D is for Diners, Dives and Drive-ins – #atozchallenge

What is April A to Z?

Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too. It’s a lot of fun and it’s a great way to meet other bloggers. To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then visit as many other bloggers as you can.

Road trips would never be the same without the opportunity to stop at local diners, dives and drive-ins (OK…I gotta give credit to Guy Fieri). Food is such an important part of a road trip. Obviously, no matter where one drives they always come across the chain shops like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, etc. With those places, the food you get is always the same.

At Nashville’s oldest eatery – Elliston Place Diner – Featured in Antsy McClain’s video
Midway Diner sign on a barn

But, for me, the real joy is stopping at a local Mom and Pop shop or local Drive-In and trying out the fare. Someplace well known in that little town or region, but maybe not known anywhere else.

My good friend, singer/songwriter/storyteller/artist Antsy McClain did a song a few years ago called “Mom and Pop Don’t Work Here No More” in respect for these places that are quickly becoming a dying breed.  (see the video)

Goody Goody Diner – St. Louis

There used to be more flavor in this country that I roam
I feel like I’m a stranger, no place to call my home
I can eat the same cheeseburger from New Mexico to Main
The same darn cup of coffee, just to link in someone’s chain
No, mom-and-pop don’t work here no more
Antsy McClain

You Are What you Eat Cafe – Boring, Oregon

So, when I am on the road I really make an effort to find the local places to eat and I have found many of them across this wonderful country of ours. For example, there is “Cozy Drive-In” in Springfield, IL which supposedly is famous because of its creation of the corndog.

Cozy Drive In – Home of the famous Hot Dog on a Stick
Cozy Dogs and Homemade Fries – Cozy Dog – Springfield, IL
Lambert’s Cafe – The Home of Throwed Rolls – in Ozark, Missouri
Throwing Rolls at Lambert’s

Then there’s the place in Missouri called Lambert’s Cafe that is famous for its “Throwed Rolls.” Or how about the diner outside of Natchez, Mississippi that looks like an old 1930s black woman servant on the outside and service homemade sandwiches on homemade bread with deserts of homemade pie and cake? And how can I forget “Hillbilly Hotdog” in West Virginia or the unique burger joint called Fat Smitty’s that is plastered with dollar bills in Washington. And what about The Shack Burger Resort in Cypress, Texas?

Hillbilly Hot Dogs – Lesage, West Virginia
Hillbilly Hot Dogs, home of the Homewrecker
Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s ceiling covered with money.
The Shack Burger Resort storefront – Texas style fun in Cypress, TX
Outdoor eating area at The Shack
Mammy’s Cupboard south of Natchez, MS on US 61
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Commerce, Oklahoma

Along the road there are always the burger joints, the ice cream places, and the roadside cafés. One never knows what they will get in some of these places.  But, chances are the food will be much better than what one will get at a fast food chain place.

And each of these local places has their “speciality,” such as the Ku-Ku burger at Waylan’s in Commerce, OK on Route 66.

Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Wimpy’s Burgers – Keller, Texas
Big Jud’s Gourmet Burgers, Rexburg, ID
Total indulgence in a Big Jud’s “small” burger
Tightwad Cafe – Tightwad, Missouri
Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe

I recall visiting the “Tightwad Café” in Tightwad, MO. Amazing breakfast made for a king and not a miserly tightwad. The only indication that it was a “tightwad” type of place was that they only took cash — no credit cards.

But check out the food.  This giant breakfast was very affordable and kept me filled up for a good part of the day.

Breakfast at Tightwad Cafe
Bryant’s Barbecue – Kansas City, Missouri

Of course, there are the barbecue places. Oh yes, the myriad barbecue places across this country. I have had barbecue in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas City, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama. In fact, one of my favorites was in Paris, Ontario in Canada!! And they’re all different and wonderful.

 

Camp 31 Bar-B-Que – Paris, Ontario
Oklahoma Joe’s Neon in Kansas City, KS

One such great barbecue place is Oklahoma Joe’s in Kansas City, Kansas. The café is inside a gas station and people are always waiting in line out the door to get their famous barbecue. And when I finished, my friend Brad Sweeten, and athletic director at one of the high schools in Kansas City, Missouri, took me to a local ice cream place that makes ice cream cones as tall is the Empire State building.

Stopping in KC to enjoy lunch with my good friend Brad Sweeten at Oklahoma Joe’s
Giant Ice Cream Cone at Paul’s Drive In – Kansas City
Sumoflam gnoshing on pig tails at Olde Heidelberg in Heidelberg, ON

Honestly, I could write about the dozens and dozens of places I’ve visited over the years. Every single place has its own personality and tasty cuisine.

Following are a few of the photos of the diners, dives and drive-ins that I visited over the years.  I have dozens that you can read about in my blog.  I only have room to include a few.  One piece of advice though… don’t go looking for a sandwich in Sandwich, NH.  Been there…failed that.  No sandwiches in Sandwich.

Olde Heidelberg Restaurant – Heidelberg, Ontario
Trailer Park Eatery in Austin — a hybrid “food truck” type of place comprised of trailers that are actually like food trucks
In the Country Bakery and Eatery on the outskirts of Damascus, VA
A Pal’s Sudden Service building. Lots of fun and it looks like the food is great too. Bristol, TN
Hutch’s on the Beach – Hamilton, Ontario
Story Inn, Story, Indiana
Stoneville Saloon – Alzada, Montana (Cheap Drinks and Lousy Food)
Sumoflam at Mel’s Drive-in in San Francisco
Sumoflam at the Wigwam Drive-In in Ravenna, KY

 

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FOOD FOOD FOOD – Part 4: Some Leftovers – Huevos, Poke Sallet, Poutine, Pea Meal and more

Customers Needed - Toronto, Ontario
Customers Needed – Toronto, Ontario

As I have traveled the many back roads of the U.S. and Canada I have seen hundreds of places to eat, many of the are the normal fast food places (we all know THEY are).  But, there are also many other unique Mom and Pop shops, small drive ins, BBQ joints and burger places.  I have covered the main stops from my last 8 or 9 years of travel, but there are many more I have passed along the way and a few that I didn’t cover in the previous three posts.  I will touch on them here, though most of them with a photo and a comment or two.  Enjoy!

The Leftovers – More of the Places I have been

Taqueria El Milagro - Chamblee, GA
Taqueria El Milagro – Chamblee, GA

I ate here in early August 2012.  It was across the street from my hotel near Atlanta and I love good Mexican food.  This is one of those places frequented by the migrant Mexican laborers.  No English spoken here.  But, the food is AMAZING and the cost was excellent.

Huevos Rancheros at El Milagro
Huevos Rancheros at El Milagro

The Huevos Rancheros is made with a very spicy green sauce.  In fact, the lady there kept apologizing to me and I kept telling her that “picante” is better.  I grew up on hot stuff.  But, the faint of heat may want to avoid this one and get the tacos on fresh corn tortillas instead.

Jac's Coffee Shop - Harlan, Kentucky
Jac’s Coffee Shop – Harlan, Kentucky

My wife and I visited the Poke Sallet Festival in Harlan, Kentucky a couple of years ago and, of course, while there we had to try out some Poke Sallet (The term is an old Southern reference to the cooked young leaves of the poke weed. Sallet comes from Middle English and refers to a mess (another Old or Middle English term) of greens cooked until tender.)

Poke Sallet Menu
Poke Sallet Menu
Poke Sallet - must be double cooked to get rid of all the toxins from the Poke Weed
Poke Sallet – must be double cooked to get rid of all the toxins from the Poke Weed

Not every place you stop to eat at is a real building.  There are those food wagons and trucks that serve a variety of goodies. There are plenty in Canada as well.  I frequented one place in Paris, Ontario just for the one and only thing he made – poutine. Poutine is a common Canadian dish (originally from Quebec), made with french fries, topped with brown gravy and cheese curds.

Barber's Fries - Paris, Ontario
Barber’s Fries – Paris, Ontario
Mr. Barber showing off his craft
Mr. Barber showing off his craft

Poutine must be the original heart attack on a plate (or styrofoam container).  The rich mixture of thick brown gravy and melted cheese curds on top of a heaping pile of greasy fries is yummy and fattening as can be.

Poutine - Pure yummiferousness
Poutine – Pure yummiferousness
Yes, Sumoflam did enjoy Poutine
Yes, Sumoflam did enjoy Poutine in Canada

Speaking of interesting food, how about Pea Meal?  Yes, that is another Canadian specialty.  I got my best taste of a Pea Meal breakfast at the

Texas Country Restaurant - Dundas, Ontario
Texas Country Restaurant – Dundas, Ontario

Pea Meal is actually a type of bacon that can be found in Ontario.  The name reflects the historic practice of rolling the cured and trimmed boneless pork loin in dried and ground yellow peas, originally for preservation reasons. Since World War II or so, it has been rolled in ground yellow cornmeal. It is low in fat, and slow cured and really really good!!

Peameal Breakfast
Pea Meal Breakfast
Pea Meal Breakfast
Pea Meal Breakfast

Some Interesting Places I Should Have Visited

Peculiar Drive In - Peculiar, Missouri
Peculiar Drive In – Peculiar, Missouri
Uncertain General Store and Grill - Uncertain, Texas
Uncertain General Store and Grill – Uncertain, Texas

The above two places may be peculiar and even uncertain, but get a load of these three Chinese restaurants I have come across in my travels…

Yummy House Chinese - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Yummy House Chinese – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Greedy Kitty Restaurant - Chinatown in Toronto
Greedy Kitty Restaurant – Chinatown in Toronto
King Fong Chinese - Omaha, Nebraska
King Fong Chinese – Omaha, Nebraska
Hung Far Low - Portland, Oregon
Hung Far Low – Portland, Oregon

I think Hung Far Low is a real winner for a Chinese Restaurant name.  By the way, it is only about 2 blocks away from Voodoo Doughnut in Portland.

Stinky's Country Well - Gilboa, Ohio
Stinky’s Country Well – Gilboa, Ohio
Stinky's Sign - Gilboa, Ohio
Stinky’s Sign – Gilboa, Ohio

Then there are the American places with odd names like Stinky’s (above) and those below.

Sorehead Cafe - Rudyard, Montana
Sorehead Cafe – Rudyard, Montana
You Are What you Eat Cafe - Boring, Oregon
You Are What you Eat Cafe – Boring, Oregon

We all know about Popeye’s Chicken, but, how about Wimpy’s Hamburgers?  I’ll gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today 9though I’ll bet that deal doesn’t work at this Wimpy’s!!)

Wimpy's Burgers - Keller, Texas
Wimpy’s Burgers – Keller, Texas
Frog Pond Bar-B-Que - Frog Pond, Tennessee
Frog Pond Bar-B-Que – Frog Pond, Tennessee

I hope they aren’t making BBQ Frog….   And how about a few more places….

Hot Box Cafe - Toronto, Ontario
Hot Box Cafe – Toronto, Ontario
Choo Choo Bar & Grill - Superior, WI
Choo Choo Bar & Grill – Superior, WI

Eat in a caboose at Choo Choo!!

Choo Choo Bar & Grill - Superior, WI
Choo Choo Bar & Grill – Superior, WI

Apparently there is another Choo Choo Bar in Omaha, Nebraska.  No relation to the one above.

Dam Site Inn - Hell, Michigan
Dam Site Inn – Hell, Michigan

OK…you gotta go to Hell (MI) to eat here….and here is what they offer you….

Dam Site Inn - Hell, Michigan - Dam Fine Food
Dam Site Inn – Hell, Michigan – Dam Fine Food

And here are a couple more places

The Feed Barn Cafe & Market - Greasy Creek, Kentucky
The Feed Barn Cafe & Market – Greasy Creek, Kentucky
Waylan's Hamburgers - Home of the Ku-Ku - Commerce, Oklahoma
Waylan’s Hamburgers – Home of the Ku-Ku – Commerce, Oklahoma
L.A. Franks - Cambridge, Ontario
L.A. Franks – Cambridge, Ontario

This is the home of the Holey Burger, but they also have hot dogs and ice cream cones.  Yum…

L.A. Franks Menu
L.A. Franks Menu

Then, there are the BBQ places that I wish I could hit up.  These have some great names…

Soulman's Bar-B-Que - DFW area of Texas
Soulman’s Bar-B-Que – DFW area of Texas

Soulman’s mantra: ‘We’re Not Stingy With Our Meat!”

Soulman's Sign
Soulman’s Sign
Big Bubba Buck's Bustin' BBQ Bliss -  Munfordville, KY
Big Bubba Buck’s Belly Bustin’ BBQ Bliss – Munfordville, KY
Big Bubba Bucks store front
Big Bubba Bucks store front

Big Bubba apparently also runs a Catfish place down the road…

Big Bubba Bucks Catfish - Munfordville, KY
Big Bubba Bucks Catfish – Munfordville, KY
Stovetop Rub
JT’s Stovetop BBQ Company – West Union, Ohio
Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q - Cuba, Missouri
Missouri Hick Bar-B-Q – Cuba, Missouri
Hog Wild BBQ - who knows where this was?  I think it was in Arkansas
Hog Wild BBQ – who knows where this was? I think it was in Arkansas
Riscky's Bar-B-Q - Fort Worth, Texas
Riscky’s Bar-B-Q – Fort Worth, Texas

And just a couple of more places I have passed over the years

Scotty's Hamburgers - Idaho Falls, Idaho
Scotty’s Hamburgers – Idaho Falls, Idaho
Babe's Chicken Dinner House - Granbury, Texas
Babe’s Chicken Dinner House – Granbury, Texas
Rose Marie's Family Restaurant - Shakespeare, Ontario
Rose Marie’s Family Restaurant – Shakespeare, Ontario
Martha's Cafe - Blackfoot, Idaho
Martha’s Cafe – Blackfoot, Idaho
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar - Jackson, Wyoming
Million Dollar Cowboy Bar – Jackson, Wyoming

And the famous neon cowboy on top of it….

Cowboy Bar Neon
Cowboy Bar Neon

And finally…how about the Chuckwagon?  They have a “4 Meat Buffet”

Chuckwagon Buffalo Burgers - Jamestown, ND
Chuckwagon Buffalo Burgers – Jamestown, ND

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