The Waterwheel Lounge.. Suspend Judgment and TASTE
I'm posting this because of the pulldown of Chef Ramon's (admittedly) self-serving promotion of this place where he cooks, but I couldn't stand the thought of the Rule getting in the way of good chow.
OK, the Waterwheel has a checkered past (but don't we all?). If one subscribes to categorizing places to eat, it's a dive. U-shaped bar that allows drinkers to drink while watching other drinkers drink. Tiny, potholed parking lot you WILL get high-centered entering and blocked in after parking. If you park one inch over some imaginary line, the owner of the Chinese restaurant next door WILL come over and scream at whoever he thinks you are. People bring their dogs in. There is a karaoke night and pulltabs. The men's room lacks a door and the men's shitter stall does, too. Half the patrons get up regularly to smoke on the deck. The door slams so loudly behind you when you come in that you might as well have a heraldic announcement of your entrance.
BUT, if one looks PAST all this, one finds REMARKABLY good food. Not just "remarkably good food" in the greasy spoon sense, but really good food. Inventive. Inexpensive (if that's not a dealkiller for you) food. Food that was CARED FOR in its selection and preparation and service. The server--the bartender--knows the menu and is quite helpful with recommendations. When I couldn't decide between Ramon's pulled pork frybread and the chicken-fried steak (OK , they nod to greasy spoon), she offered to BUY me the steak if I didn't like the frybread. I took her up on that offer but did not, could not, honestly collect. The best Monte Cristo sandwich I ever ate came out of that kitchen.
Months ago I started a thread about whether anyone keeps places secret, just to keep them to one's self. This is the place I had in mind when I wrote that.
Now, re-read the checkered past paragraph above. The food is so good it's STILL more than worth going there.