Chicago restaurant named one of the world’s best

Want to eat at one of the world’s best restaurants?

Then all you have to do is head to Illinois. At recent awards show in London named Alinea, a Chicago eatery, as one of the world’s best. From what I can tell, prices start at $150 per person for the tasting menu, or $225 for the “tour” experience.

Browse through the dishes – they look amazing. But, the price is a bit too much for my budget. I’ll be heading to Dusty’s Cellar tonight, which is a little bit more in my price range, especially considering Andrea and I will be taking advantage of the Restaurant Month promotion.

Nachos at City Limits, Mason

I approached City Limits and my first reaction was: “It’s a bowling alley. I drove to Mason for bowling alley nachos?” Because, yes, City Limits is a bowling alley, and I didn’t know that. All I knew was that I wanted to try to new-to-me nachos. But, I didn’t drive 25+ minutes just to turn around, so I decided I would continue with the night’s plan.

I ordered the half-order at the recommendation of the waitress, and I’m glad I did. I was barely able to finish them, and I probably should have given in earlier. But, I’m stubborn, and the nachos were pretty good.

City Limits, Mason

Nachos at City Limits, Mason

These nachos were topped with banana peppers, which I don’t see too often. They were also topped with tomatoes and lettuce which slightly overpowered the meat and cheese through most of the meal. I bypassed the black olives, and I’m glad I did – too many veggies were blocking the meat already.

Speaking of, the ground beef had a nice flavor and there was enough cheese to keep me happy. The size of the salsa and sour cream were small, but they lasted. The salsa wasn’t anything special, and the chips were average, though I did get a few exceptionally salty ones, which I love.

The bowling alley and the restaurant / bar were separate, and though on league night (assuming them have them) it may be noisy, when I went it was relatively quiet. And all through dinner, 80s music was playing in the background. I grew up in the 80s, so that was fine with me. The restaurant side of City Limits had a typical sports bar feel – lots of TVs and a decor you would expect.

Were the nachos worth a trip to Mason? Probably not – there are better nachos in the Lansing area – but if you’re in the area, or live in Mason, they would be a good choice, though the Baja Grille is a better one.

It’s too much fish!

I can check another McDonald’s off my list, this one in Perry, just down the road from me. And it was an elegant McDonald’s, if there can be such a thing. It had the air of a coffee house, with it’s comfortable chairs and lack of square angles in the dininig area, but even better, it served French fries. French fries always top coffee in my book.

Since I was in an exotic location like Perry, I tried the Double Filet O’Fish meal. Seeing the commercials on TV, I thought it would be too much fish for me. And I was right. I like Filet’s, but two pieces is a bit much. You have been warned.

Nachos at Jalapeno’s, Lansing

I consistently enjoy the Macho Nachos at Jalapeno’s on Washington Square. Unlike many places that offer a half-order of nachos, that portion at Jalapeno’s is enough to satisfy me. (Those pictured are a half-order.)

Jalapenos, Lansing

Jalapenos, Lansing

As you can see, they provide a generous portion of sour cream. The chips are crispy and there are loads of meat, cheese, and veggies. And even though there is lettuce (i.e. filler) on top, the amount is such that it doesn’t detract from the nachos.

And they’re fast and relatively cheap, two factors you can’t discount when going out to lunch. And I say lunch because Jalapenos is never open for dinner, closing at 3:00PM.

Jalapeno’s is the only Mexican restaurant downtown, with the exception of Al Azteco, which is too far to walk for most people. (I love El Az’s BCV burrito, BTW.) While maybe not authenticate Mexican food, the food at Jalapeno’s is good. But if you want to eat there, arrive early – it’s small, and the tables go fast.

Restaurant Month in Lansing – off to Gilbert & Blake’s

It’s Restaurant Month in the Lansing area. Did you know that? Surprise!

Several restaurants around the area are offering discounted 3-course meals. You can see a list of the participating restaurants and their menus on the Lansing City Pulse site.

Andrea and I went to Gilbert & Blake’s in Okemos to try their selection. Course number one was a simple salad. Nothing special there, but we both love their bread. And we had a bottle of Chateau Ste. Michelle that went well with dinner.

The main course was a sweet sea bass with rice and veggies. Though I’m a fan of Mitchell’s in Eastwood, G&B’s sea bass was better. The portions were not large, but I was comfortably full… after eating the rest of Andrea’s fish that she could finish.

Dessert was a “molten lava” cake. It was neither molten nor lava, but I still enjoyed it. And an included dessert is never unappreciated.

All that for $21.95 during Restaurant Month. But, to get that price – and the discounted rate at any of the participating restaurants – you have to print out a coupon from the web site.

A very happy pizza from Happy’s Pizza

Happiness is a good pizza. Deciding to try something new, I picked up a pizza from Happy’s Pizza on Saginaw. And I decided to splurge, spending an extra fifty cents on the garlic cheese crust. I know what you’re saying – in this economy? But it was worth the financial risk.

It was my turn to pick, so the pizza had bacon, sausage, and green olives. Beautiful, isn’t it?

Pizza from Happy's Pizza

Pizza from Happy's Pizza

I was impressed. There were plenty of good toppings and it was enough for lunch the next day, even though I did eat pretty hardily at dinner. The pizza was no match for me.

Speaking of, Happy’s also has a nice selection of lunch items too. When it gets warmer, I may attempt to walk there from my downtown Lansing office. Many of the lunch specials were only $5, so the money I used to splurge on the garlic cheese crust I can save on bargain lunches.

Ten Michigan restaurants worth a trip

Great Lakes Escapes has listed ten restaurants worth a trip for. And of the ten, I’ve been to five of them: Joe’s Gizzard City (Potterville), Don’s Drive In (Traverse City), Enso (East Lansing), Zehnder’s (Frankenmuth), and The State Room (East Lansing.)

They’re all good, though I don’t know if The State Room is worth a “trip” to see it. The wine dinners (and beer dinners) are worth visiting, but Andrea and my experiences there for normal dinners have not been that great, and I’ve heard similar comments from others.

(Speaking of wine dinners, they are having one on Tuesday, April 20th, and will be serving wines from a Michigan vineyards, Bel Lago and Black Star Farms.)

Zehnder’s is an experience. The family dinner can feed quite a large family, and the fried chicken they’re famous for is really that good. And if you run out of any of the food, chicken or sides, they bring out more.

Zehnder's, Frankenmuth

Zehnder's, Frankenmuth

As for Joe’s Gizzard City, yes, I have eaten gizzards, and they were good. Gizzardfest is held in June and it is your typical Michigan fair, just with gizzards. My (at the time) 2-year old loved them even more than I did, so it was fun for the whole family.

Gizzards in Potterville, MI

Gizzards in Potterville, MI