The obvious beauty of a road trip is that the journey’s half the fun. So why damper the mood with a cooler full of carrot sticks and soggy sandwiches? As we all know, every great car trip involves junk food served up with a truly local feel.
So drive right on by those soulless chains and fast food outlets lining the highway. These five joints are well worth a stop.
Farmers’ Market Restaurant – Florida City, FL. – Approx. 45 minutes SW of Miami
While the name suggests reclaimed wood tables and heirloom everything, you have to drive through a loading dock to get to this bare-bones dining room — and the veg on the menu is overwhelmingly outnumbered by fresh seafood. Owned by a family of anglers, Farmers’ Market is big with local farmers, meaning they serve a hearty breakfast at the crack of dawn and sling satisfying, homemade meals all day. Filling up here is guaranteed to keep you sated all the way to Key West. 300 N. Krome Ave.
Laird’s Bar-B-Q – Llano, TX – Approx. 90 minutes NW of Austin
Move over Barbecue Belt. Llano punches well above its weight with four killer BBQ joints in a town of slightly more than 3,000 people. While everyone has a favorite, we recommend seeking out Laird’s, tucked off Texas Highway 16. As Yelpers are quick to praise, “This is the kind of small-town barbecue people need to experience to really know what Texas BBQ is.” Situated in an old house with a cozier vibe than crowd-favorite Cooper’s, Laird’s offers brisket, sausage and ribs pit-smoked out back over mesquite charcoal. 1600 Ford St.
Rock Springs Café – Black Canyon City, AZ. – Approx. 45 minutes N of Phoenix
Forget the pit stop — make it a pie stop. Rock Springs Café, 45 miles north of Phoenix en route to Flagstaff, is a mecca of pies: apple, peach, pumpkin, banana cream and pecan, served with or without Jack Daniel’s. Opened in 1918, Rock Springs is one of just 10 old general stores still in existence in Arizona, according to its owners. The menu boasts rib-sticking road trip fare such as fried pickles, pulled pork Reubens and the Rock Springs breakfast burger (that’s half a pound of ground beef topped with a fried egg, bacon and American cheese). Just save room for dessert. 35769 Old Black Canyon Highway.
Mi Tierra – Seaside, CA – Approx. 120 minutes S of San Francisco
Tucked into the back of a Mexican grocery store just north of Monterey, Mi Tierra is the real deal. From burritos to tacos and tortas, expect homemade, authentic dishes for a steal, made with meats (pastor, chorizo, lengua, cabeza … we could go on) prepared at the onsite butcher’s counter. 1000 Broadway Ave.
The Patio Pancake Place – Salida, CO. – Approx. 90 minutes E of San Francisco
There’s oddly no patio at The Patio Pancake Place, a three-generations-old breakfast joint near Monarch Mountain and the Arkansas River. But there are indeed pancakes. While highly unorthodox flavors, such as cheesecake and banana split, are intriguing, don’t overlook the famed Mexican breakfast or “not your mama’s hash browns,” which are topped with green chili. 640 E. Rainbow Blvd.