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Roadfood of the Day: Byron's Dog Haus - Chicago, IL
Posted on Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chicago Dog

An all-beef hot dog is nestled under this wheelbarrow of condiments. Those peppers in the foreground are hot!
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Posted by Michael Stern on Monday, July 28, 2014 6:20 AM

Just east of the Thornton Gap entrance to the Skyline Drive in Virginia's Piedmont, Triple Oak Bakery is a charming patisserie that makes cakes and pies and coffee-companion pastries. There is no sit-down dining on premises, and no table service; but folding chairs are available out back, where customers can relax on a lawn overlooking the Thornton River while enjoying an al fresco slice of apple pie or mocha cake, baklava, brownies, or biscuits, scones, quiche, or rugelach.

The one quasi-meal available at Triple Oak is Saturday morning continental breakfast. It is as informal as an ad hoc gathering of friends and neighbors. Everybody stands around the kitchen chatting and pouring their own coffee from a large French press carafe or fetching a cup of brewing chocolate from a pretty blue pot on the stove or, best of all, making a half-and-half mix of both. To accompany the beverages, trays are laid out with cinnamon buns, chocolate espresso scones, and fresh, chewy bagels. Cream cheese, jelly, and coffee condiments are arrayed on a table, and there are a few extra chairs marshaled on the back porch, ready to be unfolded for those who wish to sit outdoors.

Did we mention that Triple Oak is gluten-free? Even if you share our love of all things glutenous, don't let that dissuade you from the consummate baked goods at this wonderful place.
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Posted on Monday, July 28, 2014

Shrimp Platter

A culinary anthropologist could pinpoint the precise location of this dish. The hushpuppies and blackeyed peas are a sure sign of the South in general. The elegant shrimp say Florida's north coast. The pink dipping sauce with a datil pepper punch is St. Augustine's
Rate this place Reviews (5) Learn more about O'Steen's Restaurant...
Posted on Sunday, July 27, 2014

One Beef

One Italian Beef, sweet and wet, with giardiniera on top
Rate this place Reviews (1) Learn more about Max's Italian Beef...
Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, July 26, 2014 3:27 AM

Not counting hot dogs, there is a dearth of food trucks in and around Danbury, Connecticut. Driver/chef Paul Mannion greatly improves that situation with his Green Grunion, a burrito van usually located in the city's Kenosia Park at lunchtime. Mannion is a local, but spent time in San Diego, where he learned just how great a burrito can be. He figured it was time to let Danburians in on the good news and started rolling in summer, 2013. I adore the veggie burrito, its well-textured flour tortilla crowded with grilled peppers, mushrooms, and onions – all perfectly al dente – along with guacamole, cheese, and pico de gallo.

Posted on Saturday, July 26, 2014

Real Italian

A REAL Italian is made with salami and provolone, but of course a whole array of other cold cuts are available: ham, capicola, roast beef, turkey, pepperoni, even tuna.
Rate this place Reviews (3) Learn more about Colucci's Hilltop Market...
Posted by Michael Stern on Friday, July 25, 2014 4:53 AM

Way back in the 1990s, before Starbuck's was everywhere, we spent a week in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and started every morning with wake-up drinks at a little eatery named Java on Sherman. It is still thriving, bigger and better than ever (it is reviewed here at Roadfood.com); and the Pacific Northwest's burgeoning coffee consciousness, of which Java on Sherman was an Idaho Panhandle spearhead, has spread throughout the northwest plateau.

An hour north of Coeur d'Alene at the edge of Lake Pond Oreille, the settlement of Sandpoint is a beguiling mixture of wilderness and artiness, of thrift shops and chic boutiques, of chefs and short-order hash slingers, and of three artisan coffee roasters and several very agreeable places to drink coffee (plus a couple of Starbuck's, of course). One enterprise where it is especially nice to partake of caffeinated beverages is the Pine Street Bakery. That's because, as its name says, it specializes in baked goods, so many of which go so well with coffee and espresso drinks. Beyond whole, handsome cakes, hand-crafted breads, and lunchtime pizzas, the shelves are crowded with a vast assortment of coffee-friendly cookies, cream puffs, croissants, cupcakes, and scones (the apricot scone is a doozy!),. Danishes are particularly excellent, made with light, flaky dough and bright fruit filling.

The Pine Street Bakery is a laid-back place with a lighthearted vibe. A sign on the wall asks hippies to use the side door; counter stools are painted in rainbow colors; a flower-bedecked patio is a welcoming place for al fresco eaters, sippers, conversationalists, newspaper readers, and meditators.

And by the way, if coffee does not happen to be your drink, don't necessarily scratch this place off your itinerary. Pine Street Bakery offers high-quality Tea Forté teas and is also a wine bar as much as it is a coffee house.
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Roadfood of the Day: Crystal Grill - Greenwood, MS
Posted on Friday, July 25, 2014

Pie Case

If you sit in the front dining room, you will likely have a view of the pie case, to which whole pies are brought throughout the lunch hour and severed into slices, ready to serve. Here at the two house specialties: coconut and chocolate meringue.
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Posted on Thursday, July 24, 2014

There was a lot to like about the crab cake Benedict, including very little filler in the crab cakes and excellent homemade hollandaise sauce.
Rate this place Reviews (2) Learn more about Barbara Jean's...
Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, July 23, 2014 3:33 AM

Why is Rip's fried chicken so extraordinarily good? Bill Rounds, the man whose grandfather started the place, says, first of all, you need to start with fresh chicken, not frozen nor cryovacked. He gets it twice a week, freshly killed. "We can do that because we have such a big turnover. Poultry is especially hard to keep. Beef can age; fish always smells; but good chicken spoils easily. Everything depends on freshness.

"When we get it, we fine-tune it. We trim it, cut it, remove 60-70% of the skin. Then we brine it. There is an extreme amount of work that goes into good chicken before it gets battered and fried. Our recipes are simple, we don't have a lot of ingredients. But each step along the way is crucial."

Details matter. The oil used by Rounds' grandfather is no longer available, so he has devised his own oil, blending three different kinds. Granddad got his flour from one supplier for more than half a century; but that supplier moved to Canada. Rounds says, "Now we need to blend our own to get the spring wheat quality for its lightness."

The payoff is chicken with significant crust, but no doughy softness – crust that is just-right salty, each bite a savory crunch. Even white-meat breasts are insanely moist and full-flavored down to the bone. Pieces where the batter has clumped, absorbing chicken fat flavor as well as frying fat, are some of the most sumptuous bites imaginable. And yet, miraculously, this chicken sheds no oil. The pallet of white bread on which it arrives is dry and intact even after every scrap of meat has been dispatched. While forks are available, no one uses them. This is chicken you want to touch as well as eat.

Then there are crunchies. After each time the cook pulls a batch of chicken from the bubbling oil, he then sweeps through the oil with a big screen, retrieving a great tangle of squiggly skin and fried batter that have detached from the large pieces. The crunchies are hot, rich, reminiscent of cracklins or gribenes, but pure, fat-crisped batter laced with the flavor of chicken that has fried in the same oil. They are served crisp and hot along with a cup of tart dill pickle chips. Betha, the bartender, showed us that the custom is to fold a pickle chip around a little cluster of crunchies, creating a finger taco. This is fried-food-lovers' heaven!

A great side dish: crisp-fried al dente mushrooms, their earthy rankness nearly truffle-strong. Catfish and whitefish are fried on Fridays. The only other things you need to know are that Rip's is always crowded and that while you wait in line for table, you can drink beers from the bar.
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