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Gray’s Papaya – New York, NY

There are a few things you’ll see on about every street corner in NYC…hot dogs and pizza.  Although we could have gotten them anywhere, we had a couple of particular places on our list.  Gray’s Papaya in the West Village being one of them.  Anthony Bourdain (yes, I’m a huge follower), claims this is one of the best spots!  A place he goes to whenever he’s home.  I’m not exactly sure what I was expecting but I was a little thrown off when I realized how simple and small these hot dogs were.  No wonder people order multiple.  But satisfying and delicious they were.  I can see why people stop here.

I thought my concoction was perfect…mustard and sauerkraut!

Katz’s Delicatessen – New York, NY

Another spot on Anthony Bourdain’s 13 Places to Eat Before You Die and deserving of the spot it is!  A New York legend, the deli sits in the same spot it was founded in in 1888.  Known for their pastrami my husband and I decided to split two ruebens, one made with corned beef and the other pastrami.  Pastrami was the winner but both were excellent!

If you haven’t been I think this should be on your list for sure.  To make yourself feel better try and walk there from wherever you’re staying.  You’ll need it to digest once you’re done:)

Once you order your sandwich, the kind people behind the counter will give you a slice of whatever meat it is your ordered.  Ours was hot and damn good…definitely makes you anticipate the sandwich even more:)You also get these two kinds of pickles with your order.  My favorite were the dills.The pastrami rueben…and the corned beef…yes please!

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – Kansas City, KS

If there’s one thing I love the midwest for it’s their damn good BBQ!  (And all my friends who live there too:))  On my first trip out to Kansas City, my brother-in-law, whose’s originally from Wichita, took us to this fine establishment.  Actually, it’s in a gas station but once you get inside it’s not scary at all.  The menu is huge and it’s a little overwhelming but I finally narrowed down my selection to the Carolina Style Brisket Sandwich  – served on a bun with spicy slaw and Bubba’s Sauce.   We also got a side of beans and coleslaw.  There’s plenty of extra BBQ sauce on the table which I used liberally.

Let me just tell you that I loved this sandwich so much that when I was back in Kansas City for a wedding this June, yes…twice in one year, we had our friends pick us up sandwiches and had them waiting for us when we flew in.  I think it will be a new tradition when I go to Kansas City…and it might just be the reason I go there:)

Not only am I a fan but so is Anthony Bourdain.  In fact, he wrote in an article for Men’s Health which included Oklahoma Joe’s as on of the 13 places to eat before you die.  Also on that list were El Bulli and The French Laundry.  Here’s a quote from the article:

“People may disagree on who has the best barbecue,” he writes. “Here, the brisket (particularly the burnt ends), pulled pork, and ribs are all of a quality that meet the high standards even of Kansas City natives. It’s the best barbecue in Kansas City, which makes it the best barbecue in the world.”

*My husband gets The Z-Man Sandwich – brisket, smoked provolone, topped w/ two onion rings on a kaiser bun.  I’ve had a bite and it’s pretty tasty.

Li Qun Roast Duck – Beijing, China

My good friend Bridget (of BC Designs, Inc.) asked me to join her in Beijing this July on the last part of her trip to China for work.  I had never been there and had no idea what to expect but I was already anticipating the food.  In researching Beijing, I quickly became aware of the fact that they are most famous for their Peking Duck.  Bridget, a vegetarian, I knew would have no part of the duck but I warned her that at some point during the trip I would be ordering one and I would be eating it all by myself:)  And that I did…on our last night there and boy was it delicious!

We found the restaurant simply by paging through our Fodor’s Beijing guide book.  Sounded good so why not?!  You can only imagine how excited I was when we were told during our dinner by some fellow Americans seated next to us that Li Qun Roast Duck was featured on an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations…I could have died and gone to heaven at that point.  It just made the food and experience that much better…as if it needed it:)

If you’re in Beijing and are looking for a great meal, this is your spot.  Be aware that the ambiance and cleanliness is NOT what will draw you there…just close your eyes:)  But in all seriousness, the food is outstanding!   The duck is roasted perfectly with that yummy crispy skin and the side dishes are delicious.

Be sure to call (you’ll need to have your hotel call since there is a HUGE language barrier) and reserve a duck.  You can’t make reservations but you can reserve a duck and you’ll definitely want to.  The wait will be a little long but just order a beer and make some new friends while waiting outside.  You’ll be glad you went here!

In case you can’t find it…just follow the ducks on the wall

 Roasting the ducks to perfection

In case you didn’t know…vegetarians love this too:)

All of the delicious side dishes

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