Road Trips: Tasty Destinations

Martha Stewart Living, Volume 108

We have traveled all over the country in search of stories for our magazines and television shows. And each trip presents an opportunity to sample wonderful foods that we just can't get at home. There are so many captivating restaurants offering great meals. Here is a smattering of our favorites for the next time you're on the road. You'll find some of these spots in popular vacation areas; others are located along well-traveled routes, and still others hide far off the beaten path. None are fancy, but all are worth a stop.

 West Coast
Pearl Bakery
102 Northwest 9th Avenue
Portland, Oregon
503-827-0910
Breakfast and lunch, Monday to Sunday
You'll find this bakery-cum-cafe nestled among the small, busy streets of Portland's hip Pearl district. Pass through in the morning for a coffee or cappuccino and flaky croissant, brioche, or Danish. For lunch, pick up a tuna-salad or salami sandwich -- served on excellent bread -- and finish with an assortment of fresh-baked cookies or chocolaty brownies.

McMenamins
The Courtyard Restaurant at the Kennedy School
5736 Northeast 33rd Avenue
Portland, Oregon
503-249-3983
All meals

The Black Rabbit at Edgefield
2126 Southwest Halsey Street
Troutdale, Oregon
503-492-3086
All meals
The restaurants and pubs of this regional chain are often housed in renovated historic buildings. The Courtyard Restaurant at the Kennedy School, for instance, offers delicious breakfasts, generous salads, and burgers. For a slightly more upscale meal, try the fondue at the Black Rabbit at Edgefield, or a "poor farm platter" -- a plate of meats, cheeses, olives, and fresh-baked bread.

Tad's Chicken 'n Dumplins
1325 East Historic Columbia River Highway
Troutdale, Oregon
503-666-5337
Dinner only, Monday to Saturday; 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
The rustic, woodsy setting of Tad's adds to the dining experience. Order the chicken and dumplings -- a big dish of stewed white-meat chicken in gravy, and dumplings the size of your fist. Pan-fried chicken and a creamy salmon chowder are other soul-soothing offerings.

Otis Cafe
1259 Salmon River Hwy (Hwy 18)
Otis, Oregon
541-994-2813
All meals
A sweet little eatery along the coast near Lincoln City, the Otis Cafe has something for everyone: Grown-ups will savor fresh eggs, cheese-topped hash browns, and coffee, while kids will appreciate the fluffy pancakes (bear ears and an orange-wedge smile available upon request). At lunch, try the tuna melt or generous BLT -- and the Marionberry pie should follow.

La Super-Rica Taqueria
622 North Milpas Street
Santa Barbara, California
805-963-4940
Lunch and dinner. Closed Wednesdays
There are only a few seats at this little taco stand, but get in line with the other customers and order some tacos, posole (a chunky pork soup with hominy and chiles), or chorizo, and you'll find out why the food is worth the wait. Even the tortillas are made to order.

Neptune's Net
42505 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, California
310-457-3095
Lunch and dinner
The epitome of the Malibu scene, this little seafood shack on the Pacific Coast Highway is plunked between rolling mountains and the ocean, which is visible from the picnic tables. Surfers and beach bums come in for fried scallops, shrimp, calamari, and clams. We also recommend the steamed or boiled lobsters, crabs, clams, or shrimp, with plenty of melted butter.

The Apple Pan
10801 West Pico Boulevard
Los Angeles, California
310-475-3585
Lunch and dinner; closed Monday
Ask a meat-eating Angeleno where you can get the best burger, and chances are good he will recommend The Apple Pan, in business with a menu that has hardly changed since 1947. The only seating is at a horseshoe-shaped counter, so unless you're okay with a wait, be sure to avoid the peak lunch hour, or take your food to go. Steak burgers taste best with a dollop of mayonnaise, relish, sliced pickles, and lettuce; hickory burgers, slathered with a savory sauce, please barbecue fans. But be sure to save room for dessert: banana cream pie, with fresh banana slices and whipped cream.

Zuni Cafe
1658 Market Street
San Francisco, CA
415-552-2522
Lunch and dinner; closed Monday
Zuni features some of the best roast chickens ever made, served in their own "modern-classic" bread salads. The oysters, gnocchi and seasonal vegetables have never wavered beneath perfection for over twenty years, and their eponymous cookbook is a must-have for every home cook's shelf.

 Northeast
The Captain's Restaurant
1 Pier Road
Kennebunkport, Maine
207-967-2341
Dinner; open Memorial Day to Columbus Day
The reservations recommended at this lobster haven constitute its only formality. The menu offers lots of great choices, but get the classic lobster dinner: warm home-baked rolls with butter, salad with house dressing, and sweet Maine lobster with clarified butter and a baked potato. For dessert, look no further than a slice of warm Maine blueberry pie a la mode.

The Clam Shack
On the bridge, 2 Western Avenue
Kennebunkport, Maine
207-967-2560 or 207-967-3321
Lunch and dinner; open May to October
Although this little roadside stand at the base of the Kennebunkport Bridge does indeed make tender fried clams, the star of the menu is really the lobster roll, a sandwich of fresh, juicy chunks of meat on a soft roll, dressed with mayonnaise or melted butter. There's no indoor seating at the Clam Shack; enjoy the view of the Atlantic while you eat your roll at a picnic bench, or take it to go and use the bridge railing as a counter.

Blue Benn Diner
318 North Street
Bennington, Vermont
802-442-5140
All meals
A leafy college town hosts this charming spot built out of an old train car and unchanged since the 1940s. Sit at the counter and order a breakfast omelet with Vermont cheddar cheese, or snuggle into one of the booths, put your favorite song on your individual mini jukebox, and wait for a plate of meatloaf just like Mom used to make. If you don't have time for a meal, grab a bag of its unbeatable doughnuts, made fresh each morning, plain or cinnamon.

Woodman's Restaurant
121 Main Street (Route 133)
Essex, Massachusetts
978-768-6451 or 800-649-1773
Lunch and dinner
Neither beachcombing nor antiquing along the North Shore of Massachusetts would be complete without a stop at Woodman's, the self-proclaimed "home of the fried clam." Carry your own tray of clams and onion rings to a picnic table, or enjoy an order of steamers served with clam broth and butter for dipping. The lobster roll and clam chowder are also delicious.

Four Seas Ice Cream
360 South Main Street
Centerville, Massachusetts
508-775-1394
Open summer only
Although the lobster roll and the egg salad sandwich are first-rate, this tiny Cape Cod stop is most beloved for its ice cream. Made on the premises, every flavor tastes fresh and creamy, without being overly heavy. Ask for a cone with mint chip, butter crunch, or black raspberry, and enjoy it while strolling toward the beach. Other options include milk shakes (which are actually milk whipped with flavored syrup) and frappes (the ice-cream drink that most of the country knows as a milk shake).

Rawley's Drive-In
1886 Post Road
Fairfield, Connecticut
203-259-9023
Closed Sundays
Stopping at this stand alongside Route 1 (the Boston Post Road) on a Saturday just about guarantees a wait; still, one of its hot dogs with the works is a vacation in itself. The dogs are deep-fried, then pressed on a grill for crispy-charred sides; the buns are toasted and buttered. "The works" includes bits of bacon, sauerkraut, mustard, and relish; we strongly recommend the works with double bacon.

The Flying Pig on Lexington
251 Lexington Avenue
Mount Kisco, New York
914-666-7445
Lunch and dinner Monday to Saturday; brunch, Sunday
This adorable cafe in an old train station is Martha's favorite place to stop for lunch -- but she always has a hard time deciding between the meatloaf sandwich and the Mediterranean chopped salad. The menu lists the names of the local farms that supply the produce.

Sullivan Street Bakery
533 West 47th Street
New York City, New York
212-265-5580
Open daily
This little storefront is filled with authentic Italian tastes and smells -- from country breads to pizzas that you can sample by the slice (allowing you to try a few different kinds, such as potato, their signature). Locals know by heart when bread comes out of the ovens, and show up promptly to pick up their loaves. At Christmastime, New Yorkers from near and far line up at Sullivan Street Bakery for their diminutive loaves of fresh panettone -- a traditional holiday sweet bread.

Lombardi's
32 Spring Street
New York City, New York
212-941-7994
Lunch and dinner
For genuine New York pizza, look no further than this Little Italy spot, which opened in 1897. It's a popular choice for locals and tourists alike, so get there early if you'd rather not wait in line. To taste the difference between this "pie" and any other pizza you've eaten, go for the plain -- topped with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil, and Romano cheese. And try the clam pie: with cheese, garlic, and hand-shucked clams.

Hoffman's Donut Shop
509 American Legion Way
Point Pleasant Beach, New Jersey
732-892-3472
6 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.; closed Monday
The sweet yellow wallpaper, the knotty pine benches, and the staff's apron uniforms will take you back in time. The cakes and cake doughnuts never fail to please, although the latter sell out fast, so you'd best stop by early in the day if your heart is set on having one. For a decadent snack, try a "butterfly" -- deep-fried cinnamon dough with white vanilla icing.

Pat's King of Steaks
1237 East Passyunk Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
215-468-1546
Open 24 hours
At any hour of the day or night, Philadelphians can be seen pulling into the parking lot at this cheese-steak mecca, owned and operated by the same family since 1930. The menu offers hot dogs and fish cakes, but of course, the reason to come here is the Philly cheese steaks; these grease-laden sandwiches consist of thin steak, creamy orange cheese, and onions, and are a Philadelphia classic. Patrons can choose from the classic Cheez Whiz topping, provolone, American, or "pizza-steak." Share an order of cheese fries with your travel companions.

The Crab Claw
Route 33 West / Navy Point
Saint Michael's, Maryland
410-745-2900
Lunch and dinner
Sit by the water at the Crab Claw, in the shade of an oversize umbrella, and order the hard-shell blue crabs. The gorgeous pile of sweet-and-spicy crustaceans dumped on your table requires just the pick and mallet provided -- and a willingness to get a little dirty. Less hands-on choices include crab cakes, softshell crab, crab soup, and crab cocktail.

Southwest 
Larsen's FroStop
858 East Saint George Boulevard
Saint George, Utah
435-673-2216
Lunch and dinner; closed Fridays
A few stalwarts of this formerly large chain of drive-in restaurants are still open for business. Pull into the parking lot, and wait for the carhop to take your order. Prince-, Queen-, and King-burgers (small, medium, and large), fries, and pups (corn dogs) are all top-notch, as are the root-beer floats, banana shakes, and "fresh lime squeezes" (Sprite with lime wedges).

The Horseman's Haven
6500 Cerrillos Road
Santa Fe, New Mexico
505-471-5420
All meals
Next to a furniture store off the main highway is a restaurant that has been favored by locals for more than 30 years for its classic American and New Mexican cooking. The burgers are delicious, but order what the Haven is famous for: its very hot green chili. (Adventurous types could try ordering the
"Level 2," a bowl of even hotter chili, but one bite just might burn your mouth for the next 24 hours.) For those who can take a spicy breakfast, try a breakfast burrito with New Mexican green hot chiles.

Pizzeria Bianco
623 East Adams Street
Phoenix, AZ
623-321-3430
Dinner, Tuesday through Friday, closed Monday
Mad pizza genius Chris Bianco presides over his pies day in and day out with inventive yet classic combos. A true pizza pioneer, his crust remains on top and might be a single reason to visit Phoenix.

Grady's Bar-B-Q
7400 Bandera Road
San Antonio, Texas
210-684-2899
See More Locations
Lunch and dinner
Grady's serves up Texas barbecue fast-food style, but their spicy and sweet sauces are more satisfying than plain old ketchup. Baby-back ribs and fried catfish are favorites; the chicken-fried steak sandwich, however, is the must-order.

The Salt Lick
18300 FM 1826
Driftwood, Texas
512-858-4959
Lunch and dinner
The Salt Lick is low-key and rustic; even on a hot day, the screened porches keep it cool and comfortable, despite the smoking "pit" in the center of it all. At night, opt for outdoor seating under the stars. Order the brisket of beef, with plenty of sauce. Alternatives -- sausages, chicken, or ribs, for example -- are just as tasty, and many offerings are all-you-can-eat. But save room -- the pecan pie and fruit cobblers are the best ways to finish filling up.

The Mecca Restaurant
10422 Harry Hines Boulevard
Dallas, Texas
214-352-0051
Breakfast and lunch, Monday to Sunday
The food is great, but the scene is even better at this Southern-style diner, where everybody knows everybody, and the parking lot is full of pickup trucks. Bankers and ranchers -- all wearing cowboy hats -- file in for breakfast. The homemade biscuits and gravy, grits, eggs, sausage, pancakes, and colossal buttery cinnamon rolls make this place ideal for hearty eaters -- even the short stacks stand tall.

South
Cozy Corner Restaurant
745 North Parkway
Memphis, Tennessee
901-527-9158
Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday
The Tennessee barbecue served at this humble restaurant located in the center of a strip mall is some of the best in the state. The ribs, seasoned with a dry rub before cooking, are mouthwatering. And don't turn your nose up at the barbecue-bologna sandwich.

Catfish N
210 Dardanelle Dam Road
Dardanelle, Arkansas
479-229-3321
Dinner only, Tuesday to Saturday; lunch, Sunday; weekends only November and December; closed January
Four words sum up an enthusiastic editorial assistant's review: "All you can eat!" The Catfish N cooks up homey Southern food, specializing in fried fillets of its namesake, amazing hush puppies, fried biscuits with honey, and ribs, among other treats. Skip the salad bar and head straight for the dessert bar, where the apple and peach cobblers are warm and ready to be topped with ice cream. Take advantage of the outdoor seating, right on the river.

Joe's Dreyfus Store Restaurant
2731 Maringouin Road West
Livonia, Louisiana
225-637-2625
Lunch and dinner, Tuesday to Saturday; lunch, Sunday; closed Monday
The restaurant is in what used to be the town's general store, and the decor hasn't changed, with the exception of the added dining tables. The turkey-and-andouille gumbo is a favorite of our food editors, or you might try the turtle soup au sherry. Sample the crawfish special -- a combo of crawfish remoulade, crawfish bisque, crawfish etouffee, and crawfish tails.

George's
2943 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
225-343-2363
Lunch and dinner
Don't tell the lady behind the counter what you want. She'll kindly direct you to a stack of pads and pens, because here, you write down what you want to order. The standard American fare (burgers and fries, chicken fingers) and Louisiana cooking (seafood po'boys and etouffee) guarantee a pleased crowd. The regulars at George's get the muffuletta, a sandwich with salami, ham, olives, Swiss and provolone cheese, drenched in an Italian dressing.

Morning Call
3325 Severn Avenue
Metairie, Louisiana
504-885-4068
Open 24 hours
The quintessential New Orleans breakfast (or midnight snack) is a beignet, a holeless, crusty, powdered-sugar doughnut, and a cup of strong, chicory coffee. No self-respecting Louisiana beignet joint would dream of serving them any way but hot out of the fryer. Morning Call is less touristy and more out-of-the-way than the oversize beignet stops in the center of town.

Capitol Grill
1863 Mount Meigs Road
Montgomery, Alabama
334-264-5515
All meals; closed Sunday
Lunch here is a feast. Sit at the counter, next to the local businessmen, lawyers, and construction workers, order a sweet tea (it's cold), any of the chicken dishes, the beef tips, or the liver, plus at least one side, such as turnip greens, black-eyed peas, or corn. Warm white- and cornbread accompany each meal. Don't be surprised by the appearance of pastitsio -- a savory Greek lasagna -- on Fridays.

Weaver D's Delicious Fine Foods
1016 East Broad Street
Athens, Georgia
706-353-7797
Lunch and dinner
For a heaping platter of soul food and Southern personality, place an order with the proprietor, Weaver D. Rather than asking what you'd like, he says, firmly, "Communication!" Once you make your request, he replies, "It's automatic!" (R.E.M., an Athens-based band, named an album "Automatic for the People" after one of Weaver D's slogans.) Fried chicken, black-eyed peas, mustard and collard greens, squash casserole, and chitterlings are all some of the best around. Even normally squeamish types may surprise themselves, sucking oxtail and neck bones clean of their delicious meat.

Poogan's Porch
72 Queen Street
Charleston, South Carolina
843-577-2337
All meals
Located in a Victorian house, this restaurant is furnished with ceiling fans and a hand-carved antique bar. Even the story behind Poogan's is charming -- Poogan was a dog left behind by the previous owners of the house; he was adopted by the restaurant owners and greeted customers on the porch for years after that. All the food is exceptional -- a down-home brunch of eggs, biscuits and gravy, and grits is all you need for the day -- although someone at the table should order the sweet-potato pancakes. For lunch and dinner, try the outstanding she-crab soup.

Havana Restaurant
6801 South Dixie Highway
West Palm Beach, Florida
561-547-9799
Lunch and dinner; 24-hour walk-up window
"Best Cuban food in town," boasts the logo of this West Palm Beach restaurant -- and Martha and our TV crew agreed when they stopped in for a visit. Creamy, slightly sweet cafe con leche and a more bitter cafe cubano go well with any meal. Cubano sandwiches and any of the lunch specials are generously sized and simply delicious. Order as many desserts as you have room for -- the cascos de guayaba (guava pastries) and flan de caramelo (caramel custard -- with or without coconut) are real treats.

Midwest
Cozy Inn
108 North 7th Street
Salina, Kansas
785-825-2699
Lunch and dinner
The Inn is renowned across Kansas for its miniature hamburgers. Cozy cooks make fresh, tiny meatballs, then flatten them into thin discs on the same grill that has been used since 1922. Only pureed onion, salt, and pepper season the burgers, and it's all that's needed.

LaMar's Doughnuts
9926 Holmes Road
Kansas City, Missouri
816-941-9595
See More Locations
LaMar's standard glazed may easily be the best doughnut you've ever tasted. "If you're taking them somewhere," warns a food editor, "buy an extra dozen for the car ride, since you won't be able to wait!"

Stroud's
5410 NE Oak Ridge Drive
Kansas City, Missouri
816-454-9600
Dinner only, Monday to Thursday; lunch and dinner, Friday and Sunday; dinner, Saturday
Warning: The pan-fried chicken at Stroud's may ruin you for all other fried chicken. The skin is crispy and well seasoned, and the meat is unbelievably juicy. Sides are served family style: big bowls of mashed potatoes, green beans, and salad. Don't expect biscuits -- all meals are accompanied by fresh cinnamon rolls.

Tavern on Grand
656 Grand Avenue
St. Paul, Minnesota
651-228-9030
Lunch and dinner
Behind the neon walleye in the window is the best place in town to eat real walleye (the holy grail for all Midwestern fishermen). Most locals prefer it in a sandwich, some think its essence is best captured when deep-fried, while others prefer the lighter, grilled version spiced with a delicate rub. We find all the ways irresistible -- as did Mikhail Gorbachev, who visited Tavern on Grand in 1990.

Essen Haus
514 East Wilson Street
Madison, Wisconsin
608-255-4674
Dinner; closed Mondays
You don't need your passport to visit the Essen Haus, although it's such an authentic German restaurant and "trinken" hall that you'll wish you paid better attention in your German-language classes. Crispy Wiener Schnitzel, mixed-grill sausages, and hot pretzels served with spicy mustard need no translation, however, and after your lederhosen-clad waiter has brought you a few boot-shaped mugs of imported German beers, you'll find yourself stomping and singing along with the live polka band.

Kopp's Frozen Custard
7631 West Layton Avenue
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
414-282-4080 or 414-282-4312
See More Locations
10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.
You can have a full lunch at Kopp's, but that's missing the point. The featured special flavor of frozen custard changes every day. Flavors are sometimes exotic, such as Grand Marnier blueberry crisp (which includes Grand Marnier with blueberries, coated pecans, and French pastry) and Bienenstichkuchen (almond custard with cake pieces, honey, Bavarian cream, and sliced almonds). But there's no shame in going with the strawberry, vanilla, or chocolate custards.

Saz's State House
5539 West State Street
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
414-453-2410
Lunch and dinner; closed Mondays
Head straight to Saz's for an education in all the foods that have made Milwaukee famous: Wisconsin mozzarella sticks (mozzarella wrapped in wonton skins and fried), sour-cream-and-chive fries, "rib" (shredded barbecued pork) sandwiches, and fried cheese curds (battered and fried Wisconsin cheddar cheese).

Poochie's
3832 Dempster Street
Skokie, Illinois
847-673-0100
Lunch and dinner
Just outside Chicago is a tiny restaurant in a little strip mall, where a speedy, delicious meal is just about guaranteed. Poochie's hot dogs are available two ways: boiled or broiled over charcoal until black. Both are satisfying with mustard, grilled onions, pickle relish, piccalilli (vegetable relish), pickled peppers, and celery salt.

Paul's Pub
10757 M-32 East
Johannesburg, Michigan
989-732-5005
Lunch and dinner; Sunday breakfast
Paul's Pub has been family-owned and -operated since its birth (as only a bar) 30 years ago; today, two sisters run it and cook for the dining room. The golfers who come by day and families who come by night all love the Michigan fish fries and baked potatoes. The battered and deep-fried cod is memorable, but calorie-conscious diners can ask for "dusted perch Chet's way" -- a fillet just dusted in flour and pan-fried.

Graeter's
6918 Wooster Pike
Cincinnati, Ohio
513-272-0859
See More Locations
Graeter's has been family-owned and -operated since 1870, and their method for making their specialty hasn't changed, earning them a place in the hearts of ice-cream lovers who pass through Cincinnati. Their "French pot" process produces small batches without whipping air in, so ice creams are dense and rich. The real stars are the flavors with chocolate chunks -- rather than dropping chocolate chips into the churning cream, Graeter's pours melted chocolate into ice cream as it swirls, causing it to freeze in huge gobs that melt in your mouth.

Great Plains
Stockyard Cafe
1018 East Griffin Drive
Bozeman, Montana
406-586-9728
In the college town of Bozeman, there's a lot of studying going on -- except for Mondays, when there's a cattle auction at the stockyard. On that day, students and ranchers alike flock to the Stockyard Cafe for plates of fresh huevos gringos (a combination of flour tortillas, eggs, beans, hash browns, and salsa), and banana-bread french toast. Meat is a religion in the state of Montana, so it's not surprising that the most popular lunches here are the superb beef burgers and roast-pork sandwiches.

Comments

Be the first to comment!