December 6, 2010
As I mentioned in last week's post, I took a full week to drive home to New York after spending Thanksgiving with my family in Indiana. The drive took me from the Midwest through the Ohio River Valley and the central Appalachians. It was a very un-planned, follow-my-nose kind of road trip (the best kind if you ask me), and so rather than planning ahead where I'd eat I trusted to luck. That meant some less than memorable meals, but there were also more than a few delightful finds. Here are some favorites: Margie's Southern Cafť and Bed and Breakfast, Maysville, Kentucky A sign in the window advertised a special of chicken and dumplings, and on a cold December day it sounded like just the thing. And so it was: hearty, flour-thickened chicken stew with fresh noodle-like dumplings. It was served with a side plate of mashed potatoes and gravy, some salty braised spinach, a cornbread muffin and a salad. I was sure I'd never finish all that food, but it was so good I managed to do so. The inside of Margie's is unassuming and homey, a place where locals drop in for lunch and some gossip as Margie takes orders and runs the cash register. As I was leaving I saw her slicing a very homemade-looking cake on a pedestal plate. I wished I'd saved room for a slice. Griffith and Feil Old Fashioned Soda Fountain, Kenova, West Virginia In 2004, Ricky Griffith, who'd taken over his family's drug store, restored the soda fountain that had been removed in the 1950s. The shop now makes all its own sodas, or "phosphates" as the menu lists them, and from them makes ice cream sodas and floats. They also offer banana splits and sundaes, burgers and fries, onion rings, Philly steak sandwiches and "The Appalachian," a sandwich made with onions and a fried thick slice of bologna. The shop's interior boasts a beautiful tin ceiling, a jukebox, memorabelia of West Virginia history, alongside a fully stocked drug store and pharmacy. It's a real 1950s throwback with loads of charm. The cherry soda - vanilla ice cream float pictured above was a highlight of my trip. Curtis' Famous Weiners, Cumberland, Maryland A terrific hot dog stand known locally for its chili sauce, Curtis' has been in business for over 90 years. They serve their dogs topped with finely minced onions in soft buns that soak up the savory sauce. Get two. By no means is this a survey of the best local food to be found between Fort Wayne and Brooklyn. It's just the results of my own serendipitous discoveries in towns I happened to be passing through while hungry. I'm certain I missed any number of fun, unique local eateries along the way. I look forward to discovering them on my next road trip!
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