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What Austin Chefs Eat on Road Trips

From Buc-ee's to Whataburger orders

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Whataburger is an essential road trip stop
Whataburger is an essential road trip stop
Nadia Chaudhury is the editor of Eater Austin covering food and pop culture, as well as a photographer, writer, and frequent panel moderator and podcast guest.

Road trips involve a lot of planning: the route, bathroom breaks, filling up the gas tank, but the most important aspect is the food, whether that means strategically-planned stops at favorite restaurants and shops or stocking up on junk food. For Road Trip Week, Eater asked Austin chefs to share their go-to road trip food plans, from snacks and guilty pleasures to favorite Whataburger orders and recommended Buc-ee’s shopping lists.

Steven Dilley, Bufalina

“I tend to avoid prepackaged, unhealthy foods, but as everyone knows: all rules are off when it comes to road tripping. I load up on Good & Plenty and Whatchamacalllits. And if it's a Texas road trip, that usually involves a jalapeno cheeseburger at Whataburger (and possibly a fried pie), alongside more local fare. And always a cooler full of wine.”

Callie and Philip Speer, Holy Roller and Bonhomie

“We road trip to Houston most often, and always stop at Waffle House on the way, and Hruska's (109 TX-71, Ellinger, Texas) for kolaches and drinks. On the way home, we always stop at Buc-ee’s (1700 TX-71, Bastrop, Texas), because, you know: chocolate-covered pretzels and beaver nuggets [sweet corn puff snacks].”

Jesse Griffiths, Dai Due

“We always stop at the Taqueria Jalisco (127 South Sunset Strip Street, Kenedy, Texas) whenever we are heading south for a hunting school. I know they're all named "jalisco," but this one is really, really excellent. Homemade tortillas (corn and flour), and they have sweetbreads (mollejas), and they'll ask you how crispy you want them. You want them crispy, and on flour, with cilantro and onion. The carne asada is also very good.”

Tyson Cole, Uchi and Uchiko

“My favorite road trip restaurant stop is Cracker Barrel. I love the warm syrup in little bottles, apple cider in ice cold glasses, and large salads with crunchy fried chicken, apples and huge wedges of cheddar cheese. My favorite road trip snack is dark chocolate, Kitchun granola, and Sun Chips.”

Cracker Barrel in Vegas
Cracker Barrel in Vegas
Amelinda B Lee/ELV

Brandon and Zane Hunt, Via 313 and Nickel City

“Of course, we are always seeking pizza while on the road, any local place that we haven't had yet, and always Buc-ee’s (1700 TX-71, Bastrop, Texas). If there is one on the drive, we stop for beef jerky, fudge, breakfast tacos. I am amazed how fast we can blow $50 there always.”

Kristine Kittrell, Weather Up

“New Orleans is the only place I travel to by car. Gas station boudin and fried chicken are my dirty little secrets. Any mom-and-pop spot in Scott, Louisiana is great. Best Stop Supermarket (615 LA-93, Scott, Louisiana) is famous, but isn't the "best" for that accolade. Instead, head to Charlie T's (101 Roy Street, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana).”

Andrew Wiseheart, Contigo, Chicon

“When I drive back to my hometown of San Angelo, Texas, there are two stops I always make: Llano, for Cooper's Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que (505 West Dallas Street, Llano, Texas), and Eden, to get jerky at Venison World (305 West Broadway Street, Eden, Texas).”

Sonya Cote, Eden East, Hillside Farmacy

“I live for road trips, especially the kind of road trip where you get to sleep (and cook) outside. The most fun part of a road trip to me are the snacks. It’s exciting to to find new items in those small little stores along the country roads, like a treasure hunt. Also barbecue and roadside taco trucks. When we head north, we are always on the lookout for the best beef jerky. Sometimes we will buy six different kinds to have a ‘jerky-off’ (is that appropriate?) to discover new favorites. There are always jalapeño dill Zapp's, popcorn, a real sour gummy bear, and chocolate nut mix on the drive. When we head south, we always stop at Ranch 99 for some road dumplings (easy to pop in your mouth while driving), plus delicious. For longer trips, we like to take a cooler to load up with cheese bites, salamis, tuna, and layered salads in a mason jars.”

Andrew and Mary Catherine Curren, ELM Restaurant Group

"On our way down to South Padre Island, we start with a stop at Buc-ee’s (2760 I-35 North New Braunfels, Texas) and load up on beaver nuggets and beef jerky, and a Rice Krispy treat if we're feeling crazy. Then, in Kingsville, we stop at Whataburger for a family bathroom break and delicious burgers, chicken strips, onion rings, and a strawberry shake. Across the Queen Isabella Causeway, we unload and head to dinner at Cap’n Roy's (1313 Padre Boulevard, South Padre Island, Texas), the best restaurant on the island.”

Janina O’Leary, Play Dough

“Lots of water and caffeine are key for us. Fruit, chips, and the occasional kolache stop is good. Hruska’s (109 TX-71, Ellinger, Texas) is good. If we are going south to visit my family, we stop at Haby's Bakery (207 Old US Highway 90 East, Castroville, Texas) on the way for pretty much any sort of tasty baked good.

Morningstar’s doughnuts
Morningstar’s doughnuts

Michael Fojtasek, Olamaie

"Beef jerky. I also utilize John T. Edge's Southern Belly as a map for road side stop-offs in the south."

Adam Jacoby and Kris Swift, Jacoby’s, Grizzelda’s

“When Adam and I [Kris] travel we always try to support local family-owned restaurants and cafes so we do research ahead of time and figure out something unique. When we go to the ranch in Melvin and oftentimes stop in Fredericksburg, we’ll get sandwiches at Woerner Warehouse Cafe (305 South Lincoln Street, Fredericksburg, Texas), or a cheese plate at Vaudeville (230 East Main Street, Fredericksburg, Texas) and pick up some fresh pastries to take to the family out at the ranch, we also love stopping at Hilltop Cafe (10661 US-87, Fredericksburg, Texas).”

Marco Silvestrini, Dolce Neve

"Before a trip, I usually make my own sandwich with Easy Tiger (709 East 6th Street, Austin, Texas) bread (most likely the walnut levain), prosciutto and brie. When I travel back to Austin, I usually make quick stop at a local bakery and pick up some pastries and desserts to bring back home and eat during the trip. Now that I spend a lot of time in Houston, I usually get doughnuts from Morning Star (4721 North Main Street, Houston, Texas), pan dulce from El Bolillo Bakery (2421 South Wayside Drive, Houston, Texas), and Indian pastries from Pondicheri (2800 Kirby Drive, Houston, Texas).”

Page Pressley, Emmer & Rye

“I always try to pack snacks that are light and somewhat healthy and leave the guilty pleasures for meal stops. I usually pack a few RX bars, carne seca beef jerky, kombucha, and iced coffee. I'm a sucker for a Whataburger triple meat triple cheese if it's gonna be a fast stop. When traveling to the coast or to Houston, I always make it point to be in Chinatown for dinner so I can grab Pho Binh (8027 Bellaire Boulevard Suite, Houston, Texas) by night or Mala Sichuan (1201 Westheimer Road, Houston, Texas)before I drive home.”

Buc-ee's in Bastrop
Buc-ee's in Bastrop
Paul D./Yelp

Tavel Bristol-Joseph, Emmer & Rye

“Let's me start off by saying traveling with me is not fun if you're on a diet because it's guilty pleasures all the way. I always stop at the closest gas station to the highway on my way out of town to pick up water, yerba mate, soda, and my ‘snack bag.’ This includes a mix of sweet, salty, spicy, and crunchy. For example, Cheez-its, hot Cheetos, caramel corn, yogurt-covered pretzels, and whatever else I'm in the mood for. Put it all together in a bag and shake it up. Then I'm roadtrip-ready. I wouldn't typically stop for anything else, but I'm a sucker for a spicy crispy chicken sandwich.”

Justin Elliott, Juniper

“Back when Florian Minier and I were moving from New York to Savannah, Georgia, we had a White Castle crave case, from which we just randomly grabbed a burger every hour or so. That's some serious high-quality road trip food advice: buy no less than 30 hamburgers at a time. Also, Buc-ee's’ ‘house’ line of jerkies are all top notch but do not get suckered into buying Buc-ee's-branded sour candies. Learned that one the hard way. Also, obviously Czech Stop (104 South George Kacir Drive, West, Texas) is an institution on the way from Austin to Dallas. It's easy to get suckered into going 100% klobasnek with your ordering (I mean, cheeseburger kolaches, for real?!) but don't sleep on the traditional fruit-filled kolaches.”

Adam Brick, Apis Restaurant and Apiary

“I drive to the coast to fish in Port Aransas on Saturday nights about two to three times a month. When I drive in the day, though, I will always stop in Luling for City Market (633 East Davis Street, Luling, Texas). The ribs and the sausage, as broken and grainy as it might be, make me so happy. The sharp mustard-forward sauce is my favorite, and I grew up eating there on my coast trips. When I lived in New York, my family would ship me City Market, and I would steam it off in a sous vide bag for the staff about once a month.”

Josh Hines, Clark’s Oyster Bar

"I definitely always try to pack the food that I'll need when on a road trip because the fast food on the road is terrible. Trail mix, coconut water, and fruit are good go-tos. If I have to stop somewhere, it's usually Chipotle since it's a fairly healthy option. As far as guilty pleasures go, it has to be sour gummy worms, cheddar-flavored Chex Mix, and a Mexican coke."

Zach Hunter, The Brewer’s Table

“My childhood was full of road trips from coast to coast, and one of my favorite memories is eating fresh loaves of baguettes, torn apart by hand and stuffed with shaved prosciutto and firm cheese. More recently, my favorite road trips are fueled by bags of salty pork rinds and cream soda. My favorite road side destination is Don’s (730 I-10 South Frontage Road, Scott, Louisiana) or Best Stop Supermarket (615 LA-93, Scott, Louisiana) just outside of Lafayette, Louisiana for boudin and cracklins.”