We just returned from a Labor Day weekend trip to Raleigh, North Carolina. We had occasion to eat out on I-85 three times. All three places were very good – not great.
Our first was the above mentioned Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg where we ordered Cheeseburgers. Janis’ was burger only and mine was A Plenty, which added $4 to the $2.25 Cheeseburger. The fries and onion rings were good – enough in one order for both of us. The onion rings were a bit more limp than we prefer, but tasty just the same. We found the sweet tea and lemonade at $1.25 each to be very good – according to our tastes.
We returned on Labor Day, and hoped to have bbq in Lexington, North Carolina – but we couldn’t find a place that was open. We ate at Shoto Japanese Steakhouse & Seafood, 17 North Main Street. The meal was tasty and reasonable. Janis ordered Lemon Garlic Chicken ($5.99) and I had Sesame Scallops ($7.99) – both came with fried rice, mixed vegetables and soup or salad. They are open 11am-9pm (10:30pm on Friday and Saturday) seven days per week.
Dinner was at La Esmeralda Mexican Restaurant, 6072 Hwy 53, Braselton, Georgia – just west of I-85 on the north side of GA 53 in a small strip shopping center. They are open most, or all nights, until 10pm. Janis ordered Quesadilla Relleno for $4.95 and I had Pollo Fundido (chunks of chicken in a cheese sauce) for $6.50. Mine came with rice and a small salad. Very pleasant service from the all male staff.
All three places were excellent when compared to the fast food options we were otherwise facing.
When on I_85 in NC, try Backcountry Bar-B_Q in Linwood (past Lexington). Take the Linwood exit from I-85. Go south for 1 mile. Joint is on the right across from the the (Lexington) furniture plant.
Easy off and on from the interstate and BBQ is good.
Signman, sounds like a great trip with mostly excellent road food. Too bad you didn’t get to try McLeans in Richmond.
Brent, You are right about the sauce at Stamey’s. It definitely was tomato based, and I actually was expecting it to pour out a little thicker because of the appearance, but then I remembered where I was. But what a finish.
Make no mistake about Harris Teeter… It’s one of the nicest grocery stores anywhere. I’m only sorry that the closest one to me is in Northern Virginia. I wish I had easy access to Dillards Department Stores too, but that’s a whole other story for a different website.
We, too, have struggled with where to eat on I-85 north of Atlanta. Thank you all for the reports. We will do much better on our next trip north because of all of you at Roadfood. Now, I need to plan the next trip so that we will depart Atlanta on a Tuesday through Saturday schedule. Sunday and Monday departures are no more.
Signman, thanks for the report; I enjoyed reading it. Too bad about the high prices at Buz & Ned’s…and the dumb tax. The city of Richmond stupidly puts a sur-tax on restaurant sales, while the surrounding counties do not…4.5% state sales tax only as far as I know. A big disadvantage to the city places…and their customers.
Thanks for the report, signman.
One little nit. I don’t believe that sauce you had at Stamey’s was Eastern NC style. Stamey’s is firmly in the Lexington BBQ camp and its sauce, IIRC, has a bit of tomato in it. In NC, both Eastern and Lexington-style sauces are thin and vinegary so it is a subtle difference; though one about which many feuds have been started.
Harris Teeter is the nicest grocery store chain that we have in the Carolinas. They carry more quality items than most of the other stores.
Sorry, forgot one of the other outstanding stops on the trip, and the reason that I spent the night in Chapel Hill. It’s a place a Roadfooder would love, but which sells no Roadfood.
It’s A SOUTHERN SEASON gourmet grocery store in the University Mall in Chapel Hill, just a few miles off I-40. I had seen this place on the Food Network’s Food Finds, several years ago, and this was the first chance that I had to visit. This is a 50,000 square foot store which strangely enough sells almost no traditional groceries, and surprisingly does not even have that large a bakery or prepared foods operation. It started as a gift basket kind of store with gourmet kitchen appliances. It is now a full kitchen housewares operation with a very large coffee bean department, expansive selection of gourmet grocery items, such as hot sauces, mustards, bbq sauces, rubs, spices, etc. It is a wonderful place to do gift shopping.
Since I’m not a cook, I didn’t examine every aisle in detail, but this is one hell of a place. The only other store I’ve been to that compares, is Central Market in Texas, but Central is much more a prepared food and grocery store.
The only purchase I made was a 4 pak of Sprecher’s Root Beer. I had never seen this in any store I’d been to, and it was the most touted brand in a recent Root Beer thread. Haven’t tried it yet though.
I would have liked to have spent more time at A Southern Season, and even wished I had a gift list to fulfil. This is one place you want to see for yourself. And for those groceries, there’s a Harris Teeter in the back of the University Mall.
Stephen Rushmore Jr.
Back from my I-85 roadtrip and 4 days later still suffering intestinal distress which so far I attribute to all the junk (I mean Roadfood) I consumed. Sumthin’ wern’t right summair.
Day one, the nonstop drive from Baltimore to Atlanta went very well with only a stop at Stamey’s BBQ in Greensboro. I think the chopped pork sandwich was $2.25, fries were 89 cents and the peach cobbler was $1.20.
The bbq was topped with red slaw and was a lot of meat for the price. I added lots of eastern style thin vinegar based sauce and was rewarded with a fiery kick long after the sandwich was finished. For the money this couldn’t be beat. My last visit here was about 30 years ago when I was a BBQ neophyte, but there on the property is a hugh pile of wood underneath the rusting canopies of what used to be the drive-in carhop area. I don’t know when the present building was constructed, but it’s as nice as can be. I do know Stamey’s has it’s origins in the revered Lexington pits and has been operating for something like 70 plus years.
Dinner in Atlanta was a spicy Shrimp & Grits at the Rock Bottom Brewery. Since I’m not a beer drinker, I had never been to one of this chains outlets. I did have the brewed on site Root Beer, which was no prize winner.
Day 2 gave me the opportunity to visit the Varsity in Midtown Atlanta. My last visit was about 7 years ago. I’ve always enjoyed it here, and this time I was very very pleased with the chili slaw dogs. I’d always remembered the slaw topping to be very finely chopped and not that plentiful. Maybe I’m confusing the Varsity dogs with someplace else, but I was very favorably impressed with the very generous slightly coarser slaw on these dogs. They were the most memorable single meal of the trip. Fries and rings were fresh and greasy, eat them while they are hot, and the Frosted Orange always satisfies. I probably would have gone for 2 more dogs if I wasn’t meeting up for a nice dinner.
The nice dinner was at Lenox Square Mall at a restaurant named Club House. There are 2 others, one in California and one in the Chicago suburbs. Portions were Cheesecake FActory sized and of comparable quality. Anyone else familiar with this operation?
Heading north on Day 3 my first stop was in Anderson, SC at the original Skin Thrashers. I had read that it was hard to find, well that’s an understatement, and the fact that the mansard roof was being repaired and there was no sign didn’t help. It’s in the middle of a long established neighborhood, and while I certainly would welcome a place like this in my neighborhood, the chili dogs were okay, good but nothing super special.
The stop I was looking forward to the most was the Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg, SC. And it was the most disappointing. The nicest thing I can say is that the quality and quantity of the ice was outstanding. Little jagged nuggets, my favorite kind. They are used in their famous super sweet iced tea, and way too sweet lemonade. I like iced tea with lots of fresh squeezed lemons and no sugar, ever, so I guess I was in the wrong place from the get go. I knew the tea was not my style, but I’ve never had lemonade totally devoid of tartness. I had an Outside Pork a Plenty. This is a chopped pork on a large bun topped with literally handfuls of onion rings and fries. The onion rings were good while they were hot, the fries totally tasteless, and the pork had a few large chunks that could have choked a horse. In my book this is one of those places that you have to experience once. It was a lot of food for the money, but someone will still have to explain to me how a pork sandwich alone is $3.75 and as an "A Plenty" is $6.75 while a plain hot dog is $1.25 but as an "A Plenty" is the same $6.75.
Day 4 was a Sunday, and so while I passed Lexington, I knew everything would be closed.
Final day started in Chapel Hill NC with a very good breakfast biscuit at a small regional chain cal,20,95046.020,1,6809,220.127.116.11
95065,95046,95046,2004-08-27 14:46:35,RE: I-85 Richmond to Atlanta and back – TRIP REPORT”
I am trying to read Signmans latest reply on his trip from Richmond to Atlanta and back, but when I try to read this one-all I get is the last entry submitted on 8-15-04!!
Whoops, signman, I forgot you were going to be in Charlotte on Sunday. Anyway, my recommendations for the Triangle are good for Monday, as well.
In Charlotte, on Sunday morning, let me think….One gripe I have about this town is that there are no really great indigenous breakfast places. Sure, you can get fried eggs and grits, pancakes and sausages, just like any other southern town. What I would like is a place that does something different – a place that makes its own baked goods or makes dishes like breakfast burritos or french toast with artisanal bread.
In Charlotte, everybody goes to Anderson’s or the Pancake House, neither of which is anything special. One idea is to go to the Landmark Diner, a place that Ort Carlton mentioned earlier on this thread. The clientele can be interesting and the food is OK, just don’t expect anything unusual.
If you’re inclined for a mini-splurge, let me recommend a downtown spot for brunch – Bistro 100. For $16.95, they do a Sunday brunch tasting menu starting at 11:00. http://www.levyrestaurants.com/Levy/Menus/Restaurants/Bistro+100/Bistro+100+Brunch+Menu.htm
They will start you off with some wonderful muffins/pastries and then you can choose from among seven "tasting" dishes. Each one is just a few bites. When we go, we order three dishes apiece. They bring them sequentially. Then, if we still have room, we’ll each order another dish. In theory, you can try all seven for $16.95, but we’ve never had room for more than four dishes, especially after gorging on the muffins and pastries.
Where do you go in Charlotte on Sunday morning?
Unfortunately, signman, Allen & Son is closed on Sunday and Monday.
Let me make two recommendations for you for Sunday.
For breakfast, go to Foster’s Market. There are two locations, one in Chapel Hill and one in Durham http://www.fostersmarket.com/dining_intro.htm I’ve only been to the one in Durham so I cannot comment on the Chapel Hill location. Think Dean & Deluca meets Whole Foods Market and mix it with some college town funkiness and you’ll get the picture. Great breakfast pastries and burritos, omelettes, granola, etc.
For lunch, go to the Q Shack in Durham http://www.theqshack.com/about.html You can take your pick of mesquite smoked Texas brisket, hickory smoked pork or St. Louis ribs. The sides are great, too.
It’s Sunday morning here in Charlotte and, thinking of those two places, I’m ready to hop into the car and make a road trip.[:D]
Thanks for all the great suggestions so far. Keep em coming.
Here’s a little more detail. On Saturday I will most likely see the Knights play, so might be able to do a fish camp near Gastonia, or will be looking for a late night meal after the game. I’m staying in downtown Charlotte. Is Open Kitchen still recommended. I went there 30 years ago. Are they open late? Then I will need a good Sunday morning breakfast in Charlotte before taking my time to Chapel Hill for Sunday night. So Sunday will have lots of time available for eating and exploring along the way from Charlotte to Chapel Hill (Brent, could use more detail on Allen & Sons).
Monday I can waste a little time in the Chapel Hill Durham area for breakfast and some late morning BBQ before heading north. Once I hit Richmond I’m good, but would love to know about any places between Durham and Richmond.
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