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Chains vs. Local Cuisine on a Roadtrip

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I don't know how often this has been talked about on this forum, but I have wondered what people's opinions are about What you tend to gravitate to when it comes to eating on a road trip.  I love me a hole in the wall or a cool diner, but I tend to stick to well known chains when I am traveling.  It's mainly because I know what to expect and I am not what you would call a foodie.  I love to eat, but I also will eat anything.  I bring that up because the eating part of a roadtrip is just more of a means to an end.  I am hungry so I fill the hole.  The trip isn't revolving around what I eat.  It's more like something I have to do.  So in the interest of eating, getting full and moving on with the rest of the trip, it's not that big of a deal.  Now if I know a local place that's good because I have been to that place before I will stop there, or if I get a recommendation for a place from someone who's opinion I value, then I will also stop there.  Also, keep in mind that just because I will eat anything, doesn't mean I like it.  I am actually very picky, but will continue to eat whatever because I want to get full.  This being said, there are lots of times I took a chance on a local dive and it was very unimpressive and walked out wishing I had just gone to IHOP.  A lot of times, when it's time to stop and eat, we are in a town with severe tumble weeds!  Nothing has go on in this town in 50 years.  They have one restaurant that looks like the health department hasn't visited in 50 years too, but they have a Burger King, so I will go there.

This is also true with other stores.  I will tend to go to Walmart when I am on a road trip because I know the layout and the products they carry vs what they don't carry.   I do this over going to a local store or hardware store that I may stay in forever just finding what I need.  I chose Walmart because I can get in and out quickly because on most of my road trips, time is of the essence.

Maybe I am part of the problem of corporate America taking over. :-|  I just want to see how others handle their choices in towns they are less familiar with.   

There are discussions with variations of this theme taking place in other threads, most of them in restaurant-oriented postings on the "Off Topic" board.

As for me, I tend to use drive-throughs for lunch while traveling, so I'm sticking to known quantities. A couple of plain McDoubles is a good option -- easy to eat while driving without making a mess.

For an evening meal, a recommendation from the hotel desk clerk can often be good. But I'm not a fan of either Mexican or Chinese food, and there seem to be zillions of locally-owned establishments of that type.

On my trip out west with my brother last year, we ate at a number of local or regional places for both lunch and dinner (or dinner and supper, as we say in these parts). We found local restaurants in Alder, Mont. and Arco, Id.; and a regional place in Dillon Mont., for the evening meal. I'm not sure if our evening meal in Williston, N.D., was at a local or regional place.

As for Walmart, I've yet to find two that have the same layout. I do tend to shop there if I'm on a trip because they usually have what I need, but you never know where to look. It's frustrating.

Most of our long-distance drives are in the neighborhood of 600 to 700 miles in a day, and so we almost always go for fast food.  We often eat inside rather than drive-through, to give ourselves a bit of a refreshing break, but it's still fast food.

However, with shorter drives or multi-day road trip vacations, we're much more likely to find a local establishment and give it a try.  In those cases, the meal stop sort of becomes part of the vacation experience.


--- Quote from: hbelkins on April 06, 2022, 12:08:50 PM ---As for Walmart, I've yet to find two that have the same layout. I do tend to shop there if I'm on a trip because they usually have what I need, but you never know where to look. It's frustrating.

--- End quote ---

I do agree with this that I have maybe seen two laid out the same (the one in south Austin and the one in Irving come to mind).  Even though they are not identical, there are some patterns that are.  The grocery portion is usual crammed to one side, meaning the produce is in the front part of the store on that side.  The clothes are usually in the middle and the office supplies/furniture is not far from there. Electronics are most commonly on the back wall, sometimes near the restroom.  Dog food is close to the grocery section, but not a part of it.  Toys, camping gear/fishing gear and automotive are usually found next to each other so if you walk in and see the bikes hanging from the celling and you need a headlight for your car, walk that way. 

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.


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