If I Only Had a TARDIS

So here’s a silly April Fool’s Day look at what I’d do if I could traverse time and space for a few meals. Here are some real places, sadly lost to time, that I either genuinely miss or never got the opportunity to try, and I could perhaps revisit with the assistance of a good time machine. I’ll take a stolen Type 40 that answers to the name “Sexy,” please.

10. Casa Gallardo, Smyrna GA
This national chain was founded by Ramon “Ray” Gallardo in 1975, and gradually expanded to at least forty locations. The final four stores, in Missouri, were all shut down in 2012 when the last in a series of owners closed them in one sad, fell swoop. Based in St. Louis, there were perhaps two in the Atlanta area, one in Cumming and one in Smyrna that was open from about 1983-1993. I loved this place enormously. (photo from Flickriver of a St. Louis-area Casa Gallardo’s sign in 2009)

9. Oogleblook, Doraville GA
Oogleblook was owned by Morrison’s Cafeteria. It was a “futuristic” sister restaurant, set in the far-flung time of TV’s The Jetsons. According to one anonymous reply at Tomorrow’s News Today – Atlanta, burgers would travel down long chutes to guests. It was all very space-age and silly, and apparently closed by 1974. Information about Oogleblook is pretty thin; there was a second location on Pharr Road, but I do not know whether there were any more locations than these. (photo from our story about Cafe 101 in 2013, one of the later occupants of this building.)

8. Lum’s, Smyrna GA
This is a bit of a cheat in that I never visited a Lum’s, but I’m intrigued by all the stories that I’ve heard. Lum’s was a chain of family restaurants that started as a Miami hot dog stand in 1956 and grew into a 400-store powerhouse with locations all over the country by the early 1970s. There was one in front of Cobb Center Mall on South Cobb Drive for much of my childhood, along with close to a dozen other locations around Atlanta and its suburbs, but my family never ate at one, so I have no recollection of their beer-steamed hot dogs. A single Lum’s, independent since the death of the chain in 1982, has remained open in Bellevue NE for forty years.

7. Round the Corner, Smyrna GA
This very small chain of gourmet burger restaurants, based in Colorado, had four locations in the Atlanta suburbs and one in Athens in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The shtick was that each table had a telephone connected to the kitchen, and you’d phone in your order. When your table was ready, the phone would buzz and you’d go to the counter to pick it up, and get your condiments. My parents were always coming with friends on Friday evenings, when the place was packed, and leave all the children at the kids’ table where we’d squabble about whose turn it was to place the phone call.

6. Mighty Casey’s, Smyrna GA
It’s fairly certain that every little league baseball team in the Atlanta suburbs had at least one group meal at one of these restaurants. People who remember them from their heyday in the 1980s swear that they made the best onion rings anywhere. The menu was, shall we say, Varsity-esque – burgers, hot dogs, orange milkshakes – with “old-timey” baseball artwork and mascots. Handlebar mustaches, that sort of thing. There was at least one store in Smyrna (on Spring Road, near 41 and, coincidentally, Casa Gallardo) and one on Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell. Stumbling as it entered the 1990s, the chain was bought out by Krystal, who promptly closed the stores and converted them to their own brand.

5. Shrimp Boats, Athens GA
Naturally, I’d like a few more meals here. Dig around the blog; you can probably find a few thousand more words on the subject.

4. Benny’s BBQ, Atlanta GA
“HOT, MILD, OR MIX?!” Shout that in a crowd in this town and somebody’s going to duck, afraid that woman is going to hit them for taking too long to decide.

3. That Chinese place that used to be in the back of the Oriental grocery store that was in the strip mall on Milledge near the bypass where the Bi-Lo used to be, Athens GA
I never intended to be that sort of person who gave directions based on landmarks and businesses that are no longer there, but it was probably inevitable, really.

2. The Hungry Fisherman, Marietta GA
One of my very earliest memories, from about age three, is of this place, and for years I thought it was either a dream or something I saw on TV. I asked my parents when I was in high school if we ever went anywhere that had a big paddlewheel steamer like you’d see on some river, and they told me about visiting the Hungry Fisherman, which was on an artificial lake on Franklin Road. According to this story at Charlotte Eats, the chain, which was owned by Shoney’s, was started in Lake Wylie SC, just southwest of Charlotte, and grew to around fifteen stores, including Birmingham, Columbia, Nashville, Chattanooga (said to be store # 4), and at least two in Atlanta, Marietta and Stone Mountain. Other stores were in Memphis (and/or just outside town in Southaven MS), Knoxville, and Tampa, .

1. The Mean Bean, Athens GA
This was quite simply my favorite restaurant, ever. I probably had close to two hundred meals here over the years. I’d rather travel back in time for a burrito and a bowl of gazpacho here than take the machine back to see dinosaurs, honestly.

After I’d had my ten meals at these restaurants, I would then use the TARDIS’s emergency dematerialization switch and end up in a strange white void populated by odd robots, and, from there, enter the Land of Fiction for a few more meals.

10. The Frog and Peach, apparently out on some moor somewhere, 1960s
I won’t hold my hand to my heart and swear that either peche a la frog or frog a la peche are worth eating, but the proprietor seems like an interesting fellow. Astonishingly, there’s an actual restaurant in New Jersey that took its name from this classic Cook & Moore sketch.

9. The Krusty Krab, under the sea, today
You can’t spend at least fifteen years hearing about these Krabby Patties while your kids watch TV without getting at least a little curious what they taste like.

8. The Kebab & Calculator, Bristol, 1982
The bartender at this pub, popular with anarchist students, does not look strong enough to lift shops, but it seems to be a good place to get a drink.

7. Archie Bunker’s Place, Queens, 1979
This, on the other hand, seems to be a good place to have a friendly argument with the proprietor. Just don’t bring up that meathead son-in-law of his, or Jimmy Carter, or, especially, his wife’s cousin.

6. The Crystal Bucephalus, 8000 years in the future
This is a huge cheat, since a meal here will let you eat anyplace in the past. It seemed like such a terrible investment to its owner that he was happy to sink unwanted compound interest of thousands of years of bank accounts into it, not figuring it would only enrich him further.

5. Freddy’s BBQ Joint, South Carolina, 2013
This place has to be visited, if only because even people who live in the real South Carolina don’t think the ribs in their state are as good as the ones that Frank Underwood loves.

4. Luke’s Diner, Stars Hollow, today
From about 2001-2005, I wanted very badly to become Luke’s high-maintenance sometimes-girlfriend’s latest fling. Now I just want to infuriate him by taking pictures of my food, which I’m sure wouldn’t go down well. (Dear AS-P, Tell Netflix that I said you can have this joke for free. Love, Grant.)

3. Milliways, the End of the Universe
If you can’t trust an animal’s own recommendations as to which cut of its anatomy is particularly good this evening, who can you trust?

2. The Soul Food Cafe, Chicago, 1981
It’s not worth ordering four whole fried chickens unless you can be assured that Matt “Guitar” Murphy makes some amazing fried chicken. Also, domestic spats between the owners are astonishingly entertaining.

1. Rusterman’s, Manhattan, 1950s
I want those anchovy fritters. I want them very badly indeed.

Today’s story is one in a series of Hop Back in Time posts across several blogs sponsored by the Association of Food Bloggers which are looking at old restaurants, recipes and history. Please don’t stop with this story! Hop to the next blog to read more!

Do you enjoy classic adventure TV? I’m reliving some great shows from my own childhood with my four year-old son. Come join the fun at Fire-Breathing Dimetrodon Time!


30 thoughts on “If I Only Had a TARDIS

  1. Regas in Knoxville is the obvious choice for me. That place lasted almost a hundred years, and closed in 2010. My parents used to also love a drive-in restaurant in the 1960s on Magnolia and talked about it all the time. It was called the Tick-Tock.

    1. We were actually in Knoxville in December 2010 and learned that Regas was going to close from the local alt-weekly. I remember considering making the visit, but I decided that time and budget weren’t on our side. That was not the choice I would have made today. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I was just talking about mighty Casey’s with someone yesterday. It and Lums were fairly common meals in my early teens.
    I miss (all in the Atlanta area):
    Malear’s (sp?) in Fairburn – barbecue and a sawdust floor.

    The seafood place (Herron’s?) on Lucky Street, just off Spring, where they had cheese rolls to make red lobster jealous and where I ate for several proms.

    Deacon Burton’s Lunchbox. Fried chicken.

    The Yellowjacket. I’ve been chasing their chili dog for thirty years.

    Cha giao on 10th street.

    The Auburn Avenue rib shack.

    Joe Rigatoni’s on Delk Rd.

    A Korean place in a metal trailer on peachree, around 8th street, early 80s.

  3. I grew up in Richmond VA and we had a Lum’s. You can find the recipe for their Ollieburger and Ollie Fries at http://lums-recipes.com/ but you have to pay for their hot dog recipe! If you’re ever on Hatteras Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks, Buxton Munch has a Krabby Patty.

  4. Great hop back in time! I remember Lums, OK if you liked hot dogs, but if I had a choice I would definitely visit Mr. Pickwick, a pancake restaurant in San Francisco. It had some of the best banana pancakes ever!

  5. We used to have a Casablanca Gallardo here and I was HEARTBROKEN when it closed and became an Olive Garden. I spent way too many happy hours here hovering up their free munchies and enjoying $1 beer or wine on Ladie’s nights, Tuesdays!

  6. Speaking of Melear’s, I certainly miss going to another old place, Harold’s Barbecue. For my money, that was the best of all the “old school” barbecue joints in the Atlanta area. Old Brick Pit is another old-timer and is pretty good, too, but I liked Harold’s most of all.

    1. We only went to Harold’s once and felt that it was a little past its prime, but their stew was completely amazing. Very few other places are in that league. Thanks for writing!

  7. There was a great BBQ place in Greensboro called Bo Hogs. I loved going there since the owners and employees were the nicest people in town. Maybe it wasn’t as good as Stamey’s – I just read your review of it, but the people made the difference.

  8. I think that the number one Atlanta must-visit in a time machine has to be Dante’s Down the Hatch. Also, if Luke yells at a customer in the new Netflix season for taking pictures, I will know that it was your idea. 🙂

    1. Dante’s is where I took my prom date! That was the only time I ever went, but it was a pretty good evening and a pretty good meal!

  9. I’ve got one for you: the Old Spaghetti Factory on Ponce. That was my favorite classic-style Italian restaurant in Atlanta.

    1. I remember that place, but never ate there. They are still around in other cities. I just counted at their website and there are 43 stores open today. The closest is in Nashville. Thank you for the comment!

  10. I have read about an old Atlanta restaurant called the Catfish King that sounds really interesting. The Atlanta Time Machine site has some very interesting pictures of the place. It was around in the 1950’s.

    1. Wow! Check out those cars in the Catfish King lot! If I Only Had a TARDIS, I’d steal every one of those beautiful cars!

      (Did I mention that I’m really a villain?)

  11. Mighty Casey’s! I just barely remember that one but I just showed some of my co-workers and now they’re all talking about the chili dogs.

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