Anyone who has read my blog for a while knows that I am a "foodie". I love to talk about food, grow food, cook food and eat food. There have even been times in my life when I've dreamt about food. For me, the most difficult aspect of moving to rural Montana, has been the tremendous lack of culinary variety. Yes, I am able to cook many of my favorite foods and cuisines, and cook them quite well. However, sometimes it is a great pleasure to be pampered by someone else who produces a product just as good or better than I can cook myself ... a luxury that I do not get to indulge in on the Montana prairie.
Visiting our new grandbaby down south afforded me an opportunity to indulge in a few culinary delights that are simply not available on the Montana prairie. The Montana prairie is cattle country and boasts of their perfected steaks and prime rib. However, I must honestly say the best steak I've ever consumed was NOT in the state of Montana. Here's a look at a few of the amazing culinary indulgences not available on the Montana prairie that I enjoyed during my travels.
Sauceman's BBQ & Grill located in Charlotte, NC is a multiple winner of the BBQ PitMaster contests. I must say, they deserve every single award they've ever won! The general manager, Edmar was a delight. He served us up TWO sampler platters overflowing with BBQ chicken, smoked brisket, pulled pork, fried green tomatoes, homemade onion rings, and fresh cut French fries. Since Charlotte is located on the boarder of N. Carolina and S. Carolina, Sauceman's serves three traditional BBQ sauces; a North Carolina vinegar based sauce, a South Carolina mustard based sauce and a sweet hot combination commonly found in the Louisiana/Texas region. This was absolutely some of the BEST BBQ I've ever ate. Thank you, Edmar!
DON'S Seafood located on the Airline Highway in Baton Rouge, LA has been in business since the 1930's. 80 years of business says something about the quality of food served at this fine seafood establishment. Montanan's don't even know what it is and since it was in season, I couldn't resist indulging in that Gulf Coast delicacy, crawfish. I relished a huge bowl of crawfish etoufee served with piping hot and crusty buttered French bread. OH MY WORD! Six years without crawfish ... how have I survived?
The Cadillac Bar located on Shepherd near I-10 in Houston, TX, has been a Mexican food landmark for the Heights and River Oaks areas for more than 25 years. My first encounter with its mouthwatering menu was more than 25 years ago when I worked in the Heights. Whenever, our company's corporate executives came into town, they ALWAYS took lunch at the Cadillac Bar. I was thrilled to introduce this Houston landmark to my sister friend, Mrs.A, also a native Texan, who commented that it was the best Mexican food she's ever ate. Yes, KNOCK YOUR BOOTS OFF YOUR FEET Mexican food is the reason the Cadillac Bar has continued to be a thriving business in the heart of the Mexican food capital of the U.S. for nearly three decades.
Although the best Italian restaurant I've ever eaten at was located in New York City's Little Italy, there is a hidden gem in one of Houston's suburbs. Italiano's Resturaurant is located in a strip center on the Eastex Freeway in Humble, TX. This family owned restaurant has been a local favorite for about 15 years. The Chicken Marsala was always my favorite and after being gone for six years, it was as good as I remembered it. The garlic knots are also still served fresh out of the oven, crisp on the outside, soft on the inside and seasoned to perfection. I finished off my meal with a generous portion of my favorite desert, tiramisu.
Since I mentioned dessert in the above paragraph, I have to tell you about Gigi's Cupcakes located in Kingwood, TX. My sister friend, Mrs.A introduced this little shop to me. If you are looking for an amazing gluten free cupcake, Gigi's is the place. We tried the gluten free triple chocolate torte. It's moist, brownie like texture and indulgent dark chocolate flavor is AMAZING. It was the best gluten free baked good I've ever tasted! I give this little shop two thumbs up.
65 years and counting, Luby's cafeteria style restaurants have been a life long landmark in the state of Texas. They serve good old fashioned comfort food one will generally find on Grandma's Sunday dinner table. I was about 9 or 10 years old when my grandmother wanted to go there for a special Mother's Day meal. I don't remember what I ordered during that 1st visit, but my grandma ordered the pan fried liver and onions smothered in brown gravy. She shared a bite with me and from that day forward, Luby's liver and onions has been one of my favorite comfort foods. As a matter of fact, I genuinely do not remember ever ordering anything but liver & onions smothered in brown gravy, green beans and mashed potatoes from a Luby's restaurant. Luby's liver and onions is the only liver and onions recipe I've ever liked and I am so glad I was able to satisfy my craving for this favorite childhood comfort food.
Of the 26 countries our Middle Child has visited, Greece and the Mediterranean cuisine he found there was one of his favorites. Savvas Greek Cuisine and Grill located in Atascocita, TX serves up authentic Mediterranean cuisine. The Middle Child says it's just like what you'd find in Greece and since he's been there ... Their marvelous pita is baked fresh daily and was the best I've ever eaten. This little "hole in the wall" restaurant has become a favorite of the Middle Child and my sister friend, Mrs.A. If I get another visit to the Houston area, a return visit to Savvas Greek Cuisine and Grill will most definitely be on my list of "must eat" places.
Pontchartrain sauce is another KNOCK YOU OUT OF YOUR BOOTS culinary masterpiece and Papa's Seafood House is the only place I've ever been able to find it. Pontchartrain sauce is a shrimp, crawfish and mushroom brown-butter sauce that is generally served over Texas red fish. My personal favorite is when I can get it served over blackened flounder, but I will never turn my nose up to grilled red fish. Papa's Seafood House is another one of Houston's landmark restaurants and has been busy 7 days a week for more than 40 years. Today, I believe there are 4 or 5 Papa's Seafood House restaurants in the Houston area. I recommend the pontchartrain sauce - you can decide what you'd like it poured over.
There were a couple other places on my list of "must eats" but a family emergency summoned me home before I had an opportunity to enjoy them. Until my next visit down south, I will crave the menus at these missed restaurants and dream of BBQ, Mexican and Seafood.
Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way for any of these reviews or endorsements. All opinions are my own and based upon my own personal experiences.