The scent of freshly baked biscuits, peppery gravy, and fried potatoes waft out of Republic Cafe’s kitchen 24 hours a day. Like the red, white, and blue of the French flag, the diner's housemade breakfasts pay homage to Americana, especially the country-fried skillet—a mound of hashbrowns topped with sautéed peppers and onions, cubes of country-fried steak, two eggs, and country gravy. Comfort-food classics populate the lunch menu as well, which stars BLTs, chicken-fried chicken, and open-faced beef sandwiches floating in a pool of savory, brown gravy.
The Alli's Family Restaurant building has been refilling tanks along Historic Route 66 for 80 years. It began as a gas station, but then took on the mantle of restaurant and has never looked back or at the sun. The eatery's Facebook page contains sneak peeks from the full menu and includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes. Chicken-fried chicken and its menu companions are hearty enough to sustain patrons on road trips, whether their road trips are from Chicago to LA or the result of a stick in the middle of the highway.
Situated on the edge of the James River, River Smokin lets guests take a break from canoeing and stop by its dining room, patio, or deck. Plates of pork loin chops or deep-fried shrimp emerge from the kitchen, making their way to tables crowded with appetizers such as chicken quesadillas, fried dill pickles, and hand-breaded deep-fried fresh mushrooms.
Village Pottery Café invites would-be Chagalls of ceramics to lavish paint upon the stoneware of their choice while noshing upon a variety of homemade snacks. With no studio fees, Village Pottery Café allows painters to bask in artistic freedom as they customize mugs ($7.50+), plates ($10–$15), platters ($22+), the Statue of Liberty's understudy, and more objets d'art. After staff members slather them with a protective glaze, pottery luxuriates in the extreme warmth of the kiln, and emerges lacquered and ready to be taken home. Village Pottery Café also provides special crockery options for children ($2–$10). Café refreshments include locally roasted coffee; soups such as chicken enchilada, loaded baked potato, and pasta e fagioli ($4.99); quiches ($5.49); and other savory and sweet morsels.
Three crusts are the foundation of the experience at Mr. Bigg’s Pizza. St. Louis–style thin crust can support pies such as the mexican with its seasoned beef, diced green pepper, and a specially blended sauce. Thick crust can burden the load of the Bigg’s meat pizza and all its sausage, hamburger, pepperoni, and bacon toppings. And the kicker, hand-tossed New York–style pizza, might sport the toppings of the veggie pizza—mushrooms, onions, green peppers, black olives, and tomatoes.
Though the pizza roster forms the central pillar of the menu, it’s not alone. Pasta dishes, such as baked mostaccioli and lasagna, complement non-Italian food, including a chicken bacon ranch sandwich. And drinks contrast the pizza selection, too. From draft and bottled beer to wine and specialty cocktails, the libation list has thirsty throats covered.
If guests would rather not stare at one of the big-screen TVs that adorn a wall in each dining room, they can eat their pasta and sip their wine on the patio where picnic tables and a fish-populated fountain surround cobblestone walkways.
Hailing from humble beginnings in a renovated Mississippian gas station, McAlister's Deli has revolutionized the concept of fast food with healthy fare recognized by Parents in 2009. Premium ingredients, such as Black Angus roast beef and black forest ham, pile upon stuffed potatoes or artisan bread, sating hungers and silencing stomachs before they recite bank-account numbers. As patrons wait for servers to deliver meals, they sip signature sweet tea, swirled together onsite daily from pure cane sugar and a rainforest-certified black-tea blend as dictated by a closely guarded recipe.