There is nothing more uniting at times than a desire for good food and good company. Small town restaurants are often where the locals gather to catch up over a good hearty meal. We asked our readers to vote for their favorites and I am excited to share the fruits of that labor. The diners and bistros on this list serve everything from fresh caught oysters to barbecue to traditional pub food, but the one thing they all have in common is that the food is tasty and service comes with a smile. Drop in for a bite real soon now, you hear?
The Park Inn — Hammondsport, NY
Winner: Best Of Travel Small Town Restaurant
This year’s Best Of Travel Award for Small Town Restaurant goes to The Park Inn of Hammondsport, New York. Located just one block from scenic Keuka Lake — one of Upstate New York’s acclaimed Finger Lakes — and across the street from a city park, The Park Inn offers diners unique views of this quaint town. Entrees are seasonal and locally sourced, providing a rich Finger Lakes’ experience. Add to that expertly paired wine from their seasoned sommelier, and you are in for a magnificent meal.
In addition to superb food, The Park Inn is itself a treat: Beautiful woodwork and craftsmanship are on display throughout this historic building. Enjoy a cocktail created from local ingredients or a regional lager either before or after your meal. When your evening has come to an end, take a stroll through the streets of Hammondsport and soak in the small town charm.
Skagway Brewing Co. — Skagway, AK
Finalist: Best Of Travel Small Town Restaurant
Skagway, a charming port town in the panhandle of Alaska, is looking forward to the return of cruise ships this summer. Whether you arrive by boat, by train, or by car, make your way to Skagway Brewing Co., named one of this year’s Best Of Travel Small Town Restaurant finalists by locals. The restaurant is open year-round, so drop in anytime for great tasting — and locally caught — fish and chips, or one of their other great menu options.
Sustainability is one key to their success: Carbon dioxide emissions from the brewing process are used to cultivate their own greens in house, grown with indoor state-of-the-art gardening technology. Grease is also recycled and used as fuel to heat the building as well as its water. So rest assured that the production of your meal is as green as the lush surrounding forested frontier. Drop in for a bite and enjoy small town Alaska with the locals at Skagway Brewing Co.
Little Gretel Restaurant — Boerne, TX
Finalist: Best Of Travel Small Town Restaurant
If you are in Texas Hill Country and have a hankering for some tasty made-from-scratch German fare, Little Gretel Restaurant in Boerne, Texas is the place to stop. In reality, its menu blends the tastes of numerous central European countries, and it’s particularly known for its scrumptious Czech kolaches. Another great option are the locally sourced wild game menu items including antelope and wild boar. Little Gretel is open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so come hungry!
Enjoy dining indoors, or relax at a table on their covered patio overlooking the waters of Cibola Creek just across the street. Seating can fill quickly, so call ahead and reserve a table for your party to save yourself a wait. Owner and Executive Chef Denise Mazal was born in Czechoslovakia before immigrating to the U.S., bringing her love of central European cuisine with her. She now shares her passion with the residents of Boerne alongside her daughter Veronica.
Boathouse Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant — Boothbay Harbor, ME
Nestled near the harbor in the coastal Maine town of Boothbay Harbor is the charming Boathouse Bistro Tapas Bar & Restaurant. Enjoy your meal from the second floor patio overlooking the water, or head all the way to the top floor for an even more expansive view of your surroundings. If you prefer indoor dining — especially on a hot summer day — savor their coastal fare from the first floor dining room. There is something for everyone on the menu: mouth-watering steaks, locally caught seafood, as well as a nice variety of both hot and cold tapas selections to choose from.
Bravo Americano Moderno — Globe, AZ
Known for their wood-fired pizzas, Bravo Americano Moderno serves up modern American fare with a unique cooking style that blends both European and Asian techniques. You can find them in Globe, a small Arizona town an hour and a half outside of Phoenix. Depending on the time of year, consider dining under their outdoor covered patio, or head inside if you have had enough of the blistering heat. If you enjoy a good blonde ale, Bravo serves numerous Arizona-based brews on draft. Come for the food, and stay for the friendly service.
Crown And Rye — Lindsborg, KS
Crown and Rye can be found in the quaint Swedish corner of Kansas known as Lindsborg. Whether you try a traditional Swedish dish such as their Swedish meatballs with egg noodles, or opt for traditional American fare such as their mouth-watering array of burgers, you will find something to your taste on their diverse menu. They are open daily for lunch and dinner, and offer a delectable brunch on Sundays featuring a combination of savory and sweet options including a scrumptious stack of Swedish pancakes, their self proclaimed “egg-cellent” quiche, and even their signature meatballs. Top off your brunch with some bubbly for a spirited start to the day.
Evan’s Barbeque Company — Villa Rica, GA
Owners Michael and Alicia claim the food at Evan’s Barbeque Company is “upscale barbeque with a twist,” and their menu certainly lives up to that claim. Their southern style BLT made with fried green tomatoes and fried barbeque egg rolls make great additions to their savory plates of barbeque pork, chicken, and ribs. Enjoy lunch or dinner on their outdoor patio or in their dining room Tuesday through Saturday (though we recommend checking their website for closures, especially around some major holidays). You can also enjoy the food from home with the help of their convenient drive-thru, with cars lining up for their mouthwatering takeout. This is a great family-owned and run dining experience to enjoy during your next trip through Villa Rica, Georgia.
Grappa Ristorante — Warwick, NY
Just 60 miles outside of New York City you will find the quasi-small town of Warwick. Serving traditional dishes from northern Italy, Grappa‘s menu will be sure to tantalize the tastebuds: Don’t forget to try the daily specials! Pair your meal with the perfect wine for a truly Italian touch. In addition to Grappa, business partners Tony and Nick opened La Piazza — their take on a Sicilian town square — next door. La Piazza serves craft beer and pizza in a laid-back environment that’s excellent for socializing.
The Landmark Inn / Teller Room Restaurant — Oberlin, KS
Located in the historic Bank of Oberlin, the Landmark Inn is a bed and breakfast in the quiet northwestern Kansas town of Oberlin. Whether you stay in one of the Landmark Inn’s suites, or are just stopping through town, you will want to make time for the Teller Room Restaurant. The restaurant can be found in what was the lobby of the bank that once served Oberlin locals. Pay careful attention to their meal-specific hours as they are closed between lunch and dinner.
Nell Thorn Waterfront Bistro & Bar — La Conner, WA
Nell Thorn is situated on the banks of the Swinomish Channel just over an hour north of Seattle in La Conner, Washington. Dishing up delectable plates of farm-to-table meals, including local oysters, clams, and fish, Nell Thorn is a must-experience dining option in La Conner. Their deck overlooking the water provides a unique seafood dining experience when the weather is suitable. Go online and reserve your table before they are all taken!
The Oystercatcher — Coupeville, WA
Located on Whidbey Island, just off the coast of Washington, Coupeville is a charming seaside community surrounded by natural wonders including Deception Pass State Park to the north. The Oystercatcher sits a block from the water, and is the go-to place on Whidbey for fresh oysters and mussels with a view. And with wine options by the bottle or glass, you are sure to find a perfect pairing. Their menu is small and focuses on their surf specialties with a few select turf options for those in the mood as well. Join them Friday through Sunday for lunch or dinner.
Paul’s Cafe — Ponchatoula, LA
Paul’s Cafe has been serving home cooked meals to the people of the southern Louisiana town of Ponchatoula for over four decades. You will find Paul’s next to the farmers market at the intersection of Pine and Railroad Ave; just look for the big cross out front of the rustic corner store. You can’t go wrong with one of Paul’s po’boys; from fried shrimp to chicken tenders or even cheeseburger, choose the perfect one to satisfy your po’boy craving. Just save room for one of Paul’s famous strawberry daiquiris, served in a souvenir cup or by the gallon! Or come early and enjoy a hearty breakfast of eggs, bacon, pancakes, and grits made fresh.
Peppers Mexicali Cafe — Pacific Grove, CA
Located about two blocks from Monterey Bay, Peppers Mexicali Cafe serves up both traditional Mexican dishes as well as tasty seafood plates in Pacific Grove. Dig into their Snapper Yucatan — if you can handle the heat that is — or sink your teeth into their sizzling prawn fajitas. Wash your meal down with a refreshing pitcher of margaritas for the table, made with your choice of tequila as well as triple sec and fresh lemon and lime juice. Or try one of their rotating brews on draft if you prefer. Come for great food at a reasonable price and friendly service from a close knit team, serving the Monterey area for over 30 years.
Pig + Fig Cafe — White Rock, NM
To quote owner Laura Crucet, “Whether you’re strictly vegan or strictly meat and potatoes, our goal is to create comfort food for everyone using high quality, ethically sourced, seasonal ingredients.” Laura studied at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris before honing her craft across the Southwest, eventually opening Pig + Fig in White Rock, New Mexico in 2016. Stop in Monday through Saturday for a tasty breakfast burrito or quiche, or enjoy one of the many lunch box specials or savory dinner options on the menu. Sip on a glass of wine or enjoy one of several wine or champagne cocktails including their Begonia Sangria, a rioja wine with cinnamon, Valencia orange, and sherry.
Pint And Barrel Drafthouse — Palestine, TX
Mosey on over to Pint and Barrel Drafthouse for a specialty burger or chicken sandwich made to order: If the spicy sriracha of the Tear Jerker is too much to handle, try the Super Chief topped with a split sausage, egg, and all the fixings. Another favorite are the french fry baskets: Choose between the blue cheese fondue, reuben, and barbecued bacon. Sample one of the many craft beers available on tap and stay for friendly conversation with the locals. Open every day but Sunday for lunch and dinner, or stop in for happy hour during your next trip to Palestine, Texas.