They aren’t pretty…they aren’t fancy…they aren’t expensive. They are unsophisticated…unpretentious…and unlikely to get any Michelin stars. They are restaurants where china, crystal and silver are supplanted by paper, plastic and stainless.
They are also restaurants that get their fair share of notoriety on TV shows and in the movies. And, for some reason unbeknownst to me, I seem to end up at many of the same places as do the cameras of movie makers and those of Guy Fieri’s TV show “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”.
|GUY FIERI LEAVES HIS MARK WHERE HIS MOUTH IS|
Once you have chowed down on their house specialties, these unconventional eateries will remain on your go-to list whenever you happen to be in their neighborhood. So, don your jeans, tie a bib around your neck and head out for some low-maintenance culinary treats.
BLUE ASH CHILI: A Cincinnati, Ohio institution since 1969, Blue Ash Chili dishes up the ultimate chili challenge dubbed “NO FREAKIN’ WAY”. Humongous portions of spaghetti, chili and Cheddar cheese, framed with deep-fried jalapeno caps, are piled together to create an 8-pound masterpiece that causes onlookers to gasp “NO FREAKIN’ WAY”.
|NO FREAKIN’ WAY...8 POUNDS OF CHILI HEAVEN|
If you clean your plate in 60 minutes your meal is free and you’ll receive a free T-shirt that reads: “NO FREAKIN’ WAY…WILL YOU BELIEVE WHAT I JUST ATE. They will also add your picture to their Facebook Hall of Fame. However, if you fail to finish every single morsel on the platter within 60 minutes, you’ll be added to their Wall of Shame and you will owe them $39.99.”
WILL YOU BELIEVE WHAT I JUST ATE
So, if you are wondering If I cleaned the plate all by myself in 60 minutes, there can only be one honest answer…NO FREAKIN’ WAY!
THE APPLE PAN: This Los Angeles landmark is my first stop for comfort food whenever I’m in LaLa Land. The Apple Pan is an anything-but-glamorous, circa 1947 eatery with its original U-shaped counter (no tables), original 26 red naugahyde stools, brick and plaid walls and the original cash register. Even the family ownership is original.
|THE APPLE PAN’S TRADITIONAL BRICK AND PLAID WALLS|
The only things that have changed at the Apple Pan since the 1940s are the prices. But you can still indulge on a fabulous high cholesterol quarter-pound steakburger, a platter of sinfully good French Fries, and a mega-caloric slice of fantastic fresh Apple Pie. At lunchtime, get there before noon because the wait can be 3-deep around the counter.
|THE APPLE PAN ON W. PICO BLVD.|
DOUMAR’S: This Norfolk, Virginia hole-in-the-wall serves up mouth-watering barbeque sandwiches and ice cream cones at its Hampton Road landmark diner. It also comes complete with curbside service and carhops.
DOUMAR’S...A NORFOLK LANDMARK
Doumar’s is the home of the original waffle ice cream cone and their handmade waffle cones are rolled right in front of your eyes on the original four-iron waffle machine built in 1904.
|WORLD’S FIRST CONE MACHINE AT DOUMARS|
RICK’S WHITE LIGHT DINER: PO-BOYS are a must-try at Rick’s White Light Diner located in the Frankfort, Kentucky Historic District. There’s the Scallop Po-Boy, the Shrimp Po-Boy, the Cajun Andouille Sausage Po-Boy, the Alligator Po-Boy and the Oyster Po-Boy. I couldn’t try them all, but as the saying goes: “You pays your money and you takes your choice”.
|OYSTER PO-BOY AT RICK’S|
Rick’s White Light Diner is small, offbeat and quirky. It is also good eating and fun! In his kitschy, memorabilia-decorated diner, chef/owner Rick Paul has captured the spirit of popular Cajun and Creole dishes.
|RICK’S WHITE LIGHT DINER|
IN-N-OUT: In 1948, Harry Snyder introduced California’s first drive-thru hamburger stand in a space barely 10 feet square at Baldwin Park in Los Angeles, California. The introduction of his unique two-way speaker box let In-N-Out offer true drive-thru service. Six years later, the original “No Delay” sign was replaced by the iconic In-N-Out arrow.
|THE ICONIC ARROW SIGN “POINTS TO PRIDE”|
In 1961, the “Animal Style” burger was
created from mustard-cooked beef patty and a choice of hand-leafed lettuce and
tomato, plus pickle, extra spread and grilled onions. The In-N-Out “Animal Style” burger
is one of In-N-Out Burger's most popular "secret menu" items.
But be prepared, eating an Animal Style burger can get a bit sloppy.
|IN-N-OUT IS HOME OF THE “ANIMAL STYLE” BURGER|
And don’t forget to order one of their fabulous chocolate, strawberry or vanilla milkshakes. If you just can't decide which flavor milkshake you want, order an In-N-Out Neapolitan Milkshake also on their “secret menu”. It’s a milkshake that has been blended with all three flavors!
PINK’S HOT DOGS: This Hollywood eatery, founded by Paul and Betty Pink in 1939 as a pushcart near the corner of La Brea and Melrose, is a Hollywood love story where a $50 loan became a Hollywood legend. The city fell in love with Pink’s tasty chilidogs and friendly service, and 79 years later, Pink's has become a Hollywood landmark. Whereas the Pinks were lucky to sell 100 hot dogs a day from their perambulator cart, today’s number exceeds 2000 hot dogs and 200 hamburgers a day. Their celebrity-named hot dogs are often versions actually ordered by their namesakes who love to eat there. Featured in movies and TV shows, this family-run success story may well be the most famous hot dog stand in the country…it certainly is that in Los Angeles.
Pink’s is often referred to as “A Hollywood Legend Since 1939” but the Pink family likes to say: “We are the little hot dog stand that could.”
STEINBERG is the winner of 43 national Travel Writer Awards. She is also a Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Cincinnati, Ohio