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Road Trip Sarasota, FL to Detroit, MI: Any can't miss spots along I-75?

Will be making a road trip from Sarasota, FL to Detroit, MI in two weeks. Want to know all the can't miss places to eat along the way. There will be two of us and we love all kinds of food and will try anything. Please send your recommendations, especially if it's a local can't miss favorite. We'd really appreciate the help!

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  1. If you like Chinese, the real thing that is, I-75 passes within a few hundred yards of two of the best places you will find outside of China, seriously, and they have a connected history. Chef Peter Chang built up a storied reputation in the Washington DC area, then left and went to a place called Tasty China in Marietta, Ga., just north of Atlanta. About 2 minutes off I-75. He left there and went to Hong Kong House in Knoxville, where he still is. Go to either or both (TC has brought in new chefs and they are good, still doing some of Chang's old stuff plus some new things. Order imaginatively. Some of the best Chinese you will find.



    http://atlantacuisine.com/forum/index... (read any of Steve Drucker's posts in this 33 page thread--#474 is recent, but relates to a special meal



    You should also stop somewhere in Cincinnatti for the local chili (heads up--if you've never had it it's nothing like Texas or any chili you've ever had). Camp Washington Chili is well known and just off I-75.

    You might want to try a Nu-way hot dog while passing through Macon Ga--several locations, some close to I-75.

    Here's a link to some more down home places in Central Georgia, around Macon near I-75 and I-475, including some Nu-Way locations:


    Note that the quickest way through the Macon area is via I-475

    2 Replies
    1. re: johnb

      Thanks John,
      I went to school in Oxford, OH so I definitely know about the Cincinnati Chili. It's not my thing so we'll probably skip out on that. Right now I'm thinking I will stop in Macon, Knoxville, and Cincy. Hong Kong House will be our Knoxville spot after all the hype I've read regarding Chef Chang. Can't miss that opportunity. Thanks!

      1. re: Cheeeese

        You won't regret it. I believe Tuesday is his day off, so avoid that one if possible. As to what to order, be sure to try the dry fried eggplant and the roasted fish (unfortunately they are similar because they both use a lot of cumin, his favorite ingredient, but worth orering together anyway. There is a bunch of pictures on the wall as you enter, on the left, and those are the best dishes. I will probably be stopping there myself next Wednesday--I'll report if there is anything new.

    2. Can't give you any spots but had to reply. Live in Sarasota, From Dearborn Detroit. Wish I could give advice. Will be making the same trip this summer. let me know or let us know how it went. Would love the same recs for good places to stop.

      Enjoy your trip!

      4 Replies
      1. re: kchurchill5

        Will definitely fill you in when I get back. We are actually flying down to Sarasota and driving a car back so will be spending a few days in Sarasota/Siesta Key also before we make the drive back. Any recommendations there would also be helpful. Also any bar's on Siesta Key that we shouldn't miss?

        1. re: Cheeeese

          The broken egg on Siesta is great for breakfast, a little unique, on the key, nice setting, good food. I like Phillipe Creek Oyster bar. Not very gourmet by any means, just 1 miles inland to US 41 and then 1 mile north of the south Siesta Bridge. Anyone can give you directions. Very good local seafood, broasted oysters are a must, great blackened grouper or snapper, the broasted oysters are heaven however. Steamed seafood pots. Good beer, right on the creek, inside out outside, relaxed, shorts and flips flops. Can't get mush better.

          SKOB, Siesta Key Oyster Bar (located in Siesta Village) again not fancy, just a local place with seafood, in the village more atmosphere but just sometimes to experience that.

          What type of food do you enjoy. Many good places downtown area, just a few miles north on 41. Not far. A few downtown, a couple out on longboat key, a pretty drive and not far at all. There are some high end places as well which are very good. Let me know what you are interested in.

          Walking in Siesta village it isn't big the main part just a few blocks and you will find many bars, local restaurants, places to stop for just about anything. The best way is just to walk it and then stop at SKOB for some shrimp or a couple of cold beers. Nice shops, local hang outs, just fun. But there other nicer establishments for a more refined experience. Glad to off more tips if you want.

          Pacific Rim is a great sushi place. Over the south Siesta bridge to the mainland and then 2 miles south on Hillview. good sushi and enjoyable atmosphere, can sit outside which is nice and good food. There are also a couple of good restaurants and bars right in the same block which makes it nice to walk and maybe stop at another establishment.

          And St. Armands Circle. Just north on 41. Lido is the next key north, St. armands is the key that connects the mainland to Lido key. It is a world famous circle of shops and restaurants. Most places open late. Great dining, great shops. Fun at night just to walk around. The Columbia restaurant, a must for their cuban sandwich with their black bean soup and 1905 salad. A must for lunch, several small bars, others restaurants and shops. Can't come without checking out that.

          So you have breakfast. lunch and dinner and a couple of other stops. Anything else or specific ideas let me now. Lots of places. I just gave you a few faves and local faves. Not 5* but well loved by most people. And representative of the area.

          Have a great trip!

          1. re: kchurchill5

            Thanks so much! I've been down to Sarasota a decent amount as a kid and know Phillippi creek very well as its my family's favorite "local hole in the wall" seafood place. The other reco's are great since I haven't been down there in quite some time and this is my first time being there on my own and of legal drinking age. My friend and I are open to anything as far as food goes and will probably stick to seafood while we're in Sarasota since it will be so much better than what we're getting in Michigan. I really appreciate the responses and will definitely be trying The Broken Egg some morning before we hit the beach. I assume we'll end our afternoons with a cold one at SKOB and remember seeing a nice deck and live music there if I recall correctly. Thanks for the help!

            1. re: Cheeeese

              Yep, SKOB not fancy but just Sarasota and the Village will be much different than you remember. St. Armands has a few fun spots to go to as I mentioned and down is really different. Mattison, Main and lemon is great, Paul Mattison a great chef, A great outside cafe, good food, music at night in the middle of downtown, lively entertainment, just a nice way to see the downtown area. Salty Dog or Dry dock going out on Longboat Key. Not fancy, certainly not the Dog, but burgers and fish, simple food, good beer and beverages but something about sitting on the pass, warm water and sun, boats sailing by. I start to think less of the food. Mote Marine Laboratory is a great place to visit. I was manager for 13 years. Marine lab with lots to see and the Dog is right across the street. If interest I can leave tickets for you. www.mote.org

              Hope you enjoy the trip, oh FYI, there is a Salty Dog in the village at the other end as well. The Lobster Pot restaurant I think is still there. Pacific Rim for sushi is great I mentioned.

              Two more, sorry. Mar Vista right on the water, north end of longboat, a bit of a drive but a gorgeous drive and not far compared to some northern commutes. Great fresh fish, crab, chowders, etc. Really a nice nice low key place. People come by boat or car or bike.

              Also Sandbar on Anna Maria. A hike, trust me. North end of Anna Maria, key north of longboat which I am sure you remember. But awesome, bar and amazing seafood. You can sit right on the beach. To die for sunset, great seafood. Perfect end to a vacation and well worth the drive. Besides you can go shopping in Anna Maria or Holmes beach on the way. Really fun, relaxing and good food.

              Travel safe and post an update.

      2. One of my favorite stops through Atlanta is Muss & Turners: http://www.mussandturners.com/. Totally fantastic Ruben and at how many other deli-type restaurants can you get duck confit? Just barely off of I-75, it's a quick stop as well.

        I do also agree with johnb about Tasty China, though we liked Frank Ma's better. I'll have to try Hong Kong House next time we're up Knoxville way.

        1 Reply
        1. re: suemac

          Muss & Turner's looks great. I think we may have found our Georgia stop! Have you been to their brunch? I think we'll be going through there on Sunday.

        2. When driving thru Cincinnati a local favorite is Montgomery Inn Boathouse- it's right downtown on the Ohio River. They are famous for their ribs & chicken but it's all good. Here's the link to their website.

          As someone else said you can't go wrong with Cincinnati chili - in my opinion Skyline is best there are several off 75. If you are in the mood for ice cream try graeter's it was on Oprah's favorites list several years ago. I believe there is one in Northern Ky right off the interstate. Here are their links

          Have a safe trip & happy eating.

          3 Replies
          1. re: xulori94

            I think I went to skyline xulori94. I am sure that was the name.

            It was great if that was it.! Just fun atmosphere and descent chili. Sort of a landmark if that is the place I remember.

            1. re: kchurchill5

              there's a ton of chili parlors in the Cinti area. Skyline definitely has a bit of a chain feel to it. There's also Price Hill chili and Camp Washington Chili which have more of a local feel to them. Anyway you slice it they're all good!

              1. re: xulori94

                It was just fun and probably not the best chili compared to mine ... but everyone always likes theirs better but it was really good and just fun to go to . We enjoyed it. Next time up there this summer I may have to try something else.

          2. 4 passes for Brian (friend of k churchill) Good Thurs through Sat up at the Main Labs entrance. Just say there should be tickets for Brian. Should be no problem.


            1. Well, I have made it back in one piece. It was a great roadtrip up I-75 and vacation in Sarasota/Siesta Key. Thanks so much Kchurchill5 and johnb I used your recommendations, and everyone else for their suggestions.

              In Sarasota I found two places that were not recommended in these posts but were very good. One, a hole in the wall, the other a nicer dinner place. Kchurchill you should definitely try these if you haven't been to them. One is La Bodega Tortillaria at the intersection of Stickney Pt/Clark and Swift. Its in a little strip mall on the south side of Clark. This is a hole in the wall hispanic grocery basically with a small restaurant in the back. Food was awesome and there is a guy hand making corn tortillas for the food. Everything was really really good. The second Sarasota spot was Stonewood Grill. I didn't know this was a chain which I just found out on their website, but the food was again very good and they had a buy one get one free happy hour. I had a couple Manhattans, the blackened grouper, and substituted a side for their corn risotto. This was a great meal, and everyone else in our party enjoyed their food also.

              Also ate at Phillipi Creek which has always been a favorite of mine in Sarasota. Once again the food and service here were great. Any local can point you to this place, make sure you're ready for a wait as its very popular especially in tourist season. I think some of their prices might be rising, especially Grouper as its become a more popular piece of fish.

              For another lunch we ate at Shaners a small pizza place/bar. Great thin crust pizza and a cool atmosphere with sports memorabilia since the owner is a retired professional basebally player. Great lunch special of a 2 topping personal pizza for $6 fit the budget and filled me up.

              For the roadtrip part of things we were a little restricted since we started on a Sunday morning. A lot of the down home barbeque places and Nu-way are all closed on Sundays so make sure you're aware of this. Thankfully I was prepared and had mapped out a couple of the spots from Johnb's link for southern eats that were opened on Sundays. We stopped at Georgia Bob's barbecue off of I-75 exit 149 east. It is really close to the highway which made it a perfect stop. Again the food was pretty good. I don't have a lot of experience with southern barbecue so I couldnt tell you how it compares to others, but both me and my navigator thoroughly enjoyed our meals. He got the platter of 2 choices of meat and 2 sides while I ordered a sandwich and 2 sides, with sweet tea. Our meals were between $7.50-$12.00 with drinks and we both left full and happy. They also have nice rocking chairs out front, horseshoes, and checkers if you want to take some time to relax which was very nice.

              Our second stop was the Hong Kong House in Knoxville. We had the dried fried eggplant dish and the sizzling black pepper beef dish, and both agreed that it was probably the best Chinese food we had ever had. Portions are huge, food is great, Chef Chang is a Sichuan master chef, and there are a lot of chinese people that seem to frequent the restaurant which is always a good sign. If you want to know more check out johnb's links and post as he has in depth reviews of a lot of dishes. This is a must stop I think for anyone making the trip through Knoxville.

              The stop in Knoxville was our last stop. We were full, tired, and still had a lot of driving to do so we didnt stop in Cincy for any of the chili or other things. Both of us have stopped there frequently during other trips so we didn't mind that we were missing out on this particular trip. Overall the roadtrip took about 20 hours with some construction, rain, traffic, and two sit down meals. Great trip and thanks again everyone for your help!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Cheeeese

                Too funny Cheeeese, I live 1 block from Shaners just around the corner on Beneva. I go there for the single pizza and a good brew and meet up with a couple of friends. I love the thin crust just for something different and just relaxing. Love the quaint bar area. Phillipi, of course it good. La Bodega Tortillaria I know exactly where it is and someone did mention to me about it but I have never gone. May have to try it some night. Stonewood is good. Not my favorite, but I do enjoy the happy hours and they have some very good appetizers. Had lunch a couple of times but not dinner. Sounds like an overall great trip! Thx for the update.

                1. re: Cheeeese

                  Glad you had a successful trip. 20 hours is a long long drive--I'm happy I haven't had to do one like that for a long while. Hong Kong House is a true jewel in Knoxville--I stopped there myself last Wednesday--folks K'ville are lucky to have it. BBQ on Sunday is tough to find, and I'm glad you found some that was good.

                2. I strongly suggest a stop at a Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, as other posters have mentioned. You'll be glad you did. Also, in the Atlanta area is a Dreamland BBQ. They have terrific ribs and a great sauce. The Peachtree Corners location might be close enough. My in-laws plan the time they depart on their trips to be able to stop at a Dreamland if one is near their route of travel.


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