Food on Our SW Trip

Posted by Brette in Food | Travel

One of my favorite things to do is try new food while traveling. Our journey to the SW was a bit problematic since neither I nor Mr. MarthaAndMe can tolerate spicy foods, which ruled out many local specialties.  We did manage to try many new and interesting things though.

In Vegas, we had a 2 for 1 coupon for the MGM Grande buffet which was, as expected, simply terrible. I’m not a buffet fan, but I’ve been to one at the casino in Niagara Falls Ontario that was not bad, so I had hoped this one might be good. It wasn’t.

Chocolate BurgerWe did have a fantastic lunch at the Burger Bar which I think was next to the Luxor in the attached mall. Amazing burgers with a huge array of toppings to choose from, incredible milkshakes (probably the best ever), and terrific fries with lots of dipping sauces. For dessert, we had the chocolate burger, which was a Nutella patty on a donut. It had strawberries on it. We ordered one and everyone sampled. Over the top, but excellent.

Emeril's lobster

We had a nice lunch at Cannoletto in the Venetian after our gondola ride. Dinner was at Emeril’s Fish House in the MGM. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. We picked it based on the menu posted online. Which was not the menu we were given. There was no fish I found interesting – at a fish house! I had a nice clam chowder then got the baked lobster which was removed from the shell, mixed with a cornmeal mix and shrimp and returned to the shell.  Mr. MarthaAndMe got a cold seafood plate that was unattractive and nothing special. Underwhelming. The price was overwhelming. I’m still choking.

Corned beef hash in a skillet

If you go to Vegas, skip that and go to Hash House a Go-Go where we had one of the best meals of the trip. It’s described as “twisted farm food”. I had an amazing corned beef hash. The pancakes and waffles were out of this world. Everyone loved it here and it was all organic and homemade.

Our next destination was the Grand Canyon where we had a really bad dinner at the Bright Angel Restaurant. We then went to Sedona, AZ. We tried to eat Mexican at Oaxaca. I couldn’t eat any of it. Too hot. We had a fantastic dinner in Sedona the next night at the Heartline Cafe, where I enjoyed some local trout. I loved the food at this place and highly recommend it. We also enjoyed tea smoked chicken dumplings which I will be trying to recreate.

Our next memorable meal was at the Cowgirl in Santa Fe, where we had BBQ. I

My cowgirl at the Cowgirl's

don’t have any food pics, but must comment on the potato salad which was made with sour cream instead of mayo. I’ll be making that one myself too.

Next stop, Santa Fe. We headed up to Taos for the day and had lunch at Michael’s Kitchen where I tried a sopapilla,


essentially a pillow of fried dough, served with honey butter. Amazing. It was light and fluffy and not greasy. I loved it. However, we bought some of their cookies and didn’t like any of them. Thumbs down on that.

While in Taos, we visited the Taos Pueblo, which has been continuously lived in for at least 1000 years. It was stunning. The people were very friendly and there was lots of shopping. We also went to San Ildefonso Pueblo where there was nothing to see, so I highly recommend this one instead. We took a quick tour which was very informative. Before we left, we tried some blue corn fry bread (a Native American specialty). Wow. It was

Blue Corn Fry Bread

crunchy, really flavorful and not greasy. It was one of the best things we ate the entire time. We put powdered sugar on it. I could have eaten 20 of them, but the 4 of us shared one.

We made it back to Santa Fe and had a pretty unexciting dinner at a tapas place which I won’t bother with since it just was not good and was overpriced with bad service.

Next stop, Colorado Springs. We ate at Adam’s Mountain Cafe, which was not as good as we hoped (given that it was all organic), and also at Edelweiss, a German restaurant that was at least something different. The potato pancakes were fantastic, served with smoked trout and salmon. The apple strudel would have been good if the dough had not had almond flavoring which I dislike. We had a really bad lunch at Coquette’s in Manitou Springs which was voted best new restaurant, but we didn’t understand why. It was all crepes, gluten free, but the fillings were stingy, sauceless and dry. Avoid at all costs.

Rocky Mountain Oysters

We had another lunch at the Stagecoach in Manitou Springs, based on the recommendation of our conductor on the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway, where the men in the family enjoyed Rocky Mountain Oysters (cow testicles, in case you didn’t know).  They were thinly sliced, breaded and deep fried. You couldn’t tell the difference from a chicken nugget to be honest.


Our last night we went to the Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, the oldest restaurant in the city which is known for its wild game, which it not only serves, but has hanging on the walls (stuffed and mounted). It was a bit overwhelming to see so many dead animals on the walls around us.At first I thought I was going to have to get fish since I just couldn’t do it. I ended up ordering Colorado lamb (no sheep on the walls!) which was excellent and tasted so much better than lamb I buy at home. Mr. MarthaAndMe got elk which we loved, loved, loved. It was velvety, grassy and had a hint of cedar. I would have it again given the chance. Teen Martha had quail which was good as well.

Other culinary tidbits – we bought several varieties of jerky (buffalo, beef, and elk) which Dude Martha enjoyed throughout the trip. I tried the NM official state cookie (bischochito) which I didn’t care for (anise flavored, which I dislike). And I must admit the cookies the Doubletree Hotel offers are amazing. We had some excellent ice cream at a place in Idaho Springs, CO. Mr. MarthaAndMe got butter brickle which I have not seen in years and it was soooo good. I had brownie sundae ice cream there which was also excellent. The service was terrible though- rude and snotty (we actually encountered many, many, many rude waiters, servers, hotel clerks, and shop owners on our trip – it made us appreciate our own Good Neighbor City, Buffalo where people are known for their friendliness).  We had some of the famous homemade donuts at the top of Pike’s Peak. They were pretty good, but not stupendous. They were just plain fry cakes that seemed to have some cinnamon and nutmeg in them. They were served warm though which was a bonus.

And if I ever have to buy a sandwich at a 7-11 again I may go on a hunger strike. We ended up doing this a few times for lunch while on the road and it’s just not something you want to do if you can avoid it.

One final comment, a plea really. Dear Restaurateurs, please come up with some good desserts! The only thing we had that was good was at Burger Bar in Vegas! I am tired of creme brulee, chocolate cake, sherbet, carrot cake, and chocolate lava cake. I want interesting, creative, fun desserts to go with the interesting, fun, creative meals we enjoyed. I would love nothing more than a wonderful cookie plate or some fabulous pie to end my meal, or some interesting ice cream (like the kind we had in Idaho Springs). The one place where we did order dessert that we had high hopes for was Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe. It sounded fantastic. It was just wasn’t though. At least they tried though.

I’ll be doing a third post about some of my purchases on the trip, so stay tuned!

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2 Responses

  • Maggi says:

    Boy, just able to quickly read your post – on way to work but will read it more leisurely later. I am with you on buffets – they just don’t make it! As far as Emiril’s – I have heard that before; mediocre & overpriced. And I thought Denny and I were the only ones in the world that don’t eat the southwestern food!! But you sure packed a lot into your trip – that makes it all worth it. Love vacations – but always glad to get back to my own kitchen and favorite foods.

  • Me too, except when I am writing a cookbook and am cooking full speed all day, every day! I wasn’t really excited to get back to that, but it is nice to be able to make whatever I want, whenever I want. And to eat fruit again, which is so hard to get when traveling unless you steal it from the breakfast buffet (which we often do – take an apple or banana for later in the day) or stop at a grocery store and buy some. When we were in London we bought apples every day since they are so portable.