Hockey reporters are experts on fast food and dining out, so with very little actually happening in sports right now, it’s time for the first installment of our new summer series
Heading out on the road is fun as a hockey reporter, even though work usually dominates the trip (I saw the beach in Ft. Lauderdale during draft weekend, I just didn’t set foot on the beach). On top of seeing new arenas and making pillow forts in the hotel room, there’s also the opportunity to try out new restaurants and/or eat copious amounts of fast food.
But you have to plan things out. You don’t want to have fries for a side two meals in a row, for example – you need to diversify! So here’s the hierarchy of road foods – feel free to use this on your summer vacation. And before you snarkily ask “slow news day?” in the comments, keep in mind it was right in the headline: you were warned.
12. Pizza – It’s incredibly easy to find, so hold out if you have other options. Also, pizza is perfect for late nights when other types of restaurants have closed, so save it for then. I would toss subs/hoagies in here too, though pizza is tastier.
11. Burgers and fries – Just as ubiquitous as pizza, but with a greater hit-or-miss rate. So if you can hit a Five Guys or In-N-Out, go for it. Just remember that fries are the most common side when you’re on the road, so you have to be judicious.
10. Pub food – Especially prominent if you’re eating at a junior rink. Fish and chips and chicken fingers fall into this category and are a slight step up from burgers, but still likely involve fries.
9. Food court Chinese food – Valuable because it is most likely served on rice or noodles, thus avoiding fries and/or bread-heavy mains. Still probably deep-fried, thus giving your tummy the same feeling as if you went with other fast foods. But maybe you get a vegetable in there, which I’m told is important.
8. Pasta – Unless it’s really good, you should just have pasta at home – the economics are insane. But again, if it’s really good, it’s worth it. Just don’t fill up on bread.
7. Burritos – Very reliable. Our office is split into pro- and anti-Chipotle factions, but almost everybody likes burritos in general. Provides your body with essential salsas and guacs, too.
6. Sushi – A lot of people fear sushi, but it’s a clean meal that won’t make you feel overstuffed. I had some in a Russian mall during the world juniors and it was cheap and tasty.
5. Sit-down Mexican – As in, a sit-down restaurant. Good Mexican food provides great diversity (beans, rice, guac) and a respite from the fries dilemma.
4. Sit-down Chinese – See above. Better than food court Chinese because the menu will be bigger and lean less heavily on deep-fried stuff. But if they make you pay for tea, leave immediately. Also, I know Indian food isn’t for everyone, but I’m hitting that every time if I can find it.
3. Roti – Admittedly, not every city is going to have good roti, but if you can find the Caribbean specialty, hit that every time (I go boneless goat, myself). Toronto, Kitchener (OHL) and Brooklyn all represent in this category.
2. American Barbecue – Because in Canada, “barbecue” usually refers to hot dogs and hamburgers. I’m talking about pulled pork, brisket and ribs. Slows in Detroit in amazing, as is the Dinosaur BBQ chain that has outlets in New Jersey and Buffalo. On top of awesome meat, BBQ joints usually offer an array of sides that allow you to avoid fries – corn on the cob, baked beans, etc.
1. Regional Specialty – It’s not touristy if it’s tasty. If you go to Montreal, get some smoked meat or a steamed hot dog. Get a cheese steak in Philly, get Primanti Bros. in Pittsburgh. Get poutine in Quebec. Those places do it best, and you want the best, right?
*Bonus Late Night Options: By the time hockey writers are done their post-game work, food options can be limited. This is when you hit a pizza, or do your best at the hotel bar, which is probably only serving a small menu by that point of the night. Chicken wings are good here, same with nachos.