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Embrace the Early-Morning Breakfast Road Trip

Why you should plan to eat breakfast somewhere far from home

This post originally appeared in the April 8, 2019 edition of The Move, a place for Eater’s editors to reveal their recommendations and pro dining tips — sometimes thoughtful, sometimes weird, but always someone’s go-to move. Subscribe now.

On a recent Sunday, I got up around 8 o’clock, made some coffee, and got into the car to drive 25 miles for bread. The bread was sold out, so I got tacos nearby instead, served on thick and soft corn tortillas. I accompanied them with a too-chunky green juice and a creamily soft cheese flan, scooping up the bitter caramelized sugar beneath with a plastic spoon. Because I live in Los Angeles, trying this food at any other time of the week could mean spending an hour and 15 minutes in traffic one way — likely both.

On Sunday morning, the freeways worked like they were supposed to, speeding me from one dot in the city’s amoeba sprawl to another. We pay for our most memorable dining experiences in either money or time, and for most of us, time is the more viable option. When no one else is awake, you can score a sort of temporal discount. My move: Knowing that weekend mornings are the best time to go really far, really fast, for the specific goal of eating something new.

I understand waking up early on the weekend is deeply uncool, and suggests even less cool things about how you spent the night before. This move works for me because I am a morning person, and design my life around avoiding traffic as much as possible, especially on the way to fun. Sunday morning is open and loose, full of possibility that it feels good to revel in before the dread hits around noon. I’ve gotten in my car at 8 a.m. on a Sunday to drive to Huge Tree Pastry for fan tuan and fresh soy milk, to Sqirl in Silverlake for crispy rice salad without the line, and down to South LA for a crawl of carnitas tacos and menudo. Many Los Angeles residents cannot imagine crossing down to Orange County, and Sunday morning is the best time to break the cycle and hit Little Saigon for pho or Taco Maria for an early brunch reservation. There are equally strong moves to be made an hour’s drive north to Ventura — Taqueria Cuernavaca’s al pastor spit starts spinning at 9 a.m.

Snow’s, the top ranked barbecue in Texas, requires an early head start
Robert Strickland/Eater

And this isn’t just a Los Angeles-centric move. In Austin, where I lived for five years, there was nothing better than getting in the car on a weekend morning, driving north or south, and letting the city fall away to rolling, open countryside, in search of barbecue. In the spring, on the highway headed south, we eyed the median bobbing with bluebonnets, the most Texas possible thing next to sampling sausages and brisket from the glass-enclosed smoke room at City Market in Luling, which we did next. Currently, the top-ranked barbecue in the state, Snow’s, requires an early weekend start — it’s only open on Saturdays, starting at 8 a.m.

The next time you want to stay in on a Saturday night, just tell yourself you’re saving your energy for the real weekend event: breakfast as far from your house as you can possibly stand. The only downside to a Sunday-morning ramble is public transit is actually more challenging at that time — especially true in New York, when weekends mean nightmarish subway geometry, if the train ever shows up at all. Though if you have a friend with a car, what a great time to drive to Flushing.

P.S. For more road-trip inspiration, check out Eater’s 2017 package dedicated to finding the meaning of America through the restaurants along the way.

Thanks for reading The Move! What are the tips/hacks you’d like to know about? Email if you have a burning question or topic suggestion, or check out our Life Coach column for more how-tos for navigating modern dining rituals.

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