I have indulged. For my boyfriend however, who was born and raised in Texas, Las Vegas existed only in movies and television shows. So for his first trip, we planned an array of sights and dining for experiential diversity. For me too this first trip to Las Vegas would have a few firsts. In particular, this would be my first trip without my parents so it would be a good opportunity to try places other than the usual haunts.

A longtime staple for fans of the Southwestern-inspired chef, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill in the Caesar’s Palace was an ideal place to have brunch after wandering around the Strip for several hours. Mesa Grill is casual, intimate, and relaxing. It’s the kind of restaurant you wish you could transplant back home and make it a part of a weekly tradition.

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Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak, Las Vegas

My boyfriend and I have always enjoyed watching Tom Colicchio, head judge on Top Chef, call people out on various culinary sins, such as sub-par butchering skills, too-stiff risotto, and over-salting. Our experience at Craftsteak was definitely not marred by any of those missteps. After a good 6 hours of driving, we craved a hearty steak. Craftsteak certainly delivered, though various service-relate hiccups prevented the experience from being flawless.

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When Soap Says A Lot

This tweet is from 2010, but I thought it was so cute and funny when I read it originally that I couldn’t resist! Bake at 350 is a blog that I absolutely love reading. (Check out her New Year’s kiss cookies!)

Anyone else have a similar experience when a kid says something that just makes you stop in your tracks?