America on a Plate: Food-Fuelled Road Trips Through the USA
Looking to experience the best cuisine the US has to offer? Get ready for a flavour-packed journey inspired (and fuelled) by the GoUSA TV RoadFood Adventures series, seen on the shoppable streaming service, powered by Expedia x GoUSA TV
16 February, 2002
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American food is something of an oxymoron, the US cookbook having been so hugely influenced over the years by incomers - Europeans, Africans, Asians, Pacific Islanders and many more. As a visitor, it can be tough to know where to start - which is why we've plotted a food-fuelled road trip that takes in energetic urban spaces, neighbourhood restaurants and lesser-known diners. Hit the road and along the way you'll discover, great live music, artisanal stores and significant historic sites... A dazzling array of destinations sure to whet your travel appetite.
Six gastronomic road trips around the USA
Savour a pit-smoked paradise in Texas
The phrase "everything is bigger in Texas" could apply to the enduring reputation of finger-licking barbecue and respected pitmasters. When the choice of venue overwhelms, head to Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor, a true family joint that's operated here since 1949. Tucking into meltingly tender blackened beef brisket, you'll understand why it was the first barbecue place to earn a James Beard award. Nearby in Austin, classic Southern fare gets a modern glow-up at Fixe, from biscuits with honey and whipped butter to shrimp and grits finished with bottarga. It comes served on tableware by Keith Kreeger Studios, home to sought-after ceramics - stop by the shop for some statement plates that will elevate your own cooking game. In Dallas, enjoy a day out at Fort Worth Stockyards, a historic site where cowboys roam and longhorn cattle make a daily march through the main street. You'll find good eatin' at Riscky's Barbeque, a favourite pit stop for 75 years, renowned for its succulent pork spare ribs, hand- rubbed with secret "Riscky Dust" house seasoning, then slow-smoked for hours. Of course, Texas is full of food-fusion surprises, too, so to finish with something sweet, swing by the Czech-settled village of West and pick up some kolaches - soft little danishes, plump with homemade fruit compote.
Get into bourbon and bluegrass in Kentucky
For the love of bourbon, you go to Kentucky. The state's highly seasonal climate and limestone-filtered water contribute to making world-class corn-mash whiskey, and the biggest brands have their distilleries here. Spend a day strolling the Lexington Distillery District, a pedestrianised brickwork block of shops, eateries and breweries. It's here you'll find the James E. Pepper Distillery: take a guided tour or swing by for an old fashioned at the on-site bar. Stop by Crank & Boom ice cream, a few doors down, for a scoop of blackberry and buttermilk or bourbon and honey. Of course, Kentucky's other notable flavour is bluegrass, so plan a visit to Owensboro's Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame, an interactive museum that follows the story of this beloved fiddle-and-banjo sound. To catch the real-deal live music, head to Tidball's in Bowling Green, a self-described dive bar with a dedicated following that hosts bands spanning rock to country. For a classic stay, book into The Brown Hotel, a Louisville landmark since 1923. Either of its restaurants will serve you up a "hot brown" - the hotel's famous sandwich - or you can sip your way through a flight of hand-selected bourbons in the opulent lobby bar.
Discover lobster and lighthouses in Maine
The New England region of Maine is synonymous with lobster, caught right off the coast and served steaming on the plate. Devour a buttery lobster roll or a bowl of New England clam chowder at Portland Lobster Company, right on the waterfront, where live music boosts spirits even further. Visit the picturesque Cape Elizabeth Light, one of the most photographed lighthouses on the Atlantic coast, and capture your own scenic memories. In Freeport, quench your thirst at the Maine Beer Co, where the cavernous brewhouse hums with keen ale drinkers sampling a wide range of craft IPAs.
Browse the Center for Maine Contemporary Art (CMCA), a striking glass-edged building in the heart of Rockland where you'll find a brilliantly diverse showcase of American artworks. A stone's throw from the craggy cliffs of Bar Harbor, The Travelin Lobster will sort out an appetite with its Maine-style lobster bake, or keep it low-key with a classic crab sandwich. Pop into the Portland Trading Co, a stylishly curated lifestyle store with clothing, homeware and grooming products by independent makers - some linen napkins or Pallarès cook's knives will make a smart culinary souvenir.
Elevate your expectations in Colorado
The soaring backdrop of the Rocky Mountains establishes Colorado as a wonderland for the outdoorsy - but you'll also find adventure aplenty on the plate. In Colorado Springs, The Skirted Heifer is famous for its cheeseburgers, which come with melted cheese winging out of the burger, all finished with incredible house-made sauces. There's an impressive selection of food offerings at the Boulder Farmers Market, a popular grazing spot for anything from small-batch pastries and empanadas to artisanal broths and speciality pasta. Pay a visit to Royal Gorge Bridge Park, home to one of the world's highest suspension bridges and heart-thumping views over the Arkansas River and the dramatic landscape beyond. For a hot dog like no other, you'll want to try Biker Jim's Gourmet Dogs. This eclectic Denver joint remakes the classic frankfurter from a truly wild selection of meats, including elk, Alaskan reindeer, ostrich and rattlesnake, and exceeds novelty status by being doggone delicious. Over in the artsy River North (RiNo) district, the Ramble Hotel offers a boutique stay with "new vintage" decor. As well as on-point in-room snacks (prosciutto and cheese board, anyone?) it boasts the ultimate in hotel bars - an outpost of Death & Co, the New York cocktail den on the World's 50 Best list.
California's Ventura, left, and South Beach in Florida
Find cool eats and quirks in California
The Golden State, fringed by the deep blue Pacific, has so much to offer the gastronomically inclined. San Francisco's Palm City is a laid-back gem of a wine bar and sandwich shop, famous for its impressively massive hoagies. Over in the Golden City's Mission District, the thrift store No Shop brings a contemporary-cool aesthetic and curated selection that makes hunting for finds a genuine pleasure, plus you can buy vinyl and eight-tracks to go with your new vintage duds. Pop into Elroy's Fine Foods, a small gourmet grocery market in picturesque Monterey, and stock up on local, natural wines, independent pantry items or freshly prepared to-go food. If you're looking for a cute place to rest your head, book a room at the endearing Merritt House Hotel, nestled just a few streets away from Monterey's wharf - its country interiors transport you back in time and its dinky four-poster beds promise a sound night's sleep. Just off the beach in Ventura, the Corrales Mexican Food shack delivers simple, tasty tacos, but don't forego the local Ventura specialty, a corn burrito. Santa Barbara's butcher-run Shalhoob's Funk Zone Patio is a bustling dining spot where meat is the prime order - the oak- smoked beef sandwich or bacon jam burger goes down nicely with a spicy mezcal margarita.
South Beach, Florida
Taste your way from seat to key in Florida
Sate an appetite for endless sun and good food in the Southeast. On the pristine sands of Port St Joe, boats pull up and transfer their bounty to Indian Pass Raw Bar, a ramshackle roadside stop since 1929 where freshly shucked oysters are served straight-up, no fuss (unless you'd like them scattered with cheese and baked). If that floats your boat, you'll love Fort Lauderdale's The Rustic Inn Crabhouse, with its long- esteemed reputation for great seafood and steaming fresh cracked crab with garlic butter - bibs highly recommended. Miami's Little Havana district takes you to the heart of Florida's Cuban community, particularly along Calle Ocho. It's here that you'll find Sanguich De Miami and its gourmet Cuban sandwiches, prepared with slow-cooked lechon and best accompanied by a batido de trigo (cereal milkshake). Paradis Books & Bread in North Miami is a brilliant hybrid of bookstore, wine bar and café, where you can start your new holiday read over a slice of pizza and a glass of pipeño blanco. (Then read the rest on a lounger on the sun-warmed sands of South Beach). You can't leave Florida without demolishing a slice of key lime pie. The regional dessert is everywhere, but most folks will point you to Kermit's Key West Key Lime Shoppe, a quirky, citrus-hued gem in the Florida Keys, home to moreish meringue-topped pies and other sweet treats.
Once inspired, bring your trip to life via the shoppable streaming service, powered by Expedia x GoUSA TV, a platform designed to help you discover more destinations and gather great ideas to inform your US itinerary, as well as shop for flights, hotels and experiences. See it as your next-gen virtual travel companion - but one that won't argue about whether the next pit stop is for BBQ or tex-mex.
To start planning your own pop-perfect Cali road trip, head to gousatv.expedia.ca