A while ago I posted some fine restaurants we had experienced in our travels across the country where you could also enjoy a wonderful meal. My teenager started to spout all the fun places that we had also enjoyed that also should be shared. These places will not empty your wallet and will not appeal to the snob in you. Instead, they are places where you can get a delicious meal and something about them makes them special.
Baja Burrito, located at 722 Thompson Lane across from 100 Oaks Mall in Nashville has a format found in other places, like Qdoba. But unlike the chain, Baja Burrito is a locally-owned independent place that does only a few things, does them well, and does them fast. Open from 11am-9pm Monday-Saturday, the staff there are long-timers and the energy is high. When you get in line to place your order, it moves quickly and soon you can fill your small container with a choice of four salsas for your chips. Great place for burritos and fajitas and my favorite is the fish tacos.
In Maine it is pretty much mandatory to eat lobster, but a nice sit-down restaurant can put a dent in your wallet. On our last trip that way we were told we MUST stop at Red’s Eats. Where is it? Just drive up Route 1 and when you get to the traffic jam, park the car and walk towards the bridge. It will be on your left. More specifically it is located at 41 Water Street in Wiscasset, Maine. Open every day for lunch and supper, Red’s menu includes other things but really it offers one thing and one thing only that you should purchase-a lobster roll. They do all the work, removing the succulent lobster meat from its shell after cooking, piling over a pound of meat on to the bun. They offer you a choice of melted butter or mayo and after you find a seat on the deck, you can enjoy. Simple, wonderful pleasure. Nothing fancy and absolute bliss. You may wait on line, as we did, for an hour, but it is worth it.
Tom + Chee in the Cincinnati area is THE place to get grilled cheese. Remember your childhood comfort food of Campbell’s tomato soup and grilled American cheese sandwich? Well, time to upgrade that to an adult option! Build-your-own offers six choices of breads (including gluten free but also including a glazed donut for you risk takers) and nine choices of cheeses (including vegan). You can add toppings (veggies, pesto, hummus and potato chips) as well as meats. Located in downtown Cincinnati at 133 East Court Street, there are other cafes in Newport on the Levee next to the aquarium, and in Louisville.
New York City has so many wonderful places to eat that I almost did not want to include this place, but it is from my childhood. We used to go into lower Manhattan to go to the eye doctor and have glasses made up, sort of like Lenscrafters now. So while the glasses were being made, my dad would take us to some place to learn a bit about the history of New York and then out to eat lunch. I’m talking about Katz’s Delicatessen, which you saw in one scene in When Harry Met Sally. They make wonderful pastrami sandwiches there, piled high on rye, with a half sour pickle. Yum.
While we’re talking about beef I want to share about a restaurant here in Huntington, West Virginia that has been doing so well near the Marshall University campus on 3rd Avenue that the owners recently opened two other places in nearby towns. Fat Patty’s offers interesting hamburger concoctions that are the best in town. For example, the Born on the Bayou includes a 1/2 pound patty blackened with Cajun spices, sauteed onions & peppers, melted Provolone cheese, lettuce & tomato, served with Honey Mustard glazed on the bun.
Do you have any local favorites that you share with visitors? Are there local joints in your town or your past that you would like to share?