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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 7:52 AM

Wanderingjew reports from Iowa:

Niland's Cafe lies about 40 miles north of Des Moines in Colo Corner on what used to be Old Lincoln Highway. Unlike the other restaurants in this series (steakhouses and supper clubs), Niland's is just a small town café. It adjoins a renovated motel and converted gas station/museum that provided services for motorists in the 1940s and 1950s.

Walk into the cafe and checkered floors will greet you like a scene straight out of the past, with counter and booth seating. In the second room, you'll find tables and the front end of a 1939 Cadillac.

Meals come with choice of potato and vegetable along with a side salad. Unfortunately, the vegetables are frozen; however the mashed potatoes and beef gravy are very real. I substituted ham and bean soup for the side salad: a good choice. The Iowa Chop is smoked, and although it is thick and loaded with porcine flavor, it also is dry. Sour Cream Raisin pie is more sweet than sour, generously loaded with raisins.

Niland's is a nice throwback to another time. 

Posted by Jack Mueller on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 4:07 AM

Lemon Ice

Great space, antique drug store/soda fountain with original counter, floors, and tin ceiling. Still a town staple (many locals bring their kids back to sit for photos in the tiny chairs in front of the counter that they sat in as kids), and the new owner is passionate about the space and is super friendly. She let us split a lemon ice with salt. We had to try it given Michael Stern's review. Unique experience, but an acquired taste given the lack of any sweetener to balance the acid / salt.

The orangeade was an entirely different story and was one of the most heavenly items that I have ever consumed (though after tasting the lemon ice, most drinks would have tasted great!). This is a must have drink. I worked in the beverage industry for a number of years and this was one of the best flavor profiles that I've ever sampled. The owner said that it was simply two fresh squeezed oranges mixed with a simple syrup over ice. Incredible!
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Roadfood of the Day: Rockland Bakery - Nanuet, NY
Posted on Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Shelves of Challah

Looks like perfection to me.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 8:38 AM

Wanderingjew reports:

Jesse's Embers is a wood paneled, clubby, old school steakhouse -- the kind of place where you rub shoulders with the person at the table next to you. The only entrance is in the rear of the building, leading to the crossroads of the dining room, bar and kitchen. The first thing I noticed: no windows. It was surprisingly busy for a Monday, but I was seated quickly.

My meal started with a salad, and I learned all of the dressings are homemade. I went with the incredibly creamy, garlicky house dressing. I ordered a 12 ounce grilled Iowa Chop and chose cottage fries on the side. The fries were cut slightly thicker than what I'm used to, but that did not detract from the crispy texture of the potato. The chop was incredibly flavorful and oozing with juice, however it was definitely the thinnest of the lot and I questioned if it was actually 12 ounces. Be that as it may, it was certainly one of the better chops of the trip. 

Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 6:45 AM

Named because it is a gleaming silver mid-20th century Kit Companion travel trailer, the Old Tin Can is all about cheeseburgers. They are hand-pattied from locally-raised beef and they are cooked to order, medium-thick, and dripping juice. While the standard cheeseburger is terrific, especially when garnished with the works – onion, lettuce, tomato, etc. – there always is an interesting oddball burger on the menu, too. The cowboy burger is packed into a bun with bacon, barbecue sauce, and fried onion straws; the grilled cheese cheeseburger is made on thick, griddle-cooked toast; other specials include chili and avocado burgers and peanut butter-bacon-cheddar burgers; there's even a quinoa burger for vegetarians.

French fries are hand cut; and from a non-published "secret menu," you can order such occasional specialties as "The Mess" (French fries, grilled onions, bacon, jalapeno peppers, and special sauce) and peanut butter brownies with chocolate ganache.

The Old Tin Can is one of several food trucks that regularly park at Sandpoint's Oak Street Court across from Farmin Park. Dining is all al fresco, at picnic tables under tents. Other options at this happy eating spot include Tug's Hot Dogs, Hawaiian shave ice, Thai banana crepes, and Memphis barbecue. It is open from Spring until October.
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Posted on Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Sherrie's Special

The Sherrie's Special takes three scrambled eggs and tops it with cheddar cheese and a mountain of chili. This is a breakfast that will fuel you for the whole day!
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, August 31, 2015 3:22 AM

Rich and Chris Decker took over the Igloo in 2010 from the Mazzorana family, who started it in 1937, and they have vowed to keep it as its always been: the town's favorite destination diner for burgers and chili, tenderloins and brats, hand-cut French fries and from-scratch shakes and malts. Nearly everyone here is a regular customer. One veteran waitress gives me a motherly smile when I sit at the counter, telling me I look just like good old Dr. Schott, who recently died and who was a big fan of Igloo chili.

After only a few minutes in this place, it is apparent that both Rich and Chris relish their role as owner, host, ringmaster. When one waitress starts needling Chris about spending too much time kibbitzing with the clientele and not enough running the diner, he turns away from her and announces loud enough for all around to hear: "This is my back. And this is you off it!"

Order a tenderloin (here known simply as "a pork") and its standard complements are onion, pickle, and – are you ready? – ketchup. At first I was skeptical, considering mustard to be the de rigueur condiment, but I very much enjoyed the interplay of sweet and tangy. The loin itself is wavy, crisp, and quite thin, with enough meat to be juicy once you crunch through the crust.

Root beer is served in a frosty mug, but if you like milk shakes, that's the drink to get. "I guarantee that this is the best chocolate malt I have made all day," says Chris Decker when I order one at 11:30am. I reassure him that it is the best one I've drunk all day. In fact, it was the best I drank during a weeklong trip through the Illinois River Valley.
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Roadfood of the Day: We-Li-Kit - Pomfret Center, CT
Posted on Monday, August 31, 2015

Indian Pudding Ice Cream

Although Ben & Jerry's may never offer an Indian Pudding flavor, We-Li-Kit produces this delicious molasses-filled flavor each fall.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, August 30, 2015 5:50 AM

This review was written by Roadfood Correspondent Allie Spangler, who also took the photos.

Pegasus Restaurant is a bright pink and purple diner off one of the old highways in Tacoma. It is located in the slightly run-down side of town, near manufacturing plants, the Tacoma Dome, and the Amtrak train station. Don’t let its surroundings dissuade you; this dive has been here since the early 70’s and continues to be a local favorite. The parking lot fills up at breakfast and when lunch regulars start to trickle in around 11 am. The feel is vintage diner, including friendly waitresses who call you pet names and constantly fill up your coffee mug and some seriously satisfying classic diner grub. Plus, there is a full service “Unicorn Bar” in the back.

One item you can’t miss? The chicken fried steak: it is gold and crisp, smothered in creamy, calorific gravy, accompanied by two eggs, crunchy hash browns, and a side of toast. The ground beef steak is another winner. It’s topped with dark brown mushroom gravy and comes with your choice of potato (fries, tots, or mashed with gravy), soup or salad, and buttered Texas toast. The coffee is adequate, although not strong enough to please a serious caffeine-hound.

Service adds special pleasure to a visit, for the staff treats you like family and makes the effort to tend to your every need. All fans of classic diner eats who travel by train to the area or attend a Tacoma Dome event should add the Pegasus to their itinerary – it will hit the spot.
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Roadfood of the Day: Buzzards Roost - Key Largo, FL
Posted on Sunday, August 30, 2015

Hogfish Sandwich and a Cold One

One of the best sandwiches in the Keys.
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