Everyone has their favorite places to dine, and reviews mean little or nothing if the diner is happy with the food and service. I tend to be one of those people who will try a place once to give it a chance, and I make my own review of the place. Sometimes I’m wrong. Sometimes I’m very wrong. And sometimes…well…
Local hot spots are often a good place to stop for something to eat. If there is a line out front of a place, I make a note of it and will return when the line is much shorter. Yesterday I had lunch at one of those places.
This eatery has a great location across the street from the beach in a small town a few miles down the coast from where I live. Every time I drive by people are lined up at both the take-out window and on benches waiting for a table inside. But today the line to get in was very short, and I chose to stop to find out about the place.
Wow. I received my plates of neutral colors, and overlapping stuff, and thought, “I hope it tastes better than it looks.” It didn’t. It tasted worse. Much worse. I looked around and saw people really digging in—and they seemed to be happy about it. What am I missing here? They had the same stuff I had. I took another bite. It still tasted bad.
I started to complain, but after thinking about it, I decided to have it boxed up to go. After leaving, I dumped it into the nearest trash bin. It was the right thing to do. Now if I could just get rid of the gas it gave me without causing damage to something nearby.
I’ve eaten at some interesting places over the years. On Galveston Island in the early ‘70’s there was a pizza place that guaranteed your pizza in 10 minutes or less, whether it was done or not. A place in Wyoming offered your meal free if you could guess what type of meat was on your plate. A place in Alabama offered a big discount if you could eat the meat on your plate.
Throughout the south I stopped at barbeque joints with screen doors hanging from one hinge, and luxury cars parked all around. One place had security guards letting people in, but I noticed no one was leaving. I drove on. Another place had a big pen full of fat hogs outside the kitchen door. I drove on. But I stopped at many of these “off the main road” places over the years and was never disappointed. Some places were better than others, but I was never disappointed. Barbeque is well understood in the South.
A deli in Brooklyn (or was it in the Bronx?) served me a huge sandwich with a pickle. I asked if I could have two pickles, and the server just reached over with a knife and split my pickle in half lengthwise. Well, now I had two pickles, and one superb sandwich.
An Italian restaurant in the Bronx (or was it in Brooklyn?) served what they wanted to serve. No menu. No requests. When leaving, the man in a dark suit seated on a high stool by the door told you what you were going to pay for your meal. Believe me, you paid the price. But it was worth it, and I returned several times.
There is a steak restaurant northeast of Phoenix where ties are forbidden. If you wear one in, the server will produce a pair of scissors and cut it off. Then your tie will be nailed to a wall for everyone to see. The steaks are great, but don’t wear a tie.
In my youth there was a Mexican food buffet in my hometown that served “All You Can Stand for $1.79.” I ate there many times until I realized I couldn’t stand it anymore. The words “Mexican” and “Food Buffet” should never be used in the same sentence.
Shortly after getting married, my wife and I moved into a trailer park in an older part of town. Money was tight, and it was close to work, so it worked for us. A major highway ran along the edge of the park, and across the highway was a small pizza and pasta joint. (Did I say ‘joint?’ I meant ‘restaurant.’) The nearest corner to cross the highway was several hundred yards away, so running across the middle of the busy highway was the norm if we wanted pizza.
All too often we would make the crossing for pizza and a pitcher of beer. Actually the pizza was pretty good, and we would sit and eat and talk and drink a bit too much beer. At least we weren’t driving; however, there was a highway to cross. The only reason I’m here today to write about this is because we finally came to our senses and moved away. But I still miss that pizza.