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Waffle Housing

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DSCF0386.JPG Beef and a beacon in the night.

12:20 p.m. April 15---

We were hungry.
Adriana and I were camping on a mountaintop an hour south of Tupelo, Miss. along the Natchez Trace. It was around 10 p.m. and the heavens were clear. The sky was a star-filled skillet and the heat of possibility kept me warm against a cool breeze.
But were hungry for something. The boiled peanuts we picked up at the Shady Acres Fruit Stand on blue Highway 49 outside of Hattiesburg didn't do the trick. Adriana was longing for a can of Colt 45. I missed my Diet Mountain Dew.
We awoke early the next morning with empty stomachs. We exited the pristine trace around Tupelo and we agreed we would not stop until we found a Waffle House.
No Huddle House.
No Toddle House.
It had to be a Waffle House......


    5:15 p.m. Dec. 19----

    For most Americans, Tim Hortons coffee and donuts are forbidden pleasures.
    Like going to Cuba.
    You can't find too many Tim Hortons in the United States, although I hear there are some in the Detroit area. Regular Scratch Cribber Bob Roth always stops at one in South Portland, Maine.
    Tim Hortons coffee is smoother than Dunkin' Donuts (I don't drink Starbucks) and it is perfect for driving the boring Highway 401 between Windsor and Toronto, Ontario as I did earlier this summer.

    Insiders order the Tim Hortons "double-double." That's coffee with two creams and two sugars. There are many fine Tim Hortons shops to stop at along Highway 401........

8:00 p.m. March 25

Its Opening Day!
At least it is in Japan, where baseball's Oakland A's are hosting the Boston Red Sox. But this one almost got by me. March 22 was the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Lefty O'Douls, 333 Geary Blvd. in San Francisco. Lefty's may be the longest running sports bar in America.
According to file reports from the San Francisco Chronicle, Mayor George Christopher showed up for the 1958 opening with two Pan American Airlines flight attendants (Lefty was one of the first liasions between Japanese and American baseball) and elder actor Eddie Nugent wore a coachman's uniform and carried a trumpet. Lefty was there. A box of home plate dirt was imported from his beloved Polo Grounds.
It makes me want to go to O'Douls for a beer. RIght now.
But since I am in Chicago, I'll revisit this edited version of an August, 2003 report I filed for the Sun-Times........,

SAN FRANCISCO--One long ago morning after seeing Tom Jones get slammed by brassieres at the House of Blues nightclub in Los Angeles, a friend and I were hit by road fever. We decided to take a day trip up Highway 101 to San Francisco. It's not unusual to see the Golden Gate Bridge. And have dinner in North Beach at Ristorante Fior d'Italia, 601 Union, the oldest Italian restaurant in America (est. 1886). Or laugh at the hippies playing hackey-sack in the Haight.
But our destination was Lefty O' Doul's, the last great sports bar in America. The California sky was as blue as our Advil. She had the top down on her red Mazda and music from Tom Jones' "Live in Las Vegas" tumbled into the air like lucky dice. By the time we reached Santa Barbara, I was feeling so good I began regaling her with stories of Lefty, who opened his San Francisco restaurant and bar in 1958.
Lefty was born in 1897 in San Francisco. He always dressed in green. He had green suits, green pants, green hats and green socks. He had green eyes. Lefty is the only major league player ever to hit more than 30 home runs and strike out fewer than 20 times in the same season. He had a lifetime .349 batting average in 970 major league games.......

2:20 p.m. Feb. 23

Its never too early to start planning the road trip from Chicago to New Orleans for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. One mandatory stop is Chamoun's Rest Haven Restaurant in Clarksdale, Miss. I called yesterday to make sure they are still open. They are.
Here's an edited version of a story I wrote from a visit in early 2004. I was hungry. I had spent half a day talking to musician-producer Jim Dickinson at his North Mississippi compound. Then I went to this classic diner to eat Lebanese food. I think Mississippi is an underappreciated state.

CLARKSDALE, Miss. -- The parched terrain surrounding Chamoun's Rest Haven Restaurant is best-known for nourishing the blues. John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters all came from this part of the Delta, 75 miles south of Memphis. Blues are not usually linked to Lebanese cuisine. But the Rest Haven has been serving kibbies in the Delta since 1947........

4:15 p.m. Feb. 8
Spring Training starts next week. People always ask me about the Pink Pony, a staple of Cactus League Spring Training and one of my favorite baseball restaurants and bars in America. I've been to the Pink Pony a dozen times, but truth be told, I've had dinner there just once. Here's my edited backstory which originally appeared in the March, 14 2004 Chicago Sun-Times.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gwen Briley misses her husband, Charlie.
Charlie died in the winter of 2002, but every time spring comes around he is as near as the crack of a bat and the crease in a glove. Charlie died of complications from pneumonia at age 87. Charlie had a great life, but that goes without saying. He was a baseball fan........

Prince's Hot Chicken

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Date: 09/10/06

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The hottest restaurant in Nashville, hands down, is Prince's Hot Chicken Shack. Harold's Chicken Shack in Chicago was the king of hot chicken until I tried Prince's.
If you want it "hot" at Prince's, you order "medium." A pickle slice on the side calms the effect. You also avoid Coca-Cola or Mountain Dew. I quickly learned carbonation accents the heat. Nashville food writer Pat Embry -- whom I've known for years -- brought two glasses of backup water during our visit to Prince's. Then I got my own water........

Dave Hoekstra

Dave Hoekstra has been a Chicago Sun-Times staff writer since 1985. His collection of Sun-Times travel columns, "Ticket To Everywhere," was published in 2000 by Lake Claremont Press. He was lead writer for "Farm Aid: Song for America" (Rodale Press, 2005) which commemorated the 20th anniversary of the Willie Nelson inspired effort.
He won a 1987 Chicago Newspaper Guild Stick O-Type Award for Column Writing. Hoekstra wrote and co-proudced the WTTW-Channel 11 PBS special: "The Staple Singers and the Civil Rights Movement," nominated for a 2001-02 Chicago Emmy for a documentary program/cultural significance.
He lives in Chicago.


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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Restaurants We Like category.

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