When traveling to the Kansas City or St. Louis areas, a must stop for lunch is one of the White Castle restaurants (http://www.whitecastle.com/
) for some of their classic square “mini-hamburgers”. Later in the day if in St. Louis, I generally try to stop at The Pasta House Company (http://www.pastahouse.com/
) for one of their Italian specialties.
When visiting the Quad Cities of Illinois/Iowa, a “must” for those craving an unusual sandwich is the Maid Rite (http://www.maid-rite.com/food/food.shtml
). This particular sandwich is probably what spawned the idea for the “Loose Meat” sandwich that was a staple on some of the later Roseanne television shows. Many of the local cafes also serve a sandwich called a “Steamburger” that approximates the Maid Rite.
A Western Kansas specialty that I have encountered most often in Russell, Osborne, and Rooks counties is the Bierock (http://www.kitchenproject.com/html/bierocks.htm
). A pocket sandwich that is absolutely delicious. The pocket is of any variety of “yeast-type” bread filled with a mixture of ground meat and sauerkraut (or more traditonally, cabbage) that is baked until golden brown and delicious. It sounds strange, but the sauerkraut has no “cabbage” taste when this dish is properly prepared - - it was a staple of the school lunch menu in the high school where I taught in the 1980s and 1990s.
When traveling nearer home, I can’t resist an occasional stop at Lambert’s Café (http://www.throwedrolls.com/
) for some of their home-made throwed rolls with equally good home-made sorghum and delicious pass-arounds. They are located in Sikeston, Missouri just off of Interstate 55 on Malone Street.
When spending time on my farm in Union County, Illinois, one of my favorite places is The Giant City Lodge (http://dnr.state.il.us/lodges/gc.htm
) their specialties include home-made chicken and dumplings served family style with Southern Fried Chicken. They also have delicious steaks - - their filet mignon is a must not miss for me.
When traveling between the Quad Cities and Carbondale, I can’t miss stopping in Illinois’ Amish country for dinner. The Dutch Kitchen (http://www.rockome.com/Html/dutchkitchen/dk.html
) is a café specializing in Pennsylvania Dutch meals with a sweet and sour salad bar, and fabulous home-made deserts. My usual is the Dutch Sausage Dinner with a slice of Shoo-Fly-Pie Alamode.
A trip to the San Francisco Bay Area, Las Vegas, or Reno isn’t complete for me without a stop at a Pepper Mill Restaurant for a bowl of their delicious sour dough bread-bowl chili.
When in the Springfield, Illinois area (served at many local cafes) or in Hays, Kansas at the Pheasant Run Restaurant on Vine Street; the special treat is a Horse Shoe Sandwich. These are open-faced sandwiches served on toast covered with fresh French Fries and smothered in a delicious sharp cheddar cheese sauce - - the meat varies by the interpretation of the restaurateur - - I have had turkey, hamburger, chicken, or pork versions of the same sandwich and they have all been very good.
A trip to Grant County, Wisconsin, is never quite complete without a stop in one of the local cafes for Cornish Pasty. It is basically a meat pocket-pie (the meat varies by interpretation of the restaurateur - - the tradition is for lamb, but more frequently beef or pork is found) - - the pocket is basically an 8” round crust that is filled with meat, sliced potatoes, onions and seasonings after which the crust is sealed around the edges making a half-round finger-food delicacy. It’s even better when topped off with a crock of Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese soup. When available, Lefse (http://www.mnwebsteps.com/grover/lefse.htm
) is a wonderful finish to such a meal - - I like to add a “Southern” twist and dip my Lefse in sorghum.