It's time for Made of Win Monday, where I feature simple things that rock.
I love to eat and consider myself a bit of a foodie, so one of my favorite things to do is go out to eat at a restaurant. But much of the time, the most obvious choices are the big name corporate restaurants that are ubiquitous in every decent sized city in America. And sure, the food at many of those places can be good--in that generic, this-taste-the-same-at-all-300-of-our-locations kind of way. But it also is usually kind of...soulless.
I grew up in New Orleans, arguably one of the best food cities in the country. And I can tell you that the tastiest eats in town are always at the dives. You walk in and the place looks like it hasn't been updated in three decades. On the tables, rolls of paper towels and two kinds of hot sauce (Crystal and Tabasco) and not much else. The people? They'll call you baby or cher (pronounced "sha" for you non-Cajuns) and treat you like you're long lost family. Then they'll serve you food so good, it'll knock you right off that picnic bench they're using for chairs. It's amazing.
Want the best shrimp po-boy in New Orleans? You can find it at Danny and Clyde's which is...a gas station. Yep. Get your tank and belly filled at the same time. Oh, and the shrimp are fresh from the Gulf and that French bread is fresh baked. Cost? 4.99 I still dream of those sandwiches. Texas, I love you for your Mexican food, but damn you don't know what to do with shrimp.
And though New Orleans is always doing its own thing, every city around the world has its own gems. Those little hole in the wall restaurants that serve real food made from recipes handed down through generations. No pretensions. No apologies. Just damn good food.
Hubs and I found one this weekend in our neck of the woods. This place looked like even its better days had seen better days, but oh my did they have a Chicago-style Italian beef sandwich that made me want to weep. I'm hungry just thinking about it. But it's totally a place you would pass a thousand times and never think to go in. It's in a questionable area (what real estate agents would call a "transitional neighborhood") and is tucked away in the corner where you barely can see a sign. But the people were super nice and the food was awesome.
So next time you want to go out and eat, try looking past the bright neon signs of the big restaurants and look for the places that have been around a while. If they've been there long enough to look that dive-y, there's probably a reason.
So how about you? Do you have any dives in your town that serve five-star food? What's the best thing you ever ate at at dive?
**Also, just FYI, I'm giving away a copy of CRASH INTO YOU today over at the Bandit Creek blog. I'm also talking about my big secret. ;) Would love if you stopped by.**