There are a lot of restaurants that I like a lot, scattered in cities and little towns all around the world. I love Pied du Cochon, in Montreal, where they serve massive pork chops, poutine (or, as we non-Canadians know it, gravy fries) and rich red wines. I feel perfectly happy when I'm eating at Primo, in Rockland, Maine, where big organic gardens supply the kitchen all year long. One of my favorite take-out joints has to be L'As du Falafel, on Rue des Rosiers in the Marais district of Paris, where you can get a falafel sandwich loaded with garlicky roasted eggplant, spiked with chile and sauced with tahini and lemon juice. In San Francisco, I'd happily eat at Universal Cafe at least once a week, especially when they're serving roasted Hoffman Farm chicken with polenta. At Keeper's restaurant, in Brownsville, Vermont, I always order the crisp, well-dressed iceburg and blue cheese salad, and when I'm in Boston I like to stop in for a rich plate of chef Ana Sortun's moussaka at her eponymous restaurant, Oleana.
But when I'm in Bangor, Maine, there is only one place to go: Dysart's. Dysart's is a truck stop off of I-95, a place to fuel both body and big rig, to catch a shower and eat a meal. The no-frills dining rooms looks just like you would expect a truck stop dining room to look, with bad art on the walls and formica tables. The menu is massive, the breakfast legendary, the breads and cinnamon rolls made fresh right there. Dysart's is a family business that opened in 1967. When Dan Dysart, the founder, died, over 100 truckers escorted the hearse from the truck stop to the cemetary, and then his children took over the business.
The food is good, but that's not even entirely the point. It's Maine food, camp food, and every day there are baked beans and brown bread in addition to burgers and fries. The point is that Dysart's never closes--24 hours a day, 7 days a week, on holidays and weekends--the truck stop stands as trucker's only chance of a good meal between Augusta and Fort Kent. The portions are big, the waitresses are friendly, the coffee is marginal and you feel right at home.