If Anthony Bourdain did a Brianna-themed episode, it would include the places below. These are the spots I dream about and always want to go to. All involve sentiment, good food, and a lot of fun. This is No Reservations.
Mio Sushi (Portland, OR)
Venture into the purple house on NW 23rd Street and you’ll find the best sushi you’ve ever eaten. I’ve only been once with my sister, but even after 10 years, it remains at the top of my list. I know this is a left turn, but I suggest getting the super veggie roll. It doesn’t have any seafood in it, but really doesn’t need any. With a balance of crisp vegetables and creamy avocado, it makes any California or tuna roll seem pretty pathetic.
Experience Music Project (Seattle, WA)
I’m sure most of you read this entry where I touched on my love for the EMP, but in case you haven’t, it’s the first place I suggest for anyone visiting Seattle. It’s an interactive music museum for people who REALLY love music. The exhibits are thorough and exciting and a lot of the items displayed come directly from the musicians themselves. You can record a CD with the instruments on display, you can stand in the middle of a Jimmy Hendrix concert in their virtual arena, or maybe put on a costume and take some rock star photos (see below). It’s not a museum where you just walk and browse, you get involved and that’s why they call it an experience.
Janbo (Everett, WA)
Every time I visit my parents we go to this Vietnamese restaurant. If you’re into fancy meals or ambiance try going into Seattle, but if you’re into authentic, affordable food, then this is the place for you. The summer rolls are fresher and bigger than any I’ve ever had, and the bowls of noodles come with every garnish you could ever want. In a city that’s usually cold and rainy, Janbo is warm and comfortable and there’s avocado milkshakes. Also, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the GIANT cream puffs they give you for FREE at the end of every meal. While there, my parents always run into someone they know, which is the tell tale sign of a good spot.
Umami (Hollywood, CA)
Umami is the new In-N-Out for people in the know traveling to LA. It’s a rite of passage. A gourmet burger experience when fast food just isn’t going to cut it. I generally don’t eat meat, but part of that decision is knowing that I will always make an allowance for Umami. My first (and only) time there was meeting my friend Jen at the Hollywood location. It was an unforgettable meal because of the food, company and experience, but also because on the way there I was pulled over and forced to take a sobriety test. There was not one ounce of booze in my body, I’m just that bad of a driver. Good thing Umami has amazing margaritas. After picturing myself spending the night in jail, it was the perfect way to calm down.
Fingerprints (Long Beach, CA)
If you’re a music nerd, go to Fingerprints. They have any used concert DVD, CD, Book, record, t-shirt, button, etc. that you could ever want and they keep the prices low enough for the type of people who want those things to be able to afford. It is a large, sunny space that sometimes hosts live performances ranging from local bands to the Foo Fighters. I want to be there now.
Beach Music (Huntington Beach, CA)
This place is too cool for a website. It’s a tiny tiny store that sells guitars, basses, ukeleles, and more. Also, don’t be surprised if while browsing you have to dodge around someone in the midst of a lesson. Luckily, they’ve set up a space outside where you can test things out and have impromptu jams like the one pictured above. This is a real local spot and according to my jam partner a frequent stop of many rockers (like Mike McCready) who call Orange County home.
Taco Asylum (Costa Mesa, CA)
This place is so good I want to move in. And last time I was out West I pretty much did. To call what they serve a taco stems more out of utility than fact. What you get is a combination of the freshest, most unexpected ingredients wrapped in a crispy dough that perfectly marries tortilla and naan. There’s a constantly updated beer list and freshly made juice and if you’re smart like me, you’ll order both and mix them together. I call it the “Brianna Special.” A name that might have come from having too many Brianna Specials…
Buffalo Wild Wings (Oswego, IL)
We all know about B-Dubs, right? It’s sorta my family’s spot. The food and all is good enough, but it’s more about moments like the one pictured below that makes this place special.