A Roadfood Crawl in Cincinnati

I recently returned from a Roadfood Crawl. in Cincinnati. Roadfood refers, of course to the local roadside restaurants Jan and Michael Stern celebrated. The crawl was like a bar craw, only you can walk (drive) a straight line and it takes several days – three plus a dinner and two breakfast on the end – a total of 30 dining locations. A total of 38 individuals participated, but I don’t think there were ever more than 25 or so people for a given meal – especially the sit-downs. People from as far away as Texas and Canada participated.

First up, Swampwaters, had the best alligator I’ve ever had. Note the I sat down nd appetizers started flying by. Thus there will be a lot of photos taken in progress/

graced with jalapeño buttons, which I’d never seen before but are great; and mozzarella sticks wrapped in fphyllo rather than larded down with too much crust.

The next morning the cheesecakery

which was pretty and also pretty good, especially the blueberry thing. the last photo is a latte flight, a concept completely foreign to this black coffee drinker.

Then a favorite, era and Thelma’s, an\ very old school tavern at which I had a very =good non-Cincinnati cup of chili and was introduced to the olive burger and spicy mettwurst, which is sensational

I also had a taste of a pretty good fried bologna sandwich.

A couple of Central American places followed with a very good arepa and a snack I kick myself for not getting

Then the original Cincinnati style chili place

followed by a Hawaiian dinner

Which offered good lumpia, very good pork rolls, and some spicy Spam music which actually was quite good.

That finished Day 1, for me at least (I skipped some doughnuts and ice cream.).

This was a whole lot of good food. Since it was my first-ever food crawl, I was a bit overwhelmed and didn’t understand the rhythm of a crawl. It was huge fun, however, and I can’t wait until next year, when we’ll go to another city. I only gained 7 pound in 3 days, and since then I’ve lost 19 pounds. And gained 16.

I’ll report on Days 2 and 3 separately. Naturally, there was a whole lot more that I lack the energy to detail at the moment, but it was all wonderful. You can read more detailed posts on all o fit places by searching “Cincinnati” on my eponymous blog


What fun! Was this crawl an official thing through Roadfood or a separately organized thing? We bought the original Roadfood book and used it as a guide driving across country back in the late 80’s.


Fun indeed! This is not an official group, just an informal Facebook Fans of Roadfood group and the restaurants selected aren’t limited to those mentioned in the many editions of the book . The group’s been doing one crawl a year for – I think 11 years. This was my first. Soon we’ll be starting to discuss where to go next year.


Roadfood (the website) was bought by FEXY and destroyed in an almost identical manner to Chowhound. There used to be thousands of posters. Now a few hundred of us soldier on on FB.
There’s a Fans of Roadfood page and also a group page just for the crawls.
They’ve been to KC, Chicago, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and others I can’t remember.

BTW- Jane and Michael are divorced.
He now lives in South Carolina with his beloved horses. He checks in with the FB group very occasionally.
Jane still resides in New England and never checks in.


Michael Stern has a substack page to which I subscribe. I got it in a package with Hanna Raskin’s for $49 for the year. His reviews, mainly in the Aiken-Augusta area, are interesting, but he focuses on higher end places with less locally distinct food.

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thanks for the update on this. will check it out