Chow on the Natchez Trace?
My wife and son are headed out over the Easter weekend to get one last Mom/Son camping trip in before he is off to college. They are driving down the Natchez Trace from North to South after leaving our home in IL near St. Louis. Any suggestions for reasonable casual roadfood would be greatly appreciated. THnaks in advance for your advice.
I've driven the Trace half a dozen times, and I can tell you: take snacks and fill up when you see a gas station. The "exits" are few and far between, and usually in the middle of nowhere. There are only about towns of any size along the trace. The whole drive is about 8 hours. Don't speed -- it's a federal park so the speeding tickets are really steep.
The person who suggested Loveless steered you right. It's in Franklin, TN, at the north end, so fuel up there. It's really busy on weekends, so if you have an option about when to go, try a week day.
Your next good place to stop is Florence, Alabama, about 2 1/2 hours away, and the hippest town in the whole state, so search these boards for something there. Last time I ate there, I had an incredible meal, but it was 10 years ago.
The next good stop is Tupelo, which is a great little town with several hound-y places. We had an incredible meal at Todd's Downtown Deli, which is Southern food despite its name. They smoke their own pork! Also, someone just posted in late March on a great taco window on North Gloster street in Tupelo.
Next town is Jackson, a great little college town, but again, I haven't eaten there in 10 years. Last stop is, Natchez, which is an extraordinary place worth staying overnight.
What I'd do is query these boards separately about Jackson, Florence and Natchez, and specifically mention that you're coming from the Trace. Natchez is small, but Florence and Jackson are pretty big, so specifying the area will help people point you in the right direction.
I found the greatest taqueria in Tupelo. It is the Taqueria Speedy Gonzalez which consists of a window in a convenience store at 1725 North Gloster Street. They serve tacos, burritos and quesadillas and, sometimes, tamales. The tacos come smothered in fresh onions and cilantro and with homemade read and green sauces on the side. The chicken tomatillo tamales are also great. The guy who opened this place about a month ago also owns Taqueria Chauelita in Tupelo. Will try it the next time I'm in town. I live in Jackson, Mississippi which has no decent Mexican food. (I've never gotten fresh cilantro on Mexican food in Jackson).
If you hit Jackson on your travels, there's really good Indian food at Spice Avenue on the west I-55 frontage road just North of the Northside Drive Exit. Fresh ingredients (incl. cilantro), spectacular naan.
The Carriage House Restaurant in Natchez is fabulous Southern cooking. They are famous for their tiny buttermilk biscuits and their fried chicken. The restaurant is located in the actual carriage house for Stanton Hall in downtown, one of the old antebellum houses for which Natchez is known.
There are several places just off the Trace at the Hwy 51 exit in Ridgeland, MS. Pigskin BBQ (about a 1/2 mile north on 51) has some really great ribs, the best catfish that I have found in the area (thin fried fish), and a great plate lunch. Then there is Trace Grill- wonderful burgers, wonderful sides, and a wonderful plate lunch. A little farther up is Hamil's- think church picnic food- fried chicken, ribs, meat loaf, gizzards and livers, 6 or 8 kinds of salads, etc. and it is all you can eat...