Best of the Road

Discovering the so-called romance of the road takes time and a willingness to spend as few stops as possible at the fast food spots located a mere combo-meal’s throw off every cloned exit ramp. RG Daughter and I planned key detours off the four-lane path also known as I-70, but they weren’t nearly enough. Had it been possible, we’d have taken even more time to tour the places we skipped–and there were plenty.

A roundup of the best of our three days:

Best dinner: Bistro JeanRo, Cincinnati, OH. Great table, great service, great food–from starters (thank you, Chef) to dessert. Chef’s wife was seated with friends at the table next to us. I look forward to a return visit to get to know everyone beyond a quick hello.

Best decor: Toto’s Tacoz, Wamego, KS. Every vivid color in the rainbow everywhere–walls, signs, outdoor umbrellas, and staff uniforms.

Best burger: Freestate Brewery, Lawrence, KS. Local beef, nothing pre-formed, perfectly cooked, and topped with a slice of ripe tomato that likely never saw the inside of a hothouse.

Best coffee: Coffee Emporium, Cincinnati, OH. Beans roasted locally; cavernous, welcoming space; friendly staff; rich, dark, never-bitter coffee; free wi-fi. I could hardly bear to leave the place.

Best grocery store to stock up on fast-food substitutes and purchase a cool T-shirt: Piggly Wiggly, anywhere you are lucky enough to find The Pig in the southeast. Can’t beat the name, either.

Other road-trip “bests” unrelated to food:

Sirius Satellite Radio: Can’t drive any distance without The Pulse, The Coffeehouse, Left of Center, Underground Garage, Lithium, and 60s Vibrations when singing along is the only way to stay awake.

Books on CD: How the miles fly by when you can’t wait to listen. Highly recommend “My Sister’s Keeper” by Jodi Picoult. Incredibly intense listening, but what a compelling, riveting, and well-written story.

Taking the road more or less traveled: A US Route usually parallels or runs very close to I-whatever. When you want to see a real town–even at 55 mph–taking a break to drive a few miles on these precursors to today’s mind-numbing Interstate highways is the way to go.

I view a brown sign announcing a historic site as a personal invitation. I willingly follow billboards that promise zoos full of exotic animals or fantastic merchandise in ridiculous sounding shops. I am a sucker for any local produce stand. I also am keenly aware that I missed the glory days of cross-country travel à la “I Love Lucy” because I was born a decade or two too late.

I wish, however, that just once I didn’t have to be anywhere at any particular time. Because as exhausted as I am at the end of this latest road trip, I would happily pack up the car tomorrow and drive the scenic route that takes forever.






8 responses to “Best of the Road”

  1. Jonny Avatar

    Wonderful post. For a great read after a road trip I’d pick up Steinbeck’s Travel’s With Charley. I think you’ll like it.

  2. Junior Avatar

    I know ya’ll were driving, but did you sample any of the beers at Free State? Glad you 2 ladies enjoyed Lawrence!!

  3. Restaurant Gal Avatar

    Jonny–Love that book. Thanks.

    Junior–Alas, we did not try any of the beer. Now, had RG Son and his buddies been with us, well, we’d probably still be there. And yes, we thoroughly enjoyed Lawrence.


    BTW, the title of the book is My Sisters Keeper… no harm no foul, i just work in a bookstore adn i am particular about those things. Best of luck and check out my blog The joys of working with the public

  5. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Bookstore Jon–Duh, that’s what I get for writing and posting in the wee hours after a long flight. I really do know the name of the book, and thanks for the heads up!

  6. Katie Avatar

    I had my first trip to “The Pig” when I was on vacation. I bought into the madness and purchased a shirt there.


    No problem, and go figure I spelled and wrong, you should have corrected me!

  8. Jane Avatar

    I miss Jean-Robert’s restaurants in Cincinnati since moving away. Good choice!