Well, I know the buy local, eat local, be local movement is a big thing for various people. I’ve been a bit less rigorous about this–I’d like to have one of those mini-tangerine things and they don’t grow near me. Import one and I’ll have it.

Now experience has now taught me that if I want something good, it pays to go to the place that is owned and run by someone in town rather than the nearest outlet of a national franchise (spoiler alert: possible exception below).

Here are just a few examples:

Best coffee in the first two weeks: Pine Street Coffee in SandPoint, ID with fabulous baked goods made right there.

A surprisingly good and uniquely decorated restaurant in Omak, Washington:

Nicest fellow coffee drinkers: Republic, Washington–a real blessing after the Exxon Convenience Market in Ione, WA. The locals said Republic survives because people come back after they retire.

Coffee and blueberry scone at the Crazy8Barn on the way to Port Stanley, Ontario:

Sure, espresso-based coffee chains sort of dominate the scene, but not for baked goods.

Surprise awesome hamburger: Village Inn in Alpha, Michigan. The place was dark inside at 11:30AM when it opened. The few locals were gathering outside waiting for opening time. Nicest woman in the world served coffee and made one of the most awesome hamburgers ever. No extruded patty mix from McDonalds or Burger King can ever compare to a burger shaped by human hands and tended and cooked by a person who watches it and flips it using human judgment, not a timer.

Other fine burgers:

A-Pine Restaurant in Nisswa, Minnesota, which sports its own historically correct statue of Paul Bunyan:

Kountry Kafe in Fifield, Wisconsin:

Pine Dine in Engadine, Upper Peninsula Michigan, enjoyed immensely by Susie:

The Boat House in Port Dover, Ontario (simply amazing)

Incredible Mexican

Tiny place in Brewster, WA

Cuatro Amigos in Bay City, Michigan:

Cuatro amigos

Vegetables:

Some times you just need a vegetable (no, a deep fried potato extrusion is not a vegetable, even with ketchup):

Chinese in Glendive, Montana at J & J Chinese Restaurant, where we had our first vegetable since Whitefish, Montana where, come to think of it, we skipped the vegetables (our choice).

Chinese or Thai in Rogers City, Michigan

Biker breakfast: multiple pancakes, eggs, bacon and maybe sausage, too. Sure, it was almost invented at Denny’s as the “Grand Slam” but you can’t beat it when made at a fine place like this:

Apple Cup Cafe in Chelan, Washington:

Special mention: is Tim Horton’s local everywhere in Canada?

The locals sure think so! You can get a credible latte, egg sandwich, and an incredible donut or bagel in about 67 seconds. Works for me, eh.

Best Updated Business Model

In Fairhaven, NY there is the Hardware Cafe and General Store.  Most of the hardware is antique; most of the general store items are bric-a-brac; the coffee, baked goods, and breakfast are awesome. The ambiance is genteel frowzy.

Hardware cafe and general store

Cutest Coffee Shop Ever

A great stop in Thetford, VT. I had pancakes for lunch. Power to pedal.

Isabells cafe

The Definitive Maine Diner

In Waldoboro, ME there is nothing like Moody’s Diner. Copious quantities of all your favorites.

Moody diner