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.”
The 40th anniversary edition of Roadfood includes 1,000 of America’s best local eateries along highways and back roads, with nearly 200 new listings, as well as a brand new design.
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.
I was so excited to be getting this book. Living in Southwest Missouri and so close to Branson (a major tourist destination) I figured I might have the chance to discover or even rediscover a local-ish place (Think Leong’s Asian Diner – Goggle it). On this front I was disappointed. Upon opening the book for the first time, it was of course to scour the Missouri listings. All St. Louis and Kansas City area, with a side step to Columbia. So much of the state, with it’s own amazing history and hidden gems of dining are forgotten, or worse ignored. I’m going with forgotten for my own piece of mind. Kansas City or St. Louis are not particularly areas I am going to foray to just for foodie road-trip. They are more a drive around than drive into, unless I’m there for legitimate reasons. Crestfallen, but not broken, I checked the states near me for other local ideas. The only other close location was Chicken Mary’s in Pittsburg, Kansas. Been to both Mary’s and Annie’s and they are both pretty spectacular. In the book they mention Annie’s with their description of Mary’s and I can attest that both serve amazing fried chicken along with typical southern style comfort sides. Wasn’t quite enough to cure my heartbreak but must push through.
Let’s start with what I didn’t like about the layout of this book. There’s only one thing so it’s easy. Within each region, it’s broken down by state. (Like this, more later.) However the restaurants are then listed alphabetically within the state. Which means, Illinois for example, you have to go through all the listings to find the restaurant choices for you if you happen in be in Springfield (see what I did there?). I feel like it would be easier to utilize the listings if they were grouped georaphically instead of alphabetically within each state section. Perhaps alphabetically by city or something? Ok, that’s really it. Negative is out of the way.
What I liked. While some of the regional breakdowns I slightly disagree with I liked that each region had a map of each state with locations marked, usually with major roadways marked as well for ease of locating the restaurant. I liked that each state, within the region, was dedicated it’s own section in order to help narrow down your searches. But then places like Chicken Mary’s in Kansas, which is right on the Missouri/Kansas border was separated from someone who could just make a quick hop across the state line. This is not a dislike however as when you are dealing with state-lines there’s really no way to prevent this. The descriptions of each location and the menu offerings were amazing. I don’t even eat hamburgers but some of the descriptions made me think I wanted one. Each location also included contact information which is super helpful for someone who may be planning a foodie road trip to these areas. A quick perusal of the website, a phone call if in doubt about anything and oh wait they are closed on Tuesday? let’s wait and go this time frame instead. I would highly recommend this book for anyone who tends to drive on their vacations, likes to road trip or is just a general foodie who likes to explore new locations as well.
I was lucky to be able to receive this book from Blogging for Books for review. I was not required to post a positive review and all thoughts regarding this book are my own.
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About Jane and Michael Stern
For any food lover who’s ever heard the call of the open road, Jane and Michael Stern have been trusted, trailblazing guides for over 40 years. After meeting at Yale, where they came to study art, they began a collaboration that has yielded over forty books, including the good-eats guide Roadfood, The Lexicon of Real American Food, cookbooks Square Meals and American Gourmet, and pop-culture best-sellers Elvis World, The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste, and Way Out West.