By: Chip Turner
By now, there is plenty of analysis, breakdown, and hypotheticals available for you to read or listen to about the Miami Dolphins 2021 schedule. Who will start Week One for the Patriots? When will Tua, Fuller and Waddle all start working well together? What about revenge games for the Dolphins? What about a revenge game for the Raiders? What sadist decided Miami DIDN’T need a bye week after playing on another continent?
These questions have all been addressed by persons undoubtedly more intelligent than I. What is probably LESS common, however, is a road schedule breakdown that appeals to the heart of every player and fan. It, more importantly, appeals to their stomach.
Behold the first-ever Culinary Guide to the Miami Dolphins Road Schedule. One of the hardest-hit segments of our economy by the pandemic has been restaurants; I implore you to give them all a try as you’re able to.
Week 1 – New England:
Let’s get this out of the way; the thing that Patriots fans got a taste of most frequently in 2020 was humility. After two decades of dominance, their third-place divisional finish ended with a nice serving of humble pie…and we’re going to enjoy that as long as we can.
Oh, did I mention that Boston has some pretty good food? Like most Northeast cities, their culinary fare ranges from fine dining to food trucks. Here are a few places to check out if you’re visiting:
1 - Cheers: Yes, that Cheers, the place where everybody knows your name. Their Faneuil Hall location was forced to close due to the pandemic, but the original location remains open at the Bull & Finch pub in Beacon Hill.
2 - Brewer’s Fork: Boston beer, oysters, and wood-fired pizza (their specialty) gives a taste of Boston to their patrons. They don’t take reservations, but it is reportedly worth the wait.
3 - Jamaica Mi Hungry: Have you ever gone to another city and suddenly craved the same sort of dish you had at home? Have no fear, native Miami-ans (Miamians? Miamiites? Whatever), you can indeed get Jerk Chicken and coconut shrimp in Boston. I cannot vouch for its quality; I can only say that it exists and is apparently quite popular.
Week 3 - Las Vegas:
I love steak. Filet Mignon in particular. When I savor a particularly good Filet Mignon, I literally don’t want to speak to anyone; not out of rudeness, but because I want to savor every instant of the moment. That has only happened a handful of times. One of those was at Delmonico Steakhouse in Vegas.
To be honest, you’re not going to have a great deal of difficulty finding good eats in Vegas; there are simply so many outstanding places to eat at so many different price points; I loved the Taco Bar Restaurant as well, but you’re probably going to have a plethora of quality options. Just one bit of advice; stay away from the sushi at your hotel’s buffet. No…seriously.
Week 5 – Tampa Bay:
Disclaimer: This is going to be a very short food review, as there is apparently a culinary rivalry between Miami and Tampa that I was previously unaware of. Which city makes a better Cuban, Empanadas, BBQ, etc. It’s not entirely unlike the North Jersey/South Jersey debate about food. (South Jersey wins because of hoagies and cheesesteaks, by the way, although Iberia Restaurant in Newark makes it REALLY close.)
I’m going to not get too involved with this, other than to say Charley’s Steakhouse is phenomenal, and add what a close personal friend of mine and Tampa resident suggested: Try a local delicacy, Deviled Crab.
Week 5 - @Jacksonville in London:
Yes, technically, this is an away game. For full disclosure, I have never been to London. I *have* been to Dublin, though, which is apparently similar, much in the same way that BBQ in Kansas City is similar to BBQ in Moscow.
Much to the chagrin of Londoners (Londoners? Londonites? Whatever), I’m simply going to rely on cinematic and literary references to London food. Per Ted Lasso, “Fries are called chips. Chips are called crisps. And ‘bangers’ aren’t great songs, but they do make you feel like dancin’, cause they’re so darn tasty.”
Miami legend Dave Barry was far less complimentary: “English cuisine has received a lot of unfair criticism over the years,” he wrote, “but the truth is that it can be a very pleasant surprise to the connoisseur of severely overcooked livestock organs served in lukewarm puddles of congealed grease. England manufactures most of the world`s airline food, as well as all the food you ever ate in your junior high school cafeteria.”
If I manage to travel to London this year, I look forward to disproving this reputation, or at least avoid being stoned with London biscuits. I understand they’re more likely to be used as a weapon than consumed.
Week 8 – Buffalo:
I could probably write a good bit about Buffalo Cuisine, but let’s be honest. When you go to Buffalo, you’re going to want to find the best Buffalo Wings, because this is where it all started.
In 1964, Buffalo Wings were first created at the Anchor Bar in Buffalo, when one of the owners decided to make a snack for her children. She was, according to rumors, tired of her kids suplexing each other through her china cabinets, as the folding table hadn’t been invented yet. The Buffalo Wing was born, and shortly thereafter, the entire city of Buffalo became so entranced with the delicacy that the Bills lost 20 straight times to the Miami Dolphins in the 70s. That is not a typo. Undeterred by this streak, four straight Super Bowl losses, and a winter climate that is generally reserved for Polar Bears and masochists, the Anchor Bar still exists. Apparently their food is quite good.
Keep an eye out for the Buffalo Overthrow this year from PhinManiacs; folding tables will be optional.
Week 11 – New York:
So here’s the thing about going to a New York Jets game on the road: It’s not in New York City. It’s in East Rutherford, New Jersey. If you’re going just for the game, you’re probably going to get a hotel in New Jersey. And while traffic between New York City and East Rutherford isn’t horrific at its best, allow me to assure you that saying, “I’m going to stay in East Rutherford, hop into Manhattan on Saturday for dinner, and then hop back out to my hotel” is like saying, “I’m going to make a quick trip to Canada to pick up some milk.” It just doesn’t make any sense. If you want to experience New York City, make a day out of it.
Fortunately, the food in Northern New Jersey is very, very good. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Just trust me. Iberia Restaurant in Newark is 1t minutes away, and has some of the best ribs and chorizo you’ll ever taste. If you’re insistent upon experiencing a night in New York, MetLifeTakeover.com runs an annual event in which they hit Slattery’s Bar in Manhattan, then provide bus service to the game the next day. It’s very well-run, and you get to meet a ton of other Dolphins fan from around the globe.
Week 15 – New Orleans:
As a recent gumbo aficionado, I will say this: It’s difficult to make correctly, and roux is more than just mixing oil and flour together and hoping for the best. As such, I have newfound respect for gumbo. And some of the best gumbo in the world comes from New Orleans.
There are chains like Landry’s who offer perfectly good gumbo, but the best places are the legendary Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s, and Dooky Chase’s. The last of those three has been making gumbo the right way since World War II, and the first two have been doing so since World War One. History and good food; who could ask for more?
Week 17 – Tennessee:
Sometimes it’s easy and fun to poke fun at cities other than your own. And then…sometimes you visit Nashville. My stay at the Opryland hotel was like this, a few years back. Waking up and walking out into a resort-like atmosphere full of country, blues and things to do was summarized thusly: “This place is REALLY freaking cool!”
There are steakhouses, BBQ joints, burgers, seafood, and cool lounges, and that’s just inside the hotel. Outside, Nashville boasts a wide variety of cuisine. The city might not be specifically known for one thing, but it’s very, very good at almost everything. It you’re into cinematic references, Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the way to go; it garnered a reference in Justified. It even inspired a fine dining experience at 400 Degrees restaurant.
That concludes the list for this year, and again, I recommend supporting local businesses as you’re able. As for the many pundits and talking heads who already picking Miami and Tua to fail in 2021, I have one more culinary question for 2022.
How do you like your crow served?