Our eighth day exploring the Ring Road of Iceland was a rather impressive day, including stops at the famous Jökulsárlón(the “Glacier Lagoon”) and Svartifoss (the “Black Waterfall”, an impressive waterfall in front of a backdrop of basalt columns), along with plentiful hiking and a stop for Jöklaís (“Glacier Ice”) ice cream. It was yet another busy day of sightseeing, hiking, and driving, and we ended up pulling into our destination, Kirkjubæjarklaustur (whose name is ponderous even by local standards, we noticed that most folks call it simply “Klaustur”), at a fairly late hour looking for dinner. Well, Kirkjubæjarklaustur doesn’t have a heck of a lot to offer. While having some nice features in itself, like a waterfall, and some really interesting basalt columns), Klaustur’s main attraction is location: it’s pretty much the only settlement on the southern coast between Vík and Höfn which offers services, including the ever-present N1 station, a few modest hotels, and the like. Heck, there’s basically three places to eat (the hotel, the gas station, and the cafe). After perusing the menus of each, we ended up choosing the cafe: Systrakaffi (if you were hoping for the N1 gas station, don’t worry, I’ll get to them in a few reviews).
Where Offbeat Eats has been:
I’ve always liked Italian Ice as a treat. While I’ve always had a love for ice cream, there are times when I really am not craving a dairy treat, primarily due to weather or activity (others may vary in this, but for me, the combination of “parched” and “dairy” isn’t at all pleasant). A simple frozen dessert made with fruit, water, sugar, and little else, this dessert goes by a lot of names. Around the East coast it’s often called “water ice”. Growing up in Arizona, there was no standard name for it, but I always fondly remember trips to Sno Oasis (in Tempe, now long gone), or Eegee’s (in Tucson, still a solid regional chain) for a nice frozen snack with real fruit flavors (and possibly some food coloring…). In Chicago (and most of the Midwest), however, these go by the names “Italian Ice” or “Italian Lemonade”… and there’s one well-recognized place to get them in Little Italy/Taylor Street, and that’s Mario’s Italian Lemonade, which was Stop #4 on the Death March. We stopped at Mario’s for several reasons. First, Mario’s has location. Located in what used to be the front yard of one of four townhouses, Mario’s is literally across the street from Al’s #1 Italian Beef, and makes a perfect stop for a light dessert to offset the rather heavy, and somewhat messy, Italian Beef sandwich that you just ate from Mario’s.