Great Pie, Excellent Tacos & The Best Beer

Great Pie, Excellent Tacos & The Best Beer

Ideas on what constitutes the ideal road trip are as varied as the people that embark on these adventures. However, most everyone will agree that two components needed to to ensure a memorable odyssey are unique restaurants that offer good food as well as regional specialties and good friends to share the meals. Food on the road, or more specifically a few of my favorite places for food while on the road, is the subject of the latest episode of 5 Minutes with Jimour weekly audio podcast.

So, on this weeks blog post I wanted to expand on that theme. With that said here are a few of my favorite places for a snack, a breakfast, lunch or dinner while on the road. Not all of them are found on Route 66. After all, this is Jim Hinckley’s America. And as our slogan says, telling people where to go is our specialty. We test the pillows and taste the enchiladas so you can be assured of an honest review and recommendation.

Let’s kick this off with two recommendations from my adopted hometown of Kingman, Arizona. In our free weekly newsletter you have most likely seen advertisement for Calico’s restaurant. Located on Beale Street (U.S. 93) just to the west of the Mohave Museum of History & Arts, this family owned restaurant offers an array of traditional American offerings as well as a few specialties such as the coyote BLT, a twist on an old favorite with the addition of alfalfa sprouts and avocado on a nine grain bread. They also have two meeting rooms for groups, one with a private bar.

Enchilada New Mexico at Oysters in Kingman, Arizona

Oysters in Kingman is one of those hole in the wall places that is easily overlooked or seldom given a second look, let alone a look to see what is behind the non descriptor interior. Located on East Andy Devine Avenue (Route 66) near the Kings Inn Best Western, this is a true treasure. Authentic Mexican dishes, not the stuff that is hidden by over spiced rice and beans, and surprisingly delicious and diverse sea food offerings are their specialty. For quite some time this has been our go to place for the Sunday family dinner. With the exception of the occasional return to an old favorite, I have been working my way through the menu and have yet to have a bad meal.

There are a couple of places I can recommend in Needles, California. One is the Wagon Wheel restaurant, a Route 66 classic. As with Oysters, I have yet to have a bad meal at this venerable old restaurant. As a bonus the prices fall are budget to mid range. My second choice is Valenzuela’s, a one family owned little restaurant that opened in 1952. If I had one complaint with this little time capsule it would be that the hours of operation are somewhat sporadic, and they are closed most of the summer.

I first discovered Bella Notte in Jackson, Michigan while in town for a speaking engagement in the fall of 2018. This past October there was an opportunity to share this delightful restaurant with my dearest friend as it was across the street from JTV where I was scheduled to give an interview. My recommendation, the fresh Spinach and Ricotta Lasagna in a Béchamel Sauce.

As we receive numerous requests for restaurant tips, reviews and suggestions, a regular series of podcasts and blog posts will be added to the schedule. And as we are gearing up for more road trip adventures, our list of favorite places for roadside dining will be growing. So, stay tuned.



The Adopted Hometown

The Adopted Hometown

Cuba nestled in the beautiful Ozark Mountains of Missouri is one of those unique and special places where every visitor feels as though they are coming home. It is more than just the hospitality. It is the sense of community made manifest in the pocket parks, the colorful murals, the events, and the support that business owners lend each other. It is the wonderful cafes and restaurants. It is the generational businesses with roots that span decades. It is the smiling faces.

Last year I during a Jim Hinckley’s America research trip I was privileged with an opportunity to spend several days in this charming village bisected by Route 66. I had time to visit area attractions, sample the different restaurants, and to simply stop and visit with the locals. It left me wondering what might of been if I had discovered this charming place twenty years ago. There is the very real possibility that this old desert rat might have headed for greener pastures.

As I am passionate about restaurants, one of the treats for me was the surprising number and the diversity of restaurants in such a small town. As an example, how many towns big or small do you know where you can get a delicious lamb burger with Tzatziki sauce? Well, that is now one of my favorite offerings at the Four Way restaurant in Cuba that is housed in a colorful painted building that began life in about 1930 as a gas station and garage. Looking for good traditional breakfasts? No problem, just stop by Shelly’s or Tuggie & Joe’s. Excellent Mexican food. No problem. Great pub food, and cold beer. Again, no problem.

The one and only Wagon Wheel Motel Photo Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America

This little town should be more than a stop on the way to. It should be a destination for Route 66 travelers as well as folk looking for a pleasant weekend getaway, or a new place to call home.

Let’s Eat!

Valenzuela’s – one family owned since 1952

A big part of the road trip experience is food, opportunities to try regional specialties (deep fat fried Twinkies?) in unique or fascinating settings. Even if the food is average or something you can get at home, it just seems special after a day on the road or if you are eating that chicken fried steak in an historic cafe or restaurant such as Clanton’s in Vinita, Oklahoma or taco platter at Valenzuela’s in Needles, California.

For me it’s good pie and cobbler that always gets my attention. On the last road trip I enjoyed a great beef stew and excellent coffee at Clanton’s Cafe, but it was the blackberry cobbler in a diner that has been managed by the same family since 1927 which was a real stand out. Telling people where to go since 1990 has become our tag line at Jim Hinckley’s America. The cornerstone of that mission is seeking out good pie or cobbler, good meals, and unique places to enjoy both, such as the now defunct Cave Restaurant in Richland, Missouri.

Victoria’s Sugar Shack in Kingman, Arizona is little gem that is tucked away several miles from Route 66 but it is well worth the detour.

Join me this October for another gastronomical odyssey along Route 66. Follow the A Year With Jim series on Instagram or Twitter, as well as our live stream programs on the Facebook page. See you on the road, mi amigos.