In Texas, road tripping is a serious endeavor. When what can be actual days of driving without leaving the state are at stake, it’s important to get the trip’s essential details sorted before even pulling out of the driveway. The most important of these essentials, of course, is where to eat.
Everyone has their own road trip favorites, but in the spirit of Road Trip Week, Eater asked some of Dallas’ best chefs how (and what) they eat out there on the road. From Dairy Queen to kolaches, this intel is solid.
Justin Fourton, Pecan Lodge
Dairy Queen fixes just about any problem. You can find them all over Texas. A Blizzard will quiet a fussy kid and give you a sugary boost of energy to make that last leg of the trip. My go to order is The Dude (add mustard and pickles). Just know, they cook it to order so you may have to wait a bit.
Aaron Staudenmeier, Lovers Seafood & Market
Buy, rent, or own a vehicle you love. Seriously. Texas is huge. This will take a while. I suggest anything with two wheels and obnoxious exhaust. Bring friends. Bonus points for friends with snacks. Crunchy snacks. Friends for life if they show up with crunchy snacks and energy drinks. Eat breakfast at small, one-off cafes or diners. Look for the words mom, homemade, or pie somewhere in the window. If the server is an elderly lady that's been there for 30 years, that's the right spot.
Lunch? Skip fast food. Get off the interstate and find any food (usually BBQ) served out of a truck, shack, or possibly illegal home based business. Generally, these places get better as the number of teeth per cook goes down. Tell them to cook what they like and roll with whatever shows up.
Dinner is easy. You did remember to schedule this road trip around some kind of small town festival, right? Swing by, follow your nose to the best smelling booth and eat whatever they are making. Save room for a funnel cake or ice cream. There's always funnel cake or ice cream. Get some.
Suki Otsuki, Mudhen Meat & Greens
Since my typical road trip consists of heading down 35 to visit my family in Austin, my number one essential is a stop for kolaches. I look forward to swinging by the Czech Stop for a box of delicious treats and a Big Red from the fountain.
Brian Luscher, The Grape
If I am fortunate to get a motorcycle road trip in there are is a higher level of mise en place required than if I am just jumping into the car with the family. No heavy meals to start the trip. Coffee at home and in a travel canister, maybe a couple of bars or some beef jerky or dried sausages. I try to find a small-town butcher shop, Robertson's, or Buc-ee's for my meat stores. If I'm ever near a Robertson's, I will always get two Country Boys.
One of the areas I like trying to get lost in are South of the Great Trinity Parkway for a relatively close trip. Otherwise, I like the area around Granbury, Glen Rose and Hico. In Hico, ya gotta stop at the Koffee Kup. Solid breakfast and lunch options. And PIE! I also cannot go to Hico without getting the best toffee ever at Wiseman House Chocolates. Kevin and crew are good folks.
Scott Curtis, Bird Cafe
My Texas road trips usually consist of driving down to the lake to hang out with my family. My normal routine is a quick stop at Steven’s Garden grill in Mansfield to grab some homestyle bbq before I load up on my childhood snacks of Sour Patch Kids and Lifesaver gummies. Those are my childhood guilty pleasures.