Best of the Best

by Roadfood

Eat all Day

While it is possible to eat well for days (weeks, months!) just walking around New Orleans, a car provides access to some of NOLA’s more far-flung culinary highlights. The list below will take you around the city to our six favorite local restaurants that serve great food in and around the city.

Meals

  • Rocky and Carlo’s originally opened in 1965 and since then has survived hurricanes, floods and a devastating fire in 2012. Some of the fantastic items on the menu include a po boy sandwich, onion rings and a bowl of seafood gumbo. The standout dish is definitely the macaroni and cheese that is made from percatelli tubes and not the usual elbow noodles.
  • For anyone looking for good barbecue in New Orleans The Joint is the place to go. Although ribs are not fall off the bone tender, they are outstanding and in this case, the process of gnawing on the bone improves the meal. Also served are fantastic BBQ beans, and multiple sides including macaroni and cheese and a potato salad.
  • Although spaghetti and meatballs are served at Casamento’s, we recommend you order what they are known for best, seafood. Oysters served on the half shell are, of course, one of our favorite dishes. They also have an excellent oyster loaf. Be warned they are closed Monday through Wednesday and all of June, July and August.
  • Mosca’s is quite bland from outside, there isn’t anything special about the exterior of the building. However, the food served inside is some of the best Italian food we have had. Our favorite dishes were the “Spaghetti Bordelaise,” simply thin noodles with oil and butter, an oyster casserole called “Oysters Mosca,” and chicken saute called “Chicken a la Grande.” Everything is served family style so come with a group.

Sweet Treats

  • Located in the French quarter, Angelo Brocato sells what is possibly the best cannoli in the world. The filling isn’t injected into the cookie shell until after the treat has been ordered which allows it to maintain its flavor as well as texture. Also served is excellent gelato and baked Alaska, a cake like dessert that was first created when the United States acquired Alaska in the 1860’s.
  • It may be a surprise to some that the original shaved ice machine was invented in New Orleans by Hansen’s Sno-Bliz in 1939. After 69 years, the business is still serving excellent shaved ice with a texture that places it between that of sorbet and ice cream. When ordering your syrup, be sure to ask for condensed milk to be added on top to give the treat an extra creamy element.
Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

A Day in Knoxville

Exploring cities can be fun but finding where to eat in one is difficult. Follow this guide for a day of excellent eating. A delicious day in Knoxville must begin in the Old City at Olibea, a cutting edge cafe where the biscuits are fallapart fragile and the breakfast meat of choice is house-cured pork belly. It’s on to Litton’s for Thunder Road burgers and Italian cream cake, then sensational soul food at Chandler’s Deli, and a late-night BBQ blow-out at Sweet P’s Barbecue & Soul House.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

A Day in Portland

This single day tour will take you to a variety of restaurants and local eateries around the unique city of Portland, Oregon. The total drive time is a little over an hour long, however, the order at which you visit these restaurants is up for interpretation, so this time may vary. (The current order is set to match the video below.)

Do Not Miss These Donuts

  • Although classic donuts are offered at Voodoo Doughnut we recommend you don’t order them. The magic of Voodoo Doughnuts is their creations that are hard to find anywhere else. With menu items such as a cock & balls donut, a dirty snowball and a dirt donut, no concoction is off limits. Our favorite was the bacon-maple bar, a classic maple bar with two strips of bacon on top.
  • Unlike the location above, Annie’s Donut Shop does not offer any phallic shaped donuts. What they do offer is a multitude of fantastic classic donuts, including, glazed old fashioned, raspberry fritters and apple sauce donuts.

Full Meals

  • We consider the sausages from Otto’s Sausage Kitchen to be some of the best in the country. When they fire up their grill on the sidewalk, at 11:00 am every day of the week, the aroma fills the surrounding streets and is near impossible to resist.
  • Huber’s Café has been operating in downtown Portland for over a century. Originally opened as a men’s bar, the founders determined that serving a free turkey sandwich along with a beer would cause customers to order more beer and, in turn, help business. Although the turkey sandwiches are no longer free with a beer, they are still the staple on the menu. Also served is a notorious 151-proof flaming Spanish coffee.
  • Although crawfish is in the name, the standout dishes at Jake’s Famous Crawfish is almost anything but crawfish. They offer fish that is caught the day it is served, salmon that is a must-try, as well as oysters served on the half shell.
  • Allegedly invented by Louis Wachsmuth on a cold, winter day, the oyster stew served at Dan & Louis Ouster Bar is the made from oysters harvested from their own beds. They also, of course, serve oysters by the dozen on the half shell. Both are excellent dishes, we recommend an order of oysters along with the stew.

Pancakes in the House

The Original Pancake House is a nationwide franchise, every location that we have been to is just as good as the last. However, the original Original Pancake Hose, located in Portland, is better than the rest. Every single dish is made with ingredients so fresh that we believe the farm is somehow hidden behind the restaurant. There is not another restaurant that serves pancakes as good as this one.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Old School Pharmacy Lunch Counters and Diners – Green Chili Pizza and More

With 7 locations on and around Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, this list is perfect for anyone who may be passing through, or visiting Albuquerque.

  • Both a pharmacy and diner, Model Pharmacy has a large assortment of non-food related items that had Jane raving about their rarity. More importantly, there is a dining area in the back of the store that serves great cobbler, milk shakes and green chili stew.
  • Serving excellent huevos rancheros, homemade tortillas and their signature dish, the jumbo sweet roll, Frontier is perfect for any time of day. Which is good because it opens at 5 a.m. and closes after midnight.
  • It appears that 66 Diner has not changed since its construction, it still looks exactly like a classic American diner. Serving an assortment of burgers and milkshakes, our favorite dish was the $.99 “Teeny Weeny Sundae.”
  • The chicken-fried steak at The Standard Diner was incredible, by far the best we ever tried. Our server brought us a bowl of freshly made guava ice cream that was too good to resist.
  • No longer open 24 hours a day, Lindy’s Diner serves fantastic cinnamon rolls and breakfast burritos to go, making it worth a stop.
  • Although the all day breakfast served at Garcia’s Kitchen is tempting, it is required that your order the chicharrones if you go. They are basically cubes of bacon that are served warm and melt in you mouth.
  • Amazing baked goods and pizzas, including one with green chili crust, can be expected from Golden Crown Panadería, located a few blocks away from the main streets of Old Town Albuquerque.
Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

What Is Meat and Three?

A term used through much of the South but especially in Nashville, “meat and three” quite simply refers to a menu template that lists two to five entrees and one or two dozen side dishes.

How to Order

From these lists, a diner picks one entree and three sides. Among the sides will be vegetables, but also congealed salads, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti, and rice. Cornbread, hoe cakes, biscuits and/or dinner rolls are always provided on the side.

Other Styles

Variations include meat and two or meat and three without the meat, meaning an all‑vegetable plate of three or four selections. While it is possible for a meat and three meal to be simplicity itself — meat loaf with mashed potatoes, glazed carrots and butter beans — the list of side dishes likely includes a number of souped-up vegetable casseroles in which squash, broccoli or spinach is transformed into a luxurious indulgence by use of butter or margarine and bread crumbs; also, greens and cabbage tend to be enriched by massive infusions of pig in the form of fatback, country ham or neck bones.

Origin of Meat and Three

Although originally from the south, more specifically Nashville, Tennessee, meat and three can now be found at locations all around the United States. Below is a list of the 12 best meat and three locations that we have found. Although predominantly in the southern states, we have included locations in California and Washington DC that do the dish justice.

 

 

Best of the Best

by Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

The Pacific Coast Highway

Starting in Malibu, you can see the ocean throughout your drive. While Malibu is an upscale place, there are still opportunities to experience casual California beach eats at their best. Try some breakfast burritos from The Country Kitchen and fresh fish from Malibu Seafood, a shack still owned by fisherman. In Santa Monica the PCH crosses Route 66, and around the corner from the meeting of these two iconic American roads, you’ll find Cha Cha Chicken, a local favorite Caribbean beach shack.

Snacking in Venice

In famously funky Venice Beach, the best snacks are down the same alley right off the boardwalk. On the left you have the sensational salts of Wee Chippy and on the right the fried to order mini donuts of Zelda’s Corner.

Mexican Food, Indian Food and a Diner in Los Angeles

Passing the Marina and the LAX airport, you find yourself driving through the beach cities of Los Angeles’ South Bay. Sion’s Mexican Restaurant is delicious and downscale in Manhattan Beach, and right off the PHC. Down in Redondo Beach, great Indian and quirky dinner fare are available at Bollywood Zaika and Eat at Joe’s. Both line the last stretch of the highway, before the coast turns East towards Long Beach. This stretch of CA-1 takes you past some of California’s best beaches, picturesque coastal communities and great Roadfood.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Palm Springs – An Eater’s Oasis in the Desert

If you come on I-10 from the west, stop in Cabazon at Hadley’s Fruit Orchards (where trail mix was invented). Serving candy, milkshakes and an excellent Fluffernutter, Hadley’s is worth the stop. For hotter-than-hot sauce and great tacos go to Crazy Coyote Tacos.

From the East

Visit Shields Date Gardens in Indio for a date shake, date pancakes, and date ice cream. Also to the east, in Palm Desert, Mimmo’s Italian Restaurant and Bar serves memorable made-from-scratch Italian fare.

Cathedral City

Offering thirty-two hamburgers, eight sliders, and six chicken burgers, Tony’s Burgers is the place to go for an extremely well-dressed hamburger. Visit Salsas for a fantastic shrimp meal, grilled and served in creamy chipotle sauce, they are wonderful.

Proper City

We love Sherman’s Deli & Bakery for piled-high sandwiches and smoked fish; Frankinbun for artisan hot dogs; Felipe’s for blue-ribbon chilies rellenos and killer margaritas; Great Shakes for shakes and malts made to order; and Koffi for stylish caffeination along with beautiful pastries throughout the day.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Original Tomato Pies

Tomato Pies originally consisted of a piece of flatbread topped with crushed tomatoes, spice and maybe a few anchovies or a sprinkle of hard cheese.

Different in the South & Origin of American Pizza

Unlike their southern counterparts, which tend to be savory casseroles (as at Mary Mac’s Tea Room in Atlanta) or pastry cups (as at Grits & Groceries in Belton, South Carolina), tomato pies of the northeast are clearly members of the pizza family. In fact, they are arguably the foundations of American pizza, they were originally created in Italian neighborhood bakeries over a century ago when mozzarella was a luxury.

Where to Order One

Below is a list of five locations, on the east coast, that serve tomato pies just as they were when first invented. There may be other places that make them, but none pay homage to their ancestors like the pies at these local eateries.

  • Selling tomato pies by the slice, or the half sheet, 24 slices, Roma Sausage & Deli has two locations, both serving the same, classic, tomato pies. Be warned they are known to run out of food before closing!
  • Located in Fall River, Massachusetts, a slice of pizza, or square as they call it at Marzilli’s Bakery, is well worth the trip for anyone in the area looking for something to eat.
  • The coal-burning oven at Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut, never fails to turn out authentic tomato pies, just like the day it was opened by Frank Pepe in 1925.
  • Serving extremely thin and crisp crusted pies, De Lorenzo’s Tomato Pies in the suburbs of Robbinsville, New Jersey, has excellent pizzas and salads. Expect to wait for a table at this restaurant, it is always busy.
  • After moving to the boardwalk from its original location in the city, Maruca’s Tomato Pies has not altered their practice one bit. Serving giant slices of tomato pies, with a vibrant red spiral of tomato sauce, Maruca’s pies make any drive worth it.
Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

As breathtaking as a western sunset is, western breakfast can be every bit as beautiful. Sunrise never tasted better than it does at any one of these dozen eateries with big, bright personalities and hearty meals to match.

Washington and Oregon

Serving biscuits, waffles loaded down with fresh berries and butter, and some of the best huevos rancheros in the region, these first three locations in Washington and Oregon offer a variety of excellent dishes for breakfast.

  • Every dish comes with a side of attitude at Biscuit Bitch in Seattle, Washington. You can order a range of items, from a “Hot Messy Bitch,” a biscuit with gravy, eggs and garlic grits covered in cheese with a grilled hot link and jalapenos on the side, to a “Canadian Bitch,” a biscuit with maple peanut butter and bacon. Biscuit Bitch delivers first-rate breakfasts.
  • Eggs Benedict is a must-try dish at Glo’s in Capital Hill. Masterfully created, the dish includes smooth and buttery hollandaise with an option for smoked salmon, spinach and bacon, or Eggs California, served with avocado and grilled tomato.
  • We once got a tip that Wanda’s has “the best huevos rancheros you will ever eat.” Although they weren’t as good as some in the Southern states, they were the best within 1,000 miles of the location.

California

With a restaurant in Berkeley, Los Angeles and San Diego, this section of the list highlights the three absolute best breakfast locations in The Golden State.

  • Retro restaurants, diners in particular, often create the right ambiance but miss the mark when it comes to the food they serve. Bette’s Oceanview Diner breaks this trend with a multitude of dishes, most notably their rich, seasonal, buttermilk pancakes and waffles.
  • Open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Du-Par’s in Los Angeles never stops serving excellent diner food. From fluffy pancakes made for breakfast to comfort food such as chicken pot pie, there isn’t a time of day Du-Par’s isn’t fitting.
  • Although a variety of omelets are offered, the baked goods are what stand out at Cottage, an eclectic bakery in San Diego, California. Muffins made with a large array of ingredients, including apples, oatmeal and, of course, blueberries, fill the air outside the shop with unparalleled bakery smells.

Idaho, Nevada and Arizona

With excellent hash browns at two of the three locations in this section, surprisingly not in Idaho which produces over a third of the potatoes in the United States, these three excellent diners offer fresh food made in-house every day.

  • Located in Sin City, there are no short-cuts taken at Hash House. Just about everything is made in the restaurant, including sausages, biscuits, jam, jelly and of course the hash. The menu consists of a variety of different hashes, corned beef, roast beef, and chicken are a few of the delicious options.
  • Offering fantastic food, especially the fresh biscuits, the Hoot Owl Café is a genuine restaurant that opens its doors on Monday from 4 to 7 to operate as a community soup kitchen that is partly funded by a tip jar on the counter.
  • Serving the undisputed best breakfast in Phoenix, Arizona, Matt’s Big Breakfast is hard to beat anywhere in the country. The hash browns are wickedly crisp and cooked to a beautiful golden brown, while the bacon is extra-thick and peppered to perfection.

New Mexico and Texas

All offering multiple meals per day, these Mexican restaurants give the last three locations on our list a sense of unity. From huevos rancheros and French toast made with house-baked bread to a restaurant that doubles as a car wash, each one of these stops is a fantastic and unique restaurant located in the bottom of the United States.

  • With over 250 different vendors, Pasqual’s prides itself on making everything in house. Although they server three meals a day, breakfast is by far out favorite. Pasqual’s serves a variety of dishes including French toast, made from house-baked honey whole-wheat bread, and a fantastic tamale dulce, that is still wrapped in banana leaves when served.
  • Located in the heart of chili country, expect heat when you go to Nellie’s for breakfast or lunch. The huevos rancheros is served ranch style and comes with a side of refried beans and rice, perfect for the first meal of anyone’s day.
  • Serving huevos rancheros like we have never seen before, topped with gravy, onions and peppers, H&H Café & Car Wash doesn’t only offer great food, they offer a car washing service right in front of the windows. They also serve some of the finest chiles rellenos we have had.