One of the benefits to playing a sport competitively is the seemingly endless hunt for proper nourishment. Over the years my passion became the search and consumption of local cuisine as I traveled around the world playing soccer. I use to tell people eating was my hobby and there were certain MLS cities I looked forward to visiting for their culinary offerings.
Chicago has it all, bars that stay open past 4am and food that rivals any major city in the world. I remember the first time I ate at a few of these places and never wanted to try anywhere else afterward. Of course there were a few late nights mixed in but the food and nightlife in Chicago are second to none.
Here are some of the restaurants I often frequented in the greater Chicago area:
- Yolk (Breakfast) –pregame meal ritual with my Fire teammates
- Topo Gigio (Italian)
- Smoque (BBQ) – best BBQ I’ve ever eaten.
- Belly Shack (Korean/Puerto Rican or Ko-Rican)
- Rick Bayless’ XOCO & Frontera Grill (Mexcian)
The Emerald City always was a fun place to eat. The Olive 8 hotel is probably the best hotel in MLS with a central location minutes from Pike’s Place and in close proximity to numerous quality restaurants. I’ve even tried Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee, which wasn’t the best coffee I had in Seattle.
The food at the hotel was surprisingly good but I managed to find a few places in Seattle worth mentioning:
- El Gaucho (Steakhouse)
- Home Grown (Sandwiches)
- Paseo (Caribbean) – best Cuban sandwich ever!
- Japonessa (Sushi)
- Fran’s Chocolates
Staying in LA is always a nice treat. Although the hotel is located in Torrence, CA I had friends pick me up and we headed to my favorite restaurants around the greater Los Angeles area. It’s tough to pick favorite places in LA with ample choices and such a vibrant foodie scene but some of my regular spots are:
- Jalapenos (Mexican)
- In-N-Out Burger – only if we won our game that day.
- Lucille’s Smokehouse BBQ
- Mama D’s Italian Kitchen
- Fogo de Chao (Brazilian Steakhouse) – if you desire a food coma.
I love traveling to Washington, DC. Our teams always stayed within a few blocks of the White House and it became a tradition to sight see and explore. I found DC to be not only a great place to discover our nation’s history but I also found some really great food.
Some of the joints I like are:
- Sweetgreen (Salads)
- Taylor Gourmet (Sandwiches)
- Ping Pong Dim Sum
- The Eritrean Cultural Center (Ethiopian) – a hidden gem.
I had never been to Vancouver until last year but the food was excellent and the city was picturesque. My birthday was the day before the game and our meals at Coast Seafood and Italian Kitchen made it a pretty memorable day.
You have to love the food scene in Portland. From hole in the wall food carts to high-end restaurants, I loved every minute I was eating in this city.
Here are a few of my favorite places:
- Barista (Coffee)
- Laurelhurst Market
- Andina (Peruvian)
- The Farm Café. – the veggie burger and absinthe was so good it resulted in a teammate getting a tattoo after our dinner.
- Pok Pok (Southeast Asia) – my all-time favorite.