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All You Can Eat

Trend-setting restaurants, Northwest cookbooks, local food news and the people who make them happen.

July 3, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Best ‘road food’ along highways in the West

Corrected version

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Happy Fourth, and welcome to the official start of summer road trip season. I suggested 10 stops for road food along the I-5 corridor between Portland and Vancouver, B.C. in this months’ Sunset magazine, and the mag also features other recommendations along other Western highways.

Close to home, fried chicken master Ezell Stephens won a spot on my list with his newish venture in Everett, Heaven Sent Fried Chicken, featuring truly heavenly spicy drumsticks and fried gizzards and sweet rolls. To me, it was classic Ezell’s, without the name.

Great falafel is hard to find in this area, but Hallava Falafel in Georgetown is the place that stopped me saying it didn’t exist, and it was also close enough to the freeway to make my list. (Two Chefs at the Edmonds Farmers Market is also quite good.)

A stop good enough to warrant a destination road trip of its own was La Tarasca in Centralia, with unbeatable posole and rellenos and a tamarindo drink made from real tamarind pods, not the prefab mix. (People joke about it being the best Mexican food in Seattle, the same way they send you to Richmond, B.C. when asked for Seattle’s best Chinese food.)

I keep wishing Burgerville would open a branch farther north. I’ve been thinking about the chain’s seasonal berry shakes since last year’s berry season.

And, at the north end of the trip, my favorite find was a little shack off Granville Market in B.C. called Go Fish, featuring “peerlessly fresh fish spiced up with big-city flavors like chipotle crema and wasabi mayo.” Near the southern end, in the other Vancouver, my leftovers alone from my old-fashioned breakfast at Carol’s Corner Cafe weighed in at two pounds.

The curse of road food is that its outlets are often here and gone. I thought I scored a great find in the Scandia Coffeehouse in Stanwood, where I stopped one day before my regular visit to the Rexville Grocery, but it had changed owners and names by press time. I hear the former owners are now cooking at the Cama Beach Cafe, and that’s next to try for my next list.

What are your favorite road food stops along the major highways? Here’s the full Sunset list, and if you need more ideas between San Diego and B.C., also check out “West Coast Road Eats” by Anna Roth, a former Seattle food writer now at SF Weekly.

File photo of Ezell’s fried chicken (at the original Ezell’s). He’s now frying great drumsticks and gizzards at Heaven Sent Fried Chicken. Betty Udeson/The Seattle Times

Information in this article, originally published July 3, 2012, was corrected July 3. A previous version misstated the name of Burgerville restaurant.

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