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Great food in unexpected places

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Great food in unexpected places

MandalayVA | Dec 10, 2011 04:10 PM

A little back story--I was dreading Thanksgiving this year. My husband had double knee replacement surgery the week before and he wouldn't be released from the rehab hospital until the day after the holiday. The hospital advertised a special T-day meal for patients and their families. "Oh, no, institution food," I thought. Still, I steeled myself and joined my beloved for the meal. Plates were fetched for both of us, and dubiously I started taking bites.

The turkey. Wow. The breast meat was moist and flavorful, the dark meat and gravy rocked. The mac-n-cheese? Amazing. Is that sausage in the dressing? Mmm. Ooh, someone put bacon in the greens, yes. Not a fan of pumpkin pie but a slice of lemon cake was perfect. In other words, a freakin' HOSPITAL turned out one of the better T-day meals I've had. After asking around I learned that the hospital hired a young guy who graduated from CIA to be its executive chef last year, and his goal to make good food for a variety of diets is being achieved to the point that the head physician specifically asks for a box of mac-n-cheese to take home if it's on the menu because it's that good. My husband was very pleased with all his meals there (although he loyally claimed my cooking to be better).

I was also reminded of Airport Variety Store across the street from the St. Petersburg, FL airport, a dingy little building with a sad dusty collection of grocery staples where the staff makes the best Cuban sandwich and black bean soup ever. Another convenience store treasure is the famous Bon Ton Mini Mart in Henderson, KY which turns out amazing fried chicken.

So what weird place have you found good eats? Convenience stores, hospitals, schools, office cafeterias, wherever, who's hiding some treasures?

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