Holes in the Wall

We talked last week about traveling companions that are suited to our own style.  But we didn’t venture into the dynamics of visiting other folks.  Having spent several days with a good friend at her Tucson (technically Green Valley) home in February, I have been thinking about this dynamic quite a bit. 

This is the first visit we’ve had together since her husband passed last summer and my first time to their winter home.  When he was alive we had a lot of our meals at home.  He and I had loving to cook in common so it was an easy part of the visiting routine.  My friend doesn’t love cooking so on this trip we ended up eating out most of the time.  In fact, prior to my arriving we had talked about having Mexican food every meal. 

So I was surprised when she suggested pizza for dinner the first night.  Then I found out that she meant a food truck/pizza oven run by two brothers that was almost always parked a few miles from her place – the Family Joint Pizzeria – apparently they have quite a following.  You order your pizza then wait in your car (or at some adjoining picnic tables) and they bring it to you when it’s finished.  They offer a few bakery items as well and we ate this huge (and delicious) concha while we waited.

 I couldn’t pass up the Elote pizza, made with corn and cheese (the top one in the photo)

The other was a more traditional margarita.  Both were unbelievably yummy. 

Except for two breakfasts that we whipped up at home, we did indeed eat Mexican food for every other meal – and all at smaller, out of the way places that many of my friends might pass up.  Lunch south of Tucson near the Tabac community (about 15 miles from the border) that served baby margaritas in jelly jars.  We ate hot fry bread from a stand outside the San Xavier de Bac mission, unbelievably scrumptious cauliflower enchiladas at a place called Guadalajara’s and even breakfast at The Little One.  We both had Huevos Divorciados – one egg with red sauce, one egg with green sauce (on tortillas) but separated on the plate by rice and beans.  It was delightful but the most fun was having chips and salsa for breakfast!

It was a delightful surprise to have all these culinary adventures when previous visits hadn’t been as… exotic shall we say.

Tell me about a hole-in-the-wall place you’ve enjoyed>

49 thoughts on “Holes in the Wall”

  1. For work related reasons during the last 6 or 8 years before retiring, I was in and out of Omaha more than I’d like to remember. I would arrive on the train or bus from Chicago, take a cab to the airport, get a rental car and head north. That was usually in the middle of the night, and either going there or coming back, I drove along 30th street (US 75) through the neighborhood of Florence.
    The final such trip I took was with spouse along, so after arriving on the train, we spent the night in a hotel, then got a car and headed north (through Florence), but stopped at a hole-in-the-wall neighborhood restaurant for breakfast. It felt like going to someone’s home. Neighborhood people were in and out, waitresses greeted families by name (it was Saturday, so kids were along) and the food was great. Now, almost 5 years after that meal, I can find no evidence of the restaurant on Google maps, but, should I ever be in Omaha for breakfast again, I’ll look for it.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Rise and Shine, Baboons,

    NIce, topical question for me today. We arrived home from AZ last night, unloaded the car onto the porch, then collapsed into bed. Tuesday morning we awoke in Santa Fe, NM, then ate breakfast at a favorite “sorta” hole in the wall (it is on the main drag, not hidden somewhere), The Flying Tortilla. It is a breakfast and lunch place run by a family who makes wonderful food and coffee. I had the Flying Enchilada with Christmas sauce and we left with a thermos of good coffee.

    That, unfortunately, was the last thing that day that went well. We then embarked on a series of miseries large and small that
    made for a difficult travel day–Lou lost his driving glasses, we both left a jacket in the hotel closet so we turned back. On a day when we were trying to get out the door early and make good time, we started out an hour late. We then lost an hour between Colorado and Nebraska as the time changed from Mountain to Central Time. The wind in New Mexico, Colorado, and western Nebraska was severe to the point of severe wind warnings that made it necessary to fight the steering wheel just to keep the car moving. It was exhausting. We were both very crabby and unkind to each other on Tuesday. Wednesday was much smoother, although still windy.

    This morning I let the dog outside to do her business. There is still a lot of snow here, and she looked at me like “What am I supposed to do here? It is cold. What happened?”

    Liked by 6 people

  3. We have a great little Hispanic grocery store here where one can get wonderful crema from El Salvador or Guatemala for enchiladas. It is a tiny store filled with odds and ends for our diverse Central American immigrant community. There also is a Mexican bakery here. I haven’t been in there yet, but the photo of the concha reminded me to try it.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I adored Evergreen, which was a Taiwanese restaurant in the basement of a scruffy micro-mall building on Nicollet/Eat Street. They served all kinds of great tofu and faux-meat dishes (including mock beef and pork) alongside their regular fare. My favorite dishes were Three Cup Tofu, Orange Mock Chicken, vegan wonton soup with pickled vegetable, and veggie dumplings. My poetry group went there once or twice (the group usually chose the Rainbow because it had wine, which Evergreen did not) and I remember Rez digging into an enormous slab of pork belly! The couple who ran it retired back to Taiwan several years ago, and since no one wanted to take over the place, it closed. I was brokenhearted when I found out, especially since we’d planned to go there for my birthday.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. They were Buddhists, and had a little stack of literature to give away on the takeout desk. Most of it was in Chinese, but I did pick up a little bilingual booklet: “Kindness: a vegetarian poetry anthology” from the Buddhist Text Translation Society.

      Liked by 4 people

        1. Evangelism was my take. IIRC, the books were all by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, founder of the Translation Society. I didn’t get a cultish vibe off the materials, but the website is not clear on what sect of Mahayana the Master taught. Because it didn’t state it was Chan I assumed it was some version of Pure Land, but if so, much more low-key than Soka Gakkai.

          Liked by 3 people

  5. It’s not really a hole in the wall place. It’s pretty well known. I really enjoyed the food and coffee at the Amazing Grace Bakery. Unfortunately, it’s closing now or has already closed. My friend Marcie married the owner, Chip, who died of cancer many years ago now. She inherited the business from Chip and ran it for many years. It started to feel like home there. It was always a place I could go first when I got to Duluth. Marcie was true to our traditions of folk music and she had lots of musicians come and play at “the Grace.” I played there once too. It was just a really homey, familiar atmosphere. I volunteered to do dishes when I was there and got lunch with Marcie for my efforts. Marcie retired several years ago and and her son Connor bought the business from here. I don’t know what caused Connor to decide to sell it. I will miss it.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. The prototypical hole in the wall restaurant is Al’s Breakfast in Dinkytown adjoining the University of Minnesota campus. For those Baboons who haven’t visited, it’s a row of maybe a dozen stools along a counter with just enough room behind the stools for persons to stand waiting for the stools to empty. The space was originally an alley between two buildings that got roofed over and contained.
    I began going to Al’s as a student, when Al himself was still working the counter and a grumpy woman named Carol was at the grill. When Al retired, his nephew Phillip took over and Phillip, along with many of the rotating waitstaff were among our group of friends back in the ‘70s.

    Phillip sold the business to my friend and former roommate Doug and a business partner and Doug ran the restaurant, cooking, until his retirement a couple of years ago. During Doug’s tenure, Al’s Breakfast was visited by Jane and Michael Stern and other food journalists, became a frequent spot to take visiting celebrities and won a James Beard Award.

    Back in the ‘80s, at Doug’s request, I designed the menu for Al’s, giving it a homemade and quirky style using rubber stamps I had been collecting and producing. Many of the items on Al’s menu were named after those friends from the ‘70s.

    I have not been to Al’s myself for years, not because it isn’t good but because it isn’t convenient and we seldom go out for breakfast anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. my son did baseball camps at the University of Minnesota and for a treat we would go to L’s breakfast every morning before the baseball camp. I love Al’s and if so many times about trying to do a similar Diddy elsewhere. The vibe is so wonderful and that is indeed, the perfect hole in the wall.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. while traveling with my sons, Little League baseball team years ago, I was camping out in Idaho and woke up in the morning hungry for breakfast and stopped in at the gas station that advertised Mexican food and found to my delight, a whole cooking crew, making burritos and the lake for working crews in the nearby mining communities. I ordered a vegetarian burrito and told him just to fake it and the food was unbelievable. They commented on how they can’t believe that no one has ever asked for a vegetarian burrito before and how wonderful it looked and then maybe they would add it to the menu I have since discovered that in particularly the south west many of the great restaurants are gas station, Mexican food joints, and have began to think that maybe that might be kind of a fun way to go for a retirement career putting together a truck and cooking roadside

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Another hole in the wall is the Wienery on Cedar Ave, next door to the Cedar Cultural Center. It has really good hotdogs of various kinds, great onion rings, and chili. This is, or at least used to be, a one man operation, so a lot depends on the person running it. Back in the late eighties and early nineties, and the owner, Jerry, was a great guy, and it was a fun place to grab an inexpensive bite for lunch. Haven’t been there in years now, but I know that whole neighborhood has changed to the point of being almost unrecognizable.

      Liked by 3 people

  8. It appears that another storm system will hit here Sunday. I had hoped to drive to Fargo Monday to hand off Grandson to his parents. That may not happen until the middle of next week, given the weather forecast.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. OT — if you didn’t see my note yesterday, I have a dozen eggs from Ben up for grabs to anybody in the Twin Cities who wants them. I can bring them to you.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. Entirely at your convenience, vs. I’m home almost all of the time. It would be helpful if give me a heads up when you’re heading out so I know when to look for you. Thanks, I appreciate it.

          Liked by 2 people

  10. The first that comes to mind is the Mirimar Beach Inn, just across the road from me when I lived near Half Moon Bay. It was right on the bay, a bar-n-grill that served great meatloaf sandwiches, and had an open mike on Thursdays. Favorite memory is of a rainy night, watching the waves with my high school friend who was visiting.

    Mary’s Restaurant in Greenwich Village (circa 1975)was my first taste of Northern Italian food, and I was practically swooning. It may have gotten written up once in a while, but was very small and understated.

    Does anyone else remember Peter’s Grill, 30s style diner in downtown Mpls? Wonder if it’s still there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember Peter’s Grill. Went there occasionally when I worked in the Midwest Plaza. I believe it’s still open though I could be wrong about that. Haven’t been there in at least twenty years.

      Liked by 3 people

        1. I worked in the IDS center from 1980 – 85, and in the Midwest Plaza from 1986 – 92. Spent lots of lunch hours during those years exploring downtown eateries. There was a restaurant on the skyway level of one of the neighboring buildings, don’t remember which one, it was called Eddington’s. They served soups, salads, and great breadsticks. It was a good place to pick up a quick lunch.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. There were several Eddingtons around town. Good soup and endless breadsticks. A great place to go when you were buying your lunch out most days.
          In about 1980 I was working at an ad agency called Stevenson’s in the Foshay tower. The IDS and that vicinity was my stomping ground.

          Liked by 2 people

        3. I adored Eddingtons. My first Eddingtons was the one right across the street from the IDS where are my BFF and I would go and get cinnamon rolls before we had to open the bookstore. Then I was lucky enough to discover there was an Eddingtons just two blocks from the B Dalton headquarters and then BI. (B Dalton and BI were spitting distance from each other.). I was heartbroken when they shut down.


        4. For those on a budget in those days ( and I was) there were several cafeteria-style places downtown. One may have been in the Medical Arts building but the one I remember was in the basement of the Dain building- a wonderful old art deco place. The cafeteria was called Tudor Court and it was arrayed in a sort of half timber decor. Some of the ad agency people used to frequent it.

          Liked by 2 people

        5. Nope. She was gone by the time I started working at B Dalton in 84. But I heard stories. By the time I got to B Dalton headquarters I had to moved to Software Etc.


      1. They did, and it was large. I agree, not a hole in the wall, but a place that had a vibe all of it’s own. Seemed like an anachronism to me, like it belonged in a different time and place.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. For the unaquainted, all Waffle Houses are dives. Especially after 2 AM central time. Here in Ohio the juke box is restricted to old R&B. Good. No overt gangster rap. They are parking lot sites for moving locations to continuous parties. This is all second hand information to me from my dating days with a black Cincinnati undercover cop. She was my protector. Cops carry weapons. TMI about dives? Sorry

      Liked by 2 people

  11. For the unaquainted, all Waffle Houses are dives. Especially after 2 AM central time. Here in Ohio the juke box is restricted to old R&B. Good. No overt gangster rap. They are parking lot sites for moving locations to continuous parties. This is all second hand information to me from my dating days with a black Cincinnati undercover cop. She was my protector. Cops carry weapons. TMI about dives? Sorry

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I remember Peter’s Grill too. Went there fairly often. I think the owners blamed the demise of the place on food trucks – in the winter, Peter’s had plenty of illed tables, but in the summer people didn’t want to eat indoors anymore, they just ordered from food trucks and sat outdoors.

    There was another little place in downtown Minneapolis, Hamlin’s coffe shop. Looks like it might still be there. It was on street level, if I recall, and it was tucked behind a staircase that went from street level to the skyway. They had wonderful banana cream pie.

    I haven’t been to Cecil’s for a long time, but I think of that as sort of a hole in the wall kinda place.


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