- Have you stumbled into any unusual restaurants while traveling?
Absolutely – half the fun of travel, is finding cool non-chain restaurants you’ve never heard of before! I always like to do a little research before we hit the road to see what the local “delicacy” is. And the answer is often surprising. Of course you can expect to get crabs in Maryland, cherries in Washington and lobster in Maine – but who knew that some of the best Peruvian food in the United States comes from Goldsboro, NC? Or that Glendale, CA is filled with Armenian delicacies and that you can score two-dozen different authentic Ethiopian dishes in Decatur, GA? A huge factor for choosing the right spot is the atmosphere and that helps complete the whole experience!
- How did you find most restaurants you stop at?
I don’t generally follow “official” recommendations when it comes to my stomach – I’ve been disappointed too many times by nationally featured places. I’m more inclined to ask for a personal recommendation from someone who lives, works and eats in that area year-round. If you want good food, ask a local. If you want to rub shoulders with sweaty sightseers from Dubuque, ask a travel guide.
- What was the best thing you’ve eaten on the road?
I could easily name a dozen “must-try” food experiences right off the top of my head. However, one of my favorites was a place we discovered was in Encino, CA – an Israeli restaurant called Itzik Hagadol. These folks serve your typical selection of kebabs and Middle-Eastern pastries – but every main dish is accompanied by 20+ different veggie salads. I’m talking an entire table of mouth-watering side dishes, with flavor combinations you’ve never even considered before! Moroccan carrot, roasted red pepper, picante baba ghanoush, vegetarian chicken liver with eggplant, red cabbage, corn and mushroom, pickled cauliflower, falafel salad, you name it! And every side comes with unlimited servings – try some of each, and then keep getting more of whatever you love most. Now whenever we go there, we order just the sides and nothing else – it’s so incredible!
- What are your best recommendations when looking for a restaurant in a new city?
I love to take food tours in new towns, as a way of trying numerous dishes at numerous restaurants in a short span of time. These usually involve walking around a particular neighborhood and sampling specialties from as many as a dozen different establishments – while at the same time learning some fascinating local history from your guide. I’ve tasted Minorcan delicacies in St. Augustine, homemade Italian on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx, to-die-for grits and collard greens in Richmond, and the best clam chowder on the planet in the Back Bay of Boston. The best part about these tours is finding a hole-in-the-wall place that you can return to later in your visit for a full meal. Hands down, one of the best tours I’ve been on was a weekend NY-slice bus trip around the 5 boroughs in East Harlem with Scott Weiner, Pizza Enthusiast. I can’t recommend this tour enough!
I also do a lot of on-the-road eating through Restaurant.com. In case you’re not familiar, this is a discount program where you purchase half-price-or-less certificates for dining out, usually at smaller restaurants you never would have discovered on your own. (A $25 certificate for a restaurant might cost you $10 – if you catch a sale, it could cost as little as $2.) We don’t always have a personal recommendation for places to eat when we’re in transit – so we go to Restaurant.com’s online database of locations, and do a search by type of cuisine or location.
If you have other tips and tricks for finding the best hole in the wall restaurants while on the road, we would love to know by sharing with us on social! Keep wandering to more adventures, Airstreamers!