Restaurants · travel

Day 35 of USA Road Trip – Albuquerque 

“What are you doing in Albuquerque if you’re not Breaking Bad fans?”, asked the man in the candy store where they made the ‘meth’ for the TV show. It’s a question that regurgitated in our brains over the course of the day. 

For starters, I was totally wrong. It’s nothing like Santa Fe. We started off downtown which was completely barren except a few dodgy-looking people, including a man with a huge metal chain nonchalantly chilling on his shoulders. We moved on to the Old Town, which was a lot nicer but small. We meandered through the streets and shops which were thankfully open despite it being Labour Day. This was when we came across the store with the candy ‘meth’. The man behind the counter was adamant that we had to take a photo of the cardboard cut outs of the characters and a tray of ‘meth’, insisting that we would be the envy of all of our friends. Read it and weep, guys. 


We then came across a Rattlesnake Museum, which was only $6 and I’d never seen a rattlesnake, so we decided to go in. The whole place was filled with live rattlesnakes (behind glass) and full of interesting facts. They were also playing a David Attenborough show on a big screen, which was excellent. We made friends with a cute but very venomous lizard, and Ewan snapped a picture of me being ‘brave’ and standing kind of close to a rattlesnake. 


We decided to walk to a park located south of the city, which turned out to be a big mistake. The park was actually a zoo, so we couldn’t get in, and it was sodding boiling and we were both dying for a drink. Thankfully, on the way back to town we found a pub with board games, so we had a drink and played Battleships (I won!). 


Once we finally got back to the hotel, we had a quick nap before heading out to a BBQ restaurant called Whole Hog Cafe for dinner. The restaurant is within a 2 minute walk from our hotel so it was easy peasy. All of their meats are gluten free, as well as 2 of their BBQ sauces and a few sides. I went for the Loaded Baked Potato with pulled pork and a side of coleslaw. It was yummy! 


We’re now in bed watching the first Sex and the City movie ahead of an exciting drive tomorrow. We’re going to be visiting Petrified Forest National Park and staying overnight in a Wigwam! Cannot wait. 

Restaurants · travel

Day 33 & 34 of USA Road Trip – Santa Fe

So the margarita trail was a bust. You needed to drink 5 of their suggested margaritas to get a t-shirt, but you could only get a maximum of 2 margarita points a day, regardless of how many you drank. Seeing as we were only there for 2 days, we wouldn’t have been able to get a t-shirt (which is the whole point of doing the trail). Instead, we bar hopped along our own route and tried lots of different drinks! That basically sums up our first evening in Santa Fe. 


We stopped for dinner first at a local Mexican restaurant called Mucho Gusto. It’s a short walk away from the main drag so it’s a little cheaper than the overpriced restaurants right in the heart of town. They don’t have gluten free items marked on the menu, but once asked they were very knowledgeable and knew what I could and couldn’t eat. I went for the beef and it was yummy. Obviously, I had to wash it down with their house margarita! 


From there we headed to Coyote Cafe and nabbed ourselves a spot on the rooftop, overlooking all the gorgeous terracotta rooftops. The cocktail menu was AMAZING. I tried 3 different cocktails and all of them were dreamy, especially the Coco Loco. 


Once we had peeled ourselves away from the cocktails, we stood outside Starbucks to steal the wifi and book an Uber home. I remember when Uber first became a big thing in London and my housemate and I used it to get to a friends birthday party. Within a couple minutes, a fancy Mercedes had pulled up outside and our driver was wearing a suit! Plus, it only cost us £10 to get from Clapham to Holborn. Alas, that Uber now only exists in my memory. Last night, there was apparently a surge (even though the streets of Santa Fe were quiet and there was zero traffic), and they were quoting $45 for a trip that cost under $10 three hours prior. Such a joke. We downloaded the Lyft app instead and yes, they also had a surge, but it was only $14 to get home with the surge fee added. Download Lyft!! 

Today we got the train into town at Ewan’s request (he revealed yesterday that he loves trains almost as much as commercial planes – the things you learn about someone when you spend a month with them in a car). Despite the fact that we got the times wrong and arrived 45 minutes early for our train, it was a VERY cheap and easy way of getting around. I capitalized the ‘very’ next to cheap because we got both journeys for free! On the way into town, no one came around selling tickets, so we just didn’t buy one. On the way back, someone came round to sell tickets just as we were about to arrive at our stop, so he told us we didn’t need to pay. Score! The train is also adorably called The Road Runner and when the doors close, it makes the ‘meep meep’ sound! Cute. 


We explored all the outskirts of town today, staring at the Railyard. There were lots of cute craft and food stalls in the Railyard, including a coffee shop that did the BEST gluten free coffee cake I’ve ever eaten. Ewan passed on the PB&J cookie which came back to bite him in the arse later. 


We hung out for a while in the Railyard Gardens; looking at the cool art installations, spotting wildlife like gophers and squirrels and climbing in the kids playground. I did at one point stand in a red ants nest but nothing bit me! Can you believe it?! [After I wrote this line, we went to collect our washing from the guest laundry and on the way, a grasshopper fell from a tree and landed on my head. Sigh]. 


A short walk from the Railyard is the State Capitol Building and ‘The Oldest House in the USA’, which was made out of dirt and manure! Both are free to visit. 


Ewan began to get the hunger shakes so we headed to the very popular Cowgirl BBQ for lunch. There was a band playing live country music in the Courtyard so the place was super busy. Their menu is classic BBQ and I was happy to see that they mark the gluten free options on the menu. I went for the nachos which are apparently famous and have been rated highly by Food Network and the Travel Channel…. but they were just okay! 


We walked off our lunch around the streets of Santa Fe and checked out a couple local shops before stopping for our final drink of the day at Blue Corn Cafe. We sat on the rooftop, soaking in the sun and shooing away greedy pigeons. 


Tomorrow we’ve only got an hour drive to Albuquerque, which I’m intrigued to see. I’m expecting it to be very much like Santa Fe but I could be wrong! 

Restaurants · travel

Day 25 & 26 of USA Road Trip – Oklahoma City & Kansas City

The last couple of days have been quite light in terms of sightseeing as we are just ticking off states/passing through places at the moment, but we’ve still seen, and eaten, some cool stuff! In Oklahoma City, Ewan had a hilarious mental breakdown when he found out that parking was 50 cents more expensive per hour than we had expected (even though we’d only planned to park for 2 hours) and thankfully it turned out that 2 hours was just about enough time anyway! We first visited the eerily beautiful Oklahoma City National Memorial that honours the victims of the 1995 bombing. It was incredibly moving and I encourage everyone to visit if you’re ever near the area. 


We had a little wander around Bricktown, a neighbourhood that’s basically a poor man’s San Antonio or Camden without the people, but it’s still a cute area to have a drink by the water! There’s lots of fairy lights so it’s probably prettier at night. What with the extortionate
parking, we headed out of the city for dinner and came across a Chili’s. Once seated, I explained my dietary requirements to the waitress. She was SO good and gave me a full allergen breakdown of every item on the menu, which even included information on cross contamination, meaning that I could make a safe choice for myself. I went for the chicken fajitas with corn tortillas and I was not disappointed! The whole thing was cooked in garlic butter so tasted divine, and the portion was huge! Very impressed with Chili’s and their gluten free options. 


We went for a little swim in the hotel pool before bed, which was nice but it was probably the randomest pool I’ve ever swam in. Imagine you’re in a dingy indoor car park and you come across a hole filled with water surrounded by a couple plastic chairs… that was the vibe of our hotel pool. It was clean though! 

Today has mainly been a driving day, around 6 hours in total to Kansas City. Once we checked in, we went straight for dinner at a BBQ restaurant called Q39. It gets super busy and the parking is a bloody nightmare, but it is 100% WORTH IT. Literally the best meal we’ve had on the road trip so far, and the best burnt ends I’ve ever had. Their menu is annotated to show the gluten free options, and I was happy to see that almost all the meats and sides were gluten free. From the suggestion of our waitress, we both went for the brisket platter with an extra rib added. Honestly, I’m almost sad that we loved it so much because it means that one day we might have to come back to Kansas City… and there’s really not much else here! Fingers crossed we find even better BBQ at one of next stops.  Note: Q39 also offer 3 varieties of gluten free beer, which I didn’t try because I think beer tastes like cats piss, but this is yet another reason why this place is amazing for coeliacs! 


We burnt off about 1/100th of our dinner with a walk around Penn Valley Park afterwards, and then headed back to the hotel to freshen up before going over to the casino across the road for a night of wine and gambling. Sadly, our plan was foiled when they wouldn’t accept our I.D. for the casino because it wasn’t American. Pffffft. Hope we don’t have this problem in Vegas! We had a glass of wine at a restaurant instead and I came back to the hotel to write this. Crazy Saturday night! Heading to Des Moines in the morning 🙂 

Restaurants · travel

Day 23 & 24 of USA Road Trip – Fort Worth & Dallas 

To fill you all in on the glamour of our road trip, we woke up this morning to a special guest in our bed…. a cockroach. I’ll never be the same again. 

Taking it back a couple days before the above incident, we arrived at our Fort Worth, cockroach-infested motel on Wednesday, an hour and a half before the official check in time. We’ve been pretty lucky with the other motels because all but one have let us check in early, and the one that didn’t let us store Big Red in their storage room so we didn’t have to leave ‘her’ on the backseat while parking downtown. We were not lucky this time. The parking lot and motel seemed completely empty, but the man behind the counter refused to check us in. Okay, no problem, could we perhaps sit by the pool until we can check in? No. Okay, can we leave our suitcase then? No. Why? I wouldn’t want to be responsible. Oh it’s literally just got clothes in, that’s fine. Actually, my storage unit is full. Right….. 

We gave up and headed to McDonalds with a plan to sit with a coffee and use the wifi until we could check in. It was the roughest McDonalds I’ve ever been in and they didn’t seem to appreciate out-of-towners. While I was in the queue, the lovely patrons were looking me up and down (sadly not in a complimentary way, and I was wearing my most flattering shorts), sneering, HISSING and a couple guys were hanging around our car, looking in the windows at our stuff. Unsurprisingly, we took that coffee to go and decided to head back to the hotel to sit in reception until check in time. When we got back, there was a different man at reception and he checked us in with zero issue, 15 minutes after we first arrived. Blurgh. 

All that palava aside, we dropped our stuff in the room and headed into Fort Worth on the bus. Our first stop was the beautiful Water Gardens, an amazing park with 3 stunning water features and a man-made mountain that you can climb. One of the water features was a large fountain with steps all the way down, meaning that you could walk right into the heart of it. Gorge! The second one was built to have the effect of mosaic tiles on water, and the third was an Alice in Wonderland themed Quiet Pool. We climbed the mountain and each step was 20 inches tall…. I’ve been living off BBQ food and haven’t worked out since we started the road trip so my legs definitely felt it and are still sore today! 



While walking around downtown and visiting Sundance Square and the JFK memorial, we saw a hotel bar advertising ‘Bubble Hour’, where a glass of prosecco was only $3.50! We couldn’t resist and went in for a glass, and I realized just how much I’d missed prosecco! 


For dinner we went to Uno, a pizzeria chain we had been to in Orlando back in April and I’d fallen in love with their gluten free pizza. It was SO good to have it again, and perhaps even better than I remembered. They know their stuff about cross-contamination and offer gluten free burgers too if you aren’t into pizza (but why wouldn’t you be?!).


Thursday morning we drove to Fort Worth Stockyards (tip: street parking is free for 2 hours and you don’t really need longer than that), went in lots of shops selling cowboy boots and hats, and watched the cattle herd at 11.30am. 


Once the cattle had finished their performance (a short walk from one sign to another), we got back in the car and drove to Dallas. We stopped for lunch at Sonny Bryan’s BBQ and LOVED it. Nearly all their meats are gluten free, as are most of their sides. I went for the pulled pork, pulled chicken and brisket with potato salad and beans. YUM. Their BBQ sauce is gluten free but served in old Corona bottles, so perhaps skip the sauce if you’re a coeliac, unless you REALLY trust their dishwasher. 


We walked around Dallas, stopping at the location where JFK was assassinated back in 1963, and visiting his beautiful memorial. We also popped into the Dallas Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden (both free!) for a wander and took some pics of Founders Square. I’m glad we ticked Dallas off our bucket list, but Fort Worth was my favourite of the two. 


We had our first night in of the road trip last night – accompanied by a couple microwave meals from Walmart! We know how to live. 

Restaurants · travel

Day 1 of USA Road Trip – Buffalo

Following an emotional morning saying goodbye to some of my favourite people, Ewan and I headed to the Greyhound bus terminal in Toronto. After a short faff because one of our cases was overweight (over 70lbs!), meaning that we had to reshuffle everything around in our bags and pay an extra fee, we were on the road!

A couple hours later we arrived at the US border. FUNNY MOMENT OF THE DAY: The lady at the border asked Ewan and I what we were doing in Chicago back in June (meaning purpose of our visit), and Ewan started listing off the tourist attractions we had been to, “Sears Tower, Hancock Building, the Bean…” Her confused face was brilliant, and against her better judgement, she let us in!

IMG_85000

Our first stop in Buffalo was our current favourite BBQ restaurant in the world, Dinosaur BBQ. Their gluten free menu is extensive, with practically all of their meats and sauces being gluten free, and at least 60% of their sides too. We started with the chicken wings covered in Wango Tango sauce, and followed it up with a SweetHeart Deal – a full rack of ribs with a choice of 4 sides. For my sides, I had the mashed potatoes without the gravy and AK Chilli. Everything was amazing and I left the restaurant a very full and happy piggy.

Dino

Picking up the car first thing tomorrow, excited/anxious to find out what we’re going to be travelling around in for the next couple months!