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Clemson 2010

Judging by the age of the other posts on Clemson SC, and the reorganization of the boards under South, it seems like it is time to update the postings regarding Clemson.

I'll take first crack -- outling my expereinces with a trio of old Clemson favorites that left me, for the most part, muttering that the food was all pretty OK, but certainly not worth a detour off I-85.

The first place on my tour is Sardi's Den Restaurant & Lounge, a place that the reviewers of Tripadvisor and Yelp assured me was a famous old Clemson landmark featuring fine ribs in a somewhat divey location.

I had the famous ribs. My wife had the not so famous prime rib. The prime rib was fine -- but an order medium rare, in the grand tradition of OK -- not great -- restaurants, was translated to medium. The ribs were a bit of a disappointment. The ribs themselves were meaty and not greasy -- worth the reputaton. The sauce, however, was very middle-of-the-road in flavor -- not much different in flavor than something from Applebee's. Onion rings -- very crispy -- and Beacon-style sweet ice tea, on the other hand, were genuinely superb. If I were in Clemson, I would try this again, but I dont think I'd do the ribs.

The second place was Paws Diner (just outside of town on US 123) -- a meat and three that did good fried chicken, good mac and cheese, and did not get its vegetables out of the Sysco can. The place isn't utterly brilliant -- but the fresh vegetable ingredients were a nice surprise. (Okra and tomatoes and fried squash were quite nice). The downside to this place is that the inside of the restaurant is downright nasty. It's clean enough, but the dingy 80's style furnishings need to be burned and replaced.

The third place was the Super Taco, which was mostly a takeout counter, but had a few chairs. This place was advertised as being authentic, and I would agree with that. The Torta Cubano was not the cuban sandwitch you would get in a Cuban place. Instead, it was a collection of many shredded meats (pork, chicken, among others) that had a really great flavor. My wife would not let me sample her burrito. I think it was good.

Super Taco
1019 Tiger Blvd Ste 120, Clemson, SC 29631

Aug 02, 2010
alonzo in Southeast

Where the locals eat

One warning. A recommendation of fatt matt's can get you expelled from certain bbq circles. I won't go into the explanation of that -- just let you know that, if you are in the Fatt Matt's neighborhood, you will do better to go around the corner to The Colonnade, which serves old style Southern food (including bbq which is really no worse than Fat Matt's), and spend some time watching the scene in one of the most entertaining restaurants in Atlanta.

But if you have a drink there, make sure you aren't driving, or you spend a long time eating.

May 14, 2010
alonzo in Atlanta

Can't decide where to go for breakfast - help me pick please!

American Roadhouse is a good choice -- the place does not get nearly the respect of the others on your list, probably because it still has a 90s retro diner feel. Silver skillet is the authentic '50s diner on your list. I've never warmed up to the food there, but maybe because I never have ordered the biscuits.

Thumbs Up is exceptional. Prepare to wait in line.

The Flying Biscuit is overrated -- but they do have a bakery on McLendon, so you can just get the biscuits.

American Roadhouse
842 N Highland Ave Northeast, Atlanta, GA 30306

Flying Biscuit Cafe
1655 McLendon Ave NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

May 11, 2010
alonzo in Atlanta

Where the locals eat

Atlanta is a large area, and the restaurants are quite sprawled out. Where are you staying? For the type of places you are seeking, the magic words may be "Buford Highway", as Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Mexican food are quite well represented there, and the prices are lower than you'll find at the fine dining spots. There's a blog -- Eat Buford Highway -- that covers the tons of restaurants out that way.

Classic southern cuisine is better represented outside of the city. The Colonnade is a great representation of the Atlanta spirit, but it is not the best ol' fashioned southern food you will ever eat. (You can find that at the Blue Willow Inn in Social Circle -- about 40 miles east of town. You can also find a decent version of the art form at Matthews Cafeteria in Tucker GA, if you can get out to Tucker for a weekday lunch.) Skip Merry Mac's. Skip the Varsity -- unless you miss the orange sherbert you used to eat at HoJos.

BBQ, which many vistors in Atlanta are looking for, is done well here (finally, after many years of so-so-ness) at two rather new places -- Fox Bros and Community Cue. Wallace's BBQ (several miles west of town) and Harold's (between Turner Field and the Pen) have been around longer, and have their strengths. (At Harold's, eat brunswick stew and cornbread.)

Matthews Cafeteria
2299 Main St, Tucker, GA 30084

Blue Willow Inn Restaurant
294 N Cherokee Rd, Social Circle, GA 30025

May 10, 2010
alonzo in Atlanta

Does anyone shop at Sweet Auburn Curb Market?

I have taken to going to the curb market for fresh vegetables, rather than brave the insanity at the DeKalb Farmer's market. The place is not terribly large, and less crowded than is probably healthy. That said, I have never noticed an issue with bad smells, and the vegetables are reliably local.

One of the places does some great sausage, and there are stalls specializing in nothing but pork products.

And, if you get hungry, you can always go to the Grindhouse for a really godd burger. (Better than Vortex.)

May 05, 2010
alonzo in Atlanta

Atlanta must-eats for visitors from New York!

If you are going to do BBQ -- Fox Brothers is a good choice. It is Texas BBQ, rather than specifically southeastern, but who cares? But really do condsider Harold's, if you are looking for something specifically "Atlanta". They do a spectacular brunswick stew -- which is the Georgia contribution to the BBQ scene.

If you want a place illustrating Atlanta, the Colonnade is a good choice. The Southern food is good (certainly better than Merry Mac's), and the happy combination of Atlanta's gay community and Atlanta's AARP community makes for a unique eating environment.

May 05, 2010
alonzo in Atlanta

Need some Help in Mid TN

I will be driving my Mom down TN Hwy 111 (to avoid the traffic jam on I-24 that Bonaroo will cause) next Sunday as part of a Kentucky to Atlanta drive. My Mom has fastidious tastes (though she does like extremely good BBQ), and most down home places just won't do. So what is there to eat in Coookeville south to Soddy Daisy that she might like?

Jun 08, 2009
alonzo in General South Archive

Good Eats along 1-20 from Dallas to Athens?

For the Birmingham to Atlanta stretch

1. Porter House Cafe in Oxford AL is a good buffet kind of place. You'll get plenty of food, done in the classic southern "meat and three" style. If you use google maps, you can scout out plenty of other similar places on your route. Get off at the big exit for Oxford AL, and turn left, then turn right at the road in front of the mall.

2. Pop's Charburgers (just off I-20 at Rte 9 -- Heflin AL) does a good burger and killer milkshake. They really need the business, too.

3. Wyatt's Diner is a somewhat undiscovered gem in Atlanta, probably because the buiding they are in is downright scary. (I would not do that neighborhood after dark). Great country cooking -- be prepared to eat it elsewhere, as the building it comes from is literally a shack. Exit 60 -- Moreland Ave, take second ramp, turn right on Memorial Dr by the oil change place. Wyatt's is on the left -- it IS literally a shack with smoke coming out of it.

Jun 08, 2009
alonzo in General South Archive

Best BBQ in Atlanta?

For Brunswick Stew, the classic place is Harolds. It's just that the BBQ itself, isn't that great. I always have a bowl of stew and a side of cornbread at Harolds (these are the specialties). My wife has discovered the "stew dog", which is a pretty good hot dog smothered in the stew.

Fox Brothers is probably the best bbq in the city of Atlanta right now, even though the place itself is real new. My experience is that the q is good, and the sides are generally superb.

Apr 10, 2009
alonzo in Atlanta

Alpine Texas

Let me refresh this post somewhat, based on my trip to Alpine over New Years 2009.

1. Alicia's continues to be the best Mexican in town -- they do a New Mexico/red chile version of Mexican that will appeal to enthusiasts of El paso Mexican and Chopes. Nice, cozy spot which now has more seating than it used to.

2. La Casita is good, solid, reasonably authentic Tex Mex. There are tons of these places in Texas -- and this is no better or worse. This is where Alpine's residents go for their tex-mex dinners. (Tourists may find the place a bit hard to find)

3. Though Alicia's is more famous for breakfat, Magoo's Place also does a good Mexican breakfast, and it is the place where the police eat.

4. If you want steaks and do not want pretention, get thee to the Buffalo Rose Saloon, which is on US 90 just east of the university. The cooking is far more top notch than the 1972 vintage windowless, wood paneled surroundings would indicate. The cook apparently had been working in El Paso at a fancier place for years, before getting away from the city rat race. Excellent chicken fried steak, and the vegetables were fresh.

Note that, if your are in Alpine on New Year's Day, this is the only place in town that is open -- and it will be mobbed. Other days are more relaxed.

Apr 07, 2009
alonzo in Texas

Blue Ridge Parkway

Since nobody is covering the stretch of the BRP from Roanoke to the NC Border, let me suggest the Pine Tavern Restaurant in Floyd Va. Good country cooking served family style in an old 1927 roadside inn. -- dinner only schedule may prove difficult.

Mar 30, 2009
alonzo in General South Archive

Anniston AL - Porterhouse Cafe

This restaurant has now moved to an old furniture warehouse a bit to the east of the mall but it still features a buffet. The food now is a lot better than mediocre -- I had chicken and dumplings that were peppery, not bland; okra and tomatoes that appeared to be from fresh vegggies, andf greens that had been nicely spiced with vinegar and hotsauce. In other words, itr seems this place has evolved from the remnant of a bankrupt Piccadilly to something closer to a classic Southern meat and three. Have to say, though, that almost everyone in the place at lunch had an AARP membership, and none of the men had either watched their weight or seen their feet in years. Excellent old style southern cuisine. But probably not healthy.

Address now is 1409 Hamric Dr. It's on US78-431 east of the mall and very close to I-20. From exit 185, go towards Annisotn, then turn right on US 78. Porterhouse cafe is on your left -- where all the pickup trucks and late model GM cars are parked.

Mar 25, 2009
alonzo in General South Archive

Sunday Brunch Near Folly Beach SC

I will be staying with my Mom out on Folly Beach this weekend, and need a good Sunday Brunch place that is preferably fairly close to Folly. (In other words, I do not want to cross the river into Charleston, though anything on Johns Island is likely OK.)

My Mom is a fairly finicky eater -- in Charleston, she likes places like Basil's, Hominy Grill or FIG. I don't think the Biker/Jimmy Buffet vibe of downtown Folly will work for her for brunch.

Please help! Thank you.

Dec 23, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

Lake George -- August 2008

Taste of Poland is under the Montecristo Restaurant right in the middle of downtown. It is very hard to spot -- but the Montecristo sign is very visible.

Lake George -- August 2008

I just spent a weekend up in Lake George -- crazed tourist mecca of the Adirondacks. (Actually, I spent it above Lake George, as I was staying at the B&B they have put in at the clubhouse in the Top of the World Golf Course). We dined well the three nights we were there, somehow defying the odds that we would -- at least one night -- be entrapped in a dire tourist trap filled with teenagers and rubbery pasta/seafood. So here are the experiences.

1. FARMHOUSE RESTAURANT. This is the restaurant at Top of the World, and it proudly features organicly grown vegetables and meat. Yum. Food is not especially complex, but it is all very good and very healthy. Sort of the restaurant equivalent of Whole Foods. The Garden of Spices Chicken was well flavored. Cobbler was out of this world.

If the simple crass of Lake George is getting you down -- go here. This is the antidote. Note, though, the antidote does come with a pricetag. Kind of like Whole Foods.

2. MARIO'S. This place has been around since 1954, and has the building and neon to prove it. With small modifications, it could have been "Mildred's" in Mildred Pierce. Seeing the big "breakfast buffet" signs in the wndow, I was apprehensive about the quality of the food. My instinct was to keep it simple -- and ended up with a pasta in vodka sauce from the specials menu that was really quite good. My wife had the Fettuccine Al Fredo that she enjoyed (it seemed somewhat bland to me). Both came with a good salad and ok bread. I expect if you live in the Tristate Region, this kind of Italian is no great thrill, but to us Atlanta residents, it seemed pretty good.

Assessment -- this a good place to have the Lake George experience, and get the kind of Italian you got in the fancy restaurant when you were a kid. Leave your expectations of creative Tuscan cuisine at home. The place itself is on the north end of town, a bit apart from the madness in downtown

3. TASTE OF POLAND. On Tripadvisor, you will find that this restaurant has a series of rapturous reviews from folks for whom English appears to be a second or third language. Knowing little about Polish food, I can't vouch for the authenticity that these posters claim. But I can agree that the food here is utterly wonderful, and the service instantly became warm and friendly the minute an interest in the cooking was expressed. Waiters were happy to make suggestions and provide tastes. (My wife mentioned she knew how to cook bigos. They provided a sample of theirs. Yum.) I ended up with the potato pancakes with goulash. They compared well with the goulash I have had in Budapest.

For desert, we split a giant plate of blintzes with strawberries and cream. This was sinfully good. And through the experience, I learned that my polish grandmother had been passing these yummy things off to her grateful grandkids as "crepes". Were they as good as Grandmother's? I can't say -- nostalgia plays tricks. But, likely, yes.

Lunch Just Off of Route 40 Near Statesville or Hickory?

There is a Mexican hole in the wall place just off I-40 at exit 130. No matter which direction you are going on I-40, you will turn left and go south. The restaurant is on the right in a repurposed gas station just up the hill from the Interstate. This is authentic -- not tex-mex. English is not spoken here, and your appearence may come as a shock to the owners. The food is quite good -- and I don't think this cuisine is easy to find in Boston, though it is thick on the ground in the Hispanic sections of Atlanta.

Jul 11, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

81-S (PA to Asheville, NC)

If finding your way around Roanoke for the Texas Tavern seems challenging, go down I-81 another 30-40 miles or so, and go to Dude's Drive In in Christiansburg Va. The burgers are awesome (the hot dogs are pretty good, too). Very, very, thick milkshakes are available to complete the hardening of your arteries.

Dude's is just off the interstate. Get off at US-11 and head towards Christiansburg. The place is on the left, after you pass a bunch of auto dealerships and go under an underpass. If you stick around long enough, maybe you can catch a movie at the neighboring drive in!

Jul 07, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

Good Eats -- Beckley WV?

I am going to be spending the night in Beckley WV with my Mother, who has very fastidious tastes. (In other words, BBQ or drive-in burgers are out). Is there a place in this town to get a good dinner?

My Mom likes seafood (NOT CATFISH!), good oriental, well-prepared American. Loads o' fried food would not make her happy.


Mar 18, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

Atlanta Seafood

I second Fontaine's (which is also fairly reasonable.) Fontaine's is also in a great wandering neghborhood and a neat mix of Hip places, places mild enough for a Soccer Mom, and old fashioned bars. (Moe & Joes and Georges across the street have been around over 40 years)

Also good for your requirements, if the weather is warm enough to eat on the roof, is Six Feet Under on Memorial. Good view of Atlanta skyline, plenty of beer, and decent fried food. I wouldn't go walking in that neighborhood, though.

Feb 11, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

ATL - nice early dinner along I-75

If you are going through town on 75, rather than bypassing on 285, the OK Cafe at the Paces Ferry exit is good retro food. Turn left at the exit ramp and the place will be on your right just as you are crossing Northside. Main reason for this suggestion is this restaurant is close to the interstate and almost impossible to miss.

At 4 or 5, OK Cafe should not be too noisy.

Jan 22, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

Dinner in Downtown Atlanta

The French American Brasserie is very close to the Hyatt. It gets mixed reviews -- my experience was that food was good, the service was not as good. But check -- they have a long thread on the place, and people do report that their service experience was fine.

Mosty, your best bet is going to be places in the southern part of Midtown. See the thread someone just put up about places near the Fox Theatre for hints.

Jan 10, 2008
alonzo in General South Archive

Bienvenidos Restaurant: Fort Stockton: Best Mex I've EVER had!

Bienvenidos, as of the end of 2007, is quite good, and a had a good local crowd (half tex, half mex). I had something in green sauce that was tasty but very very hot.

With sadness, I note that, as of December 2007, Sarah's Cafe was closed and for sale.

Jan 06, 2008
alonzo in Texas

Alpine Texas Dining -- December 07 -- Jan 08

I spent some time touring Big Bend at the beginning of 2008. Here is a report on the food I found in Alpine, which was our base of operations.

Alicia's -- This little place, on the Big Bend side of the RR-Tracks, seems to get the best reviews here on the boards. My wife and I had lunch here, (no breakfast burrito -- alas) We both had the KK burger. Essentially, this is a chicken fajita on a bun with onions and peppers and homemade french fries. It tasted great -- the flavor was wonderful. I would not get this to go -- it really needed to be eaten wth a fork.

Magoo's Place -- We had breakfast here twice, along with a healthy portion of the local police. They do a good regular breakfast and an awesome chorizo/egg breakfast burrito. Good diner coffee too. This plce is easy to find on US 90 westbound right near the university.

Longhorn's Steakhouse -- This is a locally owned place -- not the chain. The ribeye was a good steak. Salad bar was fine. Basically -- what you want in a Texas steakhouse, but nothing unusual either. On Rte 118 on the northside of town in a little shopping center that looks like a dentist's office.

Alexander's -- This place seems a little unsung in the ratings here (maybe because it is new). But it probably gives the best value for money in town. The portions here are HUGE (perhaps even too large) and it seems to be the best place in town to get a salad. The chicken fajita salad, which could be shared by three people, is excellent, and served with an excellent dressing. The ribeye steak, which my wife had one night, was a good bit cheaper than the one at Longhorn, and very very good. The soups here are also nice. I did not sample the straightforward Mexican cuisine here, but it looked very good. This restaurant is on eastbound US 90, not far from the Holland Hotel.

Edelweiss -- The chicken fried steak and potato pancakes we had here were quite good. We could not have any of the German cuisine because the kitchen seemed to be out of everything. The dinng experieince we had here was frustrating (and seems to be echoed by other people on the internet who have posted in the last six months). The salad bar ran out, and was not replenished. (Kinda annoying when your meal comes with salad bar). Service was simply terrible -- but this could be because there were too few waitresses to cover the dining area.

The restaurant, part of the Holland Hotel, is in a really cool space, and provides music for diners. The food is good, the space is nice. We may have had a bad day on service.

Jan 06, 2008
alonzo in Texas

Silver Grill in Atlanta is closed - ISO good chicken fried steak

The Silver Grill has now reopened. Prices are a shade higher, and they now have a marble counter and have been modernized a bit to reflect today's hip concept of retro (and to bring the old place up to code.)

I had the chicken fried steak, with some cucumber salad and mashed potatoes and peach cobbler. It's like I remember, which means it is back to being an old fashioned meat and three with great iced tea. The chicken fried steak will likely satisfy your craving. Nothing is the best southern food I ever had, but all of it is like Momma used to make.

Service was a little slow the night I was there (which was true of the old place, by the way). That's fine. Use the time to socialize with the waitstaff.

The changes are they are now open on weekends and are trying to do breakfast.

Dec 04, 2007
alonzo in General South Archive

Silver Grill in Atlanta is closed - ISO good chicken fried steak

I undertand from the guys at Sig Samuels (the legendary dry cleaners next door) that the Silver Grill is indeed reopening, with many of the original servers/cooks, but different owners.

Nov 05, 2007
alonzo in General South Archive

Atlanta - Good, easy to get to and late night..

Since you are coming to DragonCon, you likely have a high tolerance for the psychotronic. Downtown Atlanta, unfortunately, is a bit of a culinary graveyard (and there isn't a Waffle House downtown that I am aware of.)

If you want to stay downtown, rather than grab a cab, you might to finsh your evening at Trader Vic's (which serves food to 10:30, fruity drinks to later.) The place reeks of 50s polynesian kitsch, and, being in the Hilton, is within walking distance of the Marriott.

Also, if you want to wear a costume, you might want to finish your night in Little Five Points. The Euclid Ave Yacht Club has good bbq to go with the bikers, and the Vortex has outstanding burgers to go with the bbq. (Zestos is also pretty good fast food.) Advantage of L5P to some of the other suggestions is that there are several places open late within walking distance of each other.

Aug 21, 2007
alonzo in General South Archive

Good Chow Between ATL and Charlotte? I-85

I make the I-85 run all the time. Some places:

Chateau Elan Exit -- Taco's Mexican Grill, for good hole in the wall Mexican just south of the x-way. This is a good place if you want to get out of Atlanta before finding a place to eat.

Spartanburg -- The Beacon is famous, but far away from I-85. They do have the best sweet tea in the South, and it's even good in bottles. (You can find it in some of the just off the road I-85 convenience stores). For good meat and three that's more convenient and easier to reach, take Business I-85 into town and eat at the Peach Blossom Diner at the state Rte 9 exit. It isn't anything you can't get in many other Southern towns, but it is unusual to find it right at the exit ramp.

King Mountain NC -- The Mountain View Restaurant is an above average "family restaurant" in the middle of town. Big menu, home coooked deserts, all the little old ladies in town eat there. Get off at Exit 8, turn left at the Hardees in the middle of town. Also good for breakfast is Blackwood's drive-in, which is a short way north of exit 8

I have never had much luck on the Atlanta to Greeneville stretch of the run, and usually end up at a truck stop. I have also wanted to try the large BBQ joint on US 29 just off the expressway at exit 4 off I-85 in NC, and have never found it open.

Jun 27, 2007
alonzo in General South Archive

Good Chow Between ATL and Charlotte? I-85

That's a long stretch of road. Where do you think you'll be eating? Also, how far off the road are you willing to go?

Jun 26, 2007
alonzo in General South Archive

Taco's Mexican Grille -- Braselton, GA (I-85)

One of the developments in the Southeast over the last few years is the mushrooming of mexican hole in the wall restaurants in places where you might never expect to find them. This one -- at exit 126 off of I-85 -- is in one of the most surprising places of all -- 2 blocks from the interchange which serves the Chateau Elan winery/spa/ritzy etc facility. Given its location, this is a great place for I-85 travelers who (i) do not want to deal with finding good eats in Atlanta's sprawl or (ii) folks leaving Atlanta who want to clear Atlanta traffic before looking for lunch (or dinner).

This is authentic Mexican -- they serve the basic taco, enchilada, quesadillas with a minimum of fuss. My wife and I had the barbecued meat tacos (very good) and quesadillas. The Quesadillas were exceptional comfort food -- the taste very defined (rather than the blurry,cheezy bland of tex mex). We'll stop in again the next time we have to go out I-85.

Taco's is not well advertised from the interstate but it is easy to find. Drive south on Ga 211 (away from chateau elan). The restaurant is in the strip mall on the left just past the first traffic light.

Jun 24, 2007
alonzo in General South Archive

When The Only Place Open Is Waffle House

Imagine, if you will, that you have been driving day and night to meet family in a strange city. You goot a late lunch, so you figure there's no need to stop again to get dinner. After all, the place you are going -- it's a college town. There will be something open somewhere. The problem -- a major traffic jam just a few miles from your destination gets you to your Howard Johnson's just a few minutes before midnight.

Your hungry. Your football playing nephew is hungry. Your wife is starving. And the only option. Waffle House!

(To non-southerners -- Waffle House is an icon of the southeast, famed mostly for its dated jukeboxes, its utter ubiquity in Georgia, and its 24-hour a day service.)

Well, if you have a refined sensibility -- or your idea of breakfast is some fresh fruit from the local farmer's stand, and some fluffy biscuits -- this could be a bit of a high carb nightmare. After all, what are the options -- waffles, eggs, bacon, steaks, or half-hearted attempts at lunch foods?

Well, actually, the answer is to order the waffle house's second most favorite dish -- hash browns. And order them "all the way". What comes out is a potato based casserole, with chilie, cheese, jalepenos, peppers, and various and sundry other stuff. And it tastes pretty good. It's filling enough on its own (it even satisfied the football playng teen) and has enough flavor to satisfy the slumming chowhounder.

But, as my wife says, "It's only the sort of thing you want to do once a year."

Jun 24, 2007
alonzo in Chains