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ROADTRIP from SD to Austin Texas

Hi all!
My sister in law and I are taking a 3-4 drive from San Diego to Austin. We know the good spots in both our starting point, San Diego, and our final destination, Austin. We are more interested in what's in between.
We are taking the 8 to the 10. So, though Arizona with Tucson as a stopping point for the first night. Then Through New Mexico, hoping to get to Stockton, Tx as our second overnight rest. Then on to Austin.
She's from SD and doesn't have much road trip experience. I'm from Nashville, have loads of road trip miles on my belt, but none in the Southwest.
Would love any recommendations you have - mainly on food, but also for anything else interesting or worth a stop.

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  1. I assume by Stockton, TX, you mean Fort Stockton. There are a couple of decent Tex-Mex Restaurants there [Mi Casita is one that I recall]. There is also a steakhouse that I recall being average [K-Bobs]. You will also find the usual suspects of fast food and chain restaurants, including an I-HOP. In terms of things to see in the area, it will be near and around Alpine, Texas, which is near where Big Bend National Park is located and is otherwise a quirky, interesting town. If you find yourself East of there and hungry, I had a very good cheeseburger at a truck stop near Ozona, Texas [used to be called Town & Country]. It will be the only place to eat right off of I-10 at the Ozona exit. Are you going to San Antonio then Austin? Depending on how you decide to cut over to Austin, the eats get more interesting, especially if you enjoy barbecue or German-American fare.

    7 Replies
    1. re: hawkeyeui93

      Ooooh? Tell me more about this german-american fare, pretty please!

      1. re: lisamarie77

        Off of Interstate 10 (and after your evening in Fort Stockton), take Exit 477 and go East on US 290 towards Austin. En route is a town called Fredericksburg, Texas, which has several German restaurants with a Texas flair.

        1. re: hawkeyeui93

          My mom has lived in Fburg for 37 years, and I visit frequently. There are no good restaurants serving German food (and a few with poor ratings on the hard to find sanitation website). In fact, there are few good restaurants of any sort in Fbg. There is a popular place run by San Diegoans (Sunset Grill) featuring things like the Del Mar burger but I eat there only if my mom makes me. Outside of town is the Alamo Springs burger joint, with the 3rd best hamburger in Texas. THAT's worth visiting.

          1. re: pickypicky

            Do note that I did not say good, but instead said they were en route to Austin. With that being said, I have been to Germany about fifty times and I had something closely resembling German fare at a place called The Auslander (I think). I have also been to New Braunfels and I think it is the same story. With this being said, I would personally save my calories and find one of the several excellent BBQ joints surrounding Austin.

            1. re: hawkeyeui93

              Agree completely. One must eat, you're right. No, sadly, the German places in Fredericksburg have faded to sad caricatures of themselves. I have German friends in FBG who may eat at one now and then but it's more out of homesickness than the quality of the food. There's no good Mexican food nor BBQ in Fbg either, so it's an equal opportunity town.

      2. re: hawkeyeui93

        Alpine has one of the finest restaurants in that part of the state (and a fabulous sister restaurant in Fort Worth.


        1. re: foodiechick

          When I first went six years ago, it was so amazing to find it there-- buy a club card so we could drink, get drunk, and eat all that great fried food under the tree growing in the bar. As with everything, it's kinda not stood the test of time, but it's still the only place in Alpine worth eating.

      3. I've made this drive five or six times. Nothing of note on the road except maybe for the date shake in Dateland, which is outside of Yuma. I'd plot your route, and zero in on chowhound towns on the way. (Tucson, etc The Tucson Inn is a lovely, old-fashioned hotel with little pink bungalows.) What I can recommend is my favorite place in the world, Marfa TX, between El Paso and Ft Stockton. Google it. In the middle of nowhere and filled with people transplanted from Brooklyn who brought their food and gave it a texas twirl. Great restaurants, including one of my all time faves, Cochineal. For lunch, you have to eat at Food Shark, a cool food truck and it parks in the middle of town. Don't miss the Chinati tour featuring the art of Donald Judd, if you have time.

        For more on Marfa check out comments on the Texas board.

        I've stopped in Ft Stockton many times. There is absolutely nothing to eat there or between Ft Stockton and Fredericksburg. I've eaten at that burger place in Ozona, and I won't again. Also, do not eat at any place advertising barbecue. There is no good bbq til you get to Austin. You might consider stopping in Van Horn TX.. It used to have a restored old hotel that was kinda cool. Alpine's ok, and so is Ft Davis. All those highways are gorgeous. But for food and a place to stay Marfa's the one. For more in Fredericksburg, see below. It is charming and well worth a visit. Hondo's is fun for beer and dancing to live music, but not much for food. Really, no place is that great for food in Fbg.

        2 Replies
        1. re: pickypicky

          I, too, enjoy Marfa, but do note that it is off of I-10 about 45 miles. It would be a more interesting place to spend an evening than Fort Stockton.

          1. re: pickypicky

            This is great! Thank you, pickypicky. These are just the kinds of gems I'm looking for. I'd much rather drive a bit off of our route to have a better evening. I'll def put Marfa on our route! This sounds right up my alley.

          2. Damn, if it was Phoenix I'd say pizzeria bianco

            1. In Tucson I would recommend Feast
              and Beyond Bread
              That's just from when I was there

              1. In the Imperial Valley, look for Quesadillas Especial at any decent taco shop.

                I can get you that far, but that's about it.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Fake Name

                  We could never find any decent taco shops along I8, and lord knows we tried. I made my husband drive around El Centro for an hour. But if I ever find one, I'll now know what to order.

                  1. re: pickypicky

                    Celias 1530 Adams Avenue El Centro, Ca

                    More of a sit-down. but ragged enough around the edges that it has that "taco shop" feel to it.

                    1. re: Fake Name

                      My fave in El Centro used to be El Sombrero across from the County Courthouse...they made the best Mex....this was back when I wore puka shells and a Farrah feather haircut..

                      1. re: Fake Name

                        Celia's makes a pretty solid quesadilla especial. I also like the one at El Zarape, in the town of Imperial, about a 7-10 mins drive from the I-8. Mariscos Puerto Nuevo is another decent option (and has the biggest selection of Mexican bottled hot sauces I've seen). I believe Sombreros is now gone.

                        A couple of other options in El Centro, if you happen to pass by at mealtime, are China Palace and Exotic Thai Bistro. The food is decent, but what is more interesting is the Mexican influence on Asian cooking (goes back to the history of the region's Asian community). The curries at Thai bistro felt like a cross between caldo and curry. Perhaps not a destination restaurant, but worth a stop if you're in the region.

                  2. Date Shack on the I-8 about an hour from Yuma, AZ at Dateland...
                    El Charro in Tucson or The Tack Room (old hacienda..drinks and app's if you don't want the fancy dinner)


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Beach Chick

                      We ate dates all the way from SD to TX . They've remodeled and gotten fancy,but the dates are still the best.

                      1. re: pickypicky

                        Check out "Ester's Follies" in Austin. Comedy, political satire, and magic show. Gets my high-est recommendation.

                    2. Thanks everyone!
                      Looks like we'll make a pitstop in Yuma for the DateShack (this is an exciting tip! can't wait for this!) and snack on those till Tucson. Plenty of great sounding options in Tucson - totally covered there for good food and fun.
                      Then on to Marfa for our next overnighter - that's about an 8hr haul, so if anyone has any recommendation between Tucson and Marfa, say in like Las Cruces or somewhere in between, for a lunch stop that'd be great!
                      Then, from Marfa we'll pitstop in Junction to eat some badass bbq that I've heard about from some friends and then onto Killeen - we'll do Austin later - I just said Austin in my initial post to make it an easier target for everyone. We are actually going to TX to welcome my brother and his unit home from Afghanistan that weekend. He's a blackhawk pilot, this is his second tour and we are so ready for him to be home! He hasn't seen his son since he was one week old - so I'm helping my SIL and my nephew make the move from SD to TX. It's going to be a great week, I can feel it! We'll be celebrating the entire drive!
                      Thanks all for the recommendations and keep 'em coming if you have any more ideas!

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: lisamarie77

                        God Bless your brother for his service...please give him a big kiss from me!

                        My MIL raves about this place in Las Cruces...she get the pineapple, pecan chicken salad and FIL gets a green chile burger..
                        On the date shack, it's so good and different..who would of thunk to put dates in a shack..it's about an hour east of Yuma..cheap and good.
                        Have a safe wonderful trip!


                        1. re: Beach Chick

                          Thanks! I'll def be kissing him up a storm! I'll make sure one from you gets in. :)

                          1. re: Beach Chick

                            Good grief, that place looks amazing! Just the menu alone, add in that old school ambience! What a gem!

                            1. re: lisamarie77

                              Menu looks fab and the place is darling..it's haunted too!

                              I'm going to make that chicken salad with roasted pecans and chunks of pineapple.
                              Report back lisa..

                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                I WILL! I just called my SIL and must have said the word "HAUNTED!" about five dozen times. You hit the nail on the head. This trip is getting better and better by the moment.

                            1. re: hawkeyeui93

                              I did say, no bbq until Austin, but since yall aren't Texans, you can stop at Cooper's and won't know the dif and you will need to eat.

                              1. re: pickypicky

                                I would at least tell her Cooper's in Llano is much, much better .....

                                1. re: hawkeyeui93

                                  I smiled just reading your words and could smell the pit as we walked up.

                                2. re: pickypicky

                                  I dunno. Nashville is pretty close to Memphis and we get some pretty good bbq around here. But, I'm not schooled on Texas bbq. I'm sure I'd like my first experience to be something that might not make me miss Tennessee so much.

                                  1. re: lisamarie77

                                    I grew up near Kansas City and have had plenty of BBQ in Memphis and North Carolina as well. With that being said, Texans make great smoked/dry beef BBQ [and secondarily sausage]. When it comes to pork, especially ribs, Memphis-Style is great [with North Carolina being the place for pulled pork]. Kansas City is the alternative to Texas to beef, albeit a wet-style BBQ. However, a perfectly smoked and fresh, juicy brisket in Texas cannot be beat.

                            2. I've done this drive before, the 10 is really boring. If you are doing this just for fun, you might want to consider taking the 40 instead, it is much more scenic than the 10 which is just brown dust the whole way. At least on the 40, you can pass through Albuquerque

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: chezwhitey

                                That would be ideal, but time is a bit of a factor. Need to make it to Killeen,TX in three days. So, unfortunately, we'll have to big road it and make the best of what we can find. Though, being a southerner, I'd sure love to take in more of the landscape than I will get from the 10.

                              2. Blacks BBQ in Lockhart, Texas. Been there a few times, most excellent barbecue.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: deckape

                                  Black's is one of my favorites, but it is hard to miss in Lockhart with Kreuz or Smitty's being there as well ...

                                2. Do not miss Prada Marfa. I don't think you CAN miss it, but just a head's up. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prada_Marfa