The Best Road Food - From Nebraska to New Jersey
Nebraska Road Food
If there is a road food that is synonymous with Nebraska, it’s beef. Not only does the state produce more beef than any other state, it produces the crème-de-la-crème: Omaha Steaks. Omaha Steaks go to its loyal direct-mail shoppers around the world, so you can’t go to Omaha Steaks for a meal (or even tour their plant due to USDA regulations), but you can go to any steakhouse in Nebraska and have one of the best steaks in the country.
The best place to get it: Steak may be ruined for you forever after you’ve eaten at Johnny’s Café in Omaha and had the best steak of your life. The 50’s rodeo style décor is pretty over-the-top with red carpeting on the floor and buffalo heads adorning the walls, but many say its like a trip down memory lane before chain restaurants changed steakhouses forever. In addition to their outstanding steaks, make sure to order the onion rings – they’re to die for!
Nevada Road Food
In a state famous for its two glittering cities built around gambling (Reno, and more importantly, Las Vegas), it’s no surprise that this tourism Mecca is also the birthplace of the all-you-can-eat buffet. Publicist Herb McDonald (no relation to the McDonald’s empire) stumbled upon this brilliant idea one night while working late at the El Rancho Vegas by simply putting out a spread of cold cuts, cheese and bread to make a sandwich at the bar. Some passing hungry gamblers put in requests for sandwiches, a light bulb appeared over McDonald’s head, and this great marketing and hunger-quelling scheme was born.
The best place to get it: If you’re on a road trip through Nevada, you’re probably already planning on stopping in Vegas, and if so, that’s definitely the place to go. Most beloved buffet? Most people go crazy over the buffet at the Bellagio, and it certainly is worth the higher price when you consider the high quality of the food and the wide array of cuisines available. Make sure to show up hungry and wearing something with an elastic waistband as you’ll need both a gigantic appetite and lots of stretch in your pants!
New Hampshire Road Food
There is no state that loves the pumpkin more than New Hampshire. Not only are pumpkins grown in every county in the state, Keene, NH hosts the largest jack-o-lantern lighting in the country every October with more than 25,000 pumpkins expertly carved and eerily haunting the night in the Keene Pumpkin Festival. To make it official, a class of elementary school students convinced state legislature to adopt the pumpkin as New Hampshire’s state fruit in 2006! So it’s obvious, that while you’re in this state on your road trip, make sure to have something made from pumpkins, like pumpkin pie or pumpkin soup.
The best place to get it: From October through the end of November, you’ll be overwhelmed with the varieties of ways to eat pumpkin, from ice cream to soup to snack-able seeds. Go to Keene’s Pumpkin Festival to really get in the spirit! If you’re going to be on a road trip through or to New Hampshire at any other time of year, the place to go is Hart’s Turkey Farm in either Meredith or Manchester where you’ll get a fantastic Thanksgiving Day meal every day of the year with a slice of pumpkin pie to top it off. The mashed potatoes are real and the turkey couldn’t be better tasting.
New Jersey Road Food
If you’re passing through New Jersey on a road trip, make it your mission to stop at a real "Joisy" diner and experience this state’s culinary icon and true road food. Why is New Jersey the state for diners over any other state? The main reason is that the majority of diner manufacturers have been based here, making it easy to set up shop in an area flooded with immigrants from New York City looking a quick – and always available – bite to eat.
The best place to get it: There are diners all over the state, but many of the best have actually been sold, packed up, and mailed to another place to be set up there! The original method of getting a diner was to have a prefab one sent to you to be set up wherever you wished, so it’s equally easy to repack it and send it on.
The best authentic diner still remaining in New Jersey has to be the Summit Diner in – you guessed it – Summit, NJ. Its railroad-car exterior and wood-paneled interior makes you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Slide into one of the old booths and you’ll be treated to some of the best diner-food ever. All around favorites? The Summit Diner has incredible bacon-cheeseburgers with onions, perfectly cooked eggs, fluffy pancakes, and mounds of crispy bacon.
Another favorite is the Tick Tock Diner in Clifton. This would be listed as number one (it’s regularly listed at Jersey’s best), but it’s ugly "upgrade" to a chrome exterior changed the visual appeal of this favorite, taking some of the fun out of the diner experience. Still, the food is great, the selection mind-boggling, and the old clock still remains, tick-tocking away, on the diner’s roof.
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