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Old 12-25-2009, 09:37 AM
 
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As we travel cross country by car we usually stop at hotels and restaurants right off the Interstate Highway. You know, the chain hotels and restaurants like Days Inn and Cracker Barrel. But there may be a nice town five miles in from the Interstate Highway exit but we rarely see it.

One time we stopped at the local Days Inn Motel and wanted to have a nice meal for supper. We saw a large number of chain restaurants right next to our motel but we were tired of eating at Cracker Barrel, Denny's Perkins, etc. We asked the front desk clerk if there were any local places in town and he said NO! Why would we drive to town when there were all the places by the highway?

I suspect we missed lots of local flavor and good food, or did we?
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Old 12-25-2009, 10:51 AM
 
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We tried to eat at local, small town restaurants on our recent trip.

We discovered many towns had no downtown restaurants.

Last edited by marmac; 12-25-2009 at 11:20 AM..
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Old 12-25-2009, 11:17 AM
 
Location: Kirkwood, DE and beautiful SXM!
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We like to visit local eateries when we travel, but it is not always easy to find restaurants and cafes in small town areas. I try to check areas on CD state forums for recommendations and also DDD to see where Guy has been. We have never been disappointed when we have ventured into small town eateries.

SXMGirl; Pardon the intrusion on an excellent post but I just wanted to explain that "DDD" is the "Diners, Drive-ins & Dives" show on the Food Channel where host Guy Fieri visits some AWESOME local eateries.

Last edited by Crew Chief; 12-26-2009 at 06:48 PM..
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Old 12-25-2009, 11:24 AM
 
Location: Coastal Georgia
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Unfortuately, when traveling we're tired, and want to just grab the quickest, closest food we can find. If a restaurant is walking distance to the hotel, then it wins.
When staying somewhere for a few days, then we absolutely try to find local foods at non touristy places. For example, we travel the southern states a lot and will always try to find the little BBQ or seafood joints.
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Old 12-25-2009, 11:25 AM
 
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Why don't small town restaurants have their name on those exit signs like all the fast food places do ?

I would love to patronize them, but I'm not going to drive down side streets trying to find them.

Disappointing to take the time driving slowly down the main streets of towns, seeing the stores/signs of every kind of store imaginable, and not finding a restaurant/cafe.
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Old 12-25-2009, 05:47 PM
 
Location: SW MO
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marmac View Post
Why don't small town restaurants have their name on those exit signs like all the fast food places do ?

I would love to patronize them, but I'm not going to drive down side streets trying to find them.

Disappointing to take the time driving slowly down the main streets of towns, seeing the stores/signs of every kind of store imaginable, and not finding a restaurant/cafe.
I suspect it's because of cost, and it is hard enough to keep a small resaurant open these days, every penny counts. The chains have large amounts of $$ to back them up and pay for advertising.
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Old 12-25-2009, 06:54 PM
 
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Generally, we research restaurants along the road when we take a long trip so that we have a list of great placed to try during our trip. Nearly every town has a decent restaurant. With a GPS and mapquest, it is pretty easy to find them.

One of the reasons why there are so many chain restaurants is that prior to chains, there were so many godawful local restaurants out there.
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Old 12-25-2009, 07:51 PM
 
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It's a mixed bag as far as "local" vs institutionalized chain food-like substances ....

Due to my remote worksites and a general interest in smaller towns USA, I make it a point to schedule a lot of my travels on older state highways and county roads that take us through a lot of smaller towns. In many of them, the economics don't support a restaurant, and in some ... only a coffee shop, and not a good one, at that.

However, now and then we find a local treasure, a restaurant with exceptional food and an owner/chef that really cares. The menu doesn't have to be fancy, but the food is fresh and well prepared to order. Sometimes, the hours of operation are limited ... we found a super little place in Broadus MT for an excellent local harvest meal that was open only for dinner and the best meal of our travels up into NW MT on that trip ... or places like Slivar's a few miles outside of Lander WY. I've also found places all across the Western USA, but farther off the tourist trap interstate exits.

One trip across UT had us in some of the most desolate lands along I-70 ... with an exit to a tiny town where there were several chain motels and fast-food restaurants. As we were planning on stopping early that day, we had time to explore the little town that was 10 miles off the highway, just to see if we could find anything for lodging and food. To our surprise, the town was nestled in a gorgeous little river canyon ... cool, lush, and green compared to the route of the interstate. We found a local motel with rooms that were palatial compared to the chains on I-70 at a lower price, and a restaurant for dinner that night that was superb (although a few dollars more than you'd spend at a fast-food place). Apparently, the local town is a stopping point for LDS members following the trail of their ancestors on the treks and has significance to them ... and the locals don't really care if non-LDS tourists come through the place. But what a wonderful find for us ... the town had virtually no signage leading to it and clearly wasn't trying to bring in strangers at all, but we were made most welcome and comfortable.

That's not to say that I haven't diverted sometimes to find some motels that weren't up to snuff and food that was very forgettable, because I have. But I wouldn't have found the gems if I hadn't explored and been willing to take the time and travel ....
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:24 PM
 
Location: SW MO
1,238 posts, read 4,042,381 times
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We usually ask the desk clerk at the hotel- they live close by and can recommend some good places, especially if you are specific about what kind of food. I have been disappointed some times when we asked for a good restaurant and they ONLY named chains, but usually we get a decent local place.
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Old 12-25-2009, 08:47 PM
 
Location: Airports all over the world
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I often divert off the interstate and follow secondary highways for a while. Never know what you will stumble across. Once while heading north on Interstate 5 I cut over to the coast on a secondary highway. Next thing I know I am in the middle of the Redwood Forest. It never dawned on me that I was anywhere close to the redwoods.
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