By Savannah Evanoff
The White House kitchen staff likely has produced more meatloaf since President Trump took office.
Meatloaf is Trump’s favorite dish, and meatloaf sandwiches are his favorite sandwich, according to many online sources.
If you want to eat like the Trump family, Thursdays in Fort Walton Beach is the time and place to do it. Joe & Eddie’s Family Restaurant, Mother Earth’s Café and Tommy Mattonie’s Coastal Café all offer meatloaf Thursdays.
We chatted with associates of these restaurants to see what makes their meatloaf remain the Thursday special.
Joe & Eddie’s Family Restaurant
400 Eglin Parkway NE, Fort Walton Beach
Ann Perillo, the owner, said Joe & Eddie’s Family Restaurant has used the same recipe for many years.
“We used to do it when we were located downtown, too,” Perillo said. “Now my daughter’s doing it, so I’m passing on everything to her.”
What makes the recipe special is how much care the restaurant puts into it, she said. The meatloaf has a hint of spice, she said.
“We do try to put a little flavor in it … it’s not hot, but it is tasty,” Perillo said. “We get a lot of compliments on it.”
The restaurant’s meatloaf is unique, because it doesn’t include pepper, onions or eggs, she said. Although the recipe is a secret, Perillo reveals it contains sausage.
“That might be what makes it good,” Perillo said. “I have people that come in all the time and eat it. They just enjoy it.”
The meatloaf comes with two sides of your choice, but there is nothing better than mashed potatoes and green beans, she said.
Mother Earth’s Café
512 Eglin Parkway NE, Fort Walton Beach
Meatloaf goes by a different name at Mother Earth’s Café — loaf of meat.
Jennifer Gorey, head cook, explains the name is because the portion sizes are so large. This reheats well for a delicious meatloaf sandwich the next day, she said.
“That’s diner food,” Gorey said. “It goes back to the Depression. You use it to stretch it. You put extra things in it, so it made a bigger meal for the family.”
Gorey makes four large meatloafs to serve Thursdays, and she puts a lot of love into them, she said.
“Meatloaf is an American comfort food, and that’s what we do here, Southern comfort food,” Gorey said. “Our meatloaf is simpler than what the Trumps eat.”
It makes sense that the president eats meatloaf, she said.
“Your mother made it; your grandmother made it,” Gorey said. “It goes back generations and generations … what American family doesn’t have meatloaf?”
Tommy Mattonie’s Coastal Café
723 Eglin Parkway NE, Fort Walton Beach
Meatloaf typically sells out on meatloaf day, said owner Tom Garner.
Tommy Mattonie’s Coastal Cafe serves a bacon-wrapped meatloaf made of ground beef, ground pork, onions, peppers and seasonings, Garner said. It’s cooked on the smoker and features a barbecue glaze, he said.
“We like to build layers of flavors in our dishes, so nothing clashes with each other,” Garner said. “They all complement each other.”
The restaurant serves the meatloaf with two sides of the guest’s choice. Some people will order it with rice and black beans, though that is not exactly on the menu, he said with a laugh.
The restaurant based its recipe on one he saw on TV, Garner said. Cookbooks and food-related TV shows are full of good ideas, he said.
“We watch Food Network constantly,” Garner said. “If we see ideas we like, we’ll come in, try it and tweak it to where we like it.”
The restaurant has used the same recipe for five years, he said.
“Most meatloafs are plain,” Garner said. “Some people won’t touch meatloaf because they don’t like it. It’s too bready, they don’t like the texture of it or it’s too bland for them.
“Ours is definitely a meat-lovers meatloaf. It’s very unique and flavorful.”