2019 Best EATS !

We’ve been at this for more than ten years now (WOW, right?!?) and along the way we’ve seen restaurants come and go. It’s always sad to head for a restaurant we’ve enjoyed in the past only to find it gone. This past year we looked forward to the Asada Omelet at Main Stop Restaurant in Kittitas, Washington (see last year’s post for an image). “This is the exit,” I said, and Bob made the turn. We found a place to park but ended up staring not at the side of the restaurant but the side of an irrigation business.

When we return to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, Bob’s Cafe has always been our go-to place for their amazing broasted chicken and a coleslaw unlike any other. Well, they’d moved since the last time we were in town, and though they swore their recipes moved with them nothing tasted as good in the shiny new place as they did in the old dive, and despite now being called Cluckin’ Good Chicken.

Sometimes disappointments like these lead us to find other restaurants, which quickly become favorites. Read on to see our tried-and-true favorites plus some new discoveries. Are any of them familiar to you? Have a better suggestion for a place in one of the towns mentioned? We’d love your comments!

BEST BREAKFAST
Veggie Scramble at Blue Plate Cafe in Hayden, ID

BEST SOUPS

Classic
Ham and Bean Soup at Fanny Horner’s Eating Establishment in Mitchell, SD

Chicken Noodle at Katie’s Korner in Cloverdale, OR

Italian
Ciopino (Italian stew) at The Landing in Bay City, OR

Unusual
Tamale Soup at the Salty Dog in Waldport, OR

BEST APPETIZERS

Best Fry Bread
Country Skillet in Big Timber, MT

BEST SALADS

Best Side Salad
1. Blue Canyon Kitchen and Tavern in Kalispell, MT

2. Country Skillet in Big Timber, MT

Best Spinach Salad
Shari’s Restaurant in Caldwell, ID

BEST PIZZA
1. Ronnie’s in Yuma, AZ
2. Moose’s Tavern in Kalispell, MT

BEST SANDWICHES

Best Reuben
1. Chalkboard Cafe in Wallace, ID

2. Crowbar in Shoshone, CA

Best Deli Sandwiches
Katie’s Korner in Cloverdale, OR

BEST SEAFOOD

Best Fish Tacos (3-Way Tie)
1. Tacos Mi Rancho in Yuma, AZ
1. Margarita’s in Ely, NV
1. The Place To Go in Pahrump, NV

Best Shrimp Tacos
Baxter’s in Sandpoint, Idaho

Best Po Boy
Blackboard Cafe in Wallace, ID

Best Seafood Dinner
1. Diver Scallops at Spezia’s in Sioux Falls, SD

2. Jumbo Shrimp Arrabiata at Caffe Di Nonno in Columbus, NE

3. Oyster Dinner at Upstairs Bar & Grill in Netarts, OR

BEST DINNERS

Best BBQ Pork Ribs
Jimmie K’s Diner in the Yuma Foothills, AZ

Best Chicken Dinner (Tie) (They look a lot alike, don’t they?!?)
1. Fanny Horner’s Eating Establishment in Mitchell, SD

1. Fryin’ Pan in Sioux Falls, SD

Best Comfort Food (Tie)
1. Scalloped Potatoes and Ham at Montana Minnie’s in Thompson Falls, MT (Bob)

1. Chicken Pot Pie at Montana Minnie’s in Thompson Falls, MT (Ellen)

Best Meatloaf

Flathead Valley Elk Meatloaf at Blue Canyon in Kalispell, MT

Best Italian Dinners

Best Ravioli
Crab Ravioli with Pesto at Bit of Italy in Nampa, ID

Best Spaghetti
Spaghetti Alle Vongole at Caffe Di Nonno in Columbus, NE

BEST DESSERTS

Best Fruit Pie
1. Cherry Crumble at Mom’s Diner in Pahrump, NV
2. Razzleberry Pie at Mom’s Diner in Pahrump, NV
3. (Tie) Cherry Pie a la mode at Shari’s Diner in Caldwell, ID
3. (Tie) Cherry Pie at Jimmie K’s Diner in the Yuma Foothills, AZ

Best Crisp
True Crisp at the True Kitchen in Roseburg, OR

Best Ice Cream Pie
Mud Pie at Fryin’ Pan in Sioux Falls, SD

Best Chocolate Cake
1. Spezia’s in Sioux Falls, SD

2. Blue Canyon, Kalispell, MT

Best Hot Fudge Sundae
Hought’s 24 Flavors, LaGrande, OR

Best Milkshakes
1. Miner’s of Yakima, WA
1. Eddie’s Grill in Yuma, AZ

MOST UNUSUAL DINING EXPERIENCE
Chef’s Mercy at Columbian Cafe in Astoria, OR

It works this way: Choose vegetarian, vegan or seafood; then choose your level of heat (“wimpy, mild, medium, hot or wild”). That’s it. The menu says it all: “If you have control issues, do not order this.”

But we didn’t go back…. The food was good but not great, and there was a “we’re doing you a favor waiting on you” vibe in the air; our server didn’t smile until we overtipped her (just to see what made her tick, and it worked). Maybe the writing on the inside of the bathroom door said it all: “Clean this bathroom! Gross!” “F*** You! Go Back to Portland!” (FYI the bathroom wasn’t gross when we were there.)

MOST OVER-RATED DINING EXPERIENCE
Kerouac’s in Baker, NV

You can count the number of places to eat out in Baker on the fingers of one hand, so when we returned to hike in the Great Basin National Park this year and saw a new restaurant, we were eager to try it.

Yuck.

Despite the lines of people waiting to get in (they must be there for the alcohol), this was an awful experience for us. I ordered the veggie burger with the crispy Brussel sprouts (a great idea) but it was so salty I couldn’t eat any of it.

To restaurant managers: Please. Put salt on the table. Don’t salt stuff for me. For all you know, I have to limit my intake for health reasons.

What about you? What kinds of great (or not so great) experiences have you had with road food this past year? We’d love to hear about them!

About Ellen

Fiction writer and photographer, I travel the country with my sweetheart of a husband as a "full-time RVer."
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