The Uplinker's Guide to Dining on the
submit your favorites!
Please send me your recommendations for inclusion in this list.
We need to know where the good ones are in order to make our time on the road as enjoyable as possible.
Any readers who have a location they feel deserves a listing here may submit it to:
In our travels around the country my compatriots and I manage to eat at a lot of different establishments. The restaurants listed here are a few of those that have impressed my fellow uplinkers and me the most.
Contrary to what you may have heard, truck drivers rarely eat at truck stops because the food is of exceptional quality. It's because they have room to park their trucks. If you find a non-truck stop restaurant with a lot of trucks parked around it there is a good chance the food is good enough for the truckers to work at finding a parking place. That, or the waitresses are so attractive and friendly that the word has spread via CB radios.
Another good indicator is too look for the police cars. If the establishment isn't a donut shop it's likely the gendarmerie are there for cuisine or the place has just been robbed.
A basic rule of thumb is too look for the line of people waiting to get in. If people are willing to wait in line for the food, it's a likely bet there's good eating at the table.
I apologize for the vague locations you'll notice for some of these establishments, but I'm dredging a lot of them up from my admittedly shoddy memories of the last seventeen years on the road. The fact that I remember them at all means they had some quality that led me to include them in this list.
As the list continues to grow I'll eventually devote pages to those locations along the interstate for meal stops and those establishments that are located in cities and towns in which we may be performing uplink services.
You'll notice that I haven't mentioned many truck stop restaurants here. We've all been there and done that. I will post some that are exceptional or unique from time to time. Suggest a particular favorite and I'll consider including it. Some ought to be visited just for the novelty.
Multi-state Restaurant Chains
These are restaurant chains that I rely on when I'm in transit along the interstates.
Baker's Square - Baker's Square offers a very diverse menu and the food is always topnotch. When you can find them with room to park they make a nice break from the ordinary. Loosen your belt a notch, because they have GREAT PIES!
Bob Evan's - Bob Evan's restaurants are always a consistent source of good food. Breakfast is available at any time. The counter section usually allows you to get in and out with a minimum of delay. Parking for Ku-trucks is fairly good. Larger C-band trucks may have to find alternative parking nearby.
Cracker Barrel - The Cracker Barrel restaurant chain is a staple of my traveling lifestyle. The food is excellent and is reasonably priced. I also enjoy the fact that I can have breakfast anytime. The country store section is a great source of novelty gifts for my family and friends. Parking for Ku-trucks is fairly good. Larger C-band trucks may have to find alternative parking nearby, although I often use the RV parking spaces. Cracker Barrel quit supporting the locator page.
Denny's - They are everywhere and most of them are open 24/7. Decent food at affordable prices. Service and quality do vary from location to location so it can be a sort of Russian roulette dining experience. One attractive feature is their website. Here you can enter your location and find the nearest restaurant. Go to the following internet address to find a location near you. Parking is usually not a problem.
Restaurant's - Walcott and Clive (west Des Moines)
Iowa on 35/80, Rockford and Moline Illinois, Southern Wisconsin near Janesville.
Located very close to expressways, usually adjacent to a hotel. Truck parking is not
a problem at this chain. Excellent for pork chops, gift shop, plenty of dining
space, rustic feel. This chain is spreading out all over the eastern half of the
United States. Check the phone book for locations near you.
Submitted by Peter Ferro
Perkins - Perkins are located everywhere. The food is good and the baked goods are excellent. Many of the restaurants along the interstate systems are open 24 hours a day. Breakfast anytime and it's a decent one. They do have some of the best pancakes
Superior Grill - This restaurant is located at 4701 Highway 280, Birmingham, AL. This is on the southeast side of town. It features excellent Mexican cuisine. The nachos are made on the premises and the fresh salsa is tasty and not to hot to handle. Order the cheese dip for a real treat. Parking is a bit of a problem with a truck, but is available nearby in a shopping center parking lot. The food is well worth a short walk.
The Good Egg - The location I'm familiar with is on East Camelback Road. I think there are several locations in the Phoenix area. This is one of my all-time favorite breakfast places. The omelets are excellent and well prepared. They offer many exotic fillings for those of you with California tastes. The staff are friendly and efficient.
Brennan's - This place is located to the right of the bridge you use to enter Berkely,CA from I-580. You have to take a right and go around a block to get there. It's a cafeteria/bar combination. The menu is rather limited, but what they do fix they do an excellent job on. You can't eat at the bar, buy you can have a great time after your meal. They make a mean Irish Coffee. Parking is available.
Fernando's - Fernando's is located in Alameda,CA. I don't remember the address or know if Fernando still own's it. It is a cozy little Italian place with an excellent menu and wine list. Fernando and his wife run the place and will make you feel like your family over for a meal. Ask him if he remembers a crazy satellite guy named Jim that lived in the apartments across the way back in 1986.
Grotto - This place is
located to the left and under the bridge you use to enter Berkely,CA from
I-580. You have to take a right and go around a block to get there. Spenger's
has a great reputation as a seafood lover's destination. You can park your truck in
adjacent parking lots.
The Buffalo Bar - Located in Idaho Springs, CO on Miner St., the Buffalo Bar was a favorite hangout of the crew from American Uplinks, Inc. They were first company I worked full-time for and they introduced me to the zany world of mobile uplinks. The food is good, but the atmosphere is better. A good pick to visit if you have a day off in the area. No truck parking is available, but you can park nearby and walk it. Good exercise. Something we rarely get enough of on the road.
The Last American Diner - Located in Boulder, CO, this diner is a nostalgia trip as well as a gastronomical find. The wait staff glide around the tables on roller skates. (I don't know if they've upgraded to roller-blades.) The hamburgers are among the best I've ever had and the milk-shakes are handmade and so thick they stick to the straw. Parking is available in the immediate area.
The Cafe Risque - Located in Micanopy, Florida on I-75. You'll see the billboards for miles. Believe it or not the food is very decent. Breakfast is served any time of day and it's served by barely clad young ladies. No, they will not let you lick up spills! Personally, I find being surrounded by totally naked beautiful young women while trying to do justice to a meal highly distracting but extremely enjoyable. You ought to try it at least once. Truck parking is abundant.
Firpo's - Gainesville, Florida. Located at the intersection of NW 6th St. and NW 23rd Blvd. Breakfast any time of the day. The food is good and the specials are worth the price. The smoked sausage links are among the tastiest I've eaten. Park your truck in the ABC liqour store parking lot located diagonally across from the restaurant.
Joe's Stone Crab - Located at the southern end of South Miami Beach. No truck parking is available in the area, but a cab ride is well worth the cost. Be prepared to spruce up a little for this one. There is usually a line and it is not inexpensive. This place is high on the list if you love stone crab. Careful of the bartender though. He is definitely out to inebriate you. That's another reason to take a cab.
Paradise Grill - Tallahassee, Florida - Tallahassee is near to the Gulf, but unfortunately not the ocean. Most locals think Red Lobsters serve good seafood. Ack! Paradise Grill is about an 8.5 on the "ma and pa" scale. They lose two points because the place is often run by college students (some of them very pretty which gives them back +.5 points). The grouper is awesome, the mahi mahi is awesome, flounder and snapper are superb. But the best part is when they have a "catch of the day." If you are lucky enough to get in on some of this, you'll see what a real seafood experience is all about. It was likely caught by the owner or friend of the owner THAT DAY. Just order it straight up cooked - don't be adding bread crumbs or extra spices. Experience your food as it is once in a while! O.K., butter doesn't count. - Submitted by Sam Sinke
and Grill - Jacksonville
Beach, Florida. This place serves the best burgers in the world! I think they
of the largest selections of beer, too. You will be amazed! Just be careful of the black and blue burger. The blue cheese part sounds really good, but
the blackened part will get you! It really WILL leave you black and blue. Ten out of ten on the "ma and pa" scale. Submitted by Sam Sinke
Sonny's Pit Bar-B-Q - Located all over the southeastern United States, Sonny's originated in Gainesville, Florida. The original location is still open on Waldo Road. Good southern BBQ and an excellent salad bar. Well worth a stop whenever your in the mood. Parking may be a little tight at some but they are usually located near areas containing large parking lots.
Pit Barbecue and Restaurant - Tallahassee, Florida. Let's just say Tiny doesn't live up to his
name. And his name doesn't
represent the portions. But everybody loves Tiny. The man can cook a pig. A pig even oinks at you when you walk in the door. A sign declares you can "pig in or pig out". I dare you to find any better barbeque in the Universe! Order a "dinner" plate or a "combo" plate. Friday night is gospel music night, and it will surprise you - very entertaining. Tiny knows if you've never been there before. And he remembers you when you come back. And you will come back to this restaurant. Very "ma and pa," I'd say 10 out of 10! - submitted by Sam Sinke
Jedi's Garden - Griffith, IN - 444 Ridge Road - Griffith Park Plaza. From I-80 take exit # 3, Cline Ave. South. Proceed to the third traffic light and you will see the Griffith Park Plaza on your left. Jedi's Garden will be on the N.E. corner to your left. A very nice family restaurant. The menu selection is very diverse and they carry an excellent variety of baked goods. The preparation and presentation were excellent. I had the roast sirloin dinner, served with soup, salad and fresh bread. The vegetable beef soup was some of the best I've had in years. It was almost like Mom's homemade. The entire meal was a gastronomical treat. There is plenty of space to park in the Plaza parking lot. Best of all, they are open 24 hours a day, except Sunday, when they close from midnight to 5:00 AM, with breakfast served anytime of day.
- Rockford, IL at State
St. - Exit (Business 20) off of I-90. Steaks are the best there, all you can eat
salad and dessert, reasonably priced. Truck parking no problem, it's located in a
Holiday Inn complex. I have stayed in this hotel and can endorse Peter's
recommendation. There is another location near Beloit a little further north along
Submitted by Peter Ferro
Note: I've stayed at this Holiday Inn and have eaten here. Well worth the stopover. - theuplinker
Machine Shed Restaurant - Locations at:
I-80 and Northwest Blvd. -
Exit 292, Davenport, IA.
I-80 and I-35 - Exit 125 - Urbandale (Des Moines, IA)
Excellent food, reminiscent of Cracker Barrel or Dinner Bell restaurants. Country atmosphere with plenty of down home ambience.
Submitted by Andy Rothschadl
Kansas City Area - An introduction to Kansas Barbeque,
Steaks and Mexican by Sam Sinke of RelayHouse -
There are over sixty well known barbeque places in the Kansas City Area. When you
walk into the supermarket, there are literally hundreds of different kinds of barbeque
sauces. All of them are good. This is the land of barbeque and barbeque
restaurants. And you will not get a bad meal at any of them. If locals tell you the
"best" places are either "Arthur Bryants", "KC Masterpiece"
or "Gates" then you aren't talking to a true local. Either that, or they
don't really love barbeque.
Sam's local favorites:
Tonganoxie, Kansas (my present hometown). Located on Hwy 24-40, this is a great
little detour to take when travelling
IIF you're checking
out mexican restaurants, try southwest boulevard in Kansas City. Most mexican
restaurants are bunched together on this road. Ask locals where they would go (one or two
are half-a##ed) so they will likely tell you where not to go.
Free State Brewery - Lawrence, KS - Best beer in town, really good food. Also located downtown on Mass. This is where many of the locals go, so it is sometimes very busy. Usually you can still get a table if you want to eat. But don't wait for a table - there are far too many places to eat in Lawrence for you to wait. Just walk down Massachussetts Street and you will find something good in Lawrence. - submitted by Sam Sinke
and Deli - two
locations - Massachussetts (downtown mainstreet) and 21st (also Hwy 10). Great Lunch
- order the soup and 1/2 sandwich. Soup comes in a breadbowl. You may have trouble
The Grist Mill - Seekonk, MA - Located on Rte 114 - exit off of I-195. I went to dinner here with Mark and Tish Hoderny. Excellent restaurant with an old world atmosphere. Well known for it's seafood and prime rib dinners. Tuesday is prime rib night with a $9.99 special that will make your day. Parking may be a little tight on weekend nights and holidays, but the parking lot should accomodate most Ku-band trucks.
The RedWing Diner - Foxboro, MA - Located on Rte 1 near the Patriot's new stadium. Known for it's seafood and especially for it's fried clams. Parking shouldn't be much of a problem.
Fowlerville Farms Restaurant - Located at exit 129 on I-96 - I noticed this place on the way to E.Lansing, MI for a Michigan State football game. I decided it was worth investigating after the game and I'm pleased to report it was worth the stop. The staff were friendly and the pot roast dinner was a delightful and tasty repast served with a fresh baked bread loaf. The menu offers enough variety to suit almost any taste and the baked goods available rival any I've seen offered elsewhere. Well worth a stop if your headed that way. Truck parking is available.
contributions in the St. Paul, Minnesota area from Sam Sinke - of RelayHouse - the man does appear to know his food!
Grand Avenue hosts tons of places where you can go to eat. Parking sucks, so find where you want to eat, then go one block north to Summit Ave and park (which is wide open) - then walk to where you're going. To get to Grand Ave. from I-94, take Snelling Ave south and go left on Grand.
This will eventually take you downtown, if you start to go downhill. But don't go that far.
on Grand - At the end of Grand, going east, there is a little hole-in-the-wall
restaurant that is "famous for their Walleye." They aren't just
talkin'. Holy crap it's good. Once you've reached the tavern, you've
gotten to the most eastern part of Grand Ave. Friday nights are the big fish fry
nights - a Minnesota tradition. Go to eat, but don't plan on talking. It's
full of Lutherans - they're all talking out loud and nobody's
Betty's Pies - located north of Two Harbors, Minnesota on Lake Superior - Not under the original ownership anymore, the pies have unfortunately dropped to 96% of their original goodness. But they're still some of the best pies next to your grandma's. Oh, yeah, and they have really good food there too, granted you saved some room after pie. - submitted by Sam Sinke
Chocolate Moose - Located in Ely, Minnesota Whoa, I can't eat anymore... Wild game on the menu. Moose burgers and such. Certain times of the year this restaurant fills with tourists, and wait staff gets testy. Sometimes the right tourists show up - those who have been in the untouched wilderness for over a week. They will look a bit odd and flinch at even the slightest noise. Don't worry. They're harmless and they will tell you stories about how a tiny, harmless little black bear sent them screaming into the woods. Very funny. Next door to the C. Moose are a place to buy Mucklucks (spelling?) and an outfitter shop that can set you up with a canoe for your trip. Read Charles Kurault's "America" for more on this little town. - submitted by Sam Sinke
Sven and Ole's Pizza - Grand Marais, Minnesota - Honest to god, they actually called this restaurant Sven and Ole's! Very good thin-crust pizza. Just don't expect to be served, because you have to go to the counter to order. This is a very small town, but very welcoming to visitors. Wintertime sees a lot of snowmobilers and skiiers. Summertime sees a lot of canoers and hikers. - submitted by Sam Sinke
Restaurant - Best
Breakfast in the world! While there has been a chain in the twin cities for years,
the ONLY Uncle
Louis is on fourth street, near sixth ave east. If you have a sat truck, you might try parking in the big hardware store lot across the street. The
gyros, tomato and feta cheese omelette is unmatched by anyone, and the pancakes are the best in the world. Better order one, or you could explode!
A 9.5 out of 10 on the "ma and pa" scale. Submitted by Sam Sinke
Tiny's Smokehouse Family Restaurant - Located at exit 100 on I-44 in Marshfield, MO.
Andy Rothschadl writes:
Had the BBQ buffet with salad bar and desserts twice at lunch time while coming and going from Oklahoma City. Fresh, well attended buffet line. Mixture of pork, beef, and chicken BBQ. Fried catfish and other delights. Desserts were moist and worthy of a bakery. Good $7 meal.
Cline's Corner - Located on I-40 at exit 218 - The food here is adequate if your hungry. They do have a large souvenier shop that has some excellent bargains if you hunt for them. A good place to stock up on little Christmas gifts for people you meet along the way and something different for the folks at home.
Der Dutchhaus' - Located on I-71 at exit 165 - Good Amish style cooking. They have limited hours and are closed on Sundays. Submitted by Andy Rothschadl - Mobile Uplinks, Inc.
Restaurant and Lounge - Located
on I-71 at exit 165 - Doc's is located behind the McDonald's on the east side of the
interstate. This restaurant has a 19th century decor and features a prime rib
special for 12.95 that is guaranteed to satisfy your appetite with a 2" slice of
succulent beef. If your staying at one of the adjacent motels for the night take
advantage of the $1.00 draft beers. Submitted by Andy Rothschadl - Mobile Uplinks,
Peggy's Lunchbox - Located in Northfield Village,OH - Peggy's has been a favorite hangout ever since I worked in the area and I still return on occasion for the home style cooking. The food is of excellent quality and the specials are always worth the price. A great little place to have breakfast, at any time, lunch or dinner. No truck parking is available on premise, but there is a shopping center just down the road. Open from 6:00am to 8:00pm.
Cowboy's Trading Post and Restaurant - Located on I-40 at exit 7 - Cowboy's is located on the South side of the freeway and is adjacent to the Love's Truck Stop. The gift shop is nothing exceptional, but the food is worth the stop. A good menu selection and both breakfast and supper were excellent. I had the pork chop dinner and can highly recommend that you try them. There is plenty of parking next door at Love's and you can also take on a load of fuel before you hit the road once again.
- The particular
establishment I frequented the most was in Troutville,OR near the Flying J and Burns Bros.
truck stops. This is a chain of restaurants in the Portland,OR area. - They serve a
fabulous prime rib and eggs breakfast. The rest of the menu is also excellent.
The service was exceptional and efficient. The strawberry shortcake alone is well
worth the stop.
Hickory Notch BBQ - Ben Johnson, a colleague who works for Fox News, Washington Bureau, as an SNG Field Engineer, submitted the following site in Virginia. This restaurant is located approximately two miles south of the Oilville, VA exit of I-64, between Richmond, VA and Charlottesville, VA. Get off at exit # 164 and head south on Oilville Road for one mile to HWY 250, turn west on HWY 250 and proceed for another mile. Ben states that it is, "the Best BBQ in VA that I've had, although for my palate it helps to mix Tabasco liberally with the sauce. Easy to stuff yourself for under $12 if you get the pulled pork plate." "Very consistent." Ben also mentions that SNV parking may be difficult, but that the south side of HWY 250 has a wide gravel shoulder where you can pull off.
Shari's - Located off of I-5 exit 142. Take S. 348th St. west from the exit. Take your first left on Enchanted Parkway. You'll immediately see the restaurant on the left side of the road. You have to pull into the shopping center parking lot to get there. I was recently in the Seattle area and ran across a Shari's just to the south of the SeaTac airport area. Man was I glad to see it. They still have that prime rib and egg breakfast. This location is directly across from a truck stop so parking isn't a problem.
The Brat Stop - Bristol, WI. Great stop between Milwaukee and Chicago. Right off I94 at the SR 50 exit (exit 340 I think). Brats, sandwiches, cheese, gifts, cheap beer to go. Truck parking a plenty. There is also lodging and an outlet mall with a Sony store here as well. Submitted by Peter Ferro
Nelson Brothers Restaurant and Bakery - Located on I-94 at exit 178. This establishment is located at a Citgo Truck Stop. You can get great food and fuel at the same stop and parking is not a problem. If you arrive after 6:00 p.m. you'll have to stand in line for the restaurant. This location also features great bakery items (the fruit laden bread loaves are heavenly), and a sandwich shop that serves wonderful sandwiches that are a meal in themselves.
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© James Bryant, 1999