These restaurants off major highways make perfect holiday travel pit-stops
NEW YORK, N.Y. – Southern Living names the Best Road Food in the South in its November issue, on newsstands now. According to AAA, nearly 25 percent of the U.S. population is likely to hit the road during the holidays this year, starting with Thanksgiving. Southern Living found the best food stops along Southern interstates that are heavily traveled this time of year. From cafes and barbecue joints to meat ‘n’ threes and bakeries, all of these fast food alternatives are less than five miles off the interstate, which will have travelers back on the road in no time.
The best road food stops off of I-40 are:
1. Magpies Bakery, Exit 289, Knoxville, Tenn. – A box of 12 mini cupcakes ($11 and up) will help curb the “Are we there yet?” cries from the back seat.
2. The Feed Bag Restaurant, Exit 174, Farmington, N.C. – Located in a former general store down a leafy rural road, this simple country restaurant serves up fresh, local food with no pretension and zero gimmicks.
3. Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen, Exit 270, Chapel Hill, N.C. – There’s no beating these giant biscuits stuffed with egg, sausage, cheese, or whatever filling you’d like, at this drive-through only joint.
The best road food stops off of I-20 are:
1. Weidmann’s, Exit 153, Meridian, Miss. – Gumbo and po’boys sit happily on the menu next to quiche Lorraine and Norwegian smoked salmon. And while you wait, it’s tradition to snack on crackers and peanut butter, kept in a ramekin in an earthenware crock on each table.
2. Archibald & Woodrow’s BBQ, Exit 71A, Tuscaloosa, Ala. – Like most Tuscaloosa barbecue, Archibald’s offerings are similar to Carolina-style barbecue, meaning no beef and a peppery, vinegary sauce.
3. Yesterday’s Café, Exit 105, Rutledge, Ga. – This renovated drug store is a great weekend morning stop for fluffy pancakes or the hulking breakfast bowl: sausage and eggs, topped with a biscuit and thick sausage gravy.
The best road food stops off of I-35 are:
1. Miller’s Smokehouse, Exit 294A, Belton, Texas – Visiting the South’s best barbecue shacks should feel like a pilgrimage. And even though Miller’s is just off the highway, you still get that thrill of tracking down a treasure trove of meaty goodness.
2. Babe’s Chicken Dinner House, Exit 477, Sanger, Texas – You’ll know you’re at Babe’s by the 10-foot-tall chicken standing outside the front door of this former hardware store, which dates to 1898. But here’s the real draw: crispy, golden fried chicken served with bottomless family-style sides.
3. Fancy That, Exit 109, Norman, Okla. – This downtown storefront offers a sit-down “classic lunch” for $8 that includes an entrée and a side: a hulking meatball sandwich, perhaps, with a strawberry, blue cheese, and walnut salad, or a fat BLT on Texas toast with a basil-intense pasta salad.
The best road food stops off of I-95 are:
1. Wilson’s BBQ and Grill, Exit 11A, Emporia, Va. – Classic Southern BBQ shack with ribs, pulled pork, hush puppies, and pie.
2. Broad Street Deli & Market, Exit 73, Dunn, N.C. – Gourmet lunch deli and wine/gift shop with free Wi-Fi, known for its homemade pimiento cheese sandwiches.
3. Clark’s Inn & Restaurant, Exit 98, Santee, S.C. – Old-school, steak-and-seafood dining; expect white tablecloths and a clubby bar catering to road-weary travelers and folks staying at the attached Inn.
The best road food stops off of I-77 are:
1. Local Dish, Exit 85, Fort Mill, S.C. – Downtown cafe with a cheerful staff serving down-home staples like chicken pot pie, plus more modern eats such as kale chips with smoked paprika.
2. Lake View Restaurant, Exit 8, Fancy Gap, Va. – Meat ‘n’ three just north of the N.C. border serving honest home cooking.
3. Taste of West Virginia Food Court, Exit 45, Beckley, W.Va. – Not your typical food court (think: locally grown trout with lemon brown butter) with chefs from The Greenbrier, West Virginia’s most exclusive luxury resort.
For even quicker stops, Southern Living also picked the best Southern soft drinks and regional snacks to pick up from gas stations along the way. Specialties include Goo Goo Clusters from Tennessee, Zapp’s Potato Chips in Louisiana, Cheerwine in North Carolina, and more.
For more of the South’s best food and travel tips, visit SouthernLiving.com.