You are driving down the highway, hungry, looking for a good place to eat. Do you stop at the first diner or restaurant you come to or do you continue down the highway looking for a familiar chain restaurant? Driving through small-town America, are you willing to stop at a restaurant you see off the main road?
It has been said there is not a Dive out there that I’m not willing to try and regret later. If trying different restaurants was a baseball game, I’m batting 400. How do you know if a restaurant is a hidden gem if you don’t stop and give it a try? Firehouse Grill is one such place. If I had not ventured in, I would never learned that it is a hidden gem.
It is my mission to share the hidden gems I have found and steer people away from the places I swear I will never go back to. The Road Warriors amongst us know of places that they are willing to take a drive to go back to. Whether you stumble on a good place to eat while traveling or go to a restaurant because of word of mouth, these are the places that need be shared. The adventure is rolling the dice and trying new places.
I have to admit Jack’s was not on my radar when I went to California a couple of weeks ago. Even though I have been there countless times, I had other restaurants in mind prior to my arrival. What a pleasant surprised when the hotel I checked into was less than a block from Jack’s in Pleasant Hill. I tend to not promote a chain restaurant, in the case of Jack’s I’m not certain if you can call them a chain restaurant. Jack’s is family owned. When I was eating there on a regular basis, they had two restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, now they have four. Their web-site touts their dinner menu as Greek-American inspired. You will find everything from burgers to salmon on the menu.
Zucchini Cakes have to be one of my favorite appetizers. Jack’s Zucchini Cakes are made with feta cheese, tzatziki, and cucumber-tomato relish. Even though they are deep fried, they are surprisingly light. Jack’s has made it a little harder to share. They used to serve three cakes and now they serve two. Adding to my disappointment, they used to be a little larger. I chalk this up to inflation, trying to keep cost down. Even still, Zucchini cakes are an excellent way to start a meal.
I have a new favorite Fish and Chips. No need to find an Irish pub if you live within driving distance from Jack’s. The portion size was surprising. Jack’s serves three large fillets of Alaskan Cod dipped in their beer batter. The cod was light and flaky. They serve it with lemon and vinegar or tarter sauce. I found I didn’t need either. I’m not certain my picture does this meal justice, but their Fish and Chips now tops my list.
Given that Jack’s was so close, I actually ate their, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. One of my favorites in their salad section of their menu is their Crispy Buffalo Chicken Salad. There is no need for an appetizer. I’m certain you will not walk away hungry. The Buffalo Chicken has just enough heat for those of us that like it spicy. But it’s not too spicy, for those that can’t take the heat. I would highly recommend this for anyone who likes chicken wings and looking for a hearty lunch.
The French Toast breakfast was just ok. Nothing to write home about. Maybe it’s because I have been spoiled by restaurants back home. My first complaint was that the scrambled eggs did not seem fresh. They appear to come out of a premixed container. The French Toast was good, but they have served better. Brunch used to be more of an event at Jack’s. Now it is good, but if I still lived their, I would look for another breakfast spot. Don’t get me wrong, if you are looking for a family breakfast, Jack’s should be on the list.
With four locations in the San Francisco Bay Area, it should be easy to find a Jack’s to visit. I was impressed with the quality of the food and that they have kept the cost down. If I make another journey to the Bay Area, Jack’s will be on my list. Have you been to Jack’s? What is your opinion? Leave me a comment.
In planning my trip to California I had two or three restaurants I wanted to eat at. Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a number of years, I knew I wanted to visit some of my favorite haunts, schedule permitting. La Tapatia was at the top of my list. You can tell by the crowd whether a restaurant is serving authentic food or not. On the night I visited, more than half the diners were Latino. So then the question became, are they still as good as they was?
On the East Coast, I don’t see Chile Colorado on a lot of menu’s. Chile Colorado is one of my favorites when dining in a Mexican restaurant. So, my choice this evening was simple. I have probably had this dish more than 100 times. On this particular evening something was off. I couldn’t be certain if the chef was having a bad night or have they switched to lower quality meats. I realize inflation is hitting restaurants hard and they have been dealing with the increase in cost in various ways. I can’t say what the issue was here. The flavor was not bold, in fact the sauce seemed grainy. The meat was chewy and fatty. The highlight of the meal was the re-fried beans and rice. I will give them the benefit of the doubt and call it a bad night. I have too much history with this restaurant to judge them on one so-so meal.
La Tapatia Mexican Restaurant and Cantina has been a Concorde Staple for more than 20 years. If you are in the mood for authentic Mexican food, I would consider making the trek. They have been too good, for too long to judge them on this one meal. If you have eaten at La Tapatia or have a favorite Mexican restaurant, leave a comment.
A trip to the San Francisco Bay Area would not be complete without eating at my favorite Japanese restaurant, the Blue Gingko. Outside of Japan, the Blue Gingko is one of my favorite Japanese restaurants. It starts with the food. Blue Gingko imports food from the Tsukiji Market in Tokyo. It ends with tastes that will transport you to Japan.
Something unique to Blue Gingko is fried rice balls. Picture this, you pick up your Hashi, better known in the States as chopsticks, and you slice through the outer shell of a fried rice ball to find the soft inner body. This has to be one of my favorite ways to eat rice. The fried rice balls at Blue Gingko are served with an unagi sauce (Eel Sauce.) Unagi sauce is a thickened, sweetened soy sauce. For the squeamish amongst us, this sauce is not made from eels, it is a sauce that is traditionally served with grilled eel dishes in Japan.
Call me crazy, I actually went to Blue Gingko twice on this trip. Knowing that it will be a while until I go back to the Bay Area. On my second trip, I ordered Gyoza. This is one of my favorite appetizers. Blue Gingko has the right touch, they are deep fried to the point of having a light crunch and the pork is tender and flavorful. To complement the Gyoza it is served with a dipping sauce that is made of soy sauce and vinegar. After the unpleasant experience I had in Rochester, it was a pleasure eating their Gyoza.
As soon as I confirmed my trip back to the San Francisco Bay Area, I knew I was going to dine at least one night at Blue Gingko. There was also no doubt what I was going to order, Tonkatsu. You may ask yourself what is so special about a deep-fried pork tenderloin cutlet. Blue Gingko’s pork tenderloin is cut to the right portion size. They do not cut their pork tenderloin to thin. Cutting pork tenderloin to thin has a tendency to make it too dry. Theirs is tender and juicy. The panko crust has just enough seasoning to enhance the dish. Let’s not forget the Tonkatsu Sauce. Tonkatsu Sauce is a complex sauce made from fruits and vegetables, plus soy sauce, vinegar and no less than 10 spices. If you haven’t had Tonkatsu Sauce, it has a rich flavor with a slight tanginess. The Tonkatsu Sauce is what brings the dish together. Having eaten this dish in Japan, Blue Gingko’s tastes like it was transported straight from Japan.
When I want to change things up, I order Blue Gingko’s Teriyaki Chicken. Blue Gingko’s Teriyaki Chicken has a light, sweet teriyaki flavor. If you are watching your carbs, this dish may not be for you. I highly recommend this dish. The day I was eating dinner there, I heard another patron tell their dining partner, they only order Teriyaki Chicken when they eat there.
Blue Gingko is definitely a restaurant worth the drive if you live in the San Francisco Bay area or just visiting. Whether you are looking for sushi or want to try my favorite Tonkatsu, you should make plans to visit Blue Gingko in Lafayette, California. Have you been to Blue Gingko? Please feel free to leave a comment.
It took a couple of tries to finally eat Gallo Pizza, but it was well worth the wait. One of the keys of making a restaurant a destination worth driving to is word of mouth. I was talking to a friend one morning in a coffee shop, when he recommended Gallo Pizza. The first time I tried to go there, the restaurant was closed and family was vacationing in Italy. Then the other day I was in a shop talking with the owner of Dawg Gone Honey. I told her I was looking to eat lunch. She recommended Gallo Pizza. The cherry on top was she told me they were back from vacation.
I have been looking for a good Italian restaurant in the area for a while now. I have visited Italian restaurants that claim to be authentic; yet they seem to forget something as basic as seasoning. This is not the case with Gallo Pizza. I decided to try their Veal Parmesan. Even before I took that first bite, I was pleasantly surprised by the portion size. There was definitely enough for leftovers. I tried the spaghetti with marinara sauce first. The sauce is balanced, well season, not overly seasoned. It wasn’t watery. The Veal is hand pounded, lightly breaded, and deep fried. My first bite left me looking forward to my next bite. This is exactly what I was expecting. I mentioned leftovers. Not today.
Stuffed pizza, another Chicago original. You might ask, what is the difference between a Stromboli and a Stuffed Pizza. The biggest difference is the pizza sauce is not baked inside the Stromboli, it is normally served in a separate dish. My preference between the two is the Stuffed Pizza. I can’t really say what is my favorite style of pizza. If I had to decide whether to go to New York, the original home of pizza, or Chicago, I would most likely choose Chicago. I do enjoy a good slice, but in Chicago you have both Deep Dish and Stuffed Pizzas to choose from.
Gallo’s Stuffed Pizza is execeptionally good. I wouldn’t be surprised if each slice weighed a half of pound or more. No cheap ingredients here. The meat lover’s pizza featured here has Ham, Pepperoni, Salami, Sausage, Ground Beef, Bacon & Extra Cheese. They finish this pizza off with a light coat of garlic oil on the outer crust. Bite after bite, I could find nothing wrong with this pizza. Not all pizzas are created equal. Nothing worse than a restaurant using cheap tasteless toppings. This is not the issue here, Gallo’s Stuffed Pizza is one of the best in the area.
Gallo Pizza & Italian Restaurant is definitely a destination worth driving to. Just make sure you come hungry. Another plus is they are not over priced, so bring the family. Have you been to Gallo Pizza or have a favorite Pizza Restaurant, leave a comment.
You have seven hours to kill and you are 64 miles from Buffalo, what do you do? The answer is obvious, drive to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY. The Anchor Bar is the home of the Original Buffalo Wings. From their humble beginnings in 1964, Buffalo Wings can now be found in almost every corner of the World. We have Teressa Bellissimo and her son to thank for that.
One of my coworkers through down the challenge. He said since you travel to Rochester NY for business, why don’t you try the wings. Of course I had to research where Buffalo wings started. Then more importantly are they still in business. Discovering the Anchor Bar was the birth place of Buffalo wings, I made it my mission to visit the Anchor Bar and try the original wings.
Contrary to popular belief, not all wings are created equal. What separates the Anchor Bar’s wings from other bars and restaurants, is you can immediately tell they make them in house. the chicken is not overly processed. I chose the original flavor boneless wings for my taste test. The chunks of breast meat was tender and juicy. They were deep fried to a golden brown. As you can see in the picture, the wings were generously coated with their sauce. There is just enough heat for those that like their wings spicy. As you would expect, they have a selection of sauces that range from mild, to Jerk BBQ, original, to extreme. I’m certain you can find the flavor and heat level you are looking for.
What keeps you coming back to a bar or restaurant, is good food enough? In the case of Anchor Bar they are lacking in customer service. If you don’t mind being ignored by the hostess and figuring out on your own how to place an order, then the Anchor Bar is for you. Walking in I was struck by the unique decor. As a motorcycle fan, I was mesmerized by the classic motorcycles they have mounted on the wall. License plates from all over the country cover the walls, plus pictures of famous guest. So there is a certain uniqueness that you can entertain yourself with while being ignored. I have had bad service before, but not from the entire staff. I would hate to see how they behave when they are busy.
The bottom line; If you are traveling through the Buffalo NY area I wouldn’t dissuade you from trying the Anchor Bar. For myself, I have been there, done that. If you have visited the Anchor Bar please share your comments.
Word of mouth is one of the best ways to find new restaurants. My neighbor recommended the Dutch Country Restaurant in Hanover Pennsylvania. One thing I noticed about restaurants in this area, go early. In general I prefer to go early, so we had no problem getting a seat; but it didn’t take long to fill up. Dutch Country has an extensive menu. I would recommend looking at the menu on-line before you go. My neighbor had high praises for Dutch Country. It didn’t take long for me to realize the food here is really good.
Fresh Peaches on a waffle anyone! The special this morning was Fresh Peaches Waffle. No canned peaches here. No need for syrup. Dutch Country’s Fresh Peaches Waffle was good to the last bite. It says a lot for a restaurant that serves fresh, not from a can food. Under normal circumstances, the waffle would constitute a meal by itself, but we wanted to try several items on the menu.
I wasn’t certain where to begin when it came to their selection of omelets. I could have settled for my standard bacon omelet, instead I ordered on the Smoked Sausage Omelet, with cheddar cheese. I’m a huge fan of smoked meat in general; put it in an omelet with cheddar cheese, now you have won me over. Given a choice of toast or biscuit, I opted for their biscuit. Biscuits have a tendency to be dry, not the Dutch Country biscuits. There biscuits are buttery and flaky. A perfect compliment to the omelet and country potatoes.
Dutch Country’s Sunny Side Up Eggs with Fresh Sausage and Country Potatoes was completely appetizing. The Fresh Sausage is lighter in flavor, yet tasty. I would recommend this for a person who doesn’t like spicy food. I mentioned in the past I’m not a fan of Country Potatoes. To give an honest review I had to try them. The Country Potatoes looked and tasted good, you can tell one of the cooks sliced them fresh that morning. Their seasoning was just right.
I think it’s needless to say, Dutch Country Restaurant will become a regular stop. Word of mouth in this case was dead on. Next time I see my neighbor I will have to thank him. If you have been to Dutch Country Restaurant or have another favorite breakfast place, leave your comment below.
Gettysburger should be on every foodies list of places to visit. It shouldn’t be surprising that restaurant that specializes in hamburgers has really good burgers. Gettysburger Company in Gettysburg Pennsylvania seems to be a step above other Gourmet Burger joints.
Dry, no way. From my first bite of their Western Burger, juices from the burger flowed down my hand. Fortunately the waiter anticipated this and left me a stack of napkins. The combination of BBQ sauce and Cheddar cheese was not overpowering. The toppings complimented the burger. The 8oz patty is flavorful all on its own. Some restaurants make up for so so burger patties with condiments. This is not the case at Gettysburger. They have 17 different burgers on the menu, it may take you a minute to decide which burger to try first.
While you are trying to decide, try their wings as an appetizer. Pictured is their large wings. They could be considered a meal all by themselves. When selecting a sauce, I tend to go with hot or spicy. Their sauce was manageable, accept maybe for people that are sensitive to spicy food.
Gettysburger has a full menu of comfort food items, if you are not in the mood for a burger. Their Chicken Cordon Bleu sounds good, but so does the selection of wraps, if you are looking for something on the lighter side. Your kids might enjoy their Sidewinder Fries.
Gettysburger Company is one of those restaurants you will want to go back to, even if it is nothing more than trying the different burgers on their menu. When you are in the mood for a burger and don’t want a humdrum fast food burger, go to Gettysburger in Gettysburg, PA. If you have been to Gettysburger or have another favorite burger restaurant, leave me a comment in the comment section.
Talk about a pleasant accident. I was told about a family owned restaurant I had to try in New Oxford Pennsylvania. When I got there, the restaurant had a sign on the door saying they were closed for family vacation. Disappointed I looked around and saw C&D Bar and Grill. Not knowing what to expect, I discovered Fine dining in New Oxford.
C&D states on their website they are a casual fine dining restaurant. Looking at the menu, I was struck by the fine dining selections, but looking around the restaurant the clientele was families. Not exactly what I would expect at a fine dining establishment.
It is the little things that matter when you are eating at a restaurant that claims to be fine dining. The first thing I noticed was that they not only bake their own bread in house, but they also bake their own croutons for the salads. A simple salad can be an indication of how good a restaurant is. I chose a simple Caesar salad, but I saw on the menu, a Spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette or a Nicoise as fine dining options.
I don’t know that I have ever had a Filet Mignon that melted in your mouth. That was until I tried C&D’s Roquefort Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon. There is a powerful combination of the Roquefort Blue Cheese and Cabernet demi glaze followed by the melt in your mouth filet Mignon. The chef at C&D has mastered a powerful flavor explosion that comes in every bite. Given how satisfied I was with the filet Mignon, I am interested in going back to try their Blackened Sirloin and New York Strip. C&D has a full seafood selection. A dish worth trying is their Sesame Crusted Tuna, it has Asian leanings, with its stir fried vegetables, drizzled with a ginger soy sauce and sriracha aioli.
C&D has become one of my new favorite accidental discoveries. If the restaurant was open that I intended on visiting, I would have never discovered this gem. C&D puts their signature on every dish. Their Baklava is a fine way to finish a meal. Their twist is cinnamon sprinkled on top.
C&D Bar and Grill, in New Oxford Pennsylvania needs to be on your places to try. Whether it is date night or a family outing, you will not be disappointed. Have you been to C&D Bar and Grill; do you have a favorite steak and seafood restaurant, let me know in the comment section.
Almost every Mexican restaurant calls themselves authentic. El Rancho in Hanover Pennsylvania is truly an authentic Mexican restaurant. The food is fresh. The flavors are reminiscent of what I have eaten in Mexico.
Walking into El Rancho, the first thing I noticed was the clientele was predominantly Hispanic. Almost has soon as I was seated a Latino youth soccer team walked in. This was a positive sign that the food was going to be not only authentic, but good. I was schooled years ago on how to tell if an ethnic restaurant was authentic or not. To determine if a restaurant is authentic, just look at who is eating there. No Hispanics in a Mexican restaurant, it’s probably not authentic.
There is a theme when it comes to the food at El Rancho, “Fresh!” The Pico de gallo served with the chips was freshly prepared. Nothing out of a can here. I asked for spicy salsa on the side and was pleasantly surprised by the kick. Not a three alarm fire, but definitely hot. If you like spicy with flavor you can’t go wrong.
I must admit, looking at their menu there was plenty of meals I have never had, and some cases heard of. Looking at my Enchilada plate, I would be hard pressed to find another restaurant that serves their Enchiladas covered with fresh lettuce and dice tomatoes. Taking my first bite, I was pleasantly surprised at the many taste sensations I was experiencing. Most importantly, the flavor is excellent. There was nothing overpowering, you could taste each element.
The food at El Rancho Mexican Restaurant should get five stars. This is the first Mexican restaurant that I have eaten at on the East Coast that actually serves authentic food. Nothing out of a can here. If you miss the taste of authentic Mexican food, then El Rancho Mexican Restaurant in Hanover, PA should be your destination. If you have been to El Rancho or have a favorite Mexican restaurant, leave me your comments.
O’Lordans Irish Pub is one of those places that if you are in the area, you definitely want to stop and have lunch or dinner. Business brought me to the Westminster area so there was no doubt in my mind where I was heading this Friday afternoon for lunch.
According to their web-site, the building started life as a foundry in the late 1860’s. Since then it has housed may businesses. The Johannson family purchased and fully restored the building in 2005. O’Lordans has three separate eating areas, the bar area downstairs, the main dining area upstairs, along with balcony seating.
The first time I went to O’Lordans, the place was packed. On this trip they were just opening for lunch, so seating was not an issue. The question is, what is the draw of an Irish pub? I would say it is the patrons. The crowds are so vibrant. Then again in the case of O’Lordans Irish Pub, the food is also excellent.
O’Lordans serves your standard Irish fare. You can’t go wrong with their Corned Beef, served with a creamy parsley sauce. Then again, Bangers and Mash, Beef & Guinness Stew or Shepherds pie are always a crowd favorite.
Hands down they serve the best Fish and Chips in the area. I would even go as far to say, their Cod fillets are some of the best on the East Coast. Deep fried to a golden brown. The Cod is light and flaky. The portion is very generous; surprising in this post Covid era. The meal comes with tartar sauce. Tartar sauce is supposed to enhance the flavor of food. There are times I have used it to cover up the taste of the fish. Here at O’Lordans, tartar sauce is not needed. With the light flavor of the cod, tartar sauce can cover up what is a really a good bite.
Simply put O’Lordans Irish Pub should be at the top of your list of places to visit, especially if you like Irish food. The plus for me is some of the best Fish and Chips I have ever had. Let me know your thoughts below. Have you been to O’Lordans? Do you have a favorite Irish Pub?