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Jun 25, 2010 08:06 AM

Driving Cross Country via Route 40 or further South

My good friend and I are planning a cross country road trip from Virginia to the bay area of California. We have about a week to do it, and we are planning to take route 40 and then 101 up the California coast... or maybe possibly an even crazier souther border route that involves a stop off in New Orleans.

I've been looking around on these boards and it's such a tremendous project to sort out all the possible places we could stop to eat, especially since we don't know exactly where we're going.

What I'm hoping is that one of you knows of a book, web site, or blog that deals with roadside eats specifically. I know there has to be something, and I just can't find it.

Also, since I'm here, any not-to-be-missed foodstuffs found in the southern part of this great country that you want to throw out would of course be appreciated.


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  1. Jan and Michael Stern have several books and a website called Roadfood. That's one place to start...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Niki in Dayton

      I'm familiar with them because they are on Lynne Rossetto Kasper's radio show Splendid Table & I would definitely trust their advise. Just checked out their website. Its pretty cool, can type in a city & it returns restaurants within about 200 mile radius starting with the closest. Then for each it gives "must eats"

    2. That's a very ambitious trip. You are talking about doing 400-500 miles per day on iffy roads that will be slow, if you truly plan to stay on old US40 as much as possible, so doing it in only a week will be challenging. US40 ends, BTW, near Park City Utah. Anyway, good luck and please report about your experiences.

      What you are planning seems to be a bit like what Alton Brown did in his "Feasting on Asphalt" 4-part series. He crossed the country on a motorcycle and ate at spots that (supposedly) were suggested to him by folks he met along the way. But he had a support party to help out.

      One website that you ought to check out is Holly Eats. While Holly doesn't concentrate exactly on US 40 per se, he has many places listed that may be in striking distance for you. It's certainly worth a look, especially the Eating the South and Eating the Midwest sections. Be careful of the older listings however.

      1. It sounds like you're talking about I-40 (Interstate), not US Route 40, if you're going to hit 101 and go North. A week is somewhat more reasonable then, but you're really not going to see much at 500+ miles/day. By the time you hit the Cali coast, you'll be shredded - you might want to save the coastal trip for another time to do it justice. Watch out for the concrete roads with sections, especially in Oklahoma - they'll either drive you nuts or put you to sleep. Look out for fried catfish in Tennessee, tex-mex in Oklahoma, red/green chile in New Mexico... In my traveling I-40 across the years, I haven't been to any really terrible places. (I live in Boston, used to live in Tacoma, my in-laws are in OKC, and we have an RV, so we've done I-40 and I-70 a lot). I try to avoid the obvious chains, but even the catfish chain in Tennessee (several roadside signs and opportunities) had decent fish and hush puppies. Memphis offers Beale Street, OKC offers the stockyards for great steak.

        Personally, I wouldn't bother to try and nail down every place you're going to go. Way too much work... and your plans will change once you're on the road. Good luck with your trip.

        1. you might want to check out yelp dot com. they have a mobile app that you can download to your phone that allows you to search based on current location. You can filter by highest rated in a town or by specific cuisine, etc

          If you're coming through NC you must stop for eastern style NC barbecue. One of the local favorites is Allen & Son's located just north of I-40 on Hwy 86 in Hillsborough NC.

          You can google Allen & Son's and get plenty of hits. Just make sure you go to the one in Hillsborough and not the one in Chapel Hill.

          Happy travels!

          1. There was a thread here about a year ago about the best tacos along Highway 101 (I think). Or just go to the California board, lots of good recs for 101.