Weinbergers Deli, Grapevine, Tex.

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My friend and his brother (both of whom are local Texans from Grapevine) brought me to Weinbergers, and it was an awesome place for us to have lunch. I ordered the reuben, and the sandwich was generously appointed. The combination of flavors from the corned beef and Russian dressing, to the fresh baked rye bread, were totally on point and satisfying.

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The place was hopping busy for lunch (always a good sign!) but the staff was completely on top of the situation. When a table opened up it was immediately cleaned and we were seated with our number (it is counter service at this deli.) The system runs like a well-oiled machine, with a smile. I love to see a local place doing good business, and that’s what is going on at Weinbergers. Bravo!

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QuakeCon 2019: The Year of Doom Photos

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Thank you everybody in the QuakeCon family for a great experience. Big thanks to my friend Nick for hosting me, and Deadbeat for inspirational second place finish in the BYOC Quake II duel tournament. GGs and hope to see everybody back next year!

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Gaylord Texan Resort, Grapevine, Tex.

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Big thank you to the amazing Gaylord Texan for hosting the QuakeCon event. For the past 3 years (2017 – 2019) I have booked a room for half a week each summer to attend, and the experience has been absolutely tops each year. From the hospitality of the hotel staff, to the coordination of the events staff with the QuakeCon team, it is hard for me to imagine Gaylord Texan in any way improving its performance.

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Thank you to everybody on the team for having us gamers in your well appointed and professionally run resort, year after year.

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Grapevine Botanical Gardens, Grapevine, Tex.

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The summer of 2019, I visited Grapevine, Texas for a computer conference. OK, OK, it was QuakeCon. Before I was able to start hardcore gaming, I had a few hours to fill, and made the decision to eat BBQ brisket and take a nap at the Grapevine Botanical Gardens, and it was a beaut.

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The botanical garden was tranquil and the calming energy was just what the doctor ordered (the doctor had NOT ordered the pound of brisket, the half-day spent in airports, or the three-days of restless gaming with the nerdherd that was to come.) It was a welcome respite from the road, to be surrounded by the nature of Grapevine, Texas, its native flora and fauna.

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The koi were well fed and swam gorgeously thru golden lit waters, but the real star was the shade and breeze on a hot July day.

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The butterfly sculpture celebrates the monarch butterflies that fly over Grapevine, Texas on their southern migration. My favorite part of my visit to the Botanical Garden was the 200+ years old tree. A plaque beside the tree bore the following inscription:

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“1787 – 1987. The National Arborist Association and the International Society of Arborculture jointly recognize this significant tree in this centennial year, having lived at the time of the signing of our Constitution.”

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Historic Downtown Grapevine, Tex.

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To be filed under, “You know you are getting old when…” I know that I have gotten old when, on a trip to Texas for 3 days of hardcore gaming at QuakeCon, I am almost sidetracked by the history of the town hosting the event. Well, that was the case with Grapevine. ¬†Good thing I can’t drink wine or I may have never been seen or heard from again!

The beautifully preserved Texas architecture of the town’s buildings and homes is well worth a walking tour of the downtown streets. I would be tempted to go on a guided tour, but even by myself on this last trip I was completely fascinated by the sights along with publicly available information regarding the history of the town.

I was a little surprised but in a good way: Grapevine, Texas has a captivating history!

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Meat U Anywhere BBQ, Grapevine, Tex.

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Right before I got on the plane from Connecticut to Texas, well, the night before (and I left EARLY the following morning, so I’m sticking with “right before” in spirit) one of the chefs I work with impressed upon me the importance of the opportunity to eat good BBQ while down in Texas. The chef took this job seriously, and I’m glad he did.

The amazing brisket sandwich I had at Meat U, was soft yet flavorful, hints of smoke and caramelized, just-burnt ends, in harmony with tangy, spicy house-made BBQ sauce, was the trip to flavor heaven one imagines when they close their eyes, and think, “Texas.” Well, maybe not in the imagination of a vegetarian.

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My cat probably thinks he could take down a cow (spoiler alert: he cannot) and just like him, I probably thought I could eat a whole brisket sandwich, potato salad, and slices of jalapeno-cheddar sausage. Spoiler alert: I could not. Everything is bigger in Texas, including my eyes, compared to my stomach.

All that being said, I would order the same way again, as that sausage was spicy, snappy, perfection. Only problem is, I’m back in Connecticut, and my chef was right. The name is Meat U Anywhere, but for BBQ this good, it’s got to be from Texas.

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La Patrona Taco Truck, Long Wharf, New Haven, Conn.

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Coming from Chicago, where Mexican / Latin American cuisine is thankfully abundant and delicious, to Connecticut, yes even the mighty city of New Haven, where the options are fewer and farther between, made me appreciate the amazing flavors of home-style cooking coming from the family-owned food truck La Patrona even more.

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For ten dollars or less, a dinner that balances fresh ingredients like avocado, radish, cilantro, and deeply flavorful, slow-cooked meats like barbacoa, finished with crema, cheese, hot sauce (or if you are like Raven, mild sauce,) is hard to top. Thank you La Patrona for satisfying my craving for Mexican, and an affordable and delicious dinner with views of New Haven Harbor.

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Branford Point, Branford, Conn.

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I have now forgotten the circumstances that brought me to Branford Point this past spring: all that I remember now is that I had to be out of the house an hour or so before I needed to leave for work. The amount of time seemed just right to explore this city of Branford park, on my way in to New Haven, and I am glad I did.

Branford Point park is small but packed with memorable features. From the boat launch, which is surrounded by water on 3 sides, to the beach, backed by a grassy, tree-lined hill, there is much beauty to absorb from this point. Parking was possible, but limited: I imagine in the summer high season that it becomes difficult for anybody that lives outside Branford to visit.

Though it may be small and packed, the challenge in this case would be worth the breeze from Long Island Sound, the sights of nearby Thimble Islands, and the peaceful vibes I found at Branford Point.

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Old Duncan Hotel, New Haven, Conn.

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This review is for how The Graduate has restored the Hotel Duncan. My path to work has me pass the hotel almost every day, and I have watched the progress. Bravo to the team for meticulously restoring the beauty and grandeur of the old Hotel Duncan, and with a sense of urgency. It’s amazing (to somebody such as myself from Chicago) how the project has progressed, and I am excited to have the full experience in the updated historic hotel soon. Thank you and bravo The Graduate!

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