The Best Small-Town Restaurants Across America
Taste of Home's volunteer Field Editors helped find the country's best small-town restaurants. Each spot cooks up hearty and delicious food that's beloved by locals and any folks passing through!
Alabama: Wildflower Café, Mentone
This is an enchanting little spot in the small town of Mentone. The Wildflower Café is housed in an old log cabin and surrounded by twining vines and forest. Their menu combines fresh flavors and homestyle cooking in dishes like Tomato Pie and Polenta Shrimp & Grits. Here’s the most delicious food from every state.
Arizona: America’s Pie Company, Show Low
Though tiny, America’s Pie Company has been the training ground for several professional chefs. It is “world-famous” for huge Hubcap Cinnamon Rolls and pies baked daily. Varieties include Chocolate French Silk and Strawberry-Rhubarb, and the shop also sells breakfast and lunch items. Check out the most popular Thanksgiving pie in your state.
Arkansas: Craig’s Bar-B-Que, De Valls Bluff
This roadside barbecue joint has been run by three generations of the Craig family. The secret, spicy sauce at Craig’s Bar-B-Que is most popular on their pork sandwich, topped with coleslaw. These 14 professional chefs reveal the secret ingredients to their favorite barbecue sides.
California: Poppa Joe’s, Ferndale
The locals say that Poppa Joe’s is the best breakfast place in Ferndale! Some of the scrumptious offerings there include blueberry pancakes, hot biscuits with gravy, and the Big Wildcat Breakfast Burrito. (The lunch offerings are mighty tasty, too.) Hot biscuits and gravy is one of our favorite breakfast treats.
Colorado: Johnson’s Corner Truck Stop, Johnstown
Since it opened in 1952, Johnson’s Corner Truck Stop has been a haven for truckers, families and food lovers alike. They are open 24 hours for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Their Cinnamon Rolls are baked fresh on site, and they’re so popular that you can purchase them online! This is the secret ingredient that makes Cinnabon cinnamon rolls so delicious.
Connecticut: Victoria Station Cafe, Putnam
What began as just a coffee shop quickly expanded when folks got a taste of the swoon-worthy assortment of freshly-baked pastries. Victoria Station Cafe offers gorgeous mini cheesecakes, muffins, eclairs, doughnuts, and more. They have coffee of course and lunch too, including five kinds of stuffed croissants. Here’s what waiters want you to know about dining outdoors.
Delaware: El Dorado Restaurant, Rehoboth Beach
Just a few miles from the ocean, El Dorado Restaurant takes pride in the fresh ingredients that go into everything they make—from their salsa bar to handmade margaritas to their famous fish tacos! When making fish at home, here’s how long you can keep fish in your fridge.
Florida: Great Southern Café, Santa Rosa Beach
One of the most popular dishes at this seafood restaurant is the Grits à Ya Ya: blackened shrimp, bacon, mushrooms, and cream over smoked gouda cheese grits. Yum! One visit to the Great Southern Café and you will be hooked! These 11 seafood facts will change how you eat fish forever.
Georgia: Mickey Piggs Bar-B-Que, Alto
Having won the 2018 Reader’s Choice award for Best BBQ and Ribs, Mickey Piggs Bar-B-Que has the best hickory-smoked meats around! Try their hand-sliced BBQ Pork Loin with a side of fried dill pickle spears. Out of 5 brands of dill pickles, here’s why this one is the best.
Hawaii: Cafe Haleiwa, Haleiwa
Located on the north shore of O’ahu, Cafe Haleiwa serves hearty breakfasts and lunches. (Try the Hawaiian Sweet Bread French Toast or the Mahi Mahi Sandwich!) We hear this vibrant, family-owned cafe is a favorite of “mellow guy” singer Jack Johnson. This is the real reason King’s Hawaiian bread is so popular.
Idaho: Kit’s Riverside Restaurant, Horseshoe Bend
Kit’s Riverside Restaurant has the best burgers and the best hospitality in town. Relax outside to enjoy your dinner and you can take in the gorgeous view of the Payette River running alongside the restaurant. This is the reason why a hamburger is called a hamburger even though there’s no ham in it.
Illinois: Big Ed’s BBQ, Waukegan
Get to Big Ed’s BBQ early for the popular Burnt Ends Dinner: meat that is seasoned and smoked for six additional hours after the first day-long smoke! If you miss out on the Burnt Ends don’t worry, there are plenty of smoked ribs, brisket, and sausages to satisfy. Here’s the difference between barbeque and barbecue.
Indiana: Converse Big Dipper, Converse
Come to the Converse Big Dipper for burgers, deli sandwiches, and Coney dogs, but don’t leave without trying an old-fashioned ice cream parlor dessert! Their “Heavenly Treats” include ice cream sodas, hand-dipped shakes, and premium sundaes like a classic Banana Split. Hand-dipped means that ice cream was scooped by hand to make the shakes. Here’s how to make the best milkshake ever.
Iowa: 209 Main, Paton
This is a favorite place in Paton to gather for a special dinner or to hang out with friends in the Tool Bar. The 209 Main menu consists of contemporary comfort foods, like the Triple Threat: a grilled pork loin sandwich topped with bacon jam and maple-bacon mayonnaise! If pork could talk, here’s what it would tell you.
Kansas: The Hays House, Council Grove
This restaurant was founded by the great-grandson of Daniel Boone as a place to trade goods with the local Native Americans, and the log cabin is a National Historic Landmark. Today The Hays House serves down-home cooking including steaks and chicken fried up in a cast-iron skillet. Here’s the best thing you can do for your cast-iron skillet.
Kentucky: Sparetime’s Belly & Soul, Alexandria
The old Sparetime diner has been a part of the Alexandria landscape for decades and was even the set in a couple of movies. It is still a favorite gathering spot today as Sparetime’s Belly & Soul, with a bright, fresh look inside and menu items like beer-battered fish and goetta hash. Here’s the trick to getting the crispiest breakfast potatoes ever.
Louisiana: Buck & Johnny’s, Breaux Bridge
This restaurant describes itself as an eclectic fusion of Cajun and Italian and is in a beautifully renovated building that stood abandoned for years. The Buck & Johnny’s menu has enticing items like Crawfish Étoufée but the real excitement is to be found at the weekend Zydeco Breakfasts with a live band and dancing.
Maine: Grammy’s Country Inn, Linneus
As the locals like to say, “If you leave hungry that’s your own fault.” Grammy’s Country Inn is known far and wide for their outrageously huge portions of comfort food, perfect after a day of hiking or snowmobiling. Try the Loaded Poutine and the Lobster Grilled Cheese! Here are 12 other macaroni and cheese recipes you can experiment with.
Maryland: Lotus Kitchen, Solomons
This little café sits on the island town of Solomons that straddles Patuxent River and the Chesapeake Bay. The Lotus Kitchen is a favorite local breakfast and lunch spot, and we love that the lunch items are all Beatles themed! (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Turkey Club, anyone?) Locals flock to the small joint for their specialty key lime pies.
Massachusetts: Captain Frosty’s Fish & Chips, Dennis
This iconic Cape Cod eatery is no ordinary fish fry joint. Captain Frosty’s is known to have some of the best seafood around and they have the awards to prove it! Families love making a stop at Mr. Frosty’s an annual vacation tradition. This is why McDonald’s keeps its fillet-of-fish on their menu.
Michigan: Herman’s Boy, Rockford
Come to this stop to experience five businesses in one historic building! On site are two cooking supply stores, a coffee roaster, a candy store, and a deli-bakery serving breakfast and lunch. Herman’s Boy is a daily gathering spot for locals who like to get a hot cup of coffee and talk about the good ol’ days.
Minnesota: Betty’s Pies, Two Harbors
As the story goes, Betty got her start selling coffee and donuts to friends of her father’s at his fish shack. Eventually, the old fish shack became Betty’s Pies, a lunch stop and bakery that residents love. The many offerings include beef pasties and a 5-Layer Butterscotch Pie!
Mississippi: Abe’s Bar-B-Q, Clarksdale
The restaurant is located at the same crossroads in Mississippi where blues guitarist Robert Johnson is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil. Abe’s Bar-B-Q may just save your soul with their famous “Comeback Sauce” that has kept locals and barbecue enthusiasts coming back since 1924.
Missouri: Kline’s Restaurant, Rosebud
Kline’s is a family-owned restaurant with a lot to offer on their breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Some of the tastiest are the loaded Down Home Omelet, the Catfish Po’ Boy, and a pound of Frog Legs. We also hear that their fried pies are enormous!
Montana: Mark’s In and Out Beef Burgers, Livingston
We love these classic roadside burger stands that have stood the test of time over decades. Mark’s In and Out Beef Burgers has 1950s nostalgia and has used locally sourced foods long before it was popular to do so. (Like ice cream from a local dairy and beef from Livingston Meats.)
Nebraska: Rosita’s, Scottsbluff
Rosita’s is a vibrant Mexican family restaurant in Western Nebraska. Local residents have dined there for years for the fresh ingredients and flavors, the gorgeous cocktails, and the warm service. Rosita’s has an outdoor patio as well as inside seating, making a fun place to gather and celebrate.
Nevada: The Star Hotel, Elko
The Star Hotel dates back to 1910 when it was built as a home away from home for the Basque people that had emigrated to the United States. Today The Star Hotel still serves in the traditional, Basque family-style with entrees like grilled chicken and lamb chops.
New Hampshire: Dublin General Store, Dublin
This place has wonderful cookies and sandwiches—there’s nothing better after hiking through the mountains and swimming in local ponds. The Dublin General Store is the center of activity for this remote town of 2,000; it’s the place to catch up with friends and neighbors.
New Jersey: Blue Plate, Mullica Hill
Set in the tiny town of Mullica Hill is the quaint eatery Blue Plate. The breakfast menu includes some traditional northeast dishes like Chipped Beef on Toast and Scrapple, and there are many elegant entrees like Shrimp Risotto and handmade gnocchi.
New Mexico: Owl Bar & Cafe, San Antonio
The claim to fame at the Owl Bar & Cafe is their Owl Burger, with beef ground to order and their secret recipe green chile sauce that’s cooked up fresh every day. The Owl Bar has been an institution in San Antonio since 1945.
New York: Sticks & Stones Wood Fired Bistro and Bar, Schroon Lake
Deep in the Adirondacks amidst pristine lakes and towering trees is Sticks & Stones. Here they perfectly capture the comfort of a camp cabin with lots of warm, knotty pine and plenty of space to sit outdoors around the fire.
North Carolina: Nick’s Old Fashion Hamburger House, Welcome
Nick’s is a tiny joint with the most amazing burgers that are cooked fresh to order. The chili and ranch salad dressings are made from scratch, too. Ralph Brauser named Nick’s after his son. Ralph is always friendly and recognizes his customers. You will not leave hungry, that is for sure!
North Dakota: DB’s The Station, Larimore
“You never feel like a stranger when you eat The Station!” Larimore is a town of just 1,300 residents and DB’s is a local favorite. Some of the menu classics are the Cheddar Nuggets and the towering, spicy Barn Burner burger.
Ohio: Das Dutch Haus, Columbiana
The home-cooked Pennsylvania Dutch-style meals at Das Dutch Haus are equal to or better than anything your taste buds have ever met. One of the favorite dinners is the haddock, which you can also get as a sandwich. And the apple dumplings are the greatest in the area. You will also experience the best of the friendly, local culture. It is not unusual to see owner Ray Horst help with hosting. Here’s the reason we call splitting the bill “going Dutch.”
Oklahoma: Stables Cafe, Guthrie
This year marks the 30th anniversary of this favorite Guthrie gathering place! Stables Cafe has fun and unique decor (lots of old Coca-Cola memorabilia) and a menu chock full of hearty fare—burgers, barbecue, Tex-Mex, and more. And the award-winning Tap Room 223 is right out back.
Oregon: Camp 18 Restaurant, Elsie
A great place to stop and eat on the way to the coast, Camp 18 is a beautiful log cabin filled with old logging photos and equipment. Favorite meals are French toast, fresh pan-fried clams, and cinnamon rolls as large as a loaf of bread—no joke! Outside you can check out antique tractors, a memorial to loggers, log-carved animals (including Sasquatch), and a cute gift shop. All the timber used to build the cabin was logged by owner Gordon Smith.
Pennsylvania: Original Pie Shoppe, Laughlintown
“A perfect place to visit if out for a Sunday drive or heading up the mountain for skiing!” The Original Pie Shoppe began in 1947 and in addition to selling delicious pastries and pies at their store, the owners also bring them to many local fairs and festivals.
Rhode Island: Delekta’s Corner Store, Warren
This charming spot has a traditional soda fountain and original pharmacy furnishings. Stop in at Delekta’s for the state’s best version of the local specialty, the coffee cabinet, which is what Rhode Islanders call a milkshake. The secret ingredient is a special family recipe for coffee syrup.
South Carolina: Front Porch Country Restaurant, Richburg
Fried chicken and sweet tea are the specialties at Front Porch Country Restaurant! For a very modest cost, folks enjoy chicken or other meat mains with two sides (candied yams, fried green tomatoes, so many more!) and a biscuit or cornbread.
South Dakota: Cheyenne Crossing, Lead
This Black Hills landmark was a stagecoach stop in the late 1800s along the route between Deadwood, South Dakota, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. Today it includes a lodge, a general store and the Stage Stop Cafe, which serves the heartiest breakfast around. The restaurant’s specialty dish is the Indian taco, a South Dakota staple that is served with fry bread instead of a tortilla.
Tennessee: Southern Fare, Shelbyville
Good old home cooking and friendly people bring folks back to Southern Fare every time! Choose a meat and two sides (how about Country Fried Steak with green beans and onion rings?) or order a classic burger or sandwich. And did we mention the huge portions? Here’s the best comfort food from every state.
Texas: Dahlia Cafe, Liberty Hill
Chicken Fried Steak with Jalapeño Cream Gravy. That’s all you need to hear to know that Dahlia Cafe has incredible food that local residents fervently love! If you need more convincing how about migas made with their own poblano verde salsa, or pulled pork-sweet potato waffle fries topped with blackberry barbecue sauce? Here’s how you can make Wendy’s chili at home.
Utah: Maddox Ranch House, Perry
The family-owned Maddox Ranch House is a Utah-favorite and a restaurant that aims to please all kinds of diners. There is a gorgeous sit-down restaurant for special dinners, the Maddox drive-in with a classic drive-in menu, plus a “take out cabin” to get meals to go!
Vermont: Bentley’s Bakery & Café, Danville
Head just past Joe’s Pond to find the tiny town of Danville, and downtown is Bentley’s Bakery & Café. My family and I were lucky enough to taste the amazing baked goods by owner Tarah Fontaine, like fresh homemade bagels, eclairs, and lemon bars. It’s a charming breakfast and lunch spot!
Virginia: The Apple House, Linden
The Apple House is a restaurant and country store that folks traveling through make sure to stop at any chance they get. The Apple House is famous for its homemade Apple Butter Cinnamon Donuts. You can try to take some to go, but chances are they won’t last the car ride!
Washington: Blue Moose Cafe, Port Townsend
Folks love the wonderful and sassy staff at Blue Moose Café! Equally popular are their dishes like veggie hash, huevos rancheros and of course the good, strong coffee. Learn how to make your own Seattle-quality lattes and coffee drinks.
West Virginia: King Tut Drive-In, Beckley
This drive-in is one of those classic, family-run restaurants that has been part of the community since the 1940s. At King Tut’s you should try hush puppies, any of their homemade breads or a slice of cherry cream pie. For other restaurants with a long history, here’s what the McDonald’s menu looked like the year you were born.
Wisconsin: Huckleberry’s Family Restaurant, Prairie du Chien
Located near a popular truck stop, Huckleberry’s has an impressive menu to satisfy travelers morning, noon, and night—plus homemade strawberry shortcake for dessert. They also frequently hold buffets and dancing on Friday evenings. Looking for new recipes to try? The Cheesecake Factory just shared a ton of its new recipes to try.
Wyoming: Twisters, Guernsey
With gorgeous Old West decor inside and out, Twisters is a fun visit for locals and visitors alike. Their food is all homemade and in addition to their decadent prime rib, other entrees include roast beef and meatloaf. Next, check out the most iconic diners in every state.