Nov 202009

All RVers love food, and one of the great things about the fulltime RV lifestyle is the opportunity to try the local fare at the restaurants wherever we are traveling. So I was surprised when a fulltiming couple I met a while back told me that they never eat anywhere except chain restaurants. “That way we always know what to expect,” they explained. “With those local joints, who knows what you’ll get?”

But isn’t that part of the fun? Sure, a Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast or a Burger King Whopper is going to taste the same whether you eat it in Seattle or Paducah, but that gets boring after a while.

We love finding the local places, where the food has real taste and where our meal is not pre-planned by a dietician in some laboratory, who declares that we’ll get so many ounces of potatoes, the steak will be cut in such and such way, and the ranch dressing comes on the side, not on top of your salad.

One of our favorite books is Road Food, by Michael and Jane Stern. This gem has taken us to some great dining establishments that we might never have found before. We also get a lot of tips on good places to eat from other RVers. Here are some of our favorite places to chow down:

The Brick Pit, Mobile, Alabama – Located in an old 1950s style ranch house, the ambience is nothing to get excited about, but they serve a barbecue that you’ll never forget.

Hog Wild, Cottonwood, Arizona – This is another barbecue place you’ll want to return to after your first visit. It’s the best barbecue restaurant we have found in over 10 years on the road! The portions are huge and everything on the menu is delicious.

Sausage Shop Meat Market, Tucson, Arizona – Tucked away in the corner of a small strip mall, it’s easy to miss the Sausage Shop, but once you find it, you’ll save it’s location in your GPS! They serve some of the best sandwiches you’ll find anywhere.

El Rancho Restaurant, Pinetop, Arizona – When I owned the weekly newspaper here, El Rancho was everyone’s favorite Mexican restaurant, and it still is. El Rancho serves huge portions, it’s all delicious, and the atmosphere is comfortable.

El Siboney Restaurant, Key West, Florida – This is one of those places the locals all know about, but most tourists never find. Their Cuban sandwiches are the best this side of Havana!

Keys Fisheries, Market, and Marina, Marathon, Florida – We loved the fresh seafood at this open air restaurant so much that we drove 50 miles from Key West not once, not twice, but three times in eight days! Their blackened grouper is the best I’ve ever tasted.

Lunkers, Edwardsburg, Michigan – Lunkers is a smaller version of Cabela’s or Bass Pro Shop, with just the one location, in Edwardsburg. Their restaurant serves up some delicious food, including a Cobb salad that is so big that Terry only orders it when she has somebody else to share it with. Besides steaks, burgers, and other food, you can also have such exotic foods as elk, ostrich, and bear meat.

Don’s Drive-In, Traverse City, Michigan – Don’s is a popular restaurant for the burger and fries crowd, and they are very tasty. But what makes this place special is their strawberry milkshakes. Thick and loaded with real fruit, they are almost a meal in themselves.

Golden Girls, Clinton, Tennessee – You can’t beat the broasted chicken at Golden Girls, and Terry loves their collard greens. Southern cooking at it’s best!

The Boiling Pot, Rockport, Texas – We always order the Cajun Combo, a delicious blend of blue crab, shrimp, boudin sausage, red potatoes and corn, all boiled together in Cajun seasonings. Then they cover your table with sheets of paper and pour it all out for you to pick through.

So there are my top ten favorite places to eat across the country. Tell me about some of yours. You can find some of our other favorite restaurants on our website. Check them out.

And while you’re at it, check out Bad Nick’s latest post Religion Or Terrorist Organization?

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Nick Russell

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  18 Responses to “Top Ten Road Food Stops”

  1. One of our traveling rules is that : “We never eat any place we can eat at home.” This means we will even eat in chains once in awhile. One of our favorite chains is “Souplantation & Sweet Tomatoes”. But mostly, we ask the locals “where they eat” the food we are want.

  2. Nick,

    I’ve been to the Boiling Pot (2009) – good stuff.

    Have you ever been to Tony’s in Birch Run, MI, just south of Frankenmuth? Order anything with bacon – yummo!

  3. We are with you on the “no chains” rule. One of our top ten gems would be Prejeans in Lafayette, LA. We had dinner the first night, shrimp etouffe IIRC, and we went back the very next night and had boudin and other Cajun dishes that we had never tried before. Making me hungry just thinking about it and it’s been over six years since we were there!

  4. Earl G Dumplins,this restaurant in Scotsville,Ky. All the locals eat here and no wonder,more than you can eat and prices you won’t believe. We had the marinated chicken tenders(5 pieces)w/enough frys that are falling off the plate. $5.89

  5. We do enjoy that Hog Wild in Cottonwood. We use a rule of thumb in rural America — the cafe where all the 4X4s are lined up has the best food. It’s usually a good indicator. Sometimes, however, it’s just the only cafe in town!

  6. We watch Man vs Food on Travel Channel & Diners,Drive-Ins & Dives on Food. We keep a list of the towns & places for when we’re in the area. We also check with the locals. We just had lunch at the Riverhouse in Chatanooga. I had fried green tomatoes and Paula had a 3 cheese & bacon grilled cheese. Not going to find that in a chain.

  7. I take side trips to go to Sam’s Joint at Yankee Springs, Michigan off US 131 between Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. Good food, varied menu, huge portions and thousands of antique everthing hung from the ceiling and walls. Its just outside the gate of Yankee Springs State Park on Gun Lake with no signs to direct you till you find it.

    I have enjoyed splitting a cobb salad with Terry at Lunkers and it is definately worth the stop.

  8. We’re with Jerry and Suzy – When you drive through town, look for the pickups. That’s where the locals gather – and usually where the best food is:)

  9. You have two great places to eat in Titusville. One is Corky Bell’s on Hwy 1 between Titusville and Cocoa, excellent seafood. Next is Dixie Crossroads, this is on the main street going thru Titusville. They are known for their fried mullet, plus corn fritters dusted with powdered sugar. So good… There is also a Sonny’s BQue. Enjoy!

  10. We, too, look for full parking lots when we’re trying to find a good, local place to eat. One of our favorites in our winter home of Summerdale, AL, is Big Daddy’s. They have a varied menu, but their Big Daddy burger is Randy’s favorite and Terry loves their blackened shrimp.

  11. I remember reading somewhere that one guy’s rule of thumb was that the more out of date calenders on the wall, the better the food. I think he said that if there were at least 4 or 5 on the wall he knew that the food would be good.

  12. I’ll also vote for Big Daddy’s Grill just west of Summerdale near Fairhope, AL. It’s where I first had sweet potato fries. Not sure if I’d like them or not I ordered half sweet potato and half white potato. I ate all the sweet potato ones. Even though the others were good, too, I didn’t have room for that many.

  13. The best steak I ever ate was at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi. It is a little old building with no fancy decorations but excellent food.

  14. Anyone in the Utica NY area will want to check out two restaurants: Symeon’s which specializes in Greek fare, and the Casa Too Mucha, which is the local version of a tex-mex restaurant. Both have ample portions for a fair price. Symeons would be more rv-friendly, you’ll want the toad if you’re visiting the Casa.

    Syracuse has several options, but perhaps the best known is the Dinosaur BBQ, which is definitely another toad stop, as they have next to zero parking on site, though there is ample area parking nearby.

  15. I’m from Chicago and could tell you about a lot of places to get great food, but you have to deal with the city. Oh well, so if you ever get to Enterprise, Ala “Big Daddy’s ” is the place for great barbecue. Here just outside of Daleville, is Pit Stop Barbecue, it is fantastic.

    Gulf Shores, Ala had a little seafood place “Sea and Suds”, and on Friday all you can eat Mullet. To die for. Even if you are full they bring more and then a to go container so you won’t leave empty handed.

    I only mention this, a chain but a small chain. ” 5 Guys” the absolute best hamburger’s and fresh fries.

    Oh how I love food. Now I am hungry.

    Oh yea, on your way to the Key’s Tavarise spelled wrong Island has a seafood resturant that is great. May not look good on the outside but more than makes up for it on the inside.

  16. If anyone is in the New Jersey area, off the Jersey Tpke. just before you’d get off to go to Staten island, is a deli called Harold’s. Their portions are so big that each item is recommended for 2 diners. And there are enough leftovers to feed you for even more meals once you get back home. Oh, and there is this great “pickles bar.”

  17. I recommended this want to Nick before, but the SKP Boomers that have attended the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta the last couple of years LOVED Lin’s Chinese Grand Buffet. It is located in the Pagoda-style building on Coors Blvd. NW near the Cottonwood Mall. This buffet includes very tasty buffet items (many with a New Mexican twist like shrimp with jalapeño), a sushi station, Mongolian BBQ, and an all-you-can eat rib eye steak buffet. Apparently this is part of a small chain that began in Texas (hmmmm, that was a surprise but the owner is from southern China and opened her first US restaurant in Texas) and she plans to expand nationwide. Prices are around $7 for lunch and $10 for dinner and they do have a Senior discount.

    If on the West Coast and looking for seafood, try Georgie’s Beachside Grill on SW Elizabeth Street overlooking the Pacific in Newport, Oregon. The restaurant has a creative menu and the clam chowder was outstanding. (IMHO, Georgie’s chowder beats the popular “Mo’s” chowder known all along the Oregon coast.) Go for lunch and try to get one of the many window tables to enjoy the ocean view great for whale watching.
    – Judy

  18. Our favorite place to eat on the road is in our own coach. Great food everythime Teri prepares it.

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