PARKSIDE INN—Racine, Wisconsin—By Justin Grimbol.

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This place has been around since the beginning of time. My father tells me it hasn’t changed since he was a child. The walls are lined with fake wood paneling and the seats have been worn in and have become a friendly shade of orange.

When I lived in Racine, I went to the Park Inn frequently. My dad would come pick me up and we would eat cheese burger baskets. We went there so often my dad started calling his Minivan the Park Inn Express.

I gained a lot of weight from going there so often but I don’t regret it. Okay, I regret it a little bit. But I still miss the place and the next time I am in Racine, I won’t be able to help myself. I will need to go there and scarf down a burger basket. Because, when you are visiting a place like Racine, a city with such history, its the only reasonable thing to do.

QUINN’S— BEACON, NY—By Toby Dunne

Just about in the middle of Main Street in Beacon there’s a bar. But this is not just any sort of run of the mill watering hole. You’ll find no large screen televisions broadcasting the game, or expensive jukeboxes full of pedantic top forty hits. No, this is Quinn’s. Narrowly tucked in between a couple nondescript brick and mortar businesses, it announces its presence by the large vintage sign that lends the place its name.DSC02454 Locals can remember when the place was a run-down restaurant, and when they step inside and allow their eyes to adjust to the dimly lit gloom they find that the interior looks very much the same as it did in their childhoods. The early 1970s dark wood grain paneling, and sepia toned wall paper imprinted with repeating patterns of Canada Geese in flight remind one of some basement rec-room that missed out on its chance at a modern remodel a long time ago, persisting long enough that it now becomes a sort of affront to aesthetic sensibilities to renovate. The front half of the place is dominated by the bar stocked with a rotating selection of local, and craft beers, top shelf spirits, and sake. As you make your way towards the back you quickly come upon a small partitioned off kitchen leaning out into the common area like a fat man in a hallway, the glaring brightness of the work space beaming out of the narrow serving window where dishes of Japanese style street food and Ramen are handed off to the few servers working the tables. A gate of wooden balusters welcomes you into the main dining area, where modest groups of high backed bench seats preside over a few laminated top tables lit by stained glass Tiffany knock off lamps hanging low from the darkness above. It can get mighty crowded back there on a busy night, with patrons standing beside their companions in animated discussions blocking the way towards the restrooms at the rear. All of this would work to promote the place as a destination of note on its own, but what really makes Quinn’s special are the frequent, almost nightly musical acts, which have been invariably of the highest quality. The folks there who work to book these acts routinely get excellent musicians to set up shop on the rough hewn plywood stage up by the front door. The styles presented range the gamut from Jazz to folk to Avant Garde experimental electronic music to Black Metal, and more. You can pretty much count on the act playing there any night to be well worth the five dollar donation once the wood box is passed around. So, if you find yourself on Beacon’s Main Street at night, be sure to drop in to Quinn’s and taste a little of their magic for yourself.

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Toby Dunne and his wife drinking at Quinn’s. Photo by Justin Grimbol.

AUTHORS EAT INTERVIEW SERIES, FEATURING CV HUNT

CV Hunt is one of the most exciting voices in horror right now. She is the author of Ritualistic Human Sacrifice and Home Is Where The Horror Is, and runs Grindhouse Press. She lives in Dayton Ohio. Lets find out what she likes to eat.

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What is your favorite restaurant, and what is it like?

There’s this place in Dayton called India Chaat Café & Curry Out. Clever, huh? It’s a small hole in the wall located in tiny shopping strip alongside the likes of a juice bar, nail salon, hair salon, tanning salon, check cashing/pawn shop, an Indian grocery store, and a full nude strip club. Chaat is small and it doesn’t have air-conditioning so it’s sweltering in the summer time.

There are a few tables and chairs to dine in but everything is served in take-home containers. They keep a counter stocked with paper plates and plastic utensils if you choose to eat there and they have a water cooler full of room temperature water and some cups to serve yourself. No ice.

india-chaat-cafe-dayton-ohTheir whole motif is based on the sport cricket with actual bats and wickets hanging on the walls. There is also an enormous flat-screen television that is usually playing a game of cricket or MTV India. I’m not really into sports but I give them props for the unique approach to personalizing the place.

As for the food? It’s the best in Dayton. I have literally eaten at every Indian restaurant in Dayton with the exception of one which I can’t bring myself to try because of the copious amounts of terrible reviews and when researching it I found three different addresses so I’m not sure I would be able to find it if I did decide to try it. But Chaat is nothing to complain about. Everything I’ve ordered there is consistently good. They’re not afraid to make it spicy with a scale of zero to seven. If you ask for something hot at the other places in Dayton you’ll be lucky to get a medium. Chaat also isn’t afraid to use asafetida (a spice also known as hing or devil’s dung) which is an acquired taste and smell for some since its very pungent. And they’re not shy with the kasoori methi (a must in every Indian dish for me), which most of the local places neglect to put in any of their dishes. The atmosphere may not be anything to write home about or plan as a fancy date with but their food is awesome. I recommend the Malai Kofta or the Mutter Malai Methi. If you are a meat eater check out the Chicken Tikka Masala. And don’t forget to try their Mango Lassi.

What is the most disgusting food you can think of?

Aspic. I hate Jell-O and the thought of meat suspended in Jell-O is too much for me. I pretty sure I saw some ham in a flesh color block of Jell-O at a family reunion once when I was a kid and it broke something in my brain.

Is pizza underrated or overrated?

Underrated. You don’t know how underrated pizza is until your partner discovers they’re gluten intolerant. Gluten free crusts are just not the same. Appreciate your pizza!

If you started your own drive in Movie Theater, which showed nothing but the grimiest Grindhouse movies, what kind of food would you serve?

Everything would be fried, super greasy, or living under one of those hot dog turners with a heat lamp. Fried mushrooms, mozzarella sticks, French fries, popcorn, nachos, hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, and if you’re in the Dayton area the number one staple is chips. There would also be the usual boxes of candy and fountain sodas. I want the customer and the interior of their car covered in grease and sticky with sugar along with any other questionable stains they created during their visit.

CO-OP—Putney, VT—By Justin Grimbol

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The people at the co-op in Putney are fancy. There’s usually a kid playing ukulele while stocking shelves. Its okay. My wife and I can still argue in the middle of this. We can still say harsh things. We can treat the place like a shed we are locked in. A friendly teen talks to his manager about foreign films. Then, as he hands me my sandwich, and says friendly things, things that feel like friendship. I give him money. He gives me change. And my dogs waiting in the car. She misses us. She misses us so badly. She wants to nibble on our noses.

COUNTRY GIRL DINER—Chester, VT—By Justin Grimbol

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There were a lot of older women in the diner and they were all wearing fleece jackets. One sat at the counter a few stools away from me. She had a new boyfriend and she was excited to tell her waitress about it.

“You’re a lucky woman,” the waitress said.

Then they talked in a hushed tone and laughed.

“Did you hear any of that?” the waitress asked me.

Before I could answer she started laughing. She had a great laugh. It was loud and intense.

“Hope you didn’t hear any of what we just said,” she added.

Now both women started having a giggle fit.

I gave them a confused and polite smile then ate my grilled cheese on marbled rye, which, was easily one of the best grilled cheese sandwiches I had ever had. The coffee was a little burnt. But I like it that way.

 

Justin Grimbol is the author of COME HOME, WE LOVE YOU STILL and MINIVAN POEMS. He lives in Vermont. 

THE BRIDGEWATER DINER—Bridgewater, NJ—by Justin Mank

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Bridgewater Diner in Bridgewater New Jersey is my go to diner. It used to be called Felix No. 9 but sometimes a new owner will buy an establishment and totally fuck up the name. The place sits in an extremely dangerous location in the middle of a highway, Rt. 22. That’s one of those highways with lights where everybody speeds like it’s an interstate. You could totally get killed going to this diner. They make a serious pork roll sandwich on a hard roll. Some people don’t know what pork roll is because you can only get it in New Jersey, but it’s basically fake ham that is better than ham. It’s what spam would be if it didn’t suck ass. When I was broke I used to get two eggs scrambled and a water, you get home fries and toast with that. I call that the poor man’s special. I still get it a lot even though I’m not as broke, but now I add pork roll to it.

When I lost my mind in 2008, I sort of found it again hanging out with good friends at this place. We used to overstay our welcome and then loiter outside for a while smoking cigarettes. Sometimes cops would show up to get food, but they never accused us of loitering or anything. You’re sort of allowed to do that stuff at a diner. One of my friends used to hit on a lot of waitresses at this place. We used to laugh about it after a while because the guy just loved waitresses. It never got weird though, like where the managers were telling us to get out. I don’t want to imply that he was being a creep either. This guy is always a gentleman. Sad thing is I haven’t been there so much lately, life can get hectic. it’s a great diner because they’ll split a check twelve ways without us having to threaten the manager.. That’s important to me.

Justin Mank is the author of The Hammer Headed Shark. He lives in New Jersey.