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Vienna IL: Dairy Queen

I stopped by Dairy Queen on the road for a rest and a treat. Suburbanites think of Dairy Queen as a low key, friendly place for kids and families. In small towns like Vienna, the Dairy Queen is an important gathering place. Even very small towns can support a Dairy Queen, which is less expensive than some other franchises. It becomes a regular spot and a place to see your neighbors. You can eat a complete meal there. And the ice cream is pretty good, too.
Recent posts

Monteagle TN: Smokehouse

Years ago, Chicago gangsters on their way to Florida vacations stopped at Monteagle. That was before the Smokehouse's time but it is a mainstay of Monteagle hospitality. Their lunch buffet is large and tasty. I really enjoyed their pork shoulder. Their beef stew/soup is hidden in the corner but it is a must-try: filled with umami, tender, rich with root vegetable tastes. I have never had the chance to hear their evening music programs. I need to make that trip a priority. This seems to be a great place to hear top-notch country music in an intimate setting.

Avondale Estates: Good Karma Coffee House and Gluten Free Dairy

Good Karma is tucked away in always charming Avondale Estates. I stopped in for coffee but I was very impressed by their bakery operation. They have a very strong vegan menu. They also serve full breakfast and lunch items, such as scrambles. This case of baked goods is all vegan and they all look great. Doing vegan baking well requires skill. True vegan food is hard to find at restaurants and a resource like Good Karma is a treat for people who eat vegan.

Decatur GA: La Calavera

La Calavera is a small, very good bakery near the Avondale MARTA station. I saw a great selection of baked goods, both sweet and utility breads. I really enjoyed my blueberry empanada. The cornmeal gave the fruit a wonderful, unexpected pop.

SJC: Tres Gringos

San Jose's airport has a small, crowded terminal. The restaurant options are a little limited and the space within each restaurant is crowded. I needed something to eat before my flight. Given the constraints, Tres Gringos did a good job. The atmosphere was hectic, as is typical for airport restaurants, but the bartender did a good job juggling everyone. My salad was fresh and a good mix of flavors. I was grateful for my meal.

San Carlos CA: Iron Gate

Graham and Alexis introduced me to a wonderful, old-style steak restaurant in San Carlos, the Iron Gate. Its roots go back both to fine Continental dining and an earlier, less hectic California. The meal started, of course, with excellent bread. Our appetizers were classic: oysters rockefeller, escargot, and stuffed zucchini florets. My florets were rich with seafood and a great blend of textures. A quick palate cleansing prepared us for the main course. Alexis and I both ordered flamed steaks, which brought out the flambe table. The show was spectacular and our server very charming. My steak au poivre was superb. The flamed sauce was smooth, meaty, and creamy, with a touch of pepper. We ended with souffles. My chocolate version was perfectly executed and downright decadent. The chocolate sauce was smooth and rich, perfectly complementing the souffle interior.

Belmont CA: Pilgrim Kitchen Bakery and Donut Shoppe

I stopped by Pilgrim Kitchen for a refreshing treat. It is hidden away on the east side of El Camino, just over a hilltop making it easy to miss. The vibe is old fashioned, which I find very welcoming and grinding. The owner was very nice. They have a great selection of donuts. The buttermilk bar was tempting but I went away with an apple turnover. It was quite good: flaky pastry, fruity filling.