Category Archives: Travel

Yelp! Top 100 Restaurants in the USA

Cutting tuna in Da Poke Shop.
Cutting tuna in Da Poke Shop. just published a list of the Top 100 restaurants in the US, and the winner is a small take out stand on Hawaii’s big island, which serves piles of raw fish on greens, which if I read it right is called poke.

Now, that’s cool, and the list is an impressive mélange of expensive and much less expensive tastes. For instance, New York’s top restaurant is a vegan food truck called the Cinnamon Snail. Second is the gastronomic playground known as 11 Madison Park. On the whole list I’ve eaten at one restaurant, the Gramercy Tavern, which is one of my favorite restaurants in the city. Well selected, I’d say, but we don’t get out much.

So maybe my lack of familiarity is my fault, but in scanning down the list there are a rather large number from our most populous state, California, which made me wonder if their food is so much superior or if the way Yelp weighted their star ratings (by the number of votes) favored more populous areas.

State By State ranking of the top restaurants in the Yelp 100:

California 48
Hawaii 10
New York 9
Texas 7
Washington 4
Illinois 3
Missouri 3

Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Oregon and Tennessee has two apiece.

I like the list, whenever I get back to Cali maybe it will lead us to some hidden gems, but I have my doubts that the algorithm Yelp used is to be fully trusted.

On The Road, With Maps and Directions

Screenshot 2014-02-10 12.39.05When I was a high schooler I was obsessed with Jack Kerouac’s On The Road. I read the novel multiple times and I read all of Kerouac’s other novels, there are many, some of them multiple times, the better to understand it and him.

I exulted when Visions of Cody, something of a companion piece to On The Road, was released, full of diary fragments and transcribed recordings of conversations between Kerouac and Neal Cassidy (Dean Moriarity in the novel), and my friend Peter and I went to a seminar at Hofstra University where a professor played recordings of some of those very conversations. At the time, just a few years after Kerouac’s death, much of his output was still hidden in the cardboard boxes of his papers and other items he left behind.

It was enough to keep a pipe of ephemera and data flowing for the forty years since, which is why I ate up the original scroll version of On The Road a few years back (truly exciting) and the “lost” collaboration between Kerouac and William Burroughs, which was released some few years ago, The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks (surprising lively and moving), even though I no longer obsess over him, or the book.

My buddy Russell and I even planned on hitchhiking to Colorado for the summer following 11th grade, though our moms talked us into taking the Greyhound instead. Which was fine, because Jack often rode the Greyhound in the fellahin night of red brick sunrises, too. But once we landed in Evergreen we headed out to the Grand Canyon by thumb, dodging the highway patrol and the crazed, finding the heart of America inside the cabins of the cars and their drivers that carried us safely there and back. Just like Jack did, haunted along the banks of the Susquehanna by a shade or a memory or a portent, we found magic on the road, in whatever guise it came.

What I never thought to do was to map the actual roads Jack and Neal traversed, but it turns out just about everybody else has. Some examples.

In Kerouac’s journal is a hand-drawn map of his cross country trek.

A guy named Dennis Mansker has made interactive Google maps of all the trips in On The Road, full of odd and arresting details.

Screenshot 2014-02-10 12.47.08A guy named Gregor Weichbrodt input all the hard destinations listed in the book into Google Maps and asked for directions. The step by step routes are spontaneous prose of a distinctly mechanical perspective, but wonderful (to me) for the mere idea of it.