Archive for the ‘*Molio’ Category

Road Trip USA

January 21, 2008

Got back from a big road trip. We did NYC-Chicago-Memphis-Austin-New Orleans-Atlanta-Miami-Savannah-Charleston-NYC with a bunch of stops along the way. 3 weeks, 6000 miles. This could get way too long, so I’ll spare the descriptions of the food. I don’t know enough adjectives, and you can’t eat words anyway.

Left NYC a few days before Christmas, after eating at my favorite spot in the city and stocking up on Tate’s and Mallomars — essentials that we wouldn’t get along the way. Drove through rain and low visibility in the Poconos through Pennsylvania and ridiculously strong winds that were blowing cars into ditches in Ohio.

Stopped in Cleveland for dinner, but our target restaurant was apparently out of business. If you could judge the life of a city based on a cold Sunday night at the end of December, things don’t look so good for Cleveland. The only people dumb enough to be hanging around a freezing, dark, deindustrialized city that night were us and, apparently, R. Kelly.

Ducked in to the only place we found open, and good road trip karma presented us with McNulty’s Bier Markt. A Belgian beer bar with over 100 beers, they even had Chimay on tap — on tap! That’s even hard to find in NYC. Add some mussels soaked in Duvel for less than $10, and we began to believe in Cleveland again.

Made it to Chicago that night, hung out for a few days then headed toward Memphis. Had to stop at 17th Street Bar & Grill in Murphysboro, IL, consistently rated one of the best in the country.

In Memphis, we only had time for one BBQ spot so we went for Charlie Vergo’s Rendezvous:

Rushed out of town in mid-afternoon because we a had a long way to Austin. Made a couple quick stops in Little Rock and followed a friend’s tips for the best mojitos in Dallas at Cuba Libre and best Tex-Mex at Cuquita’s.

Austin gave us the cup cake bus:

And more good Mexican food…

Heading east from Austin, we were back in God country.

Can you just make up quotes and attribute them to God? Stopped in Elgin, Texas, at Southside Market & BBQ which has won national contests for its hot sausage:

Made it to New Orleans on New Year’s Eve, but were unlucky enough to end up in the French Quarter. Totally Disney-fied, the Quarter was packed with spring break douchebags and college football fans in town for the Sugar Bowl.

2 1/2 years after Katrina, New Orleans is still a national embarrassment and George Bush still doesn’t care about Black people:

NOLA does still have some of the best food in the country — it was worth spending more than an hour waiting to get a burger at Port of Call and even longer for the best creole food at Jacques-Imo’s:

Made quick stops in Selma and Birmingham, then turned 80 miles off our route to hit another of the best BBQ spots in the country: Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, Alabama.

Check out the baked potato stuffed with BBQ meat. Looks better than it tasted. The ribs were off the hook, though, and that’s what counts.

Making our way to Atlanta, we drove on dark, windy Alabama state highways with a radio signal just strong enough to find out that Obama won Iowa and listened to his victory speech.

It seems that every best-of-Atlanta list starts with breakfast at the Flying Biscuit. Shrugged off as a cliche the story on their menu about how when they first opened the restaurant, they thought 90 biscuits would be enough for the day, whatever whatever, then they sold out in 2 hours, yadda yadda. Then the biscuits came, and I realized that was no joke. No pics here because we devoured them too fast. They were warm and a bit soft on the outside and so damn creamy on the inside. I will always be grateful to Atlanta for those biscuits and and for Coca-cola.

The next morning we had another great breakfast at the Thumbs Up Diner. I ordered an extra pancake to go with my standard bacon and eggs. It looked just like a regular pancake, but the inside was so smooth and creamy, like it was pancake batter. Have breakfast in Atlanta, if you ever get the chance.

We were fired up, ready to go, and picked up some biscuits from the Flying Biscuit for the next leg to Miami. We hung out at Tinta Y Cafe in Little Havana, which was very chill and had a bunch of great sandwiches.

We even got in some beach time, since it was 80 degrees in early January, and had great Haitian food (and the best mojitos) at Tap Tap, near South Beach. By this time, we were seriously craving some PinkBerry, but not only have they not expanded beyond LA and NYC, their copycats hadn’t even opened up in Miami yet. Looks like we just missed them by a few days.

Turning back north, our next stop was Savannah. Very cool town. Stopped at the Back in the Day Bakery before we left. This is right in the middle of an almost grotesquely gentrified block that’s being called ‘Starland.’ In the middle of a Black neighborhood, the block had a few art galleries, of course, and this bakery. We went in and managed to enjoy a couple good cupcakes for $3 each. Three dollars? Are they even that much at Magnolia? The interior was all about a retro-chic — “back in the day.” Yeah, well, back in the day, gentrifiers weren’t posted up there selling cupcakes for $3 a pop.

Had to make one more BBQ stop in Charlotte at Mac’s Speed Shop — a faux biker joint that served Carolina BBQ with a range of fine beers.

We made it up to DC, excited about all the great Ethiopian restaurants. Ended up with a pretty mediocre dinner at Dukem, which actually charges for extra injera.

Finally, 3 weeks later, we returned to NYC, but before going home we had to make a final stop at PinkBerry.