Feasting on Asphalt in the Northeast
May 30, 2007 4:05 AM   Subscribe

Please introduce my non-American friend and his mother to Real Americana food joints in North East USA, the more picturesque and famous the better.

A friend is planning to take a 2-week long road trip with his mom (who hasn't had a vacation in decades), starting in NYC. He's a big fan of Alton Brown and he wants to do a trip rather like the one AB did in Feasting on Asphalt but concentrated around NY State/NJ/PA, maybe New England also. (Feasting on Asphalt didn't cover that area at all.) I already told him to pick up a copy of Road Food, but I am wondering what MeFi people would recommend.

Criteria: decent, all-American food; not too expensive or fancy (no Michelin stars required); picturesque is good (they want to take lots of photos with mom in the foreground); famous or notorious is even better. Restaurants, diners, roadside stands, interesting food related shops are all good.
posted by derMax to Travel & Transportation (31 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
If you're looking for All American food, you've got to go to All American on Long Island. Used to live nearby as a kid and it was just the best. It's been there about 40 years.
posted by gfrobe at 4:19 AM on May 30, 2007

If they're starting in Manhattan, what about Empire Diner
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:23 AM on May 30, 2007

Dinosaur BBQ in Syracuse (also in Rochester and NYC, but I've only tried the Syracuse one. Tourists be loving it!
posted by bonaldi at 5:24 AM on May 30, 2007

CT-centric, but:
Frank Pepe's Pizzaria New haven, CT (arguably the best pizza in the U.S.)
Ted's Steamburgers Meriden, CT- steamed cheeseburgers!
There's a ton of seafood shacks on the water on Rte 1 in CT between New Haven and Westbrook.
Custy's Buffet - North Stonington - all you can eat lobster and steak (and only $67.50)
posted by FreezBoy at 5:26 AM on May 30, 2007

The Lobster Roll / AKA LUNCH on Long Island (NY) out towards Montauk. Fairly famous.

Mont Olympus Diner, Yonkers NY is a perfect example of a NY-area greek diner (but not very picturesque, unless you are counting the dessert case)
posted by mikepop at 5:45 AM on May 30, 2007

Well, there's either Pat's or Geno' for cheesesteaks in Philly. Though there may be better steaks around, either of those are awfully good and the places are what people think of when they think photo op and cheesesteak.
posted by lpsguy at 6:01 AM on May 30, 2007

If you are going to do New England, I'd recommend the Barking Crab in Boston. It's right on the Harbor in Boston and in addition to fantastic Clam Chowder and other seafood (although, perhaps similar to what you can get in Long Island), is full of thick Boston accents for your friend and his mother to laugh at.
posted by jk252b at 6:06 AM on May 30, 2007

And if you're hitting Boston, also check out Kelly's Roast Beef. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it. And it's definitely some Americana.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:17 AM on May 30, 2007

If they're traveling on 95 in CT, Super Duper Weenie! Best hot dogs ever. (Their burgers are great too.) I-95, exit 23, about 1/5 mile south of the highway. (If you're traveling north on 95, there will be signs.) Yum!
posted by AlisonM at 6:28 AM on May 30, 2007

^ Whoops! Exit 24!
posted by AlisonM at 6:29 AM on May 30, 2007

The recent thread has a bunch of suggestions that might be up your alley.
posted by AwkwardPause at 6:30 AM on May 30, 2007

In NJ, The Hibernia Diner is not to be missed. Bakery on premises.
posted by paulsc at 6:37 AM on May 30, 2007

Blue Benn Diner in Bennington, VT (scroll down on linked page), is a classic rail-car place, as is the Martindale Chief in Martindale, NY. More Americana ambience, IMHO, than the chrome-and-pastel Greek-style places. Food's great at Blue Benn, not so great at Martindale Chief.
posted by scratch at 6:49 AM on May 30, 2007

For Connecticut, I second Super Duper Weenie, suggest Sally's instead of Pepe's (better pizza and nicer to boot) and would add Louis' Lunch (birthplace of the hamburger) in addition to Ted's, as both must be visited.
posted by horsemuth at 6:53 AM on May 30, 2007

I once had an excellent lunch at O'Rourke's Diner in Middletown, CT. It's the real deal and a post-prandial walk down Main St. will offer a glimpse of life in a very typical New England town. Not too far off I-91 en route to Boston.
posted by otio at 7:00 AM on May 30, 2007

C'mon. Modern Apizza is where the locals go.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 7:01 AM on May 30, 2007

Scratch that! O'Rourke's had a big fire last year and is now closed. Too bad.
posted by otio at 7:05 AM on May 30, 2007

You didn't say how far northeast, so I'll jump in with a few Maine institutions: Moody's Diner in Waldoboro. For lobster rolls and otherwise, Red's Eats in Wiscasset or Shaw's Lobster House in New Harbor.
posted by SteveInMaine at 7:06 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

C'mon. Modern Apizza is where the locals go.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld

Yeah, but if I was just passing through and I had to have one, it would be Sallys...
posted by horsemuth at 7:12 AM on May 30, 2007

I'm with horsemuth. I came here to say both Sally's and Louis' Lunch, and you beat me to it.
posted by bassjump at 7:24 AM on May 30, 2007

Sally's! Modern Apizza!
see, this is why I said arguably.
but Pepe's is better

And I third Louis' Lunch which I completely forgot about.
posted by FreezBoy at 8:07 AM on May 30, 2007

I knew this would degenerate into a New Haven Pizza Fight. Instead of Louis' Lunch (I am a blasphemer, but the white bread/limited meat/no ketchup stuff can scare furriners) I'd suggest something like Glenwood, on Rt 10 in Hamden...of course, this is all if my fellow New Haveners haven't scared you off.

On a more real suggestion, see if you can grab a copy of 'Drive I-95' from a bookstore. It's obviously 95-centric, but it lists the local places that are good for eating along the way (excluding Florida), as well as the local family-friendly mildly quirky places to visit.
posted by cobaltnine at 8:36 AM on May 30, 2007 [1 favorite]

billybob's for cheesesteaks in philly. down and dirty but mmm...
posted by violetk at 8:50 AM on May 30, 2007

In Rhode Island, track down the following:
-Wes' Rib House (Dyke St, Providence) BBQ and fixins, open late
-New York System Weiners (Smith St, Providence) weiners, RI specialty, open late
-Spike's Junkyard Dogs (many locations all over RI and Boston), crazy hot dogs on grinder rolls with bacon or baked beans or hot peppers or whatever you want
-Nick's on Broadway (Broadway, duh, Providence) amazing breakfast, gourmet without the snooty
-Julian's (Broadway also, Providence) more gourmet, but the staff and clientele are full of tattoos and metal, the table are built out of relics of RI industry, and the walls are covered in local art
posted by mkb at 8:55 AM on May 30, 2007 [2 favorites]

Seconding Moody's Diner in Maine - be sure to have some pie.
posted by naoko at 9:05 AM on May 30, 2007

Spike's Junkyard Dogs

Oh man, now I am missing Spikes. The Freakin' Hot Hot Dog? A killer, but oh how I love it.

On the line of hot dogs, though, stop at a hot dog truck. Few things are more American to me than sitting in the car on the side of the road eating a couple dogs with mustard and kraut and drinking a diet chocolate soda.
posted by uncleozzy at 9:07 AM on May 30, 2007

Crowley's restaurant in Cranesville, PA.

Great food, beautiful setting.
posted by essexjan at 9:19 AM on May 30, 2007

I'm loving all of the recommendations! I'd mark them all 'best' if I could. Makes me want to make a similar trip with the wife myself!
posted by derMax at 10:04 AM on May 30, 2007

If you're heading north from NYC, may as well stop (after about an hour's drive) for lunch and miniature golf at the Red Rooster on Route 22.
posted by Dave 9 at 12:34 PM on May 30, 2007

otio: O'Rourke's isn't out for the count yet. You can get an O'Rourke's breakfast in Middletown any day except Monday.
posted by zamboni at 6:10 PM on May 30, 2007

In RI, go to a diner and get a "cabinet" -- milkshake -- and a coffee milk.
In CT, a milkshake will be a "frappe" -- pronounced "frap".
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:26 PM on May 31, 2007

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