Two days ago I left for Houston via roadtrip from Atlanta with my parents. I bought them Roadfood a great book of road side diners when I was in SF. We tried one out along our way, Martin's Restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama.
Reasons I loved Martin's:
1. We had to wait for a table, but not long enough to be annoyed
2. Each day the menu has only 4 entrees for you to choose from and about 8 side dishes
3. The sides included all my southern favorites - blackeyed peas or lima beans (depending on the day), greens, dressing (stuffing), string beans, cole slaw, etc
4. The crowd was truly diverse, some in suits, some in jeans, some old (we're talking no teeth old), and I'd say it was equally split between black and white folks.
5. It's in a strip mall, but the second you step inside you feel as though you've stumbled into a deep south cafeteria.
6. The coconut cream pie slice was as big as my head.
Our journey for the day continued on to Biloxi, Mississippi. I'd never actually been to Biloxi; most of my five readers have probably never heard of it either. It is a casino town in the little tail of Mississippi that touches the gulf between Alabama and Lousianna.
On my many drives between Houston and Atlanta I never bothered to stop in Biloxi. When I would stop halfway, it would be in New Orleans. See, Biloxi is a casino town and I have absolutely no desire to gamble. However, my parents, well, odds are if you come to my parents house you'll find my dad watching poker tournaments on tv. He really enjoys playing. He rarely wins very much, but (to the best of my knowlege) he doesn't lose very much either. My mom claims to not like casinos or gambling. However, once at a casino, odds are you'll find her at a video poker machine. In fact my sister was able to give me the exact location of where I could find my mom in the Grand Casino based on previous trips with them. Mom tends to win, I'm not sure how she beats the casino odds, but she does.
Biloxi was destroyed, like most of the gulf cities in Hurricane Katrina. However, they seem to be staging quite a come back. To me hurricane damage was most notable in trees that have been obviously torn in half. A few roofs still have blue tarps on top, but mostly both homes and casinos have been rebuilt.
As I said before I don't like to gamble, and unlike my mom, I mean it. However, I'll admit that I enjoy staying in a hotel - the Grand was no exception. They have a great, albeit small, fitness center and a really nice sauna/steam room with hot tubs and a cold plunge. And the chair in my room that I sat and read in was quite nice as well.