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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dinner in Wisconsin... a little bit of midwest food and culture...

I’ve been in Wisconsin a few days for a conference.  One of the joys of travel is the chance to partake of the local culture, particularly the food.  This trip was no different.

Even though my time was limited, I was still able to get a sense of what you might find in a small rural Wisconsin town like Ripon, [pronounced rip - en] birthplace of the Republican Party and home to “Ripon Good Cookies.”

As s our custom at this conference, our first night is dinner at one of the local eateries.  Our host Randy, a Wisconsonite, asured me about halfway through dinner that we were indeed in what would be known as your typical Wisconsin supper club.

If what I experienced was a supper club, it was clear pretty early I was not in Las Vegas anymore.

We went to Alibi’s Dining and Spirits.  For Tuesday Taco & Pizza Buffet Night... Including the salad bar for only $6.99.

As someone who spends considerable time in Mexico, you know I was excited to get a chance to experience some good Mexican food north of the border.  Being all you could eat was just a bonus.

I started with the salad.  Shredded iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, a few sliced bell peppers and topped with... wait for it... Bac-os!  Top that off with some Hidden Valley Ranch and you get the classic American Salad.  Without any real bacon, because bacos only contain some artificial bacon flavor.

Next up was my trip to the pizza bar.  As I surveyed my options, one pizza caught my eye.  It was a different looking concoction with some type of mystery meat melted into the Wisconsin cheese topping.

I took it back to my seat anxiously awaiting the upcoming explosion of flavor when it happened.  On my first, and only bite, the pizza oozed everywhere.  I sat there trying to somehow compute in my brain what had just happened.  I was holding what felt like pizza and had the shape of pizza, but was unlike any pizza I have ever had in my life.  There before me was a half eaten triangle of gooey, cheesy, meaty pizza dripping thousand island dressing and sauerkraut.

Yep, you guessed it.  I had unwittingly picked up a slice of Rueben Pizza and it was now dripping all over the table.  I may have had a worse tasting pizza in my life, but I would be hard pressed to recall it.  Never before, and never again will I ever eat a Rueben Pizza.  It was absolutely horrible.  You’d think the international pizza review board would have prevented this idea from ever moving forward.

As I sat there facing a two strike count, I knew there was no way I was going to hit the hard slider known as the taco bar, but I had to try.  So up to bat I went.

And there it was.  In all it’s full glory, the classic midwest interpretation of the taco bar.  6 flour tortillas, a pan of thin crispy hard pre-cooked shells and of course, seasoned hamburger meat.  Add in the canned refried beans, more shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, the generic guacamole from a factory and some pico de gallo sin chile, and you’ve got all the makings of a first class taco.

Notice the yummy hard shell tortillas

You know what?  This was the best part of the meal.  Was it Mexican?  Not at all.  Was it good?  Of course.  And it was a lot better than some odd pizza concoction exploding all over the table, and my face.

Add in the Spotted Cow Beer from Wisconsin Brewery New Glarus, and you hardly noticed the downsides of the night.

Would I go back?  Probably.  On Pizza, Salad, and Taco Tuesday?  Never.  And neither should you, unless of course you want to live dangerously and get the Rueben Pizza.  Just make sure you take your bib.

Average price, $7.00 - $15.00 for dinner plus your beer, a Wisconsin must.

Alibi’s Dining and Spirits, Ripon, Wisconsin.

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