Minnesota to New Jersey: Eating on the Road

One of the reasons I love road trips are all the great food finds along the route.

We recently completed a road trip from Minneapolis to Cape May, NJ, with a detour along the way through Gettysburg, PA.  Cape May is the very southern tip of New Jersey.

West Virginia

Pepperoni rolls seem to be an invention unique to West Virginia. Although we thought they were already perfect, according to Wikipedia , there’s a deep fried variation across the border in Ohio. There’s nothing that can’t be improved by deep-frying.

I was so happy our route was taking us through a very narrow spot in West Virginia. This would give us a chance to stop in Wheeling and look for Pepperoni Rolls and White Lily flour. Score for both.

We’ve bought pepperoni rolls at three different places in West Virginia and they’ve each been slightly similar, but different, yet all are equally delicious. The bread is always soft and slightly sweet and extremely comforting to eat. We like the pepperoni to be hot and spicy in the middle. We cleaned the Wheeling Kroger out of their supply of hot and spicy rolls on our way back home.

The Kroger also had pretzel M&M’s, which we tried, but they weren’t as good as we hoped they would be. They did have a good enough mix of chocolate and salt. Trader Joe’s chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels are a staple at our house and it would be hard for anyone to top those.


We reached Chambersburg, PA after a late night, slightly harrowing drive through winding mountain roads. And I mean dark, winding, and steeply graded roads. Of course we could have pulled in a little earlier if we hadn’t made a Pepperoni Roll stop in Wheeling. However, as we drove through the sleepy little town of Chambersburg, I perked up a bit when we drove by Pat & Carla’s Italian Eatery. It was one of the places on my list. I hoped we’d have some time the next day to have dinner.

The next day we visited Gettysburg, which was amazing. We could have spent days exploring the park, but we only had the one day. Near sunset we were still at the park and it looked like a good dinner was slipping away. We had spent a FULL day there and were physically and emotionally pooped out. And I wasn’t sure the good places would be open on a Sunday night. But I knew that Pat & Carla’s was close to our hotel so I floated the idea to the husband and son about seeing if they were open and bringing takeout back to the room. We were so glad we did!

You could sit in the dining room, or order take out near their kitchen. The staff was friendly and helpful and the food was delicious and bountiful. Old school red sauce Italian. A gorgeous meatball calzone, a cheesesteak sandwich with provolone and grilled onions and peppers, red sauce on the side, and an old-fashioned veal parmagiana on top of angel hair, accompanied by garlic bread so juicy that the butter oozed out when you bit into it. Perfect food for the end of an exhausting day.

Check out the little blisters on the cheese steak roll. They were making their buns fresh and it was one of the most delicious sandwich rolls I’ve ever had. Pardon the poor quality of the photos, but I had to take them quick before devouring commenced.

Cape May

I picked up Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews at the Acme Market in Cape May, although they’re really from Philadelphia. For $1 a package contains 8 rectangles of peanut-filled caramel covered with dark chocolate. I’ve become addicted to them. We were also able to load up on Tasty Kake products.

And yes, shopping at the Acme Market made me feel like I was in a Road Runner cartoon. I couldn’t shake the feeling that the Acme butter was going to explode in my face.

We love breakfast and it appears that New Jersey residents do too.  Cape May is one small island and we hit three fabulous places while we were there.

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House
On our first morning in Cape May we went to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House.  This also marked our first encounter of the trip with scrapple and pork roll. I have been forever changed by pork roll.  Our waitress was very enthusiastic and accurate in her description of pork roll and scrapple.  Uncle Bill’s pork roll was tangy, just like she  promised, and a bit like a slice of fried baloney.  Heaven!  Scrapple is a slice of mush that has sausage in it.  Uncle Bill’s version appeared to be buckwheat mush.  It was delicious doused in syrup.  I also had the lightest buckwheat pancakes I’ve ever had in my life, and my son seconded that opinion for his buttermilk pancakes.  I wish we had had time to go back.

George’s Place
I know I also ordered pork roll at George’s Place, but this was over-shadowed by the most absolutely divine Tiramisu Belgian Waffle.  If you were going to have one waffle in your life, it would be worth it to travel to George’s Place for this one.  The waffle was so light and crispy it practially hovered over the plate.  It was spread with sweetened marscapone cheese and drizzled with dark chocolate sauce. Nothing I’ve ever had for breakfast compares to that waffle.  Fortunately I can’t remember if I licked my plate in public.

Dock Mike’s Pancake House
On our way out of town on Saturday morning, we stopped at Dock Mike’s Pancake House.  The name makes me laugh because it reminds me of the episode of The Office where Michael introduces the persona of Prison Mike.  Anyway, their pancakes weren’t bad, but the bar had been set so high earlier in the week..  But their pork roll was the best.  Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside.

Other noteworthy food on Cape May

Key West Tacos is a cute little taco stand that serves good tacos. We shared a variety of tacos: Pulled pork, crab, and fish. Everything was fresh and delicious.  They had SPAM tacos, but as Minnesotans, that wasn’t something new to us. A customer brought up the SPAM while we were there and I was able to get in a plug for the SPAM Museum; it even turned out she was coming to Minnesota this summer.  And if you haven’t been to the museum, it’s a lot of fun.

We liked Higher Grounds for coffee and tea. It’s right next door to Key West Tacos.

Unfortunately, Hot Dog Tommy’s wasn’t open for the season yet when we stopped by. Tommy is supposed to have the best dogs in South Jersey. He was at the shop getting ready to open in a few days so we had a chance to chat with him. He was a nice guy and I was sorry we didn’t have a chance to come back for a hot dog.  So, we have a reason to visit Cape May again . . . besides for the amazing birding.  Did I mention that’s why we were there?  We saw 105 species.

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