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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ROAD FOOD: Finding Good Food on the Road

Dragon fruit, Munich

Welcome to the start of another new year here on The World on Wheels.  Let's start off with an appetizer.
Chili Cookoff.  Coachella, California


For us, one of the main highlights of traveling is food.  We always look for great places to eat, especially local favorites that we can’t get at home.  A bowl of she-crab soup in Charleston, a dirty-water dog in New York, and barbecue in Kansas City are a few examples.

Picnic, Amador County, California

The question then becomes, how do you find a good place on the road?

Lunch.  Nimes, France

A friend of mine from Croatia gave me some advice when I was heading to France.  “When you are driving through the countryside!...”(you must understand my Croatian friend always talks as if there is an exclamation point at the end of each sentence) ”…when you see a restaurant on the side of the road, pull over!  It will be the best meal you’ve ever had!  It is like this throughout France!”

Dinner.  Grasse, France

And, in France, that is not far off of the mark but in other places you’re really taking your chances if you just dine somewhere at random.  One time, while staying in Asheville, North Carolina, we went out at night looking for dinner.  It was nearing 9:00 and most places were closed.  We saw a barbecue place on the road to Spindale and thought “hey, North Carolina is supposed to have good barbecue.”

Pizza, mussels, and wine.  Monaco

It was open, we had dinner, and would have enjoyed it more if we went to bed hungry.

Grilled meat in Kansas City

OK, so what to do…

Happy hour.  Sutter Creek, California

First, while on the road, the Rachel Ray trick of asking locals can find you some good places.  The happy hour bartender at the Homewood Suites in Seattle let us know of the neighborhood bar around the corner that served a mean bacon mac ‘n cheese.  Buckley’s is now one of our must visit places in the Emerald City. 

Buckley's.  Seattle, Washington

At a training class in San Francisco years ago, one of my classmates that lived in the city told me about Capp’s Corner in North Beach where I’ve had some of the most memorable Italian meals I’ve ever had…sometimes served by an ex-stripper named Magnolia Thunderpussy (really!).

Los Tacos de Huicho.  Bakersfield, California

Next, before I head to a destination, I’ll look online for highly rated restaurants in the area.  Two sites I use religiously are Chowhound.com and Yelp.com.  I’ve found some really good restaurants using those two such as Passionfish in Pacific Grove (near Monterey) that blows everything else around it away.  A passing comment on Yelp led us to our all-time favorite road stop restaurant, the incredibly good Los Tacos de Huicho in Bakersfield, California which serves the most incredible al pastor tacos you’ll ever find at only 99 cents each.

Biergarten.  Munich

Lastly, TV shows can sometimes lead you to great food destinations.  Although most travel and food shows just lead you to all the usual suspects, I like to follow Anthony Bourdain’s suggestions and I also have to give a shout-out to that bleached-out goofball, Guy Fieri.  Although he can be hard to take in large doses, we’ve yet to find a bad recommendation from his Food Network show, Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives.

Smoked jalapeno poppers.  Plymouth, California

It can really help to do a little research and make a list of restaurants you’d like to visit before you get to your destination.  Your stomach will thank you.
Dessert.  Seal Beach, California

-Darryl
Copyright 2011 - Darryl Musick
All Rights Reserved

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