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Firehouse Grill 2

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.

FH Int 3
Firehouse Grill Littlestown, PA

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. 

Anchor Bar

Since 1964, the home of the Original Buffalo Wings is the Anchor Bar in Buffalo NY.

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.

Anchor Bar Original Wings
Anchor Bar Original Buffalo 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.

Anchor Bar Interior
Anchor Bar

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.

Dutch Country Restaurant

Fresh Peaches not from a can, is just the start of the dinning experience.

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.

Dutch-Country-Peach-Waffle
Dutch Country Restaurant’s Fresh Peach Waffle

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.

Dutch-Country-Smoked-Sausage-Omlet
Dutch Country’s Smoked Sausage Omelet

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 Eggs and Sausage
Dutch Country Eggs Over Easy with Fresh Sausage

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

Not your just your run of the mill burger.

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.

Gettysburger Western
Gettysburger Western Burger

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.

C&D Bar and Grill

Melt in your mouth Filet Mignon awaits at C&D Bar and Grill.

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. 

C&D Filet Mignon 2
C&D Blue Cheese Filet Mignon

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.

El Rancho Mexican Restaurant

Step Across the Boarder in Hanover PA

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.

El Rancho Enchalados
El Rancho Enchiladas

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

O’Lordans Irish Pub serves up the best Fish and Chips in Westminster, MD.

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. 

OLordan Fish and Chips
O’Lordans Fish and Chips

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?

 

Dobbin House Tavern

The Dobbin House is fine dinning in Gettysburg, PA.

When asked what I wanted for my birthday, I said I wanted to go to the Dobbin House for dinner. I had read that the Dobbin House was the oldest home in Pennsylvania. The house was established by Alexander Dobbin in 1776. Today the house has been fully restored. According to their web-site, National Register of Historic Places states, “The Dobbin House is a colonial restaurant where candlelit elegance, superior food in abundance, and gracious service bring back the sights, sounds and tastes of two centuries ago.”

Dobbin House Interior
Dobbin House Dinning Area

Every room in the Dobbin house gives you the impression of elegance. Whether it is a night out with that special someone, or a celebration, the Dobbin House is the place to go. Each room is elegantly decorated, adding the ambience is the candles at each table. When you are finished or while waiting to dine, you can visit their museum and see how they played a part in the underground railroad.

Dobbin House Steak
New York Strip Steak

The Dobbin House menu is limited by design, with a selection of Steak, Seafood, and Poultry. It was hard to decide, with everything sounding delicious. We selected the New York Colony Strip Steak and the Fresh Catch of the Day which happened to be Salmon. The one thing that struck me as strange, when the bread was brought to the table, I was surprised to find lukewarm dinner rolls, that you can find in any supermarket. We have the impression they were heated in the microwave. I would have expected that they bake their own rolls. Aside from this my meal was OK. The steak was cooked to my preference of medium rare, it was seasoned just right. I have no real complaints. At the same time, I have had better steak at chain restaurants.

Dobbin House Salmon
Dobbin House Salmon

The Salmon on the other hand was under seasoned. It is a major turn off when a person has to reach for the salt, to add seasoning to a dish. The Salmon was underwhelming. It just didn’t say fine dining. Eatable yes, fine dining, no. A standout of the meal was the soup of the day. For this evening’s meal, they were serving a corn crab soup. Definitely worth trying.

Dobbin House Bar
Spring House Tavern Bar

If you looking for a special night out, the Dobbin House should be on your list of places to try. There were some challenges, especially if you have experienced fine dining. For myself, I will be heading back because I want to try the fare at the Spring House Tavern. The Spring House Tavern is an underground bar that is part of the Dobbin House. Their lunch menu says must try. Let me know your thoughts below. Have you been to the Dobbin House?

Hub City Diner

The spark for this trip came from listening to Fox and Friends. They went to the Hub City Diner in Hagerstown Maryland for a segment they call Breakfast with Friends. So the question becomes, what was the host raving about when it comes to Hub  City Diner, is the food really as good as they say it is? I decided to drive the long route there, which took me through a section of Maryland and Pennsylvania I have never seen. I was captivated by rural Maryland and the beauty of the rolling corn fields. The drive definitely help set my expectations for my breakfast to come.

Deep Fried French Toast
Deep Fried French Toast, Hub City Diner

Deep Fried French Toast! With my love of French Toast, I had to try it. Deep Fried anything has to be good, right? To complete my breakfast I ordered scrambled eggs and bacon on the side. I have spoken in the past about eating with your eyes, so when my breakfast arrived, I wasn’t overly impress. I give them an ‘E’ for effort when it came to plating. Still my hope was bite into the French Toast and have a crispy exterior with a moist, tender center. Unfortunately, it was OK, but not to my expectation. For the most part the French Toast was dry. Honestly, cooking the French Toast the standard method might have made it more appetizing.

Scrabbles eggs, so easy to prepare, so hard to screw up. That is unless you serve them cold. Enough said. The best part of my meal was the peppered bacon. The bacon was cooked just right. I like bacon on the thicker side. Their bacon was just that, plus it wasn’t over cooked or dripping with grease. It was a pleasure to eat and saved breakfast for me.

In the case of Hub City Diner it was the drive not the destination. Was I led astray by Fox and Friends, I don’t know. Hub City Diner could have put on one hell of a show and then went back to their standard way of doing business. Having one meal is not the best way to past judgement, but I will not return for a second. I say this because I saw what the other diners were being served and nothing said to me you have to come back and try that.  I leave it up to you whether you want to visit Hub City Diner or not.

Dinosaur BBQ

The Dinosaur BBQ located in Rochester, NY  is the real deal.

On my last trip to Rochester NY, I was told about the Dinosaur BBQ . Given my love of BBQ, I knew on my next trip to Rochester, this is where I was going to eat. I even arranged my flight to ensure I had enough time to go out and eat after arrival.

When you are going to a BBQ what is the first thing that catches your attention when you arrive? For me it is the smoke filled air from BBQ’s preparing mouth watering meats. If you weren’t hungry, you soon will be. Walking up to the Dinosaur BBQ  the first thing that caught my attention was the smell of hardwood smoke in the air. My expectation of good food was starting to soar.

Dinosaur BBQ Sampler Plate
Sampler Plate Dinosaur BBQ, Rochester NY

Given this was my first time at the Dinosaur BBQ, I chose the sampler plate to get an overall impression of Dinosaur BBQ’s food. Of the choices I went with pulled pork, spicy hot link, and St Louis ribs. Along with my meat choices I selected grill Cajun corn and mashed potatoes. The sides are an important part of the Dinosaur BBQ meal experience. They were a perfect compliment to my selection. The Cajun corn was good, but the brown gravy on the mash potatoes was something else. Not all brown gravy is equal. Dinosaur BBQ’s brown gravy is thick, with a deep rich flavor. Needless to say I cleaned the dish!

The pulled pork and spicy hot link were good, but the star was the St Louis ribs. When you eat smoked meat, you should see the smoke ring where the smoke as penetrated the meat. The meat on the ribs was smoked all the way to the bone. The pork was literally falling off the bones. Dinosaur BBQ smokes the ribs with a dry rub and then serves them lightly glazed with their own BBQ sauce. From the first bite you taste elements of the smokey flavor, chased by a tangy after taste. If I knew how good the ribs were going to be, I would have skipped the sampler plate and ordered a half rack of ribs. The next time I’m in Rochester NY, I want to go back to the Dinosaur BBQ and try their West Texas center cut Rib-Eye Steak. I just don’t know whether I want to go with Habanero Cook’s Butter, Bourbon Molasses Steak Sauce. We will see when the time comes.

Dinosaur BBQ Bar
Dinosaur BBQ Bar Area

The Dinosaur BBQ  is the real deal. If you have a hankering for BBQ, this is definitely a destination worth driving too. There are two considerations when deciding to go to the Dinosaur BBQ; first parking at best sucks, and second, expect to wait to be seated. I went on a Tuesday night at 7:30 and there was a 30 minute wait, unless you wanted to eat in the bar. My recommendation, go early and map places to park. But, definitely go!

 

Garryowen Irish Pub

Garryowen is a traditional Irish pub in Gettysburg, PA. Enter Garryowen hungry, leave satisfied.

Here’s the challenge: Close your eyes, picture what an Irish pub looks like, then walk into Garryowen. Look around and take in the atmosphere, I would argue with anyone that Garryowen is a traditional Irish pub.  According to their website, Garryowen is reminiscent of Irish pubs back in the old country.

Garryowen bar 2
Garryowen Bar Gettysburg PA

 With what appears to be plenty of seating, you can expect to wait at least 15 minutes or more on any given night to be seated. This has a lot to say about the popularity of this establishment. Having dined in Garryowen on several occasions, they are well worth the wait. Once you are seated you can expect first class service.

Ulster Fry 2
Garryowen Ulster Fry

Shepherd’s Pie, Bangers and Mash, and Fish and Chips are dishes you would expect to find on any Irish Pub’s menu. If this is what you are hungry for, Garryowen will not disappoint. As you are reading down the menu you  will come across Ulster Fry. Traditionally Ulster Fry is served as breakfast in  Ireland. Garryowen’s Ulster Fry is served with grilled Irish bacon, sausages, black and white pudding, fried egg, grilled tomato, and house-made soda bread. What I found unique about the meal is the black and white pudding. Here in the states, when you think about pudding, you think about a sweet dessert. In England, Scotland, and Ireland, puddings are predominantly savory. The black and white pudding served at Garryowen, is best described as a tasty sausage dish.

Garryowen Meatloaf
Garryowen Meatloaf

If you are not certain about Garryowen traditional Irish fare, then try their meatloaf. Their meatloaf is served with a Smokey Honey BBQ sauce. I say it is good to the last bite. I would also recommend their Reuben sandwich for lunch. I can’t say enough about the meals I have had at Garryowen. 

There is no way I can talk about Garryowen without mentioning the selection of 120 + Irish whiskies, plus Ireland’s draft beers. They advertise the perfect pour of Guinness. I have to confess, I am not a fan of Guinness. But, they do have my favorite Danish beer on tap, Carlsberg.

Enter Garryowen  hungry, leave satisfied. When I’m in the mood to eat out, Garryowen is at the top of my list of restaurants that immediately come to mind. What makes Garryowen a place that ends up on Road Warrior Dining; of course its the good ole fashion Irish food. Then again, the selection of 120 Irish whiskies helps.