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Author Topic: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip  (Read 2088 times)

JayhawkCO

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #25 on: April 07, 2022, 02:51:01 PM »

Just don't do what a former boss of mine would do.  He was from New Orleans, and wherever we traveled across the country he would always search out a Louisiana-style restaurant (Cajun, Creole, etc.).  And he would always get mad when it didn't taste like home.  We tried to clue him in but he never caught on . . .

Sounds very British. Wherever I went in Asia that had a high concentration of English travelers, so many restaurants would have English Breakfast, Fish & Chips, Shepherd's Pie, etc. on the menu because those tourists would rather eat the same stuff than actually trying the amazing cuisines of the countries they were in.

kevinb1994

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #26 on: April 07, 2022, 04:42:31 PM »

I know we have discussed this issue in other threads. My practice is generally that when we are on the highway and will be continuing further that day, we normally stop at a fast-food chain. We want something quick and reliable that will permit us to get back on the road quickly to continue to where we're going. So, for example, on our most recent drive from home to Jacksonville, we stopped for breakfast at a Wendy's just off I-295 at its last southbound exit before rejoining I-95, and we stopped for lunch at the Arby's at the US-52 exit near Florence, SC.

When we get where we're going, we usually prefer to go somewhere that's either a local place or, failing that, that is a chain we don't have at home. So, for example, in June 2019 when we stopped in Schenectady for the night, we went to a local Italian restaurant based on a recommendation from forum member Jim (and it proved to be both excellent and a bargain). Later on that trip, one night in Toronto we went to the Keg. It's a Canadian chain of steakhouses that we don't have in the DC area (maybe not at all in the US, I don't know).

Of course, if we're visiting relatives and they want to go to a national chain like Outback, as our relatives in Fort Myers did once, then we go to Outback. They're the hosts, they get to decide.
Sounds like you were in my neck of the woods or in nearby Mandarin.

As far as road trips go, it depends on whether I can get around to checking to see if there’s anything local or not nearby. I don’t have much of a preference for either.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2022, 04:45:56 PM by kevinb1994 »
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1995hoo

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #27 on: April 07, 2022, 05:27:28 PM »

I meant I-295 in Virginia. Sorry, didn't think I needed to clarify, but I guess I could see how that might have been ambiguous. When we drive to Florida, we try to leave home around 7:00 AM, stop for breakfast either in the Richmond/Petersburg area or the Emporia area, stop for lunch and gas in Florence, and then reach the Jacksonville Airport exit around 6:00 PM. That's right about 690 miles and ten hours of driving time, so it works out well. We pretty much never have reason to stop on the south side of Jacksonville except to visit a friend who, until recently, lived at Lake Asbury (she moved to Fleming Island and we have not visited there yet).
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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #28 on: April 07, 2022, 05:42:08 PM »

Chains if you need something quick while on the road, but absolutely go for somewhere local as part of the trip once you're at/near your destination.

This was my general go-to strategy as well, at least up to the pandemic. Now, I'm more likely to pack my food and eat at a rest area than any restaurant at all while I'm on the point-A-to-point-B part of the trip.
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interstatefan990

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #29 on: April 07, 2022, 05:46:30 PM »

Chains if you’re stopping nowhere particularly interesting, but local if you’re stopping anywhere else. And when you get to your destination, local at least once a day.
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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #30 on: April 07, 2022, 05:56:02 PM »

Now, I'm more likely to pack my food and eat at a rest area than any restaurant at all while I'm on the point-A-to-point-B part of the trip.

We had started doing that several years ago, but our excitement waned when we once found ourselves trying to eat at an Iowa rest station with unseasonably cool temps and blowing rain, and nothing but a single uncomfortable bench inside the building to eat on.  And, in the winter, eating at rest areas just isn't really an option to begin with.
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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #31 on: April 07, 2022, 05:57:38 PM »

I eat at chain restaurants when on a road trip. Unless you are passing a must stop location, such as someplace with Texas barbecue for instance, I think it is more worth stopping at chains.
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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #32 on: April 07, 2022, 06:43:20 PM »

Now, I'm more likely to pack my food and eat at a rest area than any restaurant at all while I'm on the point-A-to-point-B part of the trip.

We had started doing that several years ago, but our excitement waned when we once found ourselves trying to eat at an Iowa rest station with unseasonably cool temps and blowing rain, and nothing but a single uncomfortable bench inside the building to eat on.  And, in the winter, eating at rest areas just isn't really an option to begin with.

I definitely have to play it by ear sometimes, but when the weather's nice and I can find a spot a bit of a distance away form the main building, I've found a lot of these rest-area meals to be very pleasant.
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clong

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #33 on: April 08, 2022, 09:09:21 AM »

My wife and I have a rule about chains while on vacation, if we go to chains only go to chains that don't exist around home.

Some people have a chain=bad mentality, yet I love some of the chains I've hit away from home (Mellow Mushroom being the peak of them).

Also a rule in my family, no chains we can eat at in our metro area.

I've found that restaurants that have multiple locations in a small region, but don't exist elsewhere tend to be good - see Audrey's in east Tennessee and Demos' in the Nashville area.

Also, restaurants that exist in very limited locations in any metro area, but have several metro areas where they have locations - see The Goat (Columbus, OH, Nashville, TN, Louisville, KY, Durham, NC).
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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2022, 11:24:46 PM »

Most people who avoid local places do so because they're afraid of the food being bad, but I'm more afraid of it being good. I ate at a Mexican place in Port Aransas, TX that was so good that it's sort of ruined Mexican restaurants back home for me, because now I'm just like "Well this queso is good, but it's not as good as that queso I had in Port Aransas." And it's put me off trying to make my own queso at all.

That doesn't stop me from actually checking out local places sometimes, mind you, but it is a very real risk.
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Skye

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #35 on: May 18, 2022, 02:42:51 PM »

While on the road, I prefer chains. I tend to not go to a new restaurant without looking up the menu and prices first. When at a destination, I do like the local restaurants.
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Nacho

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #36 on: May 18, 2022, 04:06:53 PM »

At a destination I'm going to seek out a local place since I want to experience some local flavor, will have the time/inclination to research my options, etc.

On the road I'm going to want something reasonably fast and reliable that's on or near the highway and research will probably be limited to billboards, LOGO signs, and maybe whichever of my wife or I who isn't driving checking out what's nearby on Google Maps. Which is to say we'll almost certainly be eating at a chain.
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kphoger

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #37 on: May 18, 2022, 04:26:54 PM »

I generally plan our pit stops ahead of time when taking a road trip.  Therefore, if the trip is short enough that a longer lunch stop is OK, I might search out a local restaurant ahead of time.

For example, when my wife and I went to Eureka Springs (AR) for our 11th anniversary, we stopped for lunch at Stonehill Grill (now closed) in Miami, OK.  I had looked for restaurants ahead of time on the internet, and we were very pleased with our meal there.

Likewise, when our whole family drove up to Iowa a few years ago, we stopped at Longboards (7 locations in the KC area) in St Joseph, which I had planned ahead of time.
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KCRoadFan

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #38 on: May 18, 2022, 09:04:17 PM »

Unless I'm really pressed for time, I try to find local places to eat at whenever I'm on a road trip. Here in Missouri (and doubtless in other states throughout the Midwest), a lot of towns on or near the major highways will at least have a diner-type place or a drive-in, and often a barbecue, Mexican, and/or Italian restaurant as well. Usually these restaurants will be found either along the highway or a little ways off it, in the downtown area (often on the courthouse square, if the town is a county seat). From my experience, these small-town restaurants tend to get me in and out in a reasonable amount of time (usually within 30-45 minutes); whenever I'm on a long road trip, I make sure to build that into my time calculations, as far as figuring out when I should leave. (If the meal takes less time than what I built in, then I arrive at my destination earlier that expected - bonus!)
« Last Edit: May 18, 2022, 09:07:15 PM by KCRoadFan »
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MikeTheActuary

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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #39 on: May 22, 2022, 09:55:24 PM »

On travel days, I tend to stick to chain restaurants that I'm familiar with.

When visiting someplace, on non-travel days, I prefer to eat at local places, but will try chains that I'm not familiar with.
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Re: Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip
« Reply #40 on: May 23, 2022, 07:40:48 AM »

I prefer to eat at local places, but will try chains that I'm not familiar with.

This brings up an interesting point. To me, "local places" and "chains [a visitor] is not familiar with" are often pretty much synonymous. Most pizza places that we would take visitors to fit under both definitions, for example, as would a place like Dinosaur BBQ.
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