Cross Country, I-80
I am making my first trip cross county, helping a family member move. We will be going from Colorado Springs through Cheyenne, and then due east on I-80 all the way through to Ohio, and then bounce up to western New York.
Can anyone recommend some good stops off of I-80, they should be realtively close to an exit (1/2 hour or so). Anything is okay, regional specialties, awesome diner, novelty, or ethnic.
Here are places where you can find plenty of recommendations for stops along your route:
Iowa City - www.chowhound.com/topics/123292
Northwest Indiana - www.chowhound.com/topics/353846
South Bend - www.chowhound.com/topics/125485
Toledo - www.chowhound.com/topics/377366 and www.chowhound.com/topics/397505
I'm sure you can find more topics for other cities you will be passing through, including Omaha, Des Moines, and the Quad Cities.
In the Chicago area, I recommend Amanacer Tapatio in Joliet for Mexican food, Tallgrass in Lockport for fine dining, and Tin Fish in Tinley Park for seafood; all are reasonably close to I-80.
You gotta have a pork tenderloin while passing through Iowa (or, I suppose, Indiana ) If you want typical road food your choices are plentiful, although you might have to make a ten to 15 minute drive off the main road to get the really good stuff. Darrel's in Hamlin is worth a stop for their award winning pork tenderloin. Susie's in Stanton has great Swedish Pancakes and the Farmer's Kitchen in Atlantic is good for just about anything, but particularly pie and hot beef sandwiches.
Novelty? Runza is a Nebraska chain that specializes in "ovenstuff'd" sandwiches, though I'd rather eat cardboard. You might like it (Runza, not cardboard).
Another novelty? Well, I suppose Maid-Rite loose meat sandwiches would qualify, though I'd rather eat Runza. The chain is based in Iowa.
No, I'd rather eat at Johnny's Cafe in Omaha. Fine steaks and an upscale steakhouse atmosphere that has the feel of a place where cattle barons do "bidness."
Wilton's Candy Kitchen is a couple of miles off I-80 in eastern Iowa, but I'm not sure it's open in winter. It may be the oldest soda fountain in the nation, according to Michael Stern of Roadfood (http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overv...). A lot of atmosphere there.
For the best cajun food in Illinois & the best I have outside of NOLA, Ron's Cajun Connection. about 5 minutes off I-80 at the Utica, Illinois exit. Open on Thurs-Sat @ 4 p.m., and on Sundays 12-5.
the Amanacer Tapatio rec. is a good one, some of the best authentic Mexican food in all of Chicagoland. A little far off I-80, but you can get there in under 30 mins. A couple tips, it is cash only, and order off the chalkboard of daily specials.
700 Ruby Street
enjoy your cross country trip.
Iowa I-80 truckstop Walcott,Newton & Grinnell Maidrites,Sully Coffeecup,Elkhorn Danish Inn or Larsen's,Omaha Louie M's.B Bops, Steak n Shake and Culvers are better chains.More options in evening depending where you stay the night.
I don't know what time you'll be through, but Bella Italia in Cozad, NE is outstanding. It was opened a few years ago by a transplant from NYC. Outstanding Italian!
About an hour west of Cleveland is a fancy (e.g. jackets required for gentlemen) French restaurant called Chez Francois, in the small town of Vermilion on Lake Erie. I've been there several times and it's consistently excellent. www.chezfrancois.com
You'll be going through Cleveland, where you can't beat Lola for casual fine dining. Just a great place and deserves its reputation. www.lolabistro.com