It's always interesting to see your town's culture and local scenes through the lens of someone with a fresher perspective. Ian is one of my newest friends and co-workers. He's from San Diego and is a graduate of the University of Michigan, and recently moved to Tri-Cities with his longtime girlfriend. He's also spent some time in Chicago, so his food experience is pretty vast for a person his age.
When we first started talking, Ian was always asking me for food recommendations. I've lived in Tri-Cities for 18 years so naturally, I have my favorites. But being here for so long has also made me a creature of habit, reluctant to try anything new or out of my wheelhouse. Hanging out with Ian has given me a new perspective on the local food scene.
I asked my friend who just moved to Tri-Cities to list his favorite restaurants in town.
I have taken Ian to a couple of my favorite places in town, but I wanted to know what his personal favorites were in the short time he's lived in Tri-Cities. He was kind enough to give me some of his thoughts and opinions on the grub scene in Tri-Cities. We won't hold his affinity for Chicago-style deep-dish pizza against him.
Vinny's Bakery: "Aside from the beautiful pastries that tempt me from the moment I step in, It's the sandwiches that really put it a step above. Haven't had anything from here that I didn't love. Breakfast burritos, chicken bacon ranch sandwich, pastries, and I haven't even tried the legendary Cubano yet! This place is elite and the prices are as fair as you'll find."
Porter's Real Barbecue: "On the pricier side, but this place is pretty awesome. I'm a sucker for pulled pork and It's fantastic here. The sausage links too. Another bonus is the sauces, which have great variety and add a ton of flavor. My only complaint would be that they don't have fries, but baked beans do the trick as far as sides go."
Moniker Bar: "Known for the craft cocktails of course, but this food is ridiculously slept on. They keep a fairly small, rotating menu, but they always have some unique stuff on there and it always hits. In their most recent food menu update, they added a smash-burger and it's flat out amazing. Before that, my favorite was the kimchi fried chicken sandwich. No shortage of immense flavor on any dish here."
Greek Islands: "Smaller, more lowkey spot off Keene, but they do some pretty fantastic stuff. Most notable at Greek Islands in my opinion is the Greek pizzas. You won't find something like this anywhere else, but basically, they combine all your favorite Greek flavors onto a loaded pizza made for 2-3 people. Haven't had a calzoni here yet but I imagine those are awesome as well, that's gonna be next up for me."
Super Quesadilla Gigante: "Pretty wide-ranging menu with a lot of different things on it worth trying, but you gotta get a burrito here. They're absolutely massive. It's like two meals basically. If you like quesadillas, then it's the same thing. And dump some salsa on those bad boys too."
Bombing Range Brewing Company: "Honestly I went there for the beer and the vibes but the pizza menu really caught my eye. Went with a meatball pizza first and a buffalo chicken the next time I went there. When asked about the pizza, I describe it as "a humble pie". It's not the biggest or the fanciest or anything, but dang they load it with flavor and they have some really awesome dough. Good luck deciding which pizza to get, they have like 20 of them and each one is pretty unique. The Thai pizza is next up for me here."
Some Bagels: "How is there only one bagel spot in Tri-Cities? Luckily though, this place has you covered. Some Bagels has two locations and the bagels are made fresh every morning in Richland. The bagel sandwiches are fantastic, I love the egg and bacon, and they have great pizza bagels too. The people there are super nice and friendly. They also brew their own coffee too and if you want a latte they've got like 30 flavors!"