As soon as I received my copy of Roadfood by Jane and Michael Stern, I knew I had a dilemma: should I keep the book in my car, or in my suitcase? Because one thing’s for sure — I will want to have this with me as I travel.
This 600-page book is divided into the Sterns’ top food picks by state. I immediately flipped to Ohio, and was happy to see that they’d included two Cincinnati chili parlors: Camp Washington Chili and Price Hill Chili. They are two iconic establishments that never branched off into chains as Gold Star and Skyline did. Frankly, their menus are pretty much identical, but a Cincinnati chili parlor is a MUST when you visit our Queen City.
I saw the Sterns also included Cleveland favorite Sokolowski’s in their run-down of top Ohio picks. Yum! Polish food. I agree.
But then I turned to Georgia, where we travel often and saw that they only chose one restaurant in Tybee Island, and not one we would have picked. They really missed the mark there. Their recommendation was The Crab Shack, which was good as far as ambience, but not the best food. For that, go a little farther into Tybee and stand in line for The Breakfast Club, or try to get a reservation at the Sundae Cafe.
Then I turned to Florida. They only made one pick in St. Augustine and missed The Floridian, which was the recommendation of the locals we met there. Always ask a local! We went to the Floridian for lunch on a Monday and had a wait. It was worth it.
The Floridian describes its food as, “regionally-authentic, fresh from the source cuisine: a clever synthesis of down home Southern comfort foods and lighter, healthier dishes, with many vegetarian options. Our emphasis on and use of local and sustainably-produced meats, seafood, vegetables, as well as artisanal breads and cheeses, lay the foundation for a dining experience you won’t soon forget.”
It was our first taste of datil peppers (more to come on that), and we argued over whose dish was the best. (Mine was, of course.) At the recommendation of a college student we met, I ordered the spicy fish melt sandwich. My daughter got a Chipwich: a shredded chicken sandwich loaded with thick-cut potato chips on it, and my husband got the FGT Hoagie described as cornmeal-dusted fried green tomatoes with cilantro mayo, cabbage slaw, and Wainwright’s melted pepperjack on a toasted hoagie bun. (Okay. Maybe his was best.) And then — this never happens at lunch — we ordered dessert! It was that good.
And yet, The Floridian didn’t make the Roadfood book.
It would be impossible for the Sterns to visit every restaurant out there. Luckily, there are plenty of bloggers and foodies who share their picks as well. But I will definitely use Roadfood as a starting point whenever we hit the road. It’s a great resource to begin any culinary adventure.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Crown Publishing. Until you get your own copy, want me to look up any U.S. restaurants that you think should have been included?