It’s been a minute since I’ve been on here (that’s an entirely other post about why), but for now, I’ve got a new review on an oldie but a goodie, Road Food by Jane and Michael Stern. This is the tenth edition of the book, so you could say it’s been around the block a few times, but I’m pretty sure that’s because it’s been updated over the years as new restaurants pop up and old ones shut down.
Road Food is like a paperback Yelp, if you will, with descriptions about local joints that serve XYZ, appeal to LMNOP, and cost QRSTUV, if you get my drift. The book is actually quite substantial in size, totaling more than 460 pages, so there’s a lot of information inside. The book itself is broken down into regions: New England, Mid-Atlantic, Mid-South, Deep South, Midwest, Southwest, Great Plains, and the West Coast.
There are a few suggestions on how to use the book, beginning with making sure the place you’re going to visit exist. Operating hours, weather, and time of the year all can impact whether or not a place is open, so check online (Yelp or Google are my go-to’s). There are maps of each state so you can visualize exactly which places are nearby (not many), and which ones would require a bit of driving or other travel (most).
The entries for each restaurant feature addresses and phone numbers, which are handy to have if you don’t want to spend the time looking it up elsewhere. The actual text for each restaurant is more descriptive than anything. I would’ve rather had suggestions of dishes to order, specifically, rather than ambiance narrations (but that’s just me). I haven’t personally been to many of the locations, but for the ones that I have, I thought that they were fitting (e.g. Katz Deli in NYC is like a giant gymnasium with people shouting meat orders and serving matzo ball soup every where).
I can understand that putting too much detail for the hundreds of restaurants listed would be a lot, so I’d say the authors do a pretty good job of nailing down many hot spots all of the country. Most have fairly high yelp reviews if you search through a handful, so it’s nice to have a definitive guide to narrow down what seems like an endless list of options when searching “restaurant in X town for lunch right now.”
I’d say this is a fun book to have a coffee table book or as a companion while traveling. It could be a bit much because of its size if you’re cramped for space while packing, but you could always jot down some places of interest before jetting off.
In all, I’d say that the book is very organized, well-formatted, and very informative. It’s by no means a definitive guide of the best of the best; in fact, I’d probably steer clear of this book if you’re into dressing up and going out…this is more of where the locals go to chow down (which I absolutely LOVE doing when I travel).
Like the cover says, It’s for “local hot spots and hidden gems.” Give it a read and let me know what your thoughts are. Did any of your favorite places make the cut? Any new places you’re dying to try? Drop me a line in the comments below!
Score Card: Cover Art 4/5 | Content 4/5 | Ease of Read 5/5
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher, but all thoughts are my honest opinion after reading it.