I love eating in restaurants. Eating out is like escaping for a while, even though I don’t have anything to escape from.

Eateries are memorable for good and bad food, warm and cold ambiance, great and terrible coffee.

There are some we enjoy again and again. Whitey’s in Davison, Michigan, is one of our all-time favorites. They have a wide variety of offerings, but we always order the two-piece cod dinner, usually with a baked sweet potato. We try to go before three o’clock to take advantage of luncheon prices.

Olive Garden is another one. The all-you-can-eat soup and salad special is terrific. We love the Zuppa Toscana, which Mary makes at home on special occasions (and it’s even better), and I really like the Chicken Gnocchi. (Gnocchi is pronounced the same as kid saying “nya-nya,” with a long “o,” like toe, and key. Nyokey.) The Greek salad and bread sticks are delicious. The coffee, however, is usually not hot enough for me. They serve it in small metal pitchers and it loses heat quickly.

When we lived in Fort Worth, Texas, we loved going to Coco’s. They had great mushroom soup and pecan (pronounced p-khan, not pee-can) pie. We also enjoyed Endicott’s Ore House, and Old South Pancake House. Old South had incredible German pancakes. Oh man! Huge, fluffy, and covered with fresh lemon juice and powdered sugar. Heaven!

While on a ministry trip in St. Petersburg, Florida, I ate at The Sea Turtle a couple times. That’s where a group of retirees (actually, they were way beyond retirement) came in and Thelma got up from the table and wandered away. I know her name was Thelma because another woman said, “Thelma! Where are you going?! Where is Thelma going?! Thelma you sit down!?” Thelma didn’t listen.

There are a few restaurants we remember because of what we ordered every time. The Grand Slam. Grilled Pecan Rolls. No matter where in the country we were, the grand slam and grilled pecan rolls were exactly the same.

Some places are no longer with us. Al’s Pancake House in St. Ignace, in the Upper Peninsula (for readers outside of Michigan,) was a favorite. Whenever we visited Mackinaw City, we always included a trip to Al’s. Jensen’s in Houghton Lake, where we ate on our honeymoon, is gone. JL Beanery on Mackinac Island is now Watercolor Cafe. We haven’t tried it yet.

Going to H&H Bakery in Pinconning was a required stop on our way up north. Turkey Roost (probably the only pink restaurant in the state), in Kawkawlin is great. We recently discovered Rosebud’s Cafe in Clifford, Michigan. It’s a cute little place in a tiny town.

There really is a good reason people like to eat out. “The word restaurant, is from the Latin word, restaurare, meaning ‘to renew.’”(Mirriam-Webster) Even if we can’t explain it beyond good food and coffee, maybe eating in a restaurant is something we all need sometimes.

I wonder if Thelma ever came back.

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