Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back

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phlmaestro
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2017/10/14 22:00:26 (permalink)

Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back

I appreciate the advice that was given on my other thread in terms of the best way to get from Philly to Charlotte. We wound up taking 70 west of Baltimore to 340 to 7 to 81 to 77 to Charlotte. It worked out well.
 
The purpose of driving to Charlotte was to see the Eagles-Panthers game, which turned out to be a great one from the perspective of Eagles fans. And there were no pre-game unpleasantries with regard to the National Anthem. It was a very pleasant experience, at least until a few of my fellow Eagles fans (I didn't know them, but there were a lot of Eagles fans there) got a little out of hand when the Eagles took a second half lead. That led to responses and it took off from there. If any of you saw the national news story on the fight in which an older guy was punched in the face, I was sitting about 10 rows in front of that. 
 


 
The oddest thing about the trip was that I ate virtually nothing in Charlotte itself in spite of spending a night there. I had planned on stopping at Price's Chicken Coop, which closes at 6 p.m., when we arrived in town, hopefully by around 5 p.m. Thursday, to pick up a couple chicken platters that we were going to take to our hotel a few miles up the road. And everything was going great until we got to within about 45 minutes of Charlotte. We hit heavy traffic then and it slowed us down enough so that we only had time to check into the hotel and freshen up a bit before leaving for the game. I just had a big soft pretzel that night at the game because I thought we might go to a late-night diner afterward. But we just felt like going back to the hotel at that point. It had been a very long day.
 
On the way down, I had decided to stop at either Wright's Dairy Rite or the Southern Kitchen for lunch. I was leaning toward the former, but we needed to make a bathroom stop around the time we were approaching New Market, so we decided on the Southern Kitchen. 
 
I reported on here that I had been there once before, a couple years ago, and that it didn't quite live up to my expectations. I said the fried chicken had perfectly crispy crust and was moist inside, but that it was lacking in flavor. Well the person who made the batch I had this time around put a lot more seasoning in it, or maybe I Just got luckier this time or unlucky last time. Whatever the case, the chicken was tastier this time. Everything about it was extremely good. And given that we never made it to Price's, stopping at the Southern Kitchen and giving the fried chicken a second chance turned out to be a very good move. Once again, I was fairly unimpressed with the sides (only the gravy on the potatoes last time impressed me). The macaroni and cheese was weak and the green beans weren't porky enough. My friend ordered a chocolate malt and was kind enough to ask for a small glass to let me have some. It tasted very good, but it was so thin that I had to concur with my friend that it was almost like drinking thick chocolate milk.  I had grapenut pudding for dessert. My wife ordered it the last time we were there and let me have a taste. We both loved it, as I did this time around.





My friend had the fried chicken wings special and enjoyed it. 
 
I skipped breakfast the morning after the game because after getting some much-needed rest and checking out of the hotel in Charlotte, I planned for us to head straight to Lexington for an early lunch at Lexington BBQ. We were surprised that at 11:30 a.m., the lot was full and people were driving around looking for spots. In spite of that, once a spot was found and we made it inside the restaurant, we were seated in a booth immediately. My friend had a standard chopped pork tray with hushpuppies and cole slaw. I ordered a coarsely chopped pork tray. I don't like slaw and ordered a side of baked beans along with the hushpuppies. 
I was a little apprehensive about eating Carolina barbecue because I'm not a big fan of vinegar or things with a very strong vinegar flavor. I figured I wasn't even going to bother trying eastern Carolina style barbecue, but I wanted to at least give Lexington-style a shot. And I was very glad I did. The sauce was vinegary, but not overpoweringly so. The meat was wonderfully juicy and tender. The smoke flavor was perhaps slightly more subtle than I prefer, but I still enjoyed it very much. I think this was the first time I had eaten hushpuppies in the Southeast and I liked them very much. The beans reminded me of Bush's to be honest. I'm not sure if they were doctored up canned beans or if that's just the style of their homemade beans. 
I also took a few exterior shots.




We also tried Cheerwine, which we both liked.






While I enjoyed the pork very much and would eagerly go back to Lexington BBQ, I would still say I prefer both Texas and Kansas City style barbecue to what is popular in North Carolina.
 
We continued to work our way north, as we were staying in the Research Triangle near Durham and Chapel Hill that night, and made stops at Duke and UNC while killing some time that afternoon. Here is a shot of one of the more impressive building at Duke.

 
For dinner that night, I indulged my love for a particular roadfood genre that seems to be bigger in this part of the country than anywhere else at this point: drug store soda fountain-restaurants. We went to Sutton's Drug Store in Chapel Hill. The restaurant makes up a good part of the store. There is a counter, tables and a good number of red and yellow booths with photos of UNC students and celebrities all over the walls. There was one of UNC basketball coach Roy Williams above our booth. They also sell a large selection of rare bottled sodas up front, along with other knick-knacks and UNC merchandise. 
We both had cheeseburger platters with onion rings and shakes. Their selection of milkshakes essentially mirrors the ice cream flavors they carry. My friend ordered butter-pecan and I had a peach milkshake. They were extremely thick and the thin straws weren't getting the job done. So I wound up using the straw more as a shovel to push the shake into my mouth. It was a really delicious milkshake. The peach flavor wasn't overwhelming, but came through strongly enough and was very natural. The burgers were cooked slightly past medium, but the one-third pound patties had a nice, beefy flavor, some outer crust and were not dried out in the middle. The onion rings were only fair.







My peach shake is on the right.




 
We set out for home the next morning. My friend normally eats a very healthy diet and wasn't feeling that well after spending a couple days eating with me. I also was feeling it a bit myself, especially after the dinner at Suttons, and we had food stops planned for the afternoon. So while I had Dame's Chicken and Waffles in Durham penned in for breakfast, as my friend had told me he'd like to try chicken and waffles before the trip, we decided to skip it. He had something healthy at the hotel breakfast buffet and I had him make a stop at a donut shop in Durham for me on the way to I-85.
The donuts were good, but not worth driving more than a few minutes out of the way for.



 
I would not say that about our next stop, which was fantastic. That was Carl's Frozen Custard in Fredericksburg, VA. I didn't want anything extravagant, as we had one more large meal planned only about another 90 minutes up the road. Carl's is one of the relatively rare genuine frozen custard stands that offers strawberry custard all the time, along with vanilla and chocolate, at least as far as my experiences go. I went with a half-pint, which gave me the option of getting two flavors. I chose vanilla and strawberry. The strawberry was placed on top, and it sort of overwhelmed the vanilla. So I can't really give an accurate assessment of the vanilla, but the strawberry was some of the best frozen custard I've ever had. Its flavor was fantastic. I think Carl's may be closing for the season at the end of this month.



 
Our final stop was in Maryland, naturally for crab cakes. Our route took us near G&M in Linthicum, so it was a fairly easy decision. I had been there once before some years back with my wife, so I knew how good the crab cakes are. I ordered the two crab cake platter and gave one to my friend while he ordered the stuffed shrimp and gave one to me. They both lived up to their reputation. This was a great final meal before arriving back home. I've still got over half a crab cake left that I intend to finish tomorrow. 


This is the stuffed shrimp on the right and crab cake on the left.

Close up of the shrimp, then the crab cake:


 
It was an enjoyable two-and-a-half days.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
post edited by phlmaestro - 2017/10/20 08:02:42
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17 Replies Related Threads

    Root-Beer Man
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/14 22:17:34 (permalink)
    Great looking food! Glad to hear you liked the Cheerwine. That is one of my family's favourite Sodas. I've been lucky enough to buy it sugar sweetened in glass bottles almost everywhere these days and have even had it in ice pop form from Food Lion on a trip a few years ago. It's some good stuff!
    #2
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/14 22:21:05 (permalink)
    I regret not buying a bottle of Cheerwine to take home at the drug store.  I love cherry flavored sodas and would have certainly been a big fan of it if I had grown up in that part of the country. 
    #3
    leethebard
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 01:48:01 (permalink)
    If you can get to a Cracker Barrel, anywhere,they all sell Cheerwine in the country store part.
    #4
    JRPfeff
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 08:49:49 (permalink)
    Nice report Maestro. Thank you for sharing.
     
    The Contingent visited Sprecher Brewing yesterday; where they make beer, soda and now HARD sodas. Pie Diva tried their Hard Cherry Cola and liked it so much she had to buy a six pack.
     
    Dang! Soda is made in Milwaukee. I won an online auction for Soda for a Year from them a couple years ago - a case a month for 12 months. That Italian Cherry Soda and their Butterscotch Root Beer were our favorites.
     
    Plan stops at these places when you visit Lambeau next.
    #5
    leethebard
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 10:08:35 (permalink)
    Is the Italian cherry soda different from a normal cherry soda? Never saw that. I'd  sure buy it.
    #6
    JRPfeff
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 10:17:18 (permalink)
    Lee,

    It has a Maraschino flavor. It's a rich flavor.

    Jim
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    leethebard
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 12:07:48 (permalink)
    JRPfeff
    Lee,

    It has a Maraschino flavor. It's a rich flavor.

    Jim

    OMG, that sounds amazing! As a kid, I used to pour juice from the maraschino cherry jar into coke and stir. Wish I could get that flavor here. Thanks for the info.
    #8
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 13:12:39 (permalink)
    leethebard
    If you can get to a Cracker Barrel, anywhere,they all sell Cheerwine in the country store part.


    Thanks! There is one not that far from me.
    #9
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/15 13:14:01 (permalink)
    JRPfeff
    Nice report Maestro. Thank you for sharing.
     
    The Contingent visited Sprecher Brewing yesterday; where they make beer, soda and now HARD sodas. Pie Diva tried their Hard Cherry Cola and liked it so much she had to buy a six pack.
     

     
    That sounds great. Sprecher's makes my favorite root beer. I drank it like it was going out of style when I was in Milwaukee a couple years ago.
     
    #10
    ScreamingChicken
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/16 13:36:16 (permalink)
    phlmaestro
    If any of you saw the national news story on the fight in which an older guy was punched in the face, I was sitting about 10 rows in front of that.

    From what I read it sounds like more of an ambush than a fight.
     



    Looks good!
     

    The onion rings were only fair.

    I like my onion rings really dark so these look pretty good to me...do you like yours more golden?

    leethebard
    Is the Italian cherry soda different from a normal cherry soda?

    The top is a little greasy and there's a gold chain around the neck, and when the cap is removed the sound is "Yo!" instead of a whoosh.
    #11
    leethebard
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/16 13:54:19 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken
    phlmaestro
    If any of you saw the national news story on the fight in which an older guy was punched in the face, I was sitting about 10 rows in front of that.

    From what I read it sounds like more of an ambush than a fight.
     



    Looks good!
     

    The onion rings were only fair.

    I like my onion rings really dark so these look pretty good to me...do you like yours more golden?

    leethebard
    Is the Italian cherry soda different from a normal cherry soda?

    The top is a little greasy and there's a gold chain around the neck, and when the cap is removed the sound is "Yo!" instead of a whoosh.


    Gotcha!,gumba!
    #12
    phlmaestro
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/16 21:30:31 (permalink)
    ScreamingChicken
    I like my onion rings really dark so these look pretty good to me...do you like yours more golden?

     
    It wasn't just how dark they were. They weren't high quality. They may even have been frozen.
     
    #13
    ann peeples
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/19 12:40:22 (permalink)
    Dang soda is my favorite-I concur with jrpfeff on his choices of flavors..
     
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    MetroplexJim
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/19 16:27:37 (permalink)
    Wonderful trip, wise choices, and great pics. 
    You revived many fond and delicious memories for me.
    Thank you!
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    rumaki
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/20 16:44:21 (permalink)
    Your mention of a soda fountain prompts me to say (hoping this doesn't hijack the thread) that my husband and I went to a delightful one in Midway, Kentucky this past Monday.  It's called Railroad Drug and is right on the main drag facing the railroad tracks.  It's a regular pharmacy, but also  has an old-time soda fountain up front. I had the special pumpkin pie ice cream, and my husband had a vanilla soda. They were both terrific. The soda fountain serves a few lunch items -- hot dogs, tuna salad -- but the ice cream specialties are what you'd go for, I think.  They have fountain Ale-8-One, as well. 
     
    http://www.railroaddrug.com/soda-fountain
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    phlmaestro
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/20 21:32:29 (permalink)
    rumaki
    Your mention of a soda fountain prompts me to say (hoping this doesn't hijack the thread) that my husband and I went to a delightful one in Midway, Kentucky this past Monday.  It's called Railroad Drug and is right on the main drag facing the railroad tracks.  It's a regular pharmacy, but also  has an old-time soda fountain up front. I had the special pumpkin pie ice cream, and my husband had a vanilla soda. They were both terrific. The soda fountain serves a few lunch items -- hot dogs, tuna salad -- but the ice cream specialties are what you'd go for, I think.  They have fountain Ale-8-One, as well. 
     
    http://www.railroaddrug.com/soda-fountain

    I've been to Kentucky a couple times and think we drove past that area once. It's possible it will happen again. We made it to Bell's Drug Store the last time we were in Kentucky in 2015.  There is also an interesting looking place near Churchill Downs in Louisville. 
    Before I started reading numerous recommendations to avoid the Washington area and cut over to 81, I had planned on stopping on the way down to Charlotte at Goolrick's in Fredericksburg for a sandwich and malt lunch. 
     
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    Root-Beer Man
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    Re: Philadelphia to Charlotte and Back 2017/10/20 22:10:25 (permalink)
    That sounds like a great old fountain that I have somehow missed over the years. Usually, when I am in Midway, KY I am stopping in at Weisenberger Mill for some grits or cornmeal or one of their mixes. It's my can't miss stop in Midway. Now, I have another one to add in to my itinerary.
    #18
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