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Bilbao Berria Pintxos, Barcelona – Spain

I had taken a weekend trip to Barcelona with Mrs Travel Freak.  Our flight had landed on time, our car had picked us up from the airport as arranged and the hotel check-in had gone well.  We had asked the barman for somewhere we could go for some traditional Spanish food (it was now already 11pm) and he recommended Bilbao Berria.

We had jumped in a cab as instructed.  The journey from the Me hotel to the restaurant took about 10 minutes and cost 9€.

As soon as I entered here I knew I was going to enjoy myself.  There was a large bar / counter which had rows and rows of Pintxos.  The barman had described these as “small snacks on bread” but I hadn’t really understood what he meant.  There was maybe around 30 different types of Pintxos split into three main sections: fish, dessert and everything else.

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Terra e Vino, Bad Godesberg – Germany

I had been in Bonn in business for about a week.  This was my second trip of the month and I was beginning to get more than a little bored.  Bored of work, bored of Bonn but most of all bored of the bad Italian food that seemed to be served everywhere in Bonn.

I saw a train going to Bad Godesberg and Googled ‘best restaurant Bad Godesberg’.  Of course the results were mostly sponsored nonsense and random restaurants.  I tried again, this time adding ‘Italian’ to the search string.  The top hit was a blog written by an American who had been living in Bonn for some time and was due to go back to the US.  She explained that there was only one restaurant that she knew she would visit again before leaving; it was called Terra e Vino.

The blog post explained that this restaurant was hidden behind a row of shops; it was Bonn’s best-kept secret.  I rang a colleague and 30 minutes later we got off the train at Bad Godesberg Banhoff.  The instructions in the post were clear: turn right out of the station and keep walking until you see a courtyard on the left.  We did as instructed and sure enough we found the restaurant nestled in what looked like a car park.

The restaurant didn’t look much from outside, but we had come this far and we certainly weren’t going to back out now!  This was a very rustic place; we walked past the tiny, open kitchen and could see the seating area beside the enormous racks of wine.  I knew immediately that this was going to be fun…

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Cafe Giaccomos, Bonn – Germany

It was my first night in Bonn.  I had arrived home from the USA only a day before and I was perhaps, a little grumpy.  The temperature in Bonn the night I arrived was -12 degrees C.

I was staying at the Hotel Kanzler that, wasn’t exciting me every much as I had initially been informed that I would be staying at the Hilton and had all the relevant point promos organised.

The ‘bar’ in the hotel was laughable and certainly not the sort of place that I wanted to spend any time whatsoever.  I asked at the hotel for a recommendation for a restaurant and was given the address of Giaccomos.

I jumped in a cab along with a colleague (as the hotel had neglected to tell me about the U-Bahn station a few minutes walk from the hotel) and €10 later, we were outside the restaurant.

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Thirsty Lion, Tempe AZ – USA

I was in Phoenix / Tempe for almost two weeks for business.  Some guys at work had suggested The Thirsty Lion as a good place to go for dinner.  The Thirsty Lion is situated in Tempe Marketplace, which has lots of places to eat and a few upscale shops.

The Thirsty Lion is an enormous pub with a large square bar in the centre and tables all around.  There are lots of TV screens dotted around the pub and there is also an outside area that has some tables situated around an outside fireplace that is pretty cool.

I arrived with two (out of town) colleagues on a Tuesday night.  Tuesday nights in Tempe are not very happening so we were greeted with a smile and given a choice of tables.  This is a fairly modern pub with young and pretty staff and a fairly young clientele to match.  The music here is loud with a constant steam of MTV hits showing on half the TV screens with sports being shown on the other half.

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The Library, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia

I had been in KL for about 36 hours.  I was slowly coming to terms with the fact that I could find many places for dinner that served excellent food, but no beer, or I could find several establishments that served beer along with mediocre food.  It seemed it was very difficult to find somewhere that had both.

A client had insisted on taking me out for the [Friday] evening and despite my very best efforts at refusal; I had failed miserably.  I had been taken to a great Banana Leaf Curry restaurant that was actually a great experience that you should try.  Having been fed, I was ready for a beer.

I try to be aware of different cultures when I travel and I was aware that Malaysia is a Muslim country, and as such many of the people that live and work there may not drink alcohol.  It took about an hour after dinner before I eventually asked if we could find a beer.

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Casa Del Gatto, Bonn – Germany

I was in Bonn on business and had been staying a few weeks.  It so happened that we were staying when the Bonn carnival was on.  My client had informed me that the festival was on but I didn’t really understand how big an event this is to the locals.  It was the Monday of the carnival and as people had been drinking since very early, most of the restaurants I saw were quiet.  The same could not be said for the pubs!

I had wandered around Bonn with a colleague for a while and I saw an eatery that looked interesting; it was called ‘Casa del Gatto’ (Cathouse).  The logo they used on the sign amused me so I stopped to look at the menu.  There was the (normal for Bonn) selection of pizza, pasta and sandwiches.  It was very cold and as it was getting late, in we went.

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Restoran Rokaro, Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia

I had been staying at the Hilton PJ for a few days already.  There was an Exec Lounge at the hotel, which provided me with my much-needed beer supplies – but only until 8pm at which time the beer was cruelly taken away.  I was wandering the streets looking for a new supplier when I came across Restoran Rokaro.  This is a Japanese karaoke bar that offers lots of seafood (yes, you can pick your own live lobster and then eat it…) lots of drinks and some karaoke too.  There was a very large sign that read “Members Only” but I think this was to deter some of the less well off locals – I was warmly welcomed and offered service immediately.

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Dave’s Electric Brewpub, Tempe, AZ – USA

I had been staying in Phoenix for a couple of weeks on business.  Hailing from Scotland I like a bargain just as much as the next person, so I often look for coupons and promos for places to eat. offers $25 vouchers for $10 but they often run promotions, which gets you money off this.  I had managed to obtain ten $25 vouchers for ten different venues in the Phoenix area for the handsome sum of $10.  It was almost the end of my business trip and I realised that I hadn’t used any vouchers yet!  I presented my vouchers to the lady at the front desk in the hotel; she recommended Dave’s Electric Brewpub and as I could hitch a free ride in the hotel shuttle, it was a done deal.

Dave’s electric is small.  It has a bar area as well as tables for food – maybe 12 of them.  There is a fairly large outside area with plenty of seats and tables and you can access the bar from outside which is always a good thing!  The décor here is almost non-existent – some bare brick here and there but you clearly don’t come here to sit in a trendy place.

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Taj India Restaurant – Bonn, Germany

I had been in Bonn for almost a week with a colleague on business.  We were disappointed with our recent German food experience, but weren’t yet ready to have more Italian.  We soon discovered we each had a curry craving…

A search on a popular review website (who we wont mention here) suggested that we try Taj India; indeed this was rated 29th out of 431 restaurants in Bonn.  We went on a U-Bahn adventure and found ourselves outside around 8pm.

Upon arrival I was slightly perturbed to catch a glance of the ‘Pizza’ section of the outside menu; I have never been to an Indian that serves pizza.  Inside I wasn’t concerned by the almost-80’s décor as I naturally assumed this meant the food would be good.  We chose a table and after a few minutes more than I would have liked, we were eventually given some menus by the Indian waiter.

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Roses Restaurant – Bonn, Germany

I was in Bonn for a couple of weeks on business and was quickly working out that the centre of Bonn is not very big.  One lucky colleague was with me on this trip and we needed some beer and if time, some food to go with it.

We found Roses a short walk from Bonn central station and after a quick glance in the window, decided to go in.

This is a funky place; a bar with comfy seats and a real fire to the right, and tables for the restaurant to the left.

We were greeted almost immediately and offered a seat of our choice.  We sat next to the fire in the bar and looked at the drinks menu.  It was fairly extensive with the normal beers that you would expect but also a good selection of wine.  Had I not already decided on beer before entering, I may well have had a bottle of Argentinian Mendoza Clos De Los Siete (33 EUR), which looked yummy.  I did have a little glimpse at the Rothschild too… and then at the 298 EUR price.

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