Lunch at the Station
I love old gas stations.
This one caught my eye as we drove through the town of La Grande, last summer.
Don and I were over halfway, driving from Portland to Boise, Idaho. If the year had been 1959, we could have stopped and bought some gas.
But it was August 2022, and there was no gas at the old Texaco. However, we could buy ice cream, coffee and sandwiches. It was food that we actually needed.
This is how the Texaco looked, back in the day. There were 3 pumps and 3 garage doors.
I'm not clear about when the Texaco became The Local. But today, the open-air, covered drive. (behind the pumps) is a fresh, air-conditioned room where you can order ice cream and coffee.
Sweets and Caffeine
We were looking for lunch when we entered this bright space.
The smells of handcrafted ice cream and specialty coffees, filled the room.
Before ordering food, I made a trip to the Ladies Room. As a kid I dreaded creepy bathrooms at gas stations, especially when you had to borrow some grubby key. But I was excited about this one. It was the original, with mint green tile.
Luckily the restroom was as clean as the ice cream/coffee shop. And I didn't have to obtain a key. However they had the old keys on display. Love it!
We inquired about lunch and were directed to the "garage" area.
First we took a peek at the patio. it was a beautiful day and there were some families and a couple sweet dogs. Such a comfortable setting.
Into the Garage
We headed towards the open garage doors. Surely those come down in the winter months.
My eyes were drawn to the bright green Adirondack chairs. If only we'd had lots of time to kill, I would have loved kicking back in those chairs with a cup of coffee.
Relaxed, Clean and Friendly
I loved the comfy vibe. There were people sitting near a fireplace. (unlit) A few worked quietly at laptops. Most of the people looked like locals, who come regularly.
We ordered our food from 2 "youngins" behind the counter. They were probably students at Eastern Oregon University. Couldn't have been nicer.
Payphone at the Station
There was an old payphone near the counter. I asked the 2 if the old phone actually worked. They both laughed like they'd never heard that question. They invited me to try.
I asked if either had ever used one and the young girl never had. The guy said he did once, but it didn't have a dial. I have a good story from when I was 16 and used payphone at a gas station, in a sketchy part of Detroit. There wasn't enough time to share that long story!
Signs of the Past
We waited for our order and I looked around the place looking for evidence, that this really once was a gas station. It seemed too clean. I spotted a drain and could suddenly picture cars, leaking oil and mechanics with dirty hands. Luckily none of those car smells exist today.
Closer to the coffee/ice cream shop, I peeked through a window and saw some old news clippings and postcards, attached to a Texaco sign. Maybe the space was once a waiting area for customers. I'll bet there was a glass coffee pot sitting on burner and some disposable paper coffee cups... with little handles. Starbucks never had cool cups with handles!
Muffuletta and Oregon Chips
Don and I ended up splitting a muffuletta, with a bag of Oregon chips. It was just the right amount. It was such a quick and tasty stop. I wish we could have lingered.
We headed to our car parked out front on Adams Avenue... which I believe was once the Old Oregon Trail. Then I noticed a cozy looking, old hotel called, The Landing. Hmm? Another hotel to try in the future. Someday we can stay right on the Oregon Trail, in a cute hotel and spend more time at The Local, sampling ice cream and coffee!
Sometimes a sign is all that's needed to get me excited about a restaurant.
Don and I have passed this goofy sign, (north of Houston) about 20 times in the past 15 years. Last week we spotted the sign along I-10. This time we stopped and had a closer look.
Actually the cartoonish catfish sign isn't nearly as eye-catching as the restaurant.
The boat-shaped restaurant makes me grin, every time I see it!
Love a Gimmick
We've eaten in a few restaurants with unusual shapes over the years. I love a gimmick or a theme! Captain Tom's has both.
We parked and followed the walk towards the bow of the boat. It actually looked sort of eerie as we approached. What were we in for?
Then I was distracted by the oyster shells on the ground. I took that as a sign of a serious seafood restaurant.
I hoped to see some oyster shucking inside the boat. I wonder how many they shuck per day at Captain Tom's?
Follow the Locals
"There's the door, on the starboard side!" I told Don. It's important to use your boating terms when dining in a boat-shaped restaurant.
The other diners approaching the restaurant were not playing along with the nautical theme. They appeared to be locals, not travelers. My camera snapping made it clear, we were first-timers.
Lots of Counters
We stepped inside the noisy place and tried to figure it out. There were no tables, just counters. We joined a long line of people standing along the windows, waiting for seats. (This photo was taken later)
There was a system, but we hadn't figured it out yet.
The main part of the boat's bow, was taken up with a huge U-shaped counter. Guests could eat their seafood and watch the busy guys in red shirts.
One very nice guy in red, noticed me looking confused and pointed to some vacant stools near the window. He said all the people in line, were waiting for seats at the center bar.
In the U
It was hard to see into the special U, since the occupied stools were close together. I was able to peek through later, when a couple seats vacated.
I could see why it would be fun to sit at the main bar/counter. So many of people appeared to know one another. The noise level was loud and festive. The energy inside the U was high, as the red guys rushed around grabbing beers from the ice filled sinks and delivering plates of oysters and fried fish.
I walked around the U to see if I could find any better seats. The atmosphere was fun, but a little intimidating.
Don and I generally try to avoid super crowded places... with this endless pandemic. I was hopeful we'd find a couple of stools, that weren't right on top of other diners.
We lucked out. I grabbed 2 stools that seemed to have a little more space around them.
Then we jumped back up to read the hanging menu. Before we had time to ponder, one of the guys in red hollered to us from the U. I hollered back, "Large shrimp plate and a cup of gumbo!" Even though we hadn't fully decided.
I wish we'd had it in us, to go for the full raw oyster experience. Maybe if it had been less crowded and we'd felt less rushed.
Instead, we shared a cup of gumbo and a large order of fried shrimp. I was surprised at how quickly our piping hot order arrived.
There was an unusual corn batter on the shrimp. I think this is one of the things regulars love about the place, but it seemed a little odd to me. The fries were good and hot, but we couldn't find catsup. We used cocktail sauce.
By the time we finished up, the nearby guests had departed. I took a quick, (not so flattering) photo of Don. It shows our prize spot in the bow, with a view of the catfish sign.
Trip to the Stern
Before leaving, I made a trip to the restroom in the stern of the boat. I approved of the nautical tile colors and porthole. I tried to peek in the kitchen on the way back. I wanted to see where the shucking was happening. No luck spotting the action.
I made sure to get a photo of myself with the sign in the background. Chances are this won't become a regular stop on trips home from New Orleans. I seized the opportunity.
I took one last photo of Don, exiting on the starboard side.
I must give hime some credit for letting me check out Captain Tom's.
The Port Side
Don headed to the car and I dashed off quickly in hopes of getting a photo of the entire boat.
It was actually impossible. I walked all the way around and this was the best I could capture. It looks like the boat is sailing on a sea of Oleanders!
Homemade Ice Cream in August
Sometimes, I have to throw in an adventure that involves something sweet.
This little house in Boise's Hyde Park Neighborhood, offered us something cold and sweet on a hot day, last August.
Don and I were visiting my bro and sister in law, for a few days. I said I wanted to step inside the little ice cream parlor. "Let's Just step in and look." is what I said. That's not what I meant.
The first thing I saw when we stepped in, was the popcorn machine. I often choose salty over sweet, so this suddenly made it hard. I adore good popcorn.
If I'd smelled the popcorn, I might have gone no further. But the sweet smells of ice cream and chocolate were more overpowering than popcorn!
I followed my nose further. I can only imagine how exciting this place would be to a child. Ice cream, candy AND lots of stuffed animals. My SIL reminded me that she had been hear many times with our nephew Andy when he was a little guy. I wish he'd been with us!
Goody's makes their own ice cream and chocolate. They've been doing it for over 30 years. They also have tons of candy. It was fun just looking at it!
I spotted no penny candy, but it's nice that you can still buy candies for a dime! And what a selection of gummy sweets! We could have gotten sharks or flamingos. Or what about fried egg or chicken feet candies?
Kids and Candy
While we studied the chocolate options and the ice cream flavors, we listened to the kiddos nearby as they debated ice cream flavors. I'm sure their parents were somewhere nearby, but I loved the way they pulled out their own money. I was reminded of being a kid and buying candy with my own money at The Little Store. down the street. Sometimes, my older bro, Chris went with me.
When Chris suddenly asked the girls if they were treating, I felt like I'd gone back in time. He used to tease me that way. The girls picked up on the joke and smiled at each other. Then one firmly answered with two words I remember using. "No way!"
After ordering, we had lots of options for seating. (Where was everybody on this hot day?) Seeing the white stools at the counter, I was reminded of Cunningham Drugs, in Grinnell, Iowa. Dr. Grimmer used to give "us kids" prescriptions for ice cream, after our yearly check ups. We took our paper prescriptions to the ice cream counter at Cunningham's, not the pharmacist.
But we 4 adults (all being in our 60's) chose a table, with slightly more comfortable chairs.
Not Just Looking
So we came in just to look and ended up with some yummy treats. Karen and I both went for the chocolate almond ice cream. Good minds think alike. I went over the top with the big sugar cone!
Chris, never goes along with the crowd. He's always a little different. He ordered something that I'm sure he used to order, back at Cunningham's. A chocolate egg cream. He took a sip of the foamy drink and reminded us, enlightened us, just as he would have when we were kids.
"You know, there's no egg in an egg cream." And no cream, either.
Cheers to ice cream and sweet memories!
Dinner at Rogue Tavern!
In April, we finally got to have a dining adventure at Rogue's!
The sign confused me years ago. Manor or tavern? Restaurant or bar?
25 Years Ago?
We first spotted this curious property in the 1990's, when traveling in Arkansas with the kids. I believe Rouge's had just opened at that time. They offered food and lodging.
I didn't realize we had this photo of the kiddos and me, until recently. What a find!
Spring in Arkansas
This past April, Don and I booked one night in Eureka Springs.
The Rogue no longer offers lodging, but we booked a hotel across the street.
Palace Hotel & Bath House
We planned a one-night stay at the iconic Palace hotel. It was about 200 feet from the Rogue property.
What a perfect combo for a Hotel & Restaurant Adventure!
The Rogue wasn't open until 4, so Don and I wandered the grounds a bit. Like all of Eureka Springs, the property was a bit mysterious and magical, eerie and confusing.
There's a lot of mossy rock in this storybook town. We found the waters of Sweet Spring bubbling up, nearby. I believe this is the same water that feeds the hotel bathhouse.
We weren't able to make reservations by phone, so figured we'd arrive at 4 to make them in person. We paused to peek in the window and noted white tablecloths. Hopefully no dress code.
We stepped inside at 4 and had a quick look around before we were greeted by the owner.
The owner Terry Blanton, greeted us and invited us to explore. We headed towards the room with the sign "Hideaway Lounge".
Don examined some of the art, with scantily clad women. I believe a previous owner is responsible for some of the curious art.
There was actually quite a bit of artwork in the dimly lit lounge.
I wished for a little more light so I could focus on this wall mural. These characters were having a fine time in the tavern.
There was some light illuminating the cliff or rock wall outside the building. This is just one example of how the buildings in Eureka Springs, adapt to the mountain terrain!
The red drapes, dark leather chairs and redwood tables, looked extra dramatic with this window view.
Dining in the House
We checked out a few of the dining rooms for later.
I'm not sure which of these rooms are original, but Rogue Manor was once a private home. Built in the 1870's!
At some point 2 fussy sisters lived here and divided the house, so they wouldn't have to see each other.
Back in the Bar
Back in the lounge, Chad was preparing the bar for the evening.
A distributor had arrived with a special gin, that he was very enthused about. There was a little sampling and a little visiting. I loved the color of the Gray Whale Gin bottle.
We chatted with Terry (in red) about how he acquired the Rogue Tavern in recent years. Then we made our reservations for later and headed off.
Back at 6!
We came early before reservations, so we could sit at that classic bar.
We had to be careful about putting our glasses down. There was a huge knothole, just asking to swallow a glass.
Chad seemed a little serious when we first sat down. But before long we learned a lot about him, while he skillfully made our decadent drinks. A Manhattan (Chad's version) for Don and Eureka Rain for me.
He talked about growing up in the town where all my relatives are from. Springfield, Missouri! He chuckled about some other "podunk town" where he had lived as a kid. Usually I wouldn't attempt to talk to anyone in Arkansas about politics, but he had some nice things to say. Chad told a story or two about some special people he has served, when doing conferences. He talked about how very gracious Michelle Obama was and how G.W. Bush shared an understanding look with him, when he dropped a tray. Chad said he appreciated both and I appreciated his attitude. He said he didn't care about politics, just people.
I also appreciated that Chad took our photo. How often do you get to pose with drinks in a setting like this?
Dinner in the Greenhouse?
When it was time for our dinner reservations, Chad walked us through a dining room and into a glassed in room.
I'd noticed the glass room when we passed by earlier and thought it was a greenhouse. The room was quite lovely and the chairs were comfy...
High Table & Bright Menu
My cushioned chair was so large and comfy, it made me want to curl up and read my menu for a while. It was actually kind of amusing how we both sunk down like little kids at the dinner table. I was tempted to ask for a booster seat.
But the most memorable part of the menu, was that it lit up! You can't tell in the photo, but it was indeed glowing! So helpful for these old eyes.
Our server Angela did an amazing job.
We took her advice and ordered the Smoked Salmon appetizer, served with little toasts and some kind of cream cheese. The picture looks lame, but it was absolutely mouthwatering!
Bread Pot and Salad!
Our entrees came with a luscious little salad and special treat in a crock!
I love bread and I especially love bread when it looks like it's exploding out of a little ceramic crock! Delicious!
Pan Fried Oysters
I chose an oyster dish, which is most unlike me. I was happy with my crispy oysters and homemade tarter sauce.
The oysters were served with glazed Brussels sprouts and heavenly paprika potatoes! I was happy.
Don's smile is almost as big as the smiling Walleye Filet on Don's plate.
Don really gets tired of my camera intrusions, but he was more than happy to pose. He was so excited about his plate that he made me take another photo.
Don was more than pleased with the breading, seasoning and his Canadian catch. He's not a Brussels sprouts guy, so I got double for the night!
It was dark by the time we finished. We headed back to our hotel happy.
We've had our eye on this place for many years. So glad it was an entertaining and delicious adventure!
We (or rather I) had an odd and unexpected food adventure, on our drive today.
I saw a billboard for the Idaho Potato Museum and insisted on a detour.
Don and I were driving from Boise to Bozeman. It seemed fitting that we should stop at Blackfoot... another community starting with B!
Famous Potatoes! I was happy to see that on the sign.
Posing with Potato
Don graciously stopped at the museum, so I could pose with the giant potato.
I loved the whole package. A museum, inside of an old train depot. Plus, a giant potato, topped with sour cream and chunk of butter!
Potato Station Cafe
Plus... there was a cafe, with a mighty fine logo. "King Potato" seemed to be riding in the coal bin!
We peeked inside, even though we weren't really ready for a lunch stop.
I do love a theme and they did a good job with potatoes!
First of all, there was a cozy farm feel. I liked the brick walls and wooden farm doors, with their coating of milky white paint!
Curtains and Sacks
There were colorful potatoes on the curtains.
Below the windows I spotted a bench, that probably came from the old depot. There were also a couple potato sacks below the curtains. I read "Blackfoot, Idaho" on both burlap sacks.
The little space was warming up with all sorts of potato cooking.
I still wasn't starving for a potato, but how could I turn down this experience?
I took a look at the chalkboard menu and decided I needed a little something. Potato Dollars? Potato Soup?
I went for a baked potato with bar toppings. That was a little awkward, since I had to tell the young lad what to put on it. (Think Subway) He gave me way too much sour cream and way too little butter. Oh well.
A Quick Look
We didn't want to give the time or cash to visit the museum. Now, I'm kicking myself because I looked up the museum on the internet and it would have been a total hoot! World's Largest Potato Chip and more! Rats!
But we took in the decor around us. I liked this bright image! "Giants From the Lush Lava Beds of Idaho"!
Mashers and Cutting Bench
I peeked around the counter and snuck a free peek into the museum. There was a glass case filled with a collection of potato mashers.
In the cafe, they had an old cutting bench, where workers once sliced potatoes by hand.
There were a few framed photographs of potato farms.
I was glad to see all this Idaho potato info, before we left the state!
One More Pose
I grabbed my purchase and we headed to the car.
I paused for one more pose. My potato looked more appetizing than the giant one.
We were on a schedule, so I was going to eat my potato in the passenger's seat. By the time we made it out of Blackfoot, I had bacon bits and sour cream on my shorts.
Don pulled into the nearest rest stop. It just happened to have tables tucked into some scenic lava beds. But the sunny tables looked very hot.
We parked right near this mighty fine sign.
How about that! Our rest stop was tied right into the potato theme! We got to see some of the very lava beds that have made Idaho soil so perfect for potato farming!
Cheers to Lava Beds and Idaho Potatoes...
...and cheers to finding a table in the shade.
One more cheer for my amazing travel partner, who allowed me this silly potato adventure! Now I need to talk him into a future stay at the Potato Shaped Airbnb, outside of Boise! I can't wait!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.