Road Trip Southern Yummy Eats I-95
It is almost Summer and that means one thing for many of you, a road trip down South. As a former train conductor that has worked trains from New York City to as far South as Miami, Florida, I am now telling you about the places I have been to between the North and the South. Most of these places are budget friendly, have amazing food, and are a MUST visit if you are going to any of these destinations on your trip.
FIRST STOP: Richmond, VA
Sally Bell’s Kitchen in Richmond is a family owned eatery that has been serving homemade food for over nine decades. They are a pick-up or delivery place only so I recommend that you call in your order before driving by. Please be aware that they close at 5pm on weekdays and on 2pm on Saturdays.
Their telephone number is: 804-644-2838.
SECOND STOP: Asheville, NC
Tupelo Honey Cafe is not directly on I-95, but I included it on this list because you do need to transfer from I-95 to I-81 to get to Asheville. I know that it has become a very popular destination, so I wanted to add my favorite place to eat there. Tupelo opened its doors in 2000 and they offer Southern food from scratch. I strongly recommend reservations. They offer brunch, lunch, dinner, and Happy Hour. Their fresh house biscuits with honey are the perfect start to your meal.
THIRD STOP: Florence, SC
Julia Belle’s is in the Pee Dee State Farmers Market and they are family owned and operated. Who was Julia? She was the current owner’s great grandmother and now you get to enjoy some of her recipes and Southern hospitality and food at its best. The menu includes Southern classics like fried green tomatoes, shrimp & grits, Mac & Cheese as well as other local favorites. In addition, they offer desserts from their bakery. Are you in the mood for a Low Country boil? Country Pot roast? Or chicken & waffles? Julia Belle’s was one of my favorite stops down I-95 and it should not be missed.
FOURTH STOP: Myrtle Beach, SC
Big Mike’s Soul Food is one of many places to eat at the popular Myrtle Beach.
However, I chose this place as my favorite because it is a hole in the wall with amazingly wonderful and budget friendly Southern food. Also, the portions are very generous. For fried chicken with all the popular sides, take your soul to be pampered with simply irresistible Southern cuisine.
FIFTH STOP: Charleston, SC
Husk Restaurant. Over the years, Charleston has become a foodie destination and Husk is a great representation of what the South stands for. It is centrally located in historic downtown. Although more casual than McCrady’s which is also owned by the same people, Husk is a perfect example of elegance meets casual favorites. The menu only uses fresh local ingredients. Please be aware that daily specials depend on what is available during the season and it changes twice a day. I strongly recommend reservations. Do not miss this charming building originally constructed in 1893.
SIXTH STOP Savannah, GA
Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room is known by the locals as the original Paula Dean. Rumor has it, that Paula bought some of her recipes from Mrs. Wilkes. Why not go to the original?
Doors open at 11:00 a.m. and there is usually a line out the door. I would recommend arriving thirty minutes early. Seating is family style around a table so you will be sharing your meal with complete strangers. Before you know it, platters of fried chicken, cornbread dressing, sweet potato soufflé , black eyed peas, okra gumbo, corn muffins and biscuits are all abundantly there to share with friends, neighbors, and strangers. Please be aware that they are only open from Monday to Friday from 11am to 2 pm. Plan accordingly. Lunch is $23 USD per person and ½ price for children 10 and under.
SEVENTH STOP Tybee Island, GA
Sundae Cafe serves the best BLT with a twist by adding fried green tomatoes. I still dream about it. They are a family owned restaurant off Savannah’s coast. Here you will find Southern inspired dishes ranging from sandwiches to seafood and steaks. The Cafe is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner
EIGHTH STOP St. Petersburg, FL
The Maple Street Biscuit Company opened up in Jacksonville, Florida in 2012. They are not a chain, but have expanded to many other locations due to their great success. I am not surprised of their accomplishment after biting into these flaky biscuits with perfectly cooked chicken and maplewood bacon. There are a variety of options to choose from as well as tasty sides from sweet potato fries to fried green tomatoes.
NINTH STOP Tampa Bay, FL
The Pub in Tampa boasts delicious fish & chips as well as a one million dollar bar that reminds me of a scene from Titanic. It is an impressive pub with draught beers, layered beers, bottled beers, Scotch/Whisky, Bourbon/Whiskey, and Tavern private selections. Go ahead and order a pint with their delicious beer cheese, followed up with their London-Style Fish & Chips. You will also find bangers & mash, shepherd’s pie, as well as burgers with fried pickles & British chips. Skip the chain restaurants, across from The Pub and treat yourself to the place British people themselves crowned as the “Best Fish & Chips in the U.S.”
TENTH STOP Miami, FL
Pepito’s Plaza is a Venezuelan stop that will introduce you to quality Venezuelan grub. In Florida, Venezuelans have been called “The New Cubans” and after leaving the homeland, they have brought their popular cuisine to South Florida. I have always said that I have had my favorite hamburgers and hot dogs in Venezuela. We have a way of seasoning our dishes and adding toppings you would never expect. New Yorkers agree with me after the “Best hot dog in New York City” went to Venezuelan food truck “Santa Salsa.” Although I have not visited his place in Brooklyn, I do know that you can get arepas, cachapas, tequeños, and many other Venezuelan goodies in Pepito's Plaza.
Apparently, Anthony Bourdain has made a visit after hearing about all of the delicious food.
What is a Pepito's sandwich you ask?
The pepito sandwich is a common street food in Venezuela, consisting of carefully seasoned steak, a variation of house sauces, and shoestring potato chips typical of Venezuelan sandwiches, hot dogs, and hamburgers. I cannot imagine a better stop after a day of work in Miami or a night of drinking.
I hope this list makes your travels easier and I hope Southern cuisine makes you fall in love through your tummy. Feel free to pair any of the above meals with your favorite beer, soda, or sweet Southern style iced tea. I believe a local will respond with a "Bless your heart" if you have not tried any of the above meals.