I heard about this unlikely looking place from “Diners Drive-ins and Dives.” It is well known for Fried Chicken and Waffles - not two dishes but on one plate. What else is neat is that this former fast food place, that still has lots of leftovers like the floor and the seats and the tight parking lot, does a lot of things really well. We have eaten here four times and every time the food was presented nicely and prepared with excellence. This last trip including our friends Janet and Rusty and all four of us, again, had a good meal, very reasonably priced. They have a lot of homemade desserts and they make there own ice cream. I have had root beer ice cream here and it was good but the very limited menu -five flavors - were all a bit too off the grid for me this time. So leaving Charleston on Rt 17 south you will drive right past the Early Bird and we highly recommend a stop for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
We have not reviewed an ice cream shop for way too long but I was skeptical because the name is spelled wrong to emphasize the ICE portion and second - they appeared to be trying to do too much. Gelato, ices, ice cream and lots more. Often this effort suffers because it is not focused on a specific product and making that “What We Do” great. I was wrong. Shocking right? I had a great scoop of Key Lime Pie on day one and a Salted Caramel with swirls on day two. Yes, day two, you do have to check for consistency, after all. Cindy had mocha almond fudge. The young ladies working there were engaging and lots of fun. We would highly rate the Paradice as a go to for your ice cream needs on the SC beach. No matter which beach you choose, the drive is worth it.
So let’s just get this out of the way cause if I don’t I will never hear the end of it. Rusty found this restaurant. We ate in the Park Circle area of North Charleston the new trendy area (I know, how did Rusty….). It is a small cinder block building on the back street with the kitchen located behind the building in a food truck. loLA combines the low country style of cooking with a New Orleans twist. It was excellent. I had a great fish n chips that had a hint of heat in the batter, CJH had a shrimp creole that was really good. ( I had half of it for dinner on day the next day.) Rusty had something and Janet had something else likely with shrimp - the details are why you like this blog! So great food, reasonable price, happy servers and lots of people. Can’t miss at loLA. Credit to Rusty for this find.
So, I don’t eat pizza, something to do with the cheese they bury perfectly delightful bread under - but I still had a good meal here and the rest of the party were delighted with the pizza. So it is likely pretty good. Via Napoli is, of course, in the Italy section of Epcot along the World Showcase and replaced an older Italian version that we did not like very well. This one is fun, good food, nice environment and not too expensive. Epcot is an eaters delight. I have eaten in Mexico, Morroca, Canada, England, Germany, Norway, Japan and France. Amazing meals in Canada - I am a bit miffed at them because they removed from the menu the Best Hamburger I Ever Ate - but it is still an exceptional place. Loved our meal in France, both times - plus the pastry places in France and Norway are so good. Well this is not supposed to be about Epcot just hard to focus on a single place. Oh, and I think Rusty was here too.
I really don’t recall much about this restaurant. I do remember that I liked my food, but not what I ordered. Cindy really liked her meal, not sure what that was either. I do know it was not far from where we were staying and that I did not pick the place. Rusty did. I don’t like to give him too much credit but he did order the dessert as well and THAT I remember. A “paper” bag full of fruit, but the bag was made of chocolate. So cool. OK, so he gets some credit.
I am a fan of Cracker Barrel, especially when we are traveling and need a decent meal and a fair price. Nothing is great, well maybe the blueberry pancakes qualify, but it is good food usually done well. Imagine the CB with a 700HP big block Ford, supercharged. Welcome to Five Oaks Farm Kitchen. Cindy and I were at Johnson University homecoming and our dinner plans feel through for various reasons and we were not eating in the cafeteria again. So we headed off campus toward Sevierville with nothing in mind. We passed a couple of “maybes” and were just on the road to Pigeon Forge when I spotted this place. Super find. They start by bringing you a cup of potato soup, doesn’t matter what you order. It is a light broth and full of potatoes. And they bring you biscuits. Sound familiar? Forget it, these are huge, really good and served with honey from their own bees. I did not need to order because, biscuits, but I did. Fried Chicken that was, well here is their description: “fresh chicken soaked in whole buttermilk and Tennessee hot sauce then dredged in seasoned flour and Ritz cracker crumbs. Fried in peanut oil. Served with coleslaw and corn on the cob.” Excellent and they gave me two breasts instead of the leg/thigh. Accommodating. Cindy ordered several sides and ate one of the chicken breasts. We wanted Cherry Cobbler but they were out. Guess we are forced to go back. It was not CB prices - but it was definitely not CB food. We both completely enjoyed both the food and the experience. Oh, and the history of the location makes it even better. They have generous portions, a diverse menu, smoked meats, and are open for supper, lunch and breakfast. I just can’t wait to try breakfast. Go!
This is one you have to trust the other people with me cause I don’t eat pizza. However they, Cindy, Rusty and Janet, LOVED this typical New York thin - fold the crust - pizza. Somewhere in Greenwich Village. Joe’s is a NYC institution and loved by those who fancy a slice.
This was a very nice surprise in Johnson City, a pleasant upscale BBQ place with very good side dishes. And, drum roll, BURNT ENDS! My favorite. I had those the first time in Kansas City and not too often since but they were here and they were good. Cindy had sweet potato souffle, tomato -cucumber salad and fried green tomatoes and ate some of my plate. We had plenty. Six different sauces including a very spicy mustard based one were great with the meat. Nice atmosphere in a old repurposed building with “State of Franklin” featured and homemade ice cream which I cannot really describe very well. The coffee ice cream tasted more like a frozen mousse - good, strong flavor but unusual texture. Still excellent meal.
We were in need of coffee and found this little spot a block or two off of the main street while walking around the town of Watkins Glen. We love this kind of spot and prefer it to the more corporate experiences that abound. Seneca was the best of these kinds of places: they roast their own coffee, they care about the quality of the coffee using only Fair Trade organic arabica beans and they roast in small batches like our favorite, Rostov’s in Richmond. The shop was small with a nice front porch. They were busy but patient and they had some unusual things such as Cascara, a brewable coffee blossom - which we have yet to try and a Rhubarb Shrub that is delicious. We also came home with a pound of one of their single origin coffees. If you are in Watkins Glen, stop here - if you are in some other town or city look up the small owner-brewer shop and you will enjoy your coffee and your experience better.
Sometimes places are famous for things and everything else pales in comparison. Not so at Juniors, famous for their cheesecake yet the food is fabulous. It is a hectic, crowded, noisy place with servers bustling down every aisle. That’s OK, the food is fabulous. There is likely a long wait to be seated and nearly no where to wait in the tiny alcove by the door. That’s OK, the food is fabulous. I love that they bring pickles to your table, and cole slaw - no matter what you order! CJH had a tuna dish that was nearly as big as she was. I had a much more modest sandwich and fries that actually fit on the plate, or a tiny bit over the edge. Juniors is the archetype of a New York sandwich shop, boisterous, loud, expensive and you don’t really care because the food is fabulous.
For many years the Eastern Christian Convention was held in Hershey Pa and Cindy and I were able to attend as exhibitors for VEF - later Waypoint. It was always a very nice location for an event and just fun being in Hershey with lots to do in addition to the great program at the ECC. Because we were often there a day early to set up we had more opportunity to explore and visited the Hershey Museum, Hershey World and theme park, the excellent automobile museum, gardens at the Hershey hotel and more over the years. One consistent was a lunch or dinner at the Hershey Pantry. Located on East Chocolate Avenue, the Pantry is a small restaurant usually with a wait to get in - if you can find a parking space. But it is always worth the wait, consistently good food, interesting dishes and outstanding breakfast. I have had well prepared fish and pasta, creative sides and out of the world desserts. They also have an extensive lunch menu with a lot of sandwich choices. Since the ECC is no longer meeting we will have to find another reason to visit Hershey - maybe chocolate! - and end our day with a perfect dinner at the Hershey Pantry.
Hitting two notes on my favorite lists in one stop, history and pastry is Ferrara in the Little Italy area of NYC. We have been here twice and ate way too much both times. But after all it was breakfast. (That may be worse.) The history component is that gangsters that met in the basement as told or embellished by a walking tour of the area. This paragraph I found on the internet; “Seedy history: Site of a 1971 burglary in which a crew led by Gallo allegedly stole $50,000 from a locked safe on the second floor. According to Nash, some believe the heist precipitated Gallo’s own murder a few months later.”
The other aspect of the history is that this place started in 1892! The first espresso cafe in US. Amazing shop with constantly fresh pastry and lots more. But, truth is I have only eaten the pastry.
I read about Ample Hills in almost every article about great ice cream in NYC but it was in the Bronx and I have never been to the Bronx. We never cover everything we want to see and do in Manhattan so the Bronx and the Ample Hills Creamery was unvisited and untried. Until our last trip to NYC. We went to the Chelsea Market for lunch and after, as is my habit, I looked on the iPhone Maps for “ice cream nearby” and Ample Hills was one block away. No New Yorker late for a subway ever covered a block quicker. They had opened here recently and I was delighted. The ice cream more than lived up to the promise. In fact, this is now included in my “Top Five” in the country as I mentioned a few posts ago under the Island Creamery. It is a small space attached to a bar with only a couple of tables and a separate entrance dedicated to the ice cream. They get extra stars because you can get two flavors in ANY size cone or cup, big plus, they bake and make all their add-ins in house (plus plus) and they developed special flavors for Disney’s Mickey’s 90 Birthday. You can get them in the store or at the recently opened kiosk at Disney’s Boardwalk. Finally a reason to go to Disney that I like! Cindy and I had four flavors in two small cones including an oatmeal, butterscotch, chocolate and a speciality flavor a root beer, that is available only in this store (actually each of their now 12 shops have one unique flavor). Seriously great ice cream.
Whew. I really need to get to the Boardwalk- if I skip the ticket to Disney that translates into 20 cones.
Wow, did we have a good time here (along with several hundred of our new friends -packed place). There were lots of choices about where and what to eat and we settled on two, the primary one was Miznon featuring Mediterranean street food. I am still not sure what CJH had but it had its origin in Cauliflower and was served on a pita. Whatever it was she thought it was fabulous. We shared a “bag of green beans” weird as it sounds they were excellent and messy. I had a Japanese inspired taco from a shop a few doors away. Fine choice. Lots of fun, noise, color , people, languages, unique foods and choices, sounds a lot like New York City.
Downtown in Columbia is a stretch of road about a mile long leading up a slight hill from the river that used to be warehouses, factories and railroads, now it is upscale hotels, restaurants and bars. We were here on a Saturday night, early, but I think USC was not yet back from Christmas break because it was not too busy. Still lots of people around. We walked up and back looking at the options and other shops along the way. It was a nice evening, especially as it was January. We finally chose Grill Marks. It features burgers, milk shakes and a large bar. It was busy with two large parties going on but we squeezed in. The hamburger was outstanding made with several different cuts of meat; extremely good, nice brioche bun, lots of good toppings and very fairly priced. CJH had three sliders and a salad. Hers included one with pimento cheese and one with jalapeños. Again really well prepared. I caved and opted for a regular milkshake after the burger arrived as I was enticed by all the fancy ones being delivered right past me. Worth every calorie. I did not try the “adult” ones with various alcohols but they were quite fancy. So, great spot and they have one in Greenville, SC, too. Try it for a burger that is a ten!
I have zero idea how this might be pronounced but since we were in Durham last time I thought I would post my only other Durham restaurant. Guglhupf is a German, surprise I know, bakery and cafe. It has an eclectic menu but pretty good, the bakery is next door and is outstanding. They have lots of outside seating and an upstairs balcony area so it handles the bigger crowds pretty well but ordering is right inside the door so that was not thought through too carefully. Good place for lunch any day and a great place to pick up a loaf of “not your normal choice” bread or rolls or pastry for a real treat. https://guglhupf.com
My friend is trying to find the best hot dogs so when we set a meeting in Durham I suggested Bull City. These hot dogs are made to their specs, the buns are baked in house AND they made the pickles, the sauerkraut, the mustard - I don’t know what you get on yours but that is my standard order! Anyway they were super. And so big you needed a knife and fork. recommended. http://www.bullcityburgerandbrewery.com
This is nearly as good an ice cream as you can get anywhere. When you consider value it may be the best place in US. You get great flavors, generous scoops and extra smooth ice cream. Waffle cones are well made and priced well too. The Marsh Mud is the most intense chocolate ice cream I have ever eaten. The butterscotch is excellent as is the coffee. The Bourbon Caramel Crunch is amazing, mint is minty, well you get the idea. You order a regular cone and they give you a cup to set it in as it overflows the confines of the cone. Love the Island Creamery. There is also a soft serve a few doors away, Mr Whippy, that is quite good for a soft experience. We are nostalgic for this one because we took our grandson for his first ice cream here. Both are good but Island Creamery is more than a cone above the rest. And by the rest I mean anywhere. It is easily in the top five ice cream cones ever (Jeni’s, Ample Hills, Cows and MDI) and consistently good. https://www.islandcreamery.net
I am not sure this is a good as I think it is, but I love it. A bit expensive (it is NYC) but unique. Superior hot chocolate (Mexican is my favorite) and a full menu with chocolate surprises. CJH and I split an order of chocolate chip pancakes and eggs. Fun brunch. And really very good. This restaurant is just off Union Square on Broadway. http://maxbrenner.com/chocolate-dessert-bar/
There are occasions when your own rules are ignored. I break all of mine at Shady Maple. First, i don’t really like buffets, except…, I don’t often want a lot of food, except…, I try and eat carefully, except…., I never have two desserts, except…, and more. If I go to Shady Maple in eastern Lancaster County I show no restraint. The place is enormous - just the food line is over 100 feet long, plus several drink stands and four grills that cook various things to order. Cindy and I ate our “Thanksgiving” dinner here a day early (we were driving home on Thanksgiving) and it did include turkey (and for CJH - mashed potatoes and cranberry fluff). I had, ahem, salad, broiled cod, buttered whole potatoes (2x), brown butter noodles (3x) fried chicken, the aforementioned turkey, sauerkraut and pork (3x) green beans, garlic bread, grilled pork chop, pickles, ham and a small piece of grilled beef. By then three (or four) desserts seems reasonable and a root beer, a chocolate milk and three cups of coffee rather stingy. What sets this place apart is that the food is generally very good to excellent (I have had a couple of exceptions) and the price is more than fair. We paid a senior rate for lunch - did I mention it was lunch and the menu was more limited - of under $14.00 that includes tax and tip. We veer toward this place if our route is close, say 50 miles and worth it every time. Welcome to the largest buffet in the US. https://www.shady-maple.com