Best EATS 2021!

Another year of resistance: resisting the urge to try a new, unknown restaurant. The need to resist returning to a restaurant where we didn’t feel safe from Covid-19.

As we did last year, we ordered to-go rather than eat-in in some places and stuck to some tried-and-true restaurants where we knew masks were being worn and where we knew we had plenty of elbow room.

After being vaccinated, we visited a few of our favorite places — Ham and Eggs O’Brian at Brownie’s in Yuma, for example, was high on our list!

As I mentioned in last year’s Best EATS post, we lost T+D’s restaurant in Baker, Nevada, (outside Great Basin National Park) didn’t have a menu that appealed to us, so our dining out choices were even narrower than they used to be, meaning we went from a creek to a nearly-dried up trickle.

Overall, you might not see too many variations from last year’s BEST list, mostly because we returned to so many of the same places. The good news is we saw fewer restaurants shuttered in 2021 than we did in 2020, and — as always — we managed to find some new favorite dishes!

So whet your appetite, forget about your woes, and join us as we present the 2021 Bob and Ellen’s BEST EATS Awards!

BEST BREAKFAST

  1. Ham and Eggs O’Brian at Brownie’s Cafe in Yuma, AZ
  2. (tie) Sirloin Steak and Eggs at Bob’s Texas TBone Restaurant in Rufus, OR

Sirloin Steak and Eggs at Bob’s Texas TBone Restaurant
  1. (tie) Steak and Eggs at Jimmie K’s Diner in Yuma, AZ

Steak and Eggs at Jimmie K’s Diner
  1. Build-Your-Own-Omelet at Denny’s in La Grande, OR (we usually don’t go to chain restaurants, but with local establishments not enforcing COVID-19 precautions, we opted for a restaurant we felt more comfortable in)
Build-Your-Own-Omelet at Denny’s

BEST BREAKFAST BURRITO
Goldsboro’s Bakery, Yuma, AZ

BEST APPETIZERS

Jalapeno Poppers at The Embers in Joseph, OR

Jalapeno Poppers at The Embers

Fried Green Beans (yep!) at Minnie’s Montana Cafe in Thompson Falls, MT

Fried Green Beans at Minnie’s Montana Cafe

Shrimp Cocktail at JAndy Oysters in Tillamook, OR

Shrimp Cocktail at JAndy Oysters

BEST SOUPS

Bean Soup at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID

Bean Soup at Pie Hut

Taco Soup at Minnie’s Montana Cafe in Thompson Falls, MT

Taco Soup at Minnie’s Montana Cafe

Hungarian Goulash at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID

Hungarian Goulash at Pie Hut

Clam Chowder at the Parkside Restaurant in Garibaldi, OR

Clam Chowder at Parkside Restaurant

BEST DINNER SALAD

Minnie’s Montana Cafe, Thompson Falls, MT

Dinner Salad at Minnie’s Montana Cafe

BEST PIZZA

  1. Ronnie’s in Yuma, AZ
Ronnie’s Pizza
  1. Moose’s Tavern in Kalispell, MT
Moose’s Pizza

BEST SANDWICHES

Best Burgers

  1. [Tie] Patty Melt with Bacon at Brownie’s Cafe in Yuma, Arizona
Patty Melt at Brownie’s Cafe
  1. [Tie] The Garlic Burger at Hought’s 24 Flavors in La Grande, OR (for a real treat, add a fried egg and maybe a grilled jalapeno, as Bob does!)
Garlic Burger at Hought’s 24 Flavors

Best Fish Sandwich
Minnie’s Montana Cafe, Thompson Falls, MT

Fish Sandwich at Minnie’s Montana Cafe

Best Panini
Heather’s Special at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID

Heather’s Special Panini

BEST SEAFOOD

Tumbled Pacific Oysters at JAndy Oysters in Tillamook, OR

Tumbled Pacific Oysters at JAndy Oysters

Halibut and Chips at Sea Baron Food Trailer in Garibaldi, OR

Halibut and Chips at Sea Baron

Fish & Chips at Parkside Restaurant in Garibaldi, OR

Fish and Chips at Parkside Restaurant

Steamer Clams at JAndy Oysters in Tillamook, OR

Steamer Clams at JAndy Oysters

BEST DINNERS

Best Fish Dinner at Brownie’s Cafe in Yuma, AZ

Fish Dinner at Brownie’s Cafe

Best Fish Tacos at Margarita’s in Ely, NV

Fish Tacos at Margarita’s

Best Mexican Dinner
Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp at El Jefe’s in Pahrump, NV

Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp at El Jefe’s

Best Comfort Food (Tie)

  1. Scalloped Potatoes and Ham at Montana Minnie’s in Thompson Falls, MT (Bob)
Scalloped Potatoes and Ham at Minnie’s Montana Cafe
  1. Chicken Pot Pie at Montana Minnie’s in Thompson Falls, MT (Ellen)
Chicken Pot Pie at Minnie’s Montana Cafe
  1. Mac and Cheese at Side A Brewing in LaGrande, OR (Ellen)
Mac and Cheese at Side A Brewing
  1. Mac and Cheese at Side A Brewing in LaGrande, OR (Bob)
Dirty Mac and Cheese at Side A Brewing

BEST DESSERTS

Best Carrot Cake at the Parkside Restaurant in Garibaldi, OR

Carrot Cake at Parkside Restaurant

Best Fruit Pie

Fruits of the Forest, Minnie’s Montana Cafe in Thompson Falls, MT

Fruits of the Forest Pie at Minnie’s Montana Cafe

Best Cream Pie
Chocolate Cream Pie at Pie Hut in Sandpoint, ID

Chocolate Cream Pie at Pie Hut

Best Ice Cream Pie
Mud Pie at The Hydra in Sandpoint, Idaho

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

Best Indulgent Dessert
Brownie Delight at Brownie’s Cafe in Yuma, AZ

Brownie Delight at Brownie’s Cafe
Brownie Delight for the Chocoholic at Brownie’s Cafe

BEST “Glad I Tried It But Won’t Have It Again”
Lamb Stew at Border Inn near Great Basin National Park

Lamb Stew at the Border Inn

As always, the best meals we had were at home. Despite the tiny space in the RV for prepping a great meal, Bob makes amazing meals for us.

Sometimes it’s a simple ham and eggs with toast (yes! Those are peppers and onions and other good things mixed into the eggs… MMM!)…

…other times it’s a great combination of finger potatoes and beans with fried oysters.

Mixed salad with mandarin oranges as a side to sauteed shrimp and salmon is another favorite…

…and you’ll have to ask Bob how he manages to make fried cabbage so yummy (pairing it with shrimp and scallops make cabbage leftovers even better)!

Of course, salmon is great alongside angel hair pasta and marinara, with shredded aged cheese…

…and his spaghetti and meatballs are so good I never order it when we go to Italian restaurants.

Well, I started this post thinking I wouldn’t have many BEST EATS to list, but looking back on the year, it’s clear why I ended up with a few pounds more than I started with!

Here’s hoping 2022 gives us more chances to try new places, revisit some favorites, and give the home cook a day off now and then!

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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