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Road Trip Season is Here!


With Memorial Day weekend just a few days away,

that means "hello summer!"

As many of us will be gearing up for summer travels, we want to provide some inspiration to help you enjoy delicious and healthy meals and "Keep it REAL" on the road.  Because eating on the road is NOT the time to settle for anything less than great-tasting REAL food!

In fact, these trips are the perfect opportunity to discover "local gems" where your meals can provide some of your best memories.  Our son still talks about the Cuban sandwich he enjoyed from a locally owned Columbian restaurant in Florida several years ago.  We had an amazing trip, and that meal is one of the things he still talks about!

Prepping for your trip!

Especially if you are staying at an Airbnb with a kitchen, this provides an excellent opportunity to balance some of your meals at restaurants and some of your meals prepared in the rental.

Here are a few tips of things to do BEFORE YOU LEAVE:

 

  • Think about and discuss the types of meals you might want to make in your Airbnb.  This helps you get some staples and spices together that might not exist in your rental's kitchen.  We typically pack a bag with a few items such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, natural peanut butter, "GO-TO" seasoning (garlic powder, dried oregano, dried thyme, and onion powder), dried fruit, and nuts.  We also pack some drinks like water, ground coffee, and tea bags as well as snacks such as fruit, popcorngranola and, of course, dark chocolate!).
  • For the rest of our ingredients (like produce, eggs, and meat), we typically wait and grab those from a local store once we got to our destination.  We REALLY love to visit local farmers' markets to get ingredients when the timing works - and summer trips can be the ideal time to do this!
  • If you are driving, think about what meals or snacks you will eat on the road.  Because keep in mind, in the middle of nowhere you can find yourself stuck with very limited fast food options or, worse, no food options at all!  We typically pack salads and sandwiches and throw them in our cooler.  We have never once regretted doing this!

 

With your cooler stocked and bags packed, now you are ready to hit the road!

 

Finding the local treasures!

Road trips are a fun and fantastic opportunity to seek out those restaurants that use the best and freshest in-season, local ingredients.  Sometimes they are small, hole-in-the-wall, off-the-beaten path, local dive restaurants.  On one trip, we found an old convenience store and gas station that was transformed into an amazing restaurant run by a passionate Nigerian chef in the middle of Texas.  Seriously, we were blown away with their salads, wood-fired pizzas and lobster bisque in a homemade bread bowl!  These local restaurant gems use their passion and creativity to transform local quality ingredients into outrageously delicious and nutritious meals that leave you with an extremely fond memory and a desire to be able to...

"go back there one more time!"

 

Check out our video for how we approach eating out, whether at home or on the road:

 

To find these one-of-a-kind restaurants, we typically look for:

 

  • Locally owned.  We always want to support local, and this is how you find some of the most passionate people and places.  One of our top rules...we avoid fast food and chain restaurants!  Besides the fact that healthy options are limited at fast food and chain restaurants, we want to experience a meal somewhere we cannot visit at home.
  • Type of food.  We glance at their online menu to see the options.  You will easily be able to see if they have a variety of salads, seasonal ingredients, and REAL food options, including a good selection of vegetable-forward entrees.  We try to avoid menus where everything is fried, where there are only burgers and fries, or where there are only heavy, cream-based sauces (we want REAL ingredients to be the stars of the show).
  • Good reviews.  It is fairly easy to see from reviews and photos whether you will be satisfied with a restaurant.  Many times you will be able to tell just from the photos how much care and thought has been put into their food preparations.
  • Cost and location.  Of course, cost and location are also important factors to consider, although, keep in mind, more expensive does not always mean better food or a better experience!

 

A few ideas to help find these meals:

 

Online research.

 

  • Yelp.  There are many ways to search restaurants on Yelp.  A couple searches we like to do are "Best Food" and "Farm to Table" in the location we are visiting.  Yelp defaults to "Recommended" results, and you can also sort the results based on "Highest Rated."

 

  • Google Maps.  Helpful to see what restaurants are nearby, including reviews.

 

  • Local food bloggers.  It seems like every community has at least one of these.  These can be useful, although it is important to realize that the blogger's preferences may be different than yours and, sometimes, they may have financial incentives based on the restaurants they feature.

 

Talk to the locals, especially at farmers' markets.

This is a great way to find hidden gems!  Going to the farmers' markets and asking what restaurants they supply to will also provide some great leads.

 

Bed and breakfast owners are a great resource.

If you are staying at a B&B or rental, the owners may be in tune with the best restaurants in town.  Again, be aware of their preferences and financial incentives, but we have discovered some really great restaurants this way.

 

With a little research ahead of time, you can be prepared with a list of restaurants, and then make your choices based on the reviews, the food you are craving in the moment, operating hours and proximity.  And remember, spontaneity is important too - you may find some outstanding restaurants this way.

Thanks to your input, we have created a Travel section on the website where we have tried to capture some of the delicious meals you have discovered and told us about.

 

 

Please continue to share your experiences as your travels take you around the country!

 

We want to hear about the local treasures you find so we can add them to the website and we can all go check them out!

 

 

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One Response to Road Trip Season is Here!

  1. These tips have been very helpful for us and we have found a few gems because of them. As we transition to less animal, another option is an app called Happy Cow. It will show options worldwide for vegetarian, vegan, highly rated, etc
    HaPpY restauranting EatReal friends! Thanks once again Krista!!

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