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GOOD EATING ON THE DRIVE BETWEEN FLORIDA AND THE NORTHEAST??

GOOD EATING ON THE DRIVE BETWEEN FLORIDA AND THE NORTHEAST??

Dec 20th, 2016, 12:19 PM
  #1  
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GOOD EATING ON THE DRIVE BETWEEN FLORIDA AND THE NORTHEAST??

I've instigated several threads on this topic; two of which you can read here:

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...n-va-nc-sc.cfm

http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...ea-islands.cfm

I should mention that, unlike some, I do not dread the drive south. To me it is a highlight of the winter sojourn, since I get to explore new areas, and to taste regional foods.


Last Friday we left Manhattan about 8:15am and, after taking the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, my preferred route, arrived near dusk in Elizabeth City, NC. This was a planned stop, in order to partake of the seafood at Quality Seafood, a brightly lit beacon in EC's pleasant-looking downtown area. I'm writing this for those who think that there are no good eating options along the main N-S highways.

Like many of its ilk in the southern states, Quality Seafood specializes in fresh, local seafood, the majority of which is fried. It's a casual place, with a drive-in window that gets plenty of action and a brightly lit dining room. There is no "atmosphere," so to speak. But the food made up for it.

We ate inside, along with a cross section of local residents. You order at the counter and are handed a numbered paper; wait for your number to be called and come up and fetch your food.


Most diners appeared to choose the spot, a relative of drum, which is in season in late fall and early winter. Like the other dinner options, this comes with two sides.

I passed on the spot and, instead selected the clam chowder, which was creamy and excellent; the fried oyster sandwich that followed was good. I ordered sides of fried okra (delicious!) and cole slaw, which was chopped fine and tossed with mayo. (Where, indeed, is the mayo line in the Carolinas??) Partner wisely chose the flounder dinner (wise because flounder is now in season along the east coast). Dinner came with two sides; partner chose slaw and fries. Sauces for the fish included a choice of vinegar, hot sauce, tartar sauce and ketchup.

Drink options are tea or soft drinks....a very satisfying meal for two for $28.20.

Open until 8pm; closed on Sundays.


http://www.qualityseafoodco.com/qual...h-city-nc.html

From EC, a quick drive took us to our first overnight, at Hampton Inn in Edenton, beloved to us for their free popcorn and cookies..and the very friendly welcome. They also offer a refrigerator which we use to stash our supplies of food that may not be available in SE Florida.

The following day brought some fabulous eating..we skipped the free breakfast at Hampton Inn and headed straight on along i-17 to Windsor, NC. home of the legendary Bunn's, a barbecue mecca ensconced in an old filling station.


more later...
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 20th, 2016, 12:41 PM
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Keep 'em coming!

My kind of travel!
Ackislander is offline  
Dec 20th, 2016, 03:09 PM
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Sounds good! Calabash?
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 20th, 2016, 05:26 PM
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You picked a good day to leave. Town hasn't been the same since.
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Dec 20th, 2016, 05:39 PM
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Bunn's occupies an old Texaco station in the small town of Windsor, NC, about a half hour's drive west along Route 17 from our overnight stop in Edenton.

I'm no expert on Eastern Carolina bbq but I will say this: I loved Bunn's!

Like Skylight, Bunn's offers the unique eastern NC style of cornbread cooked in a skillet. I thought Bunn's cornbread was a touch thinner and most crispy and less doughy than the Skylight version. I like them both but would give the edge to Bunn's.

The BBQ is superb! Juicy, tender and chopped a little coarser than at some other spots, Bunn's smokes pork shoulder, not the whole hog, and the bbq does lack the crispy bits of skin that makes Skylight's pork so enviable. It's also leaner than the bbq at the whole-hog places I've sampled.

Nevertheless, based on this one visit, Bunn's is my current favorite NC bbq house, notwithstanding the fact that they do not cook with wood, and so are not included on the North Carolina Historic Barbecue Trail.

Happily, they open at 9am every day but Sunday which makes them the perfect breakfast spot after a night spent in Edenton.

There's a little shop in the paneled front room, plastered with ancient advertising signs and magazine and newspaper articles lauding this 70-plus-years-old landmark, and their efforts to rebuild after the inevitable flooding that too often strikes this area of the state. Pass through that room and into the serving and eating space; just place your order at the red Formica counter and sit down there or at the tables in the eating area off to the right.

The menu is straightforward....bbq in various permutations: by the pound, in a sandwich, on a plate. They also offer hot dogs, stew, and, a couple of days a week, chicken. There's pie for dessert.

We both ordered the cornbread sandwich with vinegary slaw--so, so good! Together with a sweet tea, breakfast was well under $10 which, bite for bite, makes it one of the best eating values around. And the workers are very, very friendly. I can't wait to stop by again on the drive north!

http://www.southernfoodways.org/inte...unns-barbecue/
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 21st, 2016, 05:09 AM
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What a neat report!! You can't beat a fried oyster po'boy--and with your sides!!
Gretchen is offline  
Dec 21st, 2016, 11:04 AM
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There are a couple of great dining options in downtown Edenton. I have had great meals at both 309 Bistro and Waterman's Grill.
charsuzan is offline  
Dec 21st, 2016, 12:26 PM
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Boiled peanuts taste good no matter what, especially if they are fresh!
Dukey1 is offline  
Dec 21st, 2016, 01:12 PM
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Thank you, Susan. We are usually too snackered from the long drive to crave a big sit-down dinner upon arrival. In fact, in years past we would stop for a big lunch either at Exmore Diner or the Great Machipongo Clam Shack, both on the Delmarva peninsula. But my love for the Clam Shack cooled after the last visit, so we decided to postpone lunch until late afternoon and try Quality Seafood. I am so glad we did that.


After breakfast at Bunn's, we headed west on I-64, merging with I-95 near Rocky Mount. While we could not justify a stop for the famous fried chicken at Parker's in Wilson, we did have a second great eating adventure later that day.


Last Spring, my partner had been disappointed that I did not make time in our schedule to lunch at Mrs. Wilkes in Savannah. (The Gray and The Florence took precedence on our short visit). So I promised to seek out a good southern buffet on our December drive to Florida.

Not wanting to detour far off 95, I narrowed the list to Fuller's in Lumberton (notable for the Lumbee Indian dishes on offer), and Shuler's, just over the state line near Latta, SC. The more southerly location of Shuler's allowed us more time to digest the pork bbq breakfast, so we programmed the address into the GPS and drove, and drove, and drove, stopping when the disembodied voice told us that we had "reached our destination." Only problem was, the "destination" was a desiccated field miles and miles off 95, with no structures in sight. But did I not read that Shuler's was "just off" I-95?


We finally did find the log cabin that houses this well-known landmark and yes, it is just a couple of miles from I-95's exit 181 right on SC38.


The system here is to pay at the cash register just after entering the dining room; adults pay $12 for the buffet which includes soft drinks or tea and dessert, plus coffee. (There is a senior discount, too)

I'm probably among the few people who never had an interest in the famous buffets of Las Vegas, and I see little appeal in buffets in general. But I really liked Shuler's! I can't claim to have sampled all of the offerings but what I did sample was mostly very good and three dishes were write-home-about excellent. Those were the sweet potatoes, which certainly were sweet with the addition of lots of brown sugar. The sugary end crust of those potatoes made me close my eyes with pleasure. The corn on the cob (could this have been fried??!!) was unlike any I'd had before. And the pork, available hot and not-hot (as in spicy) and pulled rather than chopped, was moist, flavorful, and much better than I had imagined. From all reports, Shuler's still cooks over wood, oak in their case.

We did miss the legendary ribs, which come out about 4pm, but I assuaged my disappointment with some excellent beans, fried okra, very good fried chicken, and a few things I've forgotten. Partner spoke highly of the mac and cheese but pronounced the fried pork cutlet to be a tad dry.

You can go up to the buffet as often as you like, and tea or soft drinks are served by the very friendly young staff. Fellow diners looked to be local, of all ages and types. Apparently Shuler's got a boost in popularity after they were featured on a CNBC tv show called "The Profit." I've not heard of it but will try to look it up online.

There's a lively dining room and an enclosed terrace overlooking a canal which wraps around the rear of the log building.

Desserts were the weak point--about three or four melty trifle-type selections; the best of the sweets were the soft serve "ice cream" to which you can help yourself from the machine.

There's a jam-packed store in the front, featuring old-timey candies and soft drinks, inspirational plaques for your kitchen wall, pot holders pillows printed with jokey sayings and---most interesting to me: Blenheim Ginger Ale, brewed a few miles north of here at South of the Border, and available in three flavors (original, hot, and diet) by 6-pack only.
I passed this time but hope to pick up some on a return visit: Hot, of course.
I'll probably be thirsty after all those ribs!!


http://www.shulersbbq.com/
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 21st, 2016, 04:42 PM
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These places sound great, but . . . do any of them serve beer or wine, or can you byob?
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Dec 21st, 2016, 07:26 PM
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Fra: None of those three serve anything stronger than iced tea. I'm not sure of the BYOB possibility. I doubt if anyone would mind you having a drink in the parking lot, though, but I am an outsider so really can't advise.

But I do know of another great place not far off I-95 in Darien, Ga, south of Savannah--B&J's Steak and Seafood.

I think I've mentioned it before; it is a most worthy stop--they have the option of a buffet at certain times, as well as a full menu. And they do have wine---those screw tops that come in a four-pack in pinot grigio, chardonnay, merlot, etc. (No vintage marked on label; probably from Woodbridge or its ilk..not the place to ask for orange wine.
There is beer either bottled on on tap see menu below; highly recommend if you are ok with fried seafood.


http://www.bandjssteaksandseafood.co...(June2016).pdf


And Sam Jones in Winterville, NC does have beer and decent wine.this is the spinoff of the legendary Skylight Inn, operated by the son of the late Pete Jones. I wrote about this one, too, I think, after my visit last spring....most worthy if a bit dressed up as compared to the more down-home old places.
But they are open daily, unusual in this area:

http://www.samjonesbbq.com/menu/
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2016, 05:53 AM
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Thanks, eks. Tea is fine at lunch but I usually like beer or wine at dinner. Then again, for good fried seafood I guess I could do without!
Fra_Diavolo is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2016, 08:29 AM
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Fra: I like wine with dinner, too. I will try to check out the BYOB option, since I'd not thought of doing that and it sounds like a great idea, since I'm not doing any driving! Is this even allowed in then Carolinas, though? I imagine the laws vary by county..
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2016, 08:38 AM
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Yes, the laws in NC do vary. According to the NC ABC site the only remaining dry county is Graham, but I think there may be more local restrictions as well. Whether you can BYOB depends on both the locality and the restaurant.
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 22nd, 2016, 10:05 AM
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Not that BYOB won't be understood, but it's traditionally called "brown bagging" in NC.

NC and varying localities have got some weirdly cumbersome and sometimes paternalistic requirements that may just make it not worthwhile for some of the places to sell alcohol. Many of them tend to run on pretty thin margins.

Great report and a fun read, ekscrunchy.
obxgirl is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2016, 09:27 AM
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Ah, Blenheim. You may want to rethink "hot". Regular is unbelievable!!
More nice report. We don't get out that far so it's nice to hear the local food is still going.
I got Vivian Howard's cookbook for my birthday and it is as much memoir as cooking--the kind of food that is staple in that far east NC, and not so celebrated as, for example, shrimp and grits. But she has truly elevated it. GREAT cookbook--and a lovely woman. If you watch her show, she is the real thing--WYSIWYG.
Liquor laws are very difficult in much of the south--and the time of day on Sunday they can serve, if at all. When NFL football arrived, that was set back to noon from 1PM.
Gretchen is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2016, 09:46 AM
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Gretchen, thanks, and thanks to everyone else who read this! So you know Blenheim? I'm sorry I did not buy a six pack; I try not to drink regular soda but this sounds like its would be well worth it just to try. Interesting that they bottle it at South of the Border. That place used to be a big deal, although my Dad would never stop to get gas there as he said they were too expensive. (He did stop once at Stuckey's so I could get the free box of pralines with the fill up. But the candies melted on the drive south, and ruined my good raincoat....way off the topic now!!)

One of these days I will make it to Kinston. I did see Vivian on tv once or twice, on the PBS series. And Kinston has a nice hotel now, too.

Ok, what is WYSIWYG? (Oh, wait..I get it!!! She's "real!") I wonder what you think of Sean Brock? Ashley Christensen? Please do tell us the scoop on those two.

I could more see taking a drink in my car in the parking lot than bringing a drink into Shulers or Quality Seafood. Inn fact, I bought to take a flask with me on future trips! And there is some interesting sounding fruit wine in the Carolinas, I think. Is any of it any good?


Please tell me how to shut off the spell correct on a Mac....I keep making mistakes cause they correct things and make them incorrect.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2016, 10:22 AM
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Don't know about the fruit wine, but there is some "real" wine produced in NC too. I mostly see bottles from the Biltmore estate, but there are other vineyards too.

I know how to turn off spell check on an iPad, not a Mac, but a quick search (Duckduckgo, not Google in my case), turned up this:

https://discussions.apple.com/thread...art=0&tstart=0
thursdaysd is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2016, 10:43 AM
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Fruit wines? IMVHO, no. (I'm looking at you, scuppernongs)

Think Anne of Green Gables raspberry cordials.
obxgirl is offline  
Dec 23rd, 2016, 11:08 AM
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No kidding on the fruit wines. I remember lots of this for sale in South Carolina when I made the drive years ago....peach wine.

Thursday thanks..I will try to figure out the spell check thing.
ekscrunchy is offline  

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