What Is Your First Restaurant Memory?

I recently posted a question on The Mighty Rib Facebook page asking readers to share their first restaurant memory. The response was tremendous and the answers varied, as you’ll see below, making for a truly entertaining thread. So much so I wanted to compile them all together for a post. Think back for a moment and try to picture your earliest dining experience. Mine was at a little Chinese restaurant in Houston called Hoy Toy. All I can remember was eating an egg roll. That’s it. And even though it’s a snapshot memory and the restaurant is long gone, it still holds a special place in my heart. But enough about me … let’s take a look at some of your answers.

So …what was your first restaurant memory? Was it right here in Little Rock?

“Friday nights at Browning’s. Always looked at the bottom of the chips for the little package of saltines. I don’t know why but I loved eating them with hot sauce. My mouth is watering right now!! Mom said I’d eat it by the scoopful even as a toddler.” –Thoma T.

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“I remember going to Bruno’s with my parents and getting so full that my sister and I would lay in the back of the station wagon and go to sleep on the way home!!” –Leslie C.

“Coy’s in Little Rock. We went for birthdays. I remember my 5th. I had a filet for dinner & brandy ice for dessert. I caught my first buzz! I had hiccups for the rest of the night.” –Kristen M.

Or was it outside of Arkansas?

“Royal Castle in Miami, in the mid 1960’s. Small burgers with steamed/grilled onions & real oranges “juiced” right in front of you. Mom & I made a regular girl’s day trip.” –Sharon T.

“Wow! Monterey House in Baytown, TX. I can still remember the taste of their rice, soft beef tacos and candy.” –Laura C.

“The Dairy-ette in Dallas. Big frosty mugs of root beer, fried egg sandwiches, hamburgers all the way….and car hops.” –Laurie D.

Even the United States?

“The Looly Gasthouse outside of Frankfurt, Germany. Jäger schnitzel heaven.” –Melissa N.

“Oh, and losing my first tooth in a classy restaurant in Bangkok. I thought there was a bone in my rice but it was my tooth.” –Zara A.

Did a family member own the restaurant?

“My grandparents owned a variety store with a soda fountain in Chicago…had tables and booths too. I remember sitting at a table drinking a chocolate soda when my uncle came in and yelled at me. He thought I was drinking someone else’s leftover soda. When actually my grandparents had indulged me once again. I must have been about 3 years old.” –Deborah M.

“Hanging out in my dad’s restaurant in Sherwood (Rob’s Place, where the old Gadwall’s used to be before it burned) playing in the booths with my brother. Also, getting up at 4am to help him make biscuits for our annual Y-Indian Princess Sweetheart breakfast every Valentine’s Day.” –Leigh A.

“Crosby’s Drugstore in Batesville. Old time soda fountain lime cokes, burgers and ice cream treats. My grandpa owned and ran it so my brothers, cousins and I spent lots of time there.” –Rachel C.

Maybe they just worked there.

“Pike Plaza Restaurant in NLR. My mother was a waitress there and on Friday nights they had an enchilada plate. It was exotic for my 5-year-old mind.” –Daniel H.

Heck, did your first memory take place at a well-known chain restaurant?

“Pay what you weigh night at Bonanza. My three sisters and I having to step up on the scale to see how much we’d have to pay!” –Lauren H.

“A tie between the balloon guy at Bonanza and Friday nights at Wyatt’s Cafeteria. I loved that they carried my tray. Ha!” –Rachel E.

“Shoney’s in Evansville, IN when I was 4 years old. I remember my family’s car dying in the parking lot and a friendly stranger helped us out. Next time Shoney’s was suggested, I told my parents “No! Our car will die again!” –Jenna J.

“I would always get a Jell-O dessert at Luby’s Cafeteria because they were so pretty and perfect cubes of bright green or red, and then I wouldn’t eat it, because it’s just Jell-O.” –Phillip S.

The best memories are the most vivid ones…

“The Catfish Hole in NLR. We went last year for the first time since probably the mid-80’s, and my Grampa’s business card from the 70’s is still hanging on the wall of cards. Great memories there.” –Jessica D.

“Playing in the old game room at the Oyster Bar while my parents and their friends ate shrimp and drank beer.” –Jennifer J.

“The Lion’s Den in Clarendon, AR. Still love the burgers and especially the Oreo shakes. It’s just a drive-in type place, but I remember when I was finally old enough to walk there. I had to go all the way down the street and then cross and walk back up to avoid a ‘busy’ intersection.” –Ashley E.

“Mexico Chiquito on Rodney Parham in the mid-80s. I was so young the first few times I remember getting a hot dog off the kids menu (it was actually pretty good) before graduating up to nachos and chimis. But always the bright red punch with the orange slice on the rim. They had a huge, working fountain in the center of the lobby; I thought it was pretty slick.” –Doug S.

“First place I can remember is Mammoth Orange in Redfield. I was around 9 or 10 and would walk there from my great grandmother’s house for a burger and a chocolate shake. It’s still there to this day.” –Ken D.

My apologies for not including all of the responses. For a full recap, click here. Feel like sharing your first food memory? We’d love to hear from you in the comment box below.

*Photo courtesy of Ken Dempsey

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What Is Your First Restaurant Memory?