Here are nine unusual, wonderfully incongruous restaurants across the U.S. It could be the case that you want to grab some excellent steamed Chinese buns inside a hair salon (Great Bao, Las Vegas) or a burger and nachos while you get your car washed (Facundo Café, Houston), or perhaps a hot sausage after you've paid a visit to Home Depot (Rocco's, Philadelphia). Or even the basement of a Hindu place of worship for excellent dosas, even if you know nothing of the religion (Temple Canteen, New York). Not exclusive or secret, these are simply solid — some of them wonderful — places to have a casual bite to eat in an unlikely setting.
Many thanks to the Eater city editors for their intel. And please, nominate your choices in the comments.
Great BaoLocation: Las Vegas, Nevada
Great Bao has four seats —a small two-top and a counter with two stools — and is located in the front part of the Las Vegas hair salon Touch. Weirdness aside, it is excellent. Chef Sheridan Su offers a concise menu of steamed buns, sesame noodles, rice, and salad that is all-around excellent. It's actually is one of the more exciting places to eat in the city.
Oasis CaféLocation: Chicago, Illinois
Hidden in the far back of the Jewelers' Mall on 21 North Wabash — yes, that's a jewelry store — there's a Middle Eastern lunch counter by the name of Oasis Café. It's a great place to go for tabouleh, lamb over saffron rice, baba ghanoush, hummus, and a falafel that some people swear by. You can't go wrong with any of the platters, either.
Twin Creeks CaféLocation: Dallas, Texas
There's nothing like enjoying a salad with a hint of new car smell. That's what it looks like you'd get at Twin Creeks Café, which is located inside the Frank Kent Honda dealership in Fort Worth, Texas. But it's actually not a joke, as the chef is David Rotman, who used to run Café Aspen and has brought much of that menu over to the showroom. It includes a whole bunch of salads, sandwiches, and burgers, as well as a rotating lineup of specials (beef chimichangas, brisket, pan-seared salmon ribeye steak) which they update on Facebook.
Indian Curry HouseLocation: San Francisco, California
If you're heading towards the Fisherman's Wharf on Columbus Avenue, you may stumble upon the bemusing combination that is Kennedy's Irish Pub & Curry House. It's exactly what it sounds like — a bar and an Indian restaurant, together. As for the latter, it does a extensive menu of solid Indian staples that won't blow you away but can actually be quite satisfying. Wash it down with a Guinness and a round of air hockey.
Temple CanteenLocation: Flushing, New York
In the basement of the Hindu Temple Society of North America is a canteen serving what food writer Peter Meehan called some of the best dosas in the city. "It is amazing what the cooks can conjure up with little more than lentil-rice flour, loads of butter and a giant, searing hot griddle," he wrote in his New York Times review of the canteen. The place was founded in 1993 originally as a place to prepare food offerings for deities. Now, it's open to everyone.
Alive and Kicking LobstersLocation: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Some of the best lobster rolls around aren't to be found along the seashore or at a charming little storefront in town. They're at Alive & Kicking, a small shack squeezed between two residential buildings off Cambridge's quiet Putnam Avenue. If the tanks aren't enough of an indication when you walk through the door, the move here is the generously portioned lobster sandwich, essentially a lobster roll on two slices of bread. In warm weather there are tables for outdoor seating, and during the rest of the year, the sandwiches are available for takeout.
Facundo CaféLocation: Houston, Texas
The tiny Facundo Café is attached to and serves a car wash in Houston, Texas. It serves up burgers, sandwiches, and breakfast tacos that local critic Katharine Shilcutt says could easily be "bowling-alley style" but actually end up rising above the location and its gimmick. Everyone who has tried the place seems to exalt the homemade salsa.
Rocco's Italian SausageLocation: Philadelphia, PA
In a town known for great sausage, it's hilarious to see that one of the best can be found connected to a Home Depot. That's Rocco's, a place so good that Barbuzzo owner Marcie Turney tells Eater it's a guilty pleasure that's caused her to develop a love for remodeling and repairing her home and restaurant. NB There's a Rocco's at the Home Depot in Long Island City, NY as well.
The PrinceLocation: Los Angeles, California
The Prince was once the Windsor Bar and Restaurant, with red booths, fanciful wallpaper, and all sorts of clandestine, speakeasy kitsch. It remains much that way, even though it was turned into a Korean restaurant and hang in the 90s. The incongruity of a Korean spot within an old Tudor building happens to work, both for Koreatown regulars and revelers and those seeking a romantic place to have a drink. And the fried chicken? Insane.
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