Some of the most exciting aspects of travel are seeing new sights, experiencing different cultures and sampling unfamiliar cuisines. Yet every now and then, even the most die-hard road warrior can become a bit homesick. That’s when just the sight and smells of favorite dishes can make everything seem much, much better. AAA inspectors, who each year experience hundreds of restaurants, share 10 of their favorite places to enjoy a taste of home, including a restaurant in Anaheim.
Travelers can read about nearly 70 AAA Inspector Picks-Favorite Comfort Food Restaurants on the AAA TravelViews blog, and explore thousands of additional restaurants in the AAA Travel Guides.
The Top 10 list from AAA inspectors:
American Flatbread, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Pizza, Burlington, VT
Red and white checkered table cloths. Warmth emanating from the wood-fired earthen oven in the corner of the dining room. This is where comfort comes to relax. Ask for a table near the kitchen and watch as flatbread pizzas are expertly prepared in a mesmerizing show. Ingredients are seasonal, organic and locally grown, a true reflection of many Vermonters’ healthy lifestyle. It’s a block from the Flynn Theater, perfect for before a show.
Angie’s Waterloo, AAA/CAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Canadian, Waterloo, Ontario
A great place to enjoy real country hospitality and tasty home-style fare. A local favorite since 1962, the restaurant covers its walls with newspaper clippings of local events and family photos. The scent of fresh baked pies, breads and cookies rouses one’s appetite. The country breakfasts, fish and chips and daily specials make this multi-generational institution a tradition for many.
Big Pink, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Miami Beach, FL
“Real Food for Real People…Really” is the motto here, a fixture on Miami Beach since 1996. Everything on the menu is super-sized, so make room in your refrigerator for leftovers. Try the Big Pink TV dinner daily special, the Thanksgiving on a roll or the mouthwatering foot-long hot dog made with Kobe beef. The tables are chock-a-block close, so get cozy and don’t be surprised if a neighboring diner asks for a smidgen of your peanut butter s’mores. A great place to people watch, especially in the early morning hours after a long night out.
Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/American, Bryce Canyon City, UT
For more than 50 years, travelers have been waking up to traditional, country-style breakfasts in front of an old wood stove at this rustic cottage complex. Primarily known for its homemade soups and pies, the daily menu offers generous portions of basic American fare like cowboy steaks, fresh local trout and chicken fried steak. Locals swear by a rule to eat dessert first — and why not with one of the largest selections of homemade pie around!
Cap City Fine Diner & Bar,
This smartly-styled retro diner, appointed with mosaic tile floors, futuristic light fixtures and stainless steel walls, is an excellent place for generous portions of comfort foods. There are usually several soups available, but one can always expect steak and bean chili. A good choice for a hearty entrée is the meatloaf stack, served with buttermilk mashed potatoes, onion rings and barbecued gravy. Another delicious option is the Southern fried chicken. Worthy desserts include the “Seriously Big Chocolate Cake” and “24K Carrot Cake.”
Georgia Brown’s, AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, Washington, D.C.
This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Southern cooking, with an emphasis on the Low Country of South Carolina, right in the heart of the city. The menu boasts down-home dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, country-fried meatloaf, sour mash pork chops, cornmeal-fried catfish and twice-cooked pork shank with sweet potato cheese grits. Enjoy live jazz every Wednesday night, “'Cause it's been said that she knocks 'em dead … ooooh sweet Georgia Brown!” as the song lyrics say. Valet parking available for dinner only.
La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Restaurant, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/American, Anaheim, CA
As you enter the front door the aroma of fresh-baked pies quickly alerts your senses to the down-home cooking you are about to enjoy. Start with piping hot chicken noodle soup or chicken pie. Fried chicken is always a good bet but, whatever you choose, don’t leave without a slice of — you guessed it — homemade fruit pie. Decorative roosters and hens adorn every inch of free space. Grab a table or find a seat on a bench, the restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, served until 7:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and some major holidays.
The Meatball Shop, AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/ Italian Comfort Food, New York, NY
What could be more comforting than a meatball? This popular little place in Greenwich Village serves up some of the best, whether it is straight ground beef, spicy pork, chicken or even veggie topped with tomato sauce, mushroom gravy or parmesan cream. To up the comfort level, order them as meatball sliders. Despite the many “ball” options, they keep it casual here; no reservations are taken, so arrive early to avoid a wait.
The Moose Cafe, AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/Southern, Asheville, NC
Perched on a rise and offering a panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains, you’ll feel right at home the moment you step foot inside. Grab a seat and tear into a plate of hot, flaky biscuits, served with homemade apple butter, sorghum and honey. Order up a sweet tea served in a mason jar, setting the tone for the Southern delicacies to follow. The café is adjacent to a farmer’s market, so when the vegetables are at their peak, they are on your table for authentic ‘farm to table’ dining, nestled away in the Carolina mountains.
Salt Lick Bar-B-Q, AAA One Diamond, Casual Dining/BBQ, Driftwood, TX
“You can smell our pits from miles away!” With a slogan like that, you’d better deliver – and the Salt Lick Bar-B-Q surely does. If you get a chance to swing by the original location in Driftwood, you’re in for great time and a great meal. This popular fun spot serves brisket, pork and beef ribs, sausage, chicken and turkey. For lighter fare choose a sandwich, or tip the scale the other direction with the all-you-can-eat family style extravaganza.