Category Archives: Dining

Mile 398 – Frosty Boy, Knightstown, Ind.

The exterior of Frosty Boy.

The exterior of Frosty Boy.

On a recent trip to St. Louis, I was looking for a quick lunch off Interstate 70. I decided to check out Knightstown, close to halfway between Richmond and Indianapolis.

I came across Frosty Boy, mostly because of the look of the building – it stands out on Knightstown’s historic Main Street. I don’t know much about this history of this place, but judging by the architecture, the building has probably existed for a few decades.

FrostyBoy (2)Frosty Boy doubles as a Pizza King location, which (I later learned) is a mid-sized pizza chain in East Central Indiana that’s been around since the late 1950s. However, I also found after a quick-and-dirty Internet search that this location may not be an “official” Pizza King outlet. It’s not listed as a location on Pizza King’s website, and apparently Indiana’s pizza history involves a few Pizza King copycats, so I’m not sure what the case is here.

But back to the Frosty Boy end of it.

The menu at Frosty Boy.

The menu – with lots of options.

The menu is chock full of options, mostly diner-type food and, of course, ice cream. I went with a breaded pork tenderloin, because Indiana.

The food came out quickly, and it wasn’t bad. Being mid-afternoon on a Friday, there weren’t too many other people coming and going, and most got some form of ice cream.

Still, it definitely beat larger fast food outlets for a quick bite to eat. And, they have breaded pork tenderloins, which are a very popular sandwich in the Hoosier State (there’s even a blog dedicated to them!).

A breaded tenderloin at Frosty Boy.

A breaded tenderloin at Frosty Boy.

If you’ve never had a tenderloin before and are in Indiana, try one. There are a ton of great restaurants across the state that serve this sandwich, and one of the more well-known places to grab one is at Nick’s Kitchen in Huntington – the same city where I went to college. Since I mentioned Rick Garrett’s blog earlier, here’s his review for Nick’s Kitchen.

Parking is available on-site. Frosty Boy also only takes cash – no credit/debit cards.

The interior of Frosty Boy.

The interior of Frosty Boy.

Frosty Boy K on Urbanspoon


Mile 1 – Coney Island/Curtis’ Famous Wieners, Cumberland, Md.

Curtis'/Coney Island on North Liberty Street in Cumberland has been open since 1918.

Curtis’/Coney Island on North Liberty Street in Cumberland has been open since 1918.

If you are able to dine at only one place in Cumberland, Curtis’/Coney Island Famous Wieners has to be on your short list.

It’s pretty much the best hot dog joint ever (says a Western Marylander).

But seriously, Curtis’/Coney Island is steeped in Cumberland history, and has been around long enough to span at least four generations. If you meet a Cumberland native (like me), chances are their parents and grandparents have had hot dogs in the exact same booths – but decades earlier.

Just a note – Curtis’ and Coney Island are the same place now, but were separate establishments until about 13 years ago – more on that farther down. I’ve rarely heard anyone ever refer to the place as “Curtis’,” instead referring to it by the “Coney Island” name, so that’s the name I’ll be using.

Memorabilia on the walls of Curtis'.

Memorabilia on the walls of Curtis’.

Coney Island has been around since 1918, and as far as I know, the recipe for “Coney Island sauce” hasn’t changed since it was created. The restaurant has always been a family affair, too. Currently, Gino Giatras is the proprietor, taking the place over from his father, Louis “Louie” Giatras (Louie died in 2007). Locals tend to refer to members of the Giatras family by their first names, regardless of whether or not they actually know the family personally.

Coney Island can be traced to business ventures by Greek immigrants around the beginning of the 20th Century. Louie’s obituary in the Baltimore Sun states that the first hot dog was sold around 1905, and the product took off. Because of the food’s success, the family started two hot dog joints – Coney Island and Curtis’.  Curtis’s was located at 35 N. Liberty St., and Coney Island was farther up Liberty Street toward Baltimore Avenue. Both restaurants were essentially the same menu-wise, and both had kitchens in the front of the restaurant, but each had different decor.

The old red booths moved from the original Coney Island location when it was merged with Curtis'.

The old red booths moved from the original Coney Island location when it was merged with Curtis’.

In 2000, the restaurants combined, with Coney Island moving into an expanded Curtis’. Today, the side where Curtis’ looks pretty much the same as it always has. On the other side of the restaurant, the iconic red booths that were part of Coney Island were moved into the new dining area when the hot dog joints merged.

The restaurant’s walls are covered in memorabilia, most notably historic newspaper articles, Pittsburgh Steelers decorations and photos. Gino is usually working, yelling orders in the small kitchen at the front of the restaurant.

So about the actual food…

My usual go-to: hot dogs with sauce, fries and a vanilla Coke.

My usual go-to: hot dogs with sauce, fries and a vanilla Coke.

Coney Island/Curtis’ is particularly famous for its sauce that goes on hot dogs. The base is hamburger, which is combined with several seasonings to produce a sauce that is drier than toppings at other hot dog establishments, but still fairly moist. Of course, there are all the regular toppings as well.

Curtis’ also makes vanilla Coke/Pepsi the old fashioned way – by actually adding syrup to the soda. I believe they make cherry Coke the same way, too. They also make a few other old-fashioned drinks as well (none with alcohol).

A view toward the front of Curtis'.

A view toward the front of Curtis’.

You can order at the window for take out, or seat yourself at the booths or at the bar to be waited on. The wait staff generally tends to assume that you’re a local and know what you want, so be sure to take a look at one of the menus on the wall as you’re finding a seat (this has thrown off some of my friends from out-of-state). Chances are you’ll be ordering a hot dog anyway, but still.

Hot dogs are ordered by amount and topping. So, for my usual three hot dogs with sauce (I tend to indulge when I’m home), I order “three with sauce.” I’ll usually have an order of fries brought to share with the table as well (they’re the crinkle-cut kind).

The bar at Curtis'.

The bar at Curtis’.

Your food will typically come out within just a few minutes – probably a lot quicker than most fast-food places. If you’re dining in, your bill will be given to you with your food, but don’t feel rushed. Pay at the front when you’re ready to go.

Coney Island is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. It is closed on Sunday. Parking is available on North Liberty Street and throughout downtown Cumberland. After lunch or dinner (or breakfast?) at Coney Island, visit the relatively large variety of shops in downtown.

If you’re heading farther west along the National Road, check out other great hot dogs at Fiddle’s Confectionery in Brownsville, Pa., or Shorty’s Lunch in Washington, Pa.!

Curtis Famous Weiners on Urbanspoon


Mile 180 – Theo’s Restaurant, Cambridge, Ohio

Theos ResizeIt seems that when a restaurant advertises the fact that it’s been around for decades, said establishment often sticks to decor associated with a set time period in American history. But that doesn’t appear to be the case with Theo’s Restaurant in downtown Cambridge.

Theo’s traces its history to 1931 when it opened as a Coney Island-style hot dog establishment, says the restaurant’s website. Since then, the place has passed down though several generations of owners, all related to varying degrees. After a fire in the 1980s, the restaurant was rebuilt, retaining the “Coney Island Lunch” name (which explains the more modern decor in the restaurant). It wasn’t until the early 1990s that the restaurant was renamed “Theo’s.”

The bar area of one of the dining rooms.

The bar area of one of the dining rooms.

Remnants of the eatery’s original purpose still survive, such as a Coney Island hot dog menu in the far dining room. The restaurant also has retained the locally-famous Coney Island dogs on its menu.

I was able to stop in for lunch on a recent trip to Indiana, and I was thoroughly impressed. The interior is large, and divided into two distinct dining rooms, one of which contains a bar. I had the “moist and sassy” version of the grilled chicken breast sandwich (I tend to be a sucker for menu items that are given a weird name). This version of the sandwich features the chicken marinated in a wine, olive oil, lemon and spice blend, which honestly was one of the best marinades I’ve ever had – not too sweet, not dripping wet and not hot. The grand total for my sandwich, fries and drink was under $7.

The "moist and sassy" version of the chicken sandwich.

The “moist and sassy” version of the chicken sandwich.

Theo’s seemed really down-to-earth, despite the fairly modern decor. The staff was all very friendly and made sure everything was satisfactory. The other thing I really liked was the variety on the menu. This isn’t just an average sandwich and fries place. For example, one of the specials the day I visited was halushki – a Hungarian entree based on soft noodles and cabbage. The Theo’s recipe included ham.

Theo’s is located at 632 Wheeling Ave., right in downtown Cambridge along U.S. 40.  It is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Daily specials and the regular menu are updated on the restaurant’s website. Parking is available on both sides of Wheeling Avenue in Cambridge, and is free for two hours – plenty of time to eat. Theo’s can be reached at 740-432-3878.

A page of the menu.

A page of the menu.

The main dining room.

The main dining room.

Theo's Restaurant on Urbanspoon


Mile 126 – DiCarlo’s, Elm Grove, W.Va.

Residents of West Virginia’s Northern Panhandle rant and rave about DiCarlo’s – a pizza tradition born and raised in this part of the Ohio River Valley.

According to the DiCarlo’s website, the pizza recipe for which it is so famous was created in the late 1940s by Galdo DiCarlo, the third son of Michael and Caroline DiCarlo, who operated a grocery store and bakery.

What makes DiCarlo’s pizza unique is the way it is made. Unlike traditional pizza, DiCarlo’s bakes the crust and sauce, then adds the majority of the diced provolone cheese to the pizza as the pizza cools. So, a fresh DiCarlo’s pizza will likely have unmelted cheese or cheese that is in the process of melting. Pepperoni is standard on pizza.

Notice the freshly-spread cheese across the pizza.

Today, the DiCarlo’s franchise has grown to 12 locations in and around Wheeling, stretching from New Martinsville, W.Va., in the south to Wellsburg, W.Va., in the north. There are also DiCarlo’s outposts elsewhere in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and the Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

The Elm Grove DiCarlo’s sits right along U.S. 40.

But don’t think that all of these locations serve exactly the same product in exactly the same atmosphere — no. All DiCarlo’s eateries have pizza, but some have dine-in areas and some have expanded menus. What I’ve found is that local residents tend to think that “their” hometown DiCarlo’s is better than another DiCarlo’s down the road (and maybe that thinking keeps each DiCarlo’s in business!).

Regardless, from what I could gather, the DiCarlo’s in Elm Grove is the original DiCarlo’s franchise (though, if that’s not true, I’d like to know!). This DiCarlo’s is smack on the National Road, tucked between that historic highway and I-70, which seems to have sliced right through the middle of Wheeling and its surrounding communities.

The kitchen at the Elm Grove DiCarlo’s.

In this DiCarlo’s, there is no dine-in area. Instead, you can either call ahead or place your order at the store and wait. Each order is assigned a number, and orders are supposed to be finished in regards to their respective numbers.

Pizza is sold by the slice, which is square, and extra cheese is available for extra cost (it comes in small bags and is put on separately by the customer). At the Elm Grove spot, slices are offered in amounts from 1-28. If you’re on the go, soda is available at vending machines in the waiting area.  When your number is called, you pay, take your food and go.

Apparently this DiCarlo’s mails pizza?

I met a friend for dinner, and we ended up eating outside, putting our pizza on the back of her car and eating out of the box. For all the hype surrounding DiCarlo’s, the pizza absolutely lived up to its expectations! It really is quite a change from traditional pizza, as the cold, melting cheese adds a different flavor.

Like other established local restaurants, pizza at DiCarlo’s is a great deal for the wallet. At a little over a dollar per slice, the quality and freshness of the pizza beats out the national fast food chains.

The Elm Grove DiCarlo’s is located at 2099 National Road in Elm Grove, just east of Wheeling. It is closest to Exit 5 on I-70. It’s open from 3 p.m. through the late evening, so this DiCarlo’s is not the best spot for a lunch stop. To order ahead, call 304-242-1490.
DiCarlos Pizza Shop on Urbanspoon


Mile 132 – Coleman’s Fish Market, Wheeling, W.Va.

One of the outside entrances to Coleman’s in Wheeling’s Centre Market.

Before I set out for Wheeling, I asked my friends knowledgeable about the Northern Panhandle (one being Wellsburg, W.Va., native and Morgantown food blogger Candace Nelson), “Where should I go for a taste of Wheeling?” The two responses that kept coming up: Coleman’s Fish Market and DiCarlo’s Pizza. Both seem to be honored eateries for the Wheeling area, and both have a long history in the region.

I started with Coleman’s, which is tucked into the revitalized Centre Market district of Wheeling, just a few blocks from the National Road. To me, what makes this 98-year-old establishment really unique is that the name describes exactly what the business is: a fish market that also serves great seafood.

One of the seafood cases at Coleman’s.

There are two ends to Coleman’s: the restaurant part, where you wait in line to order and receive prepared food, and the fish market, which sells a huge variety of fresh, raw seafood. The “traditional” menu item is Coleman’s fish sandwich, which is  several strips of fish put between two slices of white bread. There’s also a version which has a sauce over the fish, but I stuck with the regular sandwich and Coleman’s thick seasoned fries, both of which lived up to my high expectations (since I only had heard great comments).

After the food order is finished,  tables are outside Coleman’s door in Centre Market in a larger, open seating area. When I visited on a Friday evening, both the fish market and restaurant weren’t packed, but definitely had a steady stream of customers. Coleman’s is featured on Roadfood, which provides some other great meal ideas and a little history.

Coleman’s fish sandwich and seasoned fries.

Coleman’s had its start in 1914 by John Coleman, and has remained in the family throughout its history. As far as I know, it has remained in Centre Market for its entire existence. Centre Market is an attraction in itself, with the oldest section dating to 1853.

Coleman’s is open Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Thursday ad Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. (perhaps to help cater to Wheeling’s Catholic population during Lent?). It is closed Sunday.

To get to Coleman’s from U.S. 40, follow Main Street south through downtown and across Wheeling Creek. Make a left on 22nd Street until it intersects with Market Street. Parking is available on streets surrounding Centre Market. To reach Coleman’s, call 304-232-8510.

The oft-photographed sign above the indoor entrance to Coleman’s.

Coleman's Fish Market on Urbanspoon


Mile 24 – Penn Alps, Grantsville, Md.

The entrance to Penn Alps on a rainy evening.

Tucked neatly near the Casselman River near the Casselman River Bridge, Penn Alps has been serving traditional American fare since the late 1950s.

Like The Casselman Inn just up the road, Penn Alps features a menu built around the German-inspired Mennonite and Amish cuisine, but Penn Alps has a larger dining area, seems to have a bit larger menu and also has a popular buffet. Other dining rooms can be, and are often, reserved for private dinners.

A sample of the typical buffet food at Penn Alps.

Besides being adjacent to the National Road, the history of Penn Alps itself is tied to transportation. Although the present building is comprised of several additions, the original building dates to around 1818, and served travelers along the National Road. The oldest alignment of the highway that leads to the Casselman River Bridge is along the north side of the building, which is the oldest part of the complex. The modern U.S.-40 ALT alignment runs immediately to the south.

The lobby at Penn Alps.

Since Alta Schrock, the founder of Penn Alps, bought the building, the entire facility has evolved into a campus, featuring the Spruce Forest Artisan Village, which provides space for area craftsmen to produce and show off their work. Included in this complex of buildings is an early 19-Century house – the Miller House – and Stanton’s Mill, an old gristmill. While the grounds are free and always open, the actual artisans are at their posts intermittently from May through October.

Some of the work produced at Spruce Forest can be purchased in the gift shop inside the Penn Alps  restaurant. The shop also sells locally-produced baked and canned goods to take home.

One of the dining areas at Penn Alps.

Penn Alps is an ideal stop for travelers and locals who not only want to sample great food, but who are also looking for a locally-produced quality souvenir – edible or not.

Penn Alps is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Buffet hours are Friday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and all day Saturday and Sunday. The restaurant can be reached at 301-895-5985.
Penn Alps Restaurant and Craft Shop on Urbanspoon


Mile 100 – Shorty’s Lunch, Washington, Pa.

Shorty’s Lunch, Washington, Pa.

It seems like almost every old city has at least one hot dog/hamburger/lunch place that has survived downtown for decades, despite the general decline of downtown areas in the U.S.

Washington has Shorty’s Lunch, tucked along West Chestnut Street downtown. Shorty’s has been around since 1932, and the eight booths inside haven’t changed. Like Coney Island in Cumberland, there is a bar/counter along one side of the dining area, and the booths line the opposite wall, making Shorty’s a pretty packed place with just a relatively small crowd.

The menu is pretty simple, with hot dogs and hamburgers being the staple. The grill sits in one of the front windows, so anyone walking along West Chestnut can see the rows of hot dogs being cooked inside. A hot dog with everything (which is what I inadvertently got) has a mustard base, and is then layers with a type of chili sauce and onions.

An “everything” hot dog.

I actually had no idea of the reputation Shorty’s has in southwest Pennsylvania. When I was in Washington, I just picked Shorty’s because it was one of the only older-looking restaurants downtown – and hot dogs always sound good. But as I started to look for background information online, I saw that Shorty’s had been featured in a number of publications including the Pittsburgh media (Shorty’s has its own Wikipedia article, which links to most of that information).

It’s not surprising that Shorty’s has a dedicated customer base – not only is the food good, but people seem to be generally protective of their old hot dog establishments (For me, I’m always going to be biased toward Coney Island in Cumberland, and will defend that it has the best hot dogs of anywhere – despite that there are just as many equally-great similar places).

Shorty’s is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Parking is available along just about every street in downtown Washington. Because the menu is so simple, you’ll probably have whatever you order in less than a minute. Take-out also seemed to be a popular option at Shorty’s. It is located at 34 W. Chestnut St., between Main Street and Jefferson Avenue.
Shorty's Lunch on Urbanspoon