North Carolina - Julian - Homeland Creamery by Dave Hileman

Homeland Creamery is always high on any list of ice cream places in NC. We had it one time in Old Salem but never had been to the farm, until last week. It is not too far south of Burlington in a crossroads community called, Julian. The creamery is not showy nor is the area geared to tourists and lots of traffic, both making this a nicer stop. There were some things for kids to do and places under a grove of  trees to sit at tables but why you come here is for fresh ice cream, period. CJH had a wonderful cone of peach that she loved. Mine was a So'more and a bit too full of add-ins for my taste but it was an excellent cone. I tasted the lemon ice cream and, well, must go back!  Check out their site here:


Nevada - Las Vegas - Peppermill by Dave Hileman

So, the first time I was in LV my hotel was a block away. I thought I would go for breakfast -not my normal experience! The place was hopping, a woman in a slinky dress offered to get me a cocktail - it was 7:30 in the morning, another came bye to see if I wanted a photo taken and the food, amazing. I want back two more times in three days at different times and the same experience. Always fun to do something completely different and a bonus when the food is better than you ever expected. CJH and I were able to go three years later and the same reality. Maybe this is the norm here but I found it quite fascinating. And great food 24 hours a day. 


North Carolina - Rocky Mount - The Prime Smokehouse by Dave Hileman

OK, two smokehouse restaurants in a row, but this one is pretty special. You will find here a surprising menu. It has items you would expect, ribs, pulled pork (mine was excellent, not fatty and a generous serving), brisket, and chicken but goes way beyond that with nice salads, burgers, seafood, deep-dish spinach lasagna, and oven roasted turkey to name but a few. And sides, actually really good sides! I had green beens that were excellent, french cut, properly cooked and nicely spiced. Cindy had outstanding Mac & Cheese - I think we had five sides between us and they were all well prepared. They have an extensive bar, nice location and a cool vibe with a jazz theme. The owner/chef's father (Ed Wiley, Jr. was a well-known jazz musician and the back story to the restaurant and the memorabilia make a nice backdrop to your meal. Finally, amazing service. Really attentive and everyone was out-of-their-way friendly. Imagine driving 95 headed to wherever needing a place to eat and this gem is only a few minutes off the the interstate past scores of less than desirable places to merely eat. It is worth the extra five minutes, worth seeking out something great instead of the insipid chain food at an exit off 95.

iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Virgina - Abingdon - Bone Fire Smokehouse by Dave Hileman

I was not sure about posting this one. It is not the best restaurant in Abingdon, not in the top few. But it was good. This building was once a hardware store, then a couple of different restaurants and now, Bone Fire. They did not even fix up the front of the building and it remains a mis-mash of the other endeavors here. But the food was good. They smoke meats here and have a lot of choices. The ribs ostensibly won a national contest. We had pulled pork and pork loin, they were good, the loin a very good choice. What I really liked were the sides. Green beans, cornbread, diced spiced apples and more were excellent. Also there were five or six sauces all homemade in a sauce bar that was both fun and different. I really liked the berry and the peach. So, give it a try when in Abingdon if the more expensive choices, The Tavern, Rain, Martha Washington or the Peper Mill are not what you want, you will get a good meal at a great price at Bone Fire. 


Florida - Gotha (Orlando) - Yellow Dog Eats by Dave Hileman

This is not the front of the restaurant but it is where you park - trust me there is a big house behind all that green stuff. It is a most unusual place with great food. YDE is in an old house, built in 1910. The VW bus is one of the many sitting areas - this one for a very small group. They smoke meats on premises - note the smoke over the VW - (i have had pulled pork and bacon, yum), have excellent bread, substantial portions, and a diverse menu. We loved our two trips to Yellow Dog Eats, I am sure you will too. 


California - Disneyland - Carthay Circle by Dave Hileman

We were not going to eat here. In fact we were advised that none of the restaurants in the theme park were really as good as the ones we were used to at Disney World in Orlando. So we made our plans to eat at counter service places. Then, waiting in line for the park to open, the lady in front of us, who was an experienced Disney patron, said that we really should try this place because the food was great and the atmosphere really nice. Her favorite. So we did, and we were really glad we listened to her advice because it was, excellent and the service impeccable. If you are at Disneyland, do not hesitate. 


Florida - Pensacola - Navel Air Museum -Cubi Bar Cafe (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

First, this is a spectacular place and you ought to spend a day here. And since you are here for the day, you need lunch, right? This is the place. We enjoyed a decent meal here but the atmosphere is amazing. The rooms of this restaurant were lifted from the facility in the Philippines when the club was closed. It was moved intact and installed here. From the website:

"Opened in 1996, the Cubi Bar Café is not only a restaurant, but a popular Museum exhibit! The Cafe’s decor and layout duplicates the bar area of the famous Cubi Point Officers’ Club that was a major source of enjoyment for Navy and Marine Corps squadrons, ships and units as they passed into the Western Pacific.

For nearly 40 years, the NAS Cubi Point Officers’ Club, in the Republic of the Philippines, was a marvelous mix of American efficiency and Filipino hospitality. The club was especially famous for its Plaque Bar, where transiting squadrons retired old plaques and commissioned new ones to commemorate each WestPac tour. The tradition of placing plaques in the O’ Club bar was started during the Vietnam Conflict and endured until the closing of the base in 1992.

When the original officers’ club was closed in 1992, the thousands of plaques that adorned the walls of the club as tokens of thanks were packed up and sent to the Museum to be placed as they were when the Cubi Club was closed. The legacy of this Cubi Bar brings back many memories to aviators whose squadron plaques decorate the walls.


Virginia - Richmond - New York Deli by Dave Hileman

They claim to be Richmond's oldest restaurant, and may well be, but they are not stuck in the past with their menu which is fresh and well done. I had a burger here for the first time last week and it was very good, even better was the grilled asparagus that accompanied it. Perfect. My friend had a Reuben that looked quite good. The Sailor Sandwich per the sign in the alley, was introduced here in 1943 is still on the menu. I have had very good salads, chicken sandwiches of various kinds and CJH once had a spectacular grilled cheese. So, step into history in Carytown at Richmond's oldest, you will not be disappointed.

The alley behind the restaurant has this great mural on what appears to be an old loading dock. 

The alley behind the restaurant has this great mural on what appears to be an old loading dock. 

Florida - Fernandina Beach - Timoti's Seafood Shak by Dave Hileman

The truth Is I don't like restaurants that spell things incorrectly. I won't eat at Kountry Kookiing for example. Just won't. I am glad it did not stop me at Timoti's. There was some history here for the name that I now forget but the food, I still remember. In fact Timoti's is a reason to go back to Fernandina. The beach is nice, the town is lovely, the history there is interesting, the food at Timoti's - outstanding. It has a smallish inside and a much larger outside dinning area. Very pleasant the evening we were there. The fish is wild caught, the food was fresh, inventive, nicely presented and excellent. Highly recommended.


Virginia - Richmond- Crazy Greek by Dave Hileman

Over 30 years ago we were in a shopping center and looking for lunch. We asked someone there and they said "Go to the Crazy Greek" It was only a short walk. It became one of our favorites. Just before we moved to NC, they lost their lease and we lost track of them. Then in Richmond and needing dinner we found it located about a mile away on Broad Street. Same excellent food, nice portions and very fairly priced. If you ge Greek salad it serves two and if you like onions, well.... I usually get a Souvlaki - chicken but occasionally lamb. As usual your experience and tastes may vary but we have been pleased for years with the Crazy Greek.  


Montana - Saint Mary - Park Cafe by Dave Hileman

We stayed in the NP campground just off "going to the sun road" near the entrance to the park a few years ago. This restaurant was at the turn and the "Pie" sign called to me. It was, as I recall, a bit expensive but very good. I had Huckleberry, the speciality of the cafe. We did not eat here but were told breakfast was good. Again, a spot expensive but you are a long way from may alternatives.

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Pennsylvania - Lititz - Tomato Pie Cafe by Dave Hileman

So I was wrong. I was not hungry and thought we were going to a pizza place so I was not enthused. I should have been. It was not pizza and it was quite good, not the ordinary fare and the coffee, well I will get to that. There were six of us and it was a bit of a wait on Friday just after lunch time. The rambling old place was very busy. The service was very good and the food even better. The tomato pie, which I did not have, was unique and both people who ordered it were delighted. The soup was, according to others because I did not order that either, was excellent. The salad was huge the dressing fresh and not your usual variety. Of course, I did not order that either. Recall here I was not hungry so I ordered a coffee. Not ordinary coffee but a creme brulee latte with caramelized sugar, wow. So very good. CJH had a iced tea honey lavender latte that she loved. So, we are headed back to the area in a few weeks, I will order actual food next time and a large creme brûlée latte. Thanks Carin for the recommendation.

I will also get a better photo!

I will also get a better photo!

Pennsylvania - Ronks - Dienner’s Country Restaurant by Dave Hileman

I think there are more venues for dinner and lunch in the area - even though I love their chicken, pork and sauerkraut and buttered noodles - but for price, quality, variety and staff, you simply cannot beat Dienner's for breakfast. The array of food, from scrambled eggs to oatmeal (two kinds) to mush (three kinds) to donuts (way too many kinds) is excellent. They offer sausages, bacon, dried beef, pancakes, well you get the idea and an adult meal is 7.75. The busy waitstaff are always kind and patient and it just feels like a great place to start a day of touring in the area. We have been eating here for over 20 years of visits around Lancaster and have never been disappointed.

If there is a line, just wait!!

If there is a line, just wait!!

California - Monterey - Old Fisherman's Grotto by Dave Hileman

We stopped here specifically because our friend Tom, who has spent time in the area, said this place offered the best clam chowder he every had. Well that is a challenge to my wife so she ordered a large bowl. And agreed. She loved it and said it was the best anywhere. And "anywhere" takes in a lot of chowder. So, we will be heading back sometime and maybe do more than a chowder tasting. If it is that good, maybe the whole restaurant is excellent as well.


Virginia - Richmond - Rostov's Coffee by Dave Hileman

I have been drinking coffee for a long time and CJH even longer. I can recall two donuts and unlimited coffee for .49 - that is a long time ago. In 1982? or so everything changed when I visited Carytown and had coffee from, at that time, Carytown Coffee. Wow. Coffee. That was my first experience at a small coffee shop. Now they are like fast food restaurants -- everywhere. 1982 was pre-Starbucks invasion. Roasting coffee was for mammoth corporations. Not any more. We made frequent trips to Richmond from Charlottesville and as often as we could those trips included a stop for coffee in store and to take home. Mr. Rostov was unfailingly helpful and patient and a super guide to the bewildering array of coffee. Since those days the shop as moved a few blocks away, sports a new name, Rostov's Coffee and Tea, and is shepherded by his daughter, Tammy. What has not changed is the great coffee. It is still my favorite place to buy coffee. We were there a few weeks ago and the other morning CJH noted the coffee this morning was great, you must have made Rostov's Kenya AA - she was right. So if you value good coffee, want knowledgable people, an interesting vibe, and great perks (ok, groan) try the Amish Walrus, let them chart your purchases for free stuff - try Rostov's.

iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Virginia - Williamsburg - Food for Thought by Dave Hileman

Looking over my posted places here I noticed that I have neglected the state I know best, Virginia. I thought I would start on that path to add some of my favorites with one of the very best, Food for Thought. The restaurant is located on Richmond Road in Williamsburg but it is unlike any of the others you may find along that prime tourist route. Locally owned and invested in Williamsburg it is a gem. The decor is interesting, the staff is great and the food! CJH and I have eaten here multiple times - often with friends, and have never been disappointed, usually the opposite, just delighted with the meal. They have nice menu with a lot of variety, excellent vegetables, good rolls and unique offerings that keep us returning and creative desserts. I don't even have a favorite dish but never know - well, usually don't know, what I will order. Great chicken and fish dishes, roast beef, fine sandwiches, super salads and a steak salad that I often choose because it is perfect. When we lived here we ate fairly often, now that we have to choose when visiting friends in the area, it is always the first consideration. Highly recommend that you wait in line, because you will have to, park carefully - read the signs, and enjoy a wonderful meal.


Lousiana - New Orleans - The Old Coffee Pot by Dave Hileman

Note the date on the sign, they have had a lot of practice. It has an authentic NO atmosphere, nice courtyard and enough quarks to qualify for unique status. We ate here at breakfast so we cannot speak to other meal times but - without a doubt - the best dishes of the kind we ever had. CJH had a cheese blintz of some sort that was a special that day. Nearly swooned. I had Lost Bread which is a form of French Toast or Pain Perdu here made with compressed day-old Po Boy bread. Just fantastic. Service was fine (note quirky comment earlier) prices okay and the coffee quite good. People's experience vis-a-vie Yelp seem to be wonderful or awful. Put us in the wonderful category.


Tennessee - Memphis - Blues City Cafe by Dave Hileman

If you are looking for a place to eat on Beale Street in Memphis there are a lot of choices and some of them may be better than Blues City Cafe. I would not know as this is the only place I ate. But I was more than pleased with the choice. Above average food in an above average venue with lots of character and history. BCC is unique, reasonably priced and, lets just call the decor, mid-century eclectic. The place was bustling on the afternoon we were there but the service was fast and you are entertained by the signs, the line cooks and people watching. If we were back on Beale I would return here in spite of the many choices, this one was fun. And they have a music venue next door.

The list of people who have eaten here is impressive. Here is a partial list: 
Shelby Foote
Garrison Kellier
Sydney Pollack                                                                                                                               

Carol Channing
Dave Chapelle
Alice Cooper
Little Milton
Tom Cruise
Wilford Brimley
Robert Duvall
Robert DeNiro
Woody Harrelson
George Hamilton
Elizabeth Hurley
James Gandolfini
James Earl Jones
Ed Harris
Nicole Richie
Steven Seagall
Jerry Seinfeld
Bill Murray
Samuel L. Jackson
Jerry West


Lousiana - Mandeville - Liz's Where Y'at Diner (3 photos) by Dave Hileman

Ok, so it is a terrible name. And it is open only for breakfast and lunch. But its mascot is a flamingo, so it has that going for it. And it is in the New Orleans metro area where you cannot throw a beignet and not hit a good place to eat. This one was very good. We arrived a few minutes before they were closing for the day but that did not matter. Service was quick, food was well done and fresh. Of course, it did not hurt that my french toast looked like a Mardi Gras parade entry. A bit sweet - and fun. Liz's has a huge menu - with portions to match, amusing signs everywhere, good coffee and great personality, presumably personified by Liz herself. It is a small restaurant so you may have a wait, but, my advice is, wait!

You can't get this color just anywhere! iPhone photos

You can't get this color just anywhere! iPhone photos


Massachusetts - Westford - Kimball Farm Ice Cream by Dave Hileman

They began selling ice cream from their farm in 1939. Now they have four locations and lots of other things to do on site but you come here for ice cream, large servings, reasonable prices, lots of flavors, and huge servings. Yes, I know I mentioned that twice, they are worth several mentions. The ice cream is very good, not an A+ but a solid A. You don't get on this prestigious list with anything under an A-. I have only been to two locations but more than once at both, so worth a stop and worth a re-visit. I had Gingersnap Molasses last time and Mint Oreo the day before that. If you are traveling in or around Boston the Westford store is only a few minutes off the interstate. Stop! Even in the winter when they are closed, you can at least read the flavor list.