The Buds hate winter. It makes us cranky. And cranky Buds aren't good for anyone!
We long to replace our worn boots with flip-flops and can't wait to smell sunscreen instead of rock salt. Sigh. How many more days of winter?
Despite our cranky moods and aversion to the weather, the show must go on, and the Buds ventured out into the elements in search of something warm. That led us right to one of the warmest, homiest places we know - Rigas Restaurant in Bellaire.
Bud Shaunna’s grilled chicken salad.
Bud Em’s 1963 Rigas Burger and fries.
Opened in 1963 by the late Mike Rigas, this Belmont Street establishment personifies family to the the core. Not only does Rigas' wife Clara still work at the restaurant, but the couple's two children and other family members also help out. And if the staff doesn't already give you an indication of the importance of family and home, just step inside and have a seat!
We were very taken with the vintage feel and coziness of the restaurant. A long counter was set up with stools on one side, while booths occupied the other side of the restaurant. No surprise to the Buds, the restaurant was filled with plenty of patrons, many of whom were chatting away with the servers and other customers like old friends.
The Buds took a seat and tackled the difficult task of making a decision. The menu is four pages long - not including the "specials" listed separately inside! There are tons of items to choose from including: soups, sandwiches, dinners, burgers, salads and much, much more. For its 50th anniversary celebration in November 2013, Rigas told The Times Leader that "99 percent of the menu is homemade and made from scratch." We love that!
Bud Em opted to go with the 1963 Rigas burger with a side of fries and a soda for 5 bucks. The burger was a thick patty topped with cheese and a scoop of Rigas' yummy coleslaw. Bud Em is a big fan of coleslaw so she was pumped to give it a whirl!
As expected, the burger was delicious! Nothing fancy - just juicy beef, melted cheese and a the slaw on a toasted bun - but it made the perfect lunch. The slaw added a nice sweetness and crunch to the cheesy burger. With the tasty fries on the side, bud Em was a happy camper.
And since Rigas' is known for their wonderful pies, she had a piece of warm apple pie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. Was this entirely necessary? Of course not, but who cares?! It was amazing!! Bud Em had no regrets.
Bud Shaunna had to be a bit more prudent with her choice, as she currently has a few dietary restrictions, although Bud Em's apple pie sure looked tasty.... She finally settled on the grilled chicken salad for $10.25. Normally, the salad is served with french fries on top, but Bud Shaunna ordered without fries, cheese or croutons. A large bed of iceberg lettuce was topped with a hard boiled egg, onions, carrots, tomatoes and a nice serving size of grilled chicken breast. The only complaint here is that we would have loved a little more variety of lettuce, but overall the salad was actually quite large and filling.
And Bud Shaunna wishes to make a special shout out to the friendly waitress, who very nicely checked with the kitchen to find out how the chicken was prepared. Yes, Bud S has become one of "those" people. But it's nice to know when following a special diet that it's possible to eat out, and it's even better to know that some places don't mind helping you out - and Rigas was more than happy to make Bud S happy!
Bud S also took home an order of one of Rigas' specials, Honey Dipped Chicken, which featured three pieces of chicken (leg, thigh and breast) with a honey coating. Bud Hubby devoured it and later informed Bud S that it was quite good. Guess Bud S will have to take his word for it, as she nary got a sniff of the chicken!
Seems like you can't really go wrong with home-cooking, and you can't go wrong when eating at Rigas Restaurant!
The Buds can be reached at tastebuds@timesleader online.com