Cross Country Road Trip: San Diego to Boston (with food highlights)

My family hangs out in Boston’s South Shore every summer for a few weeks, and this year we thought that

*driving*

from San Diego to Boston might be fun. Here was our route:

We stuffed our car with the essentials (clothes, beach gear, cooking supplies & a dual-screen dvd player), and headed to Boston. Perhaps you saw us on the road?

From San Diego we headed through Arizona and into New Mexico. Lots of desert & not much to look at. Our first stop was Las Cruces, NM. We frolicked in the indoor pool and ate at a fabulous authentic Mexican restaurant- El Comedor. Excellent steak fajitas, and cheap prices too.

From there we headed to Abilene, TX. It was fun to watch the landscape change into more farmland and oil-digging areas, though not all that exciting through TX either. I was really hoping to get some good, local fare in Abilene, but I’m sad to report that we were directed to eat at a Texas Roadhouse by the front desk at our hotel. They didn’t know of any good restaurants. My son was excited about cracking peanuts at TR and throwing the shells on the floor, but the ribs and pork chops were just okay… and definitely not authentic. The next morning, we got these waffles in the hotel (Texans are clearly proud of their state :) )

Next up was Dallas, where we promptly went to a Sonic to get burgers and Cherry Limeade. We stayed with friends and had such a great time at their house that we didn’t go out and get any good local fare in Dallas. About all I can say about Dallas is that it was a BIG city and it was freakin’ HOT. Wish we’d been able to carve out more time for exploring.  My husband dragged us to Waffle House for breakfast (nostalgic for him, but not a very good place to grab good eats, for sure).

Since my husband is a huge Elvis fan, we drove up to Memphis next. We stayed with friends on Mud Island (a beautiful place). Our friends made sure that I left with a bottle of Captain Rodney’s Scotch Bonnet Pepper Boucan Glaze. Can’t wait to try this stuff! (My husband had already been to Graceland but wanted to share the experience with my son and me. I’m not an Elvis fan myself, but it was cool to see. Again, HOT in Memphis. We grabbed breakfast at this fabulous place:  Arcade Restaurant, where many famous people have dined.

I had some unbelievable Sweet Potato Pancakes and my husband decided to try what any good southerner might have for breakfast: Biscuits & Gravy with Grits and Eggs.

Maybe we’re just used to eating some lighter fare, but this breakfast was just way too much. And it was our first time trying grits. These were served with butter, and they were…icky…just icky.

From Memphis, we headed down to Starkville, Mississippi. We caught up with some dear old friends and ate dinner at Mugshots. It was a recommendation from Twitter friend OxfordFalls, and we thank him for that. Fantastic burgers and fries at Mugshots.

We realized on the drive from Mississippi to Savannah, that we had entered beautiful country… trees everywhere and interesting sights. Loved hearing the accents of people at service stations and elsewhere. We passed by Talladega Speedway in Alabama. We ate at Shane’s Rib Shack near Atlanta (a chain), but we thought the bbq was pretty darn good there.

My family dropped me off in Savannah, where I was going to be working for 5 days. I ate one fancy dinner at Elizabeth’s on 37th- very good food and a unique atmosphere (old house). Be prepared for an expensive dinner though. Exploring Savannah by myself, I found a great cupcake bakery- Mabel Francis Potter’s Cupcake Emporium- where I tried their red velvet with cream cheese…and I think the other one was a yellow butter cake. I enjoyed the red velvet best- moist w/ good frosting too!

The reason for my visit to Savannah was to work with the Real Women of Philadelphia & Ms. Paula Deen. Paula was just as she appears on TV- so sweet and Southern and full of Y’alls :)

We hung out all day together and chatted extensively about anything and everything. Lots of recipe chat. I judged the RWoP Cook Off with Paula, her Aunt Peggy, and Robin (from Kraft). It was set up “Top-Chef” style, with the contestants up front, us sampling food at the table and providing feedback as we tasted. The whole thing was filmed to be viewed on the internet. Looks like I’m pretty seriously judging this one ;)

Here I am with the four women who won the RWoP Cook-Off:

I had the chance to tour Savannah with all of the contestants. We raided Savannah Sweets (and came back to the hotel with a ton of pralines, fudge and taffy!)  We stopped by Polk’s Fresh Market, which was a little place full of nice produce and local Savannah treats. I bought fried peanuts (weird), praline toffee (sticky), pecans, corn grits and some fantastically juicy Georgia peaches. This place is worth a stop if you happen upon it.

We were shuttled to Paula’s Brother’s restaurant for lunch: Uncle Bubbas. I had bbq’d oysters and some other assorted deep-fried appetizers (deep fried pickles were not so good). It was my first time ever trying real Southern Sweet Tea (too sweet for me!) I ordered Shrimp & Grits, which was good… but much too heavy to have more than a dozen bites. The Key Lime Pie for dessert was pretty darn delicious.

I didn’t have the chance to eat at Paula Deen’s restaurant, but we were taken to her old house, which is the cooking studio where her shows are filmed. Here are some shots of the house, the indoor kitchen (this should look familiar if you watch her show!) and the outdoor kitchen (I was drooling over this) and the riverfront behind her house. It was a gorgeous place.




Before we left Savannah, Mandy and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Back in the Day Bakery, where we had these amazing treats…

I mentioned before that my husband and son dropped me in Savannah- while they drove on to see D.C. and Gettysburg. I flew up and met them in Philadelphia, PA- where we stayed for just a night. We met a friend in Phoenixville, PA and ate at a little place called Bistro on Bridge. I thought the appetizers there were excellent (Caprese on baguette, prosciutto-wrapped asparagus and many flavors of wings too). I had a flank steak salad for dinner that was outstanding.

We then headed to Seekonk, MA for one quick night. There, we found a pretty good steak & seafood sort of place: The Old Grist Mill Tavern. I stuck with appetizers- lobster-stuffed mushrooms (wow!) and lobster bisque (because when you’re in MA, you’ve got to have lobster, right?) The salad bar was just okay. The atmosphere of the place had a cool downhome vibe, and there was a river with a ton of ducks alongside the restaurant that my son was very excited about.

Our final destination across to the Eastern coast was Boston’s South Shore, a fabulous little community of beach houses where we stayed put for three weeks to hang out with a sea of relatives and great beach house neighbors. And ate quite a LOT of lobster :)

In the South Shore, we ate at our usual favorite places– Haddad’s for lobster rolls and good, fried seafood, Arthur & Pats for amazing breakfasts such as frittatas and chocolate waffles, and The Fairview Inn for a nice dinner date out (lunch is too expensive there though). 

Couple of things we learned on this leg of the trip: 
1.  There is a Subway at every single rest-stop you see. It became kind of a joke after a while.
2.  And don’t put burned out coals/ash in a paper bag on a wooden deck. We learned that the hard way when coals that we were sure had burned out– weren’t. They smoldered for 20+ hours (unbeknownst to anyone) and eventually caught the bag and the deck on fire at 4am.

I woke to a crackling sound, which turned out to be the side of the house catching on fire.  We scooted out of the house quickly, with nothing but ourselves.  Luckily, my husband saved the day– he was able to grab the neighbor’s hose and get the flames out before it engulfed the old, wooden beach house. The firefighters finally arrived and were there for over an hour making sure that there weren’t hidden embers. It turned out to be fairly minimal damage, and we were thankful to have saved the house… and that we were all ok–and that the owners had insurance. We were able to re-enter the house and finish our vacation. Big-time lesson learned.

It was a great trip across… we took about 12 days (and just over 4,000 miles in the car) to reach our destination. Would have liked a little more time to explore the cities we stopped in and visit some food places that were recommended to me (it’s tough to do it all!) We took a much longer time to explore on the way back to San Diego– on a more Northern route, which I’ll be sharing sometime soon!

Leave a Comment




28 Responses to “Cross Country Road Trip: San Diego to Boston (with food highlights)”

  1. 1

    maria — August 16, 2010 @ 3:33 PM

    Looks like a fun trip! Thanks for sharing!

  2. 2

    Sarah — August 16, 2010 @ 7:53 PM

    What an amazing trip! Paula Dean must have been so much fun to meet. I really would love to do a road trip like that.

  3. 3

    Gale Reeves — August 16, 2010 @ 10:09 PM

    I’m from TN. I have to agree with you on the grits…I just don’t like them. I have had some shrimp and grits that were good, but the slimey, buttery ones – just no way!

  4. 4

    RecipeGirl's Mom — August 16, 2010 @ 10:21 PM

    What a bundle-full of memories you gathered this summer to share with each other and the folks you met along the way. Loved you sharing with me!

  5. 5

    Carol (CGtheFoodie) — August 16, 2010 @ 10:58 PM

    Wow that sounds like a fabulous trip! Looking forward to the return adventure!

  6. 6

    Tracy — August 17, 2010 @ 5:01 AM

    What a great road trip. My husband is dying to go to Boston, so I would love to plan something like this for him someday.

  7. 7

    Sues — August 17, 2010 @ 5:15 AM

    Wow, I didn’t realize you drove from Cali to Boston! I would LOVE to do this. Your photos with Paula are so cute and the food all looks delicious. I’ve never had grits either, and now I’m not so sure I want to! :)

  8. 8

    Jane — August 17, 2010 @ 6:02 AM

    As a transplanted North Shore gal, I’m envious that you got to go back. I can’t believe that you braved I-95 from south of DC to Boston. There is another way around this mess and just a little longer but better scenery (across I-84 through NY and PA). Good luck on your travels back home.

  9. 9

    Deliciously Organic — August 17, 2010 @ 6:50 AM

    Loved this post! It was like I traveled along with you. I’m from the south so it was great to read (and see pictures) of the different places you went. I miss home! :)

  10. 10

    bunkycooks — August 17, 2010 @ 6:52 AM

    What an awesome trip! You were sort of in my neck of the woods while you were in Savannah. How much fun and lots of great food all along the way!

  11. 11

    Heather — August 17, 2010 @ 7:05 AM

    What an amazing summer trip! Loved reading all about your adventures. I especially loved reading about your stop in Savannah. I went to college there and adore that town and all the amazing Southern food. Polk’s Fresh Market is one of my favorite stops. Thanks for sharing!

  12. 12

    Jessica — August 17, 2010 @ 7:27 AM

    Sounds like a BLAST! Thanks for sharing.

  13. 13

    Nancy Till — August 17, 2010 @ 8:12 AM

    Now the question for me is: What is it I like best, the grits or the butter, the lobster or the butter, the artichoke or the butter? I love ‘em all, but without the butter, I wonder? What do youu think?

  14. 14

    Nicole — August 17, 2010 @ 8:42 AM

    Wow, what an ambitious trip. How exciting to go to Paula’s place :) Glad everyone was ok and that the damage was minimal, yikes.

  15. 15

    Meredith — August 17, 2010 @ 9:47 AM

    I used to go to the Old Grist Mill all the time when I was little!! My favorite part was the salad bar :( BUT only because they must have had a 50 pound block of cheese that you could cut off as much as you want. I’m not sure if they do that anymore???

  16. 16

    Ronda — August 17, 2010 @ 2:24 PM

    What a wonderful post on your adventure! It looks like you had a great time. That must have been so cool to hang out with Paula Dean. I’m from Philadelphia and have always wanted to get to Boston. Someday soon, I love me some lobster! Thanks for sharing, I feel like I just went cross country through your post!
    XOXO

  17. 17

    nina — August 17, 2010 @ 8:19 PM

    For sure a trip I would love to make ……

  18. 18

    grace — August 18, 2010 @ 2:59 AM

    subway is taking over the world!! :)
    first of all, great pictures from what must’ve been the most memorable trip ever–i’m so jealous!
    secondly, i feel sad that your first grits experience was negative–they really are a delightful food if prepared correctly!

  19. 19

    Robin — August 18, 2010 @ 6:31 AM

    Wow, looks like a really great trip…other than the “house is on fire” thing.

  20. 20

    Margaret — August 18, 2010 @ 1:30 PM

    What an amazing time to spend with family. Love roadtrips, the longer the better. And you have had some amazing adventures. Glad you made it home safe and sound.

  21. 21

    Elle — August 19, 2010 @ 7:55 AM

    Amazing!!!

  22. 22

    Carole — August 19, 2010 @ 8:35 AM

    Cross-country road trips are memorable. We did it a few times when I was a kidlet.

  23. 23

    Noble Pig — August 19, 2010 @ 8:54 AM

    How totally awesome for you! You look great and what an exciting trip!!

  24. 24

    marla — August 19, 2010 @ 12:34 PM

    Lori, it has been such a fun time watching your tweets and now finally reading your re-cap post. Your cross country journey looks like it was a great success. Love that you spent time in Savannah with Paula Dean. Glad to read she is as sweet as she appears on camera.
    Love those Texas shaped waffles!Think i’ll skip the grits and butter~I trust your opinion! xo

  25. 25

    Kathy — August 19, 2010 @ 1:16 PM

    Enjoyed your post. I don’t know if I could ever sit in the car that long. Funny, you were an hour from me in Phoenixville, PA. AND I went to college in RI and ate at the Grist Mill many times. It was where your parents took you when they came to visit. Haven’t thought about it in years.

  26. 26

    Kristen — August 19, 2010 @ 10:32 PM

    What a great trip – eating across America!
    I want Paula’s studio house. It looks gorgeous!

  27. 27

    Michelle — June 1, 2011 @ 7:48 PM

    I was just looking for some good summer recipes from your archives. I just read your post from your trip to the south shore here in MA, which just happens to be my neck of the woods!! I love Arthur and Pat’s, it’s wicked awesome and Dee is the best!! Hope you return again this year, I look forward to reading about this years adventure!

  28. 28

    Lori Lange — June 1, 2011 @ 8:59 PM

    Cool- glad you stopped by. And YEP, we’ll be back to that neck of the woods again this summer. Can’t wait!