With 2,460 miles spanning from the east coast to the west coast, Interstate 10 has a bad rap.
It’s often touted as one of the most boring interstates, having to cut through the massive state of Texas where the road seems to never end. If you only stopped for gas, this trip would take you nearly 48 hours. If that’s your plan, you better have a massive amount of snacks on deck and be prepared for some tension within your travel party. The chances of a car full of people being in good spirits with one another after two days in a cramped car is slim to none.
There’s a better way to take this road.
You see, while I-10 has desolate stretches of highway, it also is marked with several cities with rich history. You pass both the real and assumed origins of Mardi Gras, the largest city in the continental United States and you get to enjoy a famous pier with over 100 years of history in the making.
Of course, where there is history, there is bound to be food. Food may be the best excuse to take a break on a road trip, and I-10 has quite a few incredible options. To get away from the bore (and stomach aches) of fast food joint after fast food joint, we put together a list of 10 downright delicious and historical spots to stop on your road trip.
Buckle up — you’ve got a long ride ahead.
From Jacksonville, travel 164 miles east to Florida’s capital. There you can (and should) stop at The Edison in Tallahassee’s new Cascades Park. Housed in an electric company building from 1921, this restaurant and bar offers both superb aesthetics and modern fare. This is a great place not only for a bite to eat but also to stretch your legs— Cascades Park boasts over two miles of walking trails. Try the Edison’s Brick Chicken, made with an actual brick.
Why not start (or end) your journey with a movie? Jacksonville is the eastern end of I-10, and this historical monument of the largest city in continental America was built 89 years ago. Sun-Ray Cinema may show you indie flicks and cult favorites, but it also has some of the best vegan food in the country. Try the Bold New Pizza of the South or the vegan version of The Wizard, a monstrous chili-cheese dog.
Mobile is lucky enough to be right on the Gulf of Mexico, and because of that they have an ample supply of oysters. The most famous oyster joint is hands-down Wintzell’s Oyster House. It started as a meager 6-seat oyster bar in 1938, and has grown into several restaurants. Try the original downtown location and order oysters whichever way you’d like, and don’t forget the cajun rice. This is where Mardi Gras really originated, you know.
Why not get some fancy, local seafood on your trip? Just because you’re traveling doesn’t mean you have to rough it. Mary Mahoney’s has been a Biloxi staple for over 50 years. It’s housed in a home from 1737, built by Frenchman Louis Frasier. Mary Mahoney’s cooking is so good that John Grisham has written about it in novels. Try the “world famous” seafood gumbo.
New Orleans, La.
A drive down I-10 isn’t complete without a stop in New Orleans. Antoine’s not only the oldest French-Creole fine dining restaurant in New Orleans, it’s the oldest family-run restaurant in the entire United States. You can’t get more historic than that! Located in the French Quarter, this is a perfect place to stop for a bit of sight-seeing. If you happen to stop in New Orleans on a Sunday, Antoine’s has a Jazz Brunch that would be a shame to miss.
Plan on spending the evening in downtown Houston and getting a good night’s sleep to continue your journey the following day. Why? Because drinking and driving is a terrible idea, and it’s also a terrible idea to miss Public Services. The bar’s building is 132 years old and their wine and whiskey menu is absolutely enormous. They have food as well— don’t fret! It’s also been featured as one of the country’s best new wine bars by Food and Wine Magazine.
Just outside of Las Cruces is a teeny little town called Mesilla. It’s only 6.7 square miles, but it offers a Mexican restaurant worth stopping by. La Posta de Mesilla is located on the Butterfield Stagecoach line where it used to be the Corn Exchange Hotel in the 1870’s. It offers Mexican fare like flautas and enchiladas as well as New Mexico’s famed green chile sauce. You can’t go through New Mexico without trying the green chile sauce. La Posta de Mesilla has been serving since 1939.
Delis are great for road trips. Sandwiches are quick and easy, and Cheese ‘N Stuff has several for you to choose from. They know a thing or two about sandwiches— in 2011 they served their millionth one! The owner, Stan Zawatski, has been working at Cheese ‘N Stuff for 60 years, when the Cheese in the name actually meant something: it used to be a cheese store. This is a real for true New York deli in Arizona, and it will be a nice departure for you from the otherwise heavily Southwestern restaurants in the surrounding area.
Los Angeles, Calif.
Musso & Frank may be a bit of a tourist stop now, but hey, it’s historical. It’s old Hollywood at its most glamourous, having been a common stop for Greta Garbo, John Barrymore, Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe and more. It still serves classic cuisine, such as Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, Grenadine of Beef and Turkey á la King. The executive chef grew up at the restaurant, therefore he tries to keep the old Hollywood tradition and magic alive.
Santa Monica, Calif.
At the western end of I-10 is Santa Monica, California. To get there, you have to go on the famous Route 66, which literally ends at the Santa Monica Pier. Whether this is the start or end of your journey, this pier is something to cherish. Established in 1909, this pier has been a Santa Monica steadfast for over 100 years. For food, there are several places to choose from from chain restaurants to an old-school soda joint. We recommend stopping at a food cart to get the real pier experience. Don’t eat too much though, because you’re going to want to ride the ferris wheel and rollercoaster.
Annie Black is a contributing writer for Paste Magazine and HelloFlo. You can find her hanging out in Florida with her two cats, probably drinking too much coffee or taking a nap. Follow her on Twitter: @helloannieblack.
Photos by @edisontally, @walkerflocker, @wigginstock, @thecajunphotographer, @antoinesnola, @public_services_bar, @rinalyn669, @druablank, @cognitiveconcepts, @yourvisausa