Eating for the Food Network Is Harder Than It Looks


For my family, road trips typically mean meals at well-known chain restaurants like just off of the highway. Coke, burger, and fries? Yes, please! During our trip to Crater of Diamonds in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, though, I decided to switch things up a little bit.

Guy Fieri brought his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives to Wilmington, NC, and showcased a few of the crown gems in our local restaurant scene: Something Fishy (one word: seafood), Ceviche’s (for fancy Panamanian fare), and Copper Penny (can’t-go-wrong bar food). Knowing that we were going to be passing through any number of dives worth going to, I decided to roll the dice. Like Mr. Fieri, we only ate at local restaurants for the entire drive.

Let’s just say that Guy makes it look easy. First, we stopped in a catfish shack in Monroe, Louisiana, where I ordered the shrimp only to discover that they’d used corn flakes for batter. Then, we tried a steak restaurant in Hope, Arkansas where, well, let’s just say that I lost all hope. As for Olive Branch, Mississippi? That town needs to pass me the olive branch after the sin its local barbecue joint committed – serving me a nasty sandwich stuffed with nothing but pork fat!

There was one bright spot on our trip. If you’re ever passing through Murfreesboro, Arkansas (population: 1,554), you’ve got to stop and have a bite of authentic Mexican cuisine at Telinga’s. As another diner said, “Telinga’s is the true gem of Murfreesboro, Arkansas!” That’s saying a lot, considering this city is also home to Crater of Diamonds.

restaurantWhile our small-town eating experience may have resulted in more dives than gems, I’m glad we stuck it out. Sometimes, mom-and-pop restaurants make for the best surprises – like when an Italian restaurant with a blinky sign serves up the best garlic rolls ever, or a Burger King-turned-Indian restaurant serves the best curry you’ve ever had. And, then, there’s the former Chinese restaurant-turned-Mexican sports bar that serves guacamole straight from heaven (I’ll be coming for you again, Telinga’s!).

Another silver lining: I guess you could say my fairy godmother was watching over me, as I did not stray too far from my healthier eating habits I’d adopted just a few weeks ago. If I’d enjoyed all of the restaurants as much as I enjoyed Telinga’s, I might have packed on a few extra pounds. Let’s just say next time we eat at Telinga’s, I’m leaving my fairy godmother in the car.

Happy Monday,