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Roadfood of the Day: Moon Rise Cafe - Lakewood, WA
Posted on Tuesday, January 5, 2016

You get your choice of ham, bacon or like this version, turkey, in the Moon Rise Benedict. Excellent crispy hash browns in the background.
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Roadfood of the Day: The Nook - Columbia City, IN
Posted on Monday, January 4, 2016

The best seats in the house are right in front of the grill, which is where the action is.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, January 3, 2016 4:43 AM

JR's really is a shack -- a ramshackle building with decor that includes a few dozen game animal trophies, pig figurines, and signs with slogans such as "If my pick-up truck ain't here, I'm in the woods chasin' deer…" Bathrooms are labeled Bucks and Does. When waitress Susan comes to take our order she notices that the roll of paper towels on the table (in lieu of puny single napkins) is low, so the first order of business (after bringing 32-ounce tankards of sweet tea) is to replace it with a full roll.

Ribs are the star of the show, and although the meat slips easily from the bone, they provide a serious, ecstatic chew that sets forth great waves of smoky, piggy flavor. Barbecued chicken is so tender that juice-saturated dark meat quite literally falls from a drumstick when we lift it from the plate. It is memorably delicious chicken, some of the best anywhere.

Only the chopped barbecue (pork, of course) is disappointing – somewhat drab and dry. But that situation is easily remedied by application of one of three sauces provided to the table: mild, sweet, and hot. White sauce, echoing Alabama preferences to the north, also is available on request. It's probably best suited for the chicken, but for me, this chicken is too good to mess with.

Fine, fine side dishes: thick, firm mac 'n' cheese; sweet, meat-laden barbecue beans; crisp and refreshing cole slaw. While Brunswick stew can sometimes seem like a kitchen afterthought, JR's is nothing short of magnificent: packed with big shreds of pork, sweet tomato-fruity, and tongue-tickling spicy. When Susan heard me and Jane declaiming our admiration for it, she piped in, "I eat Brunswick stew here six days a week. I've been working here twelve years and I could never leave … because the food's too good!"
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Posted on Sunday, January 3, 2016
Item Results
Gift Certificate to a Wonderful Restaurant 259
Cool Appliance for Food Prep or Cooking 114
A Great Food Book (Cookbook, Guide, Memoir) 108
Rare, Expensive, or Hard-to-Find Food 72
Wine Better Than I Normally Buy for Myself 41
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Roadfood of the Day: Stanley's Tavern - Chicago, IL
Posted on Sunday, January 3, 2016

The steak sandwich is one of the most popular entrees.
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Posted on Saturday, January 2, 2016

Plump shrimp, fried to perfection . This is what fried food should be like, no greasiness, just crispness and flavor.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, January 1, 2016 4:47 AM

The laminated menu at Blue Top Grill lists seafood, sandwiches, chicken wings, and vegetable plates, but nine out of ten customers come for hamburgers: small, large, or double, with or without cheese, with French fries and/or onion rings.

They are hand-pattied irregulars, about 1/3-pound, cooked through but thick enough and fatty enough that they ooze juice – juice that carries tides of beef flavor. They’re the sort of burger that is so well accompanied by lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise all piled into a big, spongy bun. Need I say that there is nothing artisan or upscale about them? A large one costs $3.25. But price, however low, is no object when appetite demands a good, old-fashioned, lunch-counter burger, made from scratch and with skill, served in a place without airs or pretense. On those occasions when a Blue Top burger is exactly right, a $50 Kobe beef burger in the swankiest New York bistro would be atrocious.

Indeed, what I like most about getting a hamburger at the Blue Top Grill is the Blue Top Grill itself. Not far from Route One as it heads southwest towards Augusta, the little wood-sided diner has been serving hot lunch to the community for well over 60 years, and while it has been fixed, remodeled, and refurbished over the decades, it doesn't really look it. Like a favorite old pair of slippers, it is worn in the most comfortable way, its booth upholstery on the verge of disintegration, its walls decked with memorabilia, its staff on first-name terms with most of the clientele. I noticed that many customers do not actually place an order when they walk in the door. They simply confirm that they are getting the usual. Large windows up front allow the kitchen staff to see outside and to start preparing regular customers' orders before they walk in the door.
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Posted on Friday, January 1, 2016

Though we refuse to even think about putting cheese on pulled pork, the Florida Cracker blew our socks off with tender meat, bacon, Gouda, pickles, and really wonderful cole slaw.
Rate this place Reviews (5) Learn more about Yellow Dog Eats...
Posted on Thursday, December 31, 2015

Bone-in country ham is served with your choice of two sides. Here you'll find pinto beans and kale greens.
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Diehl's Family Restaurant...
Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 3:55 AM

Magnolia's wants you to eat virtuously. To that end, its provender is mostly organic; vegetarian and vegan and gluten-free options abound (there even are some paleo-friendly dishes); instead of potato chips to go with a sandwich, you get flax chips; and for dessert, the chocolate cake actually is chocolate zucchini cake.

Despite all that, I very much enjoy this cute little café, especially as a breather from the barbecue, fried fish, grits and gravy that are the more typical gout de terroir in this part of the world. There are bright and beautiful salads, including one topped with cedar-plank-grilled salmon and another made with Edisto Island shrimp and diced mango. Extra time is needed for paninis because they are made from scratch, one by one, but if you are hankering for healthy, the wait is worth it for the meatless one known as Pamela's panino: avocado, tomato, red onion, Kalamata olives, Swiss cheese, and fresh basil. I am not a wrap guy, but there is no denying the good flavor of mango shrimp, avocado, cucumber, aioli, lettuce, and tomato that come tightly enclosed in a tube that is spinach green.

A stealth winner on the menu is the Magnolia burger. It is made of beef, good beef indeed, all juicy and full-flavored; and it comes with buttermilk blue cheese dressing, aioli, arugula, and tomato on a toasted brioche bun. Another high-protein winner is Magnolia's tuna salad, which is well-dressed (no mayo overload) and includes the welcome crunch of toasted pecans. As for dessert, that chocolate zucchini cake is moist and spicy, glazed with sweet cream cheese frosting.

Lunch is served Monday through Saturday, dinner Thursday through Saturday.
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