Last weekend, I drove up to Maine with a car full of friends. Sure, we wanted to see rocky beaches and pristine forests and boat–filled harbors, but let’s face facts: we were really in it for the seafood. And more specifically, the lobster rolls. In a sense, we were on a food quest, with the express purpose of trying as many different iterations of the same regional specialty as possible in one weekend. Think of it as a shellfish odyssey.
But you can’t go into a food pilgrimage without a solid game plan. Here are tips for making the most of your dining quest:
Do your research to ensure variety: One of the major dangers of a food quest is that you run the risk of getting sick of the key dish really quickly. How many Philly cheesesteaks can you eat before hitting a Cheez Whiz wall? How many bowls of chowder? Slices of key lime pie? Do your homework early and look for dishes with creative twists on the classic. We found modern takes on the lobster roll at Cape Elizabeth’s Bite Into Maine, which lets diners top their sandwiches with wasabi, chipotle, or curry powder.
Ask non–foodie locals: Sure, the award–winning chef at the neighborhood locavore favorite will have outstanding food recommendations. Or the guy behind the counter at the cheese store. Or the sommelier. But don’t be shy about asking locals who have nothing to do with the industry where they like to eat. We got some under–the–radar finds from a lighthouse keeper!
Take both sides in restaurant rivalries: Most cities with any remotely serious food scene will have a legendary restaurant rivalry. Which side do you choose? New Haven clam pies—Sally’s or Pepe’s? Philly cheesesteaks—Pat’s or Geno’s Steaks? The list goes on and on. If a restaurant is popular enough to warrant a rabid fan–base, it must be doing something right. So instead of choosing, go to both and then pick your team.
Break up your gluttony: As much as you think a vacation can be based around a sandwich (I sure did!), don’t forget to feed something else other than your appetite. We achieved that by picking lobster spots in scenic locations with a view, such as the The Lobster Shack at Two Lights, which looked out on rocky shores and a white lighthouse.
Have you ever gone on a foodie quest? What did you eat and where?
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