We’ve been back for about two weeks from our epic road trip that lasted almost an entire month. Here’s a screen cap of our trip à la Google Maps:
And here’s the play-by-play:
A. We left Kansas on May 25th and drove about eighteen hours to my brother’s place in Raleigh, North Carolina.
B. We stayed in Raleigh a couple of nights.
C. We drove up Route 17 and spent the next 15 days commuting back and forth between my mom’s place and my sister’s place in Norfolk and Ryan’s folks’ house in Chesapeake, VA. During that time frame we made one trip to Salisbury, MD and one trip to Richmond.
D. We drove up the Eastern Shore, spent two nights and two-ish days in Baltimore and caught two Orioles games.
E. We drove from Baltimore to D.C. and spent a couple of days with our friend Tim.
F. We left D.C., saw F. Scott Fitzgerald’s grave in Rockville, stopped in Frederick, MD for a minor league game, and drove to Cumberland, MD, where we spent the night.
G. We stopped for a few days in Pittsburgh to stay with our friend Dezeree and her mom, and we caught a Pirates game there.
H. We headed home, drove for about fifteen hours straight from Pittsburgh, got caught in an epic thunderstorm on the outskirts of KC, arrived home around 3:30 in the morning on June 21st, slept for a few hours, unpacked, and then saw The Flaming Lips bring the house down at Liberty Hall’s 100-year anniversary.
Vacation was AWESOME. We got to see a ton of friends, spend a bunch of time with family, and we ate SO MUCH AMAZING FOOD. We were worried about how difficult it would be to eat vegetarian on the road, but I think we did pretty alright. Here’s some of the food we ate back east:
1. Kosmic Karma pizza from Mellow Mushroom in Raleigh: Man, I wish we had a Mellow Mushroom out here. This thing was amazing; it had spinach, roma tomatoes, feta cheese, and a pesto swirl—their crust is gluten-free (not that we care, but that’s great for some people) and it was this ooey-gooey-cheesy dream pizza. SO GOOD.
We also grilled some Boca burgers at my brother’s place, which are always great.
2. We had to get Cook-Out milkshakes in NC, even though we couldn’t eat any of their food. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing vegetarian on the menu there except for the milkshakes. Sad face. I miss their hush puppies.
3. We got bean tacos and jalapeno mac and cheese at Tortilla West on 75¢ taco night. TW wins mega points for having an entire section of their menu dedicated to vegetarian and vegan food. It all sounded pretty good and they have great beers on tap, so it’s a cool hangout (even though it’s full of hipsters!) Like I said before, Norfolk is like a mini mecca for vegetarians and vegans, thanks to PETA’s presence in the city. It’s so refreshing to have options.
4. I was SO EXCITED to introduce Ryan to one of my favorite little restaurants in Norfolk: The TEN TOP—and he fell in love with it too! I used to eat here all the time when I lived in Norfolk; it’s a cute, tiny place with really cheap INCREDIBLE food. The first food photo was Ryan’s dinner: the black bean and corn chili, which he’s still raving about (the box was SO HEAVY! He could barely eat half of it!) I got the warm goat cheese and caramelized walnut salad, and it was one of the best salads I’ve ever eaten. It was also huge and I had to take some of it home. Ryan loved The Ten Top so much that he went back again when he went out to lunch with his brother and sister-in-law.
5. There’s no place like this that I’ve found living in Kansas, and it’s a real shame, because we’ve pretty much quit eating Chinese food out here, but Dragon City in Norfolk has AN ENTIRE VEGETARIAN MENU to go along with their normal Chinese menu, and it’s full of not just tofu dishes, but real mock-meat entrees. They have mock shrimp, chicken, and beef, and though I tend to stick with tofu (the first photo below is of my General Tsao’s tofu), Ryan tried the mock chicken (second photo) and really liked it.
6. Sadie and I have been BFFs since we met when I was eight years old, and even though we only get to catch up once or twice a year now, it’s like we never miss a beat. This time we got a chance to meet up with her and her partner for two meals: first, lunch at The Jewish Mother in Norfolk, where Ryan and I ate the best black bean burgers we’ve ever had (and forgot to take pictures of!) and then before we left town we got dinner in Richmond at the amazing 821 Cafe, which has a ton of great vegetarian food on the menu. Ryan got a veggie burger (top) and I had this absolutely INCREDIBLE buffalo tofu sandwich.
7. We were wandering around Fells Point in Baltimore killing some time before the second Orioles game we had tickets for, and we decided on Italian for lunch. We walked over to Little Italy, I did a quick search on Yelp for cheap pizza, and it lead us to Isabella’s Brick Oven, where we split a small white pizza that was really great. I loved walking through Little Italy because the whole neighborhood smells incredible; like oregano and simmering tomato sauce. And of course, we couldn’t leave Fells Point without getting a Natty Boh (though we somehow mistakenly wandered into a Steelers bar…but the bartender was really nice!)
8. After hitting a couple of museums with our friend Tim (who very kindly put us up for a few nights) in ye olde District of Columbia, we were looking for something to eat for lunch and we stumbled upon this new place called Merzi, which is like a fast-casual concept (think Chipotle) but for Indian food. You get to pick your base (naan, basmati rice, etc.), then add your protein (in our case, veggie: chickpeas and onions and tomatoes), and then choose a hot sauce or cold chutney to put on top. My rice bowl was great—I got the spiciest sauce and a chutney too, but the samosa that Ryan and I split could have been better. Still, I really wish we had a place like this nearby, because I pretty much always feel like eating Indian food, and I’d eat it every week if I could afford it and also had a convenient place like Merzi kicking around as an option. The price wasn’t bad (again, comparable to Chipotle) and the food was flavorful and good.
So those are some of the food highlights from our trip back east—we also ate a bunch of great home-cooked meals and ballpark food (we had these french fries at PNC Park which were TO DIE FOR). All in all, I guess it wasn’t terribly difficult eating vegetarian on the road/in any of the places we ended up, but there were times when we were really tempted to give it all up, like when we smelled the burgers at Cook-Out or drove by sign after sign advertising crab cakes on the Eastern Shore. And right now I’m still kind of burned out on Taco Bell, but since we’ve been back I’ve been cooking at home a lot and I’ll post about that next.