by Lane Shuler
Hello! Lane Shuler with I.N.K. here! We are the nation’s premier traveling college poetry duo! We’ve performed at NACA and APCA conferences all over the nation, and when we come to a new town, we ALWAYS try to find the best food we can find.
Now, at most conferences, you’ll have some meals that are provided by the conference as a group, and other meals which are “meal on your own” meals. Don’t ever miss the opportunity to have the group onsite meals. In many cases, they are required because that is where the showcasing acts are. In other cases they may not be required, but you don’t want to miss meal time, yes it’s free food, but it’s also a chance to bond with the other students and advisors on the trip with you. Additionally you never know when a showcasing act will find an empty seat with you and plop down to join you. How cool would it be to say you had dinner with college comedian and MTV star K-Von, or NPR Tiny Desk Road Tour Star Chaquis Maliq, or even sensational, pan-dimensional poetry super stars I.N.K.? 😉
With that said, for those “meals on your own” this is your guide! What are your go to meal spots in these towns? Let us know in the comments!
Disclaimer: For any students reading this, you’ll need to check and arrange all off site meals with your advisor! Additionally, don’t get offended if you try to invite a showcasing act to an off site meal with you and they decline. Most are bound by contract and have to decline for liability reasons. They still love you, so save them a seat during on-site meals!
NACA South – Chattanooga, TN
This event takes place at the Chattanooga convention center in downtown Chattanooga. For this meal, there are two places that stick out to me. One is the City Cafe Diner. It’s a 24 hour diner offering real deal food, and it’s a 3 minute walk from the convention center. One of my favorite spots for fried chicken in the south is Champy’s Fried Chicken. It’s a fifteen minute walk from the convention center and is worth every step. You’re going to want the extra steps to walk off the meal! It’s been featured in Southern Living and Garden & Gun Magazines.
Chattanooga is a killer town with a very unique geography. Take in some of the views while you are in town!
NACA CENTRAL – Arlington, TX
Home of the cowboys!
When in Texas, find a What-A-Burger! The bright orange burger joints are hard to miss and hard to beat. But if you want something a little off the beaten path, check out Twisted Root Burger Company. It’s located less than a mile from Cowboy’s Stadium and has award winning burgers. It may also be the only chance you ever get to try a Green Chile Camel Burger. Yes. THAT Camel! They also have standard beef and vegan burgers available for the less adventurous palettes.
APCA Fall Northeast – Teaneck, NJ
You may feel like you are in the shadow of mighty Manhattan, but you are an hour and a half walk to the northeast corner of the city, so don’t get any ideas! Don’t fret thought, you are close enough to get the cuisine of New Yorkers. Pancetta is a hop and a skip from your hotel, and is the 4th ranked restaurant in Teaneck according to Trip Advisor. Don’t miss their Calabrese Pizza with Calabrian salami, red onion, chili flakes, pecorino cheese and a sunny side egg. If you want cheap eats, and traditional New York Pie, hit up Angelo’s Pizza!
APCA South Central – Houston, TX
Houston can be an intimidating town for first timers. People generally don’t expect the shear size of the place. The great part though, is that this is one of the most diverse cities in America, with foods from Venezuala, Italy, Bosnia, and Poland. Even Uyghur food, the cuisine of the Turkic ethnic minority that inhabits the Xinjiang region of China is available in this town!
Close to the Westchase Marriott however, you can find traditional Argentenian food at Marini’s Original Empanada House. It’s fast and inexpensive, so you can get back to the APCA action. A ten minute Uber ride will get you to Raja Sweets, an Indian Bakery featured on Bizarre Foods, located in the heart of the Mahatma Ghandi District, also known as Little India, an ethnic enclave in West Houston.
NACA Mid Atlantic – Buffalo, NY
Welp, you already know what I’m about to drop on you here. Yep, Buffalo is the home of the Buffalo wing. And when you are in Buffalo, you have to make the pilgrimage to the birthplace of the wing, The Anchor Bar. Locals may tell you to go try Duff’s wings, and although they may be great, they are located all the way out in Orchard Park, which is quite the haul. Walk from the hotel to The Anchor Bar, get wings, fries, and your favorite dipping sauce, and enjoy the genesis of a food that is responsible for many of my extra pounds.
NACA Mid America – Covington, KY
The map says Kentucky, but the locals all say they are from Cincinnati. You gotta try Cincinnati Style Chili while you are in town. It’s a Mediterranean spiced sauce used to top hot dogs and spaghetti. The chili is not a chili in the traditional sense, you don’t eat it by the bowl, it’s a sauce and a sauce only! You can find the sauce all around town, but two of the most famous spots are Gold Star and SkyLine Chili. Don’t miss Graeter’s while you are in town. They are a world famous ice cream maker, famous for their French Pot style of Ice Cream making.
NACA Northeast – Hartford, CT
Take a five minute stroll from the NACA host hotel to Bear’s Smokehouse, a trip advisor award winning restaurant serving absurd BBQ dishes like deep fried ribs, and the Bear Attack, a monstrosity featuring a layers of cornbread, Mac and cheese, and your choice of smoked meats.
NACA West – Ontario, CA
The first time we were invited to appear at NACA West in Ontario, I quickly started pricing flights to Ontario Canada. Turns out Ontario is also a place in California! The good news is, you’ll be staying at the DoubleTree, so you’ll be greeted by a warm Chocolate Chip cookie upon arrival. The #1 restaurant in Ontario just so happens to be In-N-Out Burger. If you’ve never been, it’s very close to the hotel, but if you want old school California charm, take an (Uber) trip back in time to Zeke’s Eatin Place, just on the other side of the Interstate. There you’ll be treated to gravy and biscuits, fried balogna, and enough wood paneling to remind you of a simpler time.
There you have it folks! A list of our favorite spots during all of our NACA and APCA appearances over the years. Do you have any favorites? Let us know in the comments.