The great US road trip: My favourite eats from across the country

sugar in coleslaw - WTF

This, my friends, sums up the one thing that is wrong with American food.

(Well, there’s also the misspelling of ‘mayonnaise’, but that’s less egregious. Also, I dearly wish T hadn’t kept insisting on getting coleslaw so often, let alone in Disneyland, since it was always a disappointment – and of course, I usually felt compelled to taste it as well.)

But let’s not dwell on that for TOO long. See, we also had plenty of good eats in America – mostly Mexican, BBQ, and hole-in-the-wall diners, the kind of stuff we gravitated to since we don’t get it at home. Here’s a few of our favourites:

Best Burger – Hook Burger

Blows In-N-Out out of the water.

Best BBQ – Mrs Hyster’s

We had some pretty good BBQ in Memphis, but the downhome sloppy, saucy stuff in this New Orleans hole-in-the-wall edged it out.

Best Chain – Chipotle

Please, please, please, open up in New Zealand. In the meantime, I’m going to have to start making my own burrito bowls.

Best Diner –Welcome Diner

This is kind of a hipster diner, tucked away in Phoenix, where we were served by a dead ringer for Seth Rogen, who wrote the comics that you’ll find tucked into the shelf. For more old-school, downmarket dining, I tip my hat to Mike and Ronda’s The Place along Route 66 in Flagstaff.

Best Pizza – Joe’s

It wasn’t so long ago that we were enjoying pizza in Naples for real, but we HAD to try New York pizza too – and Joe’s is where it’s at.

Best Hot Dogs – Superdawg

Chicago institution. Enough said.

Best Mexican – Fat’s Burritos, Roswell / Garcia’s Mexican, San Antonio

Really dug the relleno plate at Fat’s, but beware, it’s tricky to find (it’s moved a few times – don’t be fooled by the mural/building that catches your eye on the way in! Keep driving till you hit the actual street number.) And Garcia’s breakfast tacos can’t be missed.


17 thoughts on “The great US road trip: My favourite eats from across the country

  • Reply Clarisse @MakeMoney Your Way November 12, 2013 at 10:36

    I felt hungry while reading your post and it’s only 5:30 A.M. here. 🙂 And I really want to try taco, I heard that it”s very delicious.

  • Reply save. spend. splurge. November 12, 2013 at 14:54

    Obviously Poutine is only in Canada but it should have a special mention! 🙂

    • Reply eemusings November 12, 2013 at 19:25

      Oh yes! Poutine was such a highlight.

  • Reply Michelle November 12, 2013 at 16:02

    Don’t laugh but you ate everything that I don’t. Now, I understand what was going on with your food! Next time you come StateSide I’m giving you good food recommendations that don’t include any of the above listed foods. Think: Mexican Street food, Delicious Fusion Udon Noodles, Korean Style Southern Cooking in Memphis (it does exist!), Buffalo burgers, Food Trucks everywhere with Argentinian delicacies, Montana Bacon, Cupcakes with liquor mingled in them. Basically, we have a lot of freaking good food here. P.S. I will NEVER send you to a place with coleslaw. I have vowed to show that there is amazing food here. My European and Aussie friends have consistently been astounded! Challenge on.

    • Reply eemusings November 12, 2013 at 19:24

      Haha, of course you have good food! I know I keep going on about the coleslaw, but aside from that, we had EXACTLY the US food experience that we wanted, so don’t feel bad! I loved everything on this list and I would have been super bummed to miss out on any of it. But yea, the salads… that’s just really weird and I just can’t get over it, which is why I keep yapping on about it. Devoured an entire container of coleslaw upon getting home. It was divine and painfully sharp. Bliss.

      For us Asia was curries and noodles and pho and dumplings, Europe was pasta and salads and sausages, and America was our place to indulge in fast and fastish foods. And it was AMAZING for that. I know you have a higher class of food, too, but a lot of that is stuff we can get elsewhere (Don’t take it personally!) We did also go to a few higher end places, but they definitely didn’t make as much of an impression.

      I have to admit I’m not really into fusion food, Korean or cupcakes! Argentinean food trucks sound interesting though! Favourites were definitely Mexican hole in the wall places and diners. Those, plus NYC deli sandwiches, maple syrup, and cider…

      • Reply Michelle November 13, 2013 at 16:51

        Btw-Chipotle is from Colorado! Hehe…

  • Reply KK @ Student Debt Survivor November 12, 2013 at 16:06

    I really like Chipolte, but I like Qdoba better (there’s something sinfully delicious about their queso dip)

  • Reply CF November 13, 2013 at 08:13

    Chipotle is delicious! They have one location in downtown Vancouver and it’s always busy. I like the half and half steak and chicken bowl with lots of corn salsa. Yum.

  • Reply Kyle | Rather-Be-Shopping.com November 13, 2013 at 09:26

    Powdered sugar in coleslaw….WTH. Is that a Disneyland thing where everything is sugar coated? LOL

    Huge fan of Chipotle! Eat there a couple times a month. Burrito bowl with extra everything, go in close to closing and they’ll FILL YOU UP!

    • Reply eemusings November 13, 2013 at 12:06

      Hmm, I actually suspect it’s common all over the country. Every single time we had coleslaw or potato salad (our two favourite kinds; we’re not really into green salads) it was ridiculously sweet. So, I wouldn’t be surprised if adding sugar/sweeteners is done everywhere, but this was the only time when we actually saw a label with all the ingredients, so I KNEW I had to take a photo for proof!

  • Reply Linda November 13, 2013 at 10:06

    I’ve never noticed that coleslaw here has sugar or sweeteners in it. I don’t care for creamy coleslaw and never order it so that’s probably why. It doesn’t surprise me that we have sugar or sweeteners in stuff that, though, as too much of our “food” is full of subsidized products like sweeteners and other fillers. 🙁

    Glad you found Superdawg special enough to mention. It’s not someplace we go often (because eating hot dogs regularly just isn’t advisable) but it’s tasty and a fun place to visit occasionally. Chipotle is my favorite chain, too, although I wish they didn’t use soybean oil. (There’s that subsidized “food” issue raising it’s head again!) Hole-in-the-wall restaurants and diners are the way to go!

  • Reply The Asian Pear November 14, 2013 at 06:44

    wtf? why does your salad have powdered sugar? I know some coleslaws might put a hint of sugar to sweeten the vinegar but how can that be the 4th ingredient with the most in quantity?!? *scratches head*

    • Reply eemusings November 14, 2013 at 09:44

      NOT. A CLUE. Especially since there was also sour cream, you’d think it wouldn’t be sweet / or any desire to sweeten it further. Freaking weird American salads. /shakes head.

  • Reply Stephany November 14, 2013 at 07:41

    You know, I am not a huge fan of coleslaw because it’s so sweet. Maybe I am not eating actual coleslaw?! Interesting…

    So funny when I run across Chipotle enthusiasts. There are more than a handful within driving distance for me and I am really indifferent to their food. It’s good, but not amazing. I go there maybe a few times a year, but it’s never something I crave. I know I’m in the minority with this, but it’s just interesting to me!

    • Reply eemusings November 14, 2013 at 09:41

      If you ever come to NZ, we’ll get you some REAL coleslaw. It is most definitely not meant to be sweet in any way! 😀

  • Reply Justin @ Root of Good January 23, 2014 at 06:42

    Cole slaw = a condiment in my book. You put it on hot dogs (next to chili) and you top BBQ sandwiches with it. Sometimes it’s decent as a side dish but I treat it more like a condiment. Like chutney in Indian cuisine. Decent as a condiment.

    By the way, I’m loving the pics and commentary on the US from an outsider’s perspective! I’ve been to everywhere you visited (Grand Canyon, DC, Vegas, SF, etc) but it’s a good reminder of the natural and man-made beauty that’s just up the street or a (relatively) short flight away.

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