Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz, Foodie Reviews

5 Stops on a Culinary Road Trip

One of the best things about taking a vacation is going to new restaurants and checking out the local fare. On our recent road trip to the Southwest, I enjoyed some of my all time favorite foods. If you are a foodie and like to read about food adventures, grab a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as I take you on a Culinary Adventure Road Trip!Road Trip Food

1. Green River, Utah

Chow Hound

I wanted to go to a family style diner, somewhere I could relax and stretch out a bit after a very long drive, and a nice server would wait on me. When we pulled off the highway and arrived at the halfway point between Las Vegas, Nevada and Boulder, Colorado we were literally in the middle of nowhere. Green River is a small town in Utah and for some reason it seemed very desolate. I had looked up restaurants in the area online ahead of time and there seemed to be quite a few. It’s the only populated area around and I expected there to be restaurants dotted along the main road. Not so much. Maybe we got off an exit too soon, or too late but we certainly didn’t see any signs of life around.

It was mid day and even though we had an early breakfast and snacks on the road, we had built up an appetite. As we drove down the main street looking for signs of life that hopefully lead us to a full service restaurant, one of the boys spotted a burger joint. A box style, family run, three table, stick in the mud. It was awesome! We had Green Chile Cheese Burgers and Fried Tater Tots. It was the first time we saw green chile burgers on a menu on this trip and the boys and I had been looking forward to having one. I don’t think they used New Mexico Green Chiles, but they were big, juicy and had the tasty tang and spicy heat that we were hoping for. After lunch, the chocolate soft serve ice cream hit the spot! We were ready to take on the long road ahead of us once again.

Chow Hound 3-28-13

Chow Hound Tables

ice cream

When we finally arrived at our destination  after a grueling day of driving which included an incredible excursion over the Rocky Mountains, we didn’t care where we ate – we just wanted food. The boys went to Denny’s and brought me back a pancake sandwich that I devoured in my hotel room. In the morning, we had just enough time to grab coffee and a continental breakfast provided by the hotel. It was pretty good. We stayed at the Best Western Kiva Inn near Fort Collins, Colorado. It was one of the nicest Best Westerns I had ever stayed at. If you are in the area, I highly recommend it.

2. Fort Collins, CO

Lark Burger

For lunch that day we had specific instructions from a friend to try Lark Burger. We were told they had awesome burgers. For some reason, I didn’t expect to find a high-end gourmet eatery in Fort Collins. I was pleasantly surprised by the selection and the quality of the food I tried. It was totally yummy and the prices were good for what you got. It turns out that Lark Burger is a chain, so if you have a chance to try it let me know. I had a Larkburger with Swiss Cheese and Truffle & Parmesan Fries. I loved every bite!

From Fort Collins, we drove to Boulder, Colorado. The first thing we did after checking in at the hotel was go on a factory tour of Celestial Seasonings. Even though we planned on being in town all weekend, it was a holiday so this was our only chance. The kids weren’t too interested and we had just experienced quite a bit of “togetherness” over the last 48 hours, so my hubby and I decided to go it alone. We had a blast! We have both always loved Celestial Seasonings teas. On the way there we reminisced of the past thirty or so years that we have enjoyed the herbal tea, the encouraging words on the packages, the unique artwork and our favorite, the Sleepy Time Bear. Besides the fact that we have both loved the product since childhood, we both love taking factory tours.

3. Boulder, Co

Celestial Seasonings

I am sorry to say that we did not get to eat at the Celestial Cafe because it closed early for the holiday. But we did enjoy the Tea Room very much and it deserves a stop on the Culinary Adventures Road Trip! When we arrived we were given our “pass” to the factory tour (it was a small package of blueberry herbal tea) and to unlimited hot and cold herbal tea tasting. There is a snack bar and a gift shop where you can buy anything and everything tea related and Celestial Seasonings trademarked. The tour itself was quite impressive. Our favorite was the Mint Room where all the mint is stored exclusively from the rest of the herbs and teas. Everything smelled remarkable and refreshing! We learned a lot about tea and herbs from around the world.

Turley’s

That night, we met my cousin for dinner. She has lived in Boulder for a number of years and qualifies as a local. We discussed in advance where we should eat and since it is a local favorite, this fit the bill. Turley’s serves buffalo meat as part of their very extensive organic and “clean” menu, which was something the boys wanted to try. I had a hard time deciding what to have since I was still full from the burgers over the past few days and all the tea I drank! I ended up having the Chicken Pot Pie. It was a little dry with a pizza dough kind of crust rather than a flaky pie crust. It was pretty good. I never saw the food on the boy’s plates. It vanished before I could take a picture. It must have been good!

I enjoyed a wonderful, fresh and hearty meal at Turley's in Boulder Co.
I enjoyed a wonderful, fresh and hearty meal at Turley’s in Boulder Co.
Turley's provided an elegant atmosphere, excellent service, and great food.  A perfect place to visit with family!
Turley’s provided an elegant atmosphere, excellent service, and great food. A perfect place to visit with family!

4. Broomfield, CO

Flatz Restaurant

Easter Brunch at the Renaissance Boulder Flatiron Hotel was to die for! It was very pricey, but you would expect that at a fine restaurant located in a four star hotel on a holiday weekend. The buffet menu was extensive combining unique chef prepared dishes with hometown favorites and brunch classics. Everything was displayed beautifully, the service was exceptional and the meal was a dream. Especially the bottomless mimosas!

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Boulder Cafe

It was very difficult to pick a restaurant in the Pearl Street area. There were plenty of choices and everything looked amazing. The boys are clued into finding the local fare and skipping the chain restaurants and things we normally eat. So, it was hard to resist an eatery called the Boulder Cafe. It is right in the center of Pearl Street Mall. It has inside and patio dining. The place felt authentically local, with a cafe menu, oyster bar, fondues and “Rocky Mountain” cuisine. It looked like a great place to take a date and there was a young clientele. I assumed everyone there to be college students. At this point, still stuffed from the reckless vacation eating I had been doing, I had an Asian Chicken Lettuce Wrap appetizer for my meal. It was such a bountiful helping, I shared it with the boys. They also chose light meals that ended up not being quite enough to fill them. They finished every last bite of my dinner! The best part was just hanging out with my boys. We walked the length of the mall and shopped a little. I got them to go in LUSH with me and they got me to go in Rocket Fizz with them.

A cool brew at the Boulder Cafe
A cool brew at the Boulder Cafe
The boys toast with their sodas from Rocket Fizz on a cool Spring night in Boulder, CO
The boys toast with their sodas from Rocket Fizz on a cool Spring night in Boulder, CO

In the morning, we rushed to check out of the hotel and get to the college tour at the University of Colorado. We had no time for breakfast, so it was “hotel room” coffee, tea, granola bars and juice on the way. Then we grabbed a bite to eat at the cafeteria at the college before we got back on the road for our next, and final stop on our road trip. Boy, were we famished when we were driving along the dry, dusty road to New Mexico! As we approached each little town, my husband would ask, “Do you want me to stop to find a place to eat here?” We were all thinking the same thing. If we stopped now, we won’t be able to eat when we go through Santa Fe. We would drive the entire distance just to eat real New Mexico chile! So, we held out until 9 PM.

5. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen

As we rolled into one of my favorite all time places to visit, we started naming restaurants we knew in Santa Fe. We did a Yelp search based on our location and we selected the closest “New Mexican” restaurant we could find. As we walked in to Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen, it seemed vaguely familiar. I may have been there before. I wasn’t sure. I know for sure I felt at home. It may have been the smell of tortillas and sopapillas cooking, the smiles on the faces of the servers, the families eating a late Monday night dinner, and the old adobe that appealed to me. It was familiar. It was wholesome cooking, the food that my family makes. We took a quick look at the menu and we all looked at each other, who would ask first? “Red or green?” We all have our favorites and we like both! One of the boys ordered exactly that – both, referred to as “Christmas.” Red and green sauces made with New Mexico chiles.

Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen served it up fast, large portions of all of our favorites, complete with sopapillas and honey. I had my favorite, Stacked Enchiladas with Chile Adovada and Red Chile with a side of sour cream to cut the heat. The heat of New Mexico chile always gets me at first. Luckily, I had the chance to eat it quite a bit during our visit over the next few days and I was able to adjust! It was an amazing meal. It had been far too long!

Everything is a blur after that! We spent a few days with family and ate wonderful food while we enjoyed being together. The boys managed to get out to their favorite local restaurants in New Mexico like Twisters Burritos and Dion’s Pizza. On our way home we stopped at a Cracker Barrell in Flagstaff, Arizona. I don’t have any more food pictures to share from the trip. It turned out to be a fun Culinary Adventure Side Trip that I hope you enjoyed.

Have you been to any of the restaurants listed here? Do you have any suggestions on where to eat in New Mexico, Colorado, or Utah? Let me know! I would love to hear about your foodie adventures!

So, I didn’t mean to leave you hanging!  If you are following the entire Six States in Seven Days Road Trip Saga, I left off describing the exciting adventure just as we made it over the Rocky Mountains.  Stay tuned for more fun!  I would love to share with you what I did to make this trip fun for myself and how our family survived driving the rest of the 1000 miles or so through Boulder, Colorado and Albuquerque, New Mexico and back to our home sweet home in Southern California.

Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive

Continued from . . . What Happens When a Determined Mom is in a “Road Trip State of Mind” . . .

Soon, I was in a State of Excitement and Anticipation

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Do you know that feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you hear the click of the seat belt as you are getting seated on a roller coaster ride?  You know, when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” Will it be fun? Will it make me sick? Will it be worth it? Will it be. . . . oh . . . here we goooooo! And it starts. It is exciting.  Every breathtaking turn and each heart stopping plummet makes you smile from ear to ear.  Your screams are screams of delight! And when it is over, you wonder if you will have time to take the ride again.  You realize it was just a few minutes of joy.  And now, it’s over.  What’s next?  Well – this was nothing like that!

It started slowly, after hours and hours of driving through dirt dry desert terrain and long twisty mountain roads with nothing to see but a giant blue dome overhead and the far off promise of a horizon in the distance.  I kept thinking that in the near future we will get to our destination.  We will be sleeping in Fort Collins, Colorado tonight and in the morning we will be touring the campus that my oldest son might be calling home before long.  This might just be the first time I drive this road.  It might be the first of many times.  I was thinking about that when we started to drive up a long steady incline, through the foothills of a large mountain range stretched out before us.  It was like the long tall ascent of a big rollercoaster and the car felt like it was being pulled by cables, slow and steady, and I couldn’t see what was at the top.  My excitement was building.  I felt somewhat breathless.  That was probably my body adjusting to the altitude.  I took some slow steady breaths.  I drank some water.  I looked over the railing to the land below, and I saw a vineyard.  It seemed so out-of-place.  The only thing that looked alive and colorful was the sign for the vineyard, and the buildings, and billboards around the area.  Everything else was dry with just the hint that it had all survived the winter months and may be dormant just before Spring bursts through the vines.  I took note of the place, Grande River Vineyards, and considered it might be thriving the next time I come through here, perhaps in the Fall.  It might be worth a stop if we had time.  I closed my eyes for a while.  I repeated my mantra to myself, “I will be sleeping in Fort Collins tonight and I will wake to a new day!”

At this point my husband was driving.  He had taken over at the last gas station where we had stopped to fuel up and stretch.  I planned to drive longer, but he offered and I didn’t refuse.  I figured I could rest and then take over again in a few hours.  The next four hours of driving proved to be another testament of my husband’s stoic character.  Over the years he has been my rock.  He has the ability to stay calm and persevere through the most difficult times.  I have seen him run into a  burning building to fetch beloved items for my elderly aunt and give mouth to mouth and revive our newborn son – there is no doubt that he is an angel and a hero!  He has to be patient, calm and understanding with me!  I get nervous and I worry a lot. I have suffered from anxiety and panic attacks in the past.  I have had bouts of vertigo.  I love driving curvy roads that I am familiar with, but I get nervous and sometimes dizzy when driving through canyons where there are steep cliffs or long tunnels.  But I have learned to trust him and his abilities and boy was I glad he was driving at this point in time!

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We are Southern California city drivers.  We are used to rush hour traffic and freeways.  I shared my husband’s concerns of the hazards of driving in a snow storm with no chains, battling poor visibility, and dealing with the dreaded black ice.  This is the reason I pushed the kids to leave early that morning.  I wanted to get through this mountain range before nightfall.  I wanted to get to Fort Collins in time for dinner and a jacuzzi.  But it was about 6 PM and all I could see was mountains ahead and it was getting cold, cloudy and dark.

Driving Through the Rocky Mountains Was a Wild Ride through the State of Fear

We travelled from Henderson, Nevada through Arizona, Utah, and Colorado that day.  A total of 819 miles.  The estimated driving time was exactly 12 hours.  When we stopped for lunch in Green River, Utah, it was sometime around 1 PM.  We had 400 miles to go driving along Interstate 70 through the majestic Rocky Mountains.  We had already marveled at the breathtaking and gorgeous mountains and rock formations that we saw as we drove by Arches National Park and the Colorado National Monument areas. None of it was quite as exhilarating and exciting as driving along side the Colorado River through Aspen and Vail.  The curving roads around mountain peaks, the steady ascent into higher and higher elevations, the river rushing past us, the quaint snow villages with their elegant homes and lush chalet style cabins, all of it was straight out of the Travel Channel!

Throughout the entire trip, my very techie family referred to Siri on their iPhones whenever my husband would ask a question.  Where is the nearest burger joint?  Where is the nearest gas station?  “I wonder how cold it is outside?” My hubby would tease.  Even though he could see that number get lower and lower on the dashboard thermometer, one of the boys would ask, “Siri, what is the temperature outside right now?”  “It’s 38 degrees right now.”  Siri would answer. We knew the forecast in Vail was snow.  The weather was at the freezing point, there were dark clouds over head, and we were going up steep mountain roads.  It began snowing as soon as we reached the summit of the mountain in Vail.

At first they were just pretty flurries of snow flakes hitting the windshield.  We still had a light glow from the sky behind us and the mountainside looked so pretty with the tall fir trees lining the slopes covered with fresh snow.  Ahead it was dark and looming.  There seemed to be fewer cars on the road and at some points we were all alone.  As the snow started to fall all around us, I was surprisingly calm.  A part of me (I will admit, a huge part of me!) was all, “Yeah! I knew it would snow, take that Hertz! My husband knew what he was doing when he reserved this vehicle.” We were prepared for this moment.  Did we know what we were doing exactly?  Heck no!  But we had our safe roadworthy brand new Chevy Traverse All Wheel Drive and we were damned well going to need it for the next several miles. The rest of me was holding on for dear life and praying the Rosary in my head as my husband tried not to show any sign of fear lest he freak me out.  The next hour of my life was spent singing the soundtrack of Les Miserables with my sons in the back seats watching the original Superman on the DVD player with headphones on while I thought positive loving calm beautiful thoughts of kittens and puppies.

We followed another SUV with a Colorado license plate rather closely due to the very poor visibility.  I figured they must be experienced driving through this area.  My husband knows everything about cars and how to drive them and he is very skilled with using the proper gears and shifting at the right time . . . etcetera, so on and so forth.  He knew what he was doing.  But I felt his stress and concern.  It wasn’t terribly dangerous or frightening and we were very lucky that the snow although it was sticking to the ground, was not wet or icy.  We did not see any accidents or stalled vehicles.  It was just slow going through heavy snow over the highest point of the mountain and then a very long slow descent down down down on a curvy road until we made it to the bottom.  It felt like skiing down a black diamond run that you ended up on by accident when you are first learning to ski or snowboard.  There is only one way down.  We took our time and made it.  We were incredibly encouraging to each other through it all.  The boys were quietly enjoying their movie even though I interrupted them often with, “Did you see that? Look over there!”

Always the Adventuress, I loved every moment of this trip.  My teen-aged sons rolled their eyes.  To them, it was like you’ve seen one mountain, you’ve seen them all.  Overall it was impressive to them and they enjoyed it.  But I was taking it all in like I would enjoy a bouquet of flowers admiring each flower for its individual beauty and scent.  I loved that gorgeous drive and I hope to go back again, someday!

I will post even more about the trip, the college visits, the food, and what happened next in the coming days when we arrive in New Mexico. 

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Blog Venture, Everything Miz Meliz

Do you Instagram? Follow Miz Meliz @mizmelissa and See Beautiful Vacation Pictures!

I love Instagram!  I feel really connected with people when I know they are following my adventures.  With Instagram I can post a picture, improve the way it looks by adding a filter and a frame, write a caption, include a hashtag, share it instantly on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr, and even check in via Foursquare.

New Mexico
New Mexico

On my recent Spring Break Vacation, I asked my friends to follow me on Instagram @mizmelissa for daily updates.  I went on a road trip with my family and we made lots of stops.  We drove over 2500 miles in one week.  We drove through beautiful terrain and I saw some of the most exquisite views of the sky that I have ever seen.  All the pictures I took were with my iPhone and mostly through the window of the passenger seat! I think my pics came out pretty good and I enjoyed sharing them!

I called my trip Six States in Seven Days and I will chronicle my travels in my next few posts.  The trip was amazing for many reasons.  It was a great break from routine and get away with my family.  I planned meet ups with family and friends that I haven’t seen in years.  The main objective and reason for the trip was to visit the universities that my son had been accepted to and help him make a decision on where to attend in the Fall.  It was probably the last family road trip vacation I take with my three sons.  This vacation was also a great way to test my social media skills and have an adventure!

If you want to see the 25 pictures that I posted on Instagram during my trip either click  HERE and see them on my Instagram page, or you can search for the hashtag #mizmeliz. If you like what you see, I hope you follow me to see more fun and gorgeous photos. Let me know your Instagram name so I can follow you!

Here are a few of my favorites:

Everything Miz Meliz

Flip Flop Day

I’ve been on a Spring Break vacation. It’s a road trip. Over 2400 miles in a week’s time. I’ll write all about it in the next few days. I saw this sign in Flagstaff, Arizona today. It sums up my feelings on most non-vacation days. It reminded me to be grateful for relaxation and easy going days! It made me realize how lucky I am to have fun in the sun, sandy beach, wiggle my toes kind of days.

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If you would like to take a rest and transport yourself on a mini-vacation, click here.