I recently was in Wheeling, West Virginia for the installation of their new Bishop. It was a a quick trip, but we managed to find a great local restaurant called Later Alligator that is the best crepe restaurant around.
Wheeling is at the far western edge of West Virginia, lying in the Ohio River Valley. An industrial powerhouse in the late 19th century, it has suffered from the massive changes in the manufacturing sector that started after the end of WWII. But in recent years the city has revived its main street, historic sites have been preserved, and many good places to eat have opened. At the top of the list is Later Alligator.
Later Alligator opened in 2006 by Susan Haddad. combining her love of French cooking with her desire to rehabilitate a long neglected property. She has succeeded remarkably, and her restaurant has become the cornerstone of the revitalization in downtown Wheeling. In addition to crepes, Later Alligator serves a variety of salads and sandwiches. Most of our group ordered a crepe, but a couple did try some of the other dishes.
I had the Crepes of Wrath, a crepe filled with hot Italian sausage, roasted peppers, and cheese. I did not find it spicy at all, but otherwise thought it had a good mingling of flavors. My only compliant was that it was a little cold by the time it was served. The other type of crepe that our group ordered was the Wallie, a crepe filled with chicken, spinach, ricotta, grilled tomatoes, and cheddar cheese, and topped with raspberries and walnuts. My friend exuberantly proclaimed them fantastic.
Non-crepe dishes ordered were the French Dip and the fish tacos. The French Dip was called out as excellent, as were the potato chips. My friend who had the fish tacos described them as good and overall liked the dish. However, she felt like the fish itself could have used more seasoning.
Later Alligator has a very interesting selection of drinks. On top of the usual selection of sodas, they have flavored lemonade and ice tea available. While you can get them unadorned, a wide selection of flavors can be added. I had to try one, and went with peach flavored ice tea. The taste was subtle, but delicious and refreshing.
Later Alligator has a casual, almost rustic ambiance, with a strong sense of fun. The interiors are copiously decorated with Wheeling memorabilia. They also have a great outdoor seating area that reminds me a bit of the Ruin Pubs of Budapest. It was a very pleasant day when we visited, so we sat outside. There, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch.
If you are ever in Wheeling, or just passing near it, I highly recommend eating at Later Alligator. I am not the only one he feels this; Lady Gaga made a special trip to the restaurant.