I've just returned from a 12,000km loop through the U.S. with 500 Things to Eat well-thumbed along the way. Only now when unpacking have I noticed the URL on the back of the book... wish I'd visited this site along the way!
I had a few great hits from the book, including Five-Way Chili in Cincinatti and Gooey Butter Cake in St. Louis, MO. However misses too. My own fault for not calling ahead but part of the fun was intended to be the journey in finding these places... I just went there. My advice after a few disappointments: call ahead. The most disappointing were:
- The Ultimate Garlic Grilled Cheese at Eden Alley Cafe in Kansas City, MO, had me drooling across one and a half states, but Eden Alley is in the basement of a Unitarian church and is CLOSED all day Sunday!
- The Huevos Rancheros and Cinnamon Bun at Hell's Kitchen in Duluth, MN, sounded breakfasty enough that I didn't consider they would not be open in the morning, but they don't even open for lunch! They open at 3:00pm, and I couldn't wait.
- Pork Chop John's in Bozeman, MT, is gone, just a burger joint now.
Finally, 500 Things to Eat does sort of hint between the lines that the Cinnamon Roll at Johnson's Corner in Loveland, CO, is not necessarily great, just big. However the one I had wasn't "as big as a plate" - it was about average size - and it was definitely not worth going out of my way for. The bun has never met butter, and has only a hasty passing acquaintance with cinnamon, so it has a stiff, pasty, gummy consistency without much flavour. It's served in a deep lake of sugar icing with a hint of almond extract to overcome its shortcomings, but it doesn't work.
I certainly enjoyed reading 500 Things to Eat, and enjoyed seeing the places it took me, but next time will plan more carefully to avoid quirky operating hours that might have been mentioned in the book.