Montana - Saint Mary - Park Cafe by Dave Hileman

We stayed in the NP campground just off "going to the sun road" near the entrance to the park a few years ago. This restaurant was at the turn and the "Pie" sign called to me. It was, as I recall, a bit expensive but very good. I had Huckleberry, the speciality of the cafe. We did not eat here but were told breakfast was good. Again, a spot expensive but you are a long way from may alternatives. http://www.parkcafe.us

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Pennsylvania - Lititz - Tomato Pie Cafe by Dave Hileman

So I was wrong. I was not hungry and thought we were going to a pizza place so I was not enthused. I should have been. It was not pizza and it was quite good, not the ordinary fare and the coffee, well I will get to that. There were six of us and it was a bit of a wait on Friday just after lunch time. The rambling old place was very busy. The service was very good and the food even better. The tomato pie, which I did not have, was unique and both people who ordered it were delighted. The soup was, according to others because I did not order that either, was excellent. The salad was huge the dressing fresh and not your usual variety. Of course, I did not order that either. Recall here I was not hungry so I ordered a coffee. Not ordinary coffee but a creme brulee latte with caramelized sugar, wow. So very good. CJH had a iced tea honey lavender latte that she loved. So, we are headed back to the area in a few weeks, I will order actual food next time and a large creme brûlée latte. Thanks Carin for the recommendation. http://www.tomatopiecafe.net

 I will also get a better photo!

I will also get a better photo!

Pennsylvania - Ronks - Dienner’s Country Restaurant by Dave Hileman

I think there are more venues for dinner and lunch in the area - even though I love their chicken, pork and sauerkraut and buttered noodles - but for price, quality, variety and staff, you simply cannot beat Dienner's for breakfast. The array of food, from scrambled eggs to oatmeal (two kinds) to mush (three kinds) to donuts (way too many kinds) is excellent. They offer sausages, bacon, dried beef, pancakes, well you get the idea and an adult meal is 7.75. The busy waitstaff are always kind and patient and it just feels like a great place to start a day of touring in the area. We have been eating here for over 20 years of visits around Lancaster and have never been disappointed. http://www.dienners.com/index.php

 If there is a line, just wait!!

If there is a line, just wait!!

California - Monterey - Old Fisherman's Grotto by Dave Hileman

We stopped here specifically because our friend Tom, who has spent time in the area, said this place offered the best clam chowder he every had. Well that is a challenge to my wife so she ordered a large bowl. And agreed. She loved it and said it was the best anywhere. And "anywhere" takes in a lot of chowder. So, we will be heading back sometime and maybe do more than a chowder tasting. If it is that good, maybe the whole restaurant is excellent as well. http://www.oldfishermansgrotto.com

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Virginia - Richmond - Rostov's Coffee by Dave Hileman

I have been drinking coffee for a long time and CJH even longer. I can recall two donuts and unlimited coffee for .49 - that is a long time ago. In 1982? or so everything changed when I visited Carytown and had coffee from, at that time, Carytown Coffee. Wow. Coffee. That was my first experience at a small coffee shop. Now they are like fast food restaurants -- everywhere. 1982 was pre-Starbucks invasion. Roasting coffee was for mammoth corporations. Not any more. We made frequent trips to Richmond from Charlottesville and as often as we could those trips included a stop for coffee in store and to take home. Mr. Rostov was unfailingly helpful and patient and a super guide to the bewildering array of coffee. Since those days the shop as moved a few blocks away, sports a new name, Rostov's Coffee and Tea, and is shepherded by his daughter, Tammy. What has not changed is the great coffee. It is still my favorite place to buy coffee. We were there a few weeks ago and the other morning CJH noted the coffee this morning was great, you must have made Rostov's Kenya AA - she was right. So if you value good coffee, want knowledgable people, an interesting vibe, and great perks (ok, groan) try the Amish Walrus, let them chart your purchases for free stuff - try Rostov's. http://rostovs.com

 iPhone photo

iPhone photo

Virginia - Williamsburg - Food for Thought by Dave Hileman

Looking over my posted places here I noticed that I have neglected the state I know best, Virginia. I thought I would start on that path to add some of my favorites with one of the very best, Food for Thought. The restaurant is located on Richmond Road in Williamsburg but it is unlike any of the others you may find along that prime tourist route. Locally owned and invested in Williamsburg it is a gem. The decor is interesting, the staff is great and the food! CJH and I have eaten here multiple times - often with friends, and have never been disappointed, usually the opposite, just delighted with the meal. They have nice menu with a lot of variety, excellent vegetables, good rolls and unique offerings that keep us returning and creative desserts. I don't even have a favorite dish but never know - well, usually don't know, what I will order. Great chicken and fish dishes, roast beef, fine sandwiches, super salads and a steak salad that I often choose because it is perfect. When we lived here we ate fairly often, now that we have to choose when visiting friends in the area, it is always the first consideration. Highly recommend that you wait in line, because you will have to, park carefully - read the signs, and enjoy a wonderful meal. https://www.foodforthoughtrestaurant.com

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Lousiana - New Orleans - The Old Coffee Pot by Dave Hileman

Note the date on the sign, they have had a lot of practice. It has an authentic NO atmosphere, nice courtyard and enough quarks to qualify for unique status. We ate here at breakfast so we cannot speak to other meal times but - without a doubt - the best dishes of the kind we ever had. CJH had a cheese blintz of some sort that was a special that day. Nearly swooned. I had Lost Bread which is a form of French Toast or Pain Perdu here made with compressed day-old Po Boy bread. Just fantastic. Service was fine (note quirky comment earlier) prices okay and the coffee quite good. People's experience vis-a-vie Yelp seem to be wonderful or awful. Put us in the wonderful category. http://www.theoldcoffeepot.com

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Tennessee - Memphis - Blues City Cafe by Dave Hileman

If you are looking for a place to eat on Beale Street in Memphis there are a lot of choices and some of them may be better than Blues City Cafe. I would not know as this is the only place I ate. But I was more than pleased with the choice. Above average food in an above average venue with lots of character and history. BCC is unique, reasonably priced and, lets just call the decor, mid-century eclectic. The place was bustling on the afternoon we were there but the service was fast and you are entertained by the signs, the line cooks and people watching. If we were back on Beale I would return here in spite of the many choices, this one was fun. And they have a music venue next door. http://www.bluescitycafe.com

The list of people who have eaten here is impressive. Here is a partial list: 
Shelby Foote
Garrison Kellier
Sydney Pollack                                                                                                                               

Rusty
Carol Channing
Dave Chapelle
Alice Cooper
Little Milton
Tom Cruise
Wilford Brimley
Robert Duvall
Robert DeNiro
Woody Harrelson
George Hamilton
Elizabeth Hurley
James Gandolfini
James Earl Jones
Ed Harris
Nicole Richie
Steven Seagall
Jerry Seinfeld
Bill Murray
Samuel L. Jackson
Jerry West

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Lousiana - Mandeville - Liz's Where Y'at Diner (3 photos) by Dave Hileman

Ok, so it is a terrible name. And it is open only for breakfast and lunch. But its mascot is a flamingo, so it has that going for it. And it is in the New Orleans metro area where you cannot throw a beignet and not hit a good place to eat. This one was very good. We arrived a few minutes before they were closing for the day but that did not matter. Service was quick, food was well done and fresh. Of course, it did not hurt that my french toast looked like a Mardi Gras parade entry. A bit sweet - and fun. Liz's has a huge menu - with portions to match, amusing signs everywhere, good coffee and great personality, presumably personified by Liz herself. It is a small restaurant so you may have a wait, but, my advice is, wait!  http://lizswhereyatdiner.com

 You can't get this color just anywhere! iPhone photos

You can't get this color just anywhere! iPhone photos

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Massachusetts - Westford - Kimball Farm Ice Cream by Dave Hileman

They began selling ice cream from their farm in 1939. Now they have four locations and lots of other things to do on site but you come here for ice cream, large servings, reasonable prices, lots of flavors, and huge servings. Yes, I know I mentioned that twice, they are worth several mentions. The ice cream is very good, not an A+ but a solid A. You don't get on this prestigious list with anything under an A-. I have only been to two locations but more than once at both, so worth a stop and worth a re-visit. I had Gingersnap Molasses last time and Mint Oreo the day before that. If you are traveling in or around Boston the Westford store is only a few minutes off the interstate. Stop! Even in the winter when they are closed, you can at least read the flavor list. http://kimballfarm.com 

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Virginia - Roanoke - Texas Tavern by Dave Hileman

You should not be allowed to continue living in Virginia, certainly not Roanoke, if you have not tried, at least one time, the Texas Tavern. TT was established in 1938, is open 24/7 every day but Christmas. Burgers are good, not huge, and they have some unique combinations and interesting quirks like no ketchup available. I really like the burgers, perfect size to me. You can sit inside at one of ten stools or pick up via the window. Parking beside the building in downtown Roanoke is a plus. Willie Nelson made his tour bus make the stop, so, join Willie and grab a seat.

Surprise, no web site but you can find a lot of yelp reviews. 

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Lousiana - New Orleans - Cafe Du Monde by Dave Hileman

I mentioned that beignets are available in other places but if you want THE beignets in New Orleans this is the place. It has been around since half-way through the Civil War, so they are rather experienced in both coffee (dark with chicory) and these wonderful, square, fried dough pillows covered with powdered sugar. We ate (some) right before dinner and did not regret a single bite! 

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 Rusty H seems to think he does not get enough air time on Two Lane Touring. So, just to show you what was under his seat post beignet.&nbsp;

Rusty H seems to think he does not get enough air time on Two Lane Touring. So, just to show you what was under his seat post beignet. 

Lousiana - New Orleans - Palace Cafe by Dave Hileman

This is one of the Brennen family properties and they are known for their service and their food. And this one was solid, but not quite the Commander's Palace. Of course, it was not the cost of the CP either. Still very nice property, good food and far better than average service. We were late for lunch and we had beignets and coffee an hour earlier. Not the brightest decision. Must not have been mine:) Anyway we had a delightful meal. Cindy had the most adventurous dish. (CRABMEAT CHEESECAKE*
A Palace Café signature dish! pecan crust, mushroom sauté, creole meunière) It looked like a pie slice but it was cheese and with three small crab legs on the top. She loved it. I was not feeling adventurous so I had a hamburger. It was a good hamburger but, still, I know. Excellent place to take a peaceful break from the roar of the streets in New Orleans. Recommended. www.palacecafe.com

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Florida - Disney's Animal Kingdom Resort - Sanaa by Dave Hileman

Sanaa is actually in the time share or if you prefer, Disney Vacation Club area of the Animal Kingdom Resort. We love the restaurant there, Boma, but this one is very cool and well done. First it is not usually crowded, which is nice and there is a bus from Animal Kingdom to the door of the resort that runs frequently. So if you are at the park it is easy to get to and does not take too long. The main feature is the four kinds of Naan bread and the nine sauces that come to dip into the breads. They are just excellent and fun. The range from sweet to spicy hot and there is a lot of variety. I like the Tamarind Chutney, Coriander Chuntey, Garlic Pickle, and Spicy Jalapeño-Lime Pickle. The first two times I was here I had the Tandoori Chicken which I loved and wish I had this time as well. Instead I had the coffee BBQ. It was OK, but not nearly as good to me as the other dish. One final cool thing, try and get a window table as the African Secretary birds like to preen and watch you eat right on the other side. Love Sanaa. 

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Alabama - Foley - Lamberts Cafe (2 photos) by Dave Hileman

Goodness! Rolls!! What an amazing meal experience we had at Lambert's Cafe. I do not understand why all my "friends" never mentioned this place. It is a mere 11 hour drive from Raleigh, not really too far for dinner. At least not dinner here.

We arrived shortly before noon, it was busy. You are seated and almost immediately you are offered a fresh roll, not a tiny little stale thing but a softball large, perfectly done yeast roll. Plop it down on your napkin and soon another person comes along to offer you apple butter for your roll, good apple butter. But wait there is more. First an extensive well-priced menu, second it was good food, third, there are several people walking around with large bowls of sides that they just offer you over and over. Fried okra was a hit, the potatoes excellent among the many choices. For my main dinner choice I got sausage and sauerkraut with beets and green beens plus all the pass-arounds for $11 and took half of it home for the next day.

So, recap: great food, great value, great selection, great service. BUT it is the rolls. They were sublime. Did I mention that you did not have to wait for the roll person to arrive near your table? Just hold up your hand, shout "roll" and one would be thrown to you from across the room over the heads of many other diners. My great regret is that I only ate three for our lunch. Note the url www.throwedrolls.com

So, I will be in Charlotte in March and in June, that is already over two hours on the way to Foley. I can't see any reason not to head that way for dinner. 

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 His rules are on a sign. They lived up to them. iPhone snap.

His rules are on a sign. They lived up to them. iPhone snap.

Florida - EPCOT - Arts Festival (two photos) by Dave Hileman

We have been at EPCOT on more than one occasion when there was a festival ongoing. Food & Wine may have been the first but now there are more festival days than other days. This time is was Arts. The many food booths set up around the lake and in a couple of other places focused on "artistic" food. We splurged on one piece of cake because the offerings are small and expensive (very Disneyesque). The cake we had was Almond Frangipane with raspberry jam and Belgian chocolate. Quite good. So, when you are heading to Disney don't forget to check what festival may be featured at EPCOT and enjoy the taste treats. 

 I set the dish on some nearby flowers, also a feature at EPCOT

I set the dish on some nearby flowers, also a feature at EPCOT

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Alabama - Montgomery - Urban Cookhouse by Dave Hileman

This is a fledgling franchise but you may be seeing one soon in your urban setting because it was quite good and the concept well executed. I think the closest one to our house in Raleigh is in Charlotte and there were maybe ten or eleven others with most of them in Alabama. They feature salads, sandwiches and a lot more, all fresh mostly local and cleverly arranged and presented. My salad was very nice and looked even better plus it had a fresh orange roll on the top. (And they sell extras!). CJH also had a salad but she had one with lots of bacon that was tasty too. She also took a mac, ham and cheese dish to go and had it for lunch the next day, she said she should have ordered two. Anyway, look for one to pop up soon - and get in line. Shout out to the staff at Montgomery - there were really on top of everything and super friendly.           http://www.urbancookhouse.com

Please note the clever insertion of the Two Lane Touring trailer in the reflection. Wish it was planned. 

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Louisiana - New Orleans - Cafe Beignet by Dave Hileman

Not the first place people think about when you mention beignet and New Orleans yet they were delicious. The primary standout was the lack of people relative to the Cafe De Monde (which we will cover soon). This day few years ago we could not get near the original so stopped in here. Super good, nice atmosphere. Recommended. 

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North Carolina - Nags Head - Mulligans (3 iPhone photos) by Dave Hileman

So we were with friends at their new house on the Outer Banks and they took us to Mulligans. Great to have people who know an area because there are a lot of choices and not all of them could possibly be as good as our meal here. Mulligans is located in Historic Cottage Row. And that provide a cool history. The food was really good, very fresh seafood fairly priced and in a nice setting. You really can't ask for more at the beach. Thanks Bev and Doug. 

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 Crab ravioli with shrimp

Crab ravioli with shrimp

 flounder and fries, normal beach food!

flounder and fries, normal beach food!

Tennessee - Nashville - Bluebird Cafe by Dave Hileman

I would never have stopped in here. Non-descript strip center with lousy limited parking. I would have missed a treat. Food was fine, even pretty good but the place, wow. We had made a reservation, MAKE A RESERVATION, those on the right side did not have a reservation and maybe 20/25 got in. We were five feet from the people singing. Or closer. The cafe seats very few so make a reservation. We heard four singer-songwriters and had a special evening. 

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