Cross Country Road Trip 2012: San Diego to Houston (food highlights)

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My family is in the midst of this crazy-long road trip across the entire USA and back again.  If you’ve been following my blog a while, you might remember that we did the same thing two summers ago.  We packed up our SUV, and we set off on our adventure!  Cross country road trips with the family are a lot of fun.  We have one 11 year old child, and he’s a very good traveler.  Well supplied with books, dvd’s of old tv shows and movies, iTouch, snacks and music, and we’re all happy in the car!

This is the first chunk of our route- we will travel all the way to Florida, then up the East coast to Boston, then across the Northern Route to Montana and down thru Idaho and Lake Tahoe and back to San Diego.

1st leg:  San Diego, CA to Las Cruces, NM.  I wish we had more time to spend in Las Cruces since there are some very cute parts of the city (check out the Mesilla area).  For us though, it was a quick one night stop on our journey.  We ate at El Comedor, where we had some excellent beef fajitas and enchiladas. Word to the weary, thirsty traveler: they don’t serve alcohol there, but the food is very good!

2nd leg:  Las Cruces, NM to Austin, TX– After a long day of driving the first day, the 2nd day  seemed to take forever.  The driving was all up to me at this point since my husband was flying into Austin to meet us there.  I was very happy to finally arrive at the beautiful Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, where we would be staying.  I wrote up a whole post on the Four Seasons Resort- if you’d like to find out more about it: HERE.

That evening, my son Brooks and I braved a warm windstorm to walk into crazy and cool downtown Austin.  We found this awesome restaurant called Parkside, and they had a table for us.

Brooks bravely tried the Hill Country Rabbit with green onion, potato and pesto and I devoured the Eden Farm Pork Chop with grilled green tomatoes, peas and green tomato jam (both amazing), but we especially loved this very cheesy and decadent baked Macaroni and Cheese.

After dinner, we walked to the Driskill Hotel to enjoy a banana split for dessert.  Our waiter at Parkside had tipped us off to this historic place that is full of ghost stories.

If you’ve never been to Austin, the downtown area is a neat place for people watching- lots of very interesting bars with all kinds of bands playing, unique shops and great food.

The concierge at our hotel told us the best place to grab Chicken and Waffles (something neither of us had never, ever tried!)  We went to 24 Diner and ordered our desired dish.

We didn’t like it at all 😉  OH MY!  Who ever thought to put fried chicken and waffles together?!  So good!

Across the street from that cool diner was a bookstore (remember those) called Book People.  It was really cool to see on their marquis that Joy the Baker was coming to town soon for a book signing!  My son Brooks bought bacon bandaids at Book People.  They’ve been quite the conversation piece!

Near the bookstore is the biggest Whole Food’s Market you’ve seen in your entire life.  It’s their 80,000 square foot flagship store, and it’s worth taking a peek.  If I lived in Austin, I’d be shopping here!

We figured a fun way to see Austin on a warm day would be to take a Segue Tour.  Brooks (age 11, but a tall kid) was deemed old enough to ride one by himself.  They give you a short lesson, and if you pass the coordination test, you’re good to go.  Here we are in front of Austin’s capital building.  It was definitely a fun way to see the city.

Our Segue Tour guide told us to go check out the food trucks on South Congress Street (an area they call SoCo).  It’s definitely a fun place to grab some good grub, and there are a lot of different trucks to choose from.  Unfortunately, we arrived rather late on a weekday so most of them were closed.

This area is also really fun for unique shopping.

We grabbed a couple of scoops of Amy’s Ice Cream.

By this time of day, it was so incredibly hot that the ice cream practically melted before we reached the table.  But the ice cream was really good stuff!

On this crazy-hot Austin day, we decided to get out on the lake behind the Four Season on some kayaks.  It was nice and relaxing to paddle around and feel the breeze on the lake.  How do people live in this extreme heat?!?!

Brooks thought it was cool to paddle under the bridge, where you can hear a zillion bats squeaking in their sleep!

My husband arrived in Austin in time for dinner, so we took him to a good ‘ol down-home Southern comfort food restaurant called, “Moonshine.”  It was just on the outskirts of downtown Austin, walkable from our hotel.

This appetizer:  Corn Dog Shrimp – was one of the highlights.  It’s just what you think it probably is- shrimp strung up on a stick, dipped in corn batter and fried.  It was soooo good!

My entree was the Buffalo Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy with Green Chile Cheddar Grits.  All I can say is omg.  And I owe the treadmill about 10 miles for this one.

Since all of that food just wasn’t enough, we also ordered this Skillet Apple Pie with Maple Ice Cream for dessert.  It was plenty big for three people… in fact, we couldn’t even eat it all.  And it was so good that I’d like to try and replicate it on my site one of these days- maple ice cream and all!

More food recs that I received for Austin:
Freddie’s Place– casual, great for families, live music stage & playscape for kids
Salt Lick or County Line on the Lake– for the best barbecue
Franklin BBQ– Food & Wine dubbed as best BBQ in US
Sweetish Hill Bakery– for delicious homemade baked goods
Jo’s Coffee– the anti-Starbuck’s establishment
Homeslice Pizza or Little Deli– for the best pizza
Torchy’s Tacos– food truck on S. 1st street for the best tacos
Hopdoddy, Huts or Flat Top Burger– for best burgers
Gourdoughs– food truck off S. Congress for fun donut combinations
Olivia’s– Farm to Table, southern food- Food & Wine best new chef
Olive & June– Northern Italian Tapas concept
Uchi– for the best sushi
La Condessa– high end Mexican food
Perla’s– trendy, but good seafood & oyster bar

After two nights in Austin, we were ready for the 3rd leg of our trip:  Austin to New Orleans.  I’ll be writing about New Orleans in my next post, but we did stop for lunch in Houston.  As we were driving, I frantically searched Yelp and called on my Twitter friends to direct me to the best BBQ in Houston.  This restaurant is one I found on Yelp.  It had some good reviews, and it wasn’t too far off of the 610 fwy:  Texas Que Smokehouse.  We arrived 10 minutes before they opened, and stood outside the doors waiting with anticipation.

The folks had noticed my car waiting outside- there are some things on the car that identify me as RecipeGirl!  They seemed nervous that I was there to review the restaurant.  I don’t know why they were nervous.  The bbq’d ribs were pretty much the best I’ve ever had (or maybe I was really hungry).  No, seriously, they were really good!!

Just ask this guy!

Along with recipes as usual, I’ll share more road trip details coming soon… we’re driving all over the USA- eek!

P.S. If you’d like to see more about the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, please click over to my post where I wrote about that.  It’s truly an amazing hotel in the perfect location to access downtown Austin.

Lori Lange of Recipe Girl

Meet The Author: Lori Lange

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  • Sheila Johnson wrote:

    what did we do before Yelp? great post Lori. thanks so much!

  • kellypea wrote:

    I grinned my way through this one– Brooks is quite the character :). And I’m groaning over the food. I’d need 20 mile logged to stay ahead of it all! And you’re right about that kind of heat — no way. I don’t know how they do it.

  • Rosa wrote:

    I’ve lived in Austin for over 10 years and I haven’t tried half of the places you went with your family! Shame on me! Thanks for sharing…now I should go try them out with my family!

  • Carrie @ Bakeaholic Mama wrote:

    So much fun! We are in the Boston area… someday when the kids are older or out of the house Hubs and I want to drive to Cali. Love that you got to ride Segways. The man who invented them is from NH so we see them around allot but I’ve never tried one out. Looks like fun. Also… need some bacon band aids!

  • Mary Lynne wrote:

    Sounds like an awesome trip! Homeslice is the absolutely best pizza I’ve ever had! Next time you’re in Austin, you must go. And if there’s a wait, it’s so worth it!

  • Tricia wrote:

    We love to travel and get away as often as we can! Love following your trip ~ I’m leaving my self this Tuesday on the first leg of our trip to…wait for it…ALASKA! Love your idea of putting it on your blog; am planning on doing the same thing! Happy travels and stay safe!!

  • Reem | Simply Reem wrote:

    Your trip post just made me very hungry!!
    That corn battered shrimp and chicken n waffle….
    I am so glad you had a fun trip.

  • Helene wrote:

    We did a road trip from Vancouver Island, all the way down to Las Vegas, then the same route as you to Florida and eventually made it back to Ontario. It was a 2 months trip in a travel trailer. Was the best trip we ever did. We are planning another one. Don’t know when yet. Enjoy and you will have lifetime memories!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      How fun- I love to hear that others take road trips too. We really have been able to create some lifetime memories.

  • Kristin H wrote:

    I am so glad you enjoyed your stay in Austin! Come back soon!!

    As for how we handle the heat… air conditioning, tons of water, and swimming. Next time y’all should try Barton Springs for a very quick way to cool off!

  • Marisha wrote:

    I will honestly tell you that even though I have lived my ENTIRE life in Texas – you never EVER get used to the heat. I just want to melt right into the sidewalk!! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Austin – it’s a GREAT town with so much to offer!

  • Jenny (VintageSugarcube) wrote:

    I’m sooo enjoying your culinary-travel-pics on Instagram. We use to do a lot of cross country trips growing up. Your son is going to have the best memories. 🙂

  • Erin wrote:

    Oh boo I didn’t know you were here two years ago. I was here! But then again I wasn’t blogging then… and yes very hot. Cannot wait to be free!

  • Chung-Ah | Damn Delicious wrote:

    Great pictures, Lori! Looks like you’re having a blast! And man, I really need to visit that Whole Foods!

  • Kim wrote:

    Sounds like a great trip! Who wouldn’t want to eat their way around the country?? I will be in Tahoe next week, I hope to find some fabulous eats there! If I do I will let you know!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      Please do!

  • Carla @ Carlas Confections wrote:

    What a fun trip to take! You guys look like you are having a lot of fun! I cant wait for you to get to Lake Tahoe! Such a beautiful area. My family is super close to there in Reno 🙂

  • Karen @ Sugartown Sweets wrote:

    Love the pics! My hubby and I also love good, long road trips! Looks like yours is going GREAT!! Have a blast. 🙂

  • Amy @ What Jew Wanna Eat wrote:

    You hit up a lot of my favorite Austin spots! I love the chicken and waffles at 24 Diner!

  • Erin wrote:

    You should’ve come up a bit to Memphis!

    • Lori Lange wrote:

      We did a little of Memphis 2 years ago on our road trip. Loved it, but soooo hot there!!

  • TarotByArwen wrote:

    If you come back through Austin, there are still more “must eat” places. 🙂 It’s a foodie heaven here. Did you try the Mexican Vanilla ice cream at Amy’s? Oh my yum!

  • IdaBaker wrote:

    Driving cross country is not only a great way to see our local wonders, but the best way to taste the local cuisine.

    I’m a bit jealous!!