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trip to tn. from nj.

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Hi. My friends and I are making a trip from New Jersey to Tennessee to attend the Bonnaroo music festival. We refuse to eat at fast food places in rest stops, so we were wondering if some of our Southern friends can recommend some nice places to eat or just some nice towns to browse for food. Apparently we will be spending the most time on 78 West, 81 South, and 40 West.

This is our first time driving below Delaware so we are extremely oblivious to the area we are traveling through. If someone can make our 14 hour, 877 mile trip more enjoyable, we would be eternally grateful.

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  1. In Strasbourg, VA is a fun, very local type place called the Hi Neighbor restaurant. Its not mind-blowing food by any means (just a small store fornt in downtown) but it beats the chains. Also, In Chilhowie, VA is the Town House Grill. I've never been, but apparently it is lfat out one of the best festaurants in the country. You might also want to do a search on here for the towns you'll be passing through, I'm sure you'll find lots of suggestions.

    1. I did a similar trip recently. In Harrisonburg, VA, there's the Little Grill Collective, which is kind of cool and hippie-ish. http://littlegrillcollective.com/ I had a very tasty lunch there and it has vegetarian and meat dishes. Much better than the chains you'll pass on the way. There are also lots of non-chain options in Lexington, VA, which is a nice town in which to take a walk.

      The Town House in Chilhowie is very innovative and wonderful. If your car is full of foodies who want a truly upscale dinner in the middle of nowhere, then plan on making an overnight stop somewhere near there.

      1. Where exactly are you getting on to I-40? What's the closest city?

        1. Right off I-81 Exit 17 in Abingdon VA is a bakery The Wildflour. Coffee, tea ,great breads, cinnamon rolls, pastries etc. They also do lunch ( sandwiches, soups and wraps and dinners ( but I've only looked at the menu, haven't eaten then)

          1. Abingdon VA has several places. Just get of the interstate and go to downtown, not very far at all. Knoxville, Tn has good choices. You will be on 40 and then through Knoxville either on I 40 or I 640. For inexpensive but quite good barbecue, try Buddy's (a local small chain with several locations) Also Puleo's has locations at Strawberry Plains coming into Knoxville, Cedar Bluff off I 40 going through Knoxville-southern and Italian menu-excellent fried green tomatoes with stone ground grits and tasso gravy. A great lunch place is Wrights Cafeteria (take Western Ave exit off I 640 Go R, Take first L then R at light onto Middlebrook, go about 15 miles and Wrights is on the left. Small, nondescript but fried chicken, home made rolls, great pies!

            1. As a Native Philadelphian living in Nashville, I have made the drive between Nashville and Philadelphia several times, which isn’t too different from making the trip to...are you in North or Central Jersey? And can you bring me some Jersey tomatoes and peaches? Don’t believe the hype about the South, Jersey has WAY better peaches! And corn. And tomatoes.

              Anyway, two places I REALLY look forward to going each time I make the trip. Hell, I try to time the trips just so I can hit both of these places. In Bristol, VA there is a place called "Mother's" on Euclid Ave and in Silver Point, TN there is the Rose Garden Restaurant. Both are unapologetically what they are; Southern dives with good food, cheap prices and little pretension. At Mother’s, get almost anything. At the Rose Garden, get the catfish and hushpuppies. Mother’s is a tad Jesus-y, but what the hell…You’re coming down to the South, you might as well get the full experience.

              Mother’s is also at a particularly good place in the trip to stop. As you will find, the state of Virginia lasts FOREVER! This is only a very slight exaggeration. It’s right by the southernmost tip of Virginia. You will have about 4 more hours or so in the car when you get there on the way down, and will be dying to get out of the car for awhile. It’s just as good on your way back. Since you now know firsthand that Virginia is the never-ending state, it’s a good place to stop, eat, sigh, get a resolute look on your face, and then start the trudge through Virginia.

              One thing…US-11 runs largely parallel to I-81. On your way down, if you get to the Natural Bridge exit in VA during daylight, get off there and take US-11 for awhile. It’s a worthwhile detour if only for the fun of stumbling across the full scale model of Stonehenge. Natural Bridge itself is great, a worthy stop if you have the time, but at least check out the road a bit.

              Sarah M.

              Mother’s
              1500 Euclid Ave
              Bristol, VA 24201
              (276) 466-9111‎

              Rose Garden Restaurant
              14622 Old Baxter Rd
              Silver Point, TN 38582
              (931) 858-9901

              1. Thanks to you all for your help