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Richards Farm Restaurant, Casey, IL


I know what you're thinking...where the heck is Casey, IL? Admittedly, you're either going to have to be lost or on your way to someplace else to happen by this little town in the middle of Illinois farmland and far away from the major interstates. If you do find yourself there one day, you'll be rewarded by a wonderful collection of  Guinness World Record constructions (as Wikipedia calls them)—"super-sized items in the form of outdoor sculptures including the Wind Chime, Rocking Chair, Knitting Needles, Crochet Hook, Pitchfork, Golf Tee, Yardstick, Wooden Token, Dutch Wooden Shoes, Mailbox, Pencil and Birdcage." Our visit was almost accidental, but we stumbled into the Richards Farm Restaurant after enjoying the town and ended up having one of the best meals imaginable. The smothered chicken was particularly memorable, and should we make it back some day, we wouldn't miss the opportunity to return. 


Food: 5 stars, Service: 5 stars, Atmosphere: 4 stars, Prices: 5 stars 

Gourdough’s Public House, San Antonio Riverwalk, TX (Now Closed)


Gourdough's is a famous Austin, TX establishment that had a location on the San Antonio Riverwalk for a couple of years before that location went bankrupt in May, 2020. I've included this restaurant in my short list of notable restaurants despite its demise since it was truly an experience we will never forget. The food was fantastic, actually. Margaret had roasted Brussels Sprouts and I had a bacon cheeseburger served on a donut bun that has been featured on the Food Network. Absolutely off the charts good, and if you're in Austin, TX where I believe Gourdough's still operates, I'd have it on my list of must-tries. What was most memorable for us, unfortunately, was simply the poorest service we've experienced at a restaurant in twenty years. We waited forever for our drink order, and a millennium for the food to finally be served. Getting a check to pay took a trip to the kitchen, and when we walked by our table along the sidewalk a full three hours later, our dirty dishes were still sitting where we'd left them. Hmmm....maybe we know why they went bankrupt? 


Food: 5 stars, Service: 0 stars, Atmosphere: 4 stars, Prices: 4 stars


—Alan

Certainly you remember those experiences...prior to the COVID-19 closures when one could actually look forward to an evening in a crowded restaurant or bar with good friends, friendly servers, and fantastic food. Well for foodies like us, those memories are what keep us going, and I decided to share a few of the more memorable as much for the therapy value to us as for the entertainment of our followers. We desperately pray these restaurants make it through this difficult period, but if any of them don't, we hope their owners and staff take some solace from the knowledge they made a lot of people very happy.


The following have been chosen not because they were necessarily the best of the bunch, and certainly not the fanciest or most expensive, but because the overall experience was something that can never be forgotten. 


The Jackalope Ranch in Indio, CA


A number of our most memorable restaurant experiences this past winter were concentrated in the Palm Springs area of California where we spent the better part of three months. It's almost impossible to believe such a small community could support so many excellent choices. Our absolute favorite, however, was the Jackalope Ranch in Indio. First, the property is simply beautiful, and they have an outdoor eating area where diners are surrounded by incredible gardens and they have one of the most impressive "happy hour" menus we've ever seen. One of those offerings was a smoked pork chop dish that was so good I ordered it on multiple occasions and never grew tired of it.


Food: 5 stars, Service: 5 stars, Atmosphere: 5 stars, Prices: 5 stars

Barn Town Brewery, West Des Moines, IA


When we first began traveling to Des Moines, Iowa, there really wasn't much of a restaurant scene. There were a few local haunts and a lot of chain establishments, but not much else. In the last five years, or so, that all has changed and there are dozens of chef-owned restaurants as well as some that may be corporate-run but manage to be notable nonetheless. Barn Town Brewery is located at the corner of a strip mall and we passed it by many times before trying it and realizing just what we'd been missing. First, the beer is terrific. Tangy and citrusy IPAs, rich stouts, and a robust selection of unique styles and original twists. The food, however, is outrageously good. Their Roasted Brussels Sprouts are a family favorite, while I do backflips over the Mac & Cheese topped with a bacon steak. That's not a misprint...strip instead of steak. It's a thick chunk of bacon that requires cutting with a knife but simply melts in your mouth. We plan visits every time we're in the are as strategically as our RV park accommodations.


Food: 5 stars, Service: 5 stars, Atmosphere: 4 stars, Prices: 5 stars

Memorable Restaurants of our Recent Past

Neptune's Taphouse and Eatery, Livingston, MT


Livingston is a small town on I90,  just east of better-known Bozeman, we stopped at en-route from Iowa to Oregon one year. We had arrived in town early enough in the day that we decided to make a run down to the north entrance of Yellowstone for the day which got us back to the motorhome late enough that we couldn't get something defrosted in time for dinner. No problem, we thought, we'd just pop into town and grab a bite to eat with little expectation that the meal would be particularly memorable. We could not have been more wrong! Neptune's Taphouse and Eatery not only had a fantastic beer selection, the variety and imagination of its menu was beyond imagination. Consequently, it was completely packed. Service was courteous, though a bit stressed, yet despite that the server took time to describe the dishes thoroughly and offer her own recommendations based on our interests. She was dead on, and the food was delicious.


Food: 5 stars, Service: 4 stars, Atmosphere: 4 stars, Prices: 5 stars 

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