There’s nothing quite like a road trip for getting out and seeing – and tasting – what a region has to offer. It’s not just about the destination but the stops along the way that make the ride special, and that’s especially true of where you choose to eat.
Whether it’s a meal or a quick stop for something sweet, instead of dining at familiar places and chain restaurants, seek out local spots. It’s fun to find the best food in town! Here are a few of our favorite places to stop and eat while road tripping through the Northeast.
It’s not technically a law that you must have a lobster roll when you’re in Maine, but it’s definitely an unofficial rule. Located right on the waterfront, Becky’s has all manner of seafood to choose from, including a fantastic lobster roll. Too early for lunch? Don’t worry, you can still get your fix with their lobster omelet.
This isn’t a seafood restaurant. It’s a seafood joint. Although there’s nothing fancy about Bob’s, you’ll find some of the best clams and fried fish in the state at this unassuming building on the side of the road in Kittery. In fact, it made our list of the top 8 clam shacks in the region. The parking lot is tiny, so you may need to find a spot next door, but it’s worth the walk to get a heaping helping of fresh New England seafood. On a sunny day, walk right through the building to the yard out back and enjoy your meal on a picnic table in the sun.
Sugar Hill, N.H.
Don’t miss Polly’s if you’re making your way through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Open for breakfast and lunch, this sweet stop is all about pancakes with plenty of maple syrup. You can create your own with a choice of seven batters and four fillings, including blueberries, chocolate chips and daily specials. Make sure you get some of the locally smoked bacon as a side and check out the country store where you can get many of their mixes to-go.
There are several Red Arrow Diner locations in New Hampshire, but our favorite is the original in Manchester. It’s open 24 hours a day so you can get your pancakes, eggs, burgers and pie any time, day or night. Even if you’ve never visited you may recognize the Red Arrow Diner for being a famous stop along the campaign trail for presidents looking to make a big impression for the first national primary. You can see their photos shaking hands with the locals all along the wall behind the counter.
You can find King Arthur Baking products in your local grocery store, or you can go to the flagship location up in the Green Mountains of Vermont. This stop is part shopping experience and part food break. The huge store sells everything a home baker could possibly need for their kitchen, but there’s also freshly baked breads, rolls, sweets, sandwiches and pizza. On sunny days, eat in the beautiful outdoor courtyard and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
No matter which donut flavor you try at Kane’s you won’t be disappointed (we highly suggest the creme brulee). There are several locations including one in downtown Boston and on the famous Route 1 that runs all the way from Maine to Florida. Not only are donuts tasty, but a box in the backseat makes for perfect nibbling as you make your way to your next destination.
New Haven, Conn.
Are you even on a road trip if you don’t stop for pizza and eat the leftovers in the car? Known for their thin-crusted, coal-fired Neapolitan-style pizza, Franke Pepe’s opened its New Haven location back in 1925 now has restaurants throughout the Northeast. A large is enough to feed a family and then some, so order accordingly.
There’s a little bit of everything at this diner-style restaurant, from must-try pastrami and Reuben sandwiches, to salmon and lox and sweet cheese blintzes. You can even get a little something to-go at the deli counter. And did we mention there’s pie? Good luck picking just one flavor from the case up front. We recommend taking a slice or two for the road.
You might not think of Rhode Island as a place for great barbeque, but Becky’s may change your mind. It has all your hickory-smoked favorites from pulled pork to brisket to ribs, along with a list of tempting sides. Finish your meal with a slice of key lime or pecan pie.
Brewery Ommegang is well-known for its wide selection of beers, but did you know it also has a fantastic cafe? This brewery in the woods is an idyllic location for a break from the road while touring upstate New York. Try the chicken and waffles with maple bacon bechamel and raspberry coulis or the poutine with local cheese curds and rich demiglace.
Need a ride? AAA members can save up to 20% on Hertz rentals.Featured image: “Maine – Kittery: Bob’s Clam Hut” by Wally Gobetz / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0