At Parks Barbecue in Los Angeles, prepare for an array of side dishes. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Our favorite places on our cross-country trip:

San Francisco

Restaurant Eiji

317 Sanchez St., 415-558-8149

The sushi is fresh daily and always changing, and there’s a great sake menu, but the real draw in this low-key jewel box is the house-made tofu. It’s more like a creamy custard and comes with toppings such as sesame seeds, seaweed and scallions.

Tartine Bakery & Cafe

600 Guerrero St., 415-487-2600;

It’s all so good, it almost doesn’t matter what you order: real deal croissants, addictive banana cream pie and more. It’s worth waiting in line.

Tartine Manufactory

595 Alabama St., 415-757-0007;

You’ll happily wait again for famous sourdough breads, salads and sandwiches (such as porchetta and fried egg with salsa verde).

Ice Cream Bar Soda Fountain

815 Cole St., 415-742-4932;

A reconstructed 1930s ice cream soda fountain (originally from Mackinaw City, Mich.) in Cole Valley with homemade ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, ice cream drinks and lunch sandwiches. This might be the best ice cream I’ve ever had in this country. Try butterscotch, mint chocolate chip, burnt honey or a seasonal fruit flavor.

A bowl of curried noodles with braised hanger steak at Night + Market Song in Los Angeles. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)
Los Angeles

Park’s Barbecue

955 S. Vermont Ave., 213-380-1717;

Korean barbecue in a strip mall with fabulous kimchi and side dishes. Great quality meat.


720 N. Virgil Ave. No. 4, 323-284-8147;

Famous for avocado toast, chickpea stew, homemade toast with ricotta cheese and seasonal jam, rice bowls with fried eggs and more.

Night + Market Song

3322 W. Sunset Blvd., 323-665-5899;

Crowded, noisy and seriously spicy, with innovative Thai food probably unlike anything you’ve tasted.

Grand Central Market

317 S. Broadway, 213-624-2378;

A landmark since 1917, it offers most every type of food you can think of: tacos, pizza, raw fish, vegan, Asian, Southeast Asian, Californian and more.

Santa Fe, N.M.

Cafe Pasqual’s

121 Don Gaspar Ave., 505-983-9340;

Sophisticated New Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on organic and local.

La Choza

905 Alarid St., 505-982-0909;

The local favorite spot for lunch or dinner. Try the enchilada plate, green chile stew, sopaipillas and any of the margaritas.



801 S. Lamar Blvd.; 512-916-4808;

Sushi bar and restaurant with innovative and stunning Japanese food. Great cocktails.

Justine’s Brasserie

4710 E. Fifth St.; 512-385-2900;

Super-hip French bistro with a great bar and outdoor tents decorated with chandeliers and billowing fabrics. Try the pork chops with potatoes gratin, steak frites and tuna tartare.

Lockhart, Texas

Smitty’s Market

208 S. Commerce St.; 512-398-9344;

Award-winning barbecue and meat shop since 1924. Be sure to try the brisket and the jalapeño sausage.

Black’s Barbecue

215 N. Main St.; 512-398-2712;

Opened in 1932 by Edgar Black, this barbecue joint is still run by his family. Order the nine-inch-long giant beef ribs, baby backs, pinto beans, black-eyed peas and an ice-cold beer. There’s a second location in Austin.

Maypop restaurant in New Orleans. (Maypop)
New Orleans


6100 Annunciation St.; 504-895-1111;

A white-tablecloth, neighborhood Creole restaurant where you’ll find classics such as shrimp remoulade and crab salad as well as Clancy’s famous smoked duck, local grilled fish and not-to-be-missed frozen lemon pie.


611 O’Keefe Ave.; 504-518-6345;

Less than a year old and making waves by successfully mixing classic Creole dishes of Louisiana with Vietnamese and Southeast Asian flavors.

Chattanooga, Tenn.

Bea’s Restaurant

4500 Dodds Ave.; 423-867-3618;

All-you-can-eat fried chicken and other Southern specialties, served family style for $12 a person. The place hasn’t been touched since the 1950s, and everything is made in-house.

The deviled egg at Nightbell in Asheville, N.C. (Evan Sung)
Asheville, N.C.


32 S. Lexington Ave.; 828-575-0375;

Wildly creative and sophisticated takes on Appalachian and Southern food. The Caesar salad is served in a jicama shell with Parmesan crisps and anchovy. The steamed clams with Benton’s bacon, smoked cream, tarragon and cider is like a Southern take on a New England clam chowder.

Chai Pani

22 Battery Park Ave.; 828-254-4003;

Indian street food and snacks cooked with local ingredients.



111 E. Grace St.; 804-912-1560;

A hip Jewish deli with a slight Southern twist. Everything is made in-house, including light blintzes filled with preserved orange and blueberry sauce. Try a deli sandwich, the Benny Goodman — two poached eggs piled on homemade latkes with a killer hollandaise, house-smoked salmon and salmon roe — or pastrami.

Mamma Zu

501 S. Pine St.; 804-788-4205

A classic old neighborhood Italian joint serving gigantic bowls of pasta with homemade sauce. Try the spaghetti with a spicy red sauce topped with a generous amount of Maryland crab and a salad of arugula, white beans and tender squid.

Kittery, Maine

Bob’s Clam Hut

315 U.S. Route 1; 207-439-4233;

Since it opened in 1956, a winner every time. Try the chowder (clam or fish, or the lobster stew), lobster rolls (buttered, grilled rolls and fresh meat prepared daily), fish sandwich or fried clams.