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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, December 25, 2014 5:25 AM

Since Richard "Stubby" Stubblefield, Jr. opened it in 1952, Stubby's has become a benchmark of great barbecue, not only in Hot Springs but in all the South. Now in the capable hands of Chris Dunkel, whose parents bought it from Stubby in 1977, it is a restaurant where everything is done the old-fashioned way. Sauce is brewed daily in the back room. Meats are slow-smoked over hickory and carved to order as you watch from the short cafeteria line.

Ribs are big and meat-laden; ham is sweet and swanky; ruggedly-hacked pork ranges from velvet-soft white meat to chewy bark. Even the brisket is Texas-tender and dripping juice. Chicken, which in our book of barbecue tends to be a secondary consideration, is absolutely first class here, its skin glazed dark, its meat moist and ludicrously tender.

No matter what meat you choose, two side dishes are essential. The smoked pit potato is a massive spud that emerges from a long, slow heat bath with insides that are fluffy and delicious even before massive amounts of butter and sour cream are applied. (It is possible to get the potato loaded with barbecued beef or pork -- an awesome meal.) Stubby's pot-o-beans is larded with hunks of smoky ham and blanketed with sauce. The sauce is one of the nation's best: tangy, peppery and so beguilingly spiced that even after the meat on your plate is only a glowing memory, you may find yourself using white bread to mop the last of it from the bowlful that comes with every meal.
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Posted on Thursday, December 25, 2014

Summer Ribollita

The summer version of ribollita was more like a ribollita/panzanella hybrid.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, December 24, 2014 5:56 AM

12 delicious dishes by which I'll remember 2014. Three were old favorites, such as Lexington #1 barbecue, pictured above. (Roadfood.com review). I've always enjoyed Lexington's chopped barbecue, but the crunchy-tender-juicy-chewy textures of sliced were a revelation.

Roadfood of the Day: Stella's Diner - Syracuse, NY
Posted on Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The fretta is a specialty of the city of Syracuse and each restaurant has their own version. This one contains scrambled eggs, onions, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, ham, sausage, pepperoni, and home fries and is covered with cheddar cheese. Delicious but daunting to say the least!
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Roadfood of the Day: Monk's - Wisconsin Dells, WI
Posted on Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The fully loaded mushroom Swiss burger is a thing of beauty!
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, December 22, 2014 5:07 AM

It's a good thing for a restaurant to have a motto, whether it's Steak 'n' Shake's old "In sight, it must be right" (hearkening back to a time when customers could watch their steak burgers ground, thus insuring there were no mystery ingredients) to the place we found long ago in Southern Illinois, the name of which we forgot, but where the motto was impossible not to remember: "If I can't eat it, I won't serve it." All of which is a circuitous way to introduce you to Bobke's Bread Basket, which touts itself with these happy words: "When the schnecken beckons."

Schnecken, which is the name for a German sticky bun, is but one of several dozen outstanding goodies baked in this unlikely old world bakery in the middle of the Arizona desert. Here you will find a vast array of buns and pretzel rolls, cookies, bars, strudels, puffs, and stollen as well as some of the most delicious pound cake we have eaten anywhere: tender, moist, and just sweet enough to be coffee's best companion. A few other notable bakery wonders are buttery little pastries filled with sour fruit known as cherry stars, jumbo macaroons, apple fritters, and stupendous chocolate croissants.

Beyond what's in the bakery case, Bobke's has a short menu of lunch specialties and a scattering of nicely-clothed tables for in-house dining. We feasted on hot brats in freshly baked rolls and wiener schnitzel with spaetzel and puckery-sweet cucumber salad.

Why is there a good German bakery in Cochise County, Arizona? The town of Sierra Vista is home to a large military installation called Fort Huachaca, which attracts visitors from all around the world. In fact, you can take your pick of Asian, Italian, Filipino, Costa Rican and, of course, Mexican food. At Bobke's, the staff converses with each other in German; and if you speak German, too, they are especially happy to host you.
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Roadfood of the Day: Taco Shack - New Paltz, NY
Posted on Monday, December 22, 2014

Quesadilla

Quesadilla.
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Posted by Cliff Strutz on Sunday, December 21, 2014 9:31 AM

Village Coffee Shop is the type of breakfast restaurant you always hope to find while traveling, but so rarely do. One note of warning though: if you embarrass easily, it might not be for you. As soon as the waitress found out it was our first visit, she turned around and announced in a loud voice that we were a couple of "Village virgins", which was met with rousing applause. From then on, with the personable, sassy service and the friendliness of other diners around us, we felt as if we were now part of an exclusive club.

We loved the atmosphere so much that we would probably still eat here even if the food was ordinary. Fortunately, it is much better than that. Highly recommended is the blueberry pancake, which can be ordered in quantities of one, two or a stack of three. Just one was enough as it takes up an entire dinner plate and is filled with a copious amount of fresh blueberries. We think most pancakes are served undercooked nowadays, but this one was well done so that the surface had a crispy texture, especially around the edges.

Another favorite was the French toast, which looked unlike any French toast we have ever seen. The full order (1/2 orders are available) brought two wide flaps of what we suspect was homemade bread, thick, eggy, light and folded over. These could easily be mistaken for more pancakes. The country fried steak was fork tender and covered in a creamy sausage gravy, filled with huge chunks of meat. Everything else we sampled, including the fried eggs, the hashbrowns and even the wheat toast were made perfectly.

Village Coffee Shop opens early seven days a week and closes right after lunch hours. We particularly loved the t-shirt for sale, which read "800 Square Feet of Reality Surrounded by Boulder"!
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Roadfood of the Day: Nellie's - Las Cruces, NM
Posted on Sunday, December 21, 2014

Sopaipillas

New Mexico's favorite breadstuff: puffy sopaipillas, so hot from the fry kettle that they're a little hard to handle when you want to pick one up, tear it open and pour honey inside. Sopaipillas are great for mopping the last of the chile from a plate.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, December 20, 2014 5:14 AM

Portlandia, Astoria is not. Nor does Charlie's Chowder House fit the current common stereotype of an Oregon Coast that is all about such nostrums as sustainability, fair trade, local-sourcing, and organic farming. Not that there is anything unsustainable about what you'll eat at Charlie's; it's just that the management seems to be more concerned with providing good food and good times to its clientele than with earnestly saving the ocean and the earth from us rapacious humans.

I knew we were in for a, let us say, eclectic experience when I saw the window that presents to pedestrians a diorama of a Barbie Doll mermaid hovering over a pile of pirates' bones while two sharks swim close, apparently ready to eat her. Inside, décor is vaguely Polynesian, each table accoutered with a different salt-and-pepper set. The menu, on which each line is written in a different color of ink, includes tunesmith quotes from the likes of Bob Dylan ("I got a brand new suit and a brand new wife, I could live on beans and rice") and Jimmy Buffet ("Life is just a tire swing and jambalaya was the only song you could sing").

It is a broad menu, including southern gumbo, shrimp Creole, turkey chili ("NW style"), and burgers made from buffalo, marlin, shark, or tuna. Charlie's is famous for its peppery chowder, and rightfully so. The menu is a little confusing, listing it as "Astoria's Own Chowder – New England Style," but it is definitely more West Coast than Yankee, packed with ribbons of pork and chopped clams so tender and savory-sweet that sometimes you think you have hit a nugget of bacon when in fact you are enjoying a morsel of clam. Manhattan chowder is another dish altogether. It has plenty of shellfish and is fine as an appetizer, but has none of the clam chowder's charisma. I like the grilled mahi mahi tacos with cabbage and cheese and bright chipotle salsa. Grilled salmon and a tuna steak are both yeomanly, if not memorable.

NOTE: Charlie's is closed on Wednesday.
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