Driving Tour

Charlotte Sampler: One Day’s Delights

20 MILES | 41 min | by Michael Stern

Eating Charlotte’s best could take a few weeks; but if you’ve got a single day to taste the Queen City’s quintessential Roadfood, here is the cream of the crop.

Amelie’s is the place to go whatever time you start; it’s open 24/7, and its true French pastries are unsurpassed. For a stylish breakfast, visit Zada Jane’s and be sure to try the sweet potato hash browns. Lupie’s is a locally-loved cafe known for superb southern-style vegetables (including everybody’s favorite vegetable, macaroni & cheese). Of the city’s several soul-food beacons, we like La’Wan’s best, mostly for its salt-and-pepper-crusted catfish. And no visit would be complete without a whole-hog barbecue feast at the legendary Bill Spoon’s.

Driving Tour

Classic Creole in a Day

3 MILES | 27 min | by Michael Stern

New Orleans has 101 great places to eat. Maybe 1001. We wouldn’t want to visit without a porky meal at Cochon Butcher or a po boy at the Parkway Bakery or oysters at Casamento’s. But let’s say you are in the French Quarter and have a day to savor the absolute essentials of Creole cuisine, all within walking distance. This tour is a taste of classic New Orleans, starting with beignets at the 24/7 Cafe du Monde and biscuits and black ham at the blue-collar cafeteria called Mother’s, maybe calas cakes at the very vintage Old Coffee Pot, beef brisket at Tujague’s (open since 1856), and concluding with the grandest Creole meal of them all, at Galatoire’s.

Driving Tour

A Day in the Low Country

111 MILES | 2 hr 26 min | by Michael Stern

Both Savannah and Charleston are culinary Meccas; between them is a paradise of good eats. Meandering up the coast, have breakfast at Blackstone’s Cafe (shrimp & grits, please!) and four-star barbecue lunch at Sgt. White’s Diner (run by a former D.I. from nearby Parris Island). Stop for fresh peaches and blue-ribbon pies at George & Pink’s produce stand and climax the day with an endless oyster feast at the incomparable Bowen’s Island.

Driving Tour

One Day in Milwaukee: Must Eats

24 MILES | 39 min | by Michael Stern

Wisconsin is the Dairy State, which means a worthy Milwaukee eating plan must include creamy custard (at the vintage drive-in Leon’s), a butter burger lunch (at Solly’s Grille), and schaum tortes (meringues filled with ice cream and berries, for dessert after a grand German dinner at the estimable Karl Ratzsch). Milwaukee also happens to be a great corned beef city. Taste that at the corner tavern McBob’s, which serves the world’s best corned beef hash for breakfast, then colossal sandwiches for lunch and supper. For a gracious afternoon break, visit Watts Tea Shop for an elegantly poured cup and a slice of filled sunshine cake.

Driving Tour

The OTHER Peach State

44 MILES | 1 hr 4 min | by Michael Stern

Did you know that South Carolina produces more peaches than Georgia? Route 23 through Aiken and Saluda Counties takes you alongside endless orchards where the sunshine-sweet fruit thrives and is harvested from May through August. In the midst of the bounty is Peaches N Such, a farm stand diner that not only sells them by the bag, peck, and bushel, but also serves peach-bread French toast for breakfast (with peach syrup) as well as memorable peach cobbler for dessert. In the city of Aiken, at the counter-culture coffee shop called New Moon Cafe, accompany cold brew or espresso by thick slices of crisp-toasted sourdough spread with ricotta cheese and topped with peach preserves. And in the official “Peach State,” just over the river in Augusta, Georgia, at Honey From the Rock Cafe, a truly divine church-made lunch concludes with house-made peach ice cream.

Driving Tour

Essential Cincinnati in a Day

13 MILES | 35 min | by Michael Stern

Roadfood knows Cincinnati best for its unique five-way chili, which is nowhere better than at Camp Washington Chili Parlor, open round the clock. In this city that has earned the nickname Porkopolis, we like to start the day at Tucker’s, a vintage neighborhood diner where hearty, from-scratch breakfast features crisp-fried slabs of the luxurious pork-and-pin-oat loaf known as goetta. Proprietor Joe Tucker gets his goetta at Eckerlin Meats in the Findlay Market, where connoisseurs stop for an incomparable snack: goetta sandwiches straight from the source. For lunch, another of the city’s great butcher shops is in order: Avril-Bleh & Sons, which sets up a charcoal grill on the sidewalk to cook its famous metts (mettwursts): cured, deeply smoked, rugged-grind sausages twice as portly as a regular hot dog firmly packed inside natural casing. After all that pork and five-way chili, dessert is in order: at Aglamesis Bros., a charming little ice cream parlor where the go-to specialty is a sundae topped with bittersweet chocolate sauce and thick whipped cream.

Driving Tour

Hot Chile Day in Southern New Mexico

76 MILES | 1 hr 37 min | by Michael Stern

The Mesilla Valley in southern New Mexico is chile central, where the best are grown and where the hot pod is enjoyed at every meal. If you want to savor the state’s official co-vegetable (with the pinto bean) at its finest, check out this all-chile itinerary. Have breakfast at Nellie’s, where the motto is “A Day Without Chile is Like a Day Without Sunshine,” lunch at Chope’s, where chile growers come for flavor-bursting chiles rellenos, and a grand dinner of tostadas compuestas at La Posta de Mesilla. If you take this trip during autumn’s chile harvest, look for between-meal snacks at roadside chile roasters, where freshly roasted pods are served in simple sandwiches. And if you are coming up the Rio Grande from Texas, do stop in El Paso at H&H Cafe & Car Wash for four-alarm breakfast, or at the Little Diner for the best classic Tex-Mex fare, including a fiery “bowl of red.”

Driving Tour

New Haven Pizza

18 MILES | 48 min | by Michael Stern

Connecticut did not invent pizza, but a good argument can be made that it was in Connecticut that pizza was perfected. The evidence is in New Haven, on Wooster Street, home of Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana and Sally’s and, a few blocks up on State Street, Modern Apizza. What makes these pizzas special is crust. It looks like classic Neapolitan — thin with a puffy collar that is slightly charred. However, the dough is denser and more flavorful than formal VPN-approved pizza, and it is chewy enough that your jaw might ache the next morning.  This tour includes the big three, plus two extraordinary destinations just outside the city for those who want to savor all of New Haven’s best: Roseland, where portions are enormous, and Zuppardi’s, where clams are freshly shucked for the amazing white clam pizza, which is in a league of its own.

Driving Tour

Tucson’s Mexican Gems

7 MILES | 28 min | by Michael Stern

Among the countless Mexican restaurants in Tucson, these five give the best feel for the amazing range of styles and specialties, from the outlandish Sonoran hot dogs at El Guero Canelo to humble neighborhood tacos at Pico de Gallo, and to chef Suzanna Davila’s magnificent meals at Cafe Poca Cosa, where you never know what newly-created dishes will be on the menu. Just up the street, Suzanna’s sister runs Little Cafe Poca Cosa, a jolly vegetarian-friendly cafe that takes no credit cards and no reservations and doesn’t even have a telephone on premises. (Here you want any of the freshly-squeezed fruit and/or vegetable juices.) If you’re looking for iconoclastic attitude and tacos to match, do check out the inventive fare at Boca Tacos Y Tequila, where Wednesday is exotic meat night and where the motto is “Our salsas are hotter than your wife.”

Driving Tour

Eat Nashville in a Day

39 MILES | 1 hr 14 min | by Michael Stern

After many happy weeks eating our way around Nashville. we’ve created a one-day eating plan that presents you with the best of the best: five fantastic meals in memorable 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!). 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.