Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Greasy spoon--good or bad?

So, Darren Marlar mentioned on 101QFL this morning that today is "Greasy Spoon Day," and invited listeners to call in with their favorite local greasy spoon restaurants.

We were flooded with callers letting us know about these often little-publicized, often out-of-the-way, sometimes hole-in-the-wall, usually Mom-and-Pop operations that serve incredibly delicious food.

Which is what we meant by "greasy spoon." But apparently the common definition is not nearly so flattering.

Like this one from hyperdictionary.com:
"a small restaurant specializing in short-order fried foods."

Or this one: "The American Heritage dictionary defines a Greasy Spoon as 'a small, inexpensive, often unsanitary restaurant.' The term 'greasy spoon' speaks to careless dishwashing practices, hence grease on the cutlery."

Well, our aim is to give a prize to Rock River Valley's Best Greasy Spoon, but with those definitions, it's doubtful any eating establish would be proud to hang up a plaque with that designation.

So, what do we call it? Obviously not "Greasy Spoon." The places we unearthed in our search are definitely clean and definitely don't cook everything in gallons of lard.

"Out of the way hole in the wall under-publicized eatery with incredibly delicious food"? That's a bit of a mouthful...pun not intended. :)

Any suggestions would be welcome.

By the way, my favorite out-of-the-way-hole-in-the-wall-under-publicized eatery with incredibly delicious food is Giuseppi's, tucked behind the Walgreen's at North Main. The thick-crust pizza is out of this world, and my husband swears by the Chicken Parmagiana.

We have been eating at, or ordering delivery from, Giuseppi's for over 25 years. We ate there the day before I gave birth to Jonathan, who is going on 25 now.

The lady who answers the phone for delivery orders recognizes my voice. The delivery guy compliments me when I get a new hairdo or have lost a few pounds. The waitresses ask about the kids when Doug and I go alone. The owners still have Italian accents.

The dining room is too small and crowded, and the decor mainly consists of pictures of the Roman forum and placemats featuring maps of Italy.

The food is insanely good, and I'll take it over the big pseudo-Italian chain restaurants any day.

Wow...it's almost lunchtime and I've done gone and made myself hungry.

How about you? Do you have a favorite not-so-greasy spoon? Tell me about it. :)


Tina said...

Ahh, there is a little place called Gibby's Diner near Cobleskill, NY that's in a single wide trailer. The decore is somewhat cheesey and it's got very odd hours. But the food...oh the food. Excellent. Huge portions, low prices, home cooking.

How about "Local Gems" or "Hidden Gems" for a name?

AuDz said...

Let's see.. there's a little Mexican place on 35th St., just past Halsted, right next to the alley, in Chicago.. it is soooooooooo good. What I miss most about Chicago is the food.

Aaron D. Wolf said...

My father-in-law Larry is a connoisseur of greasy spoons, and we have enjoyed the best of them that Rockford has to offer. The chief reason for this is that greasy spoons and fishing go together. You get up at five in the morning on a Saturday, you're ready by 5:30, and the greasy spoon is open by six. If we're ice fishing the backwaters of the Mississippi, then we're up earlier and hit the one in Elizabeth on our way to Galena. And, since that's a farming community, the greasy spoon there is open by five.

Sure, there's the Angle Inn at Rockton Avenue and the Penny Pincher on 11th Street. But the one that earns Larry's definitive appellation "The Greasy Spoon" is The Potato Shack on North Second. Maybe it's the anticipation of a day on the ice at Pierce Lake slaughtering bluegill, or maybe it's the early morning air, but sometimes there's almost a mystical quality to the place. The rest of Rockford is asleep or just waking up on those Saturday mornings, but at 6 AM, that place is jumping. It has all of the qualities you expect: Thick, Marlboro air, the smell of strong, Foldgers' coffee, and the sound of the big grill sizzling.

Another quality of any greasy spoon, which certainly holds true of The Potato Shack, is that it functions as Cheers for many people, all of whom are Norms. Larry and I walk in and sit at the counter, and the cook in his hairnet shoots a knowing nod. The waitress asks if you want the usual, and Larry says that he'll have to force it down.

And the potatoes are always very good.

Cindy said...

Yep Aaron, the Potato Shack was one that was nominated in our little poll. I've driven by that place countless times and never eaten there. Maybe someday. :)

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