North American eateries

Ratings are on a scale of 0 to 24. The scale used to be 0 to 10, so restaurants written about before 2012 may have only had their ratings adjusted by formula and not by hand (hence all the 2s, 5s, 8s, etc.) The scale works as follows:

24 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16
15 14 13 12 11 10
9 8 7 6 5 4
3 2 1

An asymmetrical 0 to 24 scale may not be intuitive, I realize. But as a rule of thumb: a double-digit score means I liked it, while a single-digit score... less so. Also, as you might expect, scores from many years ago may not be very reliable, so do check the dates.


I'll have a large corn with a side of corn and a glass of corn, please.

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Name Cuisine Address Last update Score
Juice StopSmoothieslocal chain, Lincoln. NE2018-07-2819
This was my favorite smoothie place when I lived in Orange County in the late '90s, but then it disappeared: the chain had over-expanded, apparently, and retreated back to just five shops in Lincoln, Nebraska. Which I then forgot, so when we were passing through Lincoln and she said, "Hey, look, a smoothie place," and I saw that it was Juice Stop, my head kind of exploded. The menu was a little bigger but otherwise the same, and we each got a smoothie, and they were both great, and, yeah, these are just way better than any other storebought smoothies I've ever had. It helps a lot that they're trying to make tasty drinks rather than something that purports to be virtuous!
Gratitude Cafe & BakeryBakeryCotner & Fairfax, Lincoln. NE2018-07-289
Of the two bakeries I went to in Lincoln, this is the one that is the "little old lady bakes sticky buns" variety rather than the "honh honh, French pastry" type. I got a chocolate cherry scone and a Cinnabon type thing. They were fine.
Le Quartier Bakery & CaféBakeryregional chain, Nebraska2018-07-288
This is the "we serve fancy French pastries" bakery we went to in Lincoln. I got a chocolate-almond croissant; it was fine.
LeadbellyAmerican8th & Q, Lincoln. NE2018-07-2711
The macaroni and cheese didn't impress me, but I really enjoyed the southwestern salad I got here: it was very fresh with a good balance and variety of flavors.
Amelia'sBakeryVirginia & Norwood, Indianapolis, IN2018-07-2710
Things I have tried from here: peach croissant (okay), cinnamon roll (fine), chocolate chip cookie (also fine), oatmeal pecan cookie (quite good). Nothing to make me eager to buy tickets back to Indianapolis, but enough to make for pleasant munchies on the second leg of a cross-country road trip.
Her Soup KitchenLunchDubuque & Wright, Iowa City, IA2018-07-27N/A
I'm not going to rate this one: we went there because it had rave reviews, but the corn chowder I got was close to flavorless and my traveling companion didn't like her sandwich either. But a lot of the raves were for the service, and the folks here were so amazingly nice that I'm calling it a positive experience even though the actual food didn't thrill us.
NadaMexican-ishregional chain2018-07-269
On the one hand, it goes to show how times are a'changing that in Indianapolis we can now get chile-glazed potatoes, poblano mac and cheese, high-end avocado tacos, and butterscotch flan in a hip, friendly space. But, as great as it was to find these dishes on the menu... they were actually just okay. If this place were here on Solano Avenue I wouldn't actually go very often.
Zingerman's DelicatessenSandwichesDetroit btw 5th/Kingsley, Ann Arbor, MI2006-06-2411
Crazy-expensive grilled sandwiches: for twelve bucks I expected a huge sub, not a square sandwich like I used to find in my lunch bag back in fourth grade. The gourmet food items are similarly overpriced compared to their counterparts in other cities. But all that said, the sandwiches are pretty good.
Anthony's Gourmet PizzaPizzaPackard btw King George/Pine Valley, Ann Arbor, MI2006-06-2311
The stuffed pizza is not as good as Zachary's, or even Giordano's. But it's better than Patxi's. About on par with Little Star, I guess.
The OvenIndian8th & P, Lincoln, NE2005-10-138
The mulligatawny suggested great things to come, but the pureed saag paneer and ketchuppy dal were as mediocre as you'd expect from an Indian restaurant in cowboy country. I was reading some of the clippings out front as I waited for the place to open, and they said pretty much what you might expect: the place caters in large part to people who have come from the coasts for conventions (or, as in my case, because they're going from one coast to another and Nebraska is in the way and this might be the last recognizable food in a long while).
Biaggi'sItalianUtica Ridge & 53rd, Davenport, IA2005-10-1214
This is a branch of what is apparently quite a large chain here in flyover country. I was skeptical but hungry and couldn't quickly find a more promising prospect near my hotel. As it turned out, I was pleasantly surprised: my bruschetta was very good with large slices of bread, decent tomatoes even in October, unmelted fresh mozzarella and lots of basil; the ravioli appetizer in scallion cream sauce was even better, and the bread pudding with hot white chocolate sauce and strawberries was also a fine choice. I guess this shows that the tide of decent food is bit by bit lifting all boats... nowadays I have had enough exposure to good food that I can't really stand the big chains like the Olive Garden and Chili's and such, but I grew up in suburbia in the 1980s, and I can tell you when restaurants like these started appearing in our shopping centers we greeted them as liberators, because they were such a huge step up from the Burger King and Taco Bell and Denny's. Now fifteen years later you can get a meal that is another standard deviation or two above the Olive Garden even in a strip mall in Davenport, Iowa, and that is very encouraging.

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