“ I personally think there is a real danger of taking food too seriously. Food should be part of the bigger picture.” (Anthony Bourdain)
The issue of personal food consumption has always reminded me of the time tested dilemma of whether to “eat to live” or “live to eat”. In the case of our road trip travels, I would add that a quality food experience can by significantly enhanced by where, when, and how this eating ritual takes place. Thus I often convince my wife in our cross country ventures of the need to find offbeat country cafes, eclectic urban bistros, or historic hometown diners that enhance our breakfasts, lunches or dinners in non-culinary ways. In the following photographic display, I thus describe ten favored eateries on our latest cross country journey that not only offered us a memorable eating experience but also aroused such non-food curiosities.
1. Mike and Rhonda’s “The Place” – (Avoid Interstate Monotony)
En route to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we exited the faceless presence of fast food heaven” along Interstate 17 in mid morning to cruise Old Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona. Situated conspicuously amidst this historic strip of old motor inns, local beer taverns , and mom and pop stores, “The Place” thus fulfilled my desire to sample an authentic relic along this American “mother road” of the Post World War II era. Check out the huge, double dose of biscuits that accompanied our egg platters served here for breakfast on this visit.
2. Cliff House Inn – (In and Out Panoramic Bliss)
Before visiting friends in the remote enclave of Jasper, Arkansas, I enjoyed the fried delicacies of a “ Southern Sampler” lunch at the renowned Cliff House Inn surrounded by spectacular views of the Ozark Mountains and interesting wall testimonies of past famous celebrities.
3. Jack Stack Barbecue (Historic Restoration Appeal)
Along the old train yards of downtown Kansas City, Missouri, My wife and I celebrated my birthday with a filling portion of St. Louis Ribs and tasty accompaniments at the converted freight house of Jack Stack Barbecue. Exiting this cavernous, brick dining room, I witnessed vivid reminders of the historic importance of this area as a warehouse site and railroad hub in Kansas City.
4. Pantry Restaurant (Go For A Flashy Sign)
Amidst the monotonous urban sprawl of suburban Santa Fe, New Mexico, the unusual neon sign of the small Pantry Restaurant “caught my eye” as we wearily returned to our motel from a long day of playing tourist in “Old Town.”Curious to sample local food delicacies, I then enjoyed a satisfying dinner of stuffed New Mexican sopapillas accompanied by rice and beans.
5. Ripplewood Resort Cafe (Seek Nature’s Enjoyment )
Winding our way along ninety miles of steep cliffs along the famed Pacific Coast Highway in Central Coast California, the secluded Ripplewood Resort Cafe In Big Sur would provide a much needed, midway stop for a tasty omelet breakfast. We soon discovered as well that the cool freshness of spring flower gardens and smooth textures of rare rock displays on the cafe grounds provided a suitable way to regain our travel bearings.”
6. The Shed ( Get Out And Walk)
With an authentic adobe ambience of “Old Mexico,” Santa Fe Plaza offered us a walking tour paradise as we strolled through stunning art galleries/ iconic Spanish landmarks at our leisure. Searching for lunch options along a nearby quiet lane, we soon experienced additional artistic elegance as we dined at “The Shed”. Thus settling into this much needed, siesta slowdown, there, I accepted the eating challenge of accompanying my soup and salad lunch with a noticeable “Hot Chile Kick.”
7. Boudins SF (Escape Weather Anomalies)
As strong cold winds chilled our South Florida accustomed bodies along Fisherman’s Wharf at San Francisco Bay, we welcomed refuge from the “elements” inside Boudin’s Bakery/ Cafe. I then ordered a steaming Clam Chowder Bread Bowl at the “take out” bar to provide a a quick dose of additional warmup energy.
8. ) Rudee’s On The Inlet Virginia Beach (Relax With Friends)
Although I don’t typically enjoy social eating experiences, there are occasions on our road trips when we need to find a relaxing place to reunite in intimate conversations with friends. Surrounded by gently lapping waves along Rudee’s dockside patio, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, the decision to spend “quality time” with my wife’s friend Theresa in sharing a tasty, fried seafood lunch seemed entirely appropriate.
9. Blue & White Restaurant (Retro Diners Rock)
As we stepped inside the interior of the Blue &White Restaurant obscurely situated along historic Route 61 in Tunica Mississippi, I immediately sensed a nostalgic return to an era of neighborly friendliness and teenage rebellion in 1950s small town America. Think of past teen idol James Dean riding up in his 1956 Corvette to order his homemade milkshake or malt at a crowded sit down counter from an obedient waitress as “tinny” jukebox speakers blasted early rock and roll tunes nearby. It’s was nothing flashy for sure yet the yet the combined appeal of such wild retro imaginations with a complete homemade dinner of fried chicken and southern food accompaniments proved to be a “winner on this stormy night along the swollen Mississippi River.
10. 8th Street Steakhouse (Be A Western Pioneer)
When we travel great distances along harsh terrain westerly for months at a time, a pioneer realization arises that a close encounter with free roaming wildlife nearby often means a life threatening battle of predator vs. prey. Think of a grizzly bear encounter on a a lonely day hike in rural Montana for example as you ponder a way to escape its vicious teeth and claws. Therefore, being given an opportunity to cook my own steak and hamburger on flaming grill amidst wild animal mountings overhead at the 8th Street Steakhouse in Steamboat Springs, Colorado provided a fittingly normal experience for such a hunter friendly environment.