Favorite Food Stops From Resident Chef Kathy Gunst's Cross-Country Road Trip

Download Audio
Wide open spaces in Arizona, during Kathy's road trip. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Wide open spaces in Arizona, during Kathy's road trip. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Where does a foodie find food on the road? Here & Now resident chef Kathy Gunst drove from coast to coast on her way back to her home in New England, and discovered lots of great restaurants along the way. She shares some of her finds with Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. You can also check out Kathy's Instagram for more photos from the trip.

Los Angeles

The "City of Angels" has so much good food it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few of the spots we hit:

  • Park's BBQ: Korean BBQ in a strip mall with fabulous kimchi and side dishes. Great quality meat. (955 S. Vermont Ave., 213-380-1717 — Editor's Note: Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson spoke with Jenee Kim, owner of Park's BBQ, in 2014.)
  • Squirl: Get ready to stand in line and wait a bit for your avocado toast, chickpea stew, homemade toast with ricotta cheese and seasonal jam, rice bowls with fried eggs and more. California cuisine at its finest. Best breakfast around and oh-so-healthy and hip. (720 N Virgil Ave. #4, 323-284-8147)
  • Night + Market Song: Crowded, noisy and seriously spicy, this is the place for seriously great Thai food. (3322 Sunset Blvd., 323-665-5899)
  • Grand Central Market: Make some time to stroll through this bustling downtown market. It’s been a landmark since 1917 and offers every type of food you can think of: tacos, pizza, raw fish, vegan, Asian, Southeast Asian food and more. Come hungry. (317 S. Broadway, 213-624-2378)
Lunch at La Choza in Santa Fe, N.M.: Green chile enchilada plate. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
Lunch at La Choza in Santa Fe, N.M.: Green chile enchilada plate. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

  • Café Pasqual's: James Beard Award-winning, sophisticated New Mexican cuisine with an emphasis on organic and local. (121 Don Gaspar Ave., 505-983-9340)
  • La Choza: The local favorite spot for lunch or dinner. Try the enchilada plate, green chile stew and any one of the margaritas. (905 Alarid St., 505-982-0909)

Austin, Texas And Lockhart, Texas

  • Uchi: James Beard Award-winning, sophisticated sushi bar and restaurant. Innovative and stunning food. (801 South Lamar Blvd., Austin, Texas; 512-916-4808)
  • Justine’s Brasserie: Super-hip French bistro with great bar and outdoor tents decorated with chandeliers. If a Paris bistro hit Texas and had a party, it would be Justine's. Try the pork chops with potatoes gratin or the steak frites. The tuna tartare is also excellent. Great bar scene. Open late. (4710 E 5th St., Austin, Texas; 512-385-2900)
  • Smitty’s Market: Award-winning barbecue and meat shop since 1924. Be sure to try the brisket and the jalapeño sausage. Meats and sausages smoked over Texas post oak. Smitty’s feels like a big step back in time. Cowboy cooking in the West is still alive! (208 South Commerce St., Lockhart, Texas; 512-398-9344)
  • Black's Barbecue: Opened in 1932, Black's Barbecue claims to be the oldest BBQ joint in Texas. Order the 9-inch-long giant beef ribs (they are so tender the meat falls off the bone!), pork baby back ribs, pinto beans, black eyed peas and an ice-cold beer, get a seat at an outdoor picnic table, and get ready for some BBQ happiness. (215 N Main St., Lockhart, Texas; 512-398-2712 and 3110 Guadalupe St., Austin, Texas)

New Orleans

You could spend a month (or a year) in NOLA and never get to eat at all the great places. Here are a few of the spots we hit during our very short two-day trip:

  • Café du Monde: This is a huge tourist spot, but it just doesn’t feel right to avoid it. The original cafe opened in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. Open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The menu is pretty straightforward: chicory coffee served black or au lait (go for the au lait) and the steaming hot, freshly-made fried beignets — coated in a lavish sprinkling of powdered sugar — feel surprisingly light. There's also fresh-squeezed orange juice if you feel like you need something healthy. It’s a ritual that shouldn't be missed. (800 Decatur St., 504-525-4544)
  • Clancy's: A white-tablecloth, neighborhood Creole restaurant. It’s old world kind of fancy. The waiters wear jackets and serve you with a formality that seems lost in most restaurants across the country. The food is solid and wonderful; it never disappoints. Try the gumbo or the crab salad, any of the soups, or the fish special is always a good way to go. The frozen lemon pie is not to be missed. (6100 Annunciation St., 504-895-1111)
  • Maypop: Less than a year old, and making waves. Fusion cuisine is generally pretty disappointing, but Maypop — which mixes up the classic Creole dishes of Louisiana with Vietnamese and Southeast Asian flavors — is wildly successful. Dishes like crispy fried P&J oysters with bourbon barrel soy mash aioli and spicy cucumbers, or house-made squid ink fusilli with local blue crab, chorizo sausage, coconut butter and mint, gives you some idea of the creativity going on at Maypop. (611 O'Keefe Ave., 504-518-6345)
A plate of fried chicken at Bea’s Restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
A plate of fried chicken at Bea's Restaurant in Chattanooga, Tenn. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Chattanooga, Tennessee

  • Bea’s Restaurant: This is the place for all-you-can-eat fried chicken and Southern specialties, served family style. The place hasn’t been touched since the 1950s, and it’s like a time warp. Big, family-style tables with Lazy Susans and lots of Formica — the floor is gorgeous — and more food than you can imagine. The fried chicken is worth the trip: crunchy outside and juicy, tender meat. Everything is made or baked in-house. All you can eat for $12 per person. No, that's not a typo! (4500 Dodds Ave., 423-867-3618)

Asheville, North Carolina

  • Nightbell: Chef Katie Button has an original, wildly creative and very sophisticated take on Appalachian and Southern food. The "deviled egg" comes in an egg shell and combines an ethereal corn sabayon, sunburst smoked trout gravlax and smoked pimento. The Caesar salad is served in a jicama shell with Parmesan crisps, and anchovy. And be sure to check out the steamed clams from Clammer Dave with Benton's bacon, smoked cream, tarragon and cider; it’s like a Southern take on a New England clam chowder. (32 S. Lexington Ave., 828-575-0375)
  • Chai Pani: A fun spot for lunch or dinner. Indian street food and snacks cooked with locally sourced ingredients. (22 Battery Park Ave., 828-254-4003)
The Benny Goodman at Perly's Restaurant and Deli in Richmond, Va.: Two latkes (potato pancakes) topped with smoked salmon, poached eggs, dill hollandaise and salmon roe. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)
The Benny Goodman at Perly's Restaurant and Deli in Richmond, Va.: Two latkes (potato pancakes) topped with smoked salmon, poached eggs, dill hollandaise and salmon roe. (Kathy Gunst for Here & Now)

Richmond, Virginia

  • Perly's: A hip, Jewish deli with a slight Southern twist. Everything is made in-house. The blintzes are light and filled with preserved orange and blueberry sauce, and the deli sandwiches are thick and full of flavor. The egg dishes — piled high on homemade latkes with a killer hollandaise — are so good you want to stay and order seconds. The pastrami, as they say, is "to die for." (111 E Grace St., 804-912-1560)
  • Mamma Zu: A classic old neighborhood Italian joint — dark, dingy, and filled with locals and college students — with gigantic bowls of pasta with homemade sauce. We had the spaghetti with a spicy red sauce topped with a generous amount of Maryland crab and an amazing salad of arugula, white beans and tender squid. (501 S Pine St., 804-788-4205)

This segment aired on April 21, 2017.

More From Our Resident Chef:

Headshot of Kathy Gunst

Kathy Gunst Resident Chef, Here & Now
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.



More from Here & Now

Listen Live