Best Road Trip Food Stops
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On the road, you can always find food at a gas station. But if you want to make food the destination and not an afterthought, then you’ll need to plan ahead. Some of the best restaurants in America are off the beaten path.
The real recipe for a memorable road trip includes equal parts preparation and adventure. Are you ready to discover the best road trip food stops? Plan your trip around these epic eats and you won’t regret it. Just make sure you have cheap car insurance from Jerry to carry you safely from plate to plate.
Here are some of the best road trip food stops in the country, compiled for you by the car insurance comparison shopping and broker app Jerry.
- Planning meals
- Pacific Northwest
- Roadside assistance
How to plan meals on the road
Whether you’re on a foodie road trip or not, you need fuel! And we’re not just talking about gasoline.
Sure, you can always find a gas station in a food desert, or dig out a snack from the glovebox. But why not make food a destination rather than an inconvenience? Fast food will work in a pinch but there are tons of amazing independent, mom and pop cafes around the country that can fuel you up.
If you want to plan your route around delicious pit stops, here’s how.
Save a layer on your Google Maps to make sure you don’t miss your stop. Call for reservations ahead of time if it’s a fancy spot (and pack a nice change of clothes if you need to meet their dress code). Finally, make sure you have towing coverage in case you pop a tire on your way to the French Laundry and can’t miss your seating.
Key Takeaway Great road trips rarely happen by accident. Plan ahead to make sure you hit the best road trip food stops.
Stewart’s Shops, NY
This chain of convenience stores has more to offer than a stale bag of chips. Stop by a Stewart’s in New York to pick up fresh sandwiches from New York’s finest delis.
Stewart’s food is far better than a slushie and a donut for fueling your road trip adventure.
Woodman’s of Essex, MA
In Essex, Massachusetts, you can enjoy a quick road trip food stop in Woodman’s of Essex. This is a counter-serve spot, so you don’t have to worry about booking a table in advance. You may have to wait in a short line if it’s a hot day, however.
This restaurant was founded in 1914 and it serves seafood and beachy snacks that are guaranteed to satisfy. On the menu are lobster, shrimp, onion rings, corn, crab rolls, and their specialty dish, fried clams. It’s a perfect spot for gluten-free adventurers, as most items do not contain gluten.
Woodman’s also offers ice cream so you can finish things off with a sweet treat. If you’re in a rush, you can hop back in your vehicle with your cone and eat on the road. But this spot is definitely worth taking a quick break to enjoy the seaside air and the beautiful views.
Schwabl’s in Buffalo, NY
If you’re exploring upstate New York, make a detour to Schwabl’s in Buffalo for some historic German-American food. This place has been in business since 1837 and it offers unassuming (yet incredibly tasty) dishes that will keep you fueled up for many more miles to come.
Schwabl’s menu includes housemade classic German potato salad, soups, beef on kimmelweck rolls, and old-fashioned cocktails served in vintage glassware. Anthony Bourdain even stopped by for a visit and a bite to eat!
This is the place to go if you love history. Schwabl’s served customers at the Pan American Exposition in 1901 and it has a proud immigrant history, passed down through six generations of owners.
Parking here might be a little tricky, but the city of Buffalo offers a ton of other intriguing activities. It might be worth planning a few hours’ pit stop here and ditching the car to take a walking adventure around town.
Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA
It’s definitely worth diverting your east coast road trip to experience the Red Lion Inn. It’s a hotel with a restaurant in crisp white paint, nestled in the Berkshire foothills and neatly landscaped to impress.
The Inn hosts a friendly cat who greets visitors, and there’s an abundance of simply decorated rooms that hearken back to the founding of the Inn more than 200 years ago.
Eating here is a pleasure well worth the trip. You’ll be presented with antique china, colonial silverware, and candlelit ambiance. There’s a tavern with a family-friendly vibe and plenty of historic memorabilia, too. The food is hearty and refreshing. Try the spring citrus burrata salad or the Red Lion Inn chicken pot pie.
But a word of warning. Cell service can be spotty in the Berkshires so make sure you save an offline map or bring a paper map. Call ahead if you want a seated table at the Red Lion Inn.
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Mad Crab Seafood and Wings, Orlando, FL
There’s a lot to explore in the state of Florida but it can be tricky to find high-quality food while road tripping across the Sunshine State. Mad Crab is new to the scene but it has rave reviews and we think it’s worth your time.
You can assemble your own platter, choosing from dungeness crab, mussels, oyster, lobster tail, shrimp, sausage, corn, potatoes, and eggs.
Bring a napkin or have a change of clothes on hand, because the butter and hot sauce are flowing at Mad Crab. Parking is easy here and it’s only a 30-minute drive from Disney World.
Cafe Vermilionville, Lafayette, LA
The Gulf Coast is studded with delicious and unpretentious eats, but this fancy restaurant makes the cut as a great road trip stop because it’s highly authentic. Lafayette was originally settled by Acadians and the restaurant is located in a traditional Acadian inn.
Enjoy the good tunes at Cafe V and dig into Cajun and Creole food. Try a bite of alligator tenderloin, turtle soup, or crawfish beignets. Every bite of seafood comes directly from the Gulf.
It’s a bit more costly to eat here than other nearby spots, but it won’t break the bank. You’ll be glad you stopped when you polish off the last bite of bananas foster cheesecake or a southern toasted coconut pecan pie.
Parking is easy and it’s about two and a half hours from New Orleans.
Key Takeaway Historic restaurants are perfect for a road trip food stop, but don’t dismiss new ventures.
Frichette Winery, Benton City, WA
There is no shortage of wineries in the Tricities area of Washington state, and that makes this region perfect for road trips!
You don’t even have to be a wine drinker to stop for a cheese platter and a wander around the vineyard—although make sure you have a designated driver if you do imbibe.
World-class wines are produced here and there is a shaded patio where you can enjoy charcuterie and cheese bites with an advanced reservation.
If you’re exploring eastern Washington, try Frichette or another winery for a road trip food stop. Just make sure you call ahead.
Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites, Ashland, OR
Who says road trip food stops have to be greasy? Enjoy a pleasant meal at the Ashland Hills Hotel & Suites if you’re traveling through southern Oregon.
The restaurant is called Luna Cafe + Mercantile, and you don’t have to be a hotel guest to stop by for a bite to eat here.
Lucky for you, because the menu includes salmon burgers and enormous salads—plus an outdoor deck with a nice breeze. When you’re done eating, walk the grounds and stretch your goals before continuing your road trip.
This groovy place is pet-friendly, it offers coffee and fresh food, and you can even pick up some snacks to go to fuel the rest of your adventure. The Luna Cafe is built for road trips but beloved by locals. Sounds like a recipe for success!
Mary Lou’s Milk Bottle, Spokane, WA
Mary Lou’s is a perfect spot for a quick bite on your trip. This milk bottle-shaped landmark in Spokane offers classic burgers, fries, and milkshakes with their own brand of ice cream (hence the dairy bottle). Plus, they’re very involved with the local community.
There’s outdoor seating if you want to enjoy the sun, but the indoor space is pretty quaint, too. Grab a Reuben and a banana split if you’re feeling old-fashioned, or go for a greek salad and whatever Mary Lou’s newest milkshake flavor is.
The cost of a meal here is about $20 per person and you’ll stay full for hours.
Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, Kennewick, WA
Twigs is a chain that doesn’t feel like a chain. It has reliable American food, well-presented and freshly prepared. If you need a quick fuel up that won’t make your tummy turn on the curvy highways of eastern Washington, Twigs is a great spot.
Order a meze platter to keep things light. For a heartier meal, indulge in kalua pork tacos or Moroccan beef bites.
You can also get smoked salmon artichoke dip made with house-smoked wild Sockeye. If that’s not enough, you can go for truffle penne or crab mac & cheese. Finish up with drunken donuts made with Irish Cream chocolate.
No matter your palate, you’ll find something at Twigs to whet your whistle.
Key Takeaway It’s worth visiting famous restaurants to sample their local dishes. They’re famous for a reason.
Alinea, Chicago, IL
If you are a foodie road-tripping near Chicago, you must stop at Alinea.
Of course, you’ll need several hundred dollars saved up to enjoy a single meal at this Chef’s Table-featured and Michelin-Star restaurant. But you’ll never forget the once-in-a-lifetime sensory eating experience. It might even overshadow your actual road trip destination.
Amongst other revolutionary dishes, they’re famous for balloon-inspired desserts that actually float!
Make a reservation ahead of time and start saving up. Chef Grant Achatz is ready to enchant you with a multi-course menu that changes often. This is not a quick stop. Plan to spend a few hours here to get the most out of the experience.
Ramen House Shinchan, Palatine, IL
This might be the best bowl of ramen outside of America’s two coasts. You don’t even have to suffer through Chicago traffic to enjoy it—Ramen House Shinchan is 30 miles outside the city.
If you want to sample authentic ramen, this is the place to go. Chef Sugiura has created a broth that is indulgent and creamy without leaving you feeling heavy and slow. In other words, it’s the perfect dish for a road trip food stop.
Don’t be put off by the location. Ramen House Shinchan is hiding in an unassuming strip mall and off the beaten path. This means easy parking and fewer crowds.
Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis, MN
James Beard award-winning chef Gavin Kaysen is behind this incredible restaurant. It’s not casual but it’s not overly formal, either. On the menu is everything from oysters to heritage grain pasta, all prepared with Kaysen’s flair for French technique.
Spoon and Stable is also a brunch spot on Sundays, so you can swing by for a fancy bite if you hit the road early for a weekend trip in the Midwest.
Street parking in the North Loop neighborhood in Minneapolis might be tricky, but there are lots of public parking lots nearby.
Don’t forget roadside assistance
Before you hit the road, make sure you have the right roadside assistance membership.
Jerry’s emergency roadside assistance offers a slew of services to set things right, in case you find yourself and your car in the lurch. You’ll have emergency jumpstarts, fuel delivery, tire changes, and vehicle towing up to 10 miles (and more), at your fingertips if the need arises.
The exclusive benefits aren’t too shabby either. If your car needs to be towed, you’ll get up to $25 in Uber credits to help get you where you need to go. Not to mention up to $100 for key replacement, and up to $100 in tire repair per incident, amongst other perks, to help ease the financial pain of any roadside issues.
With Jerry roadside assistance, up to four roadside events are covered under your plan, but with any luck, you won’t have any issues while driving. Just peace of mind (and great roadside coverage) in the event that something does go wrong.
And don’t overpay for your insurance, either. Jerry is a free insurance comparison app, and it can help you with finding coverage and finding savings. And when you save money on your car insurance, you can spend more on food.
“Jerry is a godsend. It’s so quick and easy and I can’t think of a single negative thing to say”—Satisfied Jerry User
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How do I find food along my route?
Google Maps is a good place to start, but you should definitely compare reviews on Yelp and other review sites to be sure a restaurant is worth your time. Eater.com and Food Network have great lists sorted by region and cuisine. Don’t be afraid to call ahead to confirm hours and menu items.
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