Oh yeah, this one’s gonna make you hungry. Sorry, not sorry. If it makes things better, I’m salivating as I write it while I wait for my takeaway to arrive. Hurry up, curry.
For me, food and travel pretty much go hand-in-hand. If I haven’t come back from a trip with a few extra pounds on the scales, I’m not sure what’s gone wrong. Hello holiday belly. As well as the experience of trying new and special local food, I’ve found meals out in far-away places to be super memorable for all sorts of reasons.
This year, I’ve been lucky enough to visit the States twice, roadtrippin’ along both the West and East Coasts. Along the way, I’ve found some of the best places to eat. Here are five of my fave meals I’ve had in the USA so far – and the personal stories surrounding them…
BBQ Ribs, Rendezvous, Memphis
ALL THE MEAT. Honestly, I like ribs, but when I’m eating out I always end up going for something else. And if that means I’ve missed ribs anywhere near as awesome as this, I’ve seriously missed out. These badboys were juicy and tender and perfect with a coating of mindblowing Memphis BBQ sauce. I even picked up a fridge magnet with a sauce recipe to try and recreate it at home, it was just. that. good.
One of the things I’ve loved about travelling this year is that I’ve been able to share the experience with a group of strangers that very quickly become friends. As much as I’m totally cool with strolling into a joint and uttering ‘table for one, please’, it’s so much more fun to go to dinner with other people – and not just because you get to try all their dishes.
The decor and atmosphere at Rendezvous was something pretty special too – I much prefer my foodie stops to have a bit of character, and Rendezvous definitely has plenty. Ridiculously good food and the best company – I don’t think you can get much better.
Humble Dog, Humble Potato, Los Angeles
This one’s pretty special because it’s the first ever meal I had in the States. Well, technically not, as I went to New York on a college trip when I was sixteen and I definitely ate plenty out there. But as an adult solo traveller, I count this as my first.
And oh boy, was it a good’un.
After dumping my bags at my hotel, I went for a bit of a stroll (read: walk so long that I ended up getting the bus to Santa Monica) down the street. I was planning on waiting a bit for food, but when I walked past the fun exterior of Humble Potato, I just had to have a peek inside.
I went pretty straight-up for my first Humble Potato experience – the Humble Dog is a juicy frankfurter sausage in a bun, topped with caramelised onion, tomato, scallion, soy-pickled jalapeno and nori. I had to eat it with a knife and fork because the toppings were so generous, and it was the most fun and unusual take on a sausage in a bun I’ve ever put in my face.
While I was sitting and snapping away before eating, I also got my first taste of the friendliness of Americans towards us Brits. An older dude sitting on the table opposite came over to ask me about my camera, and we ended up chatting away about the UK. And yep, he did say he liked my accent…
Rule The Roost Chicken Sandwich, Acme Feed and Seed, Nashville
You think you know chicken sandwiches? Unless you’ve eaten one this good, you don’t know chicken sandwiches. The Rule The Roost Chicken Sandwich isn’t a ‘burger’ type sandwich, but an actual sarnie. In bread. (I’m fully aware you can probably work that out pretty easily from the picture, but I do rather like to be descriptive). The chicken is proper Southern Fried deliciousness, crispy and with a good ol’ kick of spice. To give it a bit of extra tastiness, they’ve added green peppercorn aioli, American cheese and some classic chunky pickles.
It. Was. Divine.
Acme Feed and Seed as a venue is also super cool – on the ground floor, you order your food, and can either sit downstairs and enjoy some live country tunes while you eat or head upstairs to the epic roof terrace with views over the main music/nightlife street as well as the Cumberland River and Nissan Stadium. We had our second and final night in Nashville here, and it was a brilliant place to enjoy our grub with a view of what quickly became one of my fave US cities.
The only downside is that I definitely can’t look at a Boots meal deal chicken mayo in the same way any more. THIS, my friends, is how you do chicken sarnies.
Fish and Chips, Fog Harbor Fish House, San Francisco
I’d read the reviews and the blog posts advising me not to eat at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. Find something more authentic! There’s better fish elsewhere!
But guess what? I ignored them. Hey, when you’ve just escaped from Alcatraz Island, a girl’s gotta eat! I picked the Fog Harbor Fish House purely based on the fact that it looked nice, with big glass windows and cute pastel exterior walls. I am easily pulled in by fabulous aesthetics
Sometimes, I like ignoring the ‘experts’, and this was totally one of those times. The fish was so fresh I could practically have grabbed one out of the sea there and then for the same level of taste, with crispy batter. It was also bigger than the picture suggests – the plate was pretty huge, for a start. Perfectly cooked thin fries and a creamy slaw were the icing on the cake. Sure, it was a tad pricey, but I was on holiday so it’s totally fine, yeah?
While I sat at the table, I mulled over what I wanted to do with the rest of my day – and ended up booking tickets on a whim to visit the San Francisco Dungeons. I know, I know – not exactly the most ‘authentic’ San Fran experience I could have, but I just love me some tacky horror fun.
After finishing up, I headed over to the Dungeons, where I befriended a middle-aged mum who was also there on her own (her 17 and 19 year old boys were apparently too chicken to go in…). And I had an absolute blast. Sometimes, you just gotta do the tourist thing, eh?
Cowboy Burger, 11th Street Diner, Miami
On the last day of my most recent trip, one of the girls from my trek and I went jet-skiing in Miami. That’s a whole awesome experience in itself, but we’re talking food here. After our excursion on the water, it was time to eat a whole lotta lunch. And that’s definitely what we got.
I’ve actually really done much of the classic ‘American diner’ eats in the States – I always tend to opt for Mexican and pizza. But when we spotted the cool-as-hell looking 11th Street Diner, we just had to head on inside. I mean, guys, seriously, it’s a big silver railway train carriage. Who wouldn’t wanna fill their faces here?
The guys at 11th Street served me up a big ol’ Cowboy Burger, 80z of juicy Angus beef (if anyone has any cool adjectives to describe meat let me know, I feel like I’ve stretched ‘juicy’ to its limits about now…). Topped with American cheese, bacon, BBQ sauce and onion rings, it’s easily in the top five burgers I’ve ever had. Yep. That good.
I couldn’t stop looking around at the decor – everything is so fabulously retro Americana. It was definitely a great choice for our last meal in the States…well, until my next trip rolls around!
Let me know about some of your fave holiday meals you’ve ever had in the comments!