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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, October 6, 2014 5:23 AM

Dixie classics: plump, pink weenies nestled in steamed-soft buns. They are lackluster unadorned, but topped with chili and slaw, these hot dogs are sublime. The chili is thick and meaty, not pepper-hot but just-right spicy to bring out the porky succulence of the tube steak it smothers. Sweet slaw on top completes the flavor and adds a welcome measure of cabbage crunch. It’s a well-nigh perfect package – not the least bit artisan or upscale; in fact, I would call it cheap-tasting – an appraisal meant in the most complementary way. When the craving for one of these well-dressed critters strikes, prime beefsteak will not fill the bill.

If you want even more, have a dump dog. That is the house name for the same wiener in the same bun, dressed not only with chili and slaw but also with mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, chopped onion, and shredded cheese. It’s kaleidoscopic and killer-good.

Hamburgers are not second-class citizens of the Hot Dog Café menu. They are large, hand-formed patties, thick enough to be plenty juicy even if they are cooked through. I like mine with nothing but lettuce, tomato, and onion; but of course, cheese, chili, slaw, et. al. also are available

Other than sandwiches of thick-cut, deep-fried bologna, French fries are probably the most interesting item on the menu. Raw, skin-on potatoes are cut one by one on a vintage potato slicer and tossed directly into boiling oil. The result is fries with a full spuddy flavor, albeit lacking the crunch of ones that have been chilled and twice-fried.

The dessert selection is right in front of you at the order counter: cellophane-wrapped wedges of factory-made fruit pie, pecan pie, and Moon Pies. I likely would have skipped this course were it not for a sign on the wall above the counter advertising a “Hot Moon Pie.” It is a simple idea, and a good one. The pie is removed from its wrapper and put into the same steam cabinet used to heat buns. The marshmallow inside the Moon Pie doesn’t quite liquefy, but it softens, as do the cookie layers; and the dark chocolate coat develops an inviting oily sheen.

Roadfood aficionados will love this jolly place with its semi-al fresco dining porch up front and no-nonsense staff of good ol’ country girls inside. You get a number when you place an order and pay, and it is a pleasure to wait and observe the bustle of efficient women cutting and frying potatoes, dressing dogs, flipping burgers, and alternately steaming hot dog buns and Moon Pies.

Note that the phone number of the Hot Dog Café is 439-DOGS.
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Posted on Monday, October 6, 2014

Sunday Night Turkey Dinner, Served Every Night

Don't be fooled by the "culinary confetti" garnish, this is grandma's turkey dinner.
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Aunt Lucy's Dinner House...
Posted on Sunday, October 5, 2014

Old Ham

Even though I am a ham lover, the idea of a 64-year old ham holds no appeal. Don't worry though, the ham you eat at Stan's will undoubtedly be much newer.
Rate this place Reviews (6) Learn more about Stan's Restaurant and Country Store...
Roadfood of the Day: Kozy Korner - Winnett, MT
Posted on Saturday, October 4, 2014


A trio of plate-size buttermilk pancakes, just waiting for syrup
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, October 3, 2014 10:22 AM

Apalachicola has all manner of good seafood restaurants, plain and fancy; but for local color (along with four-star food), you can't beat the Apalachicola Seafood Grill. A corner-store town lunch room surrounded by a raised sidewalk, it has a short counter where locals come to chat & chew as well as a scattering of oilcloth-covered tables. Souvenirs for sale include plush toys and amusing signs, such as "No Whining Zone"

Oysters are available raw, steamed, or grilled by the dozen, as well as fried on a sandwich or in a basket. Shrimp can be ordered fried or coconut fried, but the preparation that wows me is grilled. Modest-sized, but huge flavored, they come spangled with oregano and parsley with a tingle of pepper spice and a wisp of smoke in their seasoning. While they are remarkably tender, they aren't the least bit flabby. What a joy each mouthful is!

Another out-of-this-world dish here is Apalachicola gumbo – spicy, robust, earthy, loaded with beautiful oysters and shrimp and forkfuls of flatfish. It is aggressively seasoned but with none of the complicated folderol of Creole gumbo. Instead, it glows with cordial Dixie charm that is more Mobile Bay than New Orleans. The Grill's fried oysters are remarkably sweet, nutty, gentle. If we wanted to convert someone who thinks he doesn't like oysters, these would be our argument. On the side comes hunky, homey potato salad with lots of bacon flavor.
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Posted on Friday, October 3, 2014

Montana Supper Club

The supper club is a style of restaurant unique to the Midwest and Plains. Eddie's defines the genre: source of big drinks and beautiful steaks in plush-upholstered booths. Being in Montana, it also is a coffee shop and liquor store.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, October 2, 2014 4:18 AM

Place your order for a dog, a cheese dog, or a chili dog, and as soon as the natural-casing frank is pulled up out of the hot oil and rolled around on the grill to get a crisp crust, it is bunned and placed in a cradle for the final dressing with your choice of mustard, relish, onions, bacon bits, or sauerkraut. It is then wrapped and/or put on a paper plate. Customers carry their own to a table in the spacious dining room.

The hot dogs are first rate; Mr. Mac's chili topping puts them over the top. The folks behind the counter usually warn first-timers who order chili dogs that Mr. Mac's chili is very, very hot; and indeed it is. Unlike typical chili-dog toppings or Coney sauce, this stuff is as dark as a good mole, and every bit as thick and complicated. At first, it tastes sweet, seductively so. In moments, the sweetness yields to blossoming heat and pretty soon your tongue is on fire, in the best possible way.

The signature chili dogs lead a broad fast-food menu that includes hamburgers and double hamburgers, fried clams and fish & chips, deli sandwiches, and morning egg sandwiches. One outstanding feature of all these items is the bun in which they are sandwiched: fresh, fluffy, quality bread.
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Posted on Thursday, October 2, 2014

Beautiful Burrito

What a well-made burrito, loaded with succulent beef, firm beans, bits of celery and onion and grains of rice. The chili sauce on top is smooth and delicious essence of chili pepper with seemingly nothing else added.
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Candel's By-Way Cafe...
Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, October 1, 2014 9:16 AM


An inconspicuous storefront in a commercial strip by the side of the two-lane, 521 B-B-Q & Grill is a conspicuously worthy barbecue destination. Not that there's anything wrong with the menu's extra-thick fried bologna sandwich, but it would be a crime to come here and not eat chopped pork and/or ribs. The former – Boston butt that is slow-smoked for 14 hours – becomes rough-hewn hash that is served sauceless. Please, savor some unadorned forkfuls for full appreciation of the refined synergy of swine and smoke. But then, bring on the sauce. Two kinds are arrayed in squeeze bottles on every table (next to the roll of paper towels): a thin, pepper-powered vinegar dressing that adds an exclamation mark to the flavor, and a thicker, sweeter and extremely tangy tomato sauce. Both are winners.

The ribs are just about the meatiest baby backs we've ever run across. Huge amounts of juice-sopped meat slide off the bone at the slightest provocation. Like the pork butts, the ribs are slow-smoked so the woodsy flavor of the pit completely insinuates itself into every fiber of the meat. Then they are painted with some of that tangy sauce and grilled until the sauce begins to caramelize. The glaze hugs the pork; and those two tastes together define the joy of ribs.

We haven't yet mentioned what some people consider to be the very best thing on the menu, included on every plate or tray of barbecue: hushpuppies. Irregularly shaped with dark, red-gold skin that offers both crunch and chew, their interiors are moist and sweet-corn sweet, laced with perfumy onion. Nor are the baked beans to be ignored. They fairly vibrate with barbecue zest.

And finally, we need to mention the staff: a corps of waitresses who are as much fun as they are efficient, eagerly replacing a couple of hushpuppies that accidentally tumbled into the baked beans and lost a touch of their crispness and taking great joy when a customer is caught licking every bit of sauce off his fingers. In short: if you like barbecue, put 521 on any short list of must-visits in the Carolinas.
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Posted on Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Yocco's Dog

Yocco's hot dogs are well-browned and topped with a dark brew.
Rate this place Reviews (4) Learn more about Yocco's Hot Dog King...
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