Friday, October 21, 2016

Local Lunch Near Campus

Football is back, and school is in full swing. Most kickoffs are set for 1:00 P.M., and if you don't have time to tailgate or need a quick lunch between classes, where should you go eat? Here's our local favorite lists.

Cecil's Place has been around since 1980, serving up delicious milkshakes, mouthwatering hamburgers and our favorite Chicken Finger Snack. If you're in a hurry, just call (256) 435-8909 to place your to-go order. If you need an afternoon sugar burst, may we suggest a sundae?

Yes, Cooter Brown's is listed in Alabama's 100 dishes to eat before you die, and we've heard from some Tennessean's that Cooter Brown's Ribs beat Memphis! It looks like a true rib shack, and their food is some of the best you've eaten. You can call in the tailgate necessities to-go at 256-435-1514.

Effina's knows how to market to college students, with $5 one topping pizzas on Thursday and many other specials throughout the week. They're conveniently located near the edge of campus and serve up everything from pasta to salads and everything in between.

Java Jolt maybe a coffeehouse, brewing everything from tea, cold brew to espresso, but they also have delicious muffins and scones, mouthwatering cakes, and delectable sandwiches and salads. The Cocky Chicken Salad is our favorite, on croissant or salad.

Founded in Jacksonville in 1991, Jefferson's has multiplied across the U.S., but the original still dishes our the best fried dill pickles and wings. However, our favorite is a Mushroom & Swiss burger. It may be messy, but it's good.

You can't beat 99 cent Tacos every Taco Tuesday. Loco Mex was also recently voted best chicken for the "Pelham Chicken," but we love their chips, salsa, cheese and affordable prices.

Besides Waffle House, Struts and Yamatos, the closest things to campus is Momma Goldberg's. This  unique experience originated in Auburn, but this location still serves up the signature Momma's Love and chips.

Since 1999, Struts, which is also on Mountain Street across from campus, has served wings, burgers and more. From the delicious but messy Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla to the delectable Hamburger Steak, Struts offers to much that pairs nicely with the mouthwatering Bacon Cheese Fries.

Open since the 1950s, The Rocket has served Bar-B-Q out of the pit out back. It may look like a hole in the wall, but it serves a great cheeseburger with special sauce. It's messy, but the flavor is worth the mess.

Located along Jacksonville's quaint Square, Roma's is known for their pizzas and pastas. However, their steak and chicken tips are delicious too! Roma's is a Jacksonville staple.

One of the newest restaurants to Jacksonville is Yamato Steak House. Their salad and yum-yum sauce are amazing, and everything from hibachi vegetables, chicken or steak are delicious.

Not far from the city limits of Jacksonville, you can also find Heroes, known for their burgers. Many evenings offer both food and entertainment.

If you need a sugar boost one afternoon when you cram in school work, check out Mad Hatter Cupcakes! These cupcakes have daily varying flavors from favorites like Rocky Cocky to seasonal specialties like Key Lime.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Nothing Brings People Together Like Good Food!

It's Restaurant Week in Calhoun County, and we have some great ones (Best Pizza, Wings, etc. in the State). Calhoun County’s culinary experience includes everything from family favorite franchises to local barbecue and farm to table, and this week spotlights some signature dishes.

Traveling north on Hwy 21, you could probably follow your nose or the bus loads of people headed to Cooter Brown's Rib Shack. This week, they're featuring 2 BBQ platters and Hillbilly eggrolls for a great $20 dinner. Yes, you read that correctly, Hillbilly Eggrolls, which is like Carolina BBQ in an eggroll. Their lunch special features a regular BBQ sandwich with side and drink for $5. They didn't feature their ribs, which we and others rank higher than Memphis. (8464 AL Hwy 204, Jacksonville) 

Some, who travel I20 regularly, make a pit-stop at Garfrerick's Cafe. This week they feature their classic Farm to Table vegetable plate for $10 with dessert and drink. Their veggie plate normally offers stewed tomatoes, the best black eyed peas, mac and cheese, squash casserole, and whatever else is fresh from the garden. (655 Creekside Drive, Oxford)

In the heart of downtown historic Oxford, you'll find Hubbard's Off Main, with its beautiful exposed brick walls and mouthwatering food. This week Charlotte is featuring Shrimp and Grits and Steak for two as a $30 Dinner package and a Philly Cheesesteak for $7 at lunch. (20 Choccolocco Street E, Oxford) 

If you're in Jacksonville looking for some Mexican Cuisine, Loco Mex can cater to you. Their cheese dip is the best, and their Tacos are 99 cents every Taco Tuesday. (809 Pelham Road South, Jacksonville)

Many people think of Auburn when they think of Momma Goldberg's, but Jacksonville also has a location just across from the stadium. This week, they're featuring Sandwich and Nacho Combos, $8 for Lunch and $17 at dinner for two sandwiches and two nachos. (208 Mountain Street NW, Jacksonville)

The Peerless may be notable for its building's history, but this week, they included the kids, where 12 and under eat FREE with the purchase of one adult meal. They're lunch special features Beans & Greens for $6, and their dinner for two special features Derby Chopped Steak. (13 and 15 West 10th Street, Anniston)

Last year, the Taste of Calhoun County award for Best Pizza went to Wiseguys Pizzaria and Bar, who recently opened a second location in Oxford. This week, take a break for lunch and grab a one topping slice with salad and drink for $6.99, or take the whole family to dinner with a one topping large pizza, and appetizer and four drinks. If you want to splurge, we recommend the Wiseguy Pizza. (7113 U.S. Hwy 431, Alexandria)

Last but not least, Weaver has a crown jewel in Zoe's on the Lake, overlooking the picture perfect setting and pond at Buckhorn. Their lunch features Chicken Fettucine and salad for $9.95, and their dinner special this week features a 12 oz Ribeye with baked potato and salad for $12.95. (187 Angel Lake Drive, Weaver)

Family Favorite Franchise Features: 
Chick-fil-A Quintard Mall
700 Quintard Drive, Suite FC8, Oxford
Dinner Special:
Buy One Dessert, get one free (of same value or less)
Lunch Special:

Buy One Dessert, get one free (of same value or less)

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen
1925 Quintard Avenue, Anniston
Dinner Special:
Chicken Sandwich Combo with Choice of Side and Medium Drink
Lunch Special:
Chicken Sandwich Combo with Choice of Side and Medium Drink

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hikes to Enjoy During Fall

"Listen! The wind is rising, and the air is wild with leaves, we have had our summer evenings, now for October eves!" Humbert Wolfe

Cheaha State Park Trails
- Bald Rock- For someone wanting the view but via an easier route, Bald Rock has three paths that lead to Alabama's highest point, a boardwalk or dirt paths on either side of the boardwalk. (.3 miles)
- Pulpit Rock- This leads to a view of Alabama at its finest, the tree covered Talladega National Forest covered foothills of the Appalachians. This trail has a bit of steep terrain, and it is quite popular for rock climbing, which is only permissible with a permit from the park. (.3 miles)
- LNT Big Foot Trail- As you trek from the MOtel to the highest point, there are educational signs and bigfoot cutouts along the way. (.5 miles)
- Fisherman's Trail- The trail is known for its fishing hole, as it wraps around Cheaha Lake. (.6 miles)
- Lake Trail- Make sure you pack the right footwear for this steep and rugged trail, connecting Cheaha Lake to the Rock Garden. (1 mile)
-  Mountain Laurel- As you wander along the stream bank, take in the beauty of the National Forest with a few man made structures. (1.4 miles)
- Pinhoti Trail- This 335 mile trail connects the heart of Alabama to the Appalachian Trail as it traces the ledge of the Appalachian Foothills.
- Mountain Longleaf National Wildlife Refuge- This area protects the largest remaining refuge of Longleaf Pines on land formerly belonging to the Army's Fort McClellan, which closed in 1999. Nearby, you'll also find the Choccolocco Frog Pond and Museum Complex Trails.
- Coldwater Mountain Bike Trails - More than 30 miles of bike trails have been developed just outside Historic Downtown Anniston. We always suggest walking the trails backwards, counterclockwise, so you can see the cyclist coming and they can see you.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Life is like a pedal...

 "Life is like a pedal. They can push you down, but you'll always come back up."

According to an e-card, "studies have shown that riding a bicycle everyday makes you more awesome than the general population," and we couldn't agree more. That's why we're glad NEABA (Northeast Alabama Bicycling Association) not only hosts the Cheaha Challenge, but they also created Coldwater Mountain's Fat Tire Fest! Thanks to our great volunteers that made 2015 such a success, it's back, bigger and better than before, for year two!

So, October 14-16, pack the bikes and the whole family for some "bikes, beer, burgers, brats and bands!" The festival is based in Zinn Park in historic downtown Anniston. The trailheads will be restricted due to all the festival activities, but shuttles to the mountain will run all weekend, Friday afternoon to Sunday evening. Zinn Park is easy to find. Just take exit 185 off I-20, and travel north on Hwy 21, Quintard Avenue, until you reach West 13th, 14th or 15th Street. There, you'll travel three blocks to reach Zinn Park. From nighttime trail rides to group rides, demo bikes and cycling movies, this event has it all, even a duathlon.

The beirgarten will feature local craft brews, as attendees wind down after a day on the mountain. Grab some dinner and relax as you enjoy great music and food.

More information and registration can be found on the Coldwater Mountain Fat Tire Fest website.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Date Night Idea for Beer Lovers

"Eat, drink and be merry!"
For 12 years, the Anniston Museum Complex has hosted an annual food and beer sampling event just in time for Oktoberfest! This year's event is scheduled for Saturday, September 24, beginning at 6:00 P.M. at the newly remodeled Longleaf Botanical Gardens & Event Center.
At SudsFest, some of our areas best bakeries and restaurants will be dishing out food, while attendees enjoy beer tastings, cocktail bars and wine bars. Local restaurants participating include The Peerless Saloon & Grille, Mad Hatter Cupcakes, Heroes, Thai One On, Zoe's on the Lake, Garfrerick's Cafe, and Artisanal Baked Goods. From your favorite beer brands and signature cocktails to sampling local craft brews, don't miss this opportunity to also taste food that defines the culinary experience in Calhoun County and entertainment. This year features "American Floyd," a Pink Floyd tribute band. Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to set up and thoroughly enjoy the concert and light show in the gardens at 8 P.M.
This event serves as a fundraiser supporting the Anniston Museum of Natural History, the Berman Museum of World History and the Longleaf Botanical Gardens. Guests must be 21 years or older to attend, and tickets are $50 for general admission and $45 for museum members. Designated Driver tickets are also available for $30. For more information, call (256)237-6766.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Two Wheeled Adventures

 Whether you're a road cyclist coasting down a hillside or a mountain biker who enjoys churning up climbs and sidewinders, Calhoun County has something for you.
For the beginner to the one training to build up mileage, the Chief Ladiga Trail is a part of the longest paved "rail-trail" in the U.S., connecting to the Silver Comet at the Alabama/Georgia state line and trekking all the way from Anniston to Smyrna. This trail is frequented by road bikes, townies, families, runners and walkers searching for an opportunity to get outdoors.
Henry Farm, the home of the Jacksonville High School Mountain Bike team, has several loops for both beginner and advanced mountain bikers.
The Choccolocco trails, also known as "Iron Legs," have several miles of climbing just off Bains Gap Road.
Coldwater Mountain is now home to more than 30 miles of mountain trails, conveniently located just minutes from downtown Historic Anniston. This extensive trail system has both beginner loops, like Baby Bear, to vast advanced trails like Bomb Dog.
Not too far from Oxford, Cheaha State Park also has a mountain bike trail system of various skill levels with spectacular views of Northeast Alabama.
LaGarde Park at the Museum Complex has several dirt trails for exploring around the Museums and Botanical Gardens.
Most Roadies around Anniston and Oxford follow the Pizza Route from Golden Springs Church or DeArmanville Post Office for route loops of various mileage. 
Some locals climbs to conquer include Chimney Peak in Jacksonville, Bains Gap, and Cheaha's Scenic Parkway.
Chimney Peak is about a 1.5 mile climb with more than 900 feet of elevation change, ending with a breathtaking view of Jacksonville State University's campus and town. Bains Gap is a .75 mile climb averaging 17%. At Cheaha, roadies can climb until their heart is content, with more than 20 miles from the Ranger Station on Skyway to the highest point in Alabama.

As you see, Calhoun County is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, especially cyclists.  

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Jacksonville State University Marching Southerners

Week nights during the fall, music literally fills the air, especially in Jacksonville. The further north you travel on Hwy 21, and if you turn onto Hwy 204, roll your windows down and turn off your radio. You don't need a radio if you have the Marching Southerners in your back yard.
Jacksonville State University Football games include two games, 4 quarters of football and halftime.
For more than 60 years, the Marching Southerners have brought together students from across the U.S. to form one of the largest and best band in the nation. We may be biased, but if you listen, you'll understand.

Each performance brings pride, tears, awe, and joy. Each season, from pregame and halftime to Competitions and showcases, this group of students from Jacksonville State University perform for thousands, including as a flash mob.

"I'll fly Away" is a Southerner tradition, performed postgame with the Gamecocks' football team and cheerleaders joining in the fun.
You might actually recognize the name "Marching Southerners" from some of their notable performances, including the 1996 – 70th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. By the way, a segment of the Southerners' performance can be seen in the opening scene of Episode 9.08 of Friends ("The One with Rachel's Other Sister"), which originally aired on Nov. 21, 2002.
If you're from across the pond, in 2012,The Southerners led the New Year's Day Parade in London, England, which also kicked off the 2012 Summer Olympics celebrations and Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee.
This year, the Marching Southerners have been invited to travel to Hawaii and play on the U.S.S Missouri in honor of the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. 
Jacksonville State is known as the "friendliest campus in the south," and the Southerners are known for taking that Southern hospitality with them wherever they go. 
If you hear that the Southerners are performing, it's not something you want to miss.