Oct 28, 2014

A commoner reviews Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, New Orleans

Since it’s so close to Halloween, it only seems appropriate that I blog about a haunted bar.  It also happens to be one of my favorite bars in New Orleans. 

I know … you've heard this before, but let me explain why Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is no ordinary bar, even without its ghostly reputation.  It’s a historical landmark that’s significant on many levels. 

Oct 21, 2014

A commoner reviews Charlie Parker’s Diner, Springfield, Ill.

Since it opened 1991, Charlie Parker’s Diner has become somewhat of an institution in my hometown.  It has built a reputation among foodies for its over-sized pancakes, breakfast horseshoes and old-school diner-style atmosphere, all wrapped inside a Quonset hut near the south end of Springfield.  For me (and I suspect many other regulars), it’s been those hearty breakfasts that have helped many a hangover over the years.

Oct 14, 2014

Random day drinking in New Orleans: Flanagan’s Pub, Buffa’s Lounge and Bamboula’s

This blog post could have been about one of several specific things; but, as random as things often happen in New Orleans, it turns out to be about nothing in particular … or, to be more accurate, several experiences thrown together.  But then again, who needs an itinerary?

A Tuesday afternoon in between Jazz Fest weekends is as good a time as any to explore watering holes in and around the French Quarter I had never been to before.  Trust me when I say that is a relatively short list.  I let my friends Sue, Terry, Ken and Don lead the way. 

The bar at Flanagan's Pub
First on the list was Flanagan’s Pub.  It’s actually not very Irish, but it is very much a dive. 

Oct 9, 2014

A commoner reviews Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas, Saint Louis, Mo.

As a commoner, I’m a firm believer that some of the best travel experiences happen when you make spur-of-the-moment decisions.  It was one of those decisions during a summer day trip to Saint Louis with the girlfriend and her kiddo that inspired us, however unprepared we were, to veer off of Interstate 44 and into the historic Italian-American neighborhood known simply as “The Hill” in search of an early dinner. 

To be clear, the earlier part of the day belonged to the kiddo, as we took her to the Magic House, home of the St. Louis Children’s Museum.  But commoners usually don’t blog about Magic Houses. 

So, with one snap decision, we exited I-44 eastbound at Hampton Avenue and drove up and down the streets that seemed to circle around the neighborhood’s namesake.  The side streets were narrow.  The homes were tiny. The shops, groceries, taverns and restaurants were old-school authentic.  The only problem was deciding if we were truly going to stop … and where, as we quickly determined The Hill is a neighborhood best explored on foot. 

Of all the places we passed, we kept coming back to Guido’s Pizzeria and Tapas

Outside dining in front of Guido's with a view of Shaw Ave.

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...