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For all the food connoisseurs and folks, who like to dine out a lot, I thought I would take a moment to offer some suggestions and comments about places around the Shoals that I think excel at various offerings and while I may miss some, and usually do, it is a personal list of my own selections for what I look for when choosing where to dine.  Mind you I'm no expert but I'd much rather talk food than politics or religion so here goes

Meat & 3 vegetables or Family Food  -  Cracker Barrel & Garden Gate however Garden Gate is closed on weekends. 

Steaks - Longhorn, Outback (Filet, Ribeye, & Prime rib), Georges Ribeye, & Oh Bryans for Ribeye's, and Ruby Tuesdays for Sirloins.

Seafood  -  Red Lobster, Cracker Barrel (Cod Fish on Fridays) and for Shrimp - New Orleans Transfer (fried), Georges (fried/butterflied to me is some of the best in the area or available  also Georges says that Red Snapper is the fish on their seafood platter and if so then it's a great deal but often Red Snapper is very difficult to find and often what ends up being sold for Red Snapper is actually another fish, still good, but not Red Snapper.  Frankly I don't know if Georges fish, on their seafood platter is Snapper or not), Red Lobster (Scampi, Grilled, and Fried) , and Outback (grilled & fried).   For Lobster and Crab I only like Red Lobster and Outback Steakhouse.  

Catfish - Purposely left off the Seafood category, I like Swamp John's in Muscle Shoals.    Newburns is good but for value Swamp John's is a far better value but both offer great, farm raised, catfish and both offer good hush puppies.  I might also mention that Champy's also has very tasty catfish and easily is some of the best around the Shoals area.

Fried Chicken - Champy's. almost hands down.   As for the dedicated fried Chicken places I prefer Popeyes and their mashed potatoes, unlike KFC, are fresh and not the instant variety and other sides are usually very good.  Another thing about Popeyes is that like Champy's it's usually very fresh.  No one beat's Champy's for freshly cooked, right out of the grease, Chicken but Popeyes usually has much hotter and fresher chicken then say KFC or Bojangles.  Other than Champy's and Popeyes there are the dedicated places that deal with Wings & Tenders and for those I like Chick-fil-a and Zaxby's the best.

Breakfast offerings - Bojangles for their Gravy Biscuits and their Steak Biscuits and  actually McDonalds for their Egg McMuffin and Sausage Biscuits.  As for a set down restaurant and breakfast you can't beat Waffle House.  To me Waffle House is far better than Cracker Barrel and also much more affordable.  Waffle House does a great job in cooking eggs, as requested, and their Hash Browns and other breakfast offerings are usually better than the competition.  Unknown to many Waffle House also offers a 10% senior discount but you have to ask for it.

Mexican/Tex Mex - Rosie's Cantina hands down but I also like Casa Mexicana  and Fiesta Mexicana for a more budget friendly choice. 

Italian - Ricatonis & Olive Garden are my choices here but for Pizza the Pie Factory is the best Pizzas in the area, at least that I've tried. 

BBQ  - For Pulled Pork sandwiches I like 306 BBQ located in the same block as Rosie's in Downtown Florence,   For BBQ Chicken I like the Wilson Dam Location of Southern BBQ as well as Smokin on the Boulevard which has great BBQ Chicken and at a great price but you have to take it home for there is no provisions for eat in and I'm still on the hunt for the best Ribs although I really like Sam's Grille's Ribs of the ones I've tried around the area but I've heard Smokin' on the Boulevard has some really great ribs.

Hamburgers - Ruby Tuesdays has a great burger but also Five Guys and Staggs has to be mentioned.  As for the routine, regular, chain burger places I prefer the charbroiled taste so have to say Burger King gets my pick.  For those times when you just get a cravin though I find Krystal has a pretty good burger and one thing that they give you that no other burger chain, around here, does, is a Steamed bun but I hesitate mentioning Krystal and Burger King in the same sentence as the others.  For Chili I also like Krystal but it's almost the only game in town, around here, because I haven't tried Waffle House chili so I have to say the BEST Chili award has to go to Steak & Shake but unfortunately there isn't one in the Shoals area but it bears mentioning anyway because they do have the best Chili that I've found.  As for other restaurants that offer Chili I like Texas Roadhouse first then Sam's Grille has good Chili.

Oriental - Chinese - Rice Box at 7-Points Shopping center is the best Chinese I've found and I don't particularly like Chinese but of the ones I have tried Rice Box is the best.  Japaneese - no doubts here as it would be UMI but I've also had some pretty good food from Ichiban's in Sheffield.

Buffet - While I know there are some local, mom & pop type offerings in this category I have to say I'd prefer Golden Corral and they aren't even open yet.  Ryan's used to be decent but they allowed things to go down hill and just can't compete with Golden Corral with what they offer and their quality, if you can even use Quality along with Buffet Restaurants.  Actually I think Golden Corral does a good job and can't wait till the one here opens.

Sandwich Shops  & Subs - Hand's down I would pick Firehouse Subs if they had a local location for their Steamed sandwiches and meats are the best. Locally though I'd have to say Lenny's followed by Momma Goldbergs. 

Salad Bar - while not a category I'd have to give the award to Ruby Tuesdays a great bar and their croutons and the best, but I also feel that Legend's Steakhouse (downtown Florence) comes in second followed by Oh Bryan's (Tuscumbia) and Stanfields Steakhouse (Rogersville & Ford City) have good Salad Bars. 

I know I've left off other categories and omitted other places but these are just the ones that came to mind at the time.  Hopefully I can learn more from others who might take time to contribute their choices and thoughts.

 

 

     

Be as the Bereans ( Acts 17:11 )
Original Post
giftedamateur posted:

Yes GBRK, not to be ugly, but do you ever have a home cooked meal? 

Actually while I eat out mostly, which I'm glad to have the ability to do, I am also gifted to have a wife that is a very good cook and I do dabble myself but I do life variety both at home and away but I also have a very discriminating taste so I'm fairly choosy and picky.

unclegus posted:

If you haven't tried the chili at Wendy's then you should. For Chinese, yes The Rice box is best, but I also like the Place that is in the mall. They have the best hot and sour soup. 

Ahh Wendy's, I did forget about that one.  I don't know for sure but I think they have changed their recipe over the years but I also know that they use leftover hamburger meat, or so I've been told, and while there may be nothing wrong with that at all I've somehow not had the same desire for their chili since learning that so if you know different I'd love to hear someone contradict what I was told before.

gbrk posted:
unclegus posted:

If you haven't tried the chili at Wendy's then you should. For Chinese, yes The Rice box is best, but I also like the Place that is in the mall. They have the best hot and sour soup. 

Ahh Wendy's, I did forget about that one.  I don't know for sure but I think they have changed their recipe over the years but I also know that they use leftover hamburger meat, or so I've been told, and while there may be nothing wrong with that at all I've somehow not had the same desire for their chili since learning that so if you know different I'd love to hear someone contradict what I was told before.

 Yes I have noticed that the meat in their chili is from hamburgers, but that does not phase me any. I still think they have the best chili next to my own recipe. It won't be long and I will be looking forward to some good homemade chili. 

 

Because of time, I rarely eat out and usually it's a "meat & 3" and my home cooking ranges from shrimp creole to a Bambi burger to a plain ole mater sammich.  It's a wonder I'm not 215#.  Right now, my freezer is running on fumes.  Won't be long before I fill it with "fast" food.  

I really enjoy GBRK's reviews.  By including everything from the "mom & pop" to the "high end", they cover a broad wide spectrum of the culinary availabilities in the Shoals and definitely fill a niche on the forum so lacking.  So if I ever get a hankering, I know where to go for good advice.

Now if he could only recommend a place where Dire and I could enjoy a can of sardines and wine from a paper bag.

FYI,  when Uncle Gus speaks, people listen.  He's got one of those two-way smokers.

 

gbrk posted:
giftedamateur posted:

Yes GBRK, not to be ugly, but do you ever have a home cooked meal? 

Actually while I eat out mostly, which I'm glad to have the ability to do, I am also gifted to have a wife that is a very good cook and I do dabble myself but I do life variety both at home and away but I also have a very discriminating taste so I'm fairly choosy and picky.

I thought Gifted was inviting you over.

 

gbrk posted:
Jack Flash posted:
GB, if you don't mind me asking and I'm not implying anything
but how much do you weight..?  (answer optional)

no offense, 6'4" and 215lbs.  Just enjoy eating out.

 I've found Sonic has a very good burger - Jack Flash

Wise response Jack. 

 

budsfarm posted:
gbrk posted:
giftedamateur posted:

Yes GBRK, not to be ugly, but do you ever have a home cooked meal? 

Actually while I eat out mostly, which I'm glad to have the ability to do, I am also gifted to have a wife that is a very good cook and I do dabble myself but I do life variety both at home and away but I also have a very discriminating taste so I'm fairly choosy and picky.

I thought Gifted was inviting you over.

 

Over for what? 

giftedamateur posted:
budsfarm posted:
gbrk posted:
giftedamateur posted:

Yes GBRK, not to be ugly, but do you ever have a home cooked meal? 

Actually while I eat out mostly, which I'm glad to have the ability to do, I am also gifted to have a wife that is a very good cook and I do dabble myself but I do life variety both at home and away but I also have a very discriminating taste so I'm fairly choosy and picky.

I thought Gifted was inviting you over.

 

Over for what? 

Aaaaaaaah home cooked meal?

 

giftedamateur posted:

Oh Bud, do your invitations to dinner usually start with, "not to be ugly"? Eating out so much is not only an unnecssary expense, it isn't good for a person's health. My opinion, based on my line of work.

Nope.  None of my conversations start out that way, bless my heart. 

Far as eating out / in regarding a person's health, I think that's pretty much up to the person.  Depending on what one eats at home or away could be good or bad.  I know folks who are home fed that it wouldn't hurt for them to push away from the table.  Only real difference is when these folks eat in public, we see it.

Unnecessary expense?  Not for me to say unless they were unnecessarily spending money that wasn't theirs.  We all habits and hobbies that others regard as unnecessary.  I live in a glass house.  No rock throwing here.

What we're talking about here is a proper balance of diet & exercise and I though I don't know you're line of work, I'll bet we both agree.  And that a person 6'4" / 215# is height / weight proportional.

I did say it was my opinion. To many times an opinion is taken as an insult. All some can do is suggest, and if a person doesn't want the advice, or takes it as casting stones, so be it. People go to doctors all the time and completely ignore their advice. One gentleman comes to mind. He doesn't want to take BP meds, do anything about his diet, bother with his cholesterol meds, yet he goes for his appointments. He certainly isn't the only one like that. I wonder why they bother. Too, I don't think I commented on anyone's height or weight. 

giftedamateur posted:

I did say it was my opinion. To many times an opinion is taken as an insult. All some can do is suggest, and if a person doesn't want the advice, or takes it as casting stones, so be it. People go to doctors all the time and completely ignore their advice. One gentleman comes to mind. He doesn't want to take BP meds, do anything about his diet, bother with his cholesterol meds, yet he goes for his appointments. He certainly isn't the only one like that. I wonder why they bother. Too, I don't think I commented on anyone's height or weight. 

I guess they want a doctor to wave a magic wand and fix all their ills so they can keep their bad habits.

Let me amend one part of my first post, with respect to the BBQ category:

BBQ  - For Pulled Pork sandwiches I like 306 BBQ located in the same block as Rosie's in Downtown Florence,   For BBQ Chicken I like the Wilson Dam Location of Southern BBQ as well as Smokin on the Boulevard which has great BBQ Chicken and at a great price but you have to take it home for there is no provisions for eat in and I'm still on the hunt for the best Ribs although I really like Sam's Grille's Ribs of the ones I've tried around the area but I've heard Smokin' on the Boulevard has some really great ribs.

I neglected to add/put **** Howells and also add Sledges to the list for sandwiches and both deserve to be named along with 306 BBQ.  I'm sure I missed others that are equally as good as well.  Howell's at Seven Points always has great sandwiches  and have for years.  Sledges doesn't often get mentioned as while he was in business for a while he, without notice, closed down only to reopen months to years later out off Chisolm Rd about half way in between Wilson School and Mapco and located adjacent to the storage buildings in a nice brick building and he's also constructing a new smoking building.  So along with the above Sandwich location of 306 I'd like to add Howell's  at Seven Points and Sledge's BBQ off Chisolm.

As for places that are now gone but not so forgotten I really miss the 2nd Street Rib shack which was a locally owned startup by a family out of Russellville who actually cooked the ribs at their house, in Russellville, brought them to the Rib Shack, on 2nd Street, in coolers, and reheated/finished cooking them there.  Still, to today, some of the best Rib's I've ever eaten.  Gone but not forgotten.

Bad Boy's which was located on Woodward and was originally from around Memphis was also very good and tasty and did a good business for a while but just didn't last.  It was in the old Long John Silver's building in Muscle Shoals.

Thomas BBQ, not local and was located in Madison, AL but was a very good, long time family owned business that the family apparently just got tired of being in business.  They had some great BBQ and were always packed out with the drive thru traffic almost always backed out and onto Hwy 72 there in Madison.  Today the building has been demolished and a new Rick's BBQ built on the site.

Last but not least Famous Dave's a Northern BBQ restaurant that had a very good product and also has several other locations down South such as in Chattanooga, TN and Knoxville, TN but just didn't make it at the Florence location.  I always liked their product and thought they did good but admittingly later on they began to drop off in quality either due to bad management or just not caring.  They always seemed to have good product and ribs and usually had a fairly good business in that large building they had where Rick's BBQ is now located on Cox Creek Parkway.  I wish they had made it and was equally sad to see the Shoals location of Dreamland not pan out.  I guess, as far as Dreamland is concerned the original Tuscaloosa location is king and the one where the magic happens as I've heard that the Huntsville location, although still open, just isn't as good.

as usual Bon Appetit

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