shot of sass, served on (n)ice

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

tempe's favorite dives

Y'all must know that the best way to get me talking is to talk about food! I have three favorite "dives" in three different cities - so dig in!

1. The Varsity, Athens, Georgia.

Get ready to stand in line and when the lady behind the counter yells "What'll ya have?" you'd better be ready! Order up a chili slaw dog or a glorified cheeseburger (that's with ketchup, mustard, mayo, lettuce, tomato, and pickles). Enjoy a fountain Coke with that yummy pebble-y ice, but save room for a fried apple pie or frosted orange. And, if you eat in rather that take out, you've got a half-dozen dining rooms from which to choose, each boasting their own TV, showing anything from CNN to the Cartoon Network. (P.S. If you're in Atlanta, the original Varsity is housed there, and still boasts a drive in dining experience.)

2. Taylor's Automatic Refresher, St. Helena, California

Taylor's is a different kind of dive restaurant. Only in California - and more specifically, only in the haute cuisine area of Napa Valley - can you find a dive that boasts a decent-sized wine list and a seared-rare Ahi Burger on its menu. Nevertheless, Taylor's serves up great burgers and diner fare in an old fashioned diner atmosphere, which is a nice break when you've been in Napa for a week and are tired of foie gras and veal sweetbreads. Sometimes, only a burger will do. Tip: Order the garlic fries. You will not regret it.

3. Ray's Hell Burger, Arlington, Virginia

Ray Landrum, the owner of Ray's The Steaks, the wildly popular (and affordable) steakhouse in Arlington, opened Ray's Hell Burger (get the play on words with both restaurants?) last year to serve up perfectly cooked burgers in a super-casual atmosphere. The restaurant became so wildly popular (President Obama and Vice President Biden visited earlier in the year) that the restaurant moved into a larger space. For 11 bucks, you get a GIGANTIC burger with all the fixins, cooked to your preference (unless you like them well done, in which case, they'll chase you out of the joint), corn on the cob, a watermelon slice, and a draft Dominion Ale Root Beer. It's noisy, it's crowded, but the burger is the. best. burger I've ever had. Hands down. And, it's a nice break from the $25 burgers the restaurants in DC are shelling out these days. One caveat: If you're dropping by during the lunch hour on ANY day of the week, get ready to wait. But don't worry; it's worth it.

2 tips left at the bar:

penelope said...

Yeah, Tempe! I knew I could count on you to share some good eats! Holy yum. These places sound amazing!

Bj in Dallas said...

my favorite show is Diners Drive Ins and Dives, have any of these made it on there???

yum, now I want a burger....