Monday, August 07, 2006
Where's the Decent Roadfood?
This year, I resolved not to eat the revolting fast food which is the only obvious choice when travelling America’s highways. Even Eloise, after hearing Eric Schlosser, author of “Fast Food Nation”, speak in London, was off the stuff. Having read about Jane and Michael Stern’s book “Roadfood” with reviews of 600 colourful, non-franchised places for travellers to eat, I happily spent $19.95 buying the book, confident that my problem was solved. Sadly, it was not.
“Roadfood” is a nice book, don’t get me wrong, the restaurant reviews are informative and charming but, and this is a huge “but”, they don’t tell you exactly how to get from the road to the food. What I wanted to know was simple. As I am travelling up and down Interstate 95 (or any other American major highway), where can I pull off the road relatively quickly and get a decent meal and how do I get there. What I really wanted to know was the driving directions and amount of time from road to food. Sadly, on that score, “Roadfood” does not deliver.
Which brings me back to my original question, how in the world do you get a decent meal off of an American highway? Why do American travellers find the current situation acceptable? What can the travelling public do about it short of packing picnics and boycotting the whole sorry mess? Has anyone addressed the issue with a source of information that you can take on the road and gets you from the road to the food?
I do have one fabulous suggestion for anyone lucky enough to be travelling on Interstate 40 south of Raleigh, North Carolina. Go to Stephenson’s Bar-B-Q. The pork barbeque is pit cooked daily, hand chopped and specially seasoned with the best sauce you ever tasted. Stephenson’s also has wonderful fried and barbeque chicken. They have an “all you can eat”, $7.50 a head, offer that is obscene. They have hot dogs and hamburgers and fried chicken gizzards and seven choices of delicious daily vegetables. The service is VERY fast. The waitresses are nice and the tea is sweet. Most importantly, Stephenson’s is a 7-10 minute drive from the Interstate.
To find Stephenson’s, exit I-40 at Exit 319, McGee’s Crossroads. Turn right on Route 210 for roughly 2 miles to Highway 50. Turn right at Hwy. 50 and Stephenson’s is on your right about another mile up the road. This may be my favourite restaurant in America. It is off the highway and, as they say in the Michelin Guidebook which will help you find fine dining in every village and hamlet in France, Stephenson’s is absolutely “worth the detour”.
11964 NC 50 North
Willow Springs, North Carolina 27592
Photo of Stephenson's kitchen. For the record, I neither work for, nor have any financial interests in this restaurant. I'm just a little obsessed with it.