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Posted by Michael Stern on Sunday, May 17, 2015 4:51 AM

First, the bad news: Yakburgers are not good. At least the ones served here are not. Our waitress boasted that they were made from Tibetan yaks, raised locally; but either Idaho yaks are way too lean or whatever juiciness their meat contained got cooked away, for the yakburger I nibbled at was sawdust-dry and pretty much devoid of flavor.

Most everything else we tasted at Di Luna's was very good, a few items memorable. In that latter category, I would put breakfast potatoes, which are either crisp and starchy hash browns or sweet potato hash browns that are just barely sweet. A fine breakfast titled "sharp and sweet" augments the sweet potato hash browns with sharp cheddar cheese, the duo accompanied by thick-sliced bacon, ham, or sausage. Another tasty breakfast, which happens to be vegetarian-friendly, is known as the Three Sisters Skillet. The menu says it is a gloss on a native Pend d'Oreilles tribe dish: grilled polenta, roasted butternut squash, and white beans.

Beyond such specialty meals are eggs Benedict (made with ham rather than Canadian bacon), salmon Benedict, veggie Benedict, and country Benedict, that last one being a split biscuit topped with sausage and smothered with sausage gravy. The gravy is substantial, served also as the companion for Di Luna's crunch-crusted chicken-fried steak.

Di Luna's is a friendly sort of place, open Wednesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch and for weekend dinner concerts featuring jazz, country, or blues. It also serves as a local crafts gallery and frequently hosts Wine Maker Dinners that celebrate northwest vintages.
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Posted on Sunday, May 17, 2015

Pierogies

A half dozen potato & cheese pierogies ready to eat!
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Posted by Michael Stern on Saturday, May 16, 2015 4:38 AM

Informal though it may be, the food Poochie’s serves is exquisite. To us, a meal here is more delicious and more deeply satisfying than almost any deluxe $100+ dinner. Star of the menu is the humble all-beef hot dog nestled in a steamed-soft Rosen’s bun and available with the full array of Chicagoland frankfurter condiments: mustard, piccalilli, raw onions, sliced tomato, pickle spears, ground pepper, and celery salt, plus deliriously tasty sweet grilled onions. You can also get your dog topped with barely-melted cheddar cheese – a fabulous addition not only to hot dogs, but to Poochie’s hamburgers and its hand-cut, fresh-from-the-fry-basket French fries.

Beyond taut, plump red hots that are steamed, Poochie’s offers crunchy-surfaced char dogs, cooked over coals until their skin is chewy-dark and flavored by the fire. Polish sausages are plumper, porkier sausages that are slit in a spiral pattern to attain maximum crunchy surface area as they cook. And if one in a bun of any of these tube steaks is insufficient for your appetite, you can get either a jumbo dog or a double. Our personal favorite meal is a jumbo char dog with cheddar fries (superb fries!) on the side.

Poochie’s is proud of its char-cooked hamburgers, and we like them very much, especially piled high with those sweet grilled onions. But if you are passing through Chicago and stop at Poochie’s with time for only one street-food indulgence, make it a red hot with the works and a side of fries. This meal is why you cannot argue with a Chicagoan who boasts that Windy City hot dogs reign supreme.
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Roadfood of the Day: Pancake Circus - Sacramento, CA
Posted on Saturday, May 16, 2015

Pancake Sandwich

This pancake sandwich, with scrambled eggs and sausage, provides a nice combination of sweet and savory.
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Roadfood of the Day: Lowell's - Seattle, WA
Posted on Friday, May 15, 2015

Classic American Breakfast

Bacon, eggs, hash browns, and toast. Great with hot coffee.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Thursday, May 14, 2015 4:46 AM

Burgerville is a fast-food eatery with 39 outlets in and around Portland, Oregon, and Vancouver, Washington. It's not exactly a template for Roadfood, which is all about one-of-a-kind places, but to that rule, an exception must be made. Slick and efficient it may be, but Burgerville manages to be a superb taste of its region.

How's this for a local-produce salad: smoked salmon with Tillamook cheese (from a coastal creamery) and a great spill of crushed roasted hazelnuts from a farmers’ co-op called Oregon Orchard. While any Burgerville burger is swell, I'm particularly fond of the Colossal Cheddar Bacon Cheeseburger made with Oregon's Tillamook cheese. Every Spring, Burgerville gets North Pacific halibut for fish and chips. Deep fried until brittle-crisp, each piece feels featherlight and flakes into pearl white hunks that drip flavor.

Hazelnuts are huge in Oregon (where old-timers still call them filberts); the best known hazelnut item on the Burgerville menu is the chocolate hazelnut milkshake, available every year from January through April as part of the seasonal milk shake menu: strawberry shakes starting in April, then raspberry, blackberry, and peach shakes, and huckleberry and pumpkin shakes in the fall.
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Roadfood of the Day: Muffin Patch - Old Forge, NY
Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2015

Unbelievably Good

The fluffy, eggy French toast is bathing in a delightful caramel sauce that is teetering on the edge of burnt (this is a good thing!).
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Posted by Michael Stern on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 3:42 AM

Rich and Chris Decker took over the Igloo in 2010 from the Mazzorana family, who started it in 1937, and they have vowed to keep it as its always been: the town's favorite destination diner for burgers and chili, tenderloins and brats, hand-cut French fries and from-scratch shakes and malts. Nearly everyone here is a regular customer. One veteran waitress gives me a motherly smile when I sit at the counter, telling me I look just like good old Dr. Schott, who recently died and who was a big fan of Igloo chili.

After only a few minutes in this place, it is apparent that both Rich and Chris relish their role as owner, host, ringmaster. When one waitress starts needling Chris about spending too much time kibbitzing with the clientele and not enough running the diner, he turns away from her and announces loud enough for all around to hear: "This is my back. And this is you off it!"

Order a tenderloin (here known simply as "a pork") and its standard complements are onion, pickle, and – are you ready? – ketchup. At first I was skeptical, considering mustard to be the de rigueur condiment, but I very much enjoyed the interplay of sweet and tangy. The loin itself is wavy, crisp, and quite thin, with enough meat to be juicy once you crunch through the crust.

Root beer is served in a frosty mug, but if you like milk shakes, that's the drink to get. "I guarantee that this is the best chocolate malt I have made all day," says Chris Decker when I order one at 11:30am. I reassure him that it is the best one I've drunk all day. In fact, it was the best I drank during a weeklong trip through the Illinois River Valley.
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Roadfood of the Day: Val's Burgers - Hayward, CA
Posted on Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Chili Dog

The chili dog, so evenly smothered with bean-laden chili that the cheese is nowhere to be seen. Real onion rings are in the basket.
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Posted by Michael Stern on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 1:51 PM

From cinnamon rolls at Gus Balon's to green corn waffles at Mother Hubbard's to huevos rancheros at Little Cafe Poca Cosa, Tucson is a formidable breakfast town. The arrival of Prep & Pastry adds one more excellent way to start the day. Located at the back of a little shopping plaza, with seating on a sunny patio or inside a country-French dining room with exposed beams and bare wood tables, this brash little eatery has a menu full of interesting and inventive meals.

The pork belly breakfast sandwich makes me swoon. A fresh artisan roll comes packed with a thick slab of braised pork belly that is like a cross between bacon and a pork chop, along with shaved apple, fennel, greens, and an over-easy egg. It is one big dish, more knife-and-fork food than wieldy sandwich. Another fine house specialty, available at lunch as well as breakfast, is duck confit hash: shreds of luxurious meat laced with shallots, spinach, and raisins, crowned with a fried egg and a doot of goat cheese mousse. It is gluten-free, as is sweet potato hash, a rainbow presentation that includes corn, asparagus, mushrooms, and leeks.

The menu offers four kinds of French toast – classic, berry compote, carrot cake, and s'mores – as well as biscuits and gravy, which is sausage and duck fat gravy smothering a vividly herbed cheddar biscuit.

We've yet to eat at Prep & Pastry for lunch, but look forward to the likes of bacon-wrapped meatloaf, a grilled cheese sandwich with mint cashew pesto, and a double-patty bacon Lucy with bacon, gruyere cheese, and egg on a brioche bun.

Note to tipplers: this is a wonderful place to know about if you like to drink before cocktail hour. One whole side of the menu is devoted to interesting adult beverages, including eleven different mimosas, wine, beer, effulgent bloody marys, and sangria by the glass or jar.
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