ALL THE NOTES MY DAD AND I WROTE IN THE MARGINS OF THIS 1980'S RESTAURANT GUIDE

  1. When I was a kid, my dad was always dragging us to some out-of-the-way restaurant, which I pretended to find weird but secretly loved. Here's what we had to say about what we ate.
  2. Gage and Tollner:
    Bill and Tica were my great-uncle and his wife. They lived in New Jersey. He was very cool and Rat Pack-y and she was managed Ravi Shankar's career. They were so much fun.
  3. Carson's
    The quest for good barbecue was very real in my family. I vividly remember eating a meal in what I would later realize was someone's kitchen...like, in their house. And yet, it was also a restaurant. I don't remember Carson's, though.
  4. Grand Central Oyster Bar:
    I love how my Dad is making excuses for what I think must have been a lackluster dining experience. Then again, we all know that if the room is right, the food tastes better.
  5. The Lantern
    "B and M" are my parents. Just wanted to clarify.
  6. Big John's
    My dad loved it, my mom did, too—but I think they disagreed on how best to get there. See how my dad starts composing his comment and then my mom takes over with EXIT 92 SOUTH GLENDALE!!
  7. Dearborn Inn
    We were complete Stepford children during this meal, so much so that some strangers approached our table to compliment my parents on our behavior. I don't really remember the food, just that the whole experience was a nice change from my sister trying to murder me with a hairbrush.
  8. Richards Farm
    I remember this place—it was in a barn, and there was a salad bar. It was not our typical road-food joint, but maybe my dad wanted to end the vacation on a high note. After all, this was the trip where my sister freakishly managed to catch a rogue golf ball IN THE EYE while she was swimming AT THE HOTEL POOL. No, the golf course was not next to the pool, and yes, this was an injury that required an ambulance and plastic surgery.
  9. The Golden Lamb
    Since I was fascinated with both dead presidents and make-believe, this meal was very important to me.
  10. Bun's
    Bun's was near my house. I stand by what I said about the cake.
  11. Juilleret's
    Another meal with Greg and Brenda. Brenda died twelve years ago. I ate some of my favorite meals with them and learned to love board games around their dining room table.
  12. Arthur Bryant
    "Monumental Barbecue Beef Sandwich" is one of the reasons I love my dad. He is not afraid to just go nuts over a meal. Also, I'm pretty sure this hotel had coin-operated massaging beds and that we left in the middle of the night when the air conditioning went out.
  13. Skyline Chili
    Still is.
  14. La Tertulia
    I guess I loved the Pork Chops, which seems like an odd choice.
  15. Rancho de Chimayo
    I ate so much amazing food on this trip that I made myself sick and wound up in Urgent Care. I continue to have no self-control when it comes to sopapillas.
  16. Tecolote Cafe
    I remember the blueberry pancakes, and am charmed by the shaky hand in which I wrote these comments. It must have been a bumpy road.
  17. Beans and Things
    Clearly my dad is driving, dictating his commentary to me in the backseat, and my tiny heart cannot bear to write the phrase "slit wrists," so I hand the book back to him, fold my arms across my chest, and sulk myself to sleep.