One of my favorite things to do is cruise around backroads taking as much time to get from point A to point B. With young kids this is ill-advised, as it usually takes quite a bit longer and they tend to find less charm in the scenery. So I enjoy it when a work trip comes up and I can pick my way through the neglected small towns and diners of rural Missouri. But sometimes those diners turn out to be terrible, smoky shitholes. More on that later.
A few weeks ago I found myself in Montgomery City early for a work meeting and decided to take a look around. A long line of impeccably parked, rusting hulks of cars from the 1940s (?) was kind of interesting. As was the abandoned stroller next to the vacant offices at the corner of the two main thoroughfares. But mostly in a sad, Dorothea Lange kind of way.
Still, you can often get good diner food in towns like this. So it was with a sense of optimism that I stepped into Dani Mac’s Steakhouse just south of the downtown area. I was greeted by a wall of smoke. Or rather, not smoke itself, but the collective stank of what must have been 20,000 cigarettes the night before (the place clearly doubles as a nightclub in the evenings). Not a great start.
Still, I sat down and ordered the pork tenderloin sandwich. Normally this is a pretty failsafe option – take slice of loin, pound thin, fry – but what rested on my plate was the size and texture of a hockey puck. It was awful, bad enough that I just threw in the towel. I would eat lunch elsewhere.
And so I found myself at Happy Joe’s Bar and Grill, way up on the other side of downtown. It was next to the Knights of Columbus building, which had a handy warning out front in case I got preggers at lunch and had any shifty ideas:
I walked up to the aluminum shed for secondlunch.
Happy Joe’s served me a fine Cubano sandwich and fries. Not a world-beater, but fine. Regardless, there are small towns across Missouri that offer quality scenery and good food (talking to you, Freeburg). Montgomery City isn’t one of them.