1087 MILES | 18 hr 4 min | by Elan Mayhew

The 24th annual HOT ROD Power Tour is a seven-day, seven-city journey expected to bring together more than 6,000 vehicles and 100,000-plus spectators making it the largest traveling car-show in the world!

Starting in Bowling Green, KY, the route winds through Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, eventually ending in Concord, NC.

A region so rich in food culture and tradition deserves to be explored!  For those willing to get off the main road, who want to experience a true taste of the south, we have put together a list of the best local restaurants along the HOT ROD Power Tour route for authentic flavor and character.

Day 1 – If hankering for great BBQ, detour into Lebanon, Tennessee for Tom’s Blue Moon BBQ

Day 2 – In and around Birmingham, Alabama is a Roadfood bonanza. Best bets are: Niki’s West for a cafeteria with fantastic vegetables and desserts, Miss Myra’s Pit Bar B Q, the Alabama Biscuit Company, and, for a grand southern/Greek feast, Bright Star.

Day 3 – In Oxford, Alabama, there’s sophisticated/casual Dixie fare at Hubbard’s off Main. A slight detour east into Heflin takes you to Marie’s BBQ House. Just south of the Atlanta Motor Speedway is the Biscuit Shack: great for breakfast the next morning.

Day 4 – Fresh Air BBQ in Jackson, GA, opens at 8:00am. It’s the daddy of all Georgia BBQ parlors: simple, basic, delicious, and huge. In Thomson, GA, Sweet T’s is a memorable lunch stop for full-bore Dixie classics (with Elvis on the sound system). Passing just north of Augusta puts you close to Honey from the Rock, a church-run cafeteria with divine food, and Edgar’s Grille, a sophisticated dining room operated by hospitality students at Helms college. Just north of the highway in Lexington, South Carolina, is Kingsman Que and Brew for outlandish pimento cheeseburgers. Some of the South’s best BBQ is just north of Columbia at Big Boy’s Smokehouse.

Day 5 – When you get to Raleigh, NC, you want flame-broiled burgers at the locally-loved Char-Grill and chili-slaw dogs at the legendary Roast Grill.

Day 6 – The route takes you right through Lexington, which is home to what many believe is the best BBQ in North Carolina, maybe the best on earth: Lexington BBQ #1. A few of the must-eats in Charlotte are hometown favorite Lupie’s, Price’s Chicken Coop (dine on the grass across the street), and hip/delicious Zada Jane’s Corner Cafe. For good coffee, Parisian pastries, and funky décor 24/7, the place to go is Amelie’s French Bakery.


284 MILES | 4 hr 30 min | by Michael Stern

Five destination eateries across Kansas, all within minutes of Interstate 70. Heading east to west, we bid adieu to Kansas City with breakfast at Niecie’s, which opens at 5:30am to serve soulful biscuits and gravy, pancakes, and chicken and waffles. Stop at Porubsky’s Grocery in Topeka for cold-weather chili with nose-tingling horseradish pickles and at the Cozy Inn in Salina for a half dozen or more itty-bitty, pickle-topped burgers, served by the joint that invented the slider (in 1922). Two legendary chicken dinner restaurants line the route: the Brookville Hotel in Abeline and Al’s Chickenette out west in Hays.


125 MILES | 2 hr 31 min | by Maggie Rosenberg & Trevor Hagstrom

The trip from San Diego up to Los Angeles County is only 115 miles or so, but with treacherous Southern California gridlock, the drive could eat most of your day. Instead, why not spend the day eating? Starting in San Diego, one of the most historic morning meals in the West can be discovered with the various permutations of house ground masa and slow cooked beans at Las Cuatras Milpas. 

In the charming surf town of Carlsbad are the twin lunch temptations of beach-ready, picnic-packed sushi at Yoshino and expertly made sausages at Tip Top Meats. Around Newport Beach, you’ll need a pick-me-up: Nothing beats an American original sweet treat from frozen banana icon Sugar ‘N Spice.

At the Northern extreme of Orange County is The Pasty Kitchen, where hearty hand pies are filling and soulful. If you’re too full for these starch bombs, buy frozen pies for later.

Celebrate your ascent into L.A. County with pickled eggs and beers at Joe Jost’s, one of the last old-school drinking saloons in the state. Colorful Americana on the walls in the pool room helps to tie up the grab bag of Mexican, Japanese, German and English inspired eats from the day’s journey. It’s all American food anyway.


217 MILES | 5 hr 10 min | by Michael Stern

The only problem with a road trip along the Gulf Coast from Florida’s “Forgotten Coast” to Mobile, Alabama, is that there are far too many good things to eat. Oysters, of course, from the roadside charm of Indian Pass Raw Bar to the outlandish good cheer of Wintzell’s Oyster House. The Great Southern Cafe offers upscale seafood and “New Fashion southern cuisine” in a casual setting.  Captain Joey Patti’s Seafood Restaurant is a virtual culinary amusement park. But the trip isn’t all oysters, mullet, catfish, and crab. Must-eats include sensational ribs and Brunswick stew at JR’s Rib Shack and an unforgettable hot dog at Mobile’s oldest restaurant, the Dew Drop Inn.


28 MILES | 1 hr 19 min | by Michael Stern

It would be possible to eat nothing but delicious breakfasts all day long in Portland, Oregon; and we don’t only mean the ne plus ultra offerings of Voodoo Doughnut and Annie’s Donut Shop. The original Original Pancake House remains a beacon of the highest quality breakfasts from sunup to sundown. But this tour goes beyond the morning meal to include Pacific Northwest signature seafood at Dan & Louis Oyster Bar and/or Jake’s Famous Crawfish, then perhaps an afternoon snack on artisan hot dogs at Otto’s Sausage Kitchen and, finally, the squarest of square meals at Huber’s.


78 MILES | 2 hr 8 min | by Michael Stern

Adventurous appetites who yearn to explore Orlando beyond theme parks have a diverse world of good eats to discover. For wild and crazy sandwiches, there are Yellow Dog Eats and Toasted; and for the Havana classic, check out breezy Cuban Sandwiches to Go. For the best seafood around, visit Winter Park Fish Co., which looks like a shack but cooks like a palace. If you like soul food, there’s a bounty: at Nikki’s Place (since 1949), at Gordon’s Be Back Fish House, at Chef Eddie’s and at P&D Soul Food Kitchen. And if you’ve got time for a trip to the coast, splurge at Dixie Crossroads, which virtually invented Rock Shrimp.


63 MILES | 1 hr 38 min | by Michael Stern

Since moving to Aiken, South Carolina, I have wallowed in legendary BBQ, unsurpassed peaches, and impeccable seafood from the coast. These six restaurants are local favorites to which I return again and again. Shealy’s is BBQ’s big gun hereabouts – a massive eating hall with a cornucopia buffet. Across the river in Augusta, Perry’s Pig is a hidden gem where there’s no place to eat, but where the take-out BBQ sandwiches inspire rapture. For seafood, DeShawn’s offers the biggest crab legs around and JC’s Seafood makes a grand, classic Lowcountry boil. When it comes to dessert, the must-eat place is the Red Shed Diner, where fresh whipped cream tops ambrosial buttermilk pie. And no eating tour of the area is complete without peach ice cream at Peaches N Such, surrounded by the orchards where they’re grown.