|Restaurants that come to mind:|
The Bob's Big Boy (are there any of those left?) where we always took my grandma for Mother's Day. I'd order a shake, chocolate, and it would come in a tall metal goblet. That was always so special, because of the metal cup. My grandma - you can take the girl off the farm, but... She'd decline to order a beverage and then take the lemons from my parents' iced teas and squeeze them into her water. Add a couple of sugar packets and voila - lemonade. I'd bury my nose in the BBB comic book they always offered.
Another Bob's Big Boy, in college. My friend Kathie and I were always broke, always hungry. A day or two before payday we'd break down and "float" a check there (it was one of the few places in this college town that would take checks) and gorge ourselves with hamburgers and afterwards - a hot fudge sundae cake. Oh, God. Those were so good. Kathie would sigh and moan and say, "Food orgasm!" and I'd laugh every time because it was the best thing in the world and I was with my best friend and all was good.
After I was married, Bill and I would go to this old fogey restaurant every few weeks. It was smoke-filled, and the booths all had vinyl upholstery that squeaked as you slid across it. Bill would order chicken-fried steak and I don't remember what I ordered but it was surely fatty and bland and served with limp, canned green beans on the side. The "diet plate" was from the seventies and consisted of cottage cheese and canned peaches. The whole place was like stepping into the past and I'd watch the old people, so glad that unlike them, I had been lucky enough to be born young.
Now we often frequent a family-style buffet. The food is awful but there's lots of it. We go because the kids love it and so it's festive. They love picking out exactly what they want and I love how I'm so often surprised by their choices. "You like fish?" I'll say to my daughter, seeing her plate loaded with plain, pale, flaccid-looking fish fillets that I would never touch. And my son - he loves ribs. I had never even had ribs until a year ago. My kids demonstrate by their choices that they are entire people, apart from me, with their own preferences. And I feel bad saying this, but I feel pretty at this restaurant because it does tend to draw the... obese. I feel thin and I imagine people thinking as I walk by on my way to the buffet, "How does she stay so slim while eating so much?" But I don't eat that much. I take a lot, put a lot of different dishes on my plate, and then after a bite or two of each I am reminded once again that no, it still isn't good. But then I get two desserts.