Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Top Ten Lists - Restaurants

Roger here...  After a couple of "real-time" posts I am going to do another retrospective from our first five years of travel in our motor home.  This time the Top Ten (actually 20) list will include our favorite places to eat.  We tend not to eat at chain restaurants since we want to experience the food from the local area.  We also do not tend to eat at expensive, dressy places.  As with all these lists, we know we missed some great places.

We may not have pictures of all of them, but we sure do have memories of the food.

1.  Bowpickers, Astoria, Oregon.

We were with our friends, Jay and Nancy.  Jay wanted Fish 'n Chips.  The internet suggested Bowpickers.  We expected a pub-type sit-down restaurant.  What we found was two young ladies frying fish in an old "Bowpicker" boat on top of a hill.  We drove right by it the first time wondering what the long line was about.  We then discovered that the long line was about Bowpickers.  We placed our order outside and picked it up outside.  There were a couple of picnic tables, but most people (including us) ate in the car.  The menu consisted of fish 'n chips or a large order of fish 'n chips.  One could also pick up a bottled water or soda from a cooler under a tree.  We all agreed that the fish 'n chips were the best we had ever tasted.  We liked it so much that Dianne and I waited in line a second time before we moved from the area.

2.  Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, Llano, Texas.

During the time that Dianne and I did some work-camping for Amazon in Coffeyville, KS, one of our fellow workers told us that we MUST have barbecue at Cooper's when visiting the Hill Country of Texas.  So we did.  

The entire process for getting the food at Cooper's was foreign to us as non-Texans (at the time).  The first step was to wait in line outside along the street.  After arriving at the outdoor smoke pits, step two involved pointing to the cuts of meat that we wanted (brisket, ribs, chicken, sausage, pork chops, whatever was on the grill).  The meat was then wrapped in butcher paper and handed to us.  Step 3, we went inside where the meat was weighed and a price was rendered.  Step 4, we picked up other food from a cafeteria line and paid.  Step 5, we dipped ourselves cups of beans from a nearby table.  Step 6, we found a spot at one of the picnic tables.  Step 7, we opened up the meat and spread it out on butcher paper (no plates).  Step 8, we stuffed ourselves with too much delicious food.  

What a great experience!  We liked it so much that we took our friends Chuck and Cindy there when they visited.  It is rumored to be George W. Bush's favorite barbecue place, and there was indeed a photo of "W" eating there at Cooper's.

3.  Julian Pie Company,  Julian, California.

We drove up into the southern California mountains after spending a hot day in the desert.  The hike that I selected that day was not to Dianne's liking, and she wanted some pie!  Being the smart guy that I am, I drove straight to the small town of Julian.

It was worth the drive.  The picture shows Dianne's apple pie with cinnamon ice cream.

4.  (tie) Po Pigs BO-B-Q, Edisto Island, South Carolina.

Dianne somehow found this place while we camped by the ocean.  It was attached to a Shell gas station.  Cafeteria-style, we selected the barbecue that we wanted, put it on the tray, and found a place to sit.  Paper plates and plastic utensils --- didn't matter.  Each table had a variety of sauces to sample.  The food literally melted in our mouths.  Now we understand South Carolina barbecue.  Yum.

5. (tie).  Voodoo Doughnuts, Portland, Oregon.

We were with our daughters and granddaughter when we made this mandatory visit to one of Portland's biggest tourist attractions.
This was another one of those places where waiting in line, outside, was required.

The wait gave us plenty of time to decide which confections we wanted to eat on the spot, and which we wanted to take back to the motor home for breakfast the next day.  The variety was endless --- bacon maple, pretzel, chocolate chunk, anything you could imagine.

Our granddaughter, Kaia, seemed to like it, but she was certainly not the only one.

6. Suire's.  Kaplan, Louisiana.

(pronounced Sweers)

We followed another travel blog, Laurie and Odel, for a long time before we
Ever seen so many types of rice???  True Cajun Country!
 started our own travels.  Laurie noted that this grocery/cafe in the middle of nowhere had the best po boys she had ever tasted.  They drove 50 miles out of the way...
... to eat there a second time.  She was right.  I crave that taste after only one visit.  Dianne and I split a catfish and a....
...shrimp po boy.  I want another one now!
Fifty miles out of the way does not seem far for a grocery store at the crossroads of two county roads in Louisiana when the food is that good. Looks like the New York Times found it, too.

6. (tie) Auslander.  Fredericksburg, Texas.

The same co-worker from Amazon who steered us to Cooper's in Llano...
... told us about Auslander in Fredericksburg.  He also told us about Luckenbach.  He gave such good advice.  The German food at Auslander is something we experience almost every year when we visit the Hill Country.  

We took Chuck and Cindy there a few years ago.  Great food!  Great German beer.  When we agreed to large tankards we had no idea that it would come in vessels the size of a milk jug :-)  We did a lot of walking after we ate.

8. (tie) Pine State Biscuits.  Portland, Oregon.

We were with our daughters and granddaughter when we had breakfast here.  Robyn's boyfriend, Atul, gave us a list of places we
should see and places where we should eat.  This place was quite a find.  Located in a small Portland neighborhood we found some of the tastiest breakfasts we have ever eaten.  To the right is a fried chicken, bacon and egg biscuit with gravy.
I don't remember what this was, but I guarantee it was amazing.  (Actually it was sausage gravy and biscuits with a perfectly-cooked egg on top. -- D.)   Probably not good for you, but amazing.  (We later saw this restaurant featured on the TV program Diners, Drive-ins and Dives -- D.)

8. (tie) Amish Acres, Nappanee, Indiana.

Amish cooking.  Oh my.  This tourist attraction was located across the street from where we had our motor home serviced.  It was too tempting to not eat there twice.

The meal started with homemade bean soup, which was followed by family-style fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, noodles....

Just like being at grandma's on a Sunday afternoon.

10. ARR Place.  Newport, Oregon.

Retama Village friends, Walt and Mary, used to live in Newport.  Since they were in the area at the same time we were, we decided to meet for dinner.  Walt picked the place.  Walt is a connoisseur of good wine and food.  This small family-owned place, located in a house in a residential neighborhood, had a staff of two:  Robert, the chef, and Amy (his wife) who did everything else.  We had some of the best seafood ever in this interesting little place.  Most of the customers were local --- always a good thing.

11.  Big Wave Cafe.  Manzanita, Oregon.  

Unfortunately, I cannot find any pictures of this place, but we ate there twice.  The freshly caught ling cod was sooo good --- so was the fresh crab eggs benedict.  Our friends, Jay and Nancy helped us find this place.

12. (tie) The Tomato Place, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

A little fresh produce, a few jars of homemade concoctions, a few potted plants, a little spice, 

a counter with two friendly clerks, strings of lights, bright walls, hot sauce, a few tables, a few placards with witty sayings.

Oh, and excellent bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches.

12. (tie) The Diaz Diner, Mission, Texas.  One of the many events at our active winter RV community, Retama Village, is the Friday morning men's breakfast.  We visit several establishments during the time when it is cold up north.  My favorite is the Diaz Diner in Mission.  They have the best omelets, with hot sauce on the side!  The huevos rancheros are not bad either.  Dianne here:  Wives are not allowed at the Friday morning men's breakfasts, but Roger and I have eaten lunch there a few times on our own.  I shot the photo below with my iPhone of the best. chicken. nachos. ever:  

They were so good that I wanted to lick my plate!

14. (tie)  Fat Smitty's,  near Port Townsend, Washington.

Purdue Pete opened a burger joint on the Olympic Peninsula :-).  You would need to be a Boilermaker fan to understand this.  

We passed this interesting-looking place several times during our visit here and decided that we needed to stop for lunch.  Great burgers, fries and atmosphere.  The blackberry milkshakes were pretty darned tasty, too.

14. (tie)  The Boiling Pot.  Rockport, Texas.

We heard this place was great, but we almost did not go in.  Kinda scary lookin'.

 After we did go in we figured out that the graffiti was not only encouraged, but part of the atmosphere.

After placing your order, it is all boiled in the same pot then dumped on your table.  Shrimp, sausage, corn on the cob, potatoes.  Yummy and filling.

We left our own little bit of graffiti before leaving.

16. Bonge's Tavern.  Perkinsville, Indiana.

One of our favorite places to eat when we go back home to Indiana is at Bonge's Tavern.  Gourmet food in a brightly painted, ramshackle building in a tiny town. 

On this visit I was with our good friends Jay and Nancy.  Another good friend, Gayla, joined us.  Dianne was in Colorado with our dogs while I did some consulting work for my previous employer.

Great food in a unique atmosphere.

17.  Southside Soda Shoppe. Goshen, Indiana.

We paid a second visit to this place in northern Indiana when we had our motor home serviced.  The food here is probably not good for you, but it is very, very good.  The concoction on the left is philly cheesesteak chili in a soda glass.  

Dianne wanted me to mention that they have homemade rhubarb pie.

18.  The Deck.  Portland, Oregon.

This floating barge anchored in a boat basin on the Columbia River was a great place to have dinner with our daughters and granddaughter.  Good time.

19.  Dupuy's.  Abbeville, Louisiana.

Louisiana.... the best food around.  I don't have a picture of this great Cajun restaurant, but the nearby church spire gives you an idea of the atmosphere of this small town and its eating establishments.

20.  Orlando's.  Taos, New Mexico.

How can anyone not salivate over fine Mexican food like this?

 The pet picture of the day brings back a nostalgic memory of our two whippets for whom this blog was named.  Chaplin and Jasper were enjoying a cup of ice cream in Key West --- their first of many cups of ice cream.  We miss them.


heyduke50 said...

funny I have actually been to five of these and all great selections...

Bill and Nancy said...

You two always find the most unique places to eat... Now, we have a list to follow;o))