I’ve always loved finding neat, eclectic restaurants–ALWAYS!!!  It’s definitely turned into a hobby!  And for the last several years, I’ve loved to share them with my friends.

Years ago, when I was traveling 14 to 15 days a month, I would always ask the locals in the city I was in what restaurant they loved most.  “If you could go to any restaurant tonight that the locals know about and that the tourists haven’t found yet, which would it be?”  I also made it clear that I didn’t want to go to any chains.  “I want great food at a good price.  Small and funky is also good!”

I would ask people to write their suggestions on a sheet of paper, and tell me why “that restaurant” is the one.  People love to help, so I’d always have several handfulls of notes by the end of the day.  I’d go through them, pick the one that was most recommended, and then go have dinner!  Best part of the day, as far as I was concerned.

So let me share my list with you.  I’ll also be adding ones as I find them.  Enjoy!

The Best Of…



  • Birmingham:  The Fish Market Restaurant.  1681 Montgomery Hwy.  Great seafood, reasonable
  • Birmingham: The Golden Rule Barbecue.
  • Tuscaloosa: Dreamland.  Barbecue.  Very good.  50 years old…



  • Tucson: Blue Willow.  2616 N Campbell Ave.  Very good and eclectic.



  • Springdale: AQ Chicken.  Known for their chicken dishes.  Inexpensive, very good food.
  • Fayetteville: Catfish Hole.  Good fish camp type of food.
  • Fayetteville:  Bangkok Cuisine.  311 West Dickson St.  Very good…
  • Fayetteville: A Taste of Thai.  Maybe better than Bangkok Cuisine.
  • Fayetteville: Hugo’s on walk avenue.  Great burgers – whole in the wall.
  • Little Rock: Cajun’s Wharf.  On a river.  Good seafood.  $15-$25.  2400 Cantrell Rd.  LR.
  • Jonesboro, AR: Lazzari Italian Oven.  Very good and very inexpensive.  I had the chicken scaloppini which came with salad.  Very Good!
  • Little Rock:  Doe’s Eat Place: Unbelievable steaks in a hole in the wall.  1023 W. Markham St.
  • North Little Rock: Cregeen’s Irish Pub.  Get the Guinness draft.  301 Main St.
  • Little Rock: Old Hog Café.  (Suggested by an attendee.)



  • Sonoma: Sonoma Cheese Factory.  I was told about this place while in Texas.  The lady said you go in, pick food and then they match wine.  She said it was wonderful.
  • Burlingame: Il Fornaio.  Italian restaurant which Chuck, Jim and I went to.  Excellent food.  Kind of pricy.
  • Santa Barbara: Breakwater.  107 Harbor Way.  The best fish tacos I’ve ever had.  They use 4 types of fish.  Outstanding.
  • Oakland: Francesco’s.  On Hegenberger, very close to the airport.  They are the Italian restaurant that has the counter where you can watch the cooks.  The food is very good.  Fun place.
  • Port San Luis: Fatcats Café.  Nice little restaurant on a secluded harbor close to San Luis Obispo.
  • Piercy: The Benbow Inn.  From Craig…  Beautiful place…
  • San Mateo: (From Ray) Nini’s, The Sherman (Boat)
  • South San Francisco (From Ray) The Garden Club
  • Sausilito: Paradise Café.  From Debbie my barber.  She lives there says it is great!
  • Mountain View: La Bamba – the best burrito I’ve ever had!
  • Mountain View: Xian Vietnamese Restaurant.  Simply the best.  Have the “Shaky Beef.”
  • Mountain View: Clarke’s Hamburgers.  Excellent hamburger place.  Make sure and get the sweet potato fried.
  • Santa Clara: The Fish Market.  3775 El Camino Real.  Excellent and very reasonably priced.
  • San Francisco: E Tutto Qua!  (“Everything is Here”)  270 Columbus Avenue in Little Italy.  Awesome and reasonable.  Sandy said the dessert was the best she ever had.  The two servers were awesome – very playful…
  • Sausalito: Sushi Ran.  107 Caledonia St.  Some of the best sushi in the bay area.
  • Sausalito: The Taco Place.  Suggested by a person we met.
  • Half Moon Bay: Half Moon Bay Brewing Company.  Awesome place.  Sit outside by the fire pits.
  • Half Moon Bay: Sam’s Chowder House.  Get the Lobster Roll!  One of the top 5 sandwiches in the US.
  • Palo Alto, CA.  The Counter.  Unbelievable burgers.  Make sure and get the sweet potato fries.  On California St.
  • Carmel: Brophy’s Tavern.  A great place to have a beer.  They also have happy hour hors d’oeurves.
  • La Jolla: Americana Restaurant.  Try the Roman breakfast.  Amazing!  Eggs, proschiutto, mozzarella, tomato, and basil on an English muffin.



  • Boulder: Boulder Broker Inn.  Free bowl of shrimp in restaurant with dinner.  Gym across the parking lot that was good workout.
  • Colorado Springs: SteakSmith.   The Best Steak place.  Get the sirloin.  You will be amazed.



  • Cromwell: Thai Garden 860-346-3322.  Very good Thai.  At the corner of Main and College St.



  • Ft. Lauderdale:  Cap’s Place.  Took boat to Cap’s.  Built in 1928.  Surrounded by water.  Churchill and Roosevelt met there.  With Chuck Schuler
  • Daytona Beach: Julian’s.  Dinner place.  Chuck said prime rib was best.  Very reasonable.
  • Miami: La Carreta.  Cuban food.  3632 SW 8th St.  33135.  Tons of food.  Classic Sampler was very good.
  • Miami: Versailles.  Cuban food.  Right across the street from La Carreta 8th St.  Didn’t think it was quite as good as La Carreta but they have a bakery also.
  • Sarasota:  Barnacle Bills.  5050 N. Tamiami Trail.  34234.  Excellent with moderate prices.
  • Sarasota: Anna Maria Oyster Bar.  6906 14th St. West.  Very good!  Have been there about 3-4 times.
  • Sarasota: Siesta Fish Market.  Suggested in a book I read.  Smoked salmon or crab cakes.
  • St. Pete Beach:  Sloppy Pelican.  677 75th St.  Grouper sandwich blackened!
  • St. Pete Beach: Ted Peter’s Famous Smoked Fish.  Only smoked fish.  Try the Mahi-mahi or the Salmon.  Both great.  Its an outdoor eatery.  They smoke the fish there.  1350 Pasadena Ave. South.  St. Petersburg, Fl  33707
  • Pensacola: LAMBERTS CAFE – When doing the run that includes Pensacola, FL and Mobile, AL. Exit I-10 (about half way between the 2 cities) at Exit #44 in Alabama. Go south about 16-17 miles to Foley, AL. Look for Lamberts on your left. Well worth the detour. Lambert’s is the “Home of the “Throwed Rolls!”.
  • Tampa: La Teresita.  This is a Cuban restaurant close to the stadium.  It’s all good.  Go to the counter and sit.  3434 W. Columbus Dr.  Suite 105.  Tampa.  872-7710. I had the grouper with sweet plantains and yellow rice.  A ton of food for about $6.00
  • Lakeland: Abuelo’s (Fine Mexican!)  3700 Lakeside Village Blvd.  33803.  They have very good Mexican – high quality.  Expect to pay $12-18.  Excellent.
  • Panama City: Captain’s Table.  Excellent and very inexpensive.  1110 Beck Ave.  850-767-9933.  I had the grouper sandwich.  Very good.
  • Daytona/Port Orange: Aunt Catfish’s on the River.  Very good, but pretty expensive.  Still, a nice view and a great salad bar.
  • Tampa: Columbia Restaurant.  Established in 1905.  A full city block in size.  Seats over 1700 people!!!  Food is amazing!



  • Savannah:  The Olde Pink House.  Go to basement bar.  Eat there…  Piano player!
  • Savannah: Tubby’s Tank House.  Seafood at a great price…  on River Rd.
  • Savannah: Barbara Jean’s.  138 Johnny Mercer Blvd.  Seafood.  This was a suggestion, haven’t eaten there…
  • Savannah: Alligator Soul – haven’t eaten there but people told me it was very good.
  • Savannah: Kevin Barry’s – this is a must if you like great Irish pubs.  Right on the river!
  • Macon: Nu-Way Weiner Stand.  This is where the Allman Brothers used to eat when they were starting out.  Need I say more?  Yes!!!  I got there late.  They were closing up the place, unlocked the door, and the two ladies made me a huge meal!!!  What hospitality!  We are now officially related!
  • Savannah: Leopold’s Ice Cream.  Opened in 1919.  All homemade!  Enough said.
  • Atlanta: The Vortex.  One of the best hamburgers in Atlanta.  Walk in through a skull.  (You’ll see!)
  • Atlanta: Crawfish Shack Seafood.  Buford Hwy.  Just a great place for seafood.  No frills.
  • Dahlonega: Back Porch Oyster Bar.  Right on the square.  Food is always great.
  • Atlanta: Miller Union.  Country cooking but high end.  Very good food.  We had the Flatiron steak which was delicious.  Very eclectic part of town.
  • Flowery Brancy: Moonie’s Texas Barbecue.  The best barbecue in Georgia.  Promise.  Try the “wet” brisket and tell Jason I said hi!



  • Honolulu: Kua ‘Aina – Great sandwitches.  I got the Mahi each time I went.
  • Honolulu: Helena’s Hawaiian Foods.  Get the pork wrap.  Dinner $4.71!!!  Featured on Man vs. Food.  Met the owner.  She was very nice and loved my Southern accent.  Gave me free dessert!!!
  • Honolulu: Kakaaku Kitchen.  Very good and cheap!
  • Honolulu: Hale Vietnam.  Had the Chicken & Imperial Rolls – Bun.  (Means noodle.)
  • Honolulu: Iripune Japanese.  It’s all good.  Hole in the Wall.  Sushi.  Not expensive.
  • Honolulu: Sushi King.  Excellent sushi and not very expensive.
  • Honolulu: Chiang Mai Thai Cuisine.  Excellent Thai!  Inexpensive…
  • Hana: Naung Mai Thai Kitchen.  A true “Hole-in-the-Wall” that has some of the best Thai I’ve ever experienced.  On the most beautiful of the islands–The “Big” Island!



  • Chicago: Chicago Chop House.  One of top 5 steak houses in country.  Go with ribeye.  Pricey but will remember the experience.
  • Urbana: Historic Lincoln Hotel.  Built 1920’s.  Huge dining room.
  • Peoria:  Peoria Castle Lodge.  Very unusual place to stay.  It’s a castle.
  • Joliet: Al’s Steak House.  1990 W. Jefferson St.  815-725-2388.  Great steak.  Had the ribeye cooked Grecian style.
  • Schaumberg or Oakbrook – Strat’s (in Villa Park)  Great Italian beef sandwiches.  Very reasonable.



  • Des Moines, IA Tumea & Sons – 1501 SE 1st Street.  Excellent Italian restaurant.  Try the Stead Duvine.  It was incredible!  I met Mario, one of the 2 sons who runs the place.



  • Louisville – Lynn’s Paradise Café – 984 Barret Ave.  40204.  502-583-3447.  Known for their breakfasts.
  • Louisville – Fuji – in Springhurst.  Great sushi.  Went with David and Shari.  Get the snow roll.  Jack roll, Wow roll, and mustard roll.
  • Louisville—Captain’s Quarters.  On the river.  Very neat place.
  • Crestwood–Rikishi Japanese Restaurant.  Some of the best sushi anywhere.  Thanks Shari and Dave!



  • Houma: Big Al’s Seafood.  1307 West Tunnel Blvd.  Seafood platter and sweet iced tea.  To die for…
  • New Orleans: Mother’s.  Great home cooking.  In downtown.
  • Lafayette: Olde Tyme Grocery.  The best Poor Boy Sandwiches you’ll ever taste.  It’s an old place.  Try the shrimp po boy!
  • New Orleans: Deanie’s Seafood.  Very famous and good.
  • New Orleans: Acme Oyster House.  Same as above.  Get the fried seafood platter.


  • Portland: Gilbert’s Chowder House.  Fantastic seafood right on the water.
  • Portland: J’s Oyster.  Also on the water.  Have never had good service there but the food makes up for it.  Lot of atmosphere.


  • Annapolis.  Mike’s Crab House.  3030 Old Riva Rd.  Riva, MD.  21140.  Excellent seafood on the water at a good price!  I had the broiled seafood platter two nights in a row.



  • Ann Arbor, MI: Metzger’s German.  305 N. Zeeb Rd.  Ann Arbor.  734-668-8987.  Very good German food right off the interstate.
  • Marquette – Casa Calabria.  Exceptional!  Get the marinated beef tips.  7 oz.  1106 N 3rd. st.  Marquette.
  • Marquette – Vango’s – haven’t eaten there.  People said it’s like sandwiches, etc.



  • Minneapolis – Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit.  2300 NE University Ave.  Minnaepolis, MN.  55418  612-781-3860.  Excellent German Food.  The waitress was one of the best servers I’ve ever had.  There was also an accordion player named Bill.  Great beer: Murphy’s Irish Stout.  Maybe even better than Guinness…



  • Bozeman – The Garage.  Soups and Sandwiches.  Lots of homemade soups and the sandwiches are awesome.  This is on Main St.  They built the restaurant in an old gas station.  Very eclectic.
  • Bozeman – The Montana Ale Works.  Very large bar on Main St.  Nice place to go sit at the bar and have a Guinness.
  • When driving from Missoula to Helena, go by way of Ovando which is a very small town up in the mountains.  Hwys 200 to 141.  Spectacular scenery and views.


New Hampshire:

  • Keene: Wright Mansion Inn.  695 Court St.  Where Wright’s Metal Polish founder lived.


New Jersey:

  • Mahwah: Stateline Diner.  Hard to get to because of exits, but worth the short drive.


New York:

  • NYC: Pete’s Tavern – 129 E. 18th St.  212-473-7676.  Jim Murray
  • NYC: Mumbles – 179 Third St. @ 17th St.  212-477-6066.  Jim Murray
  • Albany – Jack’s Oyster House – 42 State Street, 12207.  518-465-8854.  In downtown Albany.  Very good food.  About 100 years old!  Very good service also.  Entrees from $19-$35.
  • Albany – Bongiorno’s Restaurant!!!  Fantastic Italian restaurant near downtown.  An older lady owns it.  Moved here from Italy 30 years ago.  The food was incredible.  23 Dove St.  12210.  318-462-9176.
  • Albany – Capricio’s
  • Buffalo – Ted’s Hot Dogs – (since 1927!)  An institution in Buffalo.  Excellent dogs…
  • Syracuse – Joey’s Fine Italian Dining.  The Chicken Marsala was excellent.  I had them add capers to it…  Very reasonable prices.
  • Syracuse—Dinosaur Barbecue.  Very good.  Always crowded.  Biker bar kinda place, but you’ll see the heads of government and industry there also.
  • Utica – Delmonico’s Italian Steakhouse.  Very good and also reasonable.  I had the 1 ½ pound Delmonico steak for 16.95!  Excellent!
  • NYC: Katz’s Deli!  This and Caragie are just the best there are.  It’s at 205 E. Houston St.  Opened in 1888.  This is the deli that the scene from “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed.  Gotta go for the corned beef or pastrami.  Outstanding!


North Carolina:

  • Wilmington: Hieronymus Seafood – 5035 Market St. 392-6313.  Excellent seafood.  Try any of the fresh fish.  They are known for the 8 recipes they use for fresh fish.  I had Tuna – sushi grade.  Next night I had broiled seafood platter.  Both were excellent.  Very nice presentations of the food.  With hotel room key you get 10% off.  Prices range $13-$19.
  • Raleigh – Torero’s Mexican.  Excellent.  Lots of food for a great price…
  • Kernersville – Prissy Polly’s Pig Pickin’ Barbecue.  729 Hwy. 66 South.  Excellent barbecue.  One of my favorites!
  • Asheville—Sunny Point Café.  It was awesome.
  • Lexington–Lexington Barbecue.  This is the “Home” of North Carolina barbecue.  Gotta get the hushpuppies if you go.  And save room for dessert!  Little pie anyone???
  • Highlands: The Ugly Dog Public House.  Great food and drink.  Lots of atmosphere.
  • Charlotte: Old Hickory House on North Tryon.  Excellent barbecue.  Try the Brunswick stew.
  • Highlands: Cyprus Restaurant.  They have different specialties every night from around the world.  Very good place.
  • Highlands: Wolfgang’s Restaurant & Wine Bistro.  I had red snapper stuffed with lobster, shrimp and scallops.  Sandy and I shared escargot.  Also, the roasted ceasar salad is amazing.
  • Asheville: The Market Place Restaurant & Lounge.  20 Wall Street.  Amazing food.  Chef William Dissen and his team use local growers (vegetables, beef, wine) to create incredible dishes.  Beautiful inside too!



  • Lima: Main Street Bistro.  Downtown at 213 S. Main Street.  419-224-0473. A surprisingly good restaurant.  Very eclectic inside.  Beautiful.  They suggested the salmon or what I got: the Pollo Vento.
  • Columbus: R. J. Snappers.  Seafood.  Downtown.  I had the scallops.  Very nice restaurant with nice décor.  I got a $5.00 off pass from the Courtyard Marriott at the front desk.  Food was very good.
  • Toledo: Packo’s at the Park.  Great hotdogs.  Very well known in the Ohio area.  Very nice decor inside too!



  • Tulsa: Green Onion.  Very nice restaurant.  Kind of fine dining.  $$.
  • Tulsa: Ri Le Vietnamese Restaurant.  Haven’t eaten there but several people said it was good.  91st and Yale
  • Lanna Thai – 51st and Harvard.  Haven’t eaten there…
  • Oklahoma City – Cattlemen’s Steakhouse.  Right by the stockyards.  Made in 1911.  Had the Presidential T-Bone.  Very good.  Next time get the ribeye.



  • Portland: Voodoo Doughnuts.  Unbelievable.  You have to try the maple/bacon doughnut.  There is ALWAYS a line at this place.  Sandy and I once stood for 45 minutes to get in–IN THE RAIN!!!  It’s that good.  The say the magic is in the hole!
  • Lucky Labrador Brew Pub:  Bring your dog.  Seriously!  Great beer.
  • Deschuted Brewery:  Perfect place downtown.



  • Allentown: The Dream Restaurant.  Just go there!!!  Save room for dessert.  Family style food.
  • Red Bank: Siam Garden.  Thai restaurant.  Very good.
  • Eatontown: Picola Italia.  Didn’t eat there but was told that it is one of the best Italian restaurants in NJ.
  • Lancaster (Amish country).  Dienner’s Country Restaurant.  Amish buffet.  Fantastic and CHEAP!
  • Pittsburgh: Primanti Brothers.  Been around forever.  They’re known for their huge sandwiches.
  • Pittsburgh: Tram’s Kitchen.  Vietnamese “Hole-in-the-Wall…”  Don’t look for anything fancy here but the food is amazing.


Puerto Rico:

  • Jam Restaurant: Down the street from the Radisson.  Told it was great.  Also, the Sushi restaurant right across from the Radisson was very good.


South Carolina:

  • Charleston: The Wreck.  Seafood.  Ask locals for directions.  It doesn’t have a sign but will have a wait.  This is where the locals go eat seafood.
  • Charleston: “Gaulart & Maliclet”  98 Broad St.  843-577-9797.  This is a French Place which is awesome.  Sandy and I ate there and had fondue.  $15 a head included a glass of wine, bread and soup or salad.  Excellent and very reasonable.
  • Charleston: The Griffon.  18 Vendue Range.  The oldest pub in Charleston.  Founded in 1750.  Good place for a Guinness!!!
  • Charleston: Basils – 98 Broad St.  Was suggested as a very good and affordable Thai restaurant.
  • Hilton Head Island.  Hudson’s Seafood House.  803-682-2772. Family Seafood on the water.  Been around since the 1920’s.  Mostly fried.  Very good.
  • Florence: Percy & Willie’s – 2401 David H. McLeod Blvd.  843-669-1620. Great food.  Reasonable.  Steaks, seafood.  Try the salmon sandwich.  $8.95.
  • Columbia: these were given to me by an attendee.  Miyo’s – recommended the Peking duck.  Garibaldi’s – Continental.  Recommended the seafood.  Anakyia’s – Sushi.  Said it was the best in the Southeast.



  • Chattanooga: City Café Diner.  Located downtown at the intersection of Carter St. and Martin Luther King.  It’s in the Day’s Inn.
  • Knoxville: Calhoun’s on the River – Downtown Knoxville.  Great Prime Rib and Ribs.
  • Chattanooga: Mike’s Hole in the Wall.  Seriously, that’s the name.  And seriously, don’t go there unless you’re with a US Marshall as I was.  Not a safe place, (but fun!!!)
  • Chattanooga: Market Street Tavern.  Very good food.
  • Nashville: Loveless Cafe.  Great home cooking.  Don’t let the outside fool you.  Always packed.  Gotta try the biscuits, homemade jelly and honey.



  • Galveston: Tremont House Hotel.  Beautiful Hotel.  Definitely in top 5 all time.  2 story rooms.  All black and white.
  • Galveston: Gaido’s Restaurant.  Seawall Blvd. at 39th.  Excellent seafood restaurant.  Broiled or blackened is great!!!
  • Abilene: Joe Allen’s Steak.  1233 S. Treadway.  One of best steaks I’ve ever had.  In a small, clapboard house about 50-75 years old.  Don’t let outside fool you.  Ate there twice in two days.
  • Ft. Worth:  Coulter’s BBQ.  Brisket must have.  Period!
  • Ft. Worth: Ovation on Camp Bowie Rd.  Suggested by Chuck Schuller.  (Awesome place – went there in October, 07.  In a strip mall…  Make sure and get exact address before going.)
  • Ft. Worth: Two men (one in Italy and one in Ft. Worth) said to go either to Railhead or Angelo’s Barbecue.  Both are supposedly excellent and the best that Texas has to offer.
  • Richardson: Spring Creek Restaurant.  BBQ.  Again, go with the brisket…
  • Dallas: Green Papaya.  Vietnamese.  3211 Oak Lawn.  Very good and reasonable prices.
  • Tyler, TX: Mercado’s Mexican Restaurant.  2214 WSW Loop 323.  903-534-1754.  Excellent food and they have $3 margaritas before 7:00.
  • San Angelo: Franco’s Mexican Cafe.  You just gotta hit this place.  The real thing!
  • RUDY’s.  They’re all over Texas and they’re all great.  Go with the “wet” brisket.
  • Atkins (Close to Austin). Texas Pride Barbecue.  Out in the middle of nowhere!  Beautiful place and the food is amazing.



  • Burlington: Al’s French Fries.  Great burger joint!



  • Richmond: Beauregard Thai Room.  103 East Cary St.  23219.  Awesome Thai.  Great ambiance.  Downtown.



  • Appleton: Taste of Thai.  321 East College Ave.  Very good Thai food.
  • Milwaukee: Mader’s.  The oldest ethnic restaurant in the USA.  1041 N. Old World Third St.



  • Jackson Hole: Bin 22.  200 West Broadway.  Really good place.  Try to sit on the patio.
  • Jackson Hole: Rendezvous Bistro.  380 South Broadway.  Very nice place
  • Teton Village: Couloir.  At the top of the ski resort.  Just one of the best restaurants I’ve ever eaten at.  Thank you Bill and Donna!!!!!