Road Food

When Bill and I decided to drive all the Folbots to Canoecopia, we knew we would have quite a trip. We also firmly committed to doing our best to find interesting places to eat (meaning non-chain) along the way.

Fortunately, with the assistance of the Urbanspoon app on our phones and the Diners, Drive-ins and Dives website from the Food Network, we were able to identify some great eating places along the way.

On our first day on the road, we had lunch in Asheville, North Carolina at the Tupelo Honey Cafe — which was the city’s top rated restaurant on Urbanspoon.

We even had the premier parking spot!

Bill gave a big thumbs-up to his very impressive Reuben, which used chow chow instead of sauerkraut. I had this great crispy catfish taco with a side of fried okra.

This was a pretty good start to our road food odyssey.

One of the great things about framing the drive around food is that it gave us a goal to shoot for as we tried to cover some long distances. We decided to delay dinner until we got to Indianapolis, so we could try the Tamale Place — which Bill found using Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives (cross-referenced on Urbanspoon, it also got a seriously good rating).

At this unassuming spot in a small strip mall, they take their tamales seriously.

The internet warned us to get their early to have the best menu choices (they only make a certain amount of the tamales every day and count down to how many are left.) Since we got there pretty late, we had a limited choice. I was able to snag the last Chipotle Chicken tamale (spicy!) and one of the final three Cuban tamales (which was a delicious mix of pork and chorizo). These were some of the best tamales I have ever had — the masa was fantastically light and flavorful.

Day 1 of the trip was an eating success.

Once we reached Madison, we were a bit busy at Canoecopia.

While this seriously reduced the time and energy we had to seek out good food (the best thing I ate at the Alliant Energy Center was a very Wisconsin-y “Cheddar Brat”), we still managed to squeeze in some great meals.

Breakfast, both Saturday and Sunday, was at Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. Urbanspoon had it rated as the second best breakfast place in Madison (we had eaten at #1 last year and did not return due to its location next to the Capitol — where 100,000 protestors were expected).

Saturday I had a delicious plate of Huevos Rancheros.

And Sunday it was a fantastic rendition of French Toast.

The setting was pretty classic too.

The food at Monty’s was so good we had to take a half-dozen of their homemade donuts with us to the show each day.

Saturday night we revisited a great Chinese restaurant where we ate last year — Imperial Garden. While I don’t have any photos (I was so tired from the show I forgot to take any), the Sizzling Rice Soup and the Governor’s Chicken were memorably tasty.

Once Canoecopia was over on Sunday, we hit the road again. First stop — Chicago for pizza (well, actually Schaumburg). Our first choice was closed, and we ended up at Giordano’s — where, unfortunately, we didn’t have time for their deep dish pie. But this one did the trick — it was delicious, with an interestingly flakey crust.

After pressing on that night until almost 1:00 AM, we woke up so tired that we didn’t have the energy to eat at the Triple XXX Family Restaurant in West Lafayette, Indiana — which got serious consideration on both Urbanspoon and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Ah well, next year.

But lunch was another matter. We soon identified Litton’s Market and Restaurant in Fountain City, Tennessee as our mid-day goal.

Another Urbanspoon favorite, this cool restaurant claims to have East Tennessee’s best burger. While I went for the chicken salad sandwich:

Bill braved the “Thunder Road.”

Yes, that is pimento cheese with whole jalapenos and onions on it.  Here’s another view:

Luckily for Bill, it was my turn to drive after lunch and he could take a nap.

To keep me going, I had this killer chocolate chip cookie from Litton’s bakery which helped me get us over the Great Smokey Mountains.

Our next meal may have been at the best restaurant of all… home.

Well, that’s it. I hope you enjoyed our culinary tour. Hmmm… it’s almost time for lunch.

David A.

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