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How far are you willing to drive for a good restaurant?

I'm not talking special occasion, or making a vacation out of it. Just a normal night of the week or weekend. just because its not a special occasion doesn't mean compromises need to happen!

but my question to you is, how far is too far? at what point does going out just become not worth the trip?

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  1. two hours would be stretching it....but only if there was a reservation.

    3 Replies
    1. re: fourunder

      is there a particular restaurant you have in mind that youd drive two hours for?

      1. re: mattstolz

        I live in Northern New Jersey.....any restaurant in NYC or the Outer Boroughs could qualify depending on traffic......but to name one, Peter Luger. In New Jersey, there's a place about 90 minutes away where I would drive for their Stuffed Sole...Jimmy's in Asbury Park

        When I was younger and People's Express was operating.....we used to hop on the Boston Shuttle to eat at the original Legal Sea Foods location.....the flight cost $18.

        1. re: fourunder

          Were I in Jersey, I would say, Le Bernadine, Restaurant Daniel or Per Se, but would probably hire a car, as we love our wines, and would NOT want to be driving back.


    2. Drive? If I can't walk to the restaurant from my house I don't go. The only reason I will drive to a restaurant is to have a meal with siblings which means finding a rendezvous point that works for all of us that live within 100 mile range of each other.

      4 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        do you live in a metropolitan area? where i live, within walking distance there is a ruby tuesdays and a longhorn steakhouse. possibly a dunkin donuts if ive really got my walkin shoes on. this would really limit my eating out!

        to pretty much never.

        1. re: mattstolz

          I live in a city of 150,000 but I live downtown. There are no chain dinner restaurants in our downtown but within a 15 minute walk I can have traditional French, Italian-American, Steakhouse, Irish Pub, California Modern, Sushi, Korean plus lots of casual burger and taco joints.

        2. re: escondido123

          Wow, you must live in Central Park.

          While I could walk to a few restaurants, I would probably not do so, as there are no sidewalks around the golf course, that surrounds my home, and there IS a busy street, when the golf course runs out - and one must navigate that. I envy you, but then would not trade me suburbs for an inner-urban home.



        3. nup, don't drive to restaurants - am willing to take one bus only (not two or bus+train) unless it something super-special.
          I don't like driving because then someone has to be sober driver! It's the being aware about it I don't like, not necessarily the only having one (which I often do, I just like having the option of having a second!) and there's no need where we live.

          3 Replies
          1. re: piwakawaka

            That is why we normally hire a towncar, or bid on them, at charity auctions - we love our wines, and do not want to drive afterward.

            However, for great food, and in many places, we just get a room near-by, and that takes care of it. We have done that in Hawai`i, in the UK and also locally. In almost every instance, it has been well worth it.


            1. re: piwakawaka

              I agree about the sober driver part: if I plan to have alcohol with dinner I plan to either walk or take public transportation. I live within walking distance of a lot of good places so it's not a problem: I've been known to take the train to San Francisco (about an hour each way outside of commute hours) for lunch or dinner on occasion. Exceptions are brew pubs (my goal is to visit every one in the US) when on a road trip: I'll go up to a half hour out of the way to get to one I'm not likely to visit again soon.

              1. re: tardigrade

                We do similar, when dining out - cab, or walk. We love our wines too much.

                Now, and only slightly off-topic, we had dined at a restaurant on Maui for lunch several times, as we always were staying across the Island. I found out that the restaurant also had an inn, which was sort of a B&B setup, with cottages near the restaurant. We were gifted a stay at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, across the Island. The accommodations were out of this world, but we declined the last two free days, and paid for those last nights at that inn. I was staying 20' from the restaurant. We were finally able to do dinner, and I got to dive deeply into the wine list. All I had to do was stumble to our cottage. It was worth it.

                No driving included, but only a few steps on a footpath, but I do not regret turning down those two nights for free, across the Island.


            2. An hour for sure...but it will have to be something special. On the other hand, I have traveled thousands of miles to enjoy the foods of either a specific restaurant, a city, or a region.

              1. Half an hour to an hour travel time, one way, no problem. But I live in a large city, so if something isn't walking distance or a very short bus ride away, an hour is not that unusual a travel time.

                1. I don't have a car, so I think of things in walking/subway/bus time and cab fare. I'll spend an hour or so on the subway/bus or spend $20 or so on a cab for a "normal" night out.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LeoLioness

                    45 minutes to an hour, one way, is pretty common for us. It's a 15 minute drive to anything.

                  2. For pilots, there is always a breakfast fly-in somewhere.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Veggo

                      Or the $50 BLT when av gas cost less...don't know current price.

                      1. re: Veggo

                        We have done that.

                        To keep an airline status, we are flying to Tokyo, to dine at an acquaintance's restaurant, so guess that my earlier 500 mile statement pales. Let's say 7,000 miles?


                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          this sounds like its bordering on special occasion? haha

                          1. re: mattstolz

                            We will MAKE it a "special occasion."


                      2. Since it takes between 90 and 120 minutes depending on traffic to get from my home in CT to Peter Luger's in Brooklyn thta would be my benchmark.

                        I drive into NY at least twice a month to dine and the outer boros are worth the drive.

                        1. Locally, an hour or thereabouts isn't unreasonable. Often, the issue isn't so much the length of the drive as the additional expense of parking in the city, which can easily run $25.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: CindyJ

                            i definitely understand the parking issue. it makes a dinner a lot more expensive when you have to pay 15-25 bucks on top of the meal just to park!

                          2. I live in central NJ and regularly drive the 90+minutes over 2 rivers,crosstown Manhattan to Richmond Queens just for good Thai food.

                            1. I would not do an out and back just to eat at a restaurant. I will make a day of it, including the stop to eat, so it is more of a whole package.

                              Living at the Jersey Shore, the supermarkets are very generic. So I do Asian food shopping days. Both places I like to visit are about an hour's drive, so the shopping, the food and other area shopping all becomes part of the day.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Quine

                                That is similar to what we often do. We will book a room, dine and stay. Works well.


                              2. I'm in the 45 minutes to 1 hour range, but that is stretching it. I don't go to many restaurants that require more than a half an hour drive.

                                1. The most we usually justify is an hour for non special. I have a rule that if I don't spend at least the same amount of time in a place as I do in the car it isn't really worth it. Typically it is more like 30 minutes. We leave about that fat from Harrisburg and go there usually once a week to eat out.

                                  1. Normal, spur of the moment, drive to a restaurant would be 35 to 40 miles which works out to 1 hour max depending upon traffic. If traffic is bad where travel time is greater than 1 hour, we'll skip the place.

                                    1. We used to regularly drive an hour for a Saturday night dinner. Now that we have a kiddo, we stick closer to home and I need to really be craving something to travel more than 30 minutes.

                                      4 Replies
                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          I'd drive anywhere within the state (RI). Of course, 35 minutes in any direction gets me either into another state or the ocean. Then again, it would have to be quite special to get me to drive more than 20 minutes just to have dinner.

                                          1. re: Clams047

                                            I used to live in Providence. And there too, we only went to restaurants we could walk to--but since we were just minutes from lots of great restaurants that was never a handicap.

                                        2. Like another poster, I usually do not drive to a restaurant unless it is for a special occasion I have been invited to. I am fortunate enough to live in a city that has many restaurants within walking distance plus live across the river from NYC and can get there by mass transportation. To me, going to a good restaurant usually means a starting cocktail and sharing a bottle of wine with my partner. Maybe even an after-dinner drink. In no way am I getting in a car after that!

                                          1. I live in a really small town primarily filled with mediocre pizza places and fast food. Any meal out is pretty much at least a 20 minute drive. We have regular spots that are 30-45 minutes away, and 2 favorites that we try to get to as often as we can that are just over an hour.

                                            1. 3 hours or so round trip from Laguna Beach to LA.

                                              1. 45-1 hour. We live outside of town.

                                                Though in recent years, Tuesday nights downtown have become less and less common.

                                                We often venture out on Sunday nights.

                                                1. Granted it has been awhile, but used to drive from Philadelphia to New Haven for Sally's pizza, have dinner and then return, whole journey took about 9-10 hours. Over the years did it about 6-7 times, totally worth it.

                                                  9 Replies
                                                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                    That's about how many times I have detoured off the NJ Turnpike and across the Walt Whitman bridge to 43rd & Locust for a sandwich at Koch's take out.

                                                    1. re: Veggo

                                                      But, wasn't that worth the time?


                                                      PS - I know that you have hired a float plane to dine in Havana, but we will not speak of that.

                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        I'm sorry to hear we won't be speaking of that ;)

                                                    2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                      a person after my own heart...
                                                      I am a New Haven Native and a Sally's diehard.
                                                      40 years ago, I went to college in Philadelphia, I didn't have a car there, but for $22 student fare, I could fly from Philadelphia to New Haven on an Allegheny Airlines Convair 440 turboprop, have a high school buddy meet me at Tweed airport, be at Sally's in 10 Minutes, eat my Apizza made without mozzarella, back to Tweed, fly back to Philadelphia. Roundtrip dorm---Sally's---Dorm in about 4 hours and my parents never knew I'd been home>>>>>>
                                                      Until one Saturday night when they were at Sally's and Flo Consiglio told my mom I had popped in from college Thursady night for apizza and that my mom must be so happy to have me home for the weekend!!!!

                                                      Mom was POd, butr dad laughed and reminded her that they used to sneak up to Brooklyn for cheesecake from Washington DC during WWII and didn't let either set of my grandparents know they were in town

                                                      1. re: bagelman01

                                                        bagel, I think you, deluca and I are the Penn alumni club here...the two of you make me wish I had eaten at Pepe's and Sally's twice as often as I did, growing up so nearby.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          Pre-child, we would drive 2.5-3 hours to Philly for cheese steaks.

                                                      2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                                                        Which is better Tacconelli's or Sally's?

                                                      3. I live 11 miles from a "highway to anywhere" so 1/2 hour is a necessity to eat at ANY restaurant. I routinely drive 125 miles (roundtrip to San Antonio) to eat at a good restaurant. I go at least once every 10 days or so, but that's for lunch. I hardy ever go out for dinner but when
                                                        I do, it's the one hour, round trip that I make.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: amazinc

                                                          Well....I really hate to admit this but we drove from Lompoc, California to Seattle to visit and restaurant that we absolutely loved only to find out later that is was a chain and they had a restaurant in LA. BUT that was way long before we knew what really good food was!

                                                          1. re: sharhamm

                                                            We drove from Manhattan to Portland Maine once to eat at Jay's Oysters just to find out it burned down the night before.

                                                              1. re: sharhamm

                                                                But think of the scenery!

                                                                Hope that it was worth the effort.


                                                              2. re: amazinc

                                                                San Antonio?

                                                                That was my "500 mile deviation" above. Going between New Orleans and Denver, we deviated to San Antonio, just to dine, and then absorbed the new route, without hesitation.


                                                              3. I don't bat an eye at 45 minutes to Napa or San Francisco. 60-70 minutes to Sonoma is an event. The only thing within walking distance of my homed is a 7-11, but there are decent Thai, sushi, and Mexican restaurants whithin walking distance of my office for lunch.

                                                                1. So craving Lotus of Siam in Vegas that I'm thinking of doing a one night road trip to eat dinner and lunch the next day and take my cooler for some to go items...from San Diego to Vegas is about 5+ hours each way, plus the gas, the room at the Trump/Wynn...and 100 degree heat.
                                                                  This is to hold me over till September..

                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                    You are after my heart. For the right food, what's a few hours on the highway?

                                                                    Of course, we both live in the "Wild West," where there are 100's of miles, between stops, so it is not uncommon to just take a "little drive," for the right food. Some "Easterners" might just never understand.

                                                                    Luckily, wife's "exotic, German touring sedan" gets about 28 MPG, if I am driving (22 MPG, if she is driving), so it is not THAT big a deal.


                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                      Aloha Bill..
                                                                      What's a few hours on the highway for the right food...exactly!
                                                                      September in PHX..

                                                                      Back in the day before In and Out came to San Diego, we all would drive to Mission Viejo for a double double..when gas was $1.50 a gallon and driving to the OC wasn't a nightmare.

                                                                      1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                        Hey, we have actually flown 3000 miles, just to dine (though usually at several restaurants), but I did not count those.

                                                                        Please e-mail me, as we are mostly in-town in Sept, though things can (and often do) change.

                                                                        I am not sure exactly what the OP was shooting for. I commented on driving for a restaurant, but with an "over-night," where they could well have intended restaurants, where one would drive to, and from, in one night. I am just not sure. If the latter, then my comments are OT.

                                                                        In town, we often dine many miles away, but always do a "towncar," as we both love our wines, and my poor wife should not have to pass, just because she'd the DD. That is absolutely not fair.

                                                                        Heck, we have passed on free nights at a top-level resort, and paid for an inn, just to do some serious dining (see the Hawaii Board). We just will not drive, after some great wines, and will make arrangements.

                                                                        Hope to see 'ya,


                                                                  2. For us it would be about an hour. We live in the suburbs north of NYC and it could take us 30 minutes to midtown or 60 minutes, depending on traffic. But we also venture to NJ, Brooklyn, CT, etc. for good food.

                                                                    We average about 4 hours out when we have a babysitter on weekends, so if you figure an hour drive, 2 hours in a restaurant, and an hour drive home, that's our night. If we go to a movie, we will stay local for dinner.

                                                                    1. Just did it today....

                                                                      One hour from LA to Laguna Beach...needed to see one of my favorite views in the world and the fond memories that go with it with my family.
                                                                      Raya @ the RC Laguna...sitting at the window overlooking the Pacific watching the surfers and the walk up and down the hill....
                                                                      Couldn't be better, soothed the soul and very much worth the drive.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                        A wonderful spot...excellent food, drink,and service...and a view that's tough to beat. Nowhere in the same league for food or ambiance, but if it's the ocean that beckons...the Beachcomber in Crystal Cove is right on the sand, and Splashes in Laguna is just over the beach.

                                                                        1. re: josephnl

                                                                          I'm definitely going to make a point of going to Beachcomber in the next few weeks. I've heard very nice things about it....
                                                                          Thanks for reminding me :).

                                                                      2. I use to drive 30+ minutes just to go out to eat but usually it would be tagged onto a shopping trip. Farthest I have ever driven to go eat was 2 hours because me and my friends were all craving Vietnamese and we didn't want to cook it. And closest Vietnamese restaurant at that time was 2 hours away, at least we were able to get Asian groceries while we were at it.

                                                                        1. I seldom dine out on a weeknight but I will drive an hour on the weekend.

                                                                          1. During the summer, we'll often travel about 2 hours each way to get to Maryland's Eastern Shore for steamed crabs and cold beer with a view of the Chesapeake from an outdoor deck. We make a day of it, and it feels like we're on vacation.

                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                                              But the OP said "not making a vacation of it" so not sure if that counts ;)

                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                I just can't help it if a destination dining experience ends up feeling like a vacation. :-)

                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                  OK, and if I leave out the "overnight," then I would say that going out with Veggo (he's a multi-engine pilot) to Phenom Phen for dinner, with an immediate return, was probably about the greatest distance. Now, I slept on the way back to LA, but that should not count - right?


                                                                              2. A few months ago, I drove to Portland from Eugene, Oregon and had mediocre dim sum. I got back in my car and drove home. That's about 4+ hours total driving.

                                                                                If you like vegan food you'll love Eugene. If you love Asian food, you'll wish you were somewhere else.

                                                                                1. Normal night? 30 minutes is a stretch. It has to be a really bad craving for that kind of a drive. But as a small "major metropolitan city" I can get around rather easily by car.

                                                                                  1. I have a buddy who regularly drives from Philly to Baltimore for pizza and from Philly to State College, PA for ice cream.

                                                                                    1. I flew across the country on a Thursday afternoon by myself to eat at the french laundry then flew home on Friday morning ><

                                                                                      Under normal circumstances, I think the cut off is about an hour.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: twyst

                                                                                        Not that long ago, we flew from SFO to ORD, to dine at a restaurant, but did overnight (seems that might constitute a "vacation?"), and flew back the next AM.

                                                                                        Stuff happens,


                                                                                      2. In the past, I have driven ~ 500 miles, just to dine at a particular restaurant, though that was in addition to an already 1200 mile trip. It was worth the detour.

                                                                                        If one looks closely at the Michelin 3-Star rating, it states, "worth driving to," or similar syntax.

                                                                                        I agree completely. A decent restaurant is worth the stop. A good restaurant is worth deviating, or changing plans, but a great restaurant, is worth driving an extra day, just to experience.


                                                                                        1. On the weekend, an hour. I will drive more, but then I want it to be a) extremely special or b) a multi-purpose destination (e.g., really great shopping + good food). There's also c) really good company, guaranteeing me great conversation for the duration.

                                                                                          1. depends if we're talking about stop and go city/freeway rush hour driving, or
                                                                                            a lovely drive along the coast

                                                                                            14 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                              After some serious thinking, I wonder the same, or very similar too.

                                                                                              My comments were on traveling to dine, but with an overnight to accommodate that. If the OP wants "drive to - drive from," then I am well off-base.


                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                Yes, the operative words were "drive," "not special occasion" and "vacation." Most of us would love to live in a world where every meal was by jet to the best place in the world, but that's not going to be happening...except to you I guess.

                                                                                                1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                  Yes, that was probably my mistake.

                                                                                                  How far would I drive to a restaurant, and then drive back home that night?

                                                                                                  Well, not that far, as we both love our wines, so would call our limo service, and not try to drive. Then, it would be about 45 miles, in any direction.


                                                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                    Hunt...it's obviously very smart of you to use a Town Car or limo service when you dine if you anticipate drinking a significant amount of wine. I immediately thought of you when I received this email from a friend of mine. Have you ever considered this less expensive alternative?

                                                                                                    "I would like to share an experience with you, about drinking and driving. As you well know, some of us have been known to have had brushes with the authorities on our way home from the odd social session over the years. A couple of nights ago, I was out for a few drinks with some friends at the Marriott Hotel and had a few too many cocktails and some rather nice red wine. Knowing full well I may have been slightly over the limit, I did something I've never done before: I took a bus home. Sure enough I passed a police road block but as it was a bus, they waved it right past. I arrived home safely without incident, which was a real surprise; as I have never driven a bus before and am not even sure where I got it."

                                                                                                    Sounds like a great idea!

                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                      In Phoenix, the bus service is not the best. Same for cabs (they will not come up to my neighborhood), so that is why we stalk silent charity auctions for "limo rides." We did the same in Denver, and almost always used those to ferry friends and us, to The Flagstaff House, in Boulder.

                                                                                                      As we use one service in PHX, we usually just call them, and tell 'em that it's a personal trip. The total trip is usually less than one fine bottle of wine, and well-worth it, IMHO.

                                                                                                      Along those lines (and maybe even in keeping with this topic), we were gifted a week at the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, through their support of a charity, that we are heavily active in. Great treat on their part. We cut that "free trip" short by two days, to move across Maui, and stay at the Inn at Mama's Fish House (for a very fair price, but certainly not free), so that we could, at last, enjoy their full wine list. While The Inn was very good, and only about 30 steps from the restaurant's front door, it was certainly not the 2800 sq ft, 2 bedroom condo, that Ritz had given us. This was done, just to safely drink the wines with our meals.

                                                                                                      Because of our wine consumption, we seldom will drive ourselves very far at all, but will travel great distances, just without us being at the wheel.

                                                                                                      If the OP meant "how far will you drive to dine [and then drive back that night]?" my answer would be - "not that far," as we both love our wines with dinner.

                                                                                                      Even going but a few miles in Honolulu, we take a cab to Alan Wong's, or Chef Mavro's, rather than drive back to the hotel. Just not worth it.


                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                        as I have never driven a bus before and am not even sure where I got it."

                                                                                                        your love of wine consumption must have made you miss that..

                                                                                                        1. re: fourunder

                                                                                                          I think Hunt needs to reread the tale...I meant it in jest, and thought it was pretty funny!

                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                            I read it as you intended.....and yes it was funny.. Just like when watching Frasier, Niles and Papa Crane have a drink every time someone said *veneer* while they were watching Antiques Road Show......but in this case a different word or phrase.

                                                                                                            1. re: josephnl

                                                                                                              I DID think that it was funny.


                                                                                                          2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                            So....you only drive a short distance after drinking a lot of wine?

                                                                                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                                                                                              Only short distances, like the two miles on private, back roads, between friends' houses. If we have had a "lot" of wine, then we just do a sleep-over. We also keep two bedrooms available for our guests, as well, plus our limo service has been used, on two occasions, and then we got them their car the next morning.

                                                                                                              When we are having much wine out, we just book a room, or hire our limo, and do not drive at all - even short distances, on private roads.


                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                You and some of your friends can access each other's houses exclusively on private roads?

                                                                                                                1. re: Chinon00

                                                                                                                  Yes. We live in a small, gated community, in the mountains above Phoenix.


                                                                                                2. In Honolulu it is hard to drive more than about 45 minutes, except in rush hour, and I'm not driving more than 7 miles at that time of day. But I have driven 45 minutes for meals that were only special because we decided it was worth the trip for no particular reason. Heck, i've driven that far on a sunday afternoon upon finding out that someone was here for over a week and never got to Matsumoto's for shave ice and they regretted it. Not exactly a special event, and I wasn't on vacation.

                                                                                                  When I am on vacation I often drive for an hour to an hour and a half to meet friends for dinner someplace they particularly like. While it may be a special event for me, these are drives that they don't consider unusual. Maybe not a daily occurrence, but well within their normal range.

                                                                                                  Until recently I couldn't get a decent pastrami sandwich here in Honolulu. So yes, I would drive 45 minutes across LA to get to Cantor's for a midnight snack (Langer's is also great, but not open 24 hours.) I suspect i would do the same even if I lived there.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: KaimukiMan

                                                                                                    Matsumoto's for shave ice....

                                                                                                    It's a 'special event' to me :) and I'd drive from Kahala for it any time of day.

                                                                                                  2. Special occasions aside, then it's a 60 minute drive time as indicated by the sat nav. One minute more means it doesnt get on our "to try " list.

                                                                                                    1. We live nowhere remotely near a good restaurant, let alone a great one, so we regularly drive three hours to the city to eat out (and stay the night). We live far away from anything so driving three hours is nothing, really. We would not bat an eye at driving six hours to eat at a wonderful place.

                                                                                                      1. It depends on who is cooking, right?

                                                                                                        My favorite cook is only an hour away. If he is cooking, I am going, cancelling everything else if there is a conflict. He only does pop-ups so I check his website everyday to catch as many of his anouncements as possible. Supose he moves, I will fly, from time to time as my resources allow, to where he settles.

                                                                                                        He is not cheap. I am spending a significant portion of my available money doing this crazy meal plan. Figure I will have to keep working until I drop. But when this boomer drops, she will drop with a happy smile on her face. Frankly, at this stage in life, no other pleasures compare to the highs one gets from eating good food, not even a single one, not close.

                                                                                                        1. I wouldn't do this, but my brother has driven to Monterey, CA (300 miles RT) because his wife wanted a *specific* bowl of clam chowder.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                            What specific bowl of clam chowder was this?

                                                                                                            1. re: Steve Green

                                                                                                              I don't know, I've never asked. I do know that they've made the trip more than once for the chowder.