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Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Silvana Aceto

CAA/AAA Restaurant Inspectors Share Their 8 Favourite Places to Eat

Whether you’re hankering for home cooking or a warm welcome, places to enjoy down-home comfort food abound. CAA & AAA inspectors, who each year experience hundreds of restaurants, share some of their favorite places to enjoy a taste of home:

Angie’s Waterloo, CAA/AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/Canadian, Waterloo, Ontario

A local favorite since 1962, this is a great place to enjoy real country hospitality and tasty home-style fare. The restaurant has passed down the family tree through the generations, and the fresh baked pies, breads and cookies are still made from scratch. The walls are covered with newspaper clippings of local events and family photos. Enjoy country breakfasts, fish and chips and daily specials in a place where time seems to stand still.

Huckleberry’s Cafe, CAA/AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/International, Wetaskiwin, Alberta

This is a great spot to nosh up on locally sourced foods. All of their sauces and vinaigrettes are completely natural and preservative-free, and everything is delicious. The décor is comfortable and homey with a Western design, and staff generally dresses in jeans to reflect the theme. The menu has worldwide inspiration, but signature dishes include corn-crusted chicken and slow-roasted Alberta prime rib that can be paired with bunkhouse beans or wild herb salad. For a perfect finish enjoy huckleberry pie, of course.

Georgia Brown’s, CAA/AAA Three Diamond, Casual Dining/Regional American, Washington, D.C.

This stylish restaurant serves up contemporary Southern cooking, with an emphasis on the Low Country of South Carolina, right in the heart of the city.  The menu boasts down-home dishes like buttermilk fried chicken, country-fried meatloaf, sour mash pork chops, cornmeal-fried catfish and twice-cooked pork shank with sweet potato cheese grits. Enjoy live jazz every Wednesday night, “’Cause it’s been said that she knocks ’em dead … ooooh sweet Georgia Brown!” as the song lyrics say. Valet parking is available for dinner only.

The delicious Brown Pudding

The delicious Brown Pudding

St. Ann’s Church Lobster Suppers, CAA/AAA Two Diamond, Family Dining/Seafood, St. Ann, Prince Edward Island

It’s hard to believe lobster was ever considered poor man’s fare! What began in 1964 as a way to retire a church mortgage has evolved into a summer tradition – with profits going to church-sponsored charities and programs. The very casual four-course meal includes homemade soup, steamed PEI blue mussels, a main course including the eponymous lobster, bread rolls and sides, beverage and a choice of dessert including lemon meringue pie. It’s open only from mid-June to late September, closed on Sundays of course, but if you’re in the area, it doesn’t get any homier than this.

La Binerie Mont-Royal, CAA/AAA One Diamond, Casual Dining/Quebecoise, Montréal, Québec

This bustling little diner in a trendy residential neighborhood has been around since 1940. The focus is on a straightforward, unpretentious presentation of French Canadian comfort foods such as feves au lard (baked beans), pea soup, tourtiere (spiced meat pie), stews, wieners and beans with maple syrup, cretons (a pate-like spread made from pork), sugar pie and pouding chomeur (unemployment or poor man’s pudding). This is a working class eatery, so if you wear a suit people will wonder what you’re selling or who you’re looking for. Inspector tip: The daily specials are always worth noting since they include soup and dessert in the price.

Big Pink, CAA/AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/American, Miami Beach, Fla.

“Real Food for Real People…Really” is the motto here, a fixture on Miami Beach since 1996. Everything on the menu is super-sized, so make room in your refrigerator for leftovers.  Try the Big Pink TV dinner daily special, the Thanksgiving on a roll or the mouthwatering foot-long hot dog made with Kobe beef. The tables are chock-a-block close, so get cozy and don’t be surprised if a neighboring diner asks for a smidgen of your peanut butter s’mores. A great place to people watch, especially in the early morning hours after a long night out.

Just one of Big Pink's delicious meals

Just one of Big Pink’s delicious meals

La Palma Chicken Pie Shop & Restaurant, CAA/AAA One Diamond, Family Dining/American, Anaheim, Calif.

As you enter the front door the aroma of fresh-baked pies quickly alerts your senses to the down-home cooking you are about to enjoy. Start with piping hot chicken noodle soup or chicken pie. Fried chicken is always a good bet but, whatever you choose, don’t leave without a slice of — you guessed it — homemade fruit pie.  Decorative roosters and hens adorn every inch of free space. Seating includes tables and benches, with plenty of paper napkins to help wipe the deliciousness off your face.

The Meatball Shop, CAA/AAA Two Diamond, Casual Dining/ Italian Comfort Food, New York, N.Y.

What could be more comforting than a meatball? This popular little place in Greenwich Village serves up some of the best, whether it is straight ground beef, spicy pork, chicken or even veggie topped with tomato sauce, mushroom gravy or parmesan cream. To up the comfort level, order them as meatball sliders. Despite the many “ball” options, they keep it casual here; no reservations are taken, so arrive early to avoid a wait.

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