I wrote this column for a local newspaper after I found that they were contemplating a best of restaurant contest for the local eateries. But I thought that it might fit here, so put on your eatin bib and read on.
FOR THE COMPASS VI – VIEWS FROM THE GEEZER
By Brad Sears
Now you did not hear it from me but there is a pretty good rumor around that there might be a best of restaurant contest sponsored by a local newspaper in the near future. Judging restaurants is favorite pastime of ours, but sadly to say we defer from rating the locals as we need to be welcome everywhere when we are here for the summer. We travel about 6 months out of the year in our motor home and you are more likely to find us on the blue roads, not the super highways.
As such we have driven through and stopped in a lot of Americas small towns from coast to coast. We eat about half of our meals in the motor home and the rest out. But we shun, as much as possible, the large chains. While there is nothing wrong with breakfast at Denny’s or diner at Cracker Barrel as you travel, you miss out on the wonderful regional flavors that this great country serves up.
Last fall on our migration south we stumbled into BBQ heaven, Lexington North Carolina. Each October Lexington holds a Barbeque Festival and Cook Off and the town claims the title “BBQ capital Of The World”. Unfortunately we were a week late for the festival but there is something like 23 BBQ joints in town. We did not sample all 23 we had a great variety in the three days that we were in town. A couple of them were in our estimation among the top BBQ’s that we have had nationwide.
Other notable BBQ’s that we have found are Pig In Out in Vicksburg Mississippi, Oakwood in Leesburg Florida, Busters in Wildwood Florida are among several dozen favorites. Aside from BBQ we have found great Schnitzel and Sausage at several places in New Braunfels Texas and of course Oysters and Crawfish in and around New Orleans. Then there is Crabs for lunch on Fisherman’s wharf in San Francisco with a big loaf of sourdough bread. And lest we forget the little country store, Dan’s Groceries, Gas, and Café way out in the wilds of South Carolina just north of the Georgia border that served probably the best hamburger in the country.
No matter where you go in the country there is variety in food and the way that it is prepared. For instance near the ocean in North and South Carolina they refer to themselves as Low Country people. Now the low country of the Carolinas like the rest of the south are very much into BBQ. But the difference in the low country is that vinegar is the main flavor in the BBQ sauce where as another of our favorite BBQ joints in Asheville North Carolina, inland mountain country, 12 Bones serves a variety but all are based on the sweeter brown sugar base.
Finally seafood abounds the three side of our country. Salmon in Seattle, Fried Clams in New England, lots of shrimp and oysters in the Gulf States, BBQ in the south, and pockets of ethnic foods everywhere if you look around. The best oysters, fried that is, that I have ever had were at an ocean side joint in Galveston Beach Texas. Now less than six months prior to that visit to Galveston it had been devastated by Hurricane Ike. The day that we were served the great Oysters was the day after the restaurant had reopened after rebuilding.
Then there is the funky like Lambert’s in Foley Alabama. It is almost impossible to get into Lamberts without a wait but the line moves right along. When we pulled into Lambert’s lot the first time, we were amazed at the number of tour buses lined up along the back of the lot. The signs pointed out that buses and RV parking was at the back, and as our motor home with the car trailer on back is way longer than a greyhound bus we headed back there to park. The wait was not long considering the number of folks that were there for lunch. Now Lambert’s serves good old down home southern style food like chicken fried steak, country ham, fried okra and the rest. But their fresh out of the oven rolls are the best. However if you want rolls, you had better be able to catch them. Here is how they are delivered to your table. Serving staff wander the two main dining halls with big covered bowls of fresh rolls. If you want a roll you stick your hand up and the server will throw the roll at you. Their aim is pretty good so that even the least able to play catch are assured of few misses. This is why the advertising for Lambert’s is “Home Of the Throwed Roll”.
Well back on track, if by some chance that my rumor mongers are correct and some sort of a dining out competition to pick the best restaurants in a number of categories does materialize, take part and join in the fun. The experience of different foods is a wonderful if not waist expanding adventure.
Don’t forget that comments and questions are invited. Also if you have a question about RV’s and the RV industry are invited and welcomed whether or not you agree with me. Drop a line to this e mail to [email protected].