Today's Road Warriors are more likely to be hitting the runway at LAX or DFW than cruising for kicks on Route 66. To them, mileage refers to their AAdvantage accounts, not how often they have to fill up the tank. But there are still those in-between moments when they might feel like renting a car (say, a yellow Mustang convertible) and setting out in search of what lies between those three-lettered dots called airports. Along the way, they'll likely stop at a roadhouse or two.
Roadhouse food is usually uncomplicated in its conception and execution and often centers around grilled items that can be prepared quickly. Ideally, adults should be able to get something more ambitious than a burger, but the menu should have some choices that appeal to under-12 gourmets as well. Service is usually brisk and efficient, but that shouldn't mean your waiter or waitress has no clue about the food being served. If the staff can give you directions to local curiosities or landmarks, so much the better.
The best roadhouses have chosen sensible wines geared to their down-to-earth cuisine. Some, surprisingly, really shine in the wine department. Here are three bottles from a trio of well-touristed roadhouses that match up quite nicely with the food of the Great American Highway.
Frog's Leap 2000 Zinfandel Napa Valley ($22)
As you drive south from San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway (also known as California Highway 1), you'll eventually reach a flat stretch of coastal produce fields. From your car you usually smell the produce being grown or harvested: artichokes, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and garlic. If hunger sets in, turn off the highway for the short jaunt to Pescadero, where you'll find the family-operated Duarte's Tavern.