One of the biggest joys in the RV Lifestyle is discovering great road food as you travel across the country. Here is our list of 13 awesome places to stop and chow down on unique regional and unique specialties!
- 1 One of the biggest joys in the RV Lifestyle is discovering great road food as you travel across the country. Here is our list of 13 awesome places to stop and chow down on unique regional and unique specialties!
- 2 A word about these RV Road Food destinations
- 3 Serendipity travel is the BEST way to find the best Road Food!
- 4 Woody’s Smokehouse, Centerville, TX – BBQ and Smoked Meats
- 5 Muldoon’s Pasties, Munising Michigan – Pasties
- 6 Steamboat Bills, Lake Charles, LA – Crawfish
- 7 Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, Elkhart, IN – “Amish Crack”
- 8 Cherry Republic, Glen Arbor, MI – Cherry Pie
- 9 The Neon Pig, Tupelo MS – The Smashburger
- 10 The Old Country Store, Lorman, MS – The World’s Best Fried Chicken
- 11 Merritt Pecan Co., Weston, GA – Peanuts and Pecans
- 12 Tony Packo’s Cafe, Toledo, OH – Hungarian Hot Dog
- 13 Hogfish Bar and Grill, Key West, FL – Hogfish Sandwich
- 14 North Loup, NE (the whole town!) – Popcorn
- 15 The Little Easy, Natchez, MS – River Water Soup
- 16 Lamberts Cafe, Foley, AL – Throwed Rolls
- 17 Ready to Plan an RV Trip (and maybe find some good road food)? Here’s the tool we use:
- 18 Looking for more Expert RV Trip ideas and RV Travel suggestions?
- 19 Need a FREE RV Packing List?
Now let us first say, that Jennifer and I are NOT restaurant critics or reviewers. We’re customers. We eat the food. And we share the places you’ll find below because we liked what we found there.
Are there better places? Sure. Other places we should have visited in the area? Absolutely. Share your suggestions in the comments below and we’ll do our best to try them, too.
We have produced a video version of this post if you want to get more of a sense of the different dishes and restaurants. Click the player below to watch it. And then come back to this post and scroll down for links and a bit more about the food we found.
A word about these RV Road Food destinations
One thing these restaurants all share is that they are NOT on interstates.
We found them in several ways. Fellow RVers and members of the RV Lifestyle community-recommended some of these spots. We Googled “restaurants near me” to find a few. We used Yelp to find a couple. But by far most of the Road Food eateries we list here were discovered by serendipity.
Serendipity travel is the BEST way to find the best Road Food!
At least that’s our feeling. Sometimes, we saw a highway sign on a two-lane somewhere. Maybe it was a bunch of cars and RVs parked in the lot outside that signaled “Great Road Food Here!” Or the place had lots of neon and atmosphere.
We love making road food discoveries that way.
Have we made the wrong decision and found ourselves in not-so-good places eating very forgettable food?
Absolutely! More times than we care to admit. Hmmm. That may make another post… the Worst Road Food We’ve Had!
But this one is about the Best RV Road Food we’ve had so…come on along. Here’s our list, in no particular order.
Woody’s Smokehouse, Centerville, TX – BBQ and Smoked Meats
Talk about serendipity. Here’s the perfect example. This place is located at a gas station.
I was filling up the RV with fuel, headed towards Waco when I smelled something…delicious. My stomach started growling and I followed the aroma inside this awesome Texas BBQ place.
Dudley “Woody” Wood opened the place in 1975 to process meat for local deer hunters in a smokehouse, the smoker which is right out front. But inside the store/restaurant, they sell smoked brisket, pork ribs, smoked sausage, and some of the best jerky I’ve ever tried For the adventurous, there’s chicken stuffed with boudin.
Muldoon’s Pasties, Munising Michigan – Pasties
You can’t miss this place. It has a Bigfoot statue out front. The legend is that the odor of all the great beef and chicken pasties made here lured the creature out of the woods.
I don’t know about that – though there indeed have been a lot of reported Bigfoot sightings in the area.
But I do know that when it comes to making the Upper Peninsula of Michigan’s unofficial food, nobody in these parts of the UP along Lake Superior makes better pasties than Muldoons.
If you must ask, a pasty is a meat pie. The Cornish miners who dug out the iron ore 2,000 feet beneath the ground in the UP brought them in their lunchpails. We love em. There’s a huge debate among Yoopers (Upper Peninsula natives) about whether you should put ketchup on them. Or gravy.
The Yooper purists say the original miners didn’t have condiments way down there under the ground and if a plain pasty was good enough for them, it should be for you, too!
Muldoons is neutral on the matter. They’ll sell the pasties with or without gravy. However you like it.
By the way, you pronounce pasty as PAST-ie. The other pronunciation is for what strippers wear. Don’t embarrass yourself. Say it right up here or they’ll know you are a troll… someone who came from beneath the Big Mac Bridge that divides Michigan’s Upper and Lower Peninsula.
Steamboat Bills, Lake Charles, LA – Crawfish
We love the cajun feel of this part of Louisiana and we really like the food. Gumbo. PoBoys. Red Beans and Rice. Crawfish.
Crawfish? Now… after visiting this place… I can say from the bottom of my heart… OH YEAH!
I struck up a friendship with my fellow diners who were feasting on platterfulls of an ugly little crustacean that looked like a miniature lobster. Crawfish take a little head pulling and twisting to get the good eatin’ part out but when you do pop it in your mouth – after dipping it into Steamboat Bill’s special sauce – you are rewarded with a taste that I can only describe as a cross between lobster and sweet Gulf shrimp.
Jennifer and I had a shrimp PoBoy and a bowl of red beans and rice and put this place on our list every time we’re passing through this part of Louisiana
Rise ‘N Roll Bakery, Elkhart, IN – “Amish Crack”
Elkhart, IN is the RV Capital of the world. They build more RVs here than anywhere else. All of the major RV suppliers have factories here, too. So we visit it a lot. Years back, at a reception given by one of the suppliers, we sampled a donut that was so good I literally stopped and went, “Whoa!”
“What is this?” I asked, hoping that Jennifer wasn’t looking so I could try a second one.
“Amish Crack,” said our host. “It’s baked fresh every day from an Amish Bakery here and most days, they sell out by noon.”
The Rise n Roll Bakery is on our must-visit-by-noon list every time we are in Elkhart. And we always pick up a dozen of their famous cinnamon caramel donuts – known throughout the region as “Amish Crack.”
Their other donuts are pretty awesome, too. Watch Jennifer in our video try and decide which variety is her favorite.
Cherry Republic, Glen Arbor, MI – Cherry Pie
The Northwestern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula is famous for its cherries and this eclectic series of stores, shops, and a restaurant serves all things cherry. We stopped to get some of their chocolate-covered cherries, a local delicacy, and a road food perfect snack.
But when we smelled a fresh-baked cherry pie, we bought it and took it back to the RV.
There are not enough superlatives for us to gush. Watch the video. Just seeing that pie will activate your taste buds.
This is the mother ship. The cherry products have become so popular they have now opened several other locations. But Glen Arbor is where it all started.
The Neon Pig, Tupelo MS – The Smashburger
This little place, tucked into a shopping center, is a butcher shop first, a restaurant second. And the Smashburger is a blend of different steak grinds – filet, rib eye, New York strip, brisket, bacon, and other different beef cuts.
This creation was voted the Number One Burger in America in 2014.
It’s a two-handed meal that drips with juicy flavor. They put a special condiment on it, some mushrooms and onions and…when it comes to a road food burger we can sure we why it won.
The Old Country Store, Lorman, MS – The World’s Best Fried Chicken
The Old Country Store is in the middle of nowhere. And it sure doesn’t look like much. But the fried chicken made here is, arguably, the BEST FRIED CHICKEN IN THE WORLD. That’s not just Jennifer and I saying that. So does the Food Network.
And it’s evident a lot of people agree. The parking lot the day we visited was filled with vehicles bearing license plates from a dozen or more different states.
Crispy, fresh, moist, and flavored with secret ingredients applied with a lot of love from the owner, Mr. D, we have NEVER tasted chicken so good. And the side dishes, all locally grown and fresh, are all Southern specialties.
Mr. D sings for his guests. He came to our table for a serenade (again, see our video) and he insisted that we try the peach cobbler before we waddled out.
Road food excellence that’s pretty close to culinary heaven.
Merritt Pecan Co., Weston, GA – Peanuts and Pecans
Georgia is famous for the three P’s – Peaches, Peanuts, and Pecans. The day we first pulled off the two-lane to get gas next to Merritt’s we were unable to get peaches, as they weren’t in season. But the boiled peanuts and pecan pie are ALWAYS in season.
Located two hours south of Atlanta, Merritt’s is in the center of the world’s finest pecan-growing region. Pecan trees surround the store.
I bought a bowl of boiled peanuts. Jen bought some individually wrapped pecan pies. And some chocolate-covered pecans.
Needless to say, as empty as this part of Southwest Georgia may be development-wise, we had our fill of some great road food that gave us still another place to make sure we find time to visit when in the area.
Tony Packo’s Cafe, Toledo, OH – Hungarian Hot Dog
A lot of people have heard of this place from the old TV series Mash. The actor Jamie Farr, who grew up in Toledo and played Corporal Klinger on the show, was always slipping mentions of Tony Packo’s in as he played his character.
Walk in and you’ll first notice autographed hot dog rolls covering every inch of wall space. The autographs are from politicians, musicians, Hollywood Stars, and just about every famous person who has come to Toledo over the past 50 years.
The restaurant’s specialty is a Hungarian hot dog, made with a spicy Hungarian sausage called Kolbasz, chili sauce, lots of shredded cheese, and a dill pickle slice. Tony Packo borrowed $100 in 1932 to start the place and he sold those hot dogs to the immigrant community for 5-cents each. Now it’s run by family members.
The restaurant’s signature hot dog is so popular that there is a chain of them around Toledo.
We consider it essential road food when we head south, getting off I-75 and making our way towards downtown for a rendezvous with the best hot dog we’ve ever had.
Hogfish Bar and Grill, Key West, FL – Hogfish Sandwich
Yes, there really is a fish called the Hogfish, and this restaurant, located on Stock Island just outside the Key West city limits, specializes in making sandwiches out of them.
They serve them fried on a homemade bun, smothered in Swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms. The fish has a light, delicate flavor, tasting a bit like scallops.
We love the relaxed atmosphere of this place, just a 15-minute walk from Boyd’s Campground.
Don’t you dare leave without finishing your meal without a slice of the Hogfish Grill’s key lime pie.
North Loup, NE (the whole town!) – Popcorn
I’ve always felt popcorn was the ideal road food. And off the road food. I could eat it for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Half the reason I go to a movie theater is so I can have popcorn.
So, while touring the Nebraska Sand Hill country some time back when I spotted a sign promoting something called Popcorn Days, this was a town I had to visit. The town is North Loup, NE and to its 281 residents, popcorn is everything. That’s because this region is a popcorn-growing mecca.
The popcorn grown here is known as the best anywhere and it is distributed worldwide. The annual Popcorn Festival has been held every August for 120 years! There’s free popcorn everywhere!
We spent the weekend. The local police let us boondock in the parking lot of the Little League field. There’s a rodeo, a Popcorn parade, complete with a Popcorn Queen, a Popcorn street dance, carnival, and more, all with the delicious smell of fresh-popped popcorn.
The Little Easy, Natchez, MS – River Water Soup
This is a wonderful road trip surprise. A gourmet restaurant just a block from the Mississippi. We enjoyed everything here. Jennifer had grits encrusted salmon. I had a portabella mushroom melt.
And we both had the pansies.
But the signature River Water soup was a big surprise. There was no river water in there. That was just the clever name they chose for a light pre-lunch broth. But floating atop was a pansie. A flower.
The chef told me it was perfectly edible. So I ate it. And I also ate the one that came with my sandwich, too.
Hmmm. I wonder if my willingness to eat flowers was because of the Jazz lemonade we had, made of some sort of alcohol and fresh-squeezed lemons.
But to die for was the bourbon bread pudding, drizzled in chocolate.
One of the best restaurants we have tried in a long time.
Speaking of Natchez, we recently released a new 7-Day Adventure Guide of Natchez Trace.
Lamberts Cafe, Foley, AL – Throwed Rolls
They call this the home of throwed rolls because all during your time at the table, waitstaff roam up and down the aisles throwing soft, buttery, warm dinner rolls at the guests.
So popular has the idea of throwed rolls become that there are now three of Lambert restaurants, two in Missouri and one in Alabama. We visited the Lambert’s in Sikeston, MO a while back.
You don’t leave here hungry. We’re talking comfort food. Chicken fried steak. Meatloaf and gravy. Hog jowl. Barbecue ribs.
The sides are endless. Waitstaff wander table to table ladling out seconds and thirds. Fried okra. Macaroni and tomatoes. Black-eyed peas. Southern style all the way.
Just watch out. When you hear a waitperson yell “Hot Fresh Rolls” you better be ready to duck. Cuz they’re a-throwin’ them.
Jennifer even got beaned on the head by one. Again, see the video.
I tried very hard not to laugh.
Ready to Plan an RV Trip (and maybe find some good road food)? Here’s the tool we use:
Planning an RV Trip has never been easier than with RV TripWizard. It is a comprehensive tool that Jennifer and I use whenever we are planning a trip. It works seamlessly with all our devices and gives us access to the info we need on where to stop, what camping is nearby and what we should do in an area.
Best of all, you can try it for free to see how it will fit into your trip planning process.
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