authentic, regional eats - FL to DC
Yes, I have read existing messages--tons of them. I have visited many of the recommended eateries.
So, my upcoming April road trip is not a BBQ pilgrimage, although I would love to find that "one place." Best BBQ I have had, by the way, were the pork spare ribs from Backyard Boys in Mount Dora, FL. I welcome suggestions of comparable or even better. Sorry for the BBQ tangent.
As with all of my road trips, I intend to stay off the interstates as much as possible. My basic itinerary will include Miami, Naples, Ybor, Tallahassee, onto Columbia SC. I am leaning toward Chapel Hill and then up the center of Virginia between the interstates--but I am open to other suggestions.
I am looking for wonderful independent authentic places along that route. The perfect seafood shack along the western Florida coast. What else?
You'll need to post on the Florida Board for FL, and Mid Atlantic for Virginia. If you want 'q near Chapel Hill, I respectfully suggest Allen & Son. In Athens, GA, Five and Ten is one of the best restaurants in the south. A slight detour between Columbia and Chapel Hill could take you to Keatons for their "dipped" chicken. And of course, Lexington, NC is the center of the bbq universe, with Lexington #1 being a can't miss spot.
Firstly, let us talk barbecue. The first time I saw a post from carolinadawg I thought he was crazy for waxing about Allen & Sons. Then I realized i went to a different Allen & Sons on 15-501 (which was fine, but mediocre). Make sure you stop at the right one, which I have not been able to enjoy yet. As far as calling Lexington the center of the barbecue universe, I will disagree and put Ayden in that spot. Skylight and Bum's are both better than anything (stylistic differences aside) than anything I've had in Lexington, and that includes Lexington #1 (which is pretty good). Long story short, a barbecue stop in Ayden is my rec for that one place.
Although I can't help you with most of your trip, the Chapel Hill are offers huge variety in dining options. Here's a short list of worthy stops.
Sushi - Kurama on 15-501 in Durham - The best sushi experience in NC, as long as you convey an interest in a traditional Japanese experience.
Superwok - Awesome authentic Sichuan cooking, once again if you order off the traditional menu.
La Vaquita - Great authentic Mexican taqueria in an old dairy store in Durham (just outside Chapel Hill). One thing NC can deliver is authentic Mexican joints, and this is a great example that's received some great press, in particular by me.
Lantern - A fun restaurant that is unabashedly not authentic, but a very good option for Asian fusion/bistro style flavors.
Bon Soiree - Upscale and French-inspired, I think this is the best fine dining restaurant in the Triangle. Husband and wife team who are in the restaurant every night, and deliver great food, service and wine.
There are plenty more options worth a visit, if these categories aren't up your alley.
I think the Greenville area is just as strong as Lexington for traditional barbecue. You have:
Farmville: Jack Cobb's(10 mins from Greenville)
Conetoe: Blackbeard's(15 mins from Greenville)
Ayden: Pete Jones and Bum's(10 mins from Greenville)
That's five traditional, wood/charcoal cooking barbecue places either in or a short drive from town.
I'm with you all the way on the suggestion for Ayden, NC. Eastern NC is the undisputed center of the bbq universe with Ayden & Goldsboro being the pinnacles. The Skylight Inn (aka. Pete Jones') is tops in my book and has been for years. I've eaten in Lexington. There's some good bbq there, but it just isn't the same as whole hog, chopped bbq.
4618 S Lee St, Ayden, NC
If you're going through Tampa for Ybor, head east down Hwy 60 to Brandon for First Choice BBQ. It's in the back corner of the shopping center that houses Home Depot on the south side of Hwy 60. You will not be disappointed. In Ybor, you have the Columbia and Carmine's, both on 7th Avenue.