Once the weather takes a turn for the better and we all start feeling like being outdoors again, it’s time to pack up the car and drive. One of our personal favorite drives is along California’s central coast, but rest assured there are ample East Coast drives that offer an incredible bounty of delicious provisions, like this classic choice from New York City to Providence, R.I. Driving along the I-95 means sticking close to the coastline for the entire drive and passing through towns like Rye, Darien, New Haven, Milford, Cranston, and finally Providence. Here’s what we suggest — pack a bag of clothes and try not eating for a day or two beforehand, because this drive is fully stocked with stops for mouthwatering regional eats.
First, stock up on coffee for the road from the newest outpost of Oakland, Calif., import Blue Bottle Coffee in Chelsea. The pastries are all homemade and will catch your eye, for good reason. Grab a New Orleans-style iced coffee to go, and maybe their seasonal fruit buckle.
Then, put the pedal to the metal until Darien, Conn., and pull over to snap up some amazing cheeses. The Darien Cheese Shop has been selling an enormous range of cheeses, along with gourmet mustards, chutneys, oils, olives, and charcuterie for more than 36 years. Snap up enough to last the whole weekend.
Back in the car, you may start feeling the familiar pangs of midday hunger. Depending on how severe they are, stop at Super Duper Weenie in Fairfield, Conn., or hold out until New Haven for the town’s legendary pizza.
Once you hit that moment when you’re frantically scrolling through your playlists to find something else to play, it’s time to stop for something sweet. Conveniently, that’s around the time you’ll be passing Madison, Conn., which is home to Madison Chocolates. If it’s a particularly warm day, snag a gelato or buy some of their handmade chocolates to tide you over for the weekend.
As you weave into Rhode Island, and away from the coast, decide if you have it in you to have dinner in Cranston or if it’s Providence or bust — a tough decision that we don’t envy. If it’s Cranston, you’ll want to grab a seat at Mike’s Kitchen in the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. You’ll dine with locals on long-loved veal Parmesan, seafood pasta, and polenta with meatballs.
Finally in your destination, you may not feel like eating again for a few days, but stay the course. You can’t skip a meal at the famed Al Forno, nor could you justify not stopping into the charming and fully stocked Farmstead. Devour homemade sausages from Hewtin’s Dogs Mobile and grab a drink atThe Red Fez. For the drive home, make a coffee stop at White Electric Coffee.