As promised, here's part two, numbers 1-5:
1. Pappadeaux. Austin, TX. This was a blowout feast, except in this case we blew our wad here within 30 minutes of arriving in Austin for SXSW. We spent the trip there making big plans to splurge at whatever advertised 8-star steakhouse had the best pull quotes in the in-flight magazine. But this place was next to our hotel on the interstate, it was late, and we were tired and hungry. It’s probably not actually the best seafood on the planet, but for one shining moment in time, it was. Best service on this list though, by a country mile, especially considering we strolled in 5 minutes before they closed. On the other side of the Doubletree this place flanks is sister restaurant Pappacito's, where your jaded high school-aged server will simultaneously make your guacamole at your table and talk shit on everything on the menu.
3. Bob Sykes Barbeque. Bessemer, AL. It was an accident. Driving out of Birmingham, we took the last exit with any sign of civilization, looking for a billboard-promised KFC. But then this inviting 50’s-era BBQ hut with a giant pig on top popped up. Turns out this is one of those places that always gets written up in all those books on roadside diners. Pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw on it, fried okra, collard greens, lemon meringue pie, sweet tea, etc.
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Best Taco Bell: Ontario, OR, at Highway 30 and Interstate 84. Even though it was 5 minutes before closing, everything we ordered was exactly as pictured on the menu. Flawless.
Best CFS: Breakfast King, Denver (see above). Although Cracker Barrel does have a good'n too.
Best shrimp 'n' grits: the high-end G. Michael's, Columbus, Ohio, just edging out Atlanta's Flying Biscuit (aka the Flying Beaver, as it's owned by one of the Indigo Girls or something like that)
|Sollys Hot Tamales|
Tria, Philadelphia. Fancy shit, like wines and what-not.
Fife Restaurant, Birmingham. Die of breakfast.
Bison Witches, Tucson. Say it fast 5 times. Buy sandwiches.
Welcome Diner. Phoenix, AZ. Painfully adorable.
Sollys Hot Tamales. Vicksburg, MS. You can get tamales in the southwest, or you can get a different brand in the Delta - cigar-thin, wax paper-wrapped sodium bombs. Started by a hobo in 1939.