Best of the Best

by Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

The Pacific Coast Highway never strays too far from the Beaches of Los Angeles County. Starting in Malibu, you can see the ocean throughout your drive. While Malibu is an upscale place, there are still opportunities to experience casual California beach eats at their best. Try some breakfast burritos from The Country Kitchen and fresh fish from Malibu Seafood, a shack still owned by fisherman. In Santa Monica the PCH crosses Route 66, and around the corner from the meeting of these two iconic American roads, you’ll find Cha Cha Chicken, a local favorite Caribbean beach shack.

In famously funky Venice Beach, the best snacks are in down the same alley right off the boardwalk. On the left you have the sensational salts of The Wee Chippy and on the right the fried to order mini donuts of Zelda’s Corner.

Passing the Marina and the LAX airport, you find yourself passing through the beach cities of Los Angeles’ South Bay. Sion’s Mexican Restaurant is deliciously downscale in Manhattan Beach, and right off the PHC. Down in Redondo Beach, great Indian and quirky dinner fare are available at Bollywood Zaika and Eat at Joe’s. Both line the last stretch of the highway, before the coast turns East towards Long Beach. This stretch of CA-1 takes you past some of California’s best beaches, picturesque coastal communities and great Roadfood.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Palm Springs is an eater’s oasis in the desert. If you come on I-10 from the west, stop in Cabazon at Hadley’s Fruit Orchards (where trail mix was invented) and at Crazy Coyote Tacos for hotter-than-hot sauce.

From the east, visit Shields Date Gardens in Indio for a date shake, date pancakes, and date ice cream. Also to the east, in Palm Desert, Mimmo’s Italian Restaurant and Bar serves memorable from-scratch Italian fare.

In Cathedral City, Tony’s Burgers is the place for extremely well-dressed hamburgers; and Salsas for inspired Mexican dishes (shrimp and seafood in particular).

In the city proper, we love Sherman’s Deli & Bakery for piled-high sandwiches and smoked fish; Frankinbun for artisan hot dogs; Felipe’s for blue-ribbon chilies rellenos and killer margaritas; Great Shakes for shakes and malts made to order; and Koffi for stylish caffeination along with beautiful pastries throughout the day.

Best of the Best

by Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

Anaheim is one of the most visited towns in the United States, but there is more to the area than just theme parks.  Great cheap, local eats are plentiful near Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm if you know where to look. Here are our picks for the 7 best casual restaurants near Disneyland.

Glee Donuts and Burgers is one of the best places to experience the classic combination of donuts and sweet Vietnamese coffee. Matiki Island BBQ is one of the best authentic Hawaiian smoke-shacks on the mainland. Right at Disney’s door is OC Tasty Chicken and Banh Mi. They offer excellent Vietnamese sandwiches with organic chicken.

While you’re in Orange County, you should make time to experience two of America’s best ethnic food boroughs, each are only a few miles from the theme park. First, in Santa Ana, you can find some of the best Mexican in the country, for corn based plates, go to Sariñana’s Tamale Factory, if you prefer flour tortillas, check out Burritos La Palma.

Finally, out in Westminster there are cultural influences of Korean, Chinese, and most prominently, Vietnamese immigrants. Grab a bag of crunchy, golden Vietnamese egg rolls at Phuc Loc Food to Go. Don’t you dare leave Southern California without trying a Chinese beef roll. Peking Restaurant does them better than anyone. Note that each of these restaurants is in a strip mall. Be prepared to circle some treacherous parking lots.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Avoid the tourist traps and overly-trendy spots, and opt for fantastic meals in these quintessential Nashville eateries that will be the highlight of any visit. Don’t be discouraged by the line of customers waiting to get in the Pancake Pantry. It moves fast, and forking into sweet potato pancakes with ginger cream syrup makes the wait worthwhile. Lunch at Arnold’s Country Kitchen is a taste of mid-south meat-and-three at its finest; a counter stool at the Elliston Place Soda Shop is a blast from the past (try the banana pudding!). If you are a spicy food lover, you can’t miss Nashville’s famous Hot Chicken, which was invented at Prince’s.  A short trip to the edge of town takes you fried chicken and country ham at the red-checked tables of the Loveless Cafe; and for a nightcap (and a superb cheeseburger) to round out the day, stop into Vanderbilt students’ favorite hangout, Rotier’s.

 

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Like the city itself, the restaurants of Augusta, Georgia, are astonishingly diverse. From cutting-edge dinner at award-winning Frog Hollow Tavern to an old-time family barbecue at the legendary Perry’s Pig, and from a pool hall with fantastic hamburgers (Sports Center) to a church-supper cafeteria (Honey From the Rock Cafe [just across from the Augusta National Golf Club]), the dining options are boundless. No food-focused visit is complete without a sandwich at Hildebrandt’s, a German deli that’s been around since 1879; and it’s a must to partake of a BBQ feast at the veritable smoke-house theme park known as Sconyer’s. If you’re vegan, there’s one-of-a-kind Humanitree House; if you’ve got a raging sweet tooth, no cakes are more magnificent than those at Boll Weevil Cafe & Sweetery; and for the best Mexican food in Dixie, astound your mouth at Taqueria el Rey.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Everyone knows that the Central Savannah River Area around Augusta, Georgia, is rich with BBQ, peach pie, fried chicken, Coastal seafood, and meat & 3 plate lunch. It also happens to be a nexus of superb Mexican food. Forget Taco Bell, Moe’s, and Chipotle and visit these unique gems for fresh, authentic, and original meals that resemble fast food only in their low prices.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Montgomery has great soul-food BBQ (at Brenda’s) and barn-party BBQ (at Fat Boy’s Bar-B-Que Ranch) and some of the best meat-and-3 anywhere (at Martin’s). Alabama’s capital city also reflects the Gulf Coast in glorious crab and fish at Jubilee Seafood. Here too is one of the largest stockyards in the east, where you will find a meat-lover’s paradise cafe: the Stockyards Grill (lunch only). For breakfast, check out the biscuits at Cahawba House or under-$1 donuts at Ross Donuts; and for diverse, upscale cafeteria lunch, Filet and Vine is a must. No visit is complete without a trip west, to Selma, and the legendary pulled pork at Lannie’s Bar-B-Q Spot.

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

Along with New Jersey, New York, and Chicago, Connecticut is one of the nation’s most elite hot dog hunting grounds — home of dozens of joints that make the cooking and dressing of wieners into a fine culinary art. There is no one style unique to the state — although deep-frying, as at Blackie’s and Rawley’s, is a hallmark of several of the great frank emporia; and ferocious relish, as at Blackie’s and Al’s, is to be expected. Needless to say, none of these cheap-eats shrines likely will be winning awards from the nutrition police (not even Kamp Dog, which shares a building with a natural/organic food co-op!).

Best of the Best

by Michael Stern

There is so much inferior soft-serve ice cream (aerated, chemically-flavored), that soft-serve in general has a bad reputation among ice cream lovers. But there are exceptions, soft-serve can be great! Whether authentic custard (containing egg yolks) or not, the soft-serve at these colorful Roadfood favorites is worth a detour.