Saturday, January 30, 2016

Dining Along the Road

Travelers seeking to avoid fast food-type meals along the road face a challenge. Most cities and large towns offer a variety of healthy, appealing, occasionally unusual and delicious choices. Venturing off the beaten path, however, and discovering prospects for scrumptious dining becomes problematic.

There are 21st century options to assist the hungry road tripper locate possibilities, such as Yelp, Trip Advisor, the GPS, and Internet searches.

These options sometimes – or often as hub and I discovered in recent travels – lead not to new intriguing eating prospects, but disappointment.

We eagerly looked forward to a respite from driving and enjoying lunch at a seafood restaurant on the bay. It happened to be in South Carolina, but the where is irrelevant. We diligently followed GPS directions, and there it was – a restaurant and marina on the bay. The name was different, but nowadays it is not unusual for places to change owners and names. We parked and walked to the entrance.

Approaching we realized the restaurant appeared dark. It was closed, serving only dinner.

The parking lot, full of cars, accommodates employees from the business next door. At the end of the day workers leave, replaced in the evening by restaurant patrons.

Not prepared to wait four hours, we backtracked a couple of miles and, spotting another eatery, took our chances. No careful perusal of restaurant reviews this time. The place served a first-rate bowl of she-crab soup and dish of peel-it-yourself shrimp.

Our bellies full, we continued on our way.

Another day our appetites craved North Carolina barbecue. Again following directions, we drove along a country road, turning right and left as directed. Suddenly we found ourselves on a highway, a brand new thoroughfare not programmed into our obviously outdated GPS. Our stern, unsympathetic GPS voice stated, ‘recalculating’. We drove five miles before sighting an exit. We decided not to go back and waste more time. Another disappointment.

Found on a road trip a couple of years ago
We tried finding, again following directions, another tempting restaurant, ending up on a narrow country road with a few small cabins peeking out of the woods. The GPS told us to turn left into a driveway. We did not obey. The dirt and gravel driveway terminated at an old beat up garage next door to a run-down cabin. No restaurant, no sign, no one in sight.

You don't have to eat at a restaurant
to enjoy the signs! 

It is the quest, the unknown, the possibility of discovering culinary nirvana, the not knowing what we will find that makes these adventures interesting, and why we continue to persevere. And in a worst-case scenario we can raid the stash of snacks in the trunk of our car, available when dire hunger or any other emergency strikes. 

9 comments:

  1. Some of the best meals we had were after looking for one place and finding by sheer luck (or perhaps divine guidance?) another while on a road trip.
    I like the couple on The Splendid Table radio show who travel all over the country and write about the restaurants they visit. Geez, I wish my high school guidance counselor had mentioned that as a viable career path!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Travel and food - can't think of a better combination!

      Delete
  2. I agree that even if you can't eat there, you can enjoy the "signs"... some are as interesting as the old pub signs in England.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And the signs are not fattening! They don't clog the arteries or do any other nasty stuff to our bodies.

      Delete
  3. Some of the best restaurants I have found were by chance, and in a small town, when in doubt go where all the cars are. There used to be a blog by a couple who drove all over the us in two trips and their primary mission was pie everywhere they went, but darned if I can find it these days.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like your idea about following the cars. And I would love to travel all over seeking a particular kind of food perfection, unfortunately pie would not be a good idea for my body.

      Delete
  4. It is a crapshoot to find a restaurant on the fly. In cases like that, I go to established chains where I know what I'm getting. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. A lot of people do the same thing, I am sure, which is one reason the chains do well.

    ReplyDelete
  6. When we traveled we use to enjoy popping in to local restaurants other than the chains along the way. Often we would be pleasantly surprised, but there can always be ringers -- that's part of the adventure.

    ReplyDelete