Tis the season to go to dinner with special people to special places. There are many notable restaurants that have been successful for centuries in America. Delmonico’s in New York has been setting the table for its namesake steak for nearly two centuries. It was the first to call it’s self a restaurant. Located in lower Manhattan it is the nation’s first restaurant and still very much still in business. Now restaurants is a $780 billion dollar industry. Then there are the traditional dishes of eggs benedict, baked Alaska and steak dishes that never go out of style.
The history of the restaurant dates back to 1837 and has gotten recognition in many movies. It was mentioned in the 1968 movie Funny Girl, the 1993 film The Age of Innocence, The 1967 film called The Producers. Most Presidents have dined there including Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Delmonico’s is on the cover of a new book out describing the 10 best restaurants. The book by Paul Freedman called The Ten Best Restaurants that Changed America will tell you why it is so important.
Another great is Mandarin in San Francisco. Try Sylvia’s in Harlem or Antoine’s in New Orleans,Louisiana. Now if you want the ultimate in elegance go to Le Pavillon in New York City or Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California, The Four Seasons in New York City. For good food and not the fancy tablecloths or dress code there is Schrafft’s in New York City. Whatever is your good old favorite restaurant it is a pastime for most Americans. We spend more money eating out buying food than buying food to cook at home.
Even if you never ate at Delmonico’s, the place that started it all, your favorite place still must have a lot in common with the fancy well established restaurants. It is all food after all unless you like it hot! Hot and spicy food is in a world of its own. Often it isn’t even served. You stand at a roadside hut and get some of the best hot food served on paper in a cardboard palm sized crate. At Hattie Bee’s in Nashville, the line goes around the block of people sweating waiting to sweat and groan from the hot food she serves. It doesn’t matter if you are getting chicken, pork or beef it is hot and spicy to make your eyes tear up. Of course there is plenty of pickles and French fries to cool it down a bit. Anything with enough cayenne pepper and enough spices fit the hot category.
I don’t know why people would want to eat and pay for things that would cause them pain but they do. Even hot chicken started about 80 years ago. It was revenge from a woman who added spices to her man’s chicken to punish him for cheating on her. Instead of hurting him, he loved it. He loved it so much he started a restaurant called Prince’s Hot Chicken and is still in business today. After all these place maybe I’ll stay home tonight with a cup of soup.