Help a Hungry Cyclist

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Anonymous's picture

Hello all from a cold wet London afternoon.

I was wondering if anyone out there had any help for me. In May 2005 I will be embarking on a pedal powered gastronomic tour of North and South America.

In a nut shell. I'll be spending a year pedaling for the perfect meal.

Here's the twist. I have a rough route planned but to find the best food in your fine country I need you to tell me where to go.

Many thansk for your time -


The Hungry Cyclist

Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
Top food cities?

That's a tough one. Most big cities have at least a few first rate restaurants (I even ate in one in Wilmington, DE once, although I can't remember its name) and every city has its partisans.

Three cities on your must list, in my humble opinion, ought to be New York, San Francisco and New Orleans. But I am sure there are those who disagree with me.

Good luck. And bring long pants and a jacket. Many of the best restaurants won't let you in wearing shorts and a jersey. That's why most NYCC club rides, weather permitting, include lunch made in a deli and enjoyed al fresco.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
If you get homesick for a curry...

If on your year away from Britain and its secoind national dish of Indian food, you could do a lot worse than go to the Jackson Diner in Queens. It's the best Indian food I've had on this side of the Pond. The Karma Cafe in Hoboken is a close second, otherwise you will find most of the Indian restaurants over here distinctly bland compared with what you will find in England.

Anonymous's picture
Michael (not verified)
Brick Lane Curry

"I quite agree with Peter that any ""hungry"" visitor to North America must visit NYC (and New Orleans) NY has so many ""Nation's Best"" items.

Anthony - You need to get down to Brick Lane Curry and Banjara on E 6th for the best curry in NY. Having lived across the pond for a bit I can say they stand quite well against London's offerings"

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Thanks for the tip!

Always willing to followy a good curry tip. I'd not heard about the Brick Lane Curry and Banjara on E6th Street. I actually think the Jackson Diner is a lot better than some of my favourite Indian restaurants in England, including most of the ones I've been to in Brick Lane.

Probably the best curry to be found in England is in Southall, which is London's equivalent of Jackson Heights, except that Southall has a much bigger Sikh/Hindu population, including many immigrants as well as those born in Southall.

The restaurants in Brick Lane in East London have become entirely geared up to the English pallet to my mind, but I still like them.

One word of cycling-related curry advice: if you are in a paceline and somebody has been eating curry the night before, they absolutely have to sit at the back.

Anonymous's picture
Cat (not verified)
my favorite Thai

"If you want to crank up the spice, but are bored with the standard issue pad thai, pedal over to Sripraphai, also in Jackson Heights. It just got ""discovered"" by the NY Times, so there's usually a bit of a wait, but they have also recently expanded their quarters. As do i whenever i eat there.

They're just off Roosevelt Ave at about 64th St. 718-899-9599 BYOB. Closed Weds and last order at 9. Helpful pictures on the menu for easy ordering.

While we're on the subject (of course food is cycling related!) can you hip me to the best places in England to eat? it's my homeland, you see, and while i've refueled with many a tasty pub meal, and enjoyed some good dim sum in Manchester, even the new British cuisine seems to be hit or miss. Thank goodness for Indians! I know things are improving in other areas but do send me your list of favorites.


Anonymous's picture
Wolf (not verified)

How can you visit the US and not eat at a Denny's? I recommend the one in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Or even an Elias' Big Boy.

Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
...but we digress, gentlemen

The original post requested locations around the U.S. where one can find great food. Somehow, the responses quickly deteriorated into a dispute over whether Queens or East 6th Street is better for curry.

Let's try again. In the interests of municipal ecumenicism (is that a word?) I won't even boost my own city.

Don't miss the Stone Crab House in Miami's South Beach.

The Napa Valley is great for bicycling in scenic surroundings, wine tasting and good eating. Try Bouchon and Bistro Geanty, both in Yountville. (Others will tell you the French Laundry in Yountville is the one absolute must-eat place, but bring your life savings, reserve exactly 30 days in advance -- not 29 or 31 -- and be prepared to endure a bit of attitude from the reservationists. The service was otherwise warm and lovely when I ate there. For $350 for two, wine and tip included, it had better be.)

Personally, I thought the food,even the concept of the food, was disgusting, but the rest of the world swears by breakfast at Brennan's in New Orleans. (You'd better get used to the idea of fried oysters on an empty stomach, though.)

I'm not boosting New York, but there are so many good choices here, you might want to avail yourself of the Zagat Survey, a kind of Michelin-by-Concensus that originated in New York and is now spreading its wings to other cities.

Anybody else, not focused on where the curry is?

Anonymous's picture
Christian Edstrom (not verified)

Well, I suppose one ought to go to Pink's in LA to end the trip. And one might as well start at Walters in Mamaroneck. That would neatly bookend the trip. If one got peckish in the middle, Demon Dogs in Chicago would be ok.

And the Suomi Cafe in Houghton, Michigan is nice. Go on Friday, because that's the only day they serve the rice porridge.

Anonymous's picture
Anthony Poole (not verified)
Sorry for pushing this thread in one direction

Ok, I have to admit that my contributions on curry did help push this thread off course. However, you have to bear in mind that as a people, we English actually enjoy all types of food when we travel, but it is a universal truth that when an Englishman or woman spends any time out of the country, one of the first things they will do is check out where you can get a decent curry. But that will not stop them from delving into everything else that is available.

I haven't spent enough time in Florida to comment on cuisine there, but I remember enjoying eating fish of all types in San Francisco and having one of the best pizzas I've ever had in La Jolla, but I cannot remember the name of the Pizzeria - it was at least 15 years ago.

Anonymous's picture
Patricia (not verified)
Expanding our horizions...

These parochial NYkers have actually quite impressed me with mentioning New Orleans and well, Miami (southern NY). However, I'd like to expand your culinary horizons to those lands that actually have horizons... strongly suggesting you plan your itinerary to include the American south and southwest before heading down the PanAm highway. While haute cuisine has it's followers some chow-downs one should try not to miss include:

- burgoo in owensboro, ky (the catholic church picnic)
(you can cycle by Maker's Mark and do a spin in Mammoth Cave while you are there)
- Barbacoa, a dish traditional to South Texas made from meat by products from a cow's head and other parts. Try the tamales in San Antonio, the Salt Lick BBQ and ribs outside Austin TX,
...of course then you have to cycle across west Texas (which to my taste is better than cycling across the midwest) hit Marfa/Alpine and BigBend and every little mexican roadside stand could be a culinary delight (or a big mistake)
-don't miss the chile relleno's made of Hatch, New Mexico green chile and the blue corn tortilla's (enchalada's or otherwise) in Santa Fe, NM or Taos. These will fuel you for cycling at 5-8000 feet and give you a few hills at the south of the Rockies to train on.
- Southwestern style cooking has come of age the last 15 years...not just NewMex-Mex or TexMex or CalMex...but continental with 70 types of chile's, corn chutney's, polenta's with cilantro, etc.
- Last bit of advice, Try all the local beers and wine and let me know if you need a partner! - Patricia

Anonymous's picture
Yogi (not verified)
Deee-lish !

>Barbacoa, a dish traditional to South Texas made from meat by products from a cow's head and other parts.

That explains the Mad Cowboy.

>other parts.

If one is adventurous off the bike, don’t forget to try the Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Anonymous's picture
Carol Wood (not verified)
I'm hungry

Patricia, how about organizing an eating tour? I would sign up immediately (forgoing the cow brains, however).

In California, my favorite Mexican dishes are fish tacos (corn tortilla, fried fish, lettuce, tomato, lime, cream) and ceviche tostadas doused in lime and red onion. The ones I had in Anaheim, at a converted A&W rootbeer stand a couple miles north of Disneyland, brought tears of joy for just $3.99. Look to see if the locals eat there.

In the midwest, avoid the chain restaurants and bland buffets in favor of homestyle diners. I remember homemade apple pie in Kansas that was truly heartwarming. And the smell and sway of the cornfields.

Anonymous's picture
Ivy (not verified)
Hidden Kitchens

"Burgoo and Barbacoa? Somebody's been listening to the Kitchen Sisters on NPR!"

Anonymous's picture
Patricia (not verified)
culinary tour

I'm up for a culinary tour of the southwest...if I were a better cyclist I'd arrange for us to go through NM (my home state) My hillclimbing is pitiful though. If we want to do a coastal tour of chowders or Northeastern tours, I'd be up for a 3 day weekend this spring...

Re: Hidden kitchens...more than listening my dear...I'm from these parts, TX, NM, and travelled through others KY. If you don't ask what is in each dish (Tamale's are boiled pigs head...just visit the butcher shops of San Antonio to see an appetizing array)...the food can be divine.

I'll quite educating on content and just let you eat..I'll have to admit that it's better to not know what's in the sausage, even for an iron stomach like mine.

For those up for our own little culinary tour, you are invited to my house for a night of wine in front of the fireplace to plan ---bring your maps and favorite restaurants...send me an email and I'll organize a get-together after the holidays and before the sigs.

..or we could join our English friend for a stretch...?

Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
Shoe Fly Pie

"Well, we seem to have gotten back on track, although one person who posted here felt compelled to offer New York an unwarranted kick in the pants. (""These parochial NYkers have actually quite impressed me with mentioning New Orleans and well, Miami (southern NY."")

The problem is that these provincial cowgirl wannabe types never learned to do their homework before they deliver slurs with a slight ethnic undertone ""if y'know what I mean and I think y'do."" If you take the trouble to check out South Beach, which is the part of Miami I referred to, I think you'll find that the overwhelming culture is Cuban, not ""New York.""

Incidentally, our English visitor might want to try a paella or some of the langoustas in the South Beach beachfront Cuban restaurants, as well as the Stone Crab joint I mentioned earlier.

Which brings me to another recommendation: Pennsylvania Dutch Country in the vicinity of towns with curious names like Intercourse, Blue Ball and Bird-In-Hand.

The terrain is gently rolling, the land is manicured and neat, and the Pennsylvania Dutch will take as much pleasure watching you pedal along as you watch them scoot along on foot-powered scooters or clop along in horse-drawn coaches.

The misnomer ""Shoe Fly Pie,"" a mispronunciation of Scheuffle Pie, is one of the local delicacies, part of a cuisine that's heavy on molasses, pork fat and noodles, but hearty fare if you've just burned off a few thousand calories heading west from, oh, say Philadelphia. Lots of charming country inns to stay in, too. But watch for big city motorists who crowd the roads on weekends to gawk and buy folk crafts.

You can find a somewhat similar atmosphere, with fewer tourists, in and around Lebanon, Ohio.


Anonymous's picture
Paddy (not verified)
Back on track

"If we really feel the need to bring it ""back on track"", a quick look at the gent's website indicates that a rough track on which to align ourselves is already arranged that doesn't actually including anything in this part of the States. In fact, only the West Coast and some parts of North USA will be of any interest to the Hungry Cyclist at all..."

Anonymous's picture
Brad Ensminger (not verified)
Agree with Paddy...

According to his website most of Tom's ride doesn't apply to the suggestions from our club. He is going no where near Florida, for example.

My favorite restaruant in the world is Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California. It is well worth the trip from San Francisco to Berkeley for the food. Every item on the menu is from local farmers so the food quality is the best.

Tom, you may not be able to get a reservation for dinner because they book-up will in advance. Even lunch in the Cafe is worth the trip.

Sounds like a fun ride with food as the reward.

Rock on!

Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
Some of it applies

>>According to his website most of Tom's ride doesn't apply to the suggestions from our club<<

Early on, there was a brief discussion of the Napa Valley and three restaurants in Yountville. I've heard wonderful things about your recommendation, Chez Panisse, too, which of course is also in the Bay area. Alas, I've never been able to get reservations in time.

Pedal on, scarf down, live long and prosper. Or something.

Anonymous's picture
Brad Ensminger (not verified)


One thing I learned from a friend that lives an 11 minute walk away from Chez Panisse... they have cancellations.

It's worth calling the day you want to go and see if there are openings. This strategy worked twice for me on a recent trip to Berkeley.


Anonymous's picture
Peter Hochstein (not verified)
Chez Panisse

Thanks. Next time I'm out there, I'll try to give it a shot.

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