Road trip lunch near-ish to Charlotte
Hey all -
I'm taking a week-long road trip from NYC to Savannah pretty soon, and I've mapped out all my meal stops except one. I'm going to push from Savannah to Roanoke, VA in one day, and I'm planning on stopping for lunch somewhere in the general vicinity of Charlotte. I don't particularly want to go anywhere in downtown Charlotte, as it's going to be a long day of driving and fighting with city traffic and lunch crowds doesn't really appeal to me. I'm looking for something along I-77, within, oh, about half an hour either way of Charlotte (just for the timing of it) and I'm trying to keep my meals pretty Southern-oriented. I live in NYC, so I can get most things *except* good country cooking up here. Diners/dives/vaguely sketchy local joints most welcome, as long as I don't actually end up with Shigella. I'm not crazy about NC style BBQ, but I'm willing to be proven wrong if you know of somewhere that'll knock me on my ass.
Here's my suggestion. When you reach Charlotte, take exit 11 and get onto I-277 South (Brookshire Freeway). Then take exit 3A to McDowell/Brevard/Davidson Streets. Take a slight left onto 11th Street, another left onto 10th Street, and one more left onto Central Ave. (each turn is about a half-mile from one another). Finally, take a right onto Thomas Ave. There you will find a place called Dish. Go there and help yourself to some good home cookin'. You may be full after eating there, but walk on down the street to the Penguin. Have a seat in there and order some fried pickles (make that your dessert). Then walk across the street from the Penguin and enter the Common Market. Pick out a snack and a drink to take with you on the road for the rest of your travel that day.
Its hard to think of anywhere I would send someone thats convenient to 77. Maybe La'Wans Soul Food on S. Tryon. Although it might make you want a nap instead of driving. Exit 2 Arrowood Rd. Go West on Arrowood until the next major intersection at Tryon. Turn right and its immediately on your right in a little strip. Not much to look at but good.
I know you said no downtown, but Simmons 4th Ward is good, and traffic shouldn't be a problem. Trade St. exit towards town, Left on Graham St.
I assume you are planning on getting off I-77 and onto I-85 towards Greensboro. One option would be to stop in Lexington for some awesome BBQ (if you haven't had it from Lexington #1 then you haven't had NC BBQ). Another option would be to stay on I-77 to I-40 and hit Keaton's BBQ Chicken. Awesome chicken in a true old school roadside shack. You could then stay on I-40 to G'boro.
If you do hit Keaton's, check their website and make sure they're open when you plan on getting there, as their days and hours of operation are a little odd.
Carolinadawg is right on the money. Do yourself a favor and hit Keaton's in Statesville. It's the best dipped bbq chicken you will ever encounter. I dream about this stuff. Do yourself another favor, while you're there buy a couple bottles of their sauce and make your own dipped chicken when you return to NYC. Roast your chix on high heat in the oven, remove from oven and toss chicken in a large bowl with the sauce. I posted about Keaton's on my blog a while back. Here's a link: http://mamaliciouseats.wordpress.com/...
Also, here's a link to Keaton's website: http://www.keatonsoriginalbbq.com/
Keaton's is off the interstate maybe 10-15 miles. You'll drive by fields and farms and wonder where in the heck you are. And then, all of a sudden, and in the middle of no where, there it is. A small roadside shack (lack of a better word).
Jane and Michael Stern of Roadfood fell in love with this chicken and wrote about it. There is also a podcast on The Splended Table(both links are available on their website). I am in no way affliated w/ this place but am most definitely a huge fan. The sides don't do much for me and they aren't the friendliest of folks but that chicken - oh, that chicken!
Have a safe trip.
An easy stop would be the Lupie's in Huntersville. It's less than a mile off of I-77. I'm a big fan of the chili but if you happen to be there on a Thursday, the chicken & dumplins aren't bad either. http://www.lupiescafe.com/start.html
If you're coming 85 to 77, there's a great hotdog/burger stand in Salisbury called Hap's Grill. Get whatever you order "all the way". It's on Main Street in the charming old downtown of Salisbury. This would be a very quick lunch.
I'm jumping on the Keaton's bandwagon, too. Also, if you stop for gas/drinks in NC, make sure to grab some of our incredible local sodas, Cheerwine & C-LSD (Cherry Lemon Sundrop).