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Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014
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Posted on Friday, December 12, 2014

Wonderful Chef and His Specialties

Our chef extraordinaire is seen here serving up the best burger in Marin along with fries.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, December 11, 2014 7:31 AM

Pizza Geometry

While the repertoire of pastries at so many of Fall River's Portuguese-accented bakeries is mostly sweet snacks and breads to take home, as well as fried malasadas, there is a whole other category of bakery in Fall River – the kind of place where you sit down and have a savory meal.

Marzilli's is a prize example, its outdoor sign subtitled "Grinder – Pizza." The menu here is similar to what you find in sleeves-up Mediterranean places throughout Southern New England, but with distinct southeastern Massachusetts flavor. Calzones are called chourico rolls, and they come filled with crumbled sausage; there are South Coast stuffies (stuffed quohog clams), kale soup, and Portuguese custard tarts.

Pizza is offered bakery-style, known as a tray, meaning that it is medium-thin, like focaccia, and generally bought by the individual piece, known as a square, and served at room temperature with toppings other than chourico a rarity. Grinders (the regional term for a submarine sandwich), are made on soft, fresh loaves that are delicious in and of themselves, but especially so when loaded with anything from meatballs to a chord of good Italian cold cuts. They come in three sizes; a large one, selling for about $10, is a good two feet long.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, December 11, 2014 5:24 AM

Pork, Transylvanian-Style

A hard-to-find restaurant in a mostly residential neighborhood, the Goulash Place is a treasure-trove of Eastern European gastronomy not far from Interstate 84. John and Magda Aczel lived upstairs in the back of their little Hungarian café, which they operated for a quarter century. Although Magdi passed away a few years ago, you will likely meet John, or at least see him when the kitchen door swings open. He is the chef.

Made-from-scratch specialties include three kinds of goulash, including our personal favorite -- Transylvanian, which is velvety hunks of pork adrift in sauerkraut. Other favorites include chicken paprikash, roast pork, and stuffed cabbage. It is a dilemma choosing side dishes, for Mr. Aczel's mashed potatoes are chunky, soulful spuds served with a bit of gravy from whatever they accompany; on the other hand, there are always nockerli, which are little hand-fashioned dumpling squiggles in a butter sauce that go so well with paprikash. With any meal, it is essential to fork into a bowl of traditional Hungarian cucumber salad – a refreshingly pickly tastebud-refresher.

Start with a bowl of wondrously aromatic chicken soup and finish with palascinke -- tender crepes wrapped around apricot and chopped-nut filling. From soup to nuts, this superb food is presented with Old-World charm so genuine that sometimes you feel that you are dining not in a restaurant, but at the home of a favorite relative.
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Posted on Thursday, December 11, 2014

Royal Guard Fish & Chips

Take-out order of fish & chips.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 7:20 AM

Boasting that it is the Original Family Style Fried Chicken Restaurant in the town of Ladd, Lanuti's is one of at least a dozen places in the Illinois River Valley that specialize in a ritual meal of fried chicken with a side of "ravs," which is short for ravioli but, in fact, refers to the pasta that most of us know as tortellini. It began in 1907 as a tavern, then went to Italian home cooking and chicken in the 1930s, originally giving away food to encourage customers to order more shots and beers. Chicken connoisseurs have long put Lanuti's in the top tier of destination restaurants for the lightness of its crust. It also is known for fried turtle, which has a gamey chewiness that doesn't taste at all like chicken.

Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 4:29 AM

We were tipped off to El Indio by Arizona food expert Randy Spalding, who recommended the green chili. It is magnificent – a swirl of flavor that is hot with a sour twist that teases taste buds, nothing like chili that is cloddish and hammering. We didn't know what exactly gave it such a distinctive flavor, but Randy wrote that he and his partner, Jim, "discussed the El Indio green chile mystery and decided to investigate. Jim nailed the 'sour' taste's source right away, but we later had it confirmed with our friendly waiter. Tomatillos are what gives the chile verde it's distinct taste. Tomatillos, green chile, some jalapeño, garlic, and onion, are combined in a liquadora (blender) and processed for the sauce. I'm imagining the pork is cooked separately and then mixed on the stove. Heaven!" Amen to that.

Randy also suggested we try the Aztec quesadilla, which is a broad flour tortilla sandwich that encases melted white cheese and shreds of carne asada, with tomatoes, onions, and cilantro. Another wonderful dish.

Meals start with tortilla chips and a ramekin of purplish Botana bean dip that is porky and flowery-spiced. Rich as it is, it is easy to keep eating until the meal arrives. Cool horchata is thin and refreshing, generously spiked with cinnamon.

All sorts of topopos are available. They are not the more typical tower of food, but rather a meaty salad presented in a tortilla bowl. The main ingredient can be shredded beef, red chili beef, green chili pork, grilled steak, or chicken; it is accompanied by beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese, and sour cream. The tortilla bowl is thick but frail, freshly fried, and breaks easily into pieces for shoveling up all the goodies it holds.

For dessert, house-made flan is a good bet. Cheesecake and arroz con leche are less impressive.

El Indio is a big, airy place decorated in Incan kitsch: stormy, bodice-ripping pictures of Indian musclemen and maidens along with handsome crockery and green plants. At the door, a wooden Indian stands with a sign around its neck inviting customers to seat themselves.
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Posted on Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Largest Sopapillas In The Country

This is a "regular" order of two pillow-sized fried pastries. Sopapillas are usually served after the meal as a dessert but the locals order them with the meal to sop up the wonderful chile.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, December 9, 2014 7:43 AM

Since Richard "Stubby" Stubblefield, Jr. opened it in 1952, Stubby's has become a benchmark of great barbecue, not only in Hot Springs but in all the South. Now in the capable hands of Chris Dunkel, whose parents bought it from Stubby in 1977, it is a place where everything is done the old-fashioned way. Sauce is brewed daily in the back room. Meats are slow-smoked over hickory and carved to order as you watch from the short cafeteria line.

Ribs are big and meat-laden; ham is sweet and swanky; ruggedly-hacked pork ranges from velvet-soft white meat to chewy bark. Even the brisket is Texas-tender and dripping juice. Chicken, which in our book of barbecue tends to be a secondary consideration, is absolutely first class here, its skin glazed dark, its meat moist and ludicrously tender.

No matter what meat you choose, two side dishes are essential. The smoked pit potato is a pound-plus spud that emerges from a long, slow heat bath with insides that are fluffy and delicious even before massive amounts of butter and sour cream are applied. (It is possible to get the potato loaded with barbecued beef or pork.) Stubby's pot-o-beans is larded with hunks of smoky ham and blanketed with sauce. The sauce is one of the nation's best: tangy, peppery and so beguilingly spiced that even after the meat on your plate is only a glowing memory, you may find yourself using white bread to mop the last of it from the bowlful that comes with every meal.
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Posted on Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Huevos Rancheros

We've never seen huevos rancheros prepared this way anywhere else. They are topped with a buttery gravy laced with onions and peppers. Those are refried beans at the left and fried potatoes at the right. Tortillas are essenteial for mopping the last of the refritos and gravy from the plate.
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about H&H Cafe & Car Wash...
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