Maine - Northeast Harbor - Asticou Inn by Dave Hileman

Popovers at Jordon Pond is a tradition that dates back decades. And if you have never eaten one on the lawn of the Jordan Pond House looking at Jordan Pond and the Bubbles behind, you ought to do so at least once. However, if you want a special treat, park at the hiking areas at Jordan Pond and hike to Northeast Harbor, about 2.5 miles through beautiful forest trails and you finish at Asticou Gardens across the street from the Asticou Inn. Eat lunch on the terrace overlooking the harbor and order excellent popovers as well. Then, full and content, take the free bus back to Jordan Pond House to pick up your car. Perfect morning! I am told they also have unique adult beverages. 


Maine - Bar Harbor - Morning Glory by Dave Hileman

The very best egg bagel sandwich ever, anywhere. Perfect place to catch a lunch or breakfast, buy bread and pastries at great prices and find a perfect cookie. A week in the area translates into 3 or four mornings at Morning Glory. Highly recommended. 


Massachusetts - Boston - Modern Pastry by Dave Hileman

So, Boston is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to pastries. There are three big competing shops with in a few blocks of each other and each has its staunch defenders, this one has the best cannoli, or the best bear claw etc. We saw all three but never made it past this one, Modern Pastry. It was pastry heaven.  


Mississippi - Tupelo - Neon Pig Cafe by Dave Hileman

Who would have thought that one of the best meals I ever had was in Tupelo. Fast food as far as the eye can see and this hidden, local gem in an otherwise bland strip shopping center. We were encouraged by someone at the campground to try this place. It is a butcher shop where each piece of meat is identified by the usual information plus what local farm it came from and other interesting details. Here we picked the special, 29.95 for steak for two plus sides. It was served on a thick wooden cutting board, along with the tastiest potatoes and vegetables you can imagine. It looked like too much for the two of us but it was so delicious that, indeed we ate everything. We may have tasted the board as well as we did not want the meal to end. Great place. 


California - Pioneertown- Pappy & Harriets (two photos) by Dave Hileman

Just a bit north of Joshua Tree National Park is a town built by cowboy stars of the 1950's and has been used for more than 200 movies and TV series and countless commercials. Pioneertown is a unique place and in the midst of this spot is Pappy and Harriet's Pioneertown Palace. It offers more than decent food in a cool place that seems to be right  out of a John Wayne classic. BBQ was going on out back and the place was bustling on a weekday evening. Near JTNP, this is a must visit. 


California - Moss Landing- Phil's Fish Market by Dave Hileman

So this is a popular place, maybe a famous place (Food Network etc, beat Bobby Flay at a dish).  They seem best known for the cioppino, but we never heard of Phil's until we camped at the KOA a 1/4 mile walk from the restaurant. First time we went at an "off" time - not too long a wait, great food. Second time to get take out, 45 minutes in line. There are few parking places, long waits and some grumbling on Yelp and Trip Advisor about the food but for us, it was excellent. And we could walk so parking not an issue. The Haddock was fresh, well prepared and served in a huge portion. Among our group everyone enjoyed their meal: shrimp, grilled sole, fish & chips, chowder and more. Just a wonderful meal and it is right on the ocean. If we are in that part of California again, it is a sure bet we will be eating at Phil's Fish Market.


North Carolina - Kinston - Boiler Room Oyster Bar by Dave Hileman

So we are starting out this section with a shout out to our new home state, North Carolina, specifically, Eastern North Carolina. And no one is more engaged with that style of food than Chef Vivian Howard at Chef and the Farmer. You can view her show, A Chef's Life, on PBS and it is a joy. We were able to stop here after an engagement I had at New Bern, NC for a late lunch on Sunday afternoon. I doubt that our experience of walking right in about 3:15 would be the norm at more regular dining hours. I had Fish and Chips, CJH had a Blueberry BBQ Chicken Sandwich with smoked gouda & bacon. Both dishes were simply excellent. The atmosphere is neat, it is in an old boiler room and nicely updated. Kinston is clearly declined from happier times but the few blocks around Chef and the Farmer were in the midst of renewal. The Boiler Room is simpler food and less expensive than Chef and the Farmer but our experience there has encouraged us to try the main restaurant. Soon!