In fact, I’ve long bemoaned the loss of local flavor.
Once a Chicago native suggested a steakhouse to me that had been duplicated in Atlanta. When asked for a second “local option,” he pointed me to a diner a couple of blocks away.
After placing my order, it dawned on me that I was in “the Windy City” and that the Fog City Diner was a San Fran restaurant where I’d eaten out there. The food was fine, but another slice of local pizza would have made more sense.
Once in Orlando, I realized that the first three meals — all good — were in familiar restaurants frequented back home. Outback, Cracker Barrel, Longhorn, etc. leave me satisfied. But there is something special about a local dining experience.
(However, in my typical hypocrisy, the recent news that Boston’s Legal Sea Foods has floated down to Atlanta brought a smile. But too much duplication could ruin the New England chowdah as well.)
Still, I prefer finding those unique places tied to a particular locale. Uniformity is boring — and often found in a traveling world where all malls seem to have the same stores and all exits the same restaurants.
As my daughter rightly noted, one of the pleasures of being in downtown Chattanooga — along with my feeling of home — is good local dining. Her list (and mine) included the Blue Plate, Tony’s Pasta Shop and Trattoria, and Rembrandt’s Coffee House.
Yum. Makes me glad I’m passing that way this week.
Perhaps one kind gesture of hospitality would be to have in hand or mind a couple of good local dining options to share with strangers — the kinds of places not found ever 12 exits along the interstate.