Ruth and I are involved in a travel project. We found an article that listed the so-called best sandwich in every one of the 50 states as we were just about to drive across several of them. We stopped in designated towns and found mostly winning sandwiches in uncrowded dining places. The 2 best on-the-road-sandwiches were in South Dakota and Montana. The one in Sioux Falls was called the Schnitzelwich and contained pork tenderloin, poppy seed slaw, and more. The absolute best sandwich was tagliare’s scarily named Megadeath in Missoula, Montana. Owner Matt served us his gigantic sandwich pictured below and proudly announced that the hands in the article holding it were his wife’s. We survived Megadeath to try 3 more of the 50 best sandwiches, and we have now sampled about a dozen of them. Our next will be in Seattle. More about this later.
Because of this project, I was especially interested in an article named “How to Be a Restaurant Sleuth” in a Guide to Georgia that I picked up. Georgia, by the way, is where we had the least tasty (so far) of the 50 Best Sandwiches. Zunzi’s Conquistador contained too much baked chicken, and the 2 sauces we sampled were watery. The uncredited writer of “Sleuth” gave 4 “foolproof ways to find a memorable meal” while traveling, which is often hard to do. Ruth and I invariably choose unwisely when we randomly select a restaurant on the road.
The unknown writer’s 1st rule was a good one that consistently works. “Chat up the locals.” This is a foolproof idea and the reason why we dined in Country’s BBQ in Columbus, GA. It was incredible, especially the banana pudding.
Rule #2 is far spottier. If you visit a tourist bureau, “…ask the people who work there what their favorite restaurants are and why.” Tourist stop helpers and hotel staffs, especially those with on-site restaurants, are usually unwilling or forbidden to name their local favorites. I find this understandable with so many competing restaurants in every town. I have found a way around this, however, that sometimes works. Ask them to name 3 or more good restaurants in the area. Such a request almost always gets you asked the same question, “What do you like?” before you get a response. Be prepared for this.
Rule #3 would, in my opinion, take too much time. “Tour local markets…and ask vendors where they eat.” However, this should work if you’re ever in this situation.
I would never have thought of Rule #4, but I must admit that it’s both clever and a good idea. “Consider attending a fund-raising event that features local foods, such as a church supper or firehouse chicken dinner” and chat with the locals about their favorite foods, especially specialized dishes like peach cobbler in Georgia. Then ask about favored restaurants in their area.