What's your favorite restaurant?
Kinda depends on the city. If I'm in my home town, it's a small, family-operated, Mexican food place called Chile Pepper. But, if I'm in Utsunomiya, the nearest big city to where I currently live, it would have to be a small place with no name that puts together a lunch set of fried and boiled gyouza with a nice, cold, draft beer.
And, of course, there have been others along the way. The Five Spot and McMinnamens (spelling?) in Seattle; the $.99 Chinese Food in San Diego; August Moon in Flagstaff, Arizona; the little curry shop whose name I can never remember in downtown San Francisco.
But my favorite restaurant? In my hometown, of Yuma, Arizona, there is an old, beat-down, former biker hangout in the downtown area called Lute's Casino. It's not a real casino, but there are pool tables and video games; the place is decorated in what might be called, generously, twentieth century American Kitshy Trash. For example, there's a foot from a disused mannequin sticking out of the wall. It's right next to a sign from an old poster for The Little Tramp, and across the room from the mounted Jackalope head.
The food is greasy and cooked in front of you; the slogan on the paper cups says "Save a Kangaroo, Eat a Lutesburger!" and I loved the place when I was a kid. We had birthday parties and lunch parties and pool contests there. I got my first kiss on the back patio from a girl whose name sometimes escapes me.