I’ve always gone with the assumption, no matter where you are, it’s safe to stop in a local restaurant if the parking lot is full. Chain restaurants are extremely predictable, so I like to choose non-chain if given a choice, especially when I travel. Granted it can be a bit of a gamble, but some of the best food ever can be found in a small town cafe or a local truck stop on the interstate.
Years ago, before Branson even had a stop light, home grown eating establishments were all we had to choose from. The Shack, Branson Cafe and The Farmhouse are sill landmarks in our community and waiting for a table is not uncommon. I suppose I’m spoiled and assume other small town eateries to be of the same caliber.
When driving through a little town last week, I chose the Crystal Cafe strictly on the number of cars parked outside. When we went through the front door I wondered if they had hired parking lot filler cars to make it look like they were busy and popular.
It took a minute for my eyes to adjust to the dimly lit room. I think it was intended ambiance, but evidently people had fallen because the were several “Watch Your Step” cardboard signs posted. The decor was interesting. It was as if, instead of updating every few years, they simply added to it. It was an Italian/ Mexican/ steak house restaurant and was decorated accordingly.
There was a two foot tall Wizard of Oz tin man made from cans hanging next to a large lamp with the Budweiser Clydesdale horses pulling a beer wagon. I was so tempted to ask if the lamp could be turned on so I could see the menu. There were several plastic floral arrangements mixed with pictures of the map of Italy, the Mexican flag and a crucifix. When I noticed an interesting photo of a family who resembled the Italian mob, I decided I would keep any complaints to myself.
As I was finishing my taco salad, I looked up to see a Christmas ornament hanging from the ceiling that someone had obviously missed when the decorations were taken down in January. Then again it might have been there on purpose.
I suppose you really can’t judge a book by it’s cover … or maybe you can.