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Author Jane and Michael Stern
Country United States
Language English
Subject Food
Genre Advice (non-fiction)
Publication date
1977 (1st edition)

Roadfood is a series of books by Jane and Michael Stern originally published in 1977. The term Roadfood was coined by the Sterns to describe the regional cuisine they discovered when they began driving around America in the early 1970s. Their focus was not on deluxe fare, but on everyday local food – barbecue, chili, fried chicken, apple pie – and the unpretentious restaurants that serve it: diners, small-town cafes, seaside shacks, drive-ins, and bake shops.

The Sterns, who had no formal training in cuisine or journalism, met at Yale University in 1968, married in 1970, and graduated in 1971, after which they left academia to explore the USA. At first, their focus was on popular culture in general, but after traveling around the country for a few years, they realized they had been keeping an informal diary of unknown and unique places to eat: inconspicuous restaurants that were, at the time, of no interest to the food-writing establishment. After three years of travel in a beat-up Volkswagen Beetle, staying at seedy motels, and occasionally sleeping in the back seat of the car, they drafted the manuscript of Roadfood, a guide to restaurants that were neither fast food nor gourmet dining, but were an expression of local foodways.

Roadfood was a landmark, the first cross-country guide to regional American food. Since then, the Sterns have written Roadfood columns for Gourmet magazine and Saveur and report regularly about "road food" on public radio's "The Splendid Table." They have won numerous James Beard awards for their writing and have been inducted into the Who’s Who of American Food.

The book Roadfood has been updated several times; the 10th edition will be published in 2017. Writing in the New York Times Book Review about Two for the Road, the Sterns' memoir of their pursuit of "road food", Nora Ephron commented, "Jane and Michael Stern write about ordinary food so simply and exuberantly that I couldn't help thinking, as I read this latest book of theirs (the 31st), that they deserved a room of their own in the Smithsonian Institution, right next to Julia Child's Cambridge kitchen."[1]

In the years since its first publication, Roadfood has inspired countless other writers, television personalities, and internet bloggers to pay attention to regional fare. In 2000, the Sterns partnered with Stephen Rushmore to create, the first internet website to include photos with restaurant reviews. In 2015, Roadfood was acquired by Fexy Media of Seattle, Washington.


  1. ^ Event archive: Jane & Michael Stern, Seattle Arts & Lectures, January 12, 2010, retrieved 2016-05-07