Review: Roadfood, 10th Edition: An Eater’s Guide to More Than 1,000 of the Best Local Hot Spots and Hidden Gems Across America by Jane & Michael Stern

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Published: 7 March 2017

Publisher: Clarkson Potter Publishers

Category: Travel/Food & Drink

First published in 1977, the original Roadfood became an instant classic. James Beard said, “This is a book that you should carry with you, no matter where you are going in these United States. It’s a treasure house of information.”

Now this indispensable guide is back, in an even bigger and better edition, covering 500 of the country’s best local eateries from Maine to California. With more than 250 completely new listings and thorough updates of old favorites, the new Roadfood offers an extended tour of the most affordable, most enjoyable dining options along America’s highways and back roads.

Filled with enticing alternatives for chain-weary-travelers, Roadfood provides descriptions of and directions to (complete with regional maps) the best lobster shacks on the East Coast; the ultimate barbecue joints down South; the most indulgent steak houses in the Midwest; and dozens of top-notch diners, hotdog stands, ice-cream parlors, and uniquely regional finds in between. Each entry delves into the folkways of a restaurant’s locale as well as the dining experience itself, and each is written in the Sterns’ entertaining and colorful style. A cornucopia for road warriors and armchair epicures alike, Roadfood is a road map to some of the tastiest treasures in the United States.

Rating: 4 Stars

My family was never one for road trips when I was a child, but my husband’s family more than made up for that and I’ve since heard many stories from across the country. Some of the best take place in the places they stopped for food, especially those restaurants that offered regional cuisince. Roadfood is a comprehensive guide to a wide variety of food stops for anyone’s journey from one coast to the other.

Roadfood is well formatted, the stops being separated by region: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South, Deep South, Midwest, Southwest, Great Plains, and West Coast. Before each chapter delves into each restaurant there are two maps that are useful, a general one of the region to show what states are included and a second, much more detailed one that had black dots indicating what major highways they may be near or how close they are to one another. This is a great tool if you’re using this book in conjunction with planning your trip and should prevent journeying too far off course.

The information for each restaurant is very inclusive. Not only do the authors include delectable descriptions of, presumably, their favorite dishes, but the restaurants that are local favorites are earmarked with a Locals Love It stamp (like Porubsky’s Grocery in the Little Russia neighborhood of North Topeka, KS) and others with a Hot Ticket stamp, such as Harry Caray’s, a popular if pricey eatery in Chicago owned by the voice of the Chicago Cubs, Harry Caray (a choice place for steaks like the sirloin or prime and “Italian” dishes like chicken Vesuvio). Helpfully, there are also stamps for Vegetarian Friendly places that call attention to dishes that are palatable for vegetarians. Together with the above stamps and contact information for each establishment (phone number, address, and website if applicable), there is also a handy guide for pricing. The more $$$ signs, the more expensive; the range in this book is $ to $$$ and each state has a good sampling of each price category.

I know this was published very recently, but if you’re going to go out of your way on your road trip, I’d make a quick call to the place you’re looking at. The most local place to me, Cliff’s Dairy Maid, had an entry that was sadly inaccurate. Having visited it recently (4/4/17), the grills have been removed and they no longer offer any of the hot food items mentioned in this book (foot long hot dogs, chili dogs, fries, etc.). The ice cream is still well worth the trip, though; dozens of unique flavors will ensure everyone finds something to savor.

The only other downside I would take note of is that some states, such as Nevada (3) and Delaware (5). have very limited choices when compared to some of the surrounding states. Since this is the 10th edition and the authors make a note that there have been additions and subtractions from edition to edition, I hope that this is merely one in which other states are being given a chance to shine and that next time, perhaps they will find some culinary gems in the states that didn’t get as much attention this time around.

 

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

 All pictures, quotes, and videos belong to their respective owners. I use them here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.
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