Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Food for thought from Patty

As we move into an increasingly food-oriented time of year, I find myself marvelling that one of the things I miss most about our former city of residence is its restaurants. Lansing, Michigan, has a number of fine qualities, but it's really not known for its dining establishments. (On the west side of town where we lived, there were a couple of little ethnic spots we liked, but there were mostly chain restaurants like Cracker Barrel and Steak 'n Shake. Things have been improving, but Lansing's still not known for its restaurants.)

Here in metro Detroit, we've already found a bunch of places we like a lot. We don't have to travel far to eat well—there are terrific bagels not far from here, and there are really good Chinese, Ethiopian, Hungarian, Indian, Italian, Lebanese and Thai restaurants (as well as an array of less ethnically classifiable spots) practically within walking distance of our house. I don't think we've stepped foot in a national chain restaurant here since shortly after we moved, when we used the Olive Garden gift cards I was given when I left my job in Lansing.

But I miss the Great Lakes mochas at Great Lakes Chocolate & Coffee, where Jared still greets me by name and asks about Jef when I stop in.

We haven't found a replacement for El Azteco, the East Lansing/Lansing restaurants I patronized as an MSU student 25 years ago and where the Lansing waitstaff knew our usual order (Chicken fajitas, cooked crispy, all rice, no frijoles [Jef's gotta watch his cholesterol]) and asked only whether we wanted cheese dip or not.

And we won't find a replacement for Golden Harvest, Lansing's north-end hole-in-the-wall where we happily helped ourselves to coffee and waited in line up to an hour for the best breakfasts I've ever eaten, cooked by the charming, talented, tattooed and sometimes mohawked Zane Vicknair (and often served by his charming, talented, tattooed but not mohawked wife Vanessa).

Sigh.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

10 comments:

Todd Scott said...

The Midwest's best Mexican food is not too far south of you in SW Detroit. For the fancy stuff, go to El Barzon. For the best tacos (but no beer), try Lupitas. For a good one in between, I like Nuestra Familia.

And some of the best breakfasts are in Ferndale with the Fly Trap, Toast, and Club Bart.

Patty Mallett said...

Hey, Todd! We've been looking forward to Detroit's Mexican food but haven't managed to try it yet -- thanks for the recommendations. We also haven't tried Club Bart. As for the Fly Trap and Toast, well -- you really need to get to Lansing and try Golden Harvest...

Lars Larson said...

Woody's Oasis. El Azteco. The two hardest things to leave.

Ed Rush said...

You remind me of a place I used to love in Marshall, Michigan, 50 years ago. The steaks were good but the bread was fantastic.

Also, when I ran across today's In the Bleachers, at http://wpcomics.washingtonpost.com/client/wpc/bl/, I thought of the Malletts.

g said...

Clearly, Patty, your nostalgia is far less for the food than the people. And frankly, that's how it should be. I'm not too familiar with Lansing, but with a son now at MSU, that could change. Could you put in a good word with Zane for me? Garth Kriewall

Todd Scott said...

Those places are good places to start in SW Detroit. Most outsiders visit the standard, touristy places, which are bland to average. There are some real good Mexican bakeries, too.

It's not that far of a bike ride, either. (I'm in Royal Oak.)

Netagene said...

Hopefully I'll be home alone tomorrow - reading, crocheting ... (If you knew what family I have, you'd understand - I even wrote a poem about it which I posted on my blog about a year ago, about reunions, etc.!)

As to cholesterol, did you know that you can substitute unsweetened cheap applesauce for almost any shortening in any recipe? Look it up on line. I used to always do that when baking brownies! I don't understand how it works (at least 1 site explains it), but it does, and I can't tell the difference!

Patty Mallett said...

Garth, you're absolutely right about my nostalgia being more about the people than the food (although I'll still match a Golden Harvest breakfast against one anywhere else -- take your son there sometime and you'll be his hero). Guess the holidays are making me a little homesick, even though THIS is home now...

Patty Mallett said...

Ed -- Win Schuler's? Still there...

Netagene -- I did know about the applesauce trick and have even used it once or twice. Have a quiet and wonderful Thanksgiving!

Todd -- Perhaps we can all go to one of Detroit's best Mexican joints together sometime...

Ed Rush said...

Win Schuler's! That's the one; thanks. If I ever get back to that area, I'll have to try it with adult tastes.