Saturday, October 20, 2007

Billau's Restaurant Reviews (good food I've had on the road)

I’ve been with 13 ABC for over six years now and my job has allowed me to travel quite a bit. One of my favorite things about traveling out of Toledo, aside from working a story from a new location, is being able to try cuisine from new establishments. I’ve wanted to write a blog like this for a while. I’ve been able to eat this great food and I want to let Toledoans know about these places, so that if they ever travel to these areas, they might have an idea of what is out there besides the same old chain restaurants. Please note these recommendations in no way represent the beliefs 13 ABC, rather a hungry photographer’s favorite places to grab a bite to eat.

Just so you know where I stand, I’ll start with my favorite Toledo eateries.

THE BERUIT (Toledo, Ohio)
My all-time favorite restaurant. It’s one of those places where I don’t need to look at the menu. I really should look at the menu to try something different. I tell myself I’m going to order something different each time I go in. I don’t. Kabob and Such with an order of Baked Artichoke Hearts for an appetizer. Just in case you didn’t know, this is also Jamie Farr’s favorite restaurant.

MANCY’S (Toledo, Ohio)
Yes they’ve appeared on our Restaurant Report Card, but that won’t keep me from going there. Simply, I haven’t had steak better than the one I can get at Mancy’s.

TONY PACKO’S (Toledo, Ohio)
A Toledo tradition. I probably eat at Packo’s a couple times a month. Packo’s is great for a quick work lunch (the Front Street location is still my favorite), or dinner with my wife. I’ve had just about everything on their menu and I’ve never been unhappy with any of it. I used to smuggle their original pickles down to school in Savannah for my roommates. They still get them through mail order today.

RUDY’S HOT DOG (Toledo, Ohio)
Great chili cheese dogs. Good homemade soup. This is was non-franchise fast food is all about.

John Weber’s Good Food of Wauseon, OH, is probably the restaurant that broke me out of the fast food/chain restaurant for on the road dining. I first stopped there with Kristian Brown about four years ago. We were working a story about a smoking ban in Wauseon and we needed some dinner. It was a Wednesday night and Weber’s was serving a fried chicken buffet with homemade mashed potatoes and gravy. I can’t tell you how good it was. I can’t tell you how surprised I was. This tiny little restaurant in Wauseon had some of the best comfort food I’ve ever had. The people of Wauseon already know about this place, it’s time the rest of Northwest Ohio do as well.

Port Clinton’s Jolly Roger is where to go in P.C. for fresh fish. Every time I'm in the Port, I try to find a way to get there. You can’t go wrong with a perch or walleye platter.

MRS. WILKES’ (Savannah, Georgia)
I spent four years in Savannah. I can’t write this without adding some of my favorite eateries from college. Mrs. Wilkes’ is a family style restaurant specializing in southern home-style cuisine. If you’re ever in Savannah, this restaurant is a must. It’s tucked away on a little side street, but all you have to do is look for the line of people on the sidewalk waiting to get in. Seating is limited and so are the hours. Check out their website for hours of operation and how to find it.

VINNIE VAN GO GO’S (Savannah, Georgia)
Pizza by the slice. Ice cold pitchers of beer. Outdoor dining in Savannah. Many college nights were spent in Savannah’s City Market sitting at Vinnie’s. Great atmosphere and service. Oh yeah, the pizza’s not bad either.

THE CRAB SHACK (Tybee Island, Georgia)
Where the elite eat with their bare feet. This place isn’t like that other shack chain. The Crab shack is the real deal. The low country boil here is the real deal. Just outside of Savannah, Georgia, the crab shack is the one place my friends and I had to take our friends and family when they came to visit us in Savannah.

MR. SPOT’S (Bowling Green, Ohio)
BGSU students know about Mr. Spot’s (probably because they actually deliver beer – what a concept!). You should know about Mr. Spot’s because of their steak sandwiches and their hoagie fries.

MYLES’ PIZZA AND PUB (Bowling Green, Ohio)
Myles’ has earned a spot in my top five pizzas of all-time. Serious toppings.

NEW SANDUSKY FISH CO. (Sandusky, Ohio)
This place rocks! Best fish sandwich. Period. For more info please refer to my earlier post for additional information.

DARROW’S FAMILY RESTAURANT (Mackinaw City, Michigan)
My family has a cottage in Mackinaw and this is one of our favorite places up there. If you only go there once, you have to try the whitefish and have some homemade pie for dessert. If you’re lucky enough to go again, they have excellent open face turkey and roast beef sandwiches.

CUNNINGHAM’S RESTAURANT (Mackinaw City, Michigan)
This is my favorite Up-North restaurant. They have the best pasties in all the land. What is a pastie, you ask? A pastie is kind of like a pot pie without the pot. All of the ingredients are inside a flakey crust and the gravy is served on the side. The chicken one is good, but the beef is the real deal.

CHOWDERS ‘N MOOR (Waterville, Ohio)
The name says it all. The White Chicken Chili and the New England Clam Chowder are excellent. Soup and Sandwich are the way to go. They have so many great sandwiches on the menu; I had to keep the menu after my order so I could decide on what to order on my next visit.

This one’s easy. I’ve always said you can judge a restaurant on how good their soups are. If a restaurant puts time in to make a good homemade soup, the rest of the menu will follow. Well, the clam chowder here is among the best I’ve ever had. Make sure you stop by on prime rib night.

GOODE COMPANY (Houston, Texas)
It was hard to narrow this one down, so I included all of the Goode Co. restaurants. I spent nearly three weeks in Houston covering hurricanes Katrina and Rita in the fall of 2005. When I actually had time to set down to eat, I usually chose a restaurant owned by Goode Co. The Goode Company Texas BBQ was my favorite. The smell of smoked meats is like no other for me. I’m actually trying to start a movement to get that smell in a woman’s perfume, men would find it irresistible. Anyodd, the seafood and taqueria restaurants are great too.

LEO’S LOBSTER (Lake George, New York)
The name says it all. This isn’t one of those fancy seafood houses. This is plastic table cloths, draft beer and good eats. They have an excellent seafood chowder. The biggest draw is the price of the lobster. Being closer to the east coast, you’re not going to have to pay $45 for a lobster. My dinner was less than $30 and the lobster wasn’t one of those puny ones you get around here.

HAMBURG INN No. 2 (Iowa City, Iowa)
I stopped at this place while traveling to Omaha to do a story about Matthew Drake. I’ve heard they serve breakfast all day long and their omlettes are really good. I couldn’t tell you for sure, but ask any Hawkeye and they’ll set you straight. For me when eating at a place called the Hamburg Inn I should probably order a hamburger. Mine was a double cheeseburger with bacon and all the fixings. Fantastic. Much more than I needed to eat, however I couldn’t pass up the dessert they were known for – the pie shake, or in my case a cake shake. It’s exactly what it sounds like. One piece of red velvet cake thrown in a blender with ice cream and milk. It’s more than enough to share.

We stopped twice in Iowa City while traveling to Omaha and the first time we ate here. It’s no Mancy’s, but the filet was still excellent and the seafood bisque was pretty good too. My co-worker got the pork chop. It was huge, and she told me it was really good.

Well that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure there’s some that have slipped my mind. I also know that my future travels will take me to new places that will land on my list. I’d like to know your favorites. Who know, it might even make the list.


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