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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, July 11, 2014 7:11 AM

If you are looking for a seriously hearty breakfast just north of Sandpoint, Idaho, the Hoot Owl will fill the bill. Biscuits made each morning, are the size of half a loaf of bread, and more the consistency of cake than anything else. You can have them plain or as a meal smothered with sausage gravy that has a strange and intriguing perfumy flavor. The big biscuits also play a significant roll in the dish known as Redneck Eggs Benedict, in which sausage patties substitute for Canadian bacon and gravy replaces Hollandaise.

Hoot Owl's rib-sticking gravy is also available atop an order of hash browns. If you are not a gravy fan but want something seriously filling, consider Hash Browns Supreme: spuds and scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, zucchini, and chopped fresh garlic, with salsa on the side. Like every other meal served here, this one is huge. Indeed, half portions of many items are available; and in our experience, half an order here equals about one and a half orders anywhere else.

This is a made-from scratch sort of place where nothing is trendy, but everything is a cut above: fresh corned beef hash sizzled as crusty as you request, plate-wide pancakes, gnarled chicken fried steaks. Vegans can order Hash Browns Supreme made without eggs, and the menu offers egg beaters and sugarless jam.

The Hoot Owl opens at 5 in the morning, shortly after which it is populated by locals drinking coffee and enjoying each other's company. It closes after lunch, except on Monday, when it reopens from 4 to 7 as a community soup kitchen.
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Roadfood of the Day: Winstead's - Kansas City, MO
Posted on Friday, July 11, 2014

Strawberry Milkshake

Winstead's not-too-thick shakes come in lovely tall glasses.
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Roadfood of the Day: L C's Bar-B-Q - Kansas City, MO
Posted on Thursday, July 10, 2014

Burnt End Sandwich

LC's burnt ends actually are cut to order from the outside and edges of the brisket. A sandwich made from them is impossible to pick up by hand.
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Posted by Elise on Wednesday, July 9, 2014 8:27 AM

El Taurino Tacos is located on a corner of a 3-way stop where Hoover, Olympic and South Park View Streets converge. Its bright lights beckon, promising good eats 24 hours a day. Painted above the door is the promise: A NICE PLACE TO EAT. This is drunk food at its finest.

The menu boasts some of the once adventurous bits Angelinos have come to expect as typical: sesos, cabeza, lengua and buche. But what calls us over at 3am are the carne asada and suadero. Suadero is usually brisket, but can be a number of different cuts including flank steak. It is sometimes called falda (skirt), which along with a Spanish butchering diagram lends credence to it being flank. Some people claim it is the testicles, but that is an urban legend or they are messing with you.

The asada steak and suadero at El Taurino are the highest grade cuts of meat we have ever been served in a taqueria. No gristle, no fat, just delicious meat good enough for a steakhouse. The suadero does not have the toughness or grain of a flank or brisket. It is like pure sirloin.

The pastor, marinated pork cooked on a spit like shawarma, or gyro, is also famous at El Taurino. On weekends they serve barbacoa. The salsas are burning hot and delicious. The only complaint is that the tacos are smaller than your standard soft tacos. But at $1.25 each, you can afford enough to fill you up. The higher price is worth it for the quality. You can also order burritos, tortas (Mexican sandwiches) and tamales.

Meanwhile, hang out and trip out on the stuffed and mounted bull heads and other bullfight-themed decor. When friends come from out of town and want you to take them for real LA tacos, this is the place to go.
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Roadfood of the Day: Parkside Candy - Buffalo, NY
Posted on Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Sponge Candy

Known elsewhere as 'fairy food,' sponge candy is a specialty of Buffalo confectionaries. It is chocolate surronding spun sugar that quite literally melts on the tongue. (buffetbuster photo)
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Posted on Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lightly sauced, with a nice mixture of soft inside and crunchy outside meat, this is a fine pork BBQ sandwich.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, July 7, 2014 3:11 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, July 7, 2014

Combo

Al's combo: you cannot see the taut, full-flavored Italian sausage buried underneath the beef and giardiniera in this sandwich, but it is a significant presence. No one ever nominated Chicago's Italian beef as one of the prettiest foods, but to those who know and love it, there is nothing more beautiful than this sandwich's exquisite combination of flavors and textures.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, July 6, 2014 5:57 AM

In the 1980s, Jane and I wrote a story about an interesting phenomenon we had discovered: the Pacific Northwest is a coffee-lover's destination. Our "discovery" came late – Starbuck's had already begun to proliferate, having started two decades earlier (reaching Chicago in 1991 and New York in 1994). Today, everybody knows that America's coffee culture is at its zenith in Seattle, Portland, and throughout the region – all the way to Anchorage, which has more coffee shops per capita than any other American city.

During a recent trip through Oregon, I was particularly impressed by Astoria Coffee House & Bistro in the northwesternmost part of the state. The coffee is Caffé Vita brand from Seattle; and in addition to all the usual espresso drinks are such exotic lattes as lavender vanilla, cardamom mocha, salted caramel, and maple brown sugar.

Actually, it was the food at breakfast that rang my chimes, in particular smoked salmon hash, which was a luxurious, rough-hewn melange of bite-size salmon, potatoes, and peppers, topped with eggs and sided by a hearty buttermilk biscuit. In addition, I managed to savor several lovely pastries, including an almond paste-filled croissant and a slice of moist chocolate cake. Still to be tasted from the morning menu are aebleskivers (Danish pancakes), cardamom bread French toast, and biscuits topped with bacon gravy. There is a wide choice of serious (over $20) meals for supper, which the menu describes as "neo-regional cuisine using direct caught seafood, all natural meats and wild local produce 'foraged' from the area." These items include Cajun oysters, chickpea and tabouli salad, pork mole, paella, steak frites, French dip, sushi rolls, and pad Thai. The list makes me confused about the concept of neo-regionality, but the goodness of the salmon hash and freshness of the rhubarb scones make me want to return and discover exactly what it means.
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Posted on Sunday, July 6, 2014

Dinner

A "Lawry-cut" prime rib plate with mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, all in a pool of high-flavored natural gravy. Other vegetables are available on the side -- and the creamed corn is wonderful -- but I went for the classic, well-balanced plate.
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